Bogachevsky

There were four of us—a soldier, the orderly of commander Gorbakoun, had joined us. We all brought guns, and Gorbakoun even had a service rifle. Arriving at the lake as planned, we made a fire, had supper, built a hut, and went to sleep.
Rising before dawn, we divided the shores of the lake between us and began to wait for the birds to fly. On my left was Gor­bakoun with his service rifle. He fired at the first duck that rose while it was still very low, and the bullet hit me right in the leg. Fortunately it passed clean through, missing the bone.

Of course this spoiled the shooting-­party. My leg was bleeding profusely and began to be painful, and as I was unable to walk, my comrades had to carry me all the way home on an improvised litter made with the rifles.

I stayed at home and the wound soon healed, as only the flesh had been injured; but I limped for a long time afterwards.

The coincidence of this accident with the prediction of the local oracle made me think a great deal. On a later visit at my uncle’s house I heard that Eoung­-Ashokh Mardiross had returned to the district and I asked my aunt to send for him.

The fortune­teller came. He was tall and thin, with very faded eyes and the nervous, disordered movements of a half­wit. He shuddered from time to time and smoked incessantly. He was certainly a very sick man.

His way of telling fortunes was as follows:
Sitting between two lighted candles, he held his thumb up before him and stared for a long time at his thumb­nail until he fell into a doze. Then he began to tell what he saw in the nail, first of all saying what the person was wearing and then what would happen to him in the future. If he were telling the fortune of someone absent, he would first ask for his name, the details of his face, the general direction of the place where he lived, and if possible his age.

On this occasion he again made predictions about me. And one day, without fail, I will relate how these predictions were fulfilled.

 

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