Ocenite etot tekst:

     a novel

     Russian original title: Hutorok v stepi
     OCR: http://home.freeuk.com/russica2/


     Death of Tolstoi
     What Is a Red?
     A Heavy Blow
     The Resignation
     An Old Friend
     Gavrik's Dream
     A Jar of Jam
     Mr. Faig
     The Sailor's Outfit
     The Letter
     On Board
     Chicken Broth
     The Acropolis
     The New Hat
     The Mediterranean
     Pliny the Younger
     Naples and the Neapolitans
     Alexei Maximovich
     A Cinder
     The Eternal City
     On the Shores of Lake Geneva
     Emigres and Tourists
     Love at First Eight
     A Storm in the Mountains
     The Home-Coming
     Precious Stones
     The Kite From a Shop
     The Bad Mark
     Auntie's New Idea
     The Old Woman
     Workers of the World, Unite!
     The New Home
     The Lena Massacre
     The First Issue of the Pravda
     The Cottage in .the Steppe
     The Death of Warden
     The Widow with a Child
     The Secret Note
     The Rendezvous
     Caesar's Commentaries
     Queen of the Market
     Friends in Need
     Don't Kick a Man When He's Down!
     Terenty Semyonovich
     The Sail
     At the Camp-Fire

     Gusts  of wind from  the sea brought  rain and  tore the umbrellas from
people's  hands. The streets  were  shrouded  in the  grey  half-light,  and
Petya's heart felt just as dark and dreary as the morning.
     Even  before  he  reached  the  familiar corner he  saw  a  small crowd
gathered  around the  news-stand. Stacks  of  overdue  papers had just  been
dropped off and were being snatched up eagerly. The unfolded pages fluttered
in  the wind and were instantly spotted by the rain.  Some of the men in the
crowd removed their hats, and a woman sobbed loudly, dabbing  a handkerchief
at her eyes and nose.
     "So he is dead," Petya thought. He was near enough  now to see the wide
black  mourning border around  the  pages and a dark portrait of Lev Tolstoi
with his familiar white beard.
     Petya  was  thirteen  and, like  all  young  boys, he was  terrified by
thoughts of death.  Whenever someone  he knew died, Petya's  heart would  be
gripped by fear and he would recover slowly as after a serious illness. Now,
however, his fear of death was of an entirely different  mature. Tolstoi had
not been an acquaintance  of theirs. Petya  could not  conceive of the great
man as  living  the  life of  an  ordinary mortal.  Lev Tolstoi was a famous
writer, just like Pushkin, Gogol, or Turgenev.  In the boy's imagination  he
was a phenomenon,  not  a  human  being. And now  he was on his deathbed  at
Astapovo Station, and  the  whole  world  waited  with bated breath for  the
announcement of  his death. Petya as caught up in the universal anticipation
of an event  that seemed incredible and  impossible where the immortal known
as "Lev Tolstoi" was concerned. And  when  the  event had  become a reality,
Petya was  so crushed by the news  that he stood motionless, leaning against
the slimy, wet trunk of an acacia.
     It  was  just  as mournful  and depressing  at the gymnasium as  in the
streets.  The boys were hushed, there was no running up and down the stairs,
and they spoke in whispers, as in  church at a requiem mass. During recesses
they sat around  in  silence on the  window-sills.  The  older  boys  of the
seventh and eighth forms gathered in small groups on  the landings  and near
the cloak-room where  they furtively rustled the pages of their  newspapers,
since it  was against the rules to  bring them to school. Lessons dragged on
stiffly  and quietly with maddening  monotony. The inspector or  one  of the
assistant  teachers  would look in through  the panes of the classroom door,
their  faces bearing  an identical expression of cold  vigilance. Petya felt
that this familiar world of  the  gymnasium, with the  official uniforms and
frock-coats of the teachers, the light-blue stand-up  collars of the ushers,
the  silent corridors where the  tiled  floor resounded  to the click of the
inspector's heels, the faint odour of incense near the carved oaken doors of
the  school  chapel  on the  fourth floor,  the  occasional  jangling  of  a
telephone in the  office downstairs,  and the* tinkling of test-tubes in the
physics  laboratory-this  was a world  utterly  remote  from  the  great and
terrible  thing that, according to Petya, was taking  place beyond the walls
of the gymnasium, in the city, in Russia, throughout the world.
     What actually was taking place outside?
     Petya would look  out  of  the  window from time to time, but could see
only the familiar uninteresting scene of the streets leading to the railway.
He saw the wet roof of the law-court, a beautiful structure with a statue of
the  blind Themis  in front. Beyond was  the  cupola of  the St. Panteleimon
Church, the  Alexandrovsky district  fire-tower  and, in the  distance,  the
damp,  gloomy  haze  of the workers'  quarter  with  its  factory  chimneys,
warehouses and a certain leaden darkness  on the horizon which reminded  him
of something  that had happened long ago and which he could not quite place.
It was only after lessons had  ended for the day  and Petya found himself in
the street that he suddenly remembered it all.
     An  early twilight descended  on the  city. Oil  lamps  lit up the shop
windows, throwing sickly yellow  streaks of light on the  wet pavements. The
ghostly elongated  shadows of passers-by  flitted through the mist. Suddenly
there was a sound of singing. Row after row of people with their arms linked
were  Founding the corner. A hat-less student marched in  front,  pressing a
black-framed portrait of Lev Tolstoi  to  his breast.  The damp wind ruffled
his fair hair. "You fell, a victim in the fight," the student was singing in
a defiant  tenor above the discordant  voices of the crowd. Both the student
and  the  procession of singing people  had suddenly and  with  great  force
brought  back to Petya  a long-forgotten time and street. Then,  as now, the
pavement  had  glittered  in  the mist,  and  along  it  marched a crowd  of
students-mostly men and  a few women  wearing tiny  karakul hats-and factory
workers  in high boots. They had sung  "You fell  a  victim." A scrap of red
bunting had bobbed over the heads of the crowd. That had been in 1905.
     As if  to  complete  the  picture, Petya heard  the  clickety-clack  of
horseshoes striking  sparks on the wet  granite  cobbles.  A  Cossack patrol
galloped out of a  side-street. Their peakless caps were  cocked at a rakish
angle and short carbines dangled behind their shoulders. A whip cut the  air
near  Petya and the strong odour of horses' sweat filled his nostrils. In an
instant everything was a whirling, shouting, running mass.
     Petya held  his cap  with both  hands  as he  jumped out of the way. He
bumped  into something  hot. It  turned over. He  saw that  it was a brazier
outside  the  greengrocer's.  The  hot  coals scattered and mixed  with  the
smoking chestnuts. The street was empty.
     For days Tolstoi's death was the  sole topic of conversation in Russia.
Extra editions of  the newspapers told the story of Tolstoi's departure from
his  home in Yasnaya  Polyana.  Hundreds  of  telegrams  date-lined Astapovo
Station described the last hours and minutes of the great writer. In a flash
the  tiny,  unknown  Astapovo  Station  became  as world-famous  as  Yasnaya
Polyana, and the name of the obscure station-master Ozolin who had taken the
dying man into his house was on everybody's lips.
     Together  with the  names  of Countess Sofya  Andreyevna and  Chertkov,
these new names-Astapovo and Ozolin- which accompanied Tolstoi to his grave,
were  just as frightening to  Petya  as the black  lettering  on  the  white
ribbons of the funeral wreaths.
     Petya noted with surprise that this death, which everyone regarded as a
"tragedy,"  apparently had  something  to do  with  the government, the Holy
Synod, the  police, and the  gendarmerie corps. Whenever he saw the bishop's
carriage  with  a monk  sitting on  the  box next to  the coachman,  or  the
clattering  droshki of  the chief  of police, he  was certain that  both the
bishop and the chief of  police  were  rushing somewhere on  urgent business
connected with the death of Tolstoi.
     Petya had never before seen his  father in  such a state of  mind,  not
actually excited, but,  rather, exalted and inspired. His usually kind frank
face  suddenly became sterner and younger. The hair above his  high, classic
forehead was combed back student-fashion. But the aged, red-rimmed eyes full
of tears behind his pince-nez  conveyed such grief, that Petya's heart ached
with pity for his father.
     Vasily  Petrovich  came  in and put  down two stacks of  tightly  bound
exercise  books  on the table. Before changing into the  old jacket he  wore
about the  house,  he took  a  handkerchief from  the  back  pocket  of  his
frock-coat with  its frayed silk lapels and  wiped his  wet face  and  beard
thoroughly. Then he jerked his head decisively.
     "Come on, boys, wash your hands and we'll eat!"
     Petya sensed his  father's mood.  He realized that Vasily Petrovich was
taking Tolstoi's death badly, that  for  him Tolstoi was not only  an adored
writer, he was much more than that, almost the moral centre of his life. All
this he felt keenly, but could not put his feelings into words.
     Petya had always  responded quickly to his  father's  moods, and now he
was deeply upset. He grew quiet, and  his bright inquiring eyes  never  once
left his father's face.
     Pavlik,  who  had just turned  eight and  had become  a schoolboy,  was
oblivious to  all that was taking place; he was completely absorbed  in  the
affairs of his preparatory class and his first impressions of school.
     "During our  writing lesson today we raised an  obstruction!" he  said,
pronouncing the difficult word with obvious pleasure. "Old Skeleton  ordered
Kolya  Shaposhnikov to leave the room although  he wasn't  to blame. Then we
all booed with our mouths closed until Skeleton banged so hard  on  the desk
that the ink-pot bounced up to the ceiling!"
     "Stop  it! You should be ashamed  of yourself," his father  said with a
pained look.  Suddenly,  he  burst  out,  "Heartless  brats!  You  should be
whipped!  How  could you  mock  an unfortunate, sick teacher  whose days are
almost  numbered? How could you  be  so brutal?" Then,  apparently trying to
answer the questions that had been worrying him all those days, he  went on:
"Don't you  realize that the world cannot live on hate? Hate  is contrary to
Christianity and  to plain common  sense.  And  this at a time when they are
laying to rest a man who, perhaps, is the last true Christian on earth."
     Father's eyes became redder still. Suddenly he smiled wanly and put his
hands on the boys' shoulders. Gazing at each in turn he said:
     "Promise me that you will never torture your fellow-creatures."
     "I never did," Petya said softly.
     Pavlik screwed up his  face and  pressed his close-cropped head against
Father's frock-coat which smelt of a hot iron and faintly of moth-balls.
     "Daddy, I'll never do it  again. We didn't know what we were doing," he
said, wiping his eyes with his fists and sniffling.

     It's  terrible,  say what  you  like,  it's  terrible," Auntie said  at
dinner. She put down the ladle and pressed her fingers  to her temples. "You
can think  what you  like  about Tolstoi-  personally, I  look on him as the
greatest  of  writers-but  all  his  non-resistance  and  vegetarianism  are
ridiculous, and as for the Russian government, its attitude in the matter is
abominable.  We are  disgraced in the  eyes of  the  whole  world!  As big a
disgrace as Port Arthur, Tsushima, or Bloody Sunday."
     "I beg you  to-" Father said  anxiously.  "No, please don't  beg me. We
have a dull-witted tsar and a dull-witted government! I'm ashamed of being a
     "Stop, I  beg you!"  Father shouted.  His  chin jutted forward  and his
beard  shook  slightly.  "His  Majesty's  person  is  sacred.  He  is  above
criticism. I won't permit it. Especially in front of the children."
     "I'm sorry, I won't do it again," Auntie answered hurriedly.
     "Let's drop the subject."
     "There's  just  one  thing I  can't  understand,  and  that  is how  an
intelligent,  kind-hearted  man like you,  who  loves Tolstoi,  can honestly
regard as sacred a man who has covered Russia with gallows and who-"
     "For God's sake," Father groaned, "let's not discuss politics. You  are
an expert at turning any conversation into  a political discussion! Can't we
talk without getting mixed up in politics?"
     "My dear Vasily Petrovich, you still  haven't  realized that everything
in  our  lives  is  politics.  The government  is politics.  The  church  is
politics. The schools are politics. Tolstoi is politics."
     "How dare you speak like that?" "But I will!"
     "Blasphemy! Tolstoi is not politics." "That's exactly what he is!"
     And for  long after, while Petya and Pavlik  were doing their home-work
in the  next room, they could hear the excited voices of Father  and Auntie,
interrupting each other.
     "Master  and  Man, Concession,  Resurrection!"  "War and  Peace, Platon
Karatayev!" "Platon Karatayev, too, is  politics!"  "Anna  Karenina,  Kitty,
Levin!"  "Levin  argued communism  with  his  brother!"  "Andrei  Bolkonsky,
Pierre!" "The Decembrists!" "Haji Murat!" "Nikolai Palkin!" ( The derogatory
nickname of Nicholas I, signifying "cudgel."-Tr).
     "Stop, I beg you. The children can hear us."
     Pavlik and  Petya were  sitting  quietly  at Father's desk, beside  the
bronze oil lamp with the green glass lampshade.
     Pavlik had finished his home-work and was busy putting together his new
writing outfit of which he was still very proud. He was  pasting  a transfer
on his pencil-box, patiently  rolling up the top layer of wet paper with his
finger.  A multi-coloured bouquet  of  flowers bound with light-blue ribbons
could  be seen  through it. He heard the voices in the dining-room,  but did
not pay any attention to them; his mind  was full of the  incident that  had
taken  place   during   the  writing  lesson  earlier"   in  the   day.  The
"obstruction,"  which at  first  sight seemed such a daring and funny prank,
now  appeared in  another  light  altogether.  Pavlik could  not  banish the
horrible scene from his eyes.
     There at the blackboard stood  the teacher, old Skeleton. He was in the
last stages of consumption and was ghastly  thin. His  blue frock-coat  hung
loosely about his  shoulders.  It was too long  and old, and very  worn, but
there were new  gold buttons on it. His starched dickey bulged  casually  on
his  sunken chest and a  skinny neck protruded  from the wide greasy collar.
Skeleton stood stock-still for a moment or  two,  challenging the class with
his dark eyes. Then he turned swiftly to the blackboard,  picked up  a piece
of  chalk  with  his thin, transparent  fingers, and  began tracing  out the
     In the ominous quiet they could hear the scratching of the chalk on the
slate: a light, delicate touch when  he outlined a  feathery curlicue  and a
loud screech  as he drew an  amazingly straight line  at a  slant.  Skeleton
would crouch and  then suddenly straighten again,  just like  a puppet. He'd
cock his head to one side, utterly oblivious to his surroundings, and either
sing out "stro-o-ke" in a high thin voice, or "line" in a deep rasping one.
     "Stroke, line. Stroke, line."
     Suddenly a voice from the last row, still higher and as fine as a hair,
mimicked, "Stro-o-ke." Skeleton's back  twitched, as if he had been stabbed,
but he  pretended he hadn't heard. He continued  writing, but the chalk  was
already  crumbling in his  emaciated fingers, and his large  shoulder-blades
jerked painfully beneath the threadbare frock-coat.
     "Stroke, line. Stroke, line," he  sang out and his  neck and large ears
became crimson.
     "Stro-o-oke! Str-rr-oke! Stro-o-oke!" mimicked someone in the last row.
All of a sudden Skeleton  spun  round,  strode rapidly down  the  aisle  and
grabbed the first boy  at hand. He yanked him up from his desk,  dragged him
to the door, and threw him out of the class-room. Then he banged the door so
hard that the panes rattled and dry putty fell all over the parquet floor.
     Skeleton  walked  back  to  the  blackboard  with  heavy steps. He  was
wheezing loudly  as  he picked up the chalk and  was  about to continue  the
lesson.  Just  then  he  heard  the hum  of  steady,  barely audible booing.
Startled, he  froze into  immobility. His knees trembled visibly.  His cuffs
and baggy blue trousers trembled  too. His black sunken eyes  glared at  the
boys with undisguised hatred. But he had no way of finding out the culprits.
They  were  all  sitting  with  their  mouths  tightly  shut,  looking quite
indifferent,  and  yet  they  were  all booing  steadily,  monotonously, and
imperceptibly. The whole class  was  booing, but no one could be accused  of
it. Then a tortured  scream  of pain  and rage broke from  his lips.  He was
jerking like  a puppet as he hurled  the chalk  at the blackboard. It  broke
into bits. Skeleton stamped his  foot.  His  eyes became bloodshot. His thin
hair was plastered to his damp forehead. His neck twitched  convulsively and
he tore open his collar. He rushed over to his desk, hurled the chair aside,
flung the class register against  the wall, and began pounding the desk with
his  fists.  He  no longer  heard  his own  voice  as he shouted, "Ruffians!
Ruffians!" The inkpot bounced up and down, and the purple liquid stained his
loosened  dickey,  his bony hands  and  damp forehead.  The scene ended when
Skeleton, suddenly becoming  limp,  sat down on the  window-sill, rested his
head  against the frame and was  seized with  a terrible coughing spell. His
deeply sunken temples, almost black eye-sockets, and bared yellow teeth made
his face look like the  skull of  a  skeleton. Were  it  not  for the  sweat
streaming down his forehead, one could have easily taken him for a corpse.
     That  was the picture Pavlik could not  banish from  his mind. The  boy
felt terribly oppressed; however, his mental state in no way interfered with
the  job in  hand. He bestowed special care on transferring the picture, for
he  did not want to make  a hole in the  wet paper and spoil the bouquet and
light-blue ribbons that looked so bright in the light of the lamp.
     Petya, meanwhile, was absent-mindedly leafing through a thick notebook.
There  were emblems scratched  out on the black  oilskin cover-an anchor,  a
heart  pierced with  an  arrow  and  several  mysterious  initials.  He  was
listening to Father and Auntie arguing  in  the dining-room. Some words were
repeated more  often than others; they were: "freedom  of thought," "popular
government," "constitution," and, finally, that burning word-"revolution."
     "Mark my words, it will all end in another revolution," Auntie said.
     "You're an anarchist!" Father shouted shrilly.
     "I'm a Russian patriot!"
     "Russian patriots have faith in their tsar and their government!"
     "Have you faith in them?"
     "Yes, I have!"
     Then Petya heard Tolstoi mentioned once more.
     "Then why did this tsar and this government in whom you have such faith
excommunicate Tolstoi and ban his books?"
     "To err is  human.  They  look  on Tolstoi as a  politician,  almost  a
revolutionary,  but Tolstoi  is  simply  the world's greatest writer and the
pride of  Russia. He is above all  your parties  and revolutions. I'll prove
that in my speech."
     "Do you think the authorities will allow you to say that?"
     "I  don't need permission to say in public that Lev Tolstoi is a  great
Russian writer."
     "That's what you think."
     "I don't think it-I am absolutely sure!"
     "You're  an idealist. You don't know the kind of country  you're living
in. I beg you not to do that! They'll destroy you. Take my advice."

