The Millionaire's Book

excerpts THE UNHAPPINESS OF KINGSCONSTANTINE THE LOST THE FIRST. CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE He was called Constantine the Lost for he was first seen and found on Horse Island with no known parents, and without his being able to tell whence he came or what he was doing in the world. He was nine years old when first he was seen among the horses gone wild on the island and there he remained until he turned seventeen.At fifteen he had come to be so well-known, and he enjoyed so much trust on the part of all the horses, that no horse, whether it had a master or was masterless, would suffer itself to be caught, ridden or harnessed without his consent. In an agreement with the horses, that none but them fully grasped, he came to have full control over the island, all around the shores. No man could set foot on the island unless he declared himself to Constantine the First beforehand. Whosoever arrived unannounced would be bitten by stallion and mare teeth, kicked by hoofs and cast into the river to go back to where he had come from.For a while, the Dycomesians are oblivious of the danger. They use Constantine to catch for them the wild horses that are old enough to work, draw carts or be ridden. Also, every autumn, Constantine the Lost gets the most hot-tempered horses ready for the young Dycomesians who will ride them in the Twelfth Day races before the maidens dressed and shod for marriage.At eleven Constantine discovers the square meter.When he first arrived on the island he only knew the numbers from 1 to 9, which he had learnt during the few months of elementary school in a village whose name he would never tell. Of zero he had no knowledge. Which inconvenienced him greatly. He sensed that zero was something he absolutely needed. He conceives of it by himself, by cutting the tail off number 9 and thus gaining an empty circle inside which there was nothing and there could enter nothing for it was completely closed, and only before it and after it could he place as many numbers as he wished and knew of, and even more, all the numbers that he wished but knew not of, beyond all likelihood and beyond the power of the eye's power to see. The obtainment of zero eases first the path towards perfecting addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. And when, with the help of a stick, he starts completing his own metric system – wherefrom he goes on to discover the square meter and the cubic meter – he finds himself master of the multiples and sub-multiples that he forms by means of decimals. Someone tells the Dycomesians that Constantine the Lost from Horse Island may well have arrived by himself and by his own method even much farther, at terra-giga-kilo-hecto-deca-deci-centi-milli-micro-nano-pico. The Dycomesians laugh. Whatever went beyond their comprehension would first make them laugh, then they would shrug and turn their backs upon anything not comprehended, or that required too much effort in order to be comprehended and would bring no gain, from one day to the next, either in the yard, in the manger or in the loft. But terra-giga-mega-kilo and so forth had a nice ring to it, like a song of some sort, and they memorized the contraption and laughed each time they thought of it. That someone who had told the Dycomesians of the Lost's terra-giga was none else but the delicate Topographer who happened to be passing through the Dycomesian plain, measuring the fields, not long before king Ferdinand's land reform of 1921. The Topographer believed that Constantine was somewhat of a genius, but it is a known fact that the Topographer is delicate and generous with the others, sometimes to such an extent that he is heedless of the too large scope of the words that he employs to weigh and circumscribe the people. The Dycomesians had met him while he was out and about measuring, and after that they would ask him every time to tell them the story of the terra-giga. And he would tell them. The Dycomesians would laugh, feigning that it was not this they laughed about, but something else. They would invent on the spot something to laugh about, lest the Topographer should perceive too soon where their minds wandered. In their turn, the Dycomesian fiddlers are quick to make up a song which they call The Song of Constantine the Lost and which begins with Terra-giga-nano-pico and ends wailingly with "Mother, why did you have me."Constantine the Lost hears the song from the mouth of the Dycomesian children who often swim over to the island to learn from him how to handle the horses and ride them. Not understanding any of it, Constantine leaves the children, who were not much younger or older than he was, to their singing and sees to his horses and his mathematics under the open sky. He has no head for letters. Even the horses he calls or chases away by using numbers. For instance: horse number 1 was the oldest of all the mares, so old she was nearly hairless, while 45 was the total number of the horses that had turned wild, had grown beards and manes down to their knees and followed her blindly wherever she went: to the pasture to graze, to the river to drink, to the shade of the willows to swish the flies away with their tails, followed her gallop or her trot when there