In Mirgorod live two distinguished gentlemen - Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich. Compatriots find them both beautiful people, but between them there is some dissimilarity. Ivan Ivanovich is lean and tall; Ivan Nikiforovich is slightly lower, but much spread in thickness. Ivan Ivanovich’s head is like a radish with a tail down, Ivan Nikiforovich’s head is like a radish with a tail up. Ivan Ivanovich is extremely delicate and sensitive man who in conversation would never say a bad word. Ivan Nikiforovich, on the contrary, drag these words often.
Both of them live in their own homes in the neighborhood.
One summer day, resting from the heat in his yard, Ivan Ivanovich saw over the fence a skinny servant of Ivan Nikiforovich who aired his stale clothes. Silly woman hung on a rope not only clothing, but also the saddle, his sword, and then pulled out a gun. Ivan Ivanovich wanted to have a gun, while his neighbor and his friend never hunted. Ivan Ivanovich got up and went to Ivan Nikiforovich to beg his gun or trade it for something else.
Thick Ivan Nikiforovich was lying in the shaded room on the carpet completely naked. It turned out that the gun he bought when a few years ago was going to the police. Ivan Nikiforovich treasured this gun and did not give it to Ivan Ivanovich, though he offered to replace it with a fattened brown pig and then added two more bags of oats. Conversation of two friends ended in a quarrel. Ivan Nikiforovich suggested Ivan Ivanovich to kiss with his pig, called him with an insulting word "goose", and finally ordered his maid to bring a neighbor out of the door.
From that day on the former affection of two venerable friends was gone. Agafia Fedoseyevna, who for some unknown reason went to Ivan Nikiforovich very often and stayed there for a long time, began to inflate the brawl. Agafia Fedoseyevna was so grumpy that once even took a bite of an assessor’s ear.
The feud came to the fact that the court of Ivan Ivanovich and of Ivan Nikiforovich started beating the dogs which climbed over the fence from a neighbor. In a place where the fence had a hole, Ivan Nikiforovich with a devilish speed - one day - had built a large goose barn.
Ivan Ivanovich was so outraged by this act that the next night took a saw, crept to the barn and sawed wooden posts on which it stood. Shed failed with a bang. Worried Ivan Ivanovich in fever ran home and waited for a former friend in retaliation for damages to set a fire to his house.
When he reached the nerve disorder, Ivan Ivanovich came to Mirgorod county court and filed a lawsuit to get on the "well-known around the world for his ungodly, resulting in disgusting illegal actions, Ivan Nikiforovich". Ivan Ivanovich wrote that the assailant called him a goose and nourishes the intention to set a fire to his home. For this reason, it is required to score Ivan Nikiforovich in chains and put in prison.
The judge and the office were so stunned by breaking up of two old friends that were speechless and spilled ink. No sooner had Ivan Ivanovoch left, as Ivan Nikiforovich brought a claim on him to the court. He reported that "violent nobleman and robber, Ivan Ivanovich" climbed at night, like a thief, in his backyard and hacked a barn that stood there. Ivan Nikiforovich insisted that the attacker should be deprived of rank and nobility, got chained, beaten with whips and exiled to Siberia.
The scandalous case was aggravated by an unusual incident. When in the evening the judge and his assistants came out of the office, there ran brown pig of Ivan Ivanovich, it grabbed Ivan Nikiforovich’s complaint from the table and ran away with it. They failed to catch the pig, in spite of the thrown in her rulers, and inkwells.
The next day, the courtyard governor Peter Fedorovich visited Ivan Ivanovich and told about the case with the pig, which carried off an important official paper. Ivan Ivanovich insisted that there was no his guilt. But the governor reminded of the last year’s injunction prohibiting unclean animals, especially pigs and goats to walk on the streets of Mirgorod. Ivan Ivanovich objected, saying that the pig is a God's creation. Peter Fedorovich had tried to threaten him with a criminal suit, but then the owner of the pig promised to slaughter it and to send his wife couple of cleverly made sausages. In parting, Peter Fedorovich on behalf of all respected citizens strongly advised to make peace with Ivan Nikiforovich.
When Ivan Nikiforovich learned that his claim had been kidnapped by a pig of his enemy, he wrote another court paper. Mirgorod judge resorted to his usual strategy: put the matter in the cabinet, where it stayed for several years. Everyone expected that during this time, the opponents will reconcile, but there was no reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the governor gave once a lush assembly with many guests. Only Ivan Nikiforovich refused to come because of the presence of Ivan Ivanovich. The assembled audience sent a deputy to Ivan Nikiforovich instructing to bring the absent to the general celebration.
Quirky Anton Prokofievitch convinced Ivan Nikiforovich that Ivan Ivanovich was not there. Ivan Nikiforovich went to the meeting. When everyone sat down to a table laden with a variety of dishes, the townspeople rigged so that both enemies were right in front of each other.
When they saw each other were numb at first, but none of them went away from the table. Everyone seemed even that both the enemies were ready to forget their quarrel. After dinner, the guests began slowly to push Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich to each other, almost pitting their foreheads. Having come close, they began to talk. The case went to a successful end, but it was spoiled by a careless phrase of Ivan Nikiforovich, saying that his former friend offended for nothing of the word "goose".
Hearing again the insulting nickname, Ivan Ivanovich broke out and came in such a rage, in which God forbid to see a person. He gave Ivan Nikiforovich a withering look and ran out of the assembly. The lawsuit, which has long been scarcely remembered, was launched by both sides with renewed vigor.