     Petya  woke up in  the  middle of  the night  and saw  Vasily Petrovich
sitting at his desk in his shirtsleeves. Petya was used to seeing his father
correct  exercise-books  at  night. This  time,  however, Father  was  doing
something else. The stacks  of exercise-books  were lying untouched, and  he
was writing something rapidly in his fine hand. Little fat volumes of an old
edition of Tolstoi's works were scattered about the desk.
     "Daddy, what  are you  writing?" "Go to sleep, sonny," Vasily Petrovich
said.  He walked  over to  the bed, kissed  Petya, and  made the sign of the
cross over him.
     The  boy turned his pillow, laid his head  on  the  cool side  and fell
asleep again.
     Before he dozed off he heard  the rapid  scratching of a pen, the faint
clinking of the little icon  at  the head of  his bed, saw his father's dark
head next to the green lamp-shade, the warm grow of the candle  flame in the
corner beneath the big icon,  and the dry palm branch that cast a mysterious
shadow on the wallpaper, as always bringing to mind the branch of Palestine,
the poor sons of Solim,  and  the  wonderful  soothing  music of Lermontov's

     Peace and silence all around,
     On the earth and in the sky....

     Next morning, while  Vasily  Petrovich was  busy  washing, combing  his
hair, and fastening  a black tie to a starched collar, Petya had a chance to
see what his father had been writing during the night.
     An ancient home-made exercise-book sewn together with coarse thread lay
on  the  desk.  Petya  recognized  it  immediately.  Its usual place  was in
Father's  dresser,  next  to  the other family  relics: the yellowed wedding
candles, a spray of orange blossom,  his dead mother's white  kid gloves and
little bead  bag, her tiny mother-of-pearl opera-glasses,  some dried leaves
of a wild pear tree that grew on Lermontov's grave, and a collection of odds
and  ends which, in Petya's view,  were just  junk, but  to Vasily Petrovich
very precious.
     Petya had leafed through the exercise-book once before. Half  of it was
taken  up  with  la  speech  Vasily Petrovich  had written on the  hundredth
anniversary  of Pushkin's birth;  there had not been anything in  the  other
half. The boy now  saw that a new speech filled up this yellowed half of the
book. It was written in  the  same fine  hand, and its subject was Tolstoi's
death. This is how it began:
     "A great Russian writer is dead. Our literary sun has set."
     Vasily Petrovich  put on a pair  of new cuffs and his best  hollow-gold
cufflinks,  carefully  folded  the  exercise-book in two and  put it  in his
side-pocket. Petya watched his father  drink a quick glass  of tea and  then
proceed to the hall  where he  put on his  heavy coat with the frayed velvet
collar. The  boy  noticed  that his fingers were trembling and his pince-nez
was shaking on his nose. For some reason, Petya suddenly felt terribly sorry
for his father. He went over to him and brushed against  his coat-sleeve, as
he used to do when he was a very small boy.
     "Never  mind, we'll show them  yet!" Father  said  and patted his son's
     "I still advise you against  it," Auntie  said solemnly  as she  looked
into the hall.
     "You're wrong," Vasily Petrovich replied in  a soft tremulous voice. He
put on his wide-brimmed black hat and went out quickly.
     "God  grant  that  I  am wrong!" Auntie sighed. "Come  on,  boys,  stop
wasting time or you'll be late for school,"  she added and went over to help
Pavlik, her favourite, buckle on his satchel, as he had not yet mastered the
fairly simple procedure.
     The day slipped by, a short and, at the same time, an interminably long
and dreary November day, full  of a  vague feeling of  expectation,  furtive
rumour,  and  endless  repetition of  the  same agonizing words: "Chertkov,"
"Sofya Andreyevna," "Astapovo," "Ozolin."
     It was the day of Tolstoi's funeral.
     Petya  had  spent all  his  life  on  the  southern  sea coast,  in the
Novorossiisk steppe region, and had  never seen a forest.  But now he  had a
very clear mental picture of Yasnaya Polyana, of woods fringing an overgrown
ravine.  In  his  mind's eye  Petya  saw the black  trunks of  the  ancient,
leafless  lindens,  and  the  plain  pine coffin  containing  the  withered,
decrepit body of Lev Tolstoi  being lowered into the grave without priest or
choir boys attending. And overhead the boy  could see the ominous clouds and
flocks of crows, exactly like those that circled over the church steeple and
the bleak Kulikovo Field in the rainy twilight.
     As usual, Father returned  from his classes when the lamp  had been lit
in the dining-room. He was excited, happy and deeply moved. When Auntie, not
without anxiety, asked him whether he had  delivered his speech and what the
reaction had been, Vasily Petrovich could  not restrain the proud smile that
flashed radiantly beneath his pince-nez.
     "You could have heard a pin drop," he said, taking his handkerchief out
of his back-pocket and  wiping his damp beard. "I never  expected  the young
bounders to respond so eagerly and  seriously. And  that goes  for the young
ladies too. I repeated it for the seventh form of the Maryinsky School."
     "Were you actually given  permission to do so?"  "I didn't ask anyone's
permission.  Why should  I?  I hold  that the  literature teacher  is  fully
entitled to discuss with his class  the  personality of  any  famous Russian
writer, especially when the writer in question  happens to be Tolstoi.  What
is more, I believe that it is my duty to do so." "You're so reckless."
     Later in  the evening  some  young  people,  strangers  to  the family,
dropped in: two students in very old, faded caps, and a young woman who also
seemed to be a student. One of the  youths sported a crooked pince-nez on  a
black  ribbon,  wore  top-boots, smoked  a cigarette  and emitted the  smoke
through  his  nostrils;  the  young  woman had on  a  short jacket  and kept
pressing  her little chapped hands to  her bosom. For  some  reason or other
they were reluctant to come into the rooms, and remained in the hall talking
with  Vasily  Petrovich for a  long time. The deep, rumbling  bass seemed to
belong to the student with the pince-nez, and the pleading, lisping voice of
the  young  woman  kept repeating  the same phrase  over  and  over again at
regular intervals:
     "We  feel  certain  that as a progressive  and noble-minded person  and
public figure, you won't refuse the student body this humble request."
     The  third visitor kept wiping his wet shoes shyly  on the door mat and
blowing his nose discreetly.
     It turned out that news of Vasily Petrovich's  talk had somehow reached
the  Higher  Courses for  Women  and  the  Medical School  of  the  Imperial
University  in Odessa, and the student  delegation had come to express their
solidarity   and  also  to   request  him   to  repeat   his  lecture  to  a
Social-Democratic student  circle.  Vasily  Petrovich, while flattered,  was
unpleasantly  surprised. He  thanked  the  young  people  but  categorically
refused  to address the Social-Democratic circle. He told  them  that he had
never belonged to any  party and had  no  intention of ever joining one, and
added  that  he  would  regard any  attempt  to  turn Tolstoi's  death  into
something  political  as a mark of disrespect  towards the great writer,  as
Tolstoi's abhorrence  of all political parties and his negative  attitude to
politics generally were common knowledge.
     "If that's the case, then please excuse us," the young lady said dryly.
"We are greatly disappointed in you. Comrades, let's go."
     The  young  people departed  with dignity, leaving  behind the odour of
cheap tobacco and wet footprints on the doorstep.
     "What an astonishing thing!" Vasily Petrovich said as he strode up  and
down  the  dining-room, wiping  his  pince-nez on the  lining of  his  house
jacket.  "It's  really astonishing how people  always find an excuse to talk
     "I warned you," Auntie  said. "And I'm afraid the consequences  will be
     Auntie's premonition turned  out  to be correct,  although  the results
were not as  immediate as she had expected. At least a  month went by before
the trouble  began. Actually,  the  approaching events  cast  a  few shadows
before  them.  However,  they seemed  so  vague that the Bachei family  paid
little attention to them.
     "Daddy, what's a 'red'?" Pavlik asked unexpectedly, as was his wont, at
dinner one day, his shining, naive eyes fixed on Father.
     "Really, now!"  Vasily Petrovich  said. He was  in  excellent  spirits.
"It's a  somewhat strange  question. I'd say that red means  . . .  well-not
blue, yellow, nor brown, h'm, and so on."
     "I know that. But I'm talking about people, are there red people?"
     "Oh,  so that's what  you  mean!  Of course there are.  Take  the North
American Indians, for example. The so-called redskins."
     "They haven't got  to that yet in  their preparatory class," Petya said
haughtily. "They're still infants."
     Pavlik ignored the insult. He kept his eyes on Father and asked:
     "Daddy, does that mean you're an Indian?"
     "Basically,  no."  Father laughed so loudly and boisterously  that  the
pince-nez fell off his nose and all but landed in his soup.
     "Then why did Fedya Pshenichnikov say you were a red?"
     "Oho! That's interesting. Who is this Fedya Pshenichnikov?"
     "He's in my form. His father  is  senior clerk in the Governor's office
in Odessa."
     "Well! If that's the case, then perhaps your Fedya knows best. However,
I think you can see for yourself that I'm not  red, the only time I ever get
red is during severe frost."
     "I don't like this," Auntie commented.
     Not long  afterwards a certain  Krylevich, the bookkeeper of the mutual
aid society at the boy's  school where Vasily Petrovich  taught, -dropped in
one  evening  to  see him  about some  savings-bank matters.  When they  had
disposed of the matter, Krylevich, whom Vasily Petrovich had always found to
be an unpleasant person, remained for tea. He stayed for an hour and a half,
was  incredibly  boring,  and  kept  turning  the  conversation to  Tolstoi,
praising  Vasily  Petrovich for his  courage, and begging him for his notes,
saying he wanted to read them at home. Father refused, and his refusal upset
Krylevich. Standing in front of the mirror in the hall, putting on his flat,
greasy cap with the cockade  of the  Ministry of  Education, he said with  a
sugary smile:
     "I'm sorry you don't  want to give me the pleasure,  really sorry. Your
modesty is worse than pride."
     His visit left a nasty after-taste.
     There were other minor happenings of the same order; for instance, some
of  their  acquaintances  would  greet  Vasily  Petrovich in the street with
exaggerated politeness, while  others, on the' contrary, were unusually curt
and made no attempt to conceal their disapproval.
     Then, just before Christmas, the storm broke.

     Pavlik, who had just been "let  out" for the holidays,  was  walking up
and down in front of the house in his overlong winter topcoat, meant to last
several seasons, and his new galoshes which  made  such a pleasant crunching
sound and left such first-rate dotted prints with an oval  trade mark in the
middle  on the fresh December snow. His report-card for  the  second quarter
was  in  his  satchel.  His marks  were excellent, there were no  unpleasant
reprimands  and  he  even  had "excellent"  for  attention,  diligence,  and
behaviour, which, to tell the truth, was overdoing it  a bit. But, thanks to
his innocent chocolate-brown crystal-clear  eyes, Pavlik had the happy knack
of always landing on his feet.
     The boy's mood harmonized  with  the holiday  season, and only one tiny
little  worm of anxiety wriggled down in the deep recesses of his soul.  The
trouble was  that  today, after  the  last lesson,  the  preparatory  class,
throwing  caution to the winds,  had organized  another  "obstruction." This
time they took revenge on the doorman who had refused to let them out before
the bell rang.  The boys got together  and tossed somebody's galosh into the
cast-iron stove that stood next 'to the cloak-room, with  the  result that a
column  of acrid smoke rose up, and the doorman had  to flood the stove with
water. At that moment the bell  rang, and the preparatory class scattered in
a body. Now Pavlik  was  worried that the inspector might get to know  about
their prank, and that would lead to serious complications. This was the sole
blot in his feeling of pure joy at the thought of the holidays ahead.
     Suddenly  Pavlik saw  what he feared most. A messenger was coming  down
the street and heading straight for him; he wore a cap with a blue band land
his coat was trimmed with a lambskin collar  from which Pavlik could see the
blue stand-up collar of  his tunic. He was carrying  a large cardboard-bound
register under  his  arm.  The  messenger walked up  leisurely to the  gate,
looked  at  the  triangular  lamp with the  house number underneath  it, and
stopped. Pavlik's heart sank.
     "Where do the Bacheis live?" the messenger asked.
     Pavlik realized that  his  end had  come. There  could be no doubt that
this was an official note to  his father concerning  the behaviour  of Pavel
Bachei, preparatory-class pupil-in other words, the most dreadful fate  that
could befall a schoolboy.
     "What is it? Do they want Father?" Pavlik asked with a sickly smile. He
did not recognize his own voice and blushed a deep crimson as he added, "You
can give it to me, I'll deliver it and you won't have to climb the stairs!"
     "I must have his  signature," the  messenger said sternly,  curling his
big moustache.
     "Second floor, number four,"  Pavlik  whispered  and felt hot,  choked,
nauseous, and scared to death.
     It  never dawned  on the boy that the  messenger was a stranger. And in
any case, this  being  his first year  at school, he could not possibly know
all the personnel.
     The moment the front door closed after the messenger the light went out
for  Pavlik. The world  with all its beauty and  freshness no longer existed
for him. It had vanished on  the instant. The crimson winter sun was setting
beyond the  blue-tinted  snow-covered  Kulikovo Field  and the station;  the
bells of the  frozen cab horse around the  corner  tinkled  as  musically as
ever; the pots  of hot cranberry  jelly, set out on the balconies  to  cool,
were steaming as usual, the coat of delicate pale-blue  snow on the  balcony
railings  and the steam curling over the pots seemed as cranberry-red as the
cooling jelly itself; the street, full of the holiday spirit, was as gay and
as lively as ever.
     Pavlik no longer noticed any of this. At first he made up his mind that
he would never go  home again-he would roam the  streets until  he  died  of
hunger  or  froze  to  death.  Then,  after   he  'had  walked   around  the
side-streets,  he  took a  sacred vow to  change his whole  way of  life and
never, never take part in any "obstructions" again; moreover,  he would be a
model pupil, the best-behaved boy not only in Odessa, but in all Russia, and
thus earn Father's and Auntie's forgiveness. Then he began to feel sorry for
himself,  for his ruined life,  and even started to cry, smearing  the tears
all over his face. In the  end pangs of hunger drove  him, home and, utterly
exhausted with suffering, he appeared  on the  threshold after the lamps had
been lit.  Pavlik was ready to confess  and repent when  he suddenly noticed
that the whole family  was in a state  of great  excitement. The excitement,
apparently, had nothing at all to do with the  person of  Pavlik,  as no one
paid the slightest attention to him when he came in.
     The dining-room table had  not been  cleared.  Father was striding from
room to room, his shoes squeaking loudly  and 'his coat-tails  flying. There
were red spots on his face.
     "I  told you. I warned  you," Auntie kept repeating, as she  swung back
and forth on the swivel stool in front  of the  piano  with its  wax-spotted
silver candlesticks.
     Petya was breathing on the  window-pane and etching with his finger the
words, "Dear sir, Dear sir."
     It  turned  out  that the messenger  had been from  the office  of  the
Education Department and had nothing to do with the gymnasium at all. He had
delivered  a message  to  Councillor  Bachei,  requesting him  to appear the
following day "to explain the circumstances which prompted him to deliver an
unauthorized  speech to  his students  on  the occasion of  Count  Tolstoi's
     When Vasily Petrovich returned from the Education  Department next day,
he sat down in the rocker in his  frock-coat and folded his  arms behind his
head. The moment  Petya saw  his pale  forehead and  trembling jaw,  he knew
something terrible had happened.
     Father was reclining  on  the wicker  back  of  the  chair and  rocking
nervously, shoving off with the toe of his squeaking shoe.
     "Vasily Petrovich, for God's sake, tell me  what happened," Auntie said
finally, her kind eyes wide with fright.
     "Please, leave me  alone!" Father  said  with  an  effort, and his  jaw
twitched more violently.
     His pince-nez had slid  down, and Petya saw two tiny pink  dents on the
bridge of his nose which gave his face the appearance of helpless suffering.
The boy recalled that he had had this same look when Mother had died and lay
in a white coffin covered with hyacinths; then, too, Father had  rocked back
and  forth nervously, arms  folded  behind his  head,  his eyes  filled with
tears. Petya walked over to Father, put his arms around his shoulders, which
bore faint traces of dandruff, and hugged him.
     "Daddy, don't!" he said gently.
     Father shook  the  boy's  arms  off,  jumped  up,  and  gesticulated so
violently that his starched cuffs popped out with a snap.
     "In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ-leave me alone!" he shouted in an
agonized voice and  fled into the room that  was both his study  and bedroom
and the boys' room as well.
     He divested  himself of jacket and shoes, lay  down and turned his face
to the wall.
     At the sight of Father lying huddled up,  of  his white  socks and  the
blue steel buckle on the crumpled back  of his  waistcoat,  Petya broke down
and began to cry, wiping his tears on his sleeve.
     What  actually  had  taken place  at the Education Department? To begin
with, Vasily Petrovich had spent a long and uncomfortable time sitting alone
in the cold, officially sumptuous waiting-room on a gilded blue velvet chair
of the kind  usually seen in museums or theatre  lobbies.  Then  a dandified
official in  the uniform of the Ministry of  Education appeared,  his figure
reflected  in  the  parquet  floor, and informed Vasily Petrovich  that  His
Excellency would see him.
     His  Excellency was  sitting behind an  enormous writing-desk.  He  was
hunchbacked and, like most hunchbacks, was very short, so that nothing could
be  seen of him  above  the  massive  malachite desk  set  with  two  bronze
malachite  candelabra,  except  a  proud,  malicious  head, iron  grey  land
closely-cropped,  propped up by a high starched collar and white tie. He was
wearing his formal civil service dress-coat with decorations.
     "Why did you take the liberty of  appearing here without your uniform?"
His Excellency demanded, without offering  the caller  a seat or getting  up
     Vasily Petrovich was taken aback, but when he tried to picture his  old
uniform with the rows of holes where Petya had once yanked  the  buttons off
together with the cloth,  he smiled good-naturedly, to his own surprise, and
even waved his hands somewhat humorously.
     "I would request you not to act the clown.  Don't wave your arms about:
you are in an office, not on the stage."
     "My dear sir!" Vasily Petrovich said as the blood rushed to his face.
     "Silence!" barked the official in the best departmental manner,  as  he
crashed  his  fist down on a pile  of papers. "I  am a member  of the  Privy
Council,  'Your  Excellency' to you, not  'my dear  sir'! Be  good enough to
remember where you  are and  sta-a-and to  attention! I summoned you here to
present you  with  an  alternative,"  he  continued,  pronouncing  the  word
"alternative"  with  evident relish,  "to present  you with  an alternative:
either publicly  recant your baleful  errors  in  the presence of the School
Inspector and  the students at one  of  the next  lessons, and  explain  the
demoralizing  effects  of  Count Tolstoi's teachings on  Russian society, or
hand in your resignation. Should you refuse to do so, you will be discharged
under  Article  3  with  no  explanation  and  with   all  the   unfortunate
consequences  as  far   as  you   are  concerned.   I   will  not   tolerate
anti-government   propaganda  in  my  district.  I   will  mercilessly   and
unhesitatingly suppress every instance of it."
     "Allow  me,  Your  Excellency!"  Vasily  Petrovich  said in a trembling
voice. "Lev  Tolstoi, our famous  man of letters, is the pride and  glory of
all Russia. I don't understand. What have politics got to do with it?"
     "First of all,  Count Tolstoi is an  apostate, excommunicated from  the
Orthodox Church  by the  Holy Synod. He is  a man who dared to encroach upon
the most  sacred principles of the  Russian Empire and its fundamental laws.
If you cannot grasp this, then government service is not the place for you!"
     "I  regard that  as  an  insult,"  Vasily  Petrovich  said  with  great
difficulty, as he felt his jaw begin to tremble.
     "Get out!" roared the official, rising.
     Vasily Petrovich left the office with his knees shaking, a shaking that
he  could  not control either  on  the  marble staircase, where in two white
niches there  were two gypsum  busts  of the  tsar and tsarina  in  la pearl
tiara, or in the cloak-room, where a massive attendant threw his coat to him
over  the  barrier,  or  even later, in the cab, a  luxury the Bachei family
indulged in only on very special occasions.
     And so here  he was,  lying on the bed-clothes with  his feet tucked up
under him,  deeply insulted, powerless,  humiliated, and overwhelmed  by the
misfortune  that  had  befallen  not  only  him personally  but, as  he  now
realized, his whole family as well. To be discharged under Article 3 with no
grounds  stated  meant  more than  the black  list and social ostracism,  it
signified  in  all  probability an  administrative  exile, i.e., utter ruin,
poverty,  and the end  of the  family. There was only  one way out-a  public
     By  nature Vasily Petrovich was neither  hero  nor  martyr.  He was  an
ordinary kind-hearted, intelligent  man, a decent, honest  intellectual, the
kind  known as an  "idealist,"  and a "pure soul."  His university tradition
would not  allow  him to  retreat.  In  his  opinion  a "bargain with  one's
conscience"  was  the epitome of  moral  degradation. And, nevertheless,  he
wavered. The pit they had dug for him so ruthlessly would not bear  thinking
about. He realized that there was no way  out, although he tried to think of
     Vasily  Petrovich was so disheartened that he  even decided to petition
the  Emperor  and sent  for  ten  kopeks' worth of  the  best  "ministerial"
stationery  from the shop  round the corner. He still  adhered to his belief
that the tsar-the Lord's Anointed-was just and upright.
     Perhaps he would actually have written to the tsar, had it not been for
the fact  that  at this juncture Auntie took a hand in the  matter. She told
the  cook  on  no  account  to  go for  any  "ministerial"  stationery,  and
addressing herself to Vasily Petrovich said:
     "My God,  you're the perfect innocent! Don't  you  understand that they
are one and the same bunch?"
     Vasily Petrovich blinked confusedly and kept repeating:
     "But what's to be done, Tatyana Ivanovna? Tell me, just what can I do?"
     Auntie, however,  had no advice to offer.  She retreated to her  little
room  next to the kitchen,  sat  down at her dressing-table,  and  pressed a
crumpled lace handkerchief to her red nose.

