Simon, the shoemaker in Leo Tolstoy’s story, needs a warm winter coat. Not only have he and his wife have been sharing the same sheepskin coat but the old coat is completely worn out. Simon had been saving money since the previous year when he had put off buying a new coat. One he saved up three roubles, he figured that he could collect some money that customers owed him for work he had done for them. He gets ready to walk into the village, where the customers live and he can also buy the sheepskins. He expects to collect another five roubles and twenty kopeks.
Simon is only partly successful in his plan in accumulating the rest of the money. Not all the customers are able or willing to pay their debts. One man he looks for is not home, and Simon gets only a promise from the man’s wife that he will pay him the following week. Another man he does find at home, but he claims not to have enough for the full bill. He does pay Simon 20 kopeks for a boot-repair job.
Although Simon has extended credit to his customers, he cannot convince the sheepskin dealer to do the same for him. The dealer insists that he come back with enough money to make his purchase. Simon also picks up a repair job to complete. Although he is not happy, Simon does feel warmer after he drinks the vodka on which he spends the 20 kopeks.