In this story, the author gives two portraits of landowners – people who are unattractive, but that’s why they are notable as characteristic types of provincial nobility. One of them is Major-General Vyacheslav Illarionovich Khvalynsky. This is a fat and tall man, whose characteristic feature is the manner of speaking, swallowing sounds, and even words. The lower the person stands on the social ladder, the less discriminating is the speech of the landlord in relation to him. Some other inferior Khvalynsky does not notice at all, or speaks with them in a quail’s voice. He is a strong owner and very unpleasant in communication, so that in the district many are afraid of him.
Another landlord is Mardary Apollonovich Stepunov. It’s a short old man, chubby and bald. He’s a useless host. With Khvalynsky it is only the fact that they are both bachelors. But Stegunov, although he oversees the estate superficially, knows how to preserve “discipline” among the peasants. He loves to severely punish his peasants for various faults and is very happy with every execution. The serfs consider the master to be just and assure everyone that they are punished exclusively for the cause. “Here it is, old Russia!” – Tergenev completes his story with such a contrite exclamation addressed to the men of Stegunov.