     It was Christmas Eve, the twenty-fourth  of December, a day that had  a
special meaning  for the Bachei  family. It was  the  day of Mother's patron
saint. Every year on that day they visited  the cemetery to offer up  a mass
for the dead.  They set out  today too. There was a blizzard blowing and the
blinding whiteness hurt their eyes. The  snow-drifts at the cemetery blended
with the white of the sky.  Fine, powdery snow crystals rose  over the black
iron railings  and crosses. The wind whistled through old metal wreaths with
porcelain flowers. Petya stood knee-deep in the fresh snow. He had taken off
his  cap,  but  still had  on a  hood. He was praying diligently,  trying to
visualize his dead mother, but could recall only minor details: a hat with a
feather in it, a veil, the hem of a wide silk dress with a fringe on it. Two
kind  eyes  were smiling at him through the dotted veil tied under her chin.
That was  all  Petya could remember. There was a  faint trace of a long past
grief that time had healed, the fear of his  own death, and the gold letters
of  Mother's  name on  the  white  marble  slab  from  which  the sexton had
carelessly brushed the snow  just before they had arrived.  Next  to it  was
Grandma's grave, and there was a vacant place between  the two graves where,
as  Vasily Petrovich was wont  to  say,  he would  one  day be  laid at rest
between  his mother  and his wife, the two women he had loved so  faithfully
and steadfastly.
     Petya crossed himself and bowed at the proper moments, he kept thinking
about  his  mother,  and,  at  the  same  time,  observed  the  priest,  the
psalm-reader, Father, Pavlik, and Auntie. Pavlik was fidgeting all the time,
the turned-up hood irritated his ears and he  kept tugging at it. Auntie was
weeping  into  her  muff  quietly.  Father stood  with  eyes  fixed  on  the
tombstone, his folded hands held humbly before him and his greying head with
the long seminarist's hair  bent  low. Petya knew Father was thinking  about
Mother. But he  had  no  idea  of the  terrible conflict raging  within him.
Especially now  did  Vasily  Petrovich  miss her, her love,  and  her  moral
support. He thought  of the day when he, an eager young man, had read to her
his essay on Pushkin, of how  they had both discussed it long and  heatedly,
of the glorious morning, when he had put on his new uniform and was standing
in the hall, ready to set out to read his essay, and she  had handed him his
freshly-pressed  handkerchief,  still  warm from  the  hot  iron, kissed him
fondly, and crossed him with her thin fingers;  and afterwards, when  he had
returned  home in triumph,  they had had  a hearty dinner and little  Petya,
whom they  were training  to  be an independent  young man, had smeared  his
porridge all over his fat cheeks and kept repeating, "Daddy! Eat!" his black
eyes sparkling. How long ago, and yet, how close it  all  seemed! Now Vasily
Petrovich had to decide his fate alone.
     For the first time in his  life he understood clearly something that he
either could not  or refused to understand before: that it was impossible in
Russia to be an honest and independent  person if one held a government job.
One had to be  a docile tsarist official, with no views of  one's  own,  and
obey  the  orders  of  other officials-one's  superiors-unquestioningly,  no
matter how unjust  or even criminal they  might be. But worst of all, as far
as Vasily Petrovich was concerned, was the fact that the one responsible for
this state  of affairs was none other than the Russian autocrat himself, the
Anointed of the Lord,  in whose  sanctity and infallibility Vasily Petrovich
had trusted so deeply and implicitly.
     Now  that  this   trust  had  been   shaken,  Vasily  Petrovich  turned
whole-heartedly  to religion. He offered up  prayers for his  dead wife, and
implored divine  help  and  guidance.  But his prayers no longer brought him
consolation. He crossed himself, bowed  low,  and yet  somehow or  other  he
seemed  to see the  priest and psalm-reader, who  were  rushing  through the
service, in  a  new and different light.  Their words  and actions no longer
created  the religious atmosphere  of former  years,  but,  instead,  seemed
crude, unnatural, as  if Vasily Petrovich himself  was not praying, but only
observing two shamans performing  some rite.  That which formerly had  moved
him deeply was now bereft of all its poetry.
     The priest,  in  a mourning  chasuble of  brocade with  a  silver cross
embroidered on  the back,  his  short arms wrapped  in the dark sleeves of a
protruding tunic, was chanting  the  beautiful  words of the  requiem as  he
deftly  swung the censer to and  fro, making the hot coals glow like rubies.
Purple smoke poured from  it,  turned  grey quickly and melted in the  wind,
leaving the air heavy with incense.
     The psalm-reader had an enormous moustache and  his winter overcoat was
exactly  like  Vasily Petrovich's,  even  to  the frayed velvet collar.  His
bulging eyes were reverently half closed, and his voice  rose and fell as he
quickly  echoed  the priest's  singing. Both priest and psalm-reader  made a
pretence of not  hurrying, although Vasily Petrovich  could  see  they  were
rushing  the service, as  they had to officiate  at  other graves where they
were eagerly awaited and whence impatient  relatives were already signalling
them. Their relief was evident  when they finally reached the  last part and
put  all  their  energy behind  the words  "the tears  at  the grave turn to
singing," etc., after  which the Bachei family kissed the cold silver cross,
and while the psalm-reader was hurriedly wrapping it up in the stole, Vasily
Petrovich shook the priest's  hand  and awkwardly pressed two  silver rubles
into  his palm. The  priest said,  "I thank you!"  and added,  "I  hear that
you're having trouble with the Education Department. Have faith in the Lord,
perhaps  there is a way  out. Good-bye  for the  present.  Dreadful weather,
isn't it? A regular blizzard."
     Vasily Petrovich had  caught a faint  trace of  insult in  those words.
Petya saw his face turn red. Suddenly there flashed into Vasily  Petrovich's
mind  the   Education  Department  official  bawling  at  him  and  his  own
humiliating fear, and  once  again the feeling of pride, which until then he
had tried so hard to subordinate to Christian humility, welled up in him. At
that  moment he  decided  that  not  for  anything  in  the world  would  he
surrender,  and  if necessary he would suffer all the  consequences for  the
sake of Truth.
     However,  once they  had  returned  home from the  cemetery  and he had
calmed  down  a  little,  his former doubts  returned:  had he the  right to
jeopardize his family?
     Meanwhile, the school  holidays  pursued  their  usual course, the only
difference being that this time they were not as  jolly or as carefree as in
previous years.
     Tedious  and  tiresome  as usual  was  the  waiting  for  nightfall  on
Christmas Eve;  appetizing smells  drifted in  from  the kitchen  while they
awaited the appearance of the first star in the  window-the signal to  light
the lamps and sit down to dinner and Christmas  pudding. They  had the usual
Christmas  party next day,  and  carol-singers came in  carrying a star hung
with tinsel and a round paper icon in the centre. Blue diamonds of moonlight
glittered festively and mysteriously on the frosted window-panes, and on New
Year's Eve there was apple  pie with a new silver coin hidden in it for good
luck.  The regimental bands played as usual in the clear, frosty noonday for
the Twelfth-Day parade on Cathedral Square.  The holidays were coming to  an
end.  Some  kind  of  decision  had to  be  made.  Vasily  Petrovich  became
despondent, and his depression affected the boys. Auntie alone tried to keep
up the holiday spirit.  She put on  a  new silk dress, and all her favourite
rings were brought  out to adorn her slender fingers; she smelled of  "Coeur
de Jeannette" perfume, and she  would sit at the piano,  open a large folio,
and  play  Madame Vyaltseva's  repertoire  of  waltzes,  polkas,  and  gipsy
serenades.  On  Twelfth-Day  Eve   she  decided  to  have   the  traditional
fortune-telling.  They  poured  cold water into  a basin and  dropped melted
paraffin into  it,  as  they had no  wax,  and then interpreted the  various
shapes it froze into; in the kitchen they burned balls of crumpled paper and
then told the meaning of the shadows cast by them on the freshly whitewashed
wall. But there was something strained in all this.

     Late  at night-the  last night of  the  school holidays-Petya,  who was
drowsing off to sleep, again heard Father and Auntie talking heatedly in the
     "You cannot and you must not do such a thing!" Auntie was  saying in an
excited voice. "What  then?" Father asked, and there was a sharp click as he
cracked his knuckles. "What  shall I do? How shall we live? Have I the right
to do this? What a tragedy that Zhenya is no longer with us!"
     "Believe  me, if  Zhenya were  here now, she would never let you grovel
before these officials!"
     Petya soon  fell asleep  and did not hear any  more, but an astonishing
thing  happened the next  morning: for the  first  time  in his  life Vasily
Petrovich did not put on his  frock-coat  and  did  not go to  his  classes.
Instead,  the cook  was sent to the  shop for  "ministerial" stationery, and
Vasily  Petrovich  wrote out  his resignation  in  his clear  flowing  hand,
unadorned by flourishes or curlicues.
     His resignation  was  accepted  coldly. However,  there was  no further
unpleasantness-apparently,  it was not  in  the interests of  the  Education
Department  to have  the story spread round. And so,  Vasily Petrovich found
himself out of a job, the most terrible thing that could hap-
     pen to a family man with no other means of support except his salary.
     Vasily Petrovich had put aside a little money a  long time  ago; he had
dreamed of going abroad with his wife, and  then,  after her death, with his
'boys. Now that dream  evaporated. This  money, together  with what he would
get from the mutual aid society, would see the family through the next year,
if  they lived frugally. But it was still  a mystery how they were  to exist
after that, especially as another question arose: how were Petya and  Pavlik
to continue at the gymnasium? As the sons of a teacher they had been  exempt
from tuition fees; now, however, he would have  to  pay out of their  meagre
budget a sum that was beyond his means.
     But  worst  of  all,  where  Vasily Petrovich  was  concerned,  was his
enforced idleness, for he had been used to  work  all his life.  He  did not
know what to  do with himself  and  hung around the house for days on end in
his  old jacket, forgetting  to go to the barber's, looking older every day,
and making frequent visits to the cemetery where he spent long  hours at his
wife's grave.
     Pavlik, still too young  to be touched  by the  terrible thing that had
befallen them, continued his former carefree existence. But Petya understood
everything. The thought  that he  would  have  to  leave school,  remove the
cockade from his cap and wear his uniform  with hooks instead of shiny metal
buttons,  as  was the  case  with  boys who had been  expelled  or  had  not
matriculated,  made him  blush with  shame.  Things  were  aggravated by  an
ominous change in the attitude of the teachers and some of his class-mates.
     In short, the New Year  could  not have  begun  worse.  Petya was  most
unhappy  and  was  amazed  to  see  that Auntie,  far  from  being  upset or
down-hearted, gave the impression of everything being fine. There was a look
of  determination in her  eye which implied  that she was going to  save the
family at all costs.
     Her  plan  was  as follows:  she  would  serve  tasty,  nourishing, and
inexpensive home-cooked meals to working intellectuals, which, to her  mind,
would yield enough to keep the family in food. In order to add to the income
Auntie decided to move into the dining-room, move the cook into the kitchen,
and let the two rooms, thus vacated, with board.
     Father winced painfully at the  mere thought of  his  home being turned
into an  "eating-house," but as there was no  other way  out, he gave in and
     "Do whatever you think best."
     That was  Auntie's  green  light. "To  let" notices that could be  read
clearly from the street were  pasted on the windows of the two rooms. On the
gate-post they nailed  a little  board that  said:  "Dinners served." It had
been done artistically in oils by Petya and depicted a  steaming tureen with
the inscription  mentioning  single working  intellectuals. Auntie  believed
that this would impart a social, political, and  even an  opposition note to
their commercial undertaking. She  began to buy new kitchen utensils and put
in  a stock  of the best and freshest foods;  she had a new calico dress and
snow-white apron made  for Dunyasha and spent most of her time  studying the
Molokhovets  Cookery Book,  that bible of every well-to-do home. She  copied
the most useful  recipes  into  a special  notebook  and  made up tasty  and
nourishing menus.
     Never  before had the Bachei family  eaten so  well-or, rather, feasted
so.  After  a month's  time  they  had  all put  on weight, including Vasily
Petrovich, a fact that seemed strangely at variance with his status of a man
persecuted by the government.
     All would have gone well, perhaps even brilliantly, had it not been for
the lack of  customers.  One might  have thought  that  all the professional
people had agreed never to dine again.
     True,  the first  few  days brought  some customers.  Two  well-dressed
bearded  gentlemen with sunken cheeks and a fanatical glitter in their  eyes
called,  discovered  that  there were no vegetarian dishes on  the menu, and
stamped out without bothering to say good-bye.
     Then  a  saucy  orderly in  a  peakless cap,  serving in  the Modlinsky
Regiment,  came  in  at  the  back  door  and  asked  for  two  portions  of
cabbage-soup   for   his  officer.  Auntie  explained  that  there  was   no
cabbage-soup  on the menu,  but that there was soupe printaniere. That, said
the soldier,  was quite all  right with  him,  provided there was plenty  of
bread to go with  it,  as his gentleman had lost all his money at cards  and
was sitting in his quarters with a  bad cold and nothing  hot in his stomach
for nearly two days. Auntie gave  him two portions  of soupe printaniere and
plenty of  bread on  credit, and the  orderly doubled down the stairs on his
short, thick legs in worn-down boots, leaving the heavy odour of an infantry
barracks  in  the kitchen. Two days later  he appeared again;  this time  he
carried off two portions  of bouillon and meat patties, also on  credit, and
promised to pay as soon as his gentleman won back his money; apparently, his
gentleman never did, because the soldier disappeared for good.
     No one else came to dine.
     As  far as letting the two  rooms was concerned, things  were not  much
better. The very day  they put  the little cards  in the window  a newly-wed
couple made inquiries: he was a young army surgeon, and everything he had on
was new and resplendent; she was a plump, dimpled  blonde with a beauty-mark
over her Cupid's-bow lips, wearing a  squirrel-lined cloak and pert  bonnet,
and carrying a tiny muff on a cord. They seemed to be the personification of
happiness.  Their  new,  twenty-four  carat  gold  wedding-rings   shone  so
dazzlingly, they were  surrounded by such a fragrant  aroma of scented soap,
cold cream,  brilliantine, hair tonic, and Brokar  perfume,  the mixture  of
which seemed to  Petya the very essence of newly-weddedness, that the Bachei
flat with its old wallpaper  and poorly-waxed floors suddenly appeared to be
small, shabby, and dark.
     While the young couple was looking  over  the rooms, the  husband never
once let go of his wife's arm, as if he were afraid she'd run off somewhere;
the wife,  in turn, pressed close to him  as she looked round in horror  and
exclaimed in a loud singsong voice:
     "Dahling, it's a barm!  It's a real bahn! It smells like a kitchen! No,
no, it's not at all what we're looking for!"
     They  left   hurriedly.  The  army   surgeon's  silver   spurs  tinkled
delicately,  and  the young wife raised  her skirts squeamishly  and stepped
gingerly  as  if  afraid to soil her tiny  new shoes.  It was only after the
downstairs  door had  banged  behind  them that  Petya realized  the strange
foreign word "bahn" was just plain "barn," and he felt so hurt he could have
cried. Auntie's ears were still burning long after they had gone.
     No one  else  came to see the rooms. And so Auntie's plans failed.  The
spectre  of poverty again rose up before the Bachei family. Despair banished
all hopes. Who knows what the  outcome would have been, if salvation had not
come one fine day-out of the blue, as it always does.

