Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/168

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CHAPTER XIV

THE YEARS OF FAMINE

In the summer of 1891 a complete failure of the spring, as well as the winter, corn was experienced throughout nearly half the area of Russia. Towards the end of the summer alarming rumours of a coming famine had already begun to spread.

As he had done eighteen years earlier, Tolstoy took the initiative in giving assistance to the starving peasantry. In the autumn he visited many districts of the Tula province, and with anxiety observed the empty cornfields of the peasants. It was evident to him that the population would be unable to feed itself till the next harvest without outside help. Hostile to any complicated artificial system, Tolstoy decided to begin at once to help personally, without any organised plan for the future.

In the beginning of November, he, two of his daughters, and a niece, and having only £50 with them, went to the estate of a friend, J. Raevsky, in the Ryazan province, and there established

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