However, to avoid further discussion, I'll give you a rouble and a half if you like, but beyond that I cannot go.'
'You ought to be ashamed to mention such a sum. You are haggling, tell me your real price.'
'I cannot give more, Mihail Semyonovitch; you may believe my word, I cannot; what cannot be done, cannot be done,' said Tchitchikov; he added half a rouble, however.
'But why are you so stingy?' said Sobakevitch; 'it really is not dear! Another man would cheat you and sell you some rubbish instead of souls; but mine are as sound as a nut, all first-class: if not craftsmen, they are sturdy peasants of one sort or another. Look here, Miheyev the wheelwright, for instance, he never made a carriage that wasn't on springs. And they were not like some of the Moscow workmanship, made to last an hour … all so solid … he lines them himself and varnishes them!'
Tchitchikov was opening his lips to say that Mihyeev had however left this world; but Sobakevitch was carried away, as the saying is, by his own eloquence, and the vehemence and flow of his language was surprising.
'And Stepan Probka the carpenter! I'll stake my head you would never find another peasant like him. What a giant of strength he was! If he had served in the Guards, God knows what they would have given him, over seven foot high!'
Tchitchikov tried again to say that Probka too