     It was really a glorious day, one of those March days when the snow has
melted, the earth is black, a watery blueness breaks through the clouds over
the bare  branches  of the orchards, a fresh  breeze sweeps the  first  dust
along the dry pavements, and the incessant tolling of the Lenten bells booms
over the city like a great bass  string. The bakeries sold pastry "skylarks"
with charred raisin eyes, and swarms of rooks circled over Cathedral Square,
over the huge corner house, over Libman's  Cafe, and  over the double-headed
eagle above Gayevsky's, the chemist's, their spring din and clamour drowning
out the sounds of the city.
     It  was a day  Petya  would  long remember.  It was the day he became a
tutor and, for the first time in his life, was to be paid for a Latin lesson
he gave to another boy. This other boy was Gavrik.
     A few days before, on his way home from school, Petya was walking along
slowly, lost in unhappy thoughts and visualizing the day in  the near future
when he would be expelled from the gymnasium for arrears of fees.
     Suddenly, someone crashed into him  from behind and punched his satchel
so hard that his pencil-box shook and  clattered. Petya stumbled  and nearly
fell; he turned, ready to charge his unseen enemy,  and saw Gavrik, his feet
planted apart and a grin on his face.
     "Hi, Petya! Where've you been all this time?"
     "It's you, you tramp! You're a fine chap, hitting one of your own!"
     "Go on! I socked the satchel, not you."
     "What if I had fallen?"
     "I'd have caught you."
     "How are things?"
     "Not too bad. Earning a living."
     Gavrik lived in Near Mills and Petya rarely saw him nowadays, but their
childhood friendship was as strong as ever. Whenever they would meet and ask
each other the usual  "How are  things?" Petya would shrug his shoulders and
answer, "Still  at  school," while  Gavrik  would  furrow  his  small  round
forehead and say, "Earning la living." Each  time they met, Petya would hear
the latest story, which inevitably ended the  same  way:  either the current
employer had gone bankrupt or he had cheated Gavrik out of his pay. Such was
the case with the owner  of  the bathing  beach  between  Sredny Fontan  and
Arcadia who had  employed Gavrik for the season to unlock the bathing-boxes,
take charge  of  hiring  the striped bathing-suits, and  keep an eye  on the
bathers'  clothes. The beach  owner  disappeared at the  end  of  the season
without  paying him a kopek, all he had had in the end were his tips. It was
the same with the Greek who had hired a gang of dockers and who had brazenly
cheated the  men out  of more  than half their wages. It was the  same again
when he  had worked as bill-poster, and on many of the other  jobs which  he
had taken in the  hope of being at least a little  help to Terenty's  family
and at the same time earning a bit for himself.
     It was much more fun, although just as unprofitable in the long run, to
work  in  the  "Bioscope Realite"  cinema  on  Richelieu  Street,  near  the
Alexandrovsky police-station In those days the cinema, that famous invention
of the  Lumiere  brothers, was no longer  a novelty, but, none the less, the
magic of "moving pictures" continued to amaze the world. Cinemas  mushroomed
up all over the city, -and they became known as "illusions."
     An  "illusion" signified  a  multi-coloured  electric-light bill-board,
sometimes even with moving  letters, and the bravura thunder of the pianola,
a  mechanical piano  whose keys were  pressed down and raced back  and forth
automatically, instilling in the  audience a greater feeling of  awe towards
the inventions of the 20th century. Usually there were slot-machines  in the
foyer, and if you put five kopeks in the slot a bar of chocolate  would slip
out mysteriously, or brightly-coloured sugar eggs would  roll out from under
a bronze hen. Sometimes there would be a wax figure on exhibition in a glass
case. As yet there were no specially built theatres for the "illusions," and
the  general practice was  to rent  a flat and use the  largest room for the
     Madame   Valiadis,  widow  of  a  Greek,  an  enterprising  and  highly
imaginative woman, owned the "Bioscope Realite." She decided to wipe out all
her rivals at once. To  this end  she first engaged Mr.  Zingertal, a famous
singer  of  topical ditties, to  appear before each showing, and second, she
decided  to revolutionize  the  silent film  by  introducing sound  effects.
Crowds thronged to the "Bioscope Realite."
     Mr.  Zingertal,  the  popular  favourite,  duly  appeared  before  each
performance in  front of a  small screen in the former dining-room decorated
with old  flowered  paper,  a room  as long  and  narrow  as  a  pencil-box.
Zingertal, a tall, thin Jew, wore  a  rather long frock-coat, yellowed pique
vest, striped  trousers, white spats and a black  top hat which pressed down
on  his  protruding  ears.  With  a  Mephistophelian  smile   on  his  long,
clean-shaven,  lined and hollow-cheeked face, he sang the popular  tunes  of
the day,  accompanying himself on a  tiny violin, tunes such  as "The Odessa
girl is the girl for me," "The soldier boys are marching," and, finally, his
hit song "Zingertal, my robin, play me on your violin." Then Madame Valiadis
came  on, wearing an ostrich hat and  opera gloves minus the fingers to show
off her rings; she sat at the battered old  piano and, as the lights dimmed,
began pounding out the accompaniment.
     The lamp of the projector hissed, the film  buzzed and  rattled on, and
tiny,  cramped red or blue captions,  which seemed to  have been typed  on a
typewriter, appeared on the screen. Then,  in  quick succession,  carne  the
shorts: a panorama of a cloudy Swiss lake  that moved along jerkily and with
great effort,  followed by a Pathe news-reel with a train thundering  into a
station  and  a  parade of helmeted,  goose-stepping  foreign  soldiers  who
flashed by so quickly that they seemed to be running-all this was seen as if
through  a veil of  rain or snow. Then  Bleriot's monoplane emerged from the
clouds for an  instant-his famous Channel  flight from Calais to Dover. Then
came the  comedy, and  this was Madame Valiadis' greatest moment. Behind the
flickering  veil of raindrops  a little monkey-like man  called Knucklehead,
learning to ride a bicycle, kept bumping into things and knocking them over;
the audience  not only  saw all this, they heard it  as well. The crash  and
tinkle  of falling glass  accompanied the  shattering of street lamps on the
screen. Pails banged and clattered as house-painters  in blouses tumbled off
ladders and landed on the pavement. Dozens of  dinner-sets  were  smashed to
bits as they slid and dropped from the display window of a china shop. A cat
mewed hysterically when the bicycle wheels rolled over its tail. The enraged
crowd  shook their fists and chased the fleeing Knucklehead. Police whistles
screamed. Dogs barked. A fire-engine tore past. Bursts of laughter shook the
darkened "illusion" room. And all the while, unseen by the audience,  Gavrik
sweated, earning his fifty kopeks a day. It was he who waited for his cue to
smash the crockery, blow  a  whistle, bark, mew, ring  a  bell, shout "Catch
him! Hold him!", stamp  his  feet to give  the effect of a running  mob, and
dump  on  the  floor  a crate of broken glass,  drowning out the  unmerciful
pounding on the battered keys that was Ma dame Valiadis' contribution on the
other side of the screen.
     Petya helped Gavrik  on several occasions.  The two of them would raise
such a rumpus behind the screen that crowds would  gather in the street. The
popularity of the electric theatre grew tremendously.
     But the  avaricious widow was far from satisfied. Aware that the public
liked politics, she ordered  Zingertal  to  freshen  up his  repertoire with
something  political,  and  then  raised  the price  of admission. Zingertal
shrugged his shoulders, smiled his Mephistophelian smile  and  said, "As you
wish"; next day he appeared with a new number  entitled "Neckties, neckties"
instead of the old "The soldier boys are marching."
     Pressing the tiny violin to his shoulder with his blue horse-like chin,
he  flourished  his  bow,  winked slyly  at  the audience, and,  hinting  at
Stolypin, began:

     Our Premier, Mr. X,
     Hangs ties on people's necks,
     A habit which we dreadfully deplore....

     Zingertal was thrown out  of the  city within twenty-four hours; Madame
Valiadis, forced  to  piay  enormous  bribes to the police and to  close her
"illusion," was  ruined, while Gavrik was paid only a quarter of what he had


     Now Gavrik was  standing next to 'Petya  in a greasy blue  cotton smock
over a tattered coat with a worn-out Astrakhan collar and cap to match, like
those warn  by middle-aged  bookbinders, type-setters and  waiters.  ' Petya
realized immediately  that his friend had changed jobs again and was earning
his daily bread at some other trade.
     Gavrik was going on fifteen. His voice had changed  to a youthful bass.
He had not grown very much, but his shoulders were broader and stronger, and
there were fewer freckles on his nose. His features had become more definite
and his clear  eyes were  firm.  And yet, there was  still much of the child
about  him-such as  his  deliberate  rolling  sailor's  gait, his  habit  of
wrinkling his  round forehead  when  puzzled  by something- and  his amazing
accuracy in spitting through tightly-clenched teeth.
     "Well, where  are  you  working now?" Petya asked, his  eyes taking  in
Gavrik's strange outfit.
     "In the Odessa Leaflet print-shop."
     "Tell me another!"
     "It's the truth!"
     "What do you do there?"'
     "I deliver the ad proofs to the clients."
     "Proofs?" Petya said doubtfully.
     "Sure, proofs. Why?"
     "Oh, nothing."
     "Maybe you've never seen proof-sheets? Here, I'll show you some. See?"
     With  these  words Gavrik put his hand  into  the breast pocket of  his
smock and pulled out a couple of packets of wet paper reeking of kerosene.
     "Let me see!" Petya cried, grabbing a packet.
     "Keep your paws off," Gavrik said  good-naturedly, not  at all in anger
or from a desire to offend Petya, but out of sheer habit.
     "Come here, I'll show them to you."
     The  boys walked  over to an  iron  post  near  the  gates,  and Gavrik
unrolled  a  damp  paper covered all  over with  newspaper advertisements as
black and as greasy as shoe polish. Most of them were illustrated, and Petya
immediately recognized them from the pages of the Odessa Leaflet,  which the
Bachei family took in. Here were the Fleetfoot Shoes and the Guide Galoshes,
waterproofs with peaked hoods sold by Lurie Bros.,  Faberge diamonds in open
jewel cases, with black lines  radiating  from  them,  bottles of  Shustov's
rowan-berry brandy, theatre lyres, furriers' tigers, harness-makers' steeds,
the black  cats  of fortune-tellers and  palmists, skates,  carriages, toys,
suits, fur coats, pianos and balalaikas, biscuits and elaborate cream cakes,
Lloyd's ocean liners, and  railway locomotives. And, finally, there were the
impressive-looking,  long,  uninterrupted  columns  of  joint-stock  company
reports  and  bank   balances,   showing  their  investments  and  fantastic
     Gavrik's  small,  strong, ink-stained hands  held  the  damp  newspaper
sheet, that  magic,  miniature record of the wealth of a big  industrial and
trading centre, so far beyond the reach of Gavrik and the thousands of other
ordinary working people like him.
     "There you are!" Gavrik said, and when he noticed that Petya  seemed to
be reflecting on the nature of man's wealth, an exercise in which he himself
had often indulged  when reading the ads or the signs and posters, he sighed
and added, "Proofs!" Then he gazed ruefully at his canvas shoes that  were a
size too big and not the thing for the season. "How are things?"
     "Not bad," Petya mumbled, lowering his eyes.
     "Tell me another," Gavrik said.
     "On my honour!"
     "Then why did you take to serving dinners at home?"
     Petya blushed crimson.
     "It's true, isn't it?" Gavrik insisted.
     "What if it is?" Petya said.
     "It means you're hard up for money."
     "We are not."
     "Yes, you are. You can't even make ends meet."
     "What do you mean?"
     "Come off it, Petya. You can't fool me. I know your old man was  booted
out of his job and you haven't a kopek."
     That was  the  first  time  Petya heard the truth  about  the  family's
finances put so simply and crudely.
     "How do you know?" he asked weakly.
     "Who  doesn't?  It's the talk of the town. But don't worry, Petya, they
won't put him in the jug for it."
     "Who ... won't be put in the jug?"
     "Why, your old man."
     "What are you talking about? What do you mean by the jug?"
     Gavrik knew that Petya was naive but this  was too much for him and  he
burst out laughing.
     "What  a fellow! He doesn't  even  know what the  'jug' means! It means
being locked up in jail." "Where?"
     "In jail!" Gavrik bellowed. "Do you know how people are jailed?"
     Petya looked into Gavrik's serious eyes and for the first time  he felt
really frightened.
     "Take it easy, they won't put your dad in jail," Gavrik said hurriedly.
"They hardly ever jail people for Lev Tolstoi now. Take it from me." He bent
close to Petya and added in a whisper, "They're picking  up people right and
left now for illegal books. For  the Workers' Paper and  The Social-Democrat
too. But Lev Tolstoi doesn't interest them any more."
     Petya looked at Gavrik with  uncomprehending eyes.  "Oh, what's the use
of talking to you," Gavrik said disgustedly.
     He  had been  ready  to tell his friend  the latest news: for instance,
that his brother  Terenty had just returned from exile after all those years
and  was now working in the railway-yard, that some of the committee members
had returned with him, that it was "business as usual" again as far as their
activities were  concerned, and that it  had not been his own idea to get  a
job  in  the print-shop-he  had  been "spoken  for" by these same  committee
members for  a very  definite  purpose.  Gavrik  was  about to  explain just
exactly what the purpose was, but he  saw  from Petya's  expression that his
friend had not the slightest idea of  what he was talking  about, land so he
decided to keep mum for the time being.
     "How's  the  dinners-at-home business going?"  he  asked,  changing the
subject. "Are there any cranks who want them?"
     Petya shook his head sadly.
     "I see," Gavrik said.
     "Then it's a flop?"
     "What are you going to do?"
     "Somebody might rent the rooms."
     "You  mean  you're  letting  rooms  too? Things  must be  bad!"  Gavrik
whistled sympathetically.
     "Don't worry, we'll manage. I can give lessons," Petya said stoically.
     He had long since made up his mind to become a tutor and coach backward
pupils, but did not quite know how to go about it. As a rule only university
students or senior form boys gave lessons, but there was always room for the
exception. The main thing was to be lucky and find a pupil to coach.
     "How can you give lessons  when  you  probably -don't know a darn thing
yourself?" Gavrik said in his usual crude, straightforward way and sniggered
     Petya was hurt. There had 'been a time when  he had really fooled about
instead  of swotting,  but  now he was  putting everything he had  into  his
     "I'm only  kidding,"  Gavrik said. Suddenly  he  had  a bright idea and
quickly asked, "Look, can you teach Latin too?"
     "What a question, of course I can!"
     "That's the stuff!"  Gavrik exclaimed. "How  much  would  you charge to
coach someone for the third form Latin exams?"
     "What do you mean: 'how much'?"
     "How much money?"
     "I don't know," Petya mumbled in confusion. "Some tutors charge a ruble
a lesson."
     "That's far too much. Let's settle for half a ruble."
     "What's it all about?" Petya asked.
     "Never mind."
     Gavrik stood silently  for  a  few minutes,  looking down at his moving
fingers, as if making calculations.
     "Go on, tell me!" Petya insisted.
     "It's nothing very special," Gavrik answered. "Let's go this way." And,
taking  Petya by the arm, he led him down the  street, peering into his face
     Gavrik  never  liked to  talk about  himself or  disclose his  plans to
people. Experience had taught him to be secretive. That was why, even though
he had made up his mind to let Petya in on the  dream of his life,  he could
not bring himself to talk about it, and so they both walked on in silence.
     "You see," he began, "but first your word of honour that you won't tell
a soul."
     "Honour  bright!"  Petya  exclaimed and  involuntarily, from  force  of
habit, crossed himself, looking the while at the cupolas  of St. Panteleimon
Church that shone blue beyond Kulikovo Field.
     Gavrik opened his eyes wide and whispered:
     "Here's  my  idea:  I want to pass the gymnasium  exams  for the first,
three forms without attending  classes. Two chaps  are  helping me with  the
other subjects, but I'm sort of stuck with Latin."
     This was so unexpected that Petya stopped dead in his tracks.
     "You heard me."
     "But why should you study?" Petya blurted out in surprise.
     "Why do you study?" Gavrik  said with a hard and pugnacious glitter  in
his eye. "It's  all  right for  you, but not for me-is that  it? For all you
know, it may be more necessary for me than for you."
     He might have told Petya that since Terenty had  returned from exile he
had been talking a  lot about the lack of educated people among the workers,
about  the fact that new struggles lay ahead. Probably after consulting some
of the  committee  members,  he had  told Gavrik in no uncertain terms  that
whether he  liked  it or not, he would have to pass  the gymnasium exams: he
could first take the third form exams, then  the sixth form  exams, and then
the final school-leaving exams. But Gavrik told Petya nothing of all this.
     "Well,  are you  willing to have  a go?" he  asked instead. "My offer's
half a ruble a lesson."
     Petya felt embarrassed and, at the same time, flattered, and he blushed
a delicate pink with pleasure.
     "Oh, I'm willing," he said, and coughed, "only not for money."
     "What do you mean? Do you think I'm a beggar? I'm working. Half a ruble
a lesson, four lessons a  month.  That makes two silver pieces. I can afford
     "Nothing doing. I won't take money for the lessons."
     "Why  won't you take it? Don't be  a fool! Money doesn't lie  around in
the street. Especially now,  when you're so hard up for it. At  least you'll
be able to give Auntie something for food."
     That had a great effect  on Petya. He suddenly pictured himself handing
Auntie some  money one fine day and saying nonchalantly, "Oh, it  slipped my
mind completely, Auntie. Here,  I've  earned a bit by giving lessons, please
take it. It'll come in useful."
     "All  right," Petya answered. "I'll  take you on. But remember:  if you
start fooling around,  it'll be good-bye. I'm not  used to taking money  for
     "I don't  find  it  in the woodshed either," Gavrik  said  glumly.  The
friends parted  till  Sunday, which was  the  lap-pointed day for the  first

