The Priest grumbled and the Mayor faced the back of the room.  The Peasant jovially showed his new bruises to the Sheriff, who remained aloof.


Galashnikov continued:  “And so inside Misha’s head, a disaster brewed.  The gnome continued to light sparks and set fires, and the spider continued to spin his webs.  For years this continued before proving untenable.  Space in the head becomes ever more scant as time passes, and the spider and the gnome were slowly thrust to closer quarters.  I believe Misha Temkin was filled to capacity with webbing before he died.  It was inevitable for the gnome to get caught in this webbing and, being a flagrant arsonist, he torched it.  The flame spread from web to web, the gnome and the spider asphyxiated, then burned.  The ash is all that remains of Temkin’s webbing.  The smoke from the fire was piped out his ears.


“I am afraid this may have been a long and slow process, and I believe Misha Temkin died a very painful and wretched death.  It was perhaps a more desirable outcome, however, than living a long life with both the gnome and the spider inside him.”





For several days the doctor’s daring diagnosis was the talk of the town.  Unpleased, Dzhugashvili reneged on his promise of eternal honey, though he did send Galashnikov an old cheese for his troubles.  Ovitch on the other hand enthusiastically supported the doctor’s theory, and as promised requested the Czar to make of Galashnikov the court physician.