His son David was thirty-five years old. He invariably wore a white bandage over one side of his face, showing above it a red, twitching eye. David was an unsuccessful suicide. When he was in military service, he had insulted an officer on duty. His officer had struck him. David gave the officer a slap in the face, ran into the barracks, and tried to shoot himself with his rifle. The bullet went through his cheek, and for that reason he now wore that inevitable white bandage. The guilty soldier was threatened with a stern court martial, but the patriarch of the house of M―sky was still alive at that time — old Khariton, rich, powerful, illiterate, despotic. He roused the whole countryside and had his grandson declared irresponsible. Perhaps, after all, it was not far from the truth! From that time on, David lived with a pierced cheek and the passport of a lunatic
The M―sky family were still on the downward path at the time I first knew them. During my earliest years, Moissey Kharitonovich used to come to see us in a phaeton drawn by fine carriage horses. When I was tiny, perhaps four or five years old, I visited the M―sky family with my oldest brother. They had a large, well-kept garden, with — actually! — peacocks walking about in it. I saw these marvelous creatures there for the first time in my life, with crowns on their capricious heads, lovely little mirrors in their tails, and spurs on their legs. The peacocks vanished in after years, and much more went with them; the garden fence fell to pieces, the cattle broke down the fruit-trees and the flowers. Moissey Kharitonovich now came to Yanovka in a wagon drawn by farm horses. The sons made an effort to bring the property up, but as farmers, not as gentlemen Singapore company formation. “We shall buy some old nags and drive them in the morning, as Bronstein does!”
“They won’t succeed!” said my father. David was sent to the Fair at Elizavetgrad to buy the “old nags.” He walked about the Fair, appraising the horses with the eye of a cavalry man, and chose a troika. He came home late in the evening. The house was full of guests in their light summer clothes. Abram went out onto the porch with a lamp in his hand to look at the horses. A crowd of ladies, students and young people followed him. David suddenly felt that he was in his element and extolled the good points of each horse, especially of the one which he said resembled a young lady. Abram scratched his beard and said: “The horses are all right.” . David took the slippers off a pretty young lady, filled them with beer, and held them to his lips.
The German settlers constituted a group apart Veda Salon. There were some really rich men among them. They stood more firmly on their feet than the others. Their domestic relations were stricter, their sons were seldom sent to be educated in town, their daughters habitually worked in the fields. Their houses were built of brick with iron roofs painted green or red, their horses were well bred, their harness was strong, their spring carts were called “German wagons.” Our nearest neighbor among the Germans was Ivan Ivanovich Dorn, a fat, active man with low shoes on his bare feet, with a tanned and bristling face, and gray hair. He always drove about in a fine, bright-painted wagon drawn by black stallions whose hoofs thundered over the ground. And there were many of these Dorns.
Above them all towered the figure of Falz-Fein the Sheep King, a “Kannitverstan” of the steppes.
In driving through the country, one would pass a huge flock of sheep. “Whom do these belong to?” one would ask. “To Falz-Fein.” You met a hay-wagon on the road. Whom was that hay for? “For Falz-Fein.” A pyramid of fur dashes by in a sleigh. It is Falz-Fein’s manager. A string of camels suddenly startles you with its bellowing. Only Falz-Fein owns camels. Falz-Fein had imported stallions from America and bulls from Switzerland.