     Never had Petya prepared his own lessons so painstakingly as he was now
preparing for his lessons with Gavrik, for his first appearance in  the role
of teacher. Proud  and  conscious of his  responsibility, Petya did his very
best  to ensure the success  of his venture. He pestered Father with endless
questions  about  comparative linguistics. He  consulted the  Brockhaus  and
Efron Encyclopaedia and made copious notes.  At  school he worried the Latin
master  for explanations concerning  the  numerous rules  of Latin syntax, a
fact  which amazed the teacher, since -he had  no  great opinion of  Petya's
diligence.  Petya  sharpened  several pencils, got  out pen and ink,  dusted
Father's   desk,   and   arranged   on   it   Pavlik's   globe,   his    own
twenty-five-powered microscope,  and a few thick volumes-all with  a view to
creating a strictly academic atmosphere and instilling in Gavrik a reverence
for science.
     After dinner Vasily Petrovich left for the cemetery. Auntie took Pavlik
to  an  exhibition. Dunyasha  had  the afternoon  off and went to  visit her
relatives.  Petya could not have wished for anything better. He paced up and
down the room with his hands behind his back like a veteran schoolmaster and
rehearsed his introductory speech for the first lesson. It would be wrong to
say that he was nervous, but he felt something akin to  what a  skater feels
as he is about to glide across the rink.
     Gavrik was not long  in  coming.  He  appeared at exactly the appointed
hour. It was significant that he did not come up the back stairs and through
the kitchen, as was  his wont, after whistling from the yard  below;  Gavrik
rang the  front-door bell, said "hullo" quietly, hung up his threadbare coat
in the hall, and smoothed  his  hair  in front of the mirror. His hands were
scrubbed clean,  and before entering  he  carefully  tucked his cotton shirt
with  its  mother-of-pearl buttons  under  his narrow  belt.  He  had a  new
five-kopek notebook with a pink blotter peeping out of it  and a  new pencil
stuck in the middle. Petya led his friend into the study and sat him down at
the desk, between  microscope and globe,  which objects drew a guarded  look
from Gavrik.
     "Well," Petya said sternly and suddenly became embarrassed.
     He stopped, waited manfully for his bashfulness to pass, and then tried
once more:
     "Well....   Latin   is  one  of  the  richest  and  mightiest   of  the
Indo-European  languages. Originally, as  was the case with the  Umbrian and
Oscan  languages,  it  was  one  of  the  group  of  main  dialects  of  the
non-Etruscan  population of Central Italy, the dialect of the inhabitants of
the Latium Plain, whence the Romans came. Is that clear?"
     "No," Gavrik said, shaking his head.
     "What is unclear?"
     "The main  dialects of  the non-Etruscans,"  Gavrik repeated carefully,
giving Petya a pitiful look.
     "Never mind. You'll soon catch on.  It's  just because it's new to you.
Let's  continue. At  a time  when  the languages  of the  other  peoples  of
Italy-say,  the  Etruscans,  Iiapygians,  and  Ligurians, not  counting,  of
course, the Umbrians and Sabellians who were akin to the Latins-remained, so
to  speak, isolated  as local  dialects in  secluded regions,"  Petya made a
circle with his arms  in a highly  professional manner to indicate  that the
other languages of Italy had remained secluded, "thanks to the Romans, Latin
not  only  emerged  as the main language  of  Italy, but developed into  the
literary language as well." Petya raised his finger significantly. "Clear?"
     "No," Gavrik  repeated miserably and  shook his head again.  "You  know
what, Petya? Show me their alphabet instead."
     "I know what comes first better than you do," Petya said dryly.
     "Maybe  we can do the bit about the Etruscans  and the Umbrians  later,
just now I'd like to take a shot at those Latin letters. Huh?"
     "Who's tutor here? You or me?"
     "Very well then, pay attention."
     "I'm listening," Gavrik said obediently.
     "Good, let's continue,"  Petya said as  he paced  up and down with  his
arms  behind  his back, enjoying every  moment  of  his  superiority and his
teacher's authority. "Well, er ...  about three  hundred  years later,  this
classical literary Latin lost its supremacy  and was replaced  by a  popular
Latin, and so on, and so forth-anyway, it's not all that important." (Gavrik
nodded  in agreement.) "The main thing,  my  friend, is  that this very same
Latin finally ended up by  having twenty  letters in the alphabet,  and then
three more were added to it."
     "That makes it twenty-three!" Gavrik put in happily.
     "Right. Twenty-three letters in all."
     "What are they?"
     "Don't rush  into  Hell before your  father!"  Petya  intoned the Latin
master's favourite saying-subconsciously he had been  imitating him  all the
time.  "The letters of the  Latin alphabet,  which you will now write  down,
are: A, B, C, D...."
     Gavrik  sat up,  licked the tip  of his  pencil,  and began copying the
Latin letters gracefully.
     "Wait a minute, silly, what are  you doing? Write  a Latin  'B,' not  a
Russian one."
     "What's the Latin one like?"
     "The same as the Russian 'V.' Understand?"
     "I'm not that dumb!"
     "Erase what you've written and correct it."
     Gavrik pulled  a  little piece of an "Elephant" India  rubber carefully
wrapped up in a scrap  of paper from one of the pockets of his wide corduroy
breeches, rubbed the elephant's backside vigorously over the Russian letter,
and wrote the Latin "B" in its place.
     "Tell you what," Petya  said-he was  beginning to feel quite bored with
it all-"you just keep on copying the Latin letters from the book,  land I'll
stretch my legs meanwhile."
     Gavrik copied diligently, and Petya began to stretch his legs, that is,
he began to  walk back and forth  with his hands  clasped behind him  until,
finally, he  came  to  a  stop before  the dining-room  sideboard.  It  is a
well-known fact that all sideboards have a  special magnetism where boys are
concerned,  and  it  rarely  happens  that a boy  passes a sideboard without
peeping  in to  see  what it contains. Petya was  no exception, the  more so
since Auntie had been careless enough to say:
     "... And keep away from the sideboard."
     Petya knew  perfectly  well that she  had  in mind  the  large  jar  of
strawberry  jam  which his grandmother in Yekaterinoslav  had sent  them for
Christmas.  They had not  opened  it  yet, although  it  was  meant  for the
holidays,  and  as  the  holidays  had  already passed,  Petya  felt  a  bit
aggrieved. It was really hard to understand Auntie.
     Usually  so  kind  and  generous,  when  it  came  to  jam  she  became
monstrously,  inexplicably stingy.  One could not  even hint at  jam in  her
presence. A  terrified  look would come into her eyes  and she would  rattle
     "No,  no! By  no means! Don't dare go near it. I'll give it to you when
the time comes."
     But when  that  time  would come,  no one could  say. She herself  said
nothing  and simply threw up  her hands in alarm at the very idea. Actually,
it  was all very stupid, for hadn't the jam been made and sent expressly for
the purpose of being eaten!
     While stretching his legs, Petya  opened the sideboard, got up on  to a
chair and looked on the very top shelf where the heavy jar of Yekaterinoslav
jam stood.  After admiring  it for  a  while  he  closed  the sideboard  and
returned to his pupil.  Gavrik was labouring away and had already got as far
as "N," which he did not  know how to write. Petya  helped him,  praised his
penmanship, and noted casually:
     "By the  way,  Grandma sent us a  six-pound jar  of strawberry  jam for
     "You don't say." '
     "They don't make jars that big."
     "Don't they?" Petya smiled sarcastically
     "No, they don't."
     "A  fat lot you know  about jars!"  Petya mumbled  and stalked into the
dining-room. When he returned, he gingerly placed the heavy jar on the  desk
between globe and microscope. "Well, go on, say it's not a six-pounder."
     "You win."
     Gavrik  drew  his notebook  closer  land copied  out three  more  Latin
letters: "O," identical with the Russian letter, "P," resembling the Russian
"R," and a  rather strange-looking  one called  "Q," which  gave  him not  a
little trouble.
     "Fine!" Petya exclaimed. He hesitated a moment and added, "What do  you
say to trying the jam? Want to?"
     "I don't mind," Gavrik said. "But what'll Auntie say?"
     "We'll just have a spoonful, she won't even notice the difference."
     "Petya went to fetch a  spoon,  then he patiently untied the bow of the
tight cord. He carefully raised the top paper, which had taken the  shape of
a lid and, still more carefully, removed the parchment disk beneath.
     The  disk  had  been soaked in  rum to  keep the jam from spoiling, and
directly underneath lay the glossy, placid surface. With the  utmost caution
Petya and Gavrik helped themselves to a full spoon each.
     The Yekaterinoslav grandmother was a famous  jam-maker,  and strawberry
jam  was her  pride. But  this jam  in particular was of unrivalled quality.
Never  had Petya-to  say nothing  of Gavrik-tasted anything  like it. It was
fragrant,  thick, and, at the same time, ethereal, full of large transparent
berries, tender, choice,  deliciously  sprinkled  all over with  tiny yellow
seeds, and it just melted in their mouths.
     They  licked  their  spoons clean  and made  the happy discovery  that,
actually, the quantity of jam in the jar hadn't gone down a  bit-the surface
was still level with the top. No doubt, some physical law of large and small
quantities  could well be applied to this particular case: the vast capacity
of the jar and the minute capacity of the tea-spoon, but since neither Petya
nor Gavrik as yet  had any idea of  this law, they thought it no less than a
miracle that the jam had remained at its former level.
     "Exactly as it was," Gavrik said.
     "I  told you  she wouldn't notice it."  With these words Petya replaced
the first parchment disk, then the paper lid, rewound the cord tightly, made
exactly the same  kind of bow, returned the jar to the  sideboard and placed
it on the top shelf.
     Meanwhile  Gavrik  had  written  out   two  more  letters:  "R"  and  a
shaky-looking "S."
     "That's  fine!" Petya praised him. "By the  way, I think  we can safely
try another spoonful."
     "Of what?"
     "The jam."
     "But what about Auntie?"
     "Don't  be  silly.  We left  it  exactly the same  as  before.  Another
spoonful each will still leave as much as there was. Right?"
     Gavrik thought about it and agreed. After all, one could not contradict
the obvious.
     Petya brought in the jar, untied the tight bow painstakingly, carefully
removed the paper lid  and parchment disk, and  admired the  glossy  surface
that shone as before at the very top  of the  jar; then the two  friends had
another  spoonful  each, licked the spoons, and  Petya wound the cord around
the neck of the jar and retied the bow.
     This  time the  jam seemed  doubly delicious and  their enjoyment of it
twice as fleeting.
     "You  see, the  level hasn't changed!"  Petya said  triumphantly, as he
lifted the jar that was just as heavy as ever.
     "I wouldn't say that," Gavrik  rejoined. "This time it's  sure  to be a
tiny bit lower. I had a good look at it."
     Petya raised the jar and examined it closely.
     "Nothing of the sort. It's exactly the same, no change."
     "That's what  you think," Gavrik said. "You can't notice it because the
empty  space  is  hidden by the edges of  the paper. Turn back  the edge and
you'll see."
     Petya lifted up the pleated edge of the paper lid and raised the jar to
the  light.  The  jar was almost as full as before.  Almost, but  not quite.
There was a space  a hair's-breadth wide, but it was a space.  This was most
unfortunate,  although it was doubtful  that Auntie would  notice  it. Petya
took the jar into the dining-room and replaced it on the top shelf.
     "Let's  see  what you've  been scribbling,"  he said  with  an affected
     Gavrik scratched his head in silence and sighed.
     "What's the matter? Are you tired?"
     "No.  It's not that.  I rather think that she'll notice it, even though
only a tiny bit is missing."
     "No, she won't."
     "I'll bet she will. And you'll be in a fix when she does."
     Petya flushed.
     "So what! Who  cares! After all,  Grandma  sent it  for all of us,  and
there's no reason why I shouldn't taste it. If a  friend comes to study with
me, surely I can treat him to strawberry jam? Huh! You know what? I'll bring
it in and we'll each  have a saucerful.  I'm sure Auntie won't say anything.
She'll even praise us for being honest and straightforward about it, for not
doing it in a sneaky way."
     "Do you think we ought to?" Gavrik asked timidly.
     "What's to stop us!" Petya exclaimed.
     Suiting the action to the  word he brought in the jar and, certain that
he was doing an honest and honourable deed, measured out two full saucers of
the jam.
     "That's enough!"  he  said firmly, tied up the jar,  and put it back in
the sideboard.
     But it was far  from being enough. It was only now, after they had each
had  a saucerful, that the friends began really to appreciate  the  heavenly
jam.  Overcome with an overwhelming and irrepressible desire for at  least a
little  more,  Petya  brought  the  jar in  again, and  with a  look of grim
determination and without even so much as a glance at Gavrik, served out two
more helpings. Petya never dreamed that a saucer could hold so much. When he
held the jar up to the light, he saw that it was at least a third empty.
     Each ate his portion and licked his spoon clean.
     "Never tasted anything like it!" Gavrik said as he went back to copying
out the  letters  "T," "U,"  "V,"  and "X," experiencing at  the same time a
burning desire to have at least one more spoonful of the delectable stuff.
     "All right," Petya said resolutely, "we'll eat exactly half  of  it and
no more!"
     When there was exactly half the jam left,  Petya  tied the cord for the
Last time and carried the jar back to the sideboard, his mind firmly made up
not to go near it again. He tried not to think about Auntie.
     "Well, have you had enough?" he asked Gavrik with a wan smile.
     "More  than  enough,"  Gavrik answered,  for  the sticky sweetness  was
beginning to give him a sour taste.
     Petya felt slightly  nauseous himself. Bliss was suddenly  turning into
something quite the opposite. They no longer  wanted even to think about the
jam, and yet, strange  as it  may seem,  they could not get it  out of their
minds. It seemed to be taking revenge on them, creating an insane, unnatural
desire for more. It was  no use trying  to resist the craving. Petya, dazed,
returned once  more  to the dining-room,  and  the  boys  began scooping  up
spoonfuls  of the nauseating delicacy, having  lost all  sense  of what they
were doing. This was hatred turned to worship, and worship turned to hatred.
Their mouths  were puckered up from  the  acid-sweet taste of the jam. Their
foreheads  were damp. The jam stuck in their protesting  throats.  But  they
kept on devouring it as if it  were porridge. They were  not even eating it,
they were struggling with it, destroying it  as a mortal enemy. They came to
their senses when only a thin film of jam left on the very bottom of the jar
evaded their spoons.
     At  that  moment Petya realized the full meaning  of the terrible thing
they had done. Like criminals anxious to cover up their tracks, the boys ran
into the kitchen and began feverishly to rinse the sticky jar under the tap,
remembering, however, to take turns drinking the sweetish, cloudy water.
     When they had washed and wiped the jar clean, Petya  put it back on the
shelf  in the sideboard,  as if that would somehow remedy the  situation. He
comforted himself  with  the foolish hope  that  perhaps Auntie had  already
forgotten about Grandma's jam, or  that  when she would see  the clean empty
jar  she would  think they had eaten it long ago. Alas, Petya knew very well
that at best his hopes were foolish.
     The boys tried  not to look at  each other  as  they walked back to the
writing-desk and resumed the lesson.
     "Where  were we?"  Petya  said  weakly, for he  could  hardly keep from
vomiting.  "We  have  twenty   of  the  twenty-three   letters.   Later  on,
historically, two more letters were added."
     "Which makes twenty-five," Gavrik said, choking down his sugary saliva.
     "Quite right. Copy them out."
     Just  then Vasily Petrovich came  in. He  was in that sad but  peaceful
mood that always came over him after a visit to  the cemetery. He glanced at
the studious  boys,  and  noticing the strange  expression of  ill-concealed
disgust on their faces, he said:
     "I see  you are working  on the Sabbath,  my dear sirs.  Having  a hard
time?  Never mind!  The root of learning may be  bitter, but  its fruits are
     With these words he tiptoed over to the icons, took from his pocket the
small bottle  of wood-oil he  had  bought in  the church shop  and carefully
filled the icon-lamp, a task he performed every Sunday.
     Soon Auntie returned  and was followed  by  Dunyasha. Pavlik was  still
downstairs.  They  heard the  samovar singing  in the  kitchen. The delicate
tinkle of the china tea-set drifted in from the dining-room.
     "I'd  better  be  going,"  Gavrik said,  putting  his  things  together
quickly. "I'll  finish  the other  letters at  home. So long.  See  you next
Sunday!" With a solemn look on  his face he ambled  through the dining-room,
past the sideboard and into the hall.
     "Where are you going?" Auntie asked. "Won't you stay to tea?"
     "Thanks,  Tatyana  Ivanovna, they're  waiting for  me  at  home. I've a
couple of chores to do yet."
     "You're sure you won't stay? We've got nice strawberry jam. H'm?"
     "Oh no,  no!"  Gavrik exclaimed  in alarm.  In the hall he whispered to
Petya, "I owe you 50 kopeks," and dashed down the stairs  to escape from the
scene of the crime.
     "You're not looking well," Auntie  said  as she turned  to  Petya. "You
look as if  you had tainted sausage. Maybe you're going to be ill. Let's see
your tongue."
     Petya  hung  his  head  dejectedly and  stuck out  a marvellously  pink
     "Aha! I  know what it is!" Auntie  cried.  "It's  all  because  of that
Latin.  You see, my dear, how difficult it  is to  be  a tutor!  Never mind,
we'll open Grandma's  jam in honour of your  first lesson and you'll be your
old self again in no time."
     With these  words Auntie walked over to the sideboard, while Petya  lay
down on his bed with a groan and stuck his  head under the pillow  so as not
to hear or see anything.
     However, at the  very moment  that Auntie was gazing in astonishment at
the clean empty jar and trying to puzzle out why it was there and how it had
got into the sideboard, Pavlik rushed into the  hall, yelling at  the top of
his lungs:
     "Faig, Faig! Listen! Faig has driven up to our house in his carriage!"

