Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

Without having read half the note, I had already begun to run, finishing the note as I ran, and waving to Soloviev to come quickly. Where I was running to I did not know. After me ran Soloviev and the boy. When we reached the first court, where we had been living, the boy took us to a second court and showed us the cell where the prince lay.

After a joyful greeting and embraces I asked the prince how he had fallen ill.

‘Before this,’ he said, ‘I had been feeling very well. Two weeks ago, after bathing, I was cutting my toe­nails, and without noticing it I probably cut one too short, as afterwards, walking barefoot as usual, I must have got a splinter in this toe and it began to hurt. At first I paid no attention to it, thinking it would pass; but it became worse and finally began to fester. A week ago fever set in which continued to rise, and I was compelled to take to my bed. I even became delirious. The brethren tell me that I had blood-poisoning, but now the danger is over and I feel well. But enough about me. It is nothing. … I shall soon recover. But tell me quickly, how did you get here, by what miracle?’

I told him briefly of my life during the two years in which we had not seen each other; of chance meetings during that time, of my friendship with the dervish Bogga-Eddin, the incidents which resulted from it, and how I finally found myself there. I then asked him why he had disappeared from sight so suddenly, why I had had no news from him all this time, and why he had let me worry over the uncertainty about him until finally, with grief in my heart, I had resigned myself to the thought of having lost him for ever. And I told him how, in case by any chance they might be useful to him, I had had requiems held for him, regardless of expense and even though I did not fully believe in their efficacy.

Then I asked how he himself had got there and the prince answered as follows:

‘When we last met in Constantinople, there had already begun in me a kind of inner lassitude, something like apathy. On the way to Ceylon and for the next year and a half, this apathy gradually took the form of what one might call a dreary disillusionment, and consequently there grew in me a sort of inner emptiness and all interests connected with life faded.