This final story, the title story The Steppe, which is as long as some short novels might take a bit of time but it starts in a way that does grab the attention.
Highlights from the first twenty pages
Yegorushka is being taken by his Uncle to school away from his mother because she wants him to do well in life. He is bitterly opposed to leaving home and does not really understand what is happening and the story starts with him crying sitting next to the coach driver while a priest and his uncle talk in the back. But after a while he starts to enjoy the moving landscape and looks out on a countryside that he has never seen before. The priest gives him some advice about the benefits of learning but his uncle is more reserved and promotes the benefits of being business minded. They stop for the horses to take a rest and everyone but Yegorushka sleeps but the young boy watches the horses and the bags and then is distracted by the sound of a song coming over the fields.