As Nikolai fusses over Arkady, Arkady asks after his Uncle Pavel. He wants to make sure his father doesn't become too emotional.
Nikolai tells him Pavel meant to come, but changed his mind at the last minute. He says that he's been waiting for Arkady for five hours.
Arkady is shocked and plants a kiss on his father's cheek.
As Nikolai is announcing how well prepared the house is, Arkady asks him to take good care of Bazarov. He tells him that he has just met him recently, but that Bazarov means a great deal to him.
Arkady claims that Bazarov knows everything, and tells Nikolai that he is going to take a degree in medicine.
Nikolai sees some of his peasants heading into town, and mentions it to Piotr who thinks contemptuously that they must be going to the tavern.
Nikolai tells Arkady that the peasants have been giving him trouble this year. They refuse to pay their tithes (taxes to the landowner).
Nikolai goes on about the trouble with employees, but Arkady cuts him off and wishes that they had some shade.
When Nikolai announces that he has put up an awning on their verandah (large, open porch), Arkady worries that it will make the house look like a summer villa.
Arkady goes on, "But that's not important. The air here! How wonderful it is! I do believe the air smells sweeter here than anywhere else in the world" (3.26).
Nikolai thinks that everything seems special to Arkady because he was born here. Arkady disagrees with him, saying that it makes no difference.
They discuss old servants, and Nikolai says that Arkady will find the farm at Maryino more or less unchanged.
Nikolai tells Arkady that after the house-serfs received their freedom, he stopped entrusting them with substantial tasks. Even Piotr is, in effect, free.
Nikolai goes on to admit that Maryino is not completely unchanged. He is embarrassed, but he has taken a girl named Fenichka in to live with him (yes, in short, Nikolai is having a relationship with one of his servants).
When Nikolai offers to change the set-up for the duration of their stay, Arkady tells him it's not a big deal. Nikolai is ashamed, but Arkady thinks that he has nothing to apologize for. He feels tenderness for his kind-hearted old father.
Arkady takes a bit of pride in his own "more emancipated outlook," and as Nikolai continues to rub his head in embarrassment "something seem[s] to stab his heart" (3.49-50).
Arkady looks out on their meadows and forests, but Nikolai announces that he sold the forest.
Looking out on his father's land, Arkady's heart sinks. He realizes that it has all gone to ruin, and he doesn't know how to begin building it back up.
Arkady lets his thoughts fade away as he watches the rooks (old world birds that resemble the American crow) "black and beautiful against the tender green of the low spring corn: they disappeared in the already whitening rye, and their heads only now and again peeped out from among its smoke-like waves" (3.60).
Nikolai again emphasizes how thrilled he is to have Arkady back. He says they must draw close together, and Arkady agrees.
Thinking of spring, Nikolai begins to quote some lines from Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. He is cut off by Bazarov, calling up for some matches.
Arkady has Piotr run his matchbox back to Bazarov's carriage, and Bazarov offers him a cigar.
When Arkady begins smoking, the stench is so strong that Nikolai has to avert his nose. He does so discreetly, though, so as not to hurt his son's feelings.
The carriage approaches the farm after a quarter hour, and the narrator notes that the peasants have nick-named it "The Farm-with-out-any-land" (3.69).