It was some three years before the opening of this story that Jake had last beheld that very image in the flesh. But then at that period of his life he had not even suspected the existence of a name like Jake, being known to himself and to all Povodye--a town in northwestern Russia--as Yekl or Yekel.
It was not as a deserter from military service that he had shaken off the dust of that town where he had passed the first twenty-two years of his life. As the only son of aged parents he had been exempt from the duty of bearing arms. Jake may have forgotten it, but his mother still frequently recurs to the day when he came rushing home, panting for breath, with the "red certificate" assuring his immunity in his hand. She nearly fainted for happiness. And