THIS CHAPTER WILL BE DEVOTED to Piotr Karpenko, friend of my childhood, who later became, by his own real achievements and not merely by diploma, a prominent mining engineer, and who is now deceased. . . .
May he attain the Kingdom of Heaven!
It will be sufficient, I think, for portraying all the aspects of the individuality of Piotr Karpenko, and also for fulfilling my aim in this series of my writings, namely, that the reader should obtain instructive and really useful material, if I begin this chapter by describing the circumstances in which our first inner intimacy arose, and then relate several incidents which occurred on one of our expeditions, during which there befell, by the will of fate, the misfortune which led to his premature death.
This dose friendship of ours began when we were still boys. I will describe what happened in as much detail as possible, the more so as this may very well throw light on certain aspects of the psyche of young scamps in general, some of whom may later grow up to be unusual men.
We were living in the town of Kars and at that time I was one of the choirboys of the fortress cathedral.
I must say first of all that, after my teacher Bogachevsky had left Kars and my first tutor, Dean Borsh, had gone away on leave of absence owing to illness, I was deprived of both of these men who were real authorities for me; and as there was also talk in my family about the possibility of returning to Alexandropol in the near future, I no longer wished to remain in Kars and began to think about going to Tiflis, where I had dreamed for a long time of joining what was called the Archdeacon’s Choir—a proposal which had often been made to me and which was very nattering to my youthful self-love.