After reading the letter, Vardan thought. Maybe it’s better that he did not change the oath given on the grave of Natalya. Little by little, it becomes undeniable that the right path has been chosen. Next year Olga, who has noticeably grown up, will already go to school. Two years later, Amalia graduated from the gymnasium, and two more years later, Murad. It’s time to think about their future.

But, as always happens in life, Vardan had to adjust his plans. In January 1905, Bersabe Nikitichna died of a heart attack. She was buried next to Natalia, and the house was asked to look after the nurse with her husband, whose son was already three years old. In June, Vardan received an alarming letter from Olga Vasilievna: Vladimir Pavlovich’s health, she reported, had deteriorated sharply. As soon as Lyudmila left for Switzerland, her husband began to complain about frequent urination. In April, General of the Medical Service Ivan Ivanovich Kovalenko examined him. His diagnosis is disappointing: malignant prostate adenoma. Considering Vladimir Pavlovich’s condition, aggravated by many concomitant diseases of the cardiovascular system, there can be no talk of any surgical intervention.

Olga Vasilievna found out from knowledgeable people that earlier in the Kuban they knew how to deal with this disease, some kind of drug gave the Cossacks both physical longevity and life without suffering. She asked Vardan to get an ointment that was injected into the rectum and prevented the tumor from spreading. Having spent several days looking for this folk remedy, Vardan replied that such an ointment really existed in the Kuban, but, unfortunately, the secret of its manufacture has now been lost.