I’m reading Pisemsky’s “Плотничья артель” [The carpenters’ cooperative], an 1855 story narrated by a landowner who has hired a mysterious fellow named Puzich to build a barn for him — he seems comically self-important, but turns out to be a moneylender who holds his fellow workers in his thrall. When the work is done and Puzich has left, the narrator gives vodka to the others, and the suddenly talkative Pyotr tells him his father was more intelligent than he is. Of course he asks why, and Pyotr says: “А потому он умней тебя был, что уж он бы, брат, Пузичу за немшоные стены не дал ста серебром — шалишь!” [He was smarter than you because he, brother, wouldn’t have given Puzich a hundred silver rubles for nemshonye walls — that’s nuts!] I hadn’t seen the adjective nemshony, but I guessed it had something to do with moss (мох [mokh]; compare the adjective мшистый [mshisty] ‘mossy’), and that turned out to be correct; Dahl has Мшить ‘to caulk the framework of a log house with moss,’ and adds: Сибирь немшеная, дразнят сибиряков [Siberians are teased/mocked with “unmossed Siberia”]. On the other hand, the insult went the other way as well; this site has: Расея немшёная, бран. – о жителях России, которые из-за бедности не строили домов на мху, как в Сибири» [“unmossed Russia,” insulting; said of inhabitants of Russia, who out of poverty did not build houses with moss as they do in Siberia]. I’ve learned a number of new words from this story (щурята are young pike — who would have guessed the offspring of a щука was a щурёнок?; красна = кросна ‘woven cloth’; мелево ‘grain to be ground’ or, figuratively, ‘windbag’), but this is my favorite so far.