was danger of strange people catching them; horse number 2 was another old horse and it commanded a number of 23 horses, and so on and so forth. Constantine would call out either ONE or FORTY FIVE – and the mare with the 45 horse herd would gallop to his call. The same herd he could send in a frenzied gallop to scare away a herd of buffaloes unwelcome on the island, by using at will either number one or number forty five. And so on. As for the letters, he would have remained almost illiterate had it not been for the newspapers that he had happened to come across and had kept, although he knew not why. From the months of elementary school he remembered the vowels a, i and e, and from among the consonants only those more complicated to draw, namely g, h and f. Using the papers, he gives numeric value to the letters and by a repetitive calculation he obtains the whole alphabet but, dissatisfied with reading the articles and news thus unraveled, he borrows letters for his number game, replacing the measures with alphabetical symbols. Getting wind of this, the Topographer tells the Dycomesians that the Lost may have gone beyond Viète's and Descartes' algebraic explorations, and that he is rapidly approaching post-war mathematics. And that it is a pity that they are unaware of the kind of man they have on their island and do not value their prisoner. "Constantine the Lost is a king, not a prisoner and a groom to tend the horses." (This is how the Topographer speaks.)With the help of a Dycomesian horse that had a steadier pace and whose gallop he had previously measured, Constantine sprints for five days all across the island – not long after the discovery of the square meter – and establishes the surface of the island. He bathes in the river alongside the horses, swims with them over to the shore of the Dycomesian plain or to the other side, to the hilly shore of Metopolis. From the horses he learns about all the neighboring lands and gets to know what the island borders on. Again by means of the horse's pace he gathers the width of the river, using the number that gives him the speed of swimming, after which he also determines the distances in neighboring Dycomesia, Metopolis and Mavrocordat. He sends all his calculations to the Dycomesians: the surface of the island, the levels of the soil, the quantity, in cubic meters, of willow, poplar, acacia, ash, elm on this perimeter, and even information on the power of the flowing river, the pressure exerted by the water when dammed, but also the pressure exercised by the river upon its banks, the situation of water infiltration into the soil, of the erosions, etc. The forecasts that in ten, maybe twenty, years an area of almost fifteen square kilometers in the southern part of Horse Island will sink unless the Dycomesians start draining, dredging, bracing the soil and propping up the banks. The Dycomesians send no answer to his calculations. Or to the alarm signal as to the island sinking. They first turn to the Topographer. He confirms that the reckonings of Constantine the Lost are accurate down to the fourth decimal. Where the sinking of the respective part of the island is concerned, he confesses his incompetence, he has no knowledge and has not studied the particularities of the island. But, in his opinion, the man-child on the island has come to master not only the MS, meter-second, but also the MKS, meter-kilogram-second and he had even applied the MKfS, meter-kilogram-force-second. Which makes the Dycomesians delay their answer to Constantine even longer. They laugh less this time. What they learnt from the Topographer left them utterly flustered and bewildered. After a while they send to Constantine the Lost of Horse Island some children, about his age or maybe somewhat younger, to convey two very odd answers to his calculations: First answer of the Dycomesians to Constantine the Lost:"And so what?"Second answer of the Dycomesians to Constantine the Lost:"You are insane." It had been a bad year for crops and many a disease had spread among the poultry and live stock. That is to say, the Dycomesians' answers to Constantine meant "What is it to you, or to us? Mind your horses and the plagues on your own head." There follows a silent and unacknowledged break between the Dycomesians and Constantine the Lost.The horses grow even wilder and estranged from their masters on the Dycomesian shore, even the horses on the Dycomesian plains start fleeing to the island and they do not allow themselves to be subdued and tamed unless by Constantine's voice and they deny their masters.The Dycomesians start to reckon how they can rid themselves of him. Meanwhile Constantine the Lost, with the help of those horses more used to hard work, fills in and stops the main water holes of the marshes on the island and their water sources hidden underneath. For this he uses buried trunks of willows, poplars and elms, as well as reeds and rushes woven together. He desires and manages some level changes which cause the rapid outflow of dirty waters, reducing by half the marshy surface of the island. On the half that he reclaimed willow shoots start sprouting out of dead wood, bees start swarming and birds come in flocks. Constantine then begins the total attack on the mosquitoes that had