Just like potatoes out of a sack, brawls, robberies, diseases, murders and suicides began to pour down, and, it seemed, no one was to blame for this. All these misfortunes just simply began to be more frequent of their own accord, to pile one upon the other, to expand and grow; just as a small lump of snow, pushed by the feet of urchins, becomes constantly bigger and bigger by itself from the thawing snow sticking to it, grows bigger than the stature of a man, and, finally, with one last, small effort is precipitated into a ravine and rolls down as an enormous avalanche. The old proprietresses and housekeepers, of course, had never heard of fatality; but inwardly, with the soul, they sensed its mysterious presence in the inevitable calamities of that terrible year.
And, truly, everywhere in life where people are bound by common interests, blood relationship, or the benefits of a profession into close, individualized groups—there inevitably can be observed this mysterious law of sudden accumulation, of a piling up, of events; their epidemicity, their strange succession and connectedness, their incomprehensible lingering. This occurs, as popular wisdom has long ago noted, in isolated families, where disease or death suddenly falls upon the near ones in an inevitable, enigmatic order. “Misfortune does not come alone.” “Misfortune without waits—open wide the gates.” This is to be noticed also in monasteries, banks, governmental departments, regiments, places of learning and other public institutions, where for a long time, almost for decades, life flows evenly, like a marshy river; and, suddenly, and after some altogether insignificant incident or other, there begin transfers, changes in positions, expulsions from service, losses, sicknesses. The members of society, just as though they had conspired, die, go insane, are caught thieving, shoot or hang themselves; vacancy after vacancy is freed; promotions follow promotions, new elements flow in, and, behold, after two years there is not a one of the previous people on the spot; everything is new, if only the institution has not fallen into pieces completely, has not crept apart. And is it not the same astounding destiny which overtakes enormous social, universal organizations—cities, empires, nations, countries, and, who knows, perhaps whole planetary worlds?
Something resembling this incomprehensible fatality swept over the Yamaskya Borough as well, bringing it to a rapid and scandalous destruction. Now in place of the boisterous Yamkas is left a peaceful, humdrum outskirt, in which live truck-farmers, cat’s-meat men, Tartars, swineherds and butchers from the near-by slaughterhouses. At the petition of these worthy people even the designation of Yamaskya Borough itself, as disgracing the inhabitants with its past, has been named over into Golubovka, in honour of the merchant Golubov, owner of a shop dealing in groceries and delicacies, and warden of the local church.