Abram Yelov

I must add, by the way, that in my opinion this custom is not without its use. My special observations have shown me that the new­born children of other races suffer from a skin rash in the places where one usually applies some kind of powder to prevent inflammation, but with rare exceptions Armenian children, born in the same regions, do not suffer from this rash, although they have all the other children’s diseases. This fact I ascribe to the custom of salting.

Yelov was unlike his compatriots in his complete lack of one characteristic that is very typical of the Aïsors: although he was very hot-tempered he never bore a grudge. His anger passed quickly, and if he happened to offend anyone, as soon as his temper cooled he tried his best to smooth over whatever he had said.

He was scrupulously considerate about the religion of others. Once, in the course of a conversation about the intensive propaganda which was being carried on among the Aïsors by missionaries of almost all European countries in order to convert them to their respective faiths, he said:

‘It is not a question of to whom a man prays, but a question of his faith. Faith is conscience, the foundation of which is laid in childhood. If a man changes his religion, he loses his conscience, and conscience is the most valuable thing in a man. I respect his conscience, and since his conscience is sustained by his faith and his faith by his religion, therefore I respect his religion; and for me it would be a great sin if I should begin to judge his religion or to disillusion him about it, and thus destroy his conscience which can only be acquired in childhood.’

When he expressed himself in this way, Pogossian would ask him: ‘And why did you wish to be an officer?’ Then the cheeks of Abram would flame and he would vehemently cry: ‘Go to the devil, you salted phalanga!’

Yelov was unusually devoted to his friends. He was ready, as is said, to give his soul for anyone to whom he became attached. When Yelov and Pogossian became friends they were so attached to one another as may God grant all brothers to be. But the external manifestation of the friendship of these two was quite particular and difficult to explain.