all withdrawn to the marshy half of the island. He surrounds them from all sides with thick and tall shrouds of smoke. Then, he has the herds of horses gallop around the swamps with willow branches tied to their tails to stir up the curtains of smoke. The mosquitoes rise up in fury, darken the sky above the marshes, turn against each other and knock each other down, retreat, and hide in the reeds in confusion, in a buzzing and a moaning that makes the island quiver all the way to the river, and farther still, and then flee in huge clouds from Horse Island to Butchers' Island, but not without invading first, for a few days, the nearest Dycomesian settlings, the riverfront districts of Wool City, of Mavrocordat and Metopolis, infecting the people with malaria as never before and forcing them to remain bed-ridden, in large numbers and for many days on end. A fleet of Dycomesian boats, dozens strong, arrives at the shores of the island in an attempt to intimidate Constantine and the Dycomesians call out to him to put an end to his demented deeds.Conflict on Horse Island. Constantine the Lost resumes, with the help of the horses, the drainage of the marshes. On the part of the island that was still intact, Andrei the Dead lived out of everyone's sight in his Reed Palace. Andrei was far from happy with the marshes on the island being drained. He sends Constantine a warning: he takes aim at number ONE and shoots her dead. The 45 horses that obeyed the old bald mare, now chiefless as a result of Andrei's gunshot, spread away in confusion and neigh frightfully to Constantine, after they had attracted one after another, in their mad gallop across the island, number 2 followed by the 23 horses, then numbers 3, 4, 5 up to 9 and beyond 10 with their respective armies in disarray. Constantine puts the horses back in order and commands the horsy force in a wild, all-out assault towards to the leech, eel, and turtle-infested marshes that lead to Andrei the Dead's Reed Palace. Andrei calls out through a funnel for the horses to be stopped, lest they sink beyond escape in the quick sands. Constantine calls the horses to a halt and retreats with them to the grassy lands towards the river. Andrei the Dead promises never again to point his gun to him or his horses, provided his half of the marsh is left untouched and is not dried. The marshes were, indeed, inexpugnable, no horse or human could walk in there, and not even the light and fast Dycomesian boats could get through to the Reed Palace. Only Andrei the Dead could go in and out of the marsh at will, using a corridor known to no one else, made of the turtles that swarmed in the muddy water, thronged in a certain spot, well hidden by tall reed and rush thickets. Thanks to the marsh, the brigand had managed to resist for years on end any attempt on the part of the police forces to catch him and bring him before a court of law for repeated killings, robberies and kidnappings. This is why the Dycomesians called him Andrei the Dead because, having been besieged and attacked with fire arms in order to be caught, he was thought more than once to have died (four times, to be precise), but every time he had reappeared, stealing down the turtle corridor to his Reed Palace, limping and drawing, from turtle shell to turtle shell, his right leg, almost a stump now, wounded long before in a bloody brawl with a platoon sent to hunt him down.Constantine the Lost believes in Andrei the Dead's promise not to make any more use of his gun and makes peace with him separately. The Dycomesians have no part in it. Having rowed their boats over to the shores of the island upon hearing Andrei's gunshots followed by the mad clatter of hoofs, they now watched from afar Constantine the Lost and Andrei the Dead bury the old mare in token of peace. Constantine then sent the 45 chieftainless horses trotting down to mingle with the 23 horses that had number 2 as their chieftain.What most amazed the Dycomesians was to catch a glimpse of Andrei the Dead and see what he looked like from close up; they had never before seen him from so short a distance and they realized now that he was old and crippled and on his last legs. Andrei's brave and deathless face – praised in songs well-known across the whole Dycomesia and even in Bulgaria, Serbia and as far as Turkey – looked pathetic. In order to take his hand to his mouth Andrei had to prop it up with his other hand, while to stand up from the grass he used a hooked staff that he hanged from the nearest willow or poplar. THE SHIPS. THE UPRISING OF THE HORSES ON THE ISLAND. THE DECLINE OF CONSTANTINE. ANDREI THE DEAD CROWNS HIM KING OF HORSEISLAND, NAMING HIM CONSTANTINE THE LOST THE FIRST. THE DYCOMESIANS LAY SIEGE TO THE ISLAND. THEIR FINAL ATTACK. CONSTANTINE'S FLIGHT TO THE HIDDEN PLAIN OF DYCOMESIA. THE TRUE DEATH OF ANDREI. FORMER KING CONSTANTINE, PENSIONER OF RED-MARE'S INN In the autumn of Constantine the Lost's seventeenth year, his new age coincides with several unfortunate events. Which might appear fortunate but are not. Especially for the horses.It had been a good year for the Dycomesians and their plain. The grain crops were so abundant that the ships no longer waited to load up wheat, barley, oats, rye, sunflower and maize at the fords of Wool