Semyon also got up. “Neighbor,” he called, “why do you lose your temper?” But his neighbor did not look round, and kept on his way.
Semyon gazed after him until he was lost to sight in the cutting at the turn. He went home and said to his wife: “Arina, our neighbor is a wicked person, not a man.”
However, they did not quarrel. They met again and discussed the same topics.
“Ah, friend, if it were not for men we should not be poking in these huts,” said Vasily, on one occasion.
“And what if we are poking in these huts? It’s not so bad. You can live in them.”
“Live in them, indeed! Bah, you!… You have lived long and learned little, looked at much and seen little. What sort of life is there for a poor man in a hut here or there? The cannibals are devouring you. They are sucking up all your life-blood, and when you become old, they will throw you out just as they do husks to feed the pigs on. What pay do you get?”
“Not much, Vasily Stepanych twelve rubles.”
Firing and lighting
“And I, thirteen and a half rubles. Why? By the regulations the company should give us fifteen rubles a month with firing and lighting. Who decides that you should have twelve rubles, or I thirteen and a half? Ask yourself! And you say a man can live on that? You understand it is not a question of one and a half rubles or three rubles even If they paid us each the whole fifteen rubles. I was at the station last month. The director passed through. I saw him. I had that honor. He had a separate coach. He came out and stood on the platform I shall not stay here long; I shall go somewhere, anywhere, follow my nose.”
“But where will you go, Stepanych? Leave well enough alone. Here you have a house, warmth, alittle piece of land. Your wife is a worker.”
“Land! You should look at my piece of land. Not a twig on it nothing. I planted some cabbages in the spring, just when the inspector nime along. He said: ‘What is this? Why have you not reported this? Why have you done this without permission? Dig them up, roots and nil.’ He was drunk. Another time he would not have said a word, but this time it struck him. Three rubles fine!…”