Simon the humble shoemaker has come across a cold, naked man called Michael who is on the verge of freezing to death as he leans against a chapel wall. Realizing that the poor man is in desperate need of assistance, Simon wraps Michael in his cloth coat and takes him home with him.
Once there, he makes sure that Michael has something to eat. For good measure, Simon's wife, Matryona, takes pity on the stranger and gives him some additional items of clothing.
The next day, Michael looks so much better than he did the day before. After Simon wakes up, he starts chatting with Michael and asks his guest what work he knows. Much to Simon's surprise, Michael replies that he doesn't know any work. In other words, he doesn't have any trade or skill.
In response, Simon says that he will teach Michael how to earn a living for himself. In return, he offers to provide Michael with food and shelter. Michael agrees, and before long Simon is instructing him in the finer points of sewing boots, an important part of his trade.
After just three days, Michael looks as if he's been sewing boots all his life. He's picked up everything that Simon has taught him very quickly, whether it's waxing the thread, twisting in the bristle, or sewing. Within a year, Michael gains the reputation of a skilled craftsman, someone who sews boots stronger and neater than anyone else.