City, Mavrocordat and Metopolis, but came right up and moored along the collapsed and weed-covered banks of the Dycomesian settlements. There were grains galore everywhere: on the fields, on land and water ways, in the yards, in the houses, in the ditches, along the hedges. The quails, the partridges, the starlings, the wild geese, the capons, the sparrows, the carps, the perches, the ants, the hares, the rats had their fill. Only the horses did not.Most unusually, almost the whole of Horse Island had gone empty over the summer; just about all the horses had been taken to harvest the fabulous, unheard-of crop, the likes of which even old people's memory could not recall. The Dycomesians harnessed the spare horses, too, even the old nags, borrowed oxen and buffaloes besides their own, reaped and threshed, cut and carried until late in the autumn; it was November and the wagons, the ships, the barges and the ferries had not finished loading; General Marosin's sheds in Metopolis, already several kilometers long, had been enlarged to twice their length. Even the lightest of the Dycomesians' boats floated alongside the heavy commercial fleet belonging to Aziz the Christened and kept carrying the harvest in sackfuls to the large settlements along the left and the right bank of the river, whence the grain took to the roads towards the rest of the country and towards Austria and Germany, or to the water towards Bosporus, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. And still there remained grains, maize, peas and sun-flower still unharvested and ungathered, and they rotted on the fields in the rain and the seeds sprouted far into the autumn under the cobble stones and around the railway gates. The horses, however, despite the shameless abundance, kept receiving hay, straw, grass, cornstalks, lucerne and clover. The oats poured in cartfuls everywhere, but the Dycomesians would not stop their horses to give them more than a couple of bagfuls of oats, and this only when they dropped in and lingered at the inn somewhere.Then the horses, having finished their chores, were thrown, one by one, back onto the island: "they've got all they need down there." Constantine the Lost allows them back. The horses that returned to the island look exhausted, scrawny, their beards and manes have grown spare and winter is but days away. Once on the island, they graze clean all the pastures, hungrily eat tree leaves and green twigs, gnaw at tree bark, a curious hunger has come over them. And, to crown it all, from all around the island there floated towards them a maddening smell of oats: from the Dycomesians' yards, from General Marosin's sheds in Metopolis, from the loaded cargo holds of the barges on the river, from Mavrocordat harbor where the pontoon bridges creaked under the weight of wheel-barrows brimming over with sacks and the feet of broken-backed stevedores, from Wool City where traders in wool and dead skins had suddenly turned to wholesale trading in grains. The horses, their eyes reddened and fierce, wandered across the island in all directions whence the wind brought the smell of oats, stopped on the shores packed tightly one against the other, raised their necks and grinned towards the skies, releasing long, scary neighs. Unbroken lines of heavily loaded ships kept passing by, heedless of the horses' neighing; now and again some foolish sailor would mock at the horses' bellowing by pulling the ropes of the sirens and making the chimneys howl and with them the lengths of the river, the woods, the skies above.It so happened that Constantine the Lost had fallen ill just about then; he was lying prone on the grass and was feeling a sort of void in his brain that ached him and split open his temples; he saw the scrawny horses and thought it was because of his illness that they looked like that, because he saw them like that; he heard them neighing and imagined that all their neighs in the past years had gathered in his mind, and not that they actually neighed, in the same way in which, hearing the mocking howl of the ships amplified along the river by the echo of the waters, the winds and the woods; he blamed it on his own howling mind. He felt his head squeezed by iron girths, he heard the ships howl even when they were silent. Sleep would not come to him; he felt his chest and came across a ship, passed his hand over the top of his head and found himself with his fingers in the mouth of a horse; he grasped his foot and grabbed the river by the throat and the river howled through mouths of ships, laden with wheat and oats and through muzzles of hungry horses. The Lost would then rise from the grass and start running and the ship would fall off his chest, the river would cling on to one heel, then to both, and keep howling with all its ships up his shinbones and up his backbone. Andrei the Dead comes up to meet him and, seeing him run and stumble and kick as if trying to shake off some venomous creature, asks him what happened, what is wrong with him. Constantine answers: "I have an empty mill running through my head and howling like a ship. Now the river fell down to my ankles with its ships and is howling up my backbone to my neck."This meeting between Constantine the Lost and Andrei the Dead happened in the evening.At