When I was ten years old I fell in love with a woman—Galina. Her last name was Rubtsov. Her husband, an officer, went off to the Russo-Japanese War and returned in October, 1905. He brought many trunks back with him. The trunks, weighing altogether twelve hundred pounds, contained Chinese souvenirs: screens, precious weapons. Kuzma, the porter, used to tell us that Rubtsov had bought all these things with money he had pilfered while serving in the engineer corps of the Manchurian Army. The Rubtsovs were happy, so it was hard for people not to gossip about them. Their house leaned against our property, the glass veranda jutting over our grounds, but my father did not make a fuss about it. The elder Rubtsov, who was a tax collector, had a reputation in our town for being a fair-minded man; he was friendly with the Jews. When the officer, the old man’s son, returned from the war, we could see how happily he and his wife lived together.
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