     They all rushed to the windows, including Petya,  who had  tossed aside
his pillow. True enough, Faig's carriage was at the front gate.
     Mr. Faig was one of the best-known citizens in town.
     He was as popular as Governor Tolmachov, as Maryiashek, the town idiot,
as Mayor  Pelican who  achieved  fame  by  stealing a  chandelier  from  the
theatre, as Ratur-Ruter,  the  editor-publisher,  who  was often thrashed in
public for  his  slanderous articles, as  Kochubei, the owner of the largest
ice-cream parlour, the source of wholesale food-poisoning every summer, and,
finally, as brave old General Radetsky, the hero of Plevna.
     Faig, a  Jew who had turned  Christian, was a  man of great wealth, the
owner and head  of an accredited commercial  school.  His school was a haven
for those young men of means  who had  been  expelled for denseness and  bad
behaviour from other  schools in Odessa and elsewhere in the Russian Empire.
By paying  the  appropriate fee  one could  always graduate  and  receive  a
school-leaving certificate at Faig's school.  Faig was a philanthropist  and
patron  of  the Arts. He enjoyed making donations and did so with a  splash,
including an announcement in the papers.
     He donated suites of furniture and cows to lotteries, contributed large
sums towards  improving the cathedral and  buying a new bell, he established
the Faig Prize  to be awarded annually at  the yacht  races,  and paid fifty
rubles for a glass of champagne at charity bazaars. In short, this Faig, who
had become  a  legend, was  the horn of plenty  that poured charity upon the
     However, the main source of his popularity lay in the fact that he rode
around town in his own carriage.
     This was  no antediluvian contraption of  the type that usually  bumped
along  as  part  of  the funeral cortege. Neither was it a wedding carriage,
upholstered in white satin with crystal headlights and folding step. Nor was
it a bishop's  carriage,  that screeching  conveyance which,  in addition to
carrying  the  bishop, was also used for transporting to  private homes  the
Icon of the  Holy Virgin of Kasperovka associated with Kutuzov  and the fall
of  Ochakov. Faig's carriage was  a coupe de  luxe on  English springs, with
high box and a coachman dressed  according to the height of English fashion.
The doors sported  a fictitious coat-of-arms, and, as  a finishing  touch. a
liveried footman stood on the footboard, which reduced the street loafers to
a state approaching religious ecstasy.
     A pair of bob-tailed horses  with  patent-leather blinkers  whisked the
carriage along at la brisk trot. Faig  was inside.  He was wearing a top hat
and a  Palmerston coat, his side whiskers were dyed black, and a  Havana was
planted between his teeth. His feet were wrapped in a Scotch plaid.
     While the  Bachei family was watching Faig's carriage from  the windows
and wondering whom he might have  come to  see, the door-bell rang. Dunyasha
opened the  door and nearly swooned. The  liveried  footman stood before her
with his three-cornered purled hat pressed to his breast.
     "Mr. Faig presents  his  respects  to  the Bachei family,"  the footman
said, "and asks to be received."
     The  Bachei  family,  who  had  rushed  into  the   hall,  stood  there
dumbfounded. Auntie  was the only one who  had kept a  level head. She  gave
Vasily  Petrovich  a meaning look, turned to the footman, and with a  polite
smile and in an offhand manner said, "Please ask him up."
     The footman bowed  and went downstairs, sweeping  the stairway with the
long tails of his livery coat.
     No  sooner had Vasily Petrovich fastened his collar,  adjusted his tie,
and got his arms through  the sleeves of his good frock-coat, than  Mr. Faig
entered. He carried his top  hat, his gloves  tossed into it, stiffly in one
hand and in the other, which sparkled with the diamonds, he held a  cigar. A
democratic smile  lit up his face between the black side whiskers. He spread
the aroma of Havana cigar smoke mixed with the scent of Atkinson's  perfume.
A  battery of badges, medals,  and  fraternity-pins followed the cut of  his
frock-coat.   Tiny   pearls   glowed  gently  in  the  buttonholes   of  his
magnificently starched white shirt-front.
     This man, the  personification of success and wealth, had suddenly paid
them a call! Faig put his top hat on  the hall table and extended his  plump
hand to Father in  the  grand  manner. That was  all  Petya saw, for  Auntie
manoeuvred  him and  Pavlik  into the kitchen and kept them there  until Mr.
Faig departed.
     Judging by the  fact that  Faig's loud and merry laughter  and Father's
chuckle were heard several times,  the  visit was  a friendly one.  But what
could be the reason for it? The explanation was forthcoming when Faig, after
being helped into  the carriage by the  footman and  having the Scotch plaid
tucked round his legs, waved his white hand with the cigar and drove off. He
had come to Vasily Petrovich with the offer of a teaching appointment in his
     It had all been  so unexpected and so much like a miracle, that  Vasily
Petrovich turned to the  icon and crossed himself. Teaching in Faig's school
was  much  more remunerative than  in the gymnasium,  because  Faig paid his
teachers almost double the salary paid by  the government. Vasily  Petrovich
was captivated by  Faig's matter-of-fact way, his  cordiality and democratic
manners which contrasted so pleasantly and unexpectedly with his  appearance
and his way of life.
     In  conversation   with  Vasily   Petrovich,  Faig  displayed  a   keen
understanding of contemporary affairs. He was biting and yet restrained when
criticizing the  Ministry of Education for  its inability to  appreciate its
best teachers; he fiercely  resented  the government's attempts to turn  the
schools into military barracks and openly declared that  the  time had  come
for society to take the  matter of public  education  into its own hands and
banish servile officials  and petty tyrants such as the head  of  the Odessa
District Education Department,  who had revived the worst traditions  of the
Arakcheyev times. He declared that their  attitude towards Vasily Petrovich,
in addition to lacking any  justification, had been  disgusting, and that he
hoped to right  the wrong and restore justice, as he  considered the  matter
his  sacred duty  to  Russian  society and  science.  He hoped  that  in his
establishment Vasily Petrovich would find full scope for" his abilities as a
brilliant teacher  and for  his love of  the great Russian  literature. As a
believer  in European methods of  education he  was sure that he and  Vasily
Petrovich would understand one  another.  As for the formalities, he did not
doubt  for a  minute  that he  would get  the consent  of  the  Minister  of
Education  to have  Vasily Petrovich officially accredited, since  a  public
gymnasium was one thing, and a  private school something else again. Nor did
Faig  conceal the  fact  that one of  the reasons which had  prompted him to
engage Vasily Petrovich was  that by so doing he would raise the standard of
the school in the eyes of the liberal circles of Odessa society; another was
that it would be a challenge to  the government,  since, according  to Faig,
Vasily Petrovich's famous speech on the  occasion of Tolstoi's death had won
him a definite political reputation.
     All this was strange and  flattering  to Vasily  Petrovich, although he
winced at the mention of his political reputation. And when Faig added, "You
shall  be  our  standard-bearer,"  Vasily   Petrovich  even  felt  a  little
frightened. However, Faig's proposition was accepted, and life in the Bachei
family underwent a miraculous change.
     Faig had paid Vasily Petrovich for six months  in advance. The  sum was
larger than the family  had ever dreamed of.  Now, whenever Vasily Petrovich
ventured forth, the neighbours watched him enviously from their windows  and
     "Look, there goes Bachei, the one Faig has taken on."
     Once again Vasily Petrovich began  to think in terms  of a trip abroad.
And at long last, after weighing up his  resources and consulting Auntie for
the twentieth time, he decided: we're going!


     Spring, which came early, was warm and glorious. Easter passed and left
pleasant memories.  Soon  it  was  examination  time, a  time  Petya  always
associated  with  the  brief  May  thunderstorms,  fiery  flashes of  purple
lightning, the lilac in bloom in the school garden, the dry air of the empty
class-rooms  with the  desks moved close  together and the  clouds of  chalk
dust, pierced by the warm rays of the afternoon sun that  remained suspended
in the air after the last exam.
     They began preparing for the trip during examination time. Switzerland,
a country that had always had a special place in Vasily  Petrovich's  heart,
was their main objective. However, it was decided that they should first  go
to Naples by sea, and then cross Italy by rail. This indirect route would be
slightly more expensive, but it would give them the  chance to visit Turkey,
Greece, the islands of the Aegean Sea and Sicily, they would  be able to see
all  the  sights   of  Naples,  Rome,  Florence,  and  Venice;  then,  funds
permitting, they might even pay a brief visit to Paris. Vasily Petrovich had
mapped  out  the itinerary many  years  before, when  Mother had still  been
alive.  The  two-of  them  had spent many  an evening leafing through travel
guides and writing down the travel expenses. They had noted the price of the
tickets,  hotel  and  boarding-house  rates, and  even admission  prices  to
museums and tips were included in their careful calculations.
     Despite all this  Vasily Petrovich feared to overtax the budget, and so
he studied the rail and steamer ticket prices once more.
     There were many arguments  about what to  take and how to pack.  Auntie
suggested that they  should  buy two very  ordinary  suitcases  and put very
ordinary clothes in them. However, it  turned  out that Vasily Petrovich was
of another mind completely. He  thought they  should have a special  satchel
and Alpine  rucksacks with  special  straps  that would  not  interfere with
     Auntie shrugged and laughed,  but Petya and Pavlik  insisted  that only
the special  Alpine  rucksacks  be  ordered,  and  so  she gave  in.  Vasily
Petrovich went  to the shop with his own draft of the special travelling-bag
and the special rucksacks. A few  days later the Bachei household was richer
by   two   rucksacks   and  a   rather  strange-looking  creation   of   the
luggage-and-harness industry. It was of  tartan and bore a vague resemblance
to a huge accordion, covered all over with a multitude of patch-pockets.
     These new and still  empty  travelling-bags and the exciting  smell  of
leather  and  dyed  material  brought  visions  of  far distances  into  the
household. Then they discovered  that the boys could not go  abroad in their
school uniforms, they would have to wear "civvies."
     That was no problem as  far as Pavlik was concerned. He still  had last
year's "pre-school"  clothes: a pair of short trousers and  a  middy-blouse.
Petya's outfit presented a problem. It would have  been ridiculous to deck a
fourteen-year-old boy out in a grown man's suit with a coat, waistcoat and a
tie. But a little boy's outfit with short  trousers was no good either. They
had to find a happy medium. Petya was  already in a frenzy of impatience and
the outfit he wanted was undoubtedly influenced by  the illustrations in the
works  of Jules Verne and Mayne Reid. In his opinion it had to  be something
like 'a naval cadet's uniform, consisting of his  long school trousers and a
navy-blue blouse, not the  kind that  little boys wear, but the real  thing,
made of heavy flannel.
     It  was  no  easy  matter  to have  such a blouse made.  No  children's
outfitter and  no  tailor seemed to  understand what  was expected  of them.
Petya, who had already  pictured  himself  as a  naval cadet, was desperate.
Gavrik came to his  rescue. He suggested a  naval outfitter's shop where  he
knew someone. He seemed to have friends everywhere!
     The shop  was located in  the  so-called Sabansky  Barracks, an ancient
white-columned structure.
     The enclosed yard, vast and spacious, and the ominous appearance of the
disused fortress, the pyramids of old cannon-balls,  anchors, parallel bars,
and the  mast  with  its  multi-coloured  signal  flags, thrilled  Petya. An
orderly in a sailor's cap sat on a bench beneath a bell.
     "Don't worry," Gavrik said, seeing that Petya had stopped in confusion.
"The fellows  here are  good chaps." They climbed  up  the worn  steps of an
ancient stairway and found themselves in a  dark corridor. It was as cold as
a  crypt, and the change was especially noticeable later the noonday heat of
the May sunshine.
     Gavrik  confidently led his friend through the darkness to a  door, and
the  boys entered  a deep-vaulted room. The walls were twelve feet thick, so
that the two little windows barely let in any light, although they 'directly
faced the sea  opposite  Quarantine Bay  and  the white lighthouse with  its
circling  sea-gulls that stood  out so clearly against the choppy blue-green
     A sailor wearing the  red shoulder-straps of the coastguard service sat
at a large sewing-machine, working the iron treadle with his bare feet as he
hemmed a woollen signal flag. A heap of signal flags lay in a corner.
     The sailor stopped sewing when  he saw Gavrik. A  smile broke over  his
pock-marked face, but then he noticed the strange boy standing behind Gavrik
and raised his bushy eyebrows inquiringly.
     "It's all right. This is the  fellow  who's teaching  me Latin," Gavrik
said, and Petya realized that the sailor knew all about his friend.
     "What's new?" the sailor asked.
     "Nothing special," Gavrik  answered.  "I've  come about something  else
this  time. I was wondering  whether  you  could make a regulation  sailor's
blouse for this fellow."
     "I haven't got the right material."
     "He's got it. Petya, show him the cloth."
     Petya  handed over  the  package. The  sailor unrolled the  soft, fine,
strong navy-blue wool.
     "That's the real stuff!" Gavrik said with a touch of pride.
     "How much did you pay for it?" the sailor asked.
     Petya  told him the price and he  felt sure the  meaning look that  the
sailor gave Gavrik was disapproving.
     "Don't go thinking things," Gavrik said. "His old man's just a teacher.
They're not well off. They're even hard up for money at times. It so happens
that he needs a regulation blouse."
     Gavrik amazed Petya  as he explained  why he needed the  blouse. He had
all the details  of the projected  journey at  his fingertips. Petya  caught
several significant glances passing between Gavrik and the sailor.
     Perhaps he would not have paid any attention to this,  were it  not for
the  fact that something similar had taken place when he was giving Gavrik a
Latin  lesson in Near Mills. Motya had been present during the  lesson,  and
since Motya regarded  Petya as  some  kind  of superior being, an object  of
devoted  and secret  worship,  he  began  to  boast  for  her  benefit.  His
imagination ran away with him as he described the forthcoming  journey. When
he  got as far as the splendours of  Switzerland Terenty  exchanged  glances
with Gavrik and then  with  his guest, Sinichkin, a thin, consumptive worker
wearing top boots and a black cotton shirt beneath a threadbare jacket.
     When Terenty looked sat him,  Sinichkin shook  his  head and  muttered,
"No, he's no longer there," or something to that effect. Suddenly, he looked
Petya straight in the eye and asked him solemnly:
     "Will you be going to France, too? Will you visit Paris?"
     And  when  Petya  answered  that  if their  money  held  out they would
certainly  go there,  Sinichkin looked at  Terenty significantly again,  but
they did not ask Petya any more questions.
     Petya felt  that his forthcoming trip abroad had  evoked in  Gavrik and
his friends in Near Mills some kind of special interest, but he  was  in the
dark as to the reason why.
     The sailor  and Gavrik had  exchanged  the  same sort of  glances  too.
Perhaps,  Petya  thought, people always behaved like that in the presence of
someone about to  go abroad. Petya had not yet set  foot outside his  native
city,  but he already felt  that  new  experiences  awaited him around every
corner. He would  suddenly find himself in a  side-street he  had never trod
before  and would stop to look at a tiled house or a garden with the curious
eyes of a tourist.
     How  many times, for example, had  he passed the Sabansky Barracks  and
never dreamed that behind its gates was an unknown world-a sleepy,  deserted
yard with  anchors and cannon-balls, a naval outfitter's shop where a sailor
sewed  woollen  signal flags,  ancient windows in deep niches from which the
sea  seemed  altogether  different and unfamiliar,  luring  one  to  explore
far-off lands.
     The sailor examined the cloth and praised it. He would make the blouse,
but  his charge would be five rubles. Gavrik shoved Petya aside, looked hard
at the  sailor, shook his head reproachfully, and said that one ruble  would
be far too  much. They bargained a long time, and finally the sailor said he
would do the job for  two rubles, and only  because  Petya was "one  of us."
What this meant Petya did not understand.
     The sailor  then wiped the lid of  a large  sea  chest with his sleeve,
said, "Sit down,  boys," and went to fetch a copper kettle of boiling water.
They drank tea  from  tin mugs, sucking lumps of sugar  and eating tasty rye
bread that the sailor  cut  off in large  slices,  pressing  the loaf to his
brawny chest.
     Gavrik and  the  sailor  kept up  a  grave conversation  over tea, and,
judging by what was said, Petya concluded that the sailor-Gavrik called  him
"Uncle Fedya"-knew Terenty's family well and was actually a distant relative
on  his mother's  side.  The  conversation was mostly about family and money
matters. However, from  certain hints and veiled  expressions, Petya divined
that there was another bond between Terenty and Uncle Fedya. Petya could not
quite get the hang of it, but  he vaguely  felt a long-forgotten echo of the
terrible and troubled air of 1905.
     At last Uncle  Fedya pulled out a decrepit  oilcloth tape-measure  with
the numbers all worn off,  measured Petya, and  promised to  have the blouse
ready  in three days.  He  was as good as his  word.  In addition, he made a
sailor's  cap for the boy with the left-over cloth, and  attached an old St.
George ribbon with long ends to it. The cap was free of charge.
     Petya had a look at himself in the crooked little  mirror  that hung on
the wall next  to a coloured  print of Taras Shevchenko  and could not  hold
back the happy, radiant smile that spread across his face all the way to his

     Unexpected  complications  set in when  they  applied to the  chief  of
police  for  travel  passports.  Vasily  Petrovich  had  to  submit  written
statements testifying to his loyalty to the state. This was  not  as easy as
it  seemed.  He  filled out  the application  forms, and four  days later an
officer from the Alexandrovsky police-station  knocked at the door  with two
witnesses in order to proceed with the inquiry. The mere mention of the word
"inquiry" irritated Vasily Petrovich. And when the inquisitor plumped into a
chair in the  dining-room  where he spread his greasy folders and put down a
spill-proof ink-well on the clean table-cloth, and in an official tone asked
all kinds of stupid  questions about sex, age, religious  affiliation, rank,
title, etc., Vasily Petrovich felt like throwing him out; but he  controlled
himself and  endured the grilling. He signed  his name to the inquiry paper,
next to  the illegible  scrawl  of janitor Akimov, one of the witnesses, and
the flourishing signature of the other witness, an insipid, pimply young man
in a technical-school cap with two crossed hammers over the peak.
     Soon  afterwards  a  policeman  came with  a  notice  requesting Vasily
Petrovich  to  appear  before  the  chief of  police. Vasily Petrovich  duly
appeared  and  had a  talk with the chief  in his office.  They  discussed a
variety of subjects, mostly political, and Vasily Petrovich explained why he
had  left  his  job with the  Ministry of Education.  They parted on amiable
     But that was  not  all. Vasily Petrovich  had  to  submit a mountain of
documents:  his   service  record,   birth  certificate,  his  wife's  death
certificate, etc., etc. This  took much time  and energy  and caused endless
frustration. All the copies  had to be  letter-perfect before they  could be
notarised. Petya tagged along with his father on this dreary roundabout.
     How unbearable  were  those typing bureaus where sour  and arrogant old
maids  in squeaking corsets  would get  up from behind their  Underwoods and
Remingtons,  haughtily  survey  Vasily  Petrovich and  rudely  announce that
nothing  could  be done  before another  week! How tired  they  were  of the
stifling, deserted summer streets, criss-crossed by  the latticed shadows of
the blossoming  white acacias and the notaries'  oval signboards with  their
black, two-headed eagles!
     When  all the copies were duly prepared and notarized,  it  turned  out
that there would have to be yet another inquiry.
     Time was passing and there were moments  when  Vasily Petrovich felt so
frustrated that he was ready to abandon the idea of going abroad. But Gavrik
saved the situation once more.
     "You're  green!" he  said  to Petya, shrugging his shoulders. "You're a
bunch of innocents. Tell your old man to grease their palms."
     "What, bribe them? Never!" Vasily Petrovich thundered when Petya passed
on his friend's advice. "I'll never sink that low!"
     But  in the  end, completely exasperated by red  tape, he did sink that
low. And behold, everything changed as  if by magic: a  certificate  of  his
loyalty  was  produced in  an instant, and  the hitherto unattainable travel
passport was delivered to the house.
     They had only to book their tickets and set out. Since they had decided
to travel on an Italian ship, there was something thrilling and foreign even
in  the  matter  of purchasing  the  tickets. In  Lloyd's  Travel Agency  on
Nikolayevsky  Boulevard, next door to the  Vorontsov Palace-that is,  in the
most fashionable part of the town-the prospective tourists were greeted with
such  reverence  and  politeness  that Petya  thought  his father  had  been
mistaken for someone else.
     A gentleman in a grey morning coat  with a large pearl tie-pin stuck in
a brilliantly coloured tie asked them to sit down in the deep leather chairs
which  stood  around  a  small  mahogany  table. The surface  of the  table,
polished to  a  high gloss, was  littered  with Lloyd's  narrow, illustrated
prospectuses in various  languages. There were photographs  of many-storeyed
hotels,  palm-trees, ancient ruins and  ocean liners.  Petya saw tiny  white
Remus and Romulus at  the  jagged tits of the  white  she-wolf,  St.  Mark's
winged lion, Vesuvius with an  umbrella-like Italian pine in the foreground,
Milan  Cathedral, as thin  and pointed as a fish-bone, and the leaning Tower
of Pisa; these symbols of Italian cities transported the boy into the realms
of foreign travel.
     Undoubtedly, the Travel Agency office belonged to that world  too, with
its flamboyant posters, price-lists, impressive rosewood filing cabinets and
counters, ship chronometers  instead  of ordinary clocks, models of ships in
glass cases, portraits  of the  King  and  Queen  of Italy, and  the gallant
gentleman in the  grey morning coat,  who chattered away in  broken  Russian
while selling Vasily Petrovich  the  pretty second-class tickets from Odessa
to Naples and patting Pavlik, whom he called "leetle signor turisto," on his
close-cropped head.
     From then on Petya felt that the journey had begun.
     When the tickets were handed  to them, together with a sheaf of  guides
and prospectuses, and when, in a high state of excitement, they emerged from
Lloyd's,  Petya regarded  Nikolayevsky Boulevard as the marine embankment of
some foreign city, and the familiar Richelieu monument with the iron bomb on
the  pedestal  as  one  of  the  "sights"  which  was  now to be  thoroughly
"inspected," not merely looked at. This feeling was  heightened by the ships
of every flag that lay at anchor in the bay far below the boulevard.
     The day of departure arrived.
     Their  ship  was  scheduled  to  sail  at  four  in  the afternoon.  At
one-thirty Dunyasha was sent  to hire two cabs. Auntie, in a mantilla and  a
little hat with daisies, was seeing them off. She  and a speechless, excited
Pavlik  climbed into one  cab;  Vasily Petrovich and Petya,  with the Alpine
rucksacks and the tartan travelling-bag packed so tight that it was ready to
burst, got into the other.
     A group  of idlers  stood around discussing  the event in  loud voices.
Dunyasha,  wearing her new calico dress,  wiped  her  tears  with her apron.
Vasily  Petrovich patted the pockets  of  his freshly-ironed silk jacket  to
make sure he had not forgotten anything, removed his black-banded straw hat,
crossed himself, and said with a show of nonchalance:
     "Well, let's be off!"
     The crowd parted, the cabs set off, and Dunyasha began to weep aloud.
     Petya's feeling that they were already abroad never left him. To get to
the port they had  to cross the city through the  rich business centre. Then
only did Petya realize how greatly Odessa had changed in the past few years.
The typical provincial  nature of this southern city had remained  unchanged
on the outskirts. There  one  could still  find the small  lime-stone houses
with  tiled  roofs,  the  walnut  and  mulberry  trees  in  the  yards,  the
bright-green booths of the soft-drinks vendors, Greek coffee-houses, tobacco
shops, and wine cellars  with a white lamp in the shape of a bunch of grapes
over the entrance.
     The  spirit  of European  capitalism reigned in  the town centre. There
were  black glass  signs  with  impressive gold lettering in  every European
language  at  the  entrance  to  the  banks  and company offices. There were
highly-priced luxury goods in the windows of  the English  and French shops.
Linotypes  clattered  and  rotary  presses  whirred  in  the  semi-basements
occupied  by newspaper  print-shops. As they  were crossing Greek Street the
drivers  pulled up  in  terror  to give  way  to  a  new and shiny  electric
tram-car,  emitting   cascades   of  sparks.  This  was  the   city's  first
tramway-line,  built by a Belgian company, connecting  the  centre  with the
Industry and Trade Fair that had just opened on wasteland near Alexandrovsky
     At  the  corner  of  Langeron  and Yekaterininskaya  streets,  directly
opposite the huge  Fankoni Cafe where  stockbrokers and grain  merchants  in
Panama  hats  sat  at  marble-topped  tables  set out right on the pavement,
Paris-style, under awnings and surrounded by potted laurel trees, the cab in
which Auntie  and  Pavlik  were  travelling  was  all but  overturned  by  a
bright-red  automobile driven by the  heir  to  the  famous Ptashnikov Bros,
firm,  a grotesquely bloated  young man in a  tiny  yachting cap, who looked
amazingly like a prize Yorkshire pig.
     The spirit  of  "European  capitalism" disappeared when they began  the
downhill  ride  to  the port and passed  the dives, doss-houses, second-hand
shops, and the dead-end lanes where tramps and down-and-outs, pale-faced and
ragged,  were  playing cards or sleeping on the  bare ground.  However,  the
spirit reappeared when they  approached the warehouses, commercial agencies,
the  stacks of crates and  sacks that  were  like a  city, with streets  and
alleys, and, finally, the ships of many nations and companies.
     The embarkation officer told the drivers where their ship, the Palermo,
was being  loaded, and they headed for the wharf. They  stopped  opposite  a
large  ship  gaily  flying  the  Italian  flag,  and  the  boys   were  most
disappointed to find that she had only one funnel.
     As might have been expected, they arrived  far too early and had nearly
an hour and a half till sailing time. Loading was in full swing. The arms of
powerful  steam  winches  swung  to  and  fro,  lowering bunches of  barrels
strapped together  and  crates that must have  weighed a ton into the  hold.
Passengers were not allowed on board as yet-not that any were in sight, with
the exception of a group of turbaned Turks or Persians, deck passengers, who
were sitting silently and sullenly on their rug-wrapped belongings.

