Piotr Karpenko

It was at this period of my life, while such dreams were still the centre of gravity of my as yet undeveloped thinking faculty, that early one morning there came running up to me. one of the choristers of the fortress cathedral, an army clerk, who had become my friend chiefly because I sometimes brought him good cigarettes, which I must confess I filched surreptitiously from my uncle’s cigarette case. Panting for breath, he told me that he had accidentally overheard a discussion between the commandant of the fortress, General Fadeef, and the chief of the mounted police about the arrest and cross-examination of several persons in connection with an affair relating to the artillery range, and my name had been mentioned as having possibly been mixed up in it.

This news greatly alarmed me because I had, as is said, something on my conscience in connection with the artillery range, so, wishing to avoid any awkward possibilities, I decided not to delay my departure but to leave Kars the very next day.

This incident of the artillery range, through which a factor was formed in my psyche for engendering remorse of conscience, and on account of which I hurriedly made my departure, was the cause of my intimate friendship with Piotr Karpenko.

At that particular time I had a number of friends of my own age as well as others many years older. Among the former was one very agreeable boy, the son of a vodka manufacturer. His name was Riaouzov or Riaïzov, I do not remember which. He often used to invite me to his house and occasionally I would drop in without invitation.

His parents spoiled him a great deal. He had his own separate room where we could prepare our lessons in comfort. On his writing-table there was almost always a plateful of freshly baked pies of flaky pastry, of which I was then very fond. But what was perhaps most important was that he had a sister about twelve or thirteen years old, who often came to his room when I happened to be there.