What Men Live By - Part V
In the morning Simon awoke. The children were still asleep; his wife had gone to the neighbor’s to borrow some bread. The stranger alone was sitting on the bench, dressed in the old shirt and trousers, and looking upwards. His face was brighter than it had been the day before.
Simon said to him, “Well, friend; the belly wants bread, and the naked body clothes. One has to work for a living What work do you know?”
“I do not know any.”
This surprised Simon, but he said, “Men who want to learn can learn anything.”
“Men work, and I will work also.”
“What is your name?”
“Well, Michael, if you don’t wish to talk about yourself, that is your own affair; but you’ll have to earn a living for yourself. If you will work as I tell you, I will give you food and shelter.”
“May God reward you! I will learn. Show me what to do.”
Simon took yarn, put it round his thumb and began to twist it.
“It is easy enough—see!”
Michael watched him, put some yarn round his own thumb in the same way, caught the knack, and twisted the yarn also.
Then Simon showed him how to wax the thread. This also Michael mastered. Next Simon showed him how to twist the bristle in, and how to sew, and this, too, Michael learned at once.
Whatever Simon showed him he understood at once, and after three days he worked as if he had sewn boots all his life. He worked without stopping, and ate little. When work was over he sat silently, looking upwards. He hardly went into the street, spoke only when necessary, and neither joked nor laughed. They never saw him smile, except that first evening when Matryona gave them supper.