Stepan Arkadyevitch's affairs were in a very bad way.
The money for two-thirds of the forest had all been spent
already, and he had borrowed from the merchant in advance at ten
per cent discount, almost all the remaining third. The merchant
would not give more, especially as Darya Alexandrovna, for the
first time that winter insisting on her right to her own
property, had refused to sign the receipt for the payment of the
last third of the forest. All his salary went on household
expenses and in payment of petty debts that could not be put off.
There was positively no money.
This was unpleasant and awkward, and in Stepan Arkadyevitch's
opinion things could not go on like this. The explanation of the
position was, in his view, to be found in the fact that his
salary was too small. The post he filled had been unmistakably
very good five years ago, but it was so no longer.
Petrov, the bank director, had twelve thousand; Sventitsky, a
company director, had seventeen thousand; Mitin, who had founded
a bank, received fifty thousand.
"Clearly I've been napping, and they've overlooked me," Stepan
Arkadyevitch thought about himself. And he began keeping his
eyes and ears open, and towards the end of the winter he had
discovered a very good berth and had formed a plan of attack upon
it, at first from Moscow through aunts, uncles, and friends, and
then, when the matter was well advanced, in the spring, he went
himself to Petersburg. It was one of those snug, lucrative
berths of which there are so many more nowadays than there used
to be, with incomes ranging from one thousand to fifty thousand
roubles. It was the post of secretary of the committee of the
amalgamated agency of the southern railways, and of certain
banking companies. This position, like all such appointments,
called for such immense energy and such varied qualifications,
that it was difficult for them to be found united in any one man.
And since a man combining all the qualifications was not to be
found, it was at least better that the post be filled by an
honest than by a dishonest man. And Stepan Arkadyevitch was not
merely an honest man--unemphatically--in the common acceptation
of the words, he was an honest man--emphatically--in that special
sense which the word has in Moscow, when they talk of an "honest"
politician, an "honest" writer, an "honest" newspaper, an
"honest" institution, an "honest" tendency, meaning not simply
that the man or the institution is not dishonest, but that they
are capable on occasion of taking a line of their own in
opposition to the authorities.