Mr. X or Captain Pogossian

Living among the ruins of this city and spending our days reading and studying, we sometimes, for a rest, made excavations in the hope of finding something, as there are many underground passages in the ruins of Ani.

Once, Pogossian and I, while digging in one of these underground passages, noticed a place where the consistency of the ground had changed, and on digging further we discovered a new passage, which turned out to be a narrow one, blocked at the end with fallen stones. We cleared the stones away and before us appeared a small room with arches crumbling with age. Everything indicated that it had been a monastic cell. There was nothing left in this cell but broken pottery and pieces of rotten wood, doubtless the remains of furniture; but in a kind of niche in the comer lay a pile of parchments.

Some of the parchments were turning to dust, others were more or less preserved. With the utmost care we took them to our hut, and tried to decipher them. They were written in a language which appeared to be Armenian but was unknown to us. I knew Armenian well, to say nothing of Pogossian; nevertheless we could not understand any of this writing, as it was a very ancient Armenian, very different from that of today.

This discovery interested us so much that we left everything else and returned that same day to Alexandropol, where we spent many days and nights trying to decipher at least a few words. Finally, after a great deal of difficulty and much questioning of experts, it became clear that these parchments were simply letters written by one monk to another monk— a certain Father Arem.

We were especially interested in one letter in which the writer referred to information he had received concerning certain mysteries. This parchment, however, was one of those which had been most damaged by time, and there were a number of words that we could only guess at; but we nevertheless succeeded in reconstructing the letter.

What interested us most was not the beginning but the end of this letter. It began with a long greeting, and went on about the ordinary small happenings in the life of a certain monastery where, as could be inferred, this Father Arem had formerly lived.