A short work, to accommodate a 1-week earlier than usual Meetup (ahead of Memorial Day) and to allow time to read a longer book in June.
An ex-seminary student Vasily Bogoslovsky, a.k.a. Ovtsebyk (Musk-Ox, a nickname referring both to peculiarities of his appearance and certain habits) is an eccentric whose every step and phrase baffles and amuses people. He detests what's going on around him, but is uncapable of any practical work, spending his time loitering in the woods, reading Latin philosophers and visiting his old friends from time to time, reminding them about his urgent need of finding any kind of employment.
Alexander Sviridov, once a serf peasant and now a successful building engineer, entrepreneur and businessman, is a direct opposite: intelligent and good-natured, he is a practical man, enjoying all-round respect and admiration. It is to him and Nastasya Petrovna, his beautiful wife, that the narrator comes asking to help find for Ovtsebyk just any occupation to keep him from trouble . . . .