Book 2. Ringing cedars of Russia (1997)
How to produce healing cedar oil
It’s not that difficult a task. The modem technology involved is already familiar and it needs no setting forth here. But there are some rather unusual nuances I should point out.
When gathering the cones1 one should not beat against the cedars with logs or wooden bats, as the harvesters do today This greatly weakens the healing properties of the oil. One should use only the cones which the cedar itself gives off. Either they fall with the wind, or you can knock them down with the resonance of your voice, as Anastasia does. They should be collected by people whose thought is free from evil. And it is especially good when the cones are picked up by children’s hands. In any case, all the steps which follow should be carried out with kind and bright thoughts.
“Such people may be found in Siberian villages even now,” Anastasia affirmed. Whether this really makes a difference is difficult to tell. But it also says in the Bible that King Solomon sought out people “skilled in felling timber”. Only it doesn’t say how these people differed from anyone else in other respects.
The nuts obtained after the shelling of the cones must have their oil extracted within a three-month period; after that the
quality will significantly deteriorate. The kernel should not come into contact with any metal during the extraction proc-ess. In any case, the oil should never come into contact with metal.
The oil can be used to treat any diseases without diagno-sis. It can also be used as a food product and added to salads. Or it can be taken one spoonful a day, preferably at sunrise, although the afternoon is also a good time. But definitely in daylight, not at night. That’s the main thing.
“Only people may be offered a counterfeit,” I voiced my concern to the old fellow. But he responded slyly and with just a touch of humour:
“Well, then, you and I will make a device to screen out counterfeits. And we’ll work out those commissions of yours at the same time.”
“How do we do that?”
“Have to think about it. You, after all, are the entrepre-neur.”
“I was one, but right now I’m not sure who I am.”
“Let’s think together, then. You correct me if something’s not right.”
“Okay,” I agreed.
“The final product should be tested with measuring instru-ments by competent technicians. Doctors, scientists — in a word, professionals.”
“That’s right, they can issue certificates.”
“But instruments can’t catch everything. A taste test will also be needed.”
“Possibly Tasters determine the quality of wine, for exam-ple. There’s no substitute for that. But the wine-tasters are acutely aware of the taste of different vintages. They have a superb sense for both fragrance and taste. But who will be tasting the oil?”
“7bu can check it.”
And just how am I supposed to do that? I’ve only tasted the usual sort of oil. When we made it ourselves, we didn’t follow the technological procedures Anastasia recommended. Besides, I’m a smoker.”
“For three days before checking the oil quality, you should abstain from smoking and alcohol. And don’t eat meats or fats. And you shouldn’t talk with anyone for those three days. Then you can check it and determine from the taste whether it is good or an imitation.”
And what do I compare it with?”
Whereupon the old fellow put his hand into his canvas bag and drew out a small hollow stick approximately two fingers in width. Another stick protruded from one end, like a cork.
“This is genuine oil. Once you’ve tasted it, you won’t mis-take it for anything else. But first let me rid you of what has built up in you from smoking and other quirky habits.”
“How are you going to get rid of it? The way Anastasia did?”
“Yes, more or less.
“But she said that only one who loves is capable of elimi-nating ailments in a loved one with the Ray of Love. And of warming his body, so that even his feet start perspiring.” “With the Ray of Love. Quite correct.”
“But you cannot love me. Not the way she does.”
“But I love my granddaughter. Let’s try it.”
The oldster screwed up his eyes and began fixing an un-blinking gaze on me. I could feel a sense of warmth flow through my body But quite a bit weaker than what I felt from Anastasia’s gaze. Nothing happened. But he still kept trying. To the point where his arms were trembling. I could feel a little more warming in my body, but only a little. Still, the old fellow didn’t give up, and I waited. And all at once my feet broke out into a sweat, after which a feeling of freshness permeated my head, along with fragrances. I could feel the fragrances in the air.
Ah, we’ve succeeded,” he said, wearily leaning against the back of the bench. “Now give me your hand.”
He opened the stick cork and from the hollow stick poured cedar oil onto the palm of my hand. I licked it off with my tongue. The warmth spread across my palate and through my mouth. And I suddenly caught a whiff of the cedar. And it was, indeed, hard to mistake for anything else.
“Think you’ll remember it now?” asked Anastasia’s grand-father.
“I’ll remember. What’s so hard about that? I ate potatoes once at the monastery. I remembered that for ages. Twenty- seven years later I still remembered the taste. Only how will people know that it has been checked? That it is genuine cedar nut oil? Right now it’s too expensive on the market. For just one gram of the raw oil, diluted with something, they charge thirty thousand roubles. I saw it myself. It’s packaged as an import. With prices like that it’s all too tempting to sell fakes.”
“You’re right — money’s the master of ceremonies at the moment. We’ll have to think of something.”
“You see? A dead end.”
‘Anastasia said that this money can be turned to a good purpose,” Grandfather observed. “Let’s think of something along that line.”
“They’ve been trying to work out for some time now, for example, how to guarantee the quality of vodka against imita-tions. But... They’ve changed the labels and corks, they’ve come up with excise labels, but all to no avail. There were
imitations on the market before, and there still are. What with photocopiers and all, any label can easily be copied.” “What about money, Vladimir — can it be copied too?” “Money — that’s more difficult to fake.”
“So let’s stick money onto the back side of our bottles, like labels, so that these snivelling bits of paper can actually do some good for once.”
“What d’you mean, stick money on bottles? What kind of nonsense is that?”
“Give me a banknote, please. Any banknote.”
I gave him a 100 о-rouble note.
“Well, then, it’s quite clear. You take the note and cut it in half. Stick one half on the box or something else. The other half you hide away in a file. You’ll think of a suitable place. Or put it in a safety deposit box at your bank. You see, on each half of the note there are identical numbers, and so anyone wanting to confirm the authenticity of the oil, can simply verify the number.”
Well, Gramps, I thought to myself, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. And out loud I said:
“There’s no better defence against imitations. Way to go!” He laughed. Still laughing, he added:
“So, give me a percentage, too. Come on, cough it up!”
‘A percentage? What kind of a percentage? How much do you want?”
“I want everything to be just right,” said the old fellow, all at once serious again. Then he added: “Besides the three percent, take an additional one percent — in kind, as oil al-ready packaged. And offer it for free to whoever you feel you should. Let that be a gift to people from you and me.”
“Right, I’ll do it. You’ve really thought of everything to aT. Way to go!”
“To a T? That means Nastenka will be very happy for us. And my father still thinks I’m lazy So you think I’ve done a good job?”
“Of course you have!” And we both had another good laugh. And I added: “Tell Anastasia I say you would make an excellent entrepreneur.”
“You mean it?”
“Certainly! You could become one of those ‘New Rus-sians’ — and a great one, too!”
“Г11 tell her. And the fact that you’re telling everyone about the cedar nut oil, I’ll pass that along, too. No regrets?”
“What is there to regret? It would be a tiresome process, anyway I’ll dash off the third book, as I promised, and then I’ll get going with my business again, trade... or something else, something normal.”