Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

His father was hardly ever at home, spending his time at his mills and grain shops. Moreover, he was addicted to drink, and regularly several times a year he would drink steadily for several weeks. Even when sober he was, in the words of his son, an ‘overbearing fool’.

The parents of Soloviev, each living their own separate lives and with their own interests, merely endured one another. Soloviev had one younger brother, and both boys went to the public school.

The parents had even, as it were, divided up the children. The elder son was the mother’s favourite, the younger the father’s, and on this account there were frequent scenes. The father never addressed his elder son without a sneer, so that a kind of hostility gradually grew up between them. The mother, who received money from her husband for expenses, gave Soloviev a certain amount monthly. But with the years his appetites in­ creased, and his allowance was not sufficient for paying court to girls. Once he stole a bracelet from his mother and sold it to make some gift or other.

When she discovered this theft, she concealed it from his father; but the thefts began to be repeated and one day his father, learning of them, made a great scene and turned Soloviev out of the house, although later, through the intervention of relatives and the mother, he pardoned him.

Soloviev was in the fifth—or next to the highest—class of the school when a travelling circus stopped in Samara and he lost his head completely over a bare­back rider named Verka. When the circus moved to Tsaritsyn, Soloviev followed her there, having got hold of money in some fraudulent way from his mother.

At this time he had already begun to drink. In Tsaritsyn he learned that his Verka had taken up with a captain of the mounted police and, out of bitterness, he took to drinking heavily. He began to frequent the port taverns and found a great many companions like himself.

It ended one fine day in everything being stolen from him while drunk, and he found himself in a strange town without a kopek and not daring to send word of himself to his family.