Abram Yelov

In two weeks I already knew how many of the things were made. My employer would call me to hold the glue, to stir the mixture, and so on, and I thus penetrated to his holy of holies and soon learned all the little but, in this work, very important secrets. And in this sort of work they are indeed very important; for example, when the plaster is dissolved, one must know how many drops of lemon juice should be added so that the plaster will not have bubbles and the articles will come out smooth; otherwise the fine extremities of the statuettes, such as the nose, ear, and so on, may have ugly hollows. It is also important to know the right proportions of glue, gelatine and glycerine for making the moulds; a little more or a little less of anything, and everything goes wrong. Knowing only the procedures without these secrets would not enable one to obtain good results.

In a word, a month and a half later there appeared on the market similar wares of my making. To the forms which the Italian had, I added several comic heads which were filled with small shot and served as penholders; I also put up for sale special money-boxes which sold in great numbers and were christened by me ‘The Invalid in Bed’. I do not think there was a single house in Tiflis at that time that did not have one of my money-boxes.

Later I had several workmen working for me and six Georgian girls as apprentices. Yelov, with great delight, helped me in everything, and even stopped trading in books on week­days. At the same time, Yelov and I continued our own work: the reading of books and the study of philosophical questions.

After several months, when I had amassed a fair sum of money and was growing weary of my workshop, I sold it, while it was in full swing, to two Jews for a good price. As I had to vacate my rooms, which were connected to the workshop, I moved to Molokans Street near the railway station, and Yelov, with his books, moved over there also.

Yelov was short, thick­set and dark, with eyes always burning like two live coals. He was very hairy, with shaggy eyebrows and a beard growing nearly from the nose itself and almost covering his cheeks, the ruddiness of which nevertheless always shone through.