As my father, accepting the care of these cattle, had taken upon himself, as was then also the custom, their insurance against all kinds of accidents—even against their seizure by wolves, which happened rather frequently—he not only lost all his own cattle by this misfortune, but was forced to sell almost all his remaining possessions to pay for the cattle belonging to others.
And in consequence my father, from having been very well off, suddenly found himself a pauper.
Our family then consisted of only six persons, namely, my father, my mother, my grandmother, who had wished to end her days with her youngest son, and three children—myself, my brother and my sister—of whom I was the eldest. I was then about seven years old.
Having lost his fortune, my father had to take up some business, since the maintenance of such a family, and, what is more, a family which until then had been pampered by a life of wealth, cost a good deal. So, having collected the remnants of his former large and grandly maintained household, he began by opening a lumber-yard and with it, according to local custom, a carpenter’s shop for making all kinds of wooden articles.
But from the very first year, owing to the fact that my father had never before in his life been engaged in commerce and had in consequence no business experience, the lumber-yard was a failure.
He was finally compelled to liquidate it and to limit himself to the workshop, specializing in the production of small wooden articles.
This second failure in my father’s affairs occurred in the fourth year after his first big calamity. Our family lived in the town of Alexandropol all this time, which happened to coincide with the period of rapid reconstruction by the Russians of the near-by fortress-town of Kars which they had taken.
The opening up of good prospects for making money in Kars, and the added persuasions of my uncle, who already had his business there, induced my father to transfer his workshop to Kars. He first went there alone, and later took his whole family.
By this time our family had already increased by three more ‘cosmic apparatuses for the transformation of food’, in the form of my three then really charming sisters.