night, the horses all leave the island without Constantine's knowledge: they cross the river swimming hip to hip, head to head, teeth to teeth, reach the shore of Metopolis and gallop, water dripping off their tails and their manes, up the narrow streets on the hills and attack in the moonlight General Marosin's sheds full of oats. They kick down the board doors and walls of the sheds, tear the beams with their teeth, unfasten crowbars and rip padlocks off their rings. They charge at anyone who tries to get near them. The gunshots fired by General Marosin and his family only serve to get some of the horses marching even more wildly along the streets of the town, embark on their horsy game and mockery, run in Dycomesian zigzags, rise up and walk on their hind legs, stride like this one in front of the other, by twos, by sixes, by tens and so forth, then come down on their fours and kick their legs and pass water on the front steps of the Dycomesian houses, under the windows, next to the doors and in the middle of the streets. The Metopolitan populace wake from their sleep, the dogs stir up, the mules start bellowing in Turkish and Tartar yards, cries spring up from women and children everywhere. From the shore, Constantine the Lost, in a last effort of his spent body and his aching mind, called across the river, in the direction of Metopolis, to the ruling numbers, but none of the old horse chieftains heeded his call. Constantine's head was spinning, the ships had started moving again somewhere inside his bones, but he jumped nevertheless into the river and swam over to Metopolis to try and soothe the horses and bring them back to the island.The horses suffered him to come near them, but would not obey him when he mounted, in turn, number 2, number 3, number 4 and so forth seeking to lure them back to the island.And then, for some reason, Constantine the Lost finds himself up upon the roof of one of General Marosin's sheds and starts giving out long howls like a ship, turning to all directions for his voice to be heard in all parts of the moonlit night.He then jumps down from there and starts running along the streets of Metopolis chasing his own ship howl, seeking to catch up with it, imitating it in every possible manner to deceive it, and draw it to him, but the howl will not stop, it escapes further away, slips into the water and crosses the river; then Constantine, in order to catch it, plunges into the water with his clothes on and swims towards the island, this time releasing some fully inhuman shouts. The horses dash off in fright in all directions, they see Constantine's shadow turning and twisting in the river, hear him moaning and splashing around as he swims; the horses throw themselves into the river and for a while avoid him, until his mad howls grow dim and farther between – and then they all disappear towards the island.In the small hours of the day Constantine the Lost had calmed down. He was on the island, standing high on the bank. He had wrapped his head, around the forehead, with willow branches soaked in the river to keep him cool. But the fever in his head had not yielded, and tormented him mightily. The branches were wreathed together and laid around his brow like a crown. Constantine supported his cheeks in his palms trying to doze off; he hadn't slept in days, he was exhausted and weary, the days and nights of pain had left him drained, especially the night before, when the horses had crossed the river and attacked the General's oats stores and he had woken up, he did not know why, howling like a ship, perched up on that roof with weather cocks and windmills.Andrei the Dead found Constantine with the willow branch wreath on his head. He approached him slowly, dragging his lame leg, thinking him asleep. But Constantine the Lost jumped suddenly to his feet, tall and this as he was, stared at Andrei in amazement, as if not recognizing him: Andrei the Dead seemed to him ugly, dirty, filthy, leaning as he was on his slimy hooked staff and his stiff right leg hanging to one side. Constantine started to move away from him in a kind of hostile fear, as if ready to charge at the old man if he attacked him. So ugly and filthy did Andrei the Dead seem to Constantine that he felt like throwing him into the river to bathe him."Your Highness," said Andrei the Dead and sat down on the grass for his crippled legs could no longer support his body and he was trembling, staff and all. "Forgive me, Your Highness, your crown has slipped off your forehead. Set it straight, Your Majesty."Constantine the Lost set his crown in place."It is well now, Your Highness. I bow before Your enlightened mind that has made the number wiser than the word, taught it how to fly higher than the bird and go deeper into the earth than the water. Of the island you have made heaven. Of the horses, wise beings of the earth. Of the reeds, golden pipes. Of the willows, gardens where honeycombs sprout at the boughs' armpits. I bow to You, Constantine the Great, and crown you king of Horse Island. Let everyone know that Andrei the Dead who has died four deaths anointed young Constantine king in the seventeenth year of his enlightened youth, and named him for ever Constantine the Lost the First.Then Andrei the Dead stood up from