The action takes place “on the one hundred and eighty-fourth kilometer from Moscow along the branch that goes to Murom and Kazan.” The narrative is conducted from the first person, and the narrator himself, his destiny very much resemble the very A. Solzhenitsyn, his fate.
The narrator came “just to Russia,” no one was waiting for him, since with his return he was late “for ten years.” He asked the teacher where to go farther from the railway. And he was put in a place called High Field. He did not stay there, as there was not even a food stall in the village, bread was not baked, and all the food was “sacked” from the regional city. And again the narrator came to the personnel department, where he was finally identified in a village with a non-poetic name Toroproduct. There he learned that around this village there are many villages with names that caress his ears: Chaslitsy, Ovintsy, Spudni, Shevertni, Shestimirovo…
The narrator settles in the village of Talnevo. Since there were no more places for anyone, he was attached to Matryona Ignatyevna Grigorieva, or simply Matryona. The storyteller remembered her hut: “A spacious hut and especially the best prikonna part of it was fixed on stools and benches – pots and tubs with ficuses.” They filled the hostess’s loneliness with a silent, but alive crowd. ” Matryona did not agree to take the lodger first, she said that it would be very uncomfortable for him. Her every month took up ailment, and she could not look after the guest. Matryona forced the narrator once again to walk through the village in search of a place, but he again returned to her, as if sensing that this was his refuge. He describes in detail the situation of her house, small inhabitants, including a lame cat, mice and cockroaches.
Matrene did not pay a pension. She was even released from the kolkhoz because of poor health. She could receive a pension only for her husband. “The dog from Talnova was twenty kilometers to the east, the village council – ten kilometers to the west, and the village council – to the north, an hour of walking.” And she was chased from one place to another either because of the point, then because of the comma. Usually she returned in a bad mood, overshadowed. But I knew for sure how to cheer myself up. Calm she found in work.
With the arrival of winter, there was a problem of peat shortage. The machine that relied on the narrator as a teacher would not be enough even for a third of the winter. In the swamps near the village, peat was dug from the swamp by excavators, but the inhabitants were not supposed to give out peat. “Fuel was not allowed – and not asked about it.” Matrena could not have got a cow either: it was difficult to get hay even for a goat.
Sometimes Matryona came from the collective farm when there were not enough workers. And Matryona, who was no longer considered a collective farmer, was going to work – not for money, just for nothing.
But it used to be that the ailment was hard on Matryon. She lay for two or three days without getting up. And then all the work around the house was performed by her friend.
She told Matryona about her life. She complained about her present infirmity, recalled how she used to carry five sacks of peat. And once he stopped the horse at all, when he was frightened and carried. “The guys rebounded, and I, really, seized the bridle, stopped it.”
In the winter when Matryona settled a teacher, her affairs went well. She was finally paid a pension of eighty rubles, and a hundred rubles for a guest, and he himself paid her. She even ordered new boots for herself, bought a new quilted jacket. And I sewed my own coat, yes, such that I did not sew in my whole life. Here, in the lining of this coat, she made two hundred rubles for her funeral. And “cheered up”. She began to visit her friends more often. I did not invite guests home, I was afraid to interfere. And only once at home she had three of her own sisters. “Why they were not visible before?” They were afraid that Matryona would ask them for help? ” Once Matryona was very upset that she was left without holy water. Did not see for his bowler at the water service. The narrator did not notice in her the fervor of faith, but “she began everything with God!”
“So Matryona got used to me, and I to her, and we lived without ceremony”. Neither one nor the other did not bother each other with questions about the past life. Everyone knew a little about each other. Matryona knew that her guest was in prison, and he – that Matryona had married before the revolution, she had six children, but only all of them died one after another.
Her husband never returned from the Great Patriotic War, his body was not found, and the funeral was... not sent either. Matryona for eleven post-war years decided that he must have died. One day the narrator sees the house of a “tall black old man”. He was the brother of Matryona’s husband. And he came to the teacher to ask for his son, lazy and ignorant, Grigorieva Antoshka.
Only in the evening she told Matryona that for so long she had been drinking in her soul. This black old man is the elder brother of her husband, Thaddeus, whom she loved. During the First World War, he was taken into the army, to the front. For three years Matryona was waiting for the bridegroom, and when she lost hope, she married Efim, his younger brother. He was younger than her for a year. And by winter he returned from the Hungarian captivity Thaddeus. “I stood in the doorway, I shouted, I threw myself at his knees! .. You can not… Well, he says, if it were not for my brother, I would kill both of you!” And not a single bride in the village took him as a wife, he searched for everything with the same name. And now Thaddeus and his wife live side by side. Often Faddeeva Matryona comes to complain about what her husband beats. And Matryona Vasilyevna recalled that Yefim had never touched her finger. And then they took Yefim to the war, and Thaddeus was not taken because of blindness. And then she asked Matryona from the second Matryona, her daughter, Kira, to be brought up. Ten years brought up, and recently married a young driver in the worms. And now from there her help comes: sugar, bacon. And bequeathed Matryona after the death of her Kira separate frame, but about the rest did not say anything, because she had three more sisters.
That’s how Matryona opened that evening. And literally the next day from the worms came Kira in order to pick up the upper room Matryona, her intended. The upper room was needed so that young people in the worms could get a piece of land. And not so much Cyrus and her husband, as Thaddeus caught fire on this site. He began to insist that Matryona give it to her in her living room. It was not a pity to give her the room, but it was painful to break the roof, under which she lived for forty years. Even the narrator became uncomfortable at the thought that they would tear the boards of the hut. “For Matryona it was the end of all life.” They could not take the upper room for a long time, the weather did not give. And there were such events, which more and more depressed Matryona. Three of her sisters came, “cursed her with a fool” and left, Matrenina disappeared the lame cat. But the frosts hit. The upper room was dismantled into logs, loaded into a sleigh and taken away by a tractor. Those who helped, from the village ones, got drunk on the moonshine and left. Matryona worried that they decided to take everything away at once, it would have been better for two – the sleigh could have collapsed. She went to see off the son of Thaddeus and the husband of Kira, who were carrying logs in Tchurusti.
And at one o’clock in the morning four men came in railway overcoats. How could the narrator cover a small kitchenette, where there were traces of the feast – for moonshine Matrene could give a term. After Masha came, a friend of Matryona, tears flowed the river. She said that at the crossing of the hastily hammered second sleigh fell apart. The tractor driver and the son of Thaddeus began to get on the rope again, and Matryona wanted to help them. At that moment two locomotives without lights came from the station. All three were killed on the spot. Kira’s husband looked at the other canvas – he was waiting for the train from the side of the worms, and the locomotives coming from the Torfoproduct station did not notice. After the incident, he wanted to hang himself, as he blamed himself for the deaths of people, but managed to save him. Now Kira’s husband was awaiting trial.
At the funeral, the sisters most of all cried, so it was believed Izb Matrenina was divided between the sisters, they gave the room to Thaddeus.
As the sister-in-law told Matrenina, Yefim did not like his wife: she dressed like a country girl, she never held a piglet. “I did not chase the dressing… I did not get out to buy things and then save them more than my life.” She did not chase dresses, she dressed up the freaks and villains. ” Not understood and abandoned even by her husband, who buried six children, but did not like her sociable, sister-in-law, sister-in-law, ridiculous, stupidly working for others for free-she did not save property for death. Everyone lived next to her and did not understand that she is the same righteous person, without whom, according to the proverb, there is no village. Neither city. Neither the whole earth is ours.