"What? You have sold him Michiev?" exclaimed the President. "I know the man well. He is a splendid craftsman, and, on one occasion, made me a drozhki. Only, only--well, lately didn't you tell me that he is dead?"
 A sort of low, four-wheeled carriage.
"That Michiev is dead?" re-echoed Sobakevitch, coming perilously near to laughing. "Oh dear no! That was his brother. Michiev himself is very much alive, and in even better health than he used to be. Any day he could knock you up a britchka such as you could not procure even in Moscow. However, he is now bound to work for only one master."
"Indeed a splendid craftsman!" repeated the President. "My only wonder is that you can have brought yourself to part with him."
"Then think you that Michiev is the ONLY serf with whom I have parted? Nay, for I have parted also with Probka Stepan, my carpenter, with Milushkin, my bricklayer, and with Teliatnikov, my bootmaker. Yes, the whole lot I have sold."
And to the President's inquiry why he had so acted, seeing that the serfs named were all skilled workers and indispensable to a household, Sobakevitch replied that a mere whim had led him to do so, and thus the sale had owed its origin to a piece of folly. Then he hung his head as though already repenting of his rash act, and added:
"Although a man of grey hairs, I have not yet learned wisdom."
"But," inquired the President further, "how comes it about, Paul Ivanovitch, that you have purchased peasants apart from land? Is it for transferment elsewhere that you need them?"