the grass, hanging his hooked staff from a poplar branch so he could rise to his feet, walked away backwards and only when he had got far enough did he fling himself astride a horse and gallop back to his marshes. On the same day, there came a large party of Dycomesians who, without getting off their light, fast boats, petitioned the young king to leave the island as soon as possible, lest he should be handcuffed and taken before a judge for the great damage he had caused to general Marosin's sheds and for disturbing the peace in the town of Metopolis.Constantine still had his willow crown on his head when the Dycomesians came. He answered them, sitting down on the grass, his hands on his temples:"You shall not enslave the horses again."The Dycomesians promise never to do so again and invite Constantine the Lost to their boats. Constantine declines.The Dycomesians leave, but then stealthily return and make fast in another place and surround Constantine, whistling and barking as if they had dogs with them.Upon hearing Constantine's voice, the wild horses attack the Dycomesians and force them back to the river, to their boats, freeing Constantine from their siege. One horse gets killed in the scramble with a heavy blow to the forehead from an iron chain, while plunging into the water to seize a Dycomesian boat with its teeth and topple it over. Save for a few light wounds the Dycomesians are none the worse for it and they escape towards their settlements.The Dycomesians come back the next day and invade the island, setting fire, upon landing, to the floating reed islets and the belt of dry rushes below the bank, then to the reed curtains behind which Constantine and the horses had taken shelter from the biting north wind that had started to blow bringing with it a cold and penetrating drizzle. The horses are startled by the fire and run away. Constantine is caught and bound fast to a willow tree. This is when he begins to howl again like a ship and demands to be given his willow crown back, which the Dycomesians had trampled under foot. He is given his crown. He asks for a new one, made of fresh branches, and tells them to soak it in the cold waters of the river so he can assuage the pain in his head. He is granted his wish.A clerk from Mavrocordat then subjects him to a brief interrogation: his parents' address, his age and current employment, education, address, whether he has taken part in Andrei the Dead's marauding acts, and whether together with him he had roused the horses to attack General Marosin's oats supplies, whether he has any family in Dycomesia, in Wool City, in Metopolis, in Mavrocordat, in other towns or abroad, whether he remembers having been ill like this ever before and, finally, whether he has any distinctive marks on his body. He refuses to answer any of the questions save his name: Constantine. Then he goes back to his howling again, this time long und uninterruptedly.Upon hearing his calls the horses start running in a continuous clatter of hoofs, in ever tighter circles closing down on the willow to which Constantine was tied fast. Repeated gunshots come from the Reed Palace; Andrei the Dead was firing his gun again and again – it sounded like an entire army ripping away at the air. The hellish tramping of hoofs grows stronger and stronger, while from the reeds and the thickets birds take flight with sharp cries, and the drizzle and the thick fog engulf them. The Dycomesians hastily untie Constantine and attempt to take him to their boats. But suddenly Constantine, in his normal voice, calls the horses by their numbers, the horses stray from the herds, some make for the hosts of Dycomesians, start running in fast zigzags rising on their hind legs, beating the air with the front legs, kicking and passing water before the Dycomesians amazed at seeing their own horses utterly estranged from them. The Dycomesians hurl Constantine to the ground, abandon him on the grass and flee to their boats, leaving behind ropes, a town hall account book, clothes and several bags full of fresh bacon, polenta and garlic cloves.But the Dycomesians will not give up their attack. They return and invade the island a second time, in a last and decisive siege.Driven into a corner and attacked in repeated raids by the Dycomesians in their light, fast boats assisted now by tow-boats and Aziz the Christened's Saint Sophia ship, as well as by a police force from Wood City, and Mavrocordat, in organized formations of speed boats and motor boats, Constantine the Lost the First calls to himself the horses that have already cast themselves into the river and are swimming along the banks, brings them back on the shore and then sends them away to the remotest reed thickets to get them out of the range of the guns fired from the boats that fill the river; he himself retreats to the island marshes, using Andrei the Dead's turtle corridor.He spends a few nights in the acrid smell of the brigand's Reed Palace. When he arrived at the palace, Andrei the Dead was busy carving himself a spare leg of poplar wood.The island is completely surrounded.The marshes are hosed sodden with petrol and set ablaze.Andrei the Dead counsels young Constantine the Lost to ask for a messenger of peace: "Your Highness, the war is lost, the forces