The Works of Leo Tolstoi. One Volume Edition. Roslyn, NY: Black's
Readers Service Co., 1928, pages 4-18.
 CHAPTER III: THOUGHT
Simon's wife had everything ready early that day. She had cut wood, brought
water, fed the children, eaten her own meal, and now she sat thinking.
She wondered when she ought to make bread: now or tomorrow? There was still
a large piece left.
"If Simon has had some dinner in town," thought she, "and does not
eat much for supper, the bread will last out another day."
She weighed the piece of bread in her hand again and again, and thought:
"I won't make any more today. We have only enough flour left to bake one
batch. We can manage to make this last out till Friday."
So Matryona put away the bread, and sat down at the table to patch
her husband's shirt. While she worked she thought how her husband was buying
skins for a winter coat. "If only the dealer does not cheat him. My good
man is much too simple; he cheats nobody, but any child can him in.
Eight roubles is a lot of money--he should get a good coat at price. Not
tanned skins, but still a proper winter coat. How difficult it last winter
to get on without a warm coat. I could neither get down to the river, nor
go out anywhere. When he went out he put on all we had, there was nothing
left for me. He did not start very early today, but still its time
he was back. I only hope he not gone on the spree!"
Hardly had Matryona thought this, when steps were heard on the threshold,
and someone entered. Matryona stuck her needle into her work and went out
into the passage. There she saw two men: Simon, and with him a man without
a hat, and wearing felt boots.
Matryona noticed at once that her husband smelt of sprats. There now,
he has been drinking," thought she. And when she saw that he was coatless,
had only her jacket on, brought no parcel, stood there silent, and seemed
ashamed, her heart was ready to break withdisappointment. "He has drunk
the money," thought she, "and has been on the spree with some good-for-nothing
fellow whom he has brought home with him."
Matryona let them pass into the hut, followed
them in, and saw that the stranger was a young, slight man, wearing her
husband's coat. There was no shirt to be seen under it, and he had hr,
hat. Having entered, he stood neither moving, nor raising his eyes, and
Matryona thought: "He must be a bad man--he's afraid."
Matryona frowned, and stood beside the oven looking to see what they
Simon took off his cap and sat down on the bench as if things were
"Come, Matryona; if supper is ready, let us have some."
Matryona muttered something to herself and did not move, but stayed
where she was, by the oven. She looked first at the one and then at the
other of them, and only shook her head. Simon saw that his wife was annoyed,
but tried to pass it off. Pretending not to notice anything, he took the
stranger by the arm.
"Sit down, friend," said he, "and let us have some supper." The stranger
sat down on the bench.
 "Haven't you cooked anything for us?" said Simon.
Matryona's anger boiled over. "I've cooked, but not for you. It seems
to me you have drunk your wits away. You went to buy a sheep-skin coat,
but come home without so much as the coat you had on, and bring a naked
vagabond home with you. I have no supper for drunkards like you."
"That's enough, Matryona. Don't wag your tongue without reason! You
had better ask what sort of man--"
"And you tell me what you've done with the money?"
Simon found the pocket of the jacket, drew out the three-rouble note,
and unfolded it.
"Here is the money. Trifonof did not pay, but promises to pay soon."
Matryona got still more angry; he had bought no sheep-skins, but had
put his only coat on some naked fellow and had even brought him to their
She snatched up the note from the table, took it to put away in safety,
and said: "I have no supper for you. We can't feed all the naked drunkards
in the world."
"There now, Matryona, hold your tongue a bit. First hear what a man
has to say--!"
"Much wisdom I shall hear from a drunken fool. I was right in not wanting
to marry you--a drunkard. The linen my mother gave me you drank; and now
you've been to buy a coat-and have drunk it too!"
Simon tried to explain to his wife that he had only spent twenty kopeks;
tried to tell how he had found the man --but Matryona would not let him
get a word in. She talked nineteen to the dozen, and dragged in things
that had happened ten years before.
Matryona talked and talked, and at last she flew at Simon and seized
him by the sleeve.
"Give me my jacket. It is the only one I have, and you must needs
take it from me and wear it yourself. Give it here, you mangy dog, and
may the devil take you."
Simon began to pull off the jacket, and turned a sleeve of it inside
out; Matryona seized the jacket and it burst its seams. She snatched it
up, threw it over her head and went to the door. She meant to go out, but
stopped undecided--she wanted to work off her anger, but she also wanted
to learn what sort of a man the stranger was.