Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

‘He had been speaking of the Tadzhiks, but after the first cup of tea he suddenly broke off the conversation, saying: “But these are trifles we are speaking about; this is not the point,” and, after looking at me steadily, he glanced aside and became silent.

‘The way he had so unexpectedly cut short the conversation, how he had ended it and that piercing look, all seemed to me strange and I said to myself, “Poor fellow, doubtless his thinking faculty has already begun to weaken with age and his mind has begun to wander,” and I became painfully sorry for this dear old man.

‘The feeling of pity began little by little to pass to myself. I reflected that my mind also would soon begin to wander and that the day was not far off when I too would not be able to direct my thoughts, and so on. I was so lost in these heavy but fleeting thoughts that I even forgot the old man. Suddenly I again heard his voice. The words he spoke instantly dispelled my gloomy thoughts, and shook me out of my state. My pity changed to such an astonishment as I think I had never experienced in my life before.

‘ “Eh, Gogo, Gogo! Forty-five years you have worked, suffered and laboured incessantly, and not once did you decide for yourself or know how to work so that, if only for a few months, the desire of your mind should become the desire of your heart. If you had been able to attain this, you would not now in your old age be in such solitude as you are!”

‘The name “Gogo” which he had used made me start with amazement. How could this Hindu, who saw me for the first time somewhere in Central Asia, know the nickname by which I had been called in my childhood sixty years before, and then only by my mother and nurse, and which no one had ever repeated since then?

‘Can you imagine my astonishment? I instantly recalled an old man who had come to see me once in Moscow after the death of my wife, when I was still a young man. I wondered, could this be the same mysterious man? But no. Firstly, the other was tall and did not resemble this one, and secondly, the other had surely died long before, as more than forty years had passed since that time and he had then been quite old. I could not find any explanation of this old man’s obvious knowledge not only of me but also of my inner state, known to myself alone.