are totally unequal." Constantine pays no heed to the brigand's brazen words.Andrei the Dead leaves his Reed Palace by another turtle corridor, unknown even to Constantine, and disappears from the island under the very nose of the Dycomesians and their allies. Nonetheless, Andrei delivers Constantine the Lost the First to the Dycomesians using a substitute, in exchange for a few dozen sporting cartridges, on condition that the ailing young man be allowed to escape on a wild horse towards the Dycomesian plain, which is exactly what happened. The substitute's name was also Constantine, and he called himself the Lost, wittingly usurping the other one, yet with no intention of taking his place on Horse Island. He had his hiding place, and everything he needed, on Butchers' Island.The real Constantine the Lost escapes as planned, on a wild horse, and makes for the Dycomesian plain. But although he was allowed to flee, the Dycomesians wait for him in ambush in another place, to catch him and confine him to a mental hospital. Still, Constantine manages to escape by letting the horse tumble down a steep bank while he himself vanishes from sight by plunging into the river.The substitute has one last meeting with Andrei the Dead to hand him the cartridges. During the handing over ceremony Andrei is surrounded by the police, put in chains and sent to a jail in Mavrocordat, and thence to the salt mines, to serve his outstanding convictions. He had been sentenced thus: once to hard labor for life, quite recently; twice to twenty five years hard prison, a long time since; three times to five, eight and sixteen years imprisonment respectively and on another occasion, the first time, that is, to twenty years in the salt mines.Andrei was sixty eight years old, now when he was caught, had died four times – had been reckoned dead by those who had chased him and fired volleys at him. Now he wore at the end of the stump that had been his right leg a new leg, made of poplar wood. His arms hung powerless. His eyes blinked uncontrollably and were nearly sightless. Or, as the Dycomesian fiddlers were later to sing about him: When they bound him fast and steady,Four times had he died already.When they caught him five times straight,Still Andrei would not stay dead.White he was, white were his lashes,Up to his eyes his beard whitish,No good hands had he to clutch,His lame legs now barely marched,Just his eyes still sweetly watched.And they caught him five times straightBut Andrei would not stay dead.They took him away and thenNever was he seen again. Andrei the Dead dies for good on the way to the salt mines. The songs that praised his valor were afterwards proven to be of his own making. He would pay the fiddlers to circulate the songs, but in such a way that it looked like the story put into song had originated not on Horse Island nor at his Reed Palace, but somewhere else. Apparently, the song that told of his passing had been but his creation too. Legend has it that he paid one of the soldiers that were taking him to his place of imprisonment, not to unlock his chains and set him free, but to learn by heart the song that sang his death and pass it along to the Dycomesians. Which the soldier did and the song is still sung to this day. Constantine the Lost the First manages, however, to reach the most secluded and sheltered parts of the Dycomesian plain without being caught and since then, no man has been able to lay his hands on him. For a while, very few people could boast of even having spotted him. And when he finally emerged again, old enmities had been forgotten. In summer especially, when grains are so tall they go up to a Dycomesian horse's mane, Constantine was nowhere to be seen. Then he would move away from the harvested fields and the forests of sunflowers whose heads had been cut off to find shelter in the tall maize fields, and would remain in hiding until late into the autumn. Those who saw him ten or fifteen years after his escape from Horse Island said he looked very tall, had grown several beards and a long mane that bounced on his back. When he first came out of hiding he was believed to bear the remains of birds' nests on his shoulders; birds were flying around his temples and his armpits. Perhaps what looked like old birds' nests on his shoulders were the straws among which he had been taking cover. And if birds were flying around his shoulders, it was because in the Dycomesian plain the birds are so many and so unafraid due to sheer numbers, that all Dycomesians, and all people used to the plain, have birds resting on their hats and flying round their ankles. It was also believed that quails laid eggs in Constantine the Lost's beard, the way it had only been known to happen with the God of the Dycomesians, when he gave them the plain and said to them: "Take it, scratch it a little, sow seeds and get rich, you and your kin." And it was believed that upon saying that, the demiurge passed his fingers through his beard and took out a few quail eggs, which he bestowed on the Dycomesians so that they could have quails on their plain.Sometimes, late at night, mostly in summer, when violet steams quiver over the Dycomesian plain laden with grain and hidden under yellow sunflower heads, you can still hear Constantine