The Material Question

‘Although I knew that this last-minute undertaking of mine would cost a pretty penny, I did not in the least expect that the total would soar to such fantastic heights.

‘And indeed, the Paris demonstrations, the steamship tickets, the paying of the most urgent bills, the provision of money for those who were staying in Europe, as well as certain unforeseen expenses which made their appearance almost imperceptibly, swallowed up the whole of the three hundred thousand francs even before my departure.

‘And so I found myself at the last minute in a super-unique tragicomic situation. Everything was ready for our departure but I could not sail. To set out on such a long journey with such a number of people and not have any reserve cash for an emergency was, of course, unthinkable.

‘This situation revealed itself in all its splendour three days before the sailing of the boat.

‘And then, as has happened to me more than once in critical moments of my life, there occurred an entirely unexpected event.

‘What occurred was one of those interventions that people who are capable of thinking consciously—in our times and particularly in past epochs—have always considered a sign of the just providence of the Higher Powers. As for me, I would say that it was the law-conformable result of a man’s unflinching perseverance in bringing all his manifestations into accordance with the principles he has consciously set himself in life for the attainment of a definite aim.

‘This event took place as follows:

‘I was sitting in my room at the Prieuré searching in my mind for a way out of the incredible situation that had arisen, when suddenly the door opened and my old mother came in. She had arrived only a few days before with several members of my family who had stayed on in the Caucasus after my departure from Russia; and it was only recently that I had succeeded, after a great deal of trouble, in getting them to France.

‘My mother came over to me and handed me a small packet, saying:

‘ “Please, relieve me of this thing: I am so tired of always carrying it around.”

‘At first I did not understand what she was talking about and automatically untied the packet. But when I saw what was in it, I almost jumped up and danced for joy.