     Suddenly Petya saw Gavrik coming towards him, swinging a spray of white
acacia. Petya could hardly believe his eyes. Had he come to see them off? It
was not at all like Gavrik to do a thing like that.
     "What made you come here?"  Petya  asked. "I've come  to see  you off,"
Gavrik answered and the nonchalant gesture as he handed Petya the acacia was
     "Are you crazy?"  Petya felt very embarrassed. "No," Gavrik said. "What
is it then?"
     "I'm your pupil,  you're  my teacher. And Terenty says that  we  should
respect our teachers. Isn't that  right?" There was a quizzical  twinkle  in
Gavrik's smiling eyes. "Stop fooling."
     "I'm not fooling," Gavrik said. And taking Petya by the arm, he said in
a very serious voice, "I want a word with you. Let's take a walk."
     They strolled  down  the pier, through the flocks of  lazy pigeons that
kept pecking away at kernels  of maize. At the end of the pier they sat down
on a huge anchor. Gavrik looked around, and when he had made sure that there
was  no  one within earshot,  he  said,  as  if  continuing  an  interrupted
     "Look here.  I'll  give you  a letter, which you must stow away safely.
When  you reach a foreign country, stamp it and drop it in a letter-box. But
not in Turkey, because  they  belong to  the  same gang. Post it in Italy or
Switzerland, or, best of all, France. Will you do this for us?"
     Petya stared at Gavrik in amazement, wondering whether he was joking or
serious. However,  he had such a serious look about him that  there could be
no doubt.
     "Of course I'll do it," Petya said and shrugged.
     "Where will you get the money for the stamp?" Gavrik queried.
     "Don't worry. We'll be writing to Auntie all the time. That'll  be easy
     "I can give you the twenty kopeks for the stamp, maybe you can exchange
it there for their kind of money."
     Petya smiled.
     "Listen, none of that," Gavrik said severely. "And remember, it's  very
important... er  ... well." He wanted  to say "Party business," but did not.
He tried to think of an appropriate word,  but could not, and could only wag
an ink-stained finger significantly in front of Petya's nose.
     "I understand," Petya nodded solemnly.
     "It's  a personal request  from Terenty," Gavrik said after  a moment's
silence, as if to explain the importance of the matter. "Do you get me?"
     "Yes," Petya answered.
     Gavrik looked  around  once more and took the letter out of his pocket.
It was wrapped in newspaper to keep it from getting soiled.
     "Where can I hide it?"
     "Right here."
     Gavrik  took off Petya's sailor's cap  and pushed the letter  carefully
under the lining at the place where one of the seams had not been stitched.
     Petya was just about to say that Uncle Fedya had done  a  pretty sloppy
job on the cap, but at that moment a long shrill whistle drowned out all the
sounds of the  port for fully a minute. Then, abruptly, it stopped, as if it
had flown across the city and disappeared into the steppe beyond. The second
blow was a brief one, like a  period  at the end of  la long sentence. Petya
saw  the passengers  going  up the gangway. Gavrik  clapped Petya's  cap  on
again, adjusted the ribbons and the two ran towards the ship.
     "There's just  one  more thing," Gavrik  said hurriedly as  they  raced
along, "if they discover the letter,  say  you found it, but the best thing,
if you have time, would be to tear it up and get rid of it, although there's
nothing very special in it. So don't be soared."
     "I know, I know," Petya answered in a jumpy voice.
     "Petya!" Vasily Petrovich, Pavlik and Auntie were shouting together, in
varying  stages of despair, as they fussed around the  Alpine  rucksacks and
     "You dreadful child!" Father was boiling. "You'll be the death of me!"
     "Where  have you  been? What a thing to  do! To  disappear  just as the
first whistle was blowing!" Auntie was saying  excitedly, addressing herself
to Petya and the other passengers, who were arriving in crowds.
     "We nearly left without you!" Pavlik bellowed at the top of his lungs.
     A sailor picked up  their things. They followed him up the gangway over
the mysterious gap between the side  of the ship and the  harbour wall where
far below the green water glistened dully and a small transparent  jellyfish
bobbed on the surface. The  captain's mate, an Italian,  took their tickets,
and a Russian coastguard officer took Vasily Petrovich's passport. Petya was
positive that the officer eyed his sailor's cap with obvious suspicion.
     They went down a steep ladder into the bowels of the ship, each of them
tripping  over the high copper coaming, Electric lights burned dimly  in the
day-time darkness of the corridors, and when walking on the coconut mats and
cork  flooring they were conscious that the  ship, which was still moored to
the pier, had a fairly strong list.
     A  middle-aged  Italian  stewardess  unlocked the door  and  the sailor
dumped their bags  in the small cabin. The  sea was dazzlingly reflected  on
the porthole side of the very low creamy-white ceiling.
     While they were putting their things in the luggage nets,  bumping into
one  another  in  the  process,  the  siren  blew   a  second  blast-a  long
one-followed by two short ones.
     When,  at long last, after getting lost in the  maze  of  corridors and
stumbling painfully over  the high coamings, they found  their way up to one
of the decks,  the  steam winches were no longer  rattling, the long arms of
the  cranes were  motionless,  and  the only  sound  breaking in  the  sunny
stillness was the hiss of escaping steam.
     Auntie and Gavrik were  part of the small crowd gathered on the pier to
see  the  ship  off. When Gavrik  spotted  Petya, he  shook his fist at  him
stealthily and winked.  Petya knew exactly  what he meant. He fixed his  cap
casually and shouted:
     "Don't forget your Latin revision!"
     "I know it!" Gavrik shouted back, cupping his hands to his mouth. "Hie,
haec, hoc! How's that?"
     "There you are!"
     "Don't forget: I'll question you on the whole course when I get back!"
     Then  came  that  disconcerting  pause  that always precedes the  third
whistle, when neither those on board nor those on  the pier know what to say
or  do. Auntie  was  rummaging in her  bag for her handkerchief  in order to
start waving it at any moment. Gavrik kept his eyes on Petya's cap.
     "You might as well go,  there's no  sense  standing about here," Vasily
Petrovich said to Auntie as he leaned over the rail.
     "What? What did you say?" Auntie asked, holding her hand to her ear.
     "I said you might as well go home!" Vasily Petrovich shouted.
     But Auntie shook her head so vigorously that it would seem her one duty
in life was to stay there to the very end.
     "Duckie dear," she shouted to Pavlik  through her tears, "it'll be cold
at sea. You had better go put on your coat."
     Pavlik  winced  and  walked  away independently, so  that  none  of the
passengers would think  he was  "duckie dear."  "Duckie  dear, put  on  your
woollen stockings!" There was no stopping Auntie now.
     Pavlik had to assume a very  casual expression again, to show that none
of this had anything to do  with him, although  to tell the truth his  heart
was heavy at the prospect of parting with Auntie.
     The blast  of the third whistle shattered the air over the ship. With a
feeling  of relief  the crowd on 'board  and the crowd on the  pier began to
wave  handkerchiefs,  hats,  and  umbrellas. However,  they  were  a  little
premature, the ship still remained at her berth.
     The captain's mate, the coastguard officer and a group of soldiers with
green  shoulder-straps appeared  on deck again. The  officer began to return
the   passengers'   passports.   Just  then   Petya  noticed   a   strangely
familiar-looking  man  standing  behind  the  officer.  He  was  la   shabby
individual in a straw hat and there was something sad and dog-like about his
eyes. As he slowly scrutinized the passengers he raised a dark  pince-nez to
his  fleshy  nose.  At  that  moment  Petya  recognized  Moustache-the  same
moustached  sleuth  who had  chased seaman Zhukov all over the decks  of the
Turgenev five years before.
     At that moment  the  sleuth looked at Petya, and their eyes met.  There
was no way of  telling whether he had  recognized  the  boy or not,  but  he
immediately turned round to the officer and whispered something in his ear.
     Petya felt a chill run  down his spine. The officer, holding a stack of
passports in his hand as he walked over to Vasily Petrovich  and jerking his
chin at Petya, barked:
     "Your son?"
     "Then kindly remove the St.  George ribbon from his cap. If you do not,
I will be forced to escort you ashore and  take up  the matter of your son's
unauthorized wearing  of military uniform. It's against  the law at home and
even more so abroad."
     "Petya, take the ribbon off this minute!"
     "Here's your passport. I'll see to  the ribbon. You can claim it in the
commandant's office when you return."
     Gavrik, watching from the  pier, saw  the officer and soldiers surround
Petya. Petya removed his cap.
     "Run! Petya, run!" he yelled land made a frantic dash  for the gangway,
but  he  immediately realized  his  mistake  when he  saw  that Petya merely
removed the ribbon and gave it to the officer, after which he put his cap on
his head again as if nothing had happened.
     Gavrik looked round anxiously, but no one had paid any attention to his
yelling. They were all busy waving good-bye.
     The officer  handed out  the  passports,  saluted  and walked  down the
gangway, followed by his soldiers and Moustache. A brisk command was shouted
in  Italian, and the gangway was  pulled up. Italian sailors in blue jerseys
ran along the side, nimbly taking in the mooring-lines; there was  a  jerky,
insistent  ringing  of the  engine-room telegraph,  the red  blades  of  the
propeller revolved, churning up  the water beneath the  gold lettering which
spelled:  Palermo.  The deck straightened itself, the  ship  shuddered,  and
Petya saw the  pier, its  structures, the  stacks of goods, and the crowd of
waving people  move now forward, now backward, and then,  in some mysterious
way, turn  up  now  at  one  rail, now  at  the other,  only  much  smaller.
Everything on shore began to recede and diminish,  as if carried away by the
wide stream of foamy green water seething beneath the stern.
     Petya  could  hardly distinguish Gavrik and Auntie, who was waving  her
umbrella. The panorama of the city began to rise slowly from behind the port
structures.  There  was Nikolayevsky  Boulevard, the  white  columns of  the
Vorontsov  Palace rising on  the cliff,  the City Hall, and the  tiny Duc de
Richelieu pointing his outstretched arm away to the horizon.

