The town that Bazarov and Arkady go to visit is overseen by a young governor. He considers himself a progressive, but there is something of the despot in him, and he has a reputation for quarrelling with all sorts of officials.
When word reached Petersburg of the governor's behavior, they sent Matvei Ilyich Kolyazin to investigate. Kolyazin is the son of the guardian to the two Kirsanov brothers.
Kolyazin can put on the face of being an affable fellow, but he is highly ambitious, knows how to speak in high society, and can throw his weight around within his own domain.
Kolyazin greets Arkady warmly, but is surprised that Nikolai and Pavel did not come. He says, "Your father always was a queer fish" (12.2).
As if to amuse himself, Kolyazin turns and yells "What?" at one of his lower officials (12.2). The man jumps up at attention, but as soon as he does, Kolyazin ignores him.
The narrator notes that, though Kolyazin claims to be a liberal, he is above all a higher official and enjoys the practice of startling and humiliating his subordinates.
Kolyazin tells Arkady that he should go to see the governor in an effort to make connections around town. He offers to take Arkady under his wing and will bring him to a ball the next evening where he can meet some young women.
The superintendent of the Provincial Treasury enters as Arkady withdraws.
After some convincing, Bazarov agrees to go see the governor with Arkady. The governor is a man who is constantly in a "fuss and hurry," and he confuses their names, takes them for brothers, and calls them "Messieurs Kaisarov" (12.20). All the same, he invites them to his ball, which was the goal.
As they're walking back, a man named Herr Sitnikov sees Bazarov from his carriage and begins calling his name.
Sitnikov announces that he has come with his father on business. After hearing that Bazarov was in town, he spent all day looking for him.
When Bazarov introduces Sitnikov and Arkady, Sitnikov announces that he is a disciple of Bazarov's. Observing him, Arkady thinks that he has a look as if he is "permanently astonished," and he has "a sort of abrupt, wooden laugh" (12.28).
Sitnikov tells Bazarov that there is a lady he must meet, Madame Kukshin. She has separated from her husband, and, though she is not pretty, he thinks that she will give them free champagne.
Arkady is going to let the two of them go, but Sitnikov says that all three of them must visit her for lunch. He promises three bottles of champagne, and says he'll answer for that with his own head.
Bazarov jokes that his father's money-bags would be better, and the three of them proceed to Madame Kukshin's place.