28 THE THREE WONDERFUL BEGGARS
which Vassili had come to them, and Mark saw clearly that this must be his godson whom he had twice tried to kill.
He said to the abbot: ' I can't tell you how much I enjoy that young man's singing. If he could only come to me I would make him overseer of all my business. As you say, he is so good and clever. Do spare him to me. I will make his fortune, and will present your monastery with twenty thousand crowns.'
The abbot hesitated a good deal, but he consulted all the other monks, and at last they decided that they ought not to stand in the way of Vassili's good fortune.
Then Mark wrote a letter to his wife and gave it to Vassili to take to her, and this was what was in the letter : ' When the bearer of this arrives, take him into the soap factory, and when you pass near the great boiler, push him in. If you don't obey my oi'ders I shall be very angry, for this young man is a bad fellow who is sure to ruin us all if he lives.'
Vassili had a good voyage, and on landing set off on foot for Mark's home. On the way he met three beggars, who asked him: ' Where are you going, Vassili?'
' I am going to the house of Mark the Merchant, and have a letter for his wife,' replied Vassili.
' Show us the letter.'
Vassili handed them the letter. They blew on it and gave it back to him, saying : ' Now go and give the letter to Mark's wife. You will not be forsaken.'
Vassili reached the house and gave the letter. When the mistress read it she could hardly believe her eyes and called for her daughter. In the letter was written, quite plainly : ' When you receive this letter, get ready for a wedding, and let the bearer be married next day to my daughter, Anastasia. If you don't obey my orders I shall be very angry.'
Anastasia saw the bearer of the letter and he pleased