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Mr Lermontov worked for the Free Ukrainian Gazette as a translator of secret documents, and following the sad death of Mrs Lermontov, it was this work that kept him going. That and his dog, Leo.

The documents were supplied by the editor, Mr Polyanski, who had a seemingly endless supply of them, but after his  wife’s death Mr Lermontov needed so many to keep his mind off morbid subjects that even Mr Polyanski was hard-pressed to provide them. All this Leo noted, not least because it happened to coincide with some new routines that Mr Lermontov had devised for him.

Leo was half a labrador and half a collie, and like most dogs, he was a diplomat. This is a necessary attribute for survival among humans, but Leo was so diplomatic that he managed to survive even amongst diplomats.

He survived Mr Polyanski and he was later to survive both Kolkhov and Gregor, all through diplomacy.