In the town of Vladimir lived a young merchant named Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov. He had two shops and a house of his own.
Aksionov was a handsome, fair-haired, curly-headed fellow, full of fun, and very fond of singing. When quite a young man he had been given to drink, and was riotous when he had had too much; but after he married he gave up drinking, except now and then.
One summer Aksionov was going to the Nizhny Fair, and as he bade good-bye to his family, his wife said to him,
Ivan Dmitrich, do not leave; I have had a bad dream about you with gray hair!
You just fear I shall drink a lot!
Travelling halfway, he met a merchant whom he knew and they stayed at an inn. They had some tea together and went to bed in adjoining rooms.
It was not Aksionov's habit to sleep late, and, wishing to travel while it was still cool, he aroused before dawn. Suddenly a troika drove up with tinkling bells and soldiers came over to question him.
Where did you spend last night? Were you alone, or with a fellow-merchant?
They investigated his room because they found the merchant with his throat slit.
How is it that there's a blood-stained knife in your belongings?