Piotr Karpenko

Seeing her bandage, the old man asked what the trouble was. We explained and, calling her to him, the old man closely examined the swelling. He told Vitvitskaia to lie on her back, and he then began to massage the swelling in various ways, at the same time whispering certain words.

We were all indescribably amazed when, after twenty minutes of massage, Vitvitskaia’s enormous swelling began to disappear before everyone’s eyes, and after a further twenty minutes absolutely nothing remained of it.

Just then Professor Skridlov came back, having finished developing and printing the old man’s photograph. He too was greatly astonished and, bowing deeply before the old man, humbly entreated him to relieve him of an attack, from which he had been suffering acutely the last few days, of his long established kidney trouble.

The ez-ezounavouran asked him for various details of his illness, and immediately sent off one of his pupils, who soon returned with the root of a certain small shrub. Giving this root to the professor, the old man said: ‘You must take one part of this root with two parts of the bark of the fig-tree, which you can find almost everywhere; boil them well together and, every other day for two months, drink a glassful of this liquid before going to sleep.’

Then he and his pupils looked at his photograph which the professor had brought and which astounded them all, particularly the pupils. We invited the old man to share our meal of fresh goat kovurma with pokhand cakes, which he did not refuse.

In the course of the conversation we learned that he had formerly been a top-bashi, or chief of artillery, of the Emir of Afghanistan, the grandfather of the then reigning Emir, and that, when he was sixty years old, he was wounded in a rebellion of Afghans and Baluchis against some European power, after which he returned to his native Khorasan. When he had completely recovered from his wounds, he no longer wished to return to his post as he was getting on in years, but decided to devote the rest of his life to the salvation of his soul.