Abram Yelov

Having obtained somewhere the old uniform of a British officer, Yelov put it on, went over to the post where the British troops were stationed and passed himself off as a British officer from India who had come there to hunt Turkestan tigers. He was able to distract their attention so well with his English stories that we had time, without hurrying and without being observed by the British troops, to take what we wanted from one bank to the other.

Yelov, in addition to everything else he did, continued to study intensively. He did not, as he had intended, enter the Cadet School, but went to Moscow, where he brilliantly passed the examination for the Lazarev Institute and several years later received a degree in philology, at the Kazan University, if I remember rightly.

Just as Pogossian had a peculiar notion about physical work, so Yelov had a very original view about mental work. He once said:

‘It’s all the same. Our thoughts work day and night. Instead of allowing them to think about caps of invisibility or the riches of Aladdin, rather let them be occupied with something useful. In giving direction to thought, of course a certain amount of energy is spent, but no more is needed for this purpose in a whole day than for the digestion of one meal. I therefore decided to study languages—not only to prevent my thoughts from idling but also not to allow them to hinder my other functions with their idiotic dreams and childish phantasies. Besides, the knowledge of languages can in itself sometimes be useful.’

This friend of my youth is still alive and well and is now comfortably settled in one of the cities of North America.

During the war he was in Russia and lived most of the time in Moscow. He was caught by the Russian Revolution in Siberia, where he had gone to inspect one of his numerous book and stationery stores. During the revolution he endured many hardships and all his riches were swept from the face of the earth.

Only three years ago, his nephew, Dr. Yelov, came from America and persuaded him to emigrate there.