Introduction

‘They came to Khorasan several times, but each time only for a short stay.

‘Travelling with his young wife, this new friend of mine was collecting all kinds of information, in many countries, and making analyses to determine the effects of the nicotine in various kinds of tobacco on the human organism and psyche.

‘After collecting the data he needed on this question in several Asiatic countries, he returned with his wife to Europe, where he began to write a long book on the results of his research.
‘But since his young wife, obviously owing to her youth and inexperience as regards the necessity of preparing for what are called rainy days, had spent all their resources during these travels of theirs, she was compelled, in order to give her husband the possibility of finishing his book, to take employment as a typist in the office of a large publishing house.

‘There often came to this office a certain literary critic who met her there, and having, as is said; fallen in love with her, tried, simply for the satisfaction of his lust, to get on intimate terms with her; but she, an honourable wife who knew her duty, would not yield to his advances.

‘But while, in this “faithful wife of a European husband”, morality continued to triumph, there was nourished in this loathsome contemporary type, in proportion to the non-­satisfaction of his lust, the desire for vengeance usual in such people; and by all sorts of intrigues he succeeded in getting her dismissed from her employment for no reason whatsoever. Then, when her husband, my young friend, had finished his book and published it, this specific ulcer of our times, because of his resentment, began to write in the newspaper to which he contributed, and also in other newspapers and periodicals, a whole series of articles containing all sorts of false statements, which discredited the book so completely that it was a total failure—that is to say, no one became interested in it or bought it.

‘And so, thanks to one of these unconscionable representatives of this unprincipled literature, things came to such a pass that this honest worker and his beloved wife, having spent their last resources and not having even the wherewithal to buy bread, by mutual pact, hanged themselves.

22