Bogachevsky

I went to Alexandropol to earn money, firstly, because everyone knew me there as a ‘master of all trades’ and I was always asked to make or repair something. One person wanted a lock repaired, another a watch mended, a third a special stove hewn out of the local stone, and another a cushion embroidered for a trousseau or for decorating the parlour. In short, I had a large clientele there and plenty of work and, for those times, I was very well paid. I also went to Alexandropol because in Kars I mixed with people of the ‘learned’ and ‘superior’ circles, according to my youthful understanding, and I did not wish them to know me as an artisan or to suspect that my family was in need and that I was compelled to earn money for my own expenses as a simple craftsman. At that time all this deeply wounded my self-­love.

And so at Easter that year I went as usual to Alexandropol, which was only about sixty miles from Kars, to stay with the family of my uncle, to whom I was much attached and whose favourite I had always been.

On the second day of this visit, at dinner, my aunt said to me, among other things: ‘Listen, take care not to have an accident.’

I was astonished. What could possibly happen to me? I asked her what she meant.

‘I don’t quite believe it myself,’ said she, ‘but something that was foretold about you has already come true, and I am afraid that the rest of it might also come true.’ And she told me the following:

At the beginning of the winter the half­-witted Eoung­-Ashokh Mardiross came to Alexandropol, as he did each year, and for some reason or other my aunt took it into her head to summon this fortune­ teller and ask him to foretell my future. He had predicted many things awaiting me and, according to her, some of them had already occurred. She then pointed out certain things which had indeed happened to me during this time. ‘But thank God,’ she continued, ‘there are two things which have not yet happened to you: one, that you will have a large sore on your right side; the other, that you are in danger of a serious accident from a fire­arm. You should, therefore, be very cautious wherever shooting is going on,’ concluded my aunt, stating that, although she did not believe this lunatic, it was in any case better to be careful.

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