     They passed the breakwater  and saw its other side,  the one that faced
the open sea.  A multitude of fishermen with  long  bamboo fishing-rods were
darting through the spray and foam of the breaking waves.
     They  could see  Langeron,  Alexandrovsky Park and the remains  of  its
famous  arched  wall and next to it the  Industry and Trade Fair. This was a
township  of fancy pavilions,  the  most  prominent of  which  were the huge
three-storey  wooden  samovar of the Caravan Tea Company and the gold-tipped
black champagne bottle of the Rederer Company.
     A  symphony  orchestra was  playing  at  the Fair, and the  breeze that
billowed the hundreds of coloured flags and pennants on the white flagstaffs
brought  to Petya's ears  snatches of violin crescendos, gently muted by the
     Petya remained on deck, fascinated by  the  sight of the ship  entering
the open sea. His only  regret was that  his St. George ribbon had been left
behind  in the officer's pocket. The wind  was getting  stronger, it whipped
the Italian flag at the stern, and Petya  thought wistfully of the long ends
of his St. George ribbon which might have been streaming in the wind.
     The fresh sea breeze was already ruffling his blouse. It  caught at its
collar, it billowed it out on his  back and puffed out the wide sleeves that
were  fastened  tightly at the wrists. Perhaps it was even nicer to  have  a
ciap without a ribbon, for now, by a slight stretch of imagination, it could
be taken for the beret of the Boy Captain, the hero  of Jules Verne's famous
book, with the .added advantage that there was la letter under its lining.
     It was  almost  as  if  fate  had  decided to make  this  an even  more
memorable  day for Petya and it  presented  him  with  another unforgettable
     "Look, look! He's flying!" Pavlik shouted.
     "Who's flying? Where?"
     "There, it's Utochkin!"
     It  had  completely slipped  Petya's mind  that  this  was  the day  of
Utochkin's  long-awaited  flight  from Odessa  to  Dofinovka.  The  fearless
aviator had  been waiting for good flying weather to take off from  the Fair
grounds in his Farman, fly eleven miles straight across the bay, and land in
Dofinovka. It was not every boy that had the luck to see this spectacle, not
from the shore, but from the sea.
     Petya and the passengers who  poured out of their cabins saw Utochkin's
plane flying  low  over  the  water. It  had  just  taken  off and  was  now
approaching  the  ship. It flew so close to the stern  that the rays  of the
setting  sun caught at  the  clearly visible  bicycle wheels  of  the flying
machine, the  copper fuel tank, and the bent figure of the pilot,  his  feet
dangling as he sat between the semi-transparent yellow wings.
     As he came abreast of the ship the daredevil aviator doffed his leather
helmet and waved.
     "Hurrah!" Petya  yelled  and was ready  to pull his  cap  off  too, but
suddenly remembering the letter, clapped it on tighter instead.
     "Hurrah!" the passengers shouted as they  waved frantically. The flying
machine was getting smaller as it headed towards Dofinovka, a stream of blue
petrol smoke trailing in its wake.
     Up till then Petya's travels had consisted of  two visits to Grandma at
Yekaterinoslav  and their yearly  trips  to  Budaki, on the  sea-shore  near
Akkerman, where they  spent their summer holidays. They made the journey  to
Yekaterinoslav  by train, and travelled to Akkerman by  sea on the Turgenev,
which  they considered the latest thing in technical wonders. Now  they were
sailing  from  Odessa  to  Naples on  an ocean liner. To tell the truth, the
Palermo wasn't that at  all.  But, since she had made  several transatlantic
voyages, Petya, by a  slight stretch of  imagination, convinced  himself and
tried  hard  to convince the  others that  the  Palermo was really an  ocean
     The journey was to take two weeks, which seemed quite  a long  time for
such a swift ship  as  the prospectuses  and  advertisements would  have one
believe she was.
     The  point was that when the signer in the grey morning  coat sold  the
steamship tickets  to Vasily Petrovich he  innocently failed to mention that
the Palermo was not exactly a passenger ship,  but was, rather,  a freighter
that took on passengers,  and  that  it  was  to make fairly long calls at a
number of  ports. They  discovered this  in  Constantinople-the first of the
long  stops,  but  the  trip  to Constantinople  was  pleasant,  brief,  and
     Petya was captivated by the  wonders of life on board ship. Everything,
every  detail of its ultra-modern, technical efficiency,  combined with  the
romantic flavour of  the old sailing ships, fascinated him. The steady, even
throbbing of the powerful engines merged with the fresh, lively sound of the
waves as they surged past  the iron sides in an unending stream.  The strong
wind, full of  the  smell of the open sea, whistled through the  shrouds; it
billowed  out the canvas  sleeves  of the ventilator casings, bringing forth
hot and cold draughts from the engine-room and the hold.
     There  was a mingling of all the  smells:  the warm', soothing smell of
the  polished  mahogany  tables  in  the  lounges  and  the smell of painted
bulkheads;  the  aromas  of  the restaurant  and the  smell  of  hot  steel,
lubricating oil and dry steam; the resinous-woody smell of the  mats and the
fresh smell of pine-water sprayed in the distant white-tiled  rooms with hot
and  cold running water. There  were the heavy swaying copper candle-holders
with glass-covered candles, and the elegant, frosted  globes of the electric
lights;  the steel gang-ways,  the grates of the  engine-room and the double
oaken stairway with the  polished  carved banisters  and  graceful balusters
leading to the saloon.
     Petya explored every nook and cranny of the ship the very first day. He
peeped into mysterious cubby-holes  and into the depths of the coal bunkers,
where dim  electric lights  burned day  and  night, trembling in their  wire
casings like trapped mice.
     The practically upright  ladders below decks with  their slippery steel
rungs led the  boy to grimier and less  pleasant regions. Black  oily  water
oozed underfoot,  and he  became  queasy  from  the  deafening  booming  and
crashing of the engines, the continuous motion of the propeller shaft  as it
revolved  in  its  oily bed,  and the  heavy  air  of the  hold.  Engineers,
greasers, and stokers lived and worked in the depths of the ship. Every  now
and then the iron door of the stokehole flew  open and Petya felt a blast of
intense heat.  Then he saw the stokers moving swiftly against the background
of  the flaming inferno,  using their  long crow-bars  en  the caked red-hot
coal.  Petya  saw  their black,  sweat-drenched faces  bathed in the crimson
light  and  was terrified at the thought of remaining  in such  an appalling
place even for five minutes.
     He hurried away, slipping on the steel floor mats, holding on to greasy
steel  handrails,  and running up  and down  ladders in his eagerness to get
away from that forbidding world. But  it was not so easy. Stunned by the din
and  jangle of  engines throbbing  somewhere  close, Petya  found himself in
places such as he had never dreamed existed.
     He knew there  were deck passengers as well  as first-and  second-class
ones, but  he  discovered  that  there was another category,  the  so-called
"steerage" passengers, who  were  not even allowed  on  the lowest deck, the
place usually  reserved for cattle. They occupied wooden bunks in the depths
of one of the half-filled holds.
     Petya  saw  heaps  of dirty  oriental  rags  on  which several  Turkish
families were sitting and lying, prostrated by  the rolling and  pitching of
the ship,  the stale air,  the semi-darkness, and the  noise of the engines.
They  were  migrating   somewhere   together  with  their  children,  copper
coffee-pots  and  large  wicker  crates  filled with  chickens.  With  great
difficulty Petya made his way to the top  deck,  to the fresh sea air, where
it took him quite a while to recover.
     The  first- and  second-class  passengers lived according to a strictly
prescribed  routine:  at 8 a.m. the middle-aged stewardess in a starched cap
entered their cabin,  said,  "Buon giorno," and set a tray with  coffee  and
rolls on the little table; at noon and again at 6 p.m. a waiter with a white
napkin  tucked  under his  arm  would glide noiselessly  down the  corridor,
knocking at every cabin door and rattling oft" in a truly commedia dell'arte
manner, stressing his r's. "Pr-rego,  signor-ri, mangiar-r-re!" which meant,
"Dinner is being served."
     First-class passengers had the additional privilege of five o'clock tea
and a late supper. But the  Bachei family, belonging to that golden mean  of
society that usually travelled second-class, failed to qualify.
     The first and  second classes had separate dining-rooms. The first mate
presided at the second-class table d'hote. The captain, who was inaccessible
to  ordinary mortals  and therefore  shrouded  in  mystery,  presided in the
first-class dining-room.  Even  Pavlik, who  was such a  pusher, saw him not
more than two or three times during the whole trip.
     The first mate, on the other hand, was la jovial fellow and, judging by
his shiny  purple-pink Roman nose, a drunkard as well. He was  the  life and
soul of the company.  He  pinched Pavlik gently under the table, calling him
"little Russky," he  was attentive in passing  the ladies cheese and filling
the  gentlemen's  wineglasses,  and  his snow-white,  stiffly starched tunic
rustled  pleasantly  as  he  turned  now  left,  now  right,  bestowing  his
open-hearted smiles all round.
     For dinner there were real Italian macaroni with tomato sauce, a second
course  of roast meat and fagioli,  which turned  out  to be beans, and  for
dessert,   Messina  oranges  with  twigs   and  leaves  attached,   wrinkled
purple-green figs,  and fresh almonds that did not necessitate a nutcracker,
but were  easily cut with a table knife right through the  thick green outer
husk and the  still soft  inner shell. Being  served  by  a  waiter somewhat
embarrassed  them. He would hold the platter to the left of them,  balancing
it  on his  finger-tips, and they  had  to help themselves. From a sense  of
modesty they always took much less than they would have liked to.
     Vasily Petrovich was shocked  and  furious  when he found out that wine
went with the dinner-one bottle for three passengers. True, it was very weak
and  rather sour  Italian wine, and the passengers mixed it with  water half
and half, but, none the  less, Vasily Petrovich was outraged. The first time
he saw a large bottle without any label  placed before his setting he was so
indignant that  his beard shook,  and he felt like shouting, "Take this brew
away!" but he controlled himself in time and simply moved the bottle away.
     Later, however, when  he  tasted it, he  realized  that  the  steamship
company  had  no  intention  of making  drunkards out  of  its  second-class
passengers by serving them strong, expensive  wines, and so allowed the boys
to colour their  drinking-water  with a few drops, in order not to waste  it
completely, as it had been included in the price of the tickets.
     This daily water-colouring was  the high  light of the  dinner-hour for
Petya and Pavlik.
     Ice-cold  water was poured into  a  large  goblet from a  heavy,  misty
decanter that  had become frosted in the ship's refrigerator;  then a  small
amount of wine was added to the water.
     The wine did not mix with the  water  immediately. It swirled around in
threads  and  then  spread out, making  the  water  a bright  ruby-red,  and
throwing a pink swaying star-like reflection on the starched table-cloth.

     The biggest impression of those first days  was  the  sight of the open
sea. For a day and two nights, between Odessa and the Bosporus, there was no
land  in  sight.  The  ship  was making  good speed,  yet it  seemed  to  be
motionless in the centre of a blue circle.
     At noon, when the sun was directly overhead, Petya could not figure out
which way they were heading.
     There was something entrancing about this seeming immobility, about the
empty horizon and the triumph  of the  two blue elements-sea and sky-between
which Petya's whole existence seemed to be suspended.
     At dawn  of the. second day  he  was awakened by the sound  .of running
feet overhead. The  ship's bell was ringing,  the engines had stopped and in
the  unusual  stillness he  could  hear  the clear  gurgling  sound of water
lapping at the ship's side. He looked out the porthole and through the early
morning  mist saw a  steep green bank. There  was a little lighthouse  and a
barrack with a tiled roof on the bank.
     Petya threw on his clothes and ran up on deck. A Turkish pilot in a red
fez was  standing next  to the captain, and the  ship inched slowly into the
green lane of the Zoospores. The lane widened and narrowed like a meandering
river. At  times the bank would  be  so  close that Petya  thought he  could
stretch his arm and touch the leaning white tombstones chaotically scattered
among  the cypresses  in the Moslem  cemetery,  the  poppy-red flag with the
crescent in the middle that waved over the custom-house, or the turf-covered
earthwork of the shore batteries.
     This  was Turkey-they were now abroad, in a foreign country,  and Petya
suddenly  felt a sharp pang of longing for  his  homeland, and,  at the same
time, a  burning  curiosity.  The homesickness remained with  him  until  he
returned to Russia.
     The sun was now  quite high, and by  the time  they reached the  Golden
Horn  and dropped  anchor  in  the  roads  of  Constantinople Bay  the  warm
reflections  of  the water  sparkled  and gleamed  all  over  the  ship-from
water-line to mast-top.
     From then on the Bachei family was possessed by a madness common to all
inexperienced tourists. They felt that  every minute was precious and wanted
to set out immediately to see all the  sights  of this  most wonderful city,
the panorama of which was so close  that they could see the  ant-like coming
and  going of crowds of people, the cupolas of the  broad, tall  mosques and
the spires of the minarets.
     They  decided  to  forego  breakfast  and  waited  impatiently  for   a
shrewd-looking Turkish official, who had been given several silver piastres,
to scribble something in  Father's passport;  the  scribble turned out to be
the Sign of Osman. The moment  the Bacheis went down the gangway,  they were
pounced  upon  by  artful boatmen. Finally,  they  flopped  on to the velvet
cushions of a wherry and, for two lire, were rowed ashore.
     Everything that happened afterwards  merged for Petya  into a sensation
of  an endless, scorching,  tiring day -  the deafening babble of the  truly
Eastern bazaars,  the equally Eastern  deathly quiet  of  the huge  deserted
courts around the mosques and the stony museum-like iciness inside. At every
step they parted with a steady stream  of lire, piastres,  paras, and copper
medjidies, coins which delighted the boys with their inscriptions in Turkish
and the strange Sign of Osman.
     In  Turkey the Bachei family  first  came in contact with that terrible
phenomena known as  guides,  and guides pursued them for  the  remainder  of
their trip.  There were  Greek  guides,  Italian guides, and  Swiss  guides.
Despite  specific  national  traits,  they all had something in common: they
stuck like  leeches.  But  the  Constantinople guides  left the  others  far
     The minute the Bacheis set foot on the pavements of Constantinople they
were besieged  by guides. The scene with the rival boatmen was repeated. The
guides  battled for their prey; it was a real  free-for-all and massacre, to
which no one paid the slightest heed.
     The guides poured torrents of filth on each other in every language and
dialect of  the Levant; they  tore  at each other's starched  dickeys, swung
their sticks with contorted faces,  elbowed  each  other, turned  round  and
kicked out like mules.
     In the end the Bacheis were claimed by an impressive-looking  guide who
had vanquished his opponents  with the help of a policeman friend. He wore a
morning coat that had faded badly  under the arms, striped  trousers, and  a
red fez.  His wildly-dilated  nostrils  and  coal-black  janissary moustache
expressed  a determination  to conquer  or to die;  however,  in every other
aspect  his face, and  especially  his frightened  baggy eyes,  wreathed  in
smiles,  bespoke a desire immediately to  show the tourists all there was to
see in Constantinople:  Pera, Galata, Yildiz Kiosk, the  Fountain of Snakes,
the Seven-Towered  Palace, the  ancient water-line, the catacombs,  the wild
dogs,  the  famous  St.  Sophia  Mosque, Sultan  Ahmed's  Mosque, Suleiman's
Mosque,  Osman's  Mosque, Selim's Mosque, Bayezid's Mosque, and  all the two
hundred and twenty-seven other large  and six hundred and sixty-four smaller
mosques in the city-in other words, he was at their complete disposal.
     He bundled them into a gleaming phaeton drawn by two horses,  jumped on
the step, looked round wildly, and told the driver not to spare the whip.
     They were all in by evening, so much so  that Pavlik fell asleep in the
boat on the way back to the ship and had to be carried up the gangway.
     Vasily Petrovich was aghast at the day's expenditure, not counting  the
fact that the breakfast and lunch due them on the ship had gone to waste. He
decided not to have a guide next day, an intention that was furthered by the
fact that that night the Palermo was taken  from the outer  roads to a berth
to take on cargo along with a dozen other ships.
     There could tie no chance  of the  guide finding them in the monotonous
chaos  of the crowded pier. They  slept like  logs  in the  small overheated
cabin, oblivious to the clatter of the winches and the  swift flashes of the
multicoloured harbour lights that filtered in through the porthole.
     They  awoke  to a  dazzling  morning sun  and  the  magic  panorama  of
Istanbul. Vasily Petrovich and the boys hastened  down the gangway. This was
their last day ashore and they had to get as much out of it as they possibly
     The first person they saw as  they stepped down on  the  pier was their
guide of the day before. He waved his bamboo cane over his head in greeting.
The phaeton  and the copper-faced, docile Macedonian on the  coach-box  were
     It  was  the day before all  over again, with  the  added attraction of
being taken through the bazaars and the curio shops of the guide's friends.
     Souvenir-buying turned out  to be just as ruinous an undertaking as the
guided  tour. But the Bacheis, hypnotized by their impressions,  had reached
that  stage of  tourist fever  when people  shed  all will-power  and,  with
something akin  to the  lunatic's  loss of  reason, submit  to their guide's
every whim.
     They bought stacks of crudely-coloured postcards of the places they had
just seen; they parted  with  piastres  and lire  for cypress rosaries,  for
glass balls  with coloured spirals, for  tropical shells,  for paper-knives,
and for exactly the same kind of aluminium pen-nibs that were on sale at the
Fair in Odessa.
     At  the  Greek Monastery monks palmed off on them a  yellow wooden box.
Through the huge  magnifying glass on  the lid they were supposed  to  see a
view of Athos. The box cost six piastres.
     They came to their senses only in the European quarter of the city when
they  found themselves amid  the  sumptuous  stores, restaurants, banks, and
embassies set in the luxuriant  dark verdure of southern  gardens. The guide
inveigled  them  into  a  friend's  camera shop to  buy  Kodaks, and then he
suggested dining at an exclusive French restaurant.
     At this  stage  Vasily Petrovich came  to,  rebelled, and  fleeing from
luxury  and  extravagance,  went  to  the  other  extreme  by   heading  for
Constantinople's slums, where they saw human misery at its lowest.
     The slums shook Petya to the depths of his soul, and not even the visit
to Scutari on the Asiatic shore could immediately restore his equilibrium.
     The motor boat raced across the Bosporus, cleaving the green water with
its prow, leaving two  diverging glistening furrows in its wake. Hundreds of
wherries  were reflected  in the  waters  of the  still,  lake-like  strait.
Turkish merchants,  officials with brief cases,  and  officers travelling to
and from Scutari, sat on velvet cushions under the light canopies.
     Wet oars glittered all over the bay  as they caught the sun's rays. The
smell of thyme  and savoury was borne  to them  from  the Asiatic shore. But
Petya could  not erase the memory  of the foul-smelling slums and the swarms
of green flies buzzing around the festering sores of the beggars.
     The moment  they  moored  in Scutari the guide rushed  on  with renewed
energy,  determined  not to  miss  a  single  one of the  sights.  Alas, our
travellers were quite spent.
     There was a bazaar  nearby and they  made for a stand with cool drinks.
The lemonade with a  strange flavour of anise drops was heavenly. They drank
pink ice-water and ate coloured ice-cream. Then they turned to the wonderful
variety of Eastern sweets.
     Vasily Petrovich was always opposed to giving children too many sweets,
since  they  were bad for teeth and  appetite.  But this  time  he could not
resist the temptation of trying the  baklava that was swimming  in honey, or
the salted pistachio  nuts whose bony shells had burst at the tips, like the
fingers of a kid glove, so that the green kernels peeped through.
     The  sweets made them thirsty, and the cool drinks  made them  eat more
sweets. The incident of  Grandma's jam was still fresh in Petya's memory and
he moderated his intake  accordingly. But Pavlik  was insatiable. He ate and
ate. And when Father flatly refused to  buy any more, Pavlik dived  into the
crowd  and emerged a  few  minutes later, carrying a  rather  large box with
bright  lacquered  pictures  pasted  all over  it. It  was a box of the best
     "Where did you get that?" Father asked severely.
     "I bought it," Pavlik answered with bravado.
     "What with?"
     "I had a piastre and a half."
     "Where did you get the money?"
     "I won it!" Pavlik said proudly.
     "What do you mean, you won it? Where? When? From whom?"
     And so the whole story  came out. While  Father had  been busy studying
the planning  of their travels and balancing expenses, while  Petya had been
spending his time  on deck, Pavlik  had made friends with the Italian waiter
and  had been  introduced to  the society  of  the  second-class  restaurant
personnel.  He had  played lotto  with them,  using the three  kopeks he had
found  in  his  pocket and  which the Italian waiter  changed  into  Turkish
currency. Pavlik had been lucky, he had won a few piastres. Vasily Petrovich
seized Pavlik by  the shoulders and began to shout and shake the life out of
him, heedless of the fact that  they  were in the middle of a large oriental
     "How dare  you gamble?  Wretch! How many times have I told  you that no
one  with  any  respect for himself plays  for  money!  And  with  ...  with
     Pavlik was  feeling sick from the  sweets and began to howl-he did  not
share  his father's ideas about  gambling, especially since he  had been  so
lucky at it. Father was livid, there was no telling  how it would have ended
if the  guide had not suddenly looked at his gold-plated American watch with
four lids. They had just two hours left till sailing time.
     All they needed now was to  miss the boat! They  rushed to the pier and
jumped into the first wherry they saw without bothering to bargain  down the
price. Soon they were safely on board  the Palermo. She had finished loading
and had moved out into the harbour, ready to sail.
     The parting with their guide was a dramatic scene.  He had received his
fee  of  two lire,  but remained standing  in the  rocking  boat  on legs as
all-enduring  as  those  of an old wolf, watching Vasily  Petrovich land the
boys climb up the ladder. Then he began to ask for baksheesh.
     He  had always been very  eloquent, a necessary accomplishment  in  his
profession, but this time he outdid himself. He usually spoke three European
languages simultaneously, inserting  only the  essential  words  in Russian.
Now, however, he spoke mostly in Russian, inserting French phrases from time
to  time.  His  speech  sounded  something  like  a  monologue  out  of  the
pseudo-classical tragedies of Racine and Corneille.
     The language was obscure, the meaning clear.  Extending his hand, which
was covered with copper rings glittering with paste  diamonds,  and speaking
as  passionately as when he  described the wonders of the city, he told them
of his poverty-stricken family, burdened by a paralysed grandmother and four
small  children  who  had  neither  milk  nor  clothing.  He  complained  of
approaching old age, of his trouble with the police  who fleeced him of most
of his earnings, of a  chronic ulcer, of unbearable taxes,  of the cutthroat
competition. He begged them to take pity on an aged, penniless  Turk who had
dedicated his whole life to tourists. His thick greying eyebrows raised, his
face took on a tragic expression, and the tears streamed down his cheeks.
     All this  could have  passed  for charlatanry, pure and simple, were it
not for the genuine human suffering in his frightened brown  eyes. Unable to
withstand his pleading, Vasily  Petrovich took the last  Turkish coins  from
his pockets and poured them into the guide's outstretched hand.

     It was nearly evening, and one could  sense  the slowly gathering storm
in the motionless  air, heavy from the  heat of the day.  The storm was  not
approaching from any definite direction, it seemed to  be materializing  out
of nothing over the amphitheatre of the city, over the mosques and minarets.
By  the  time  the  heavy,  grating  anchor chain  crawled  upward, and  the
overloaded  ship,  sunk deeper  than  its  water-line,  began slowly to turn
round, the sun had disappeared in the storm clouds. It was so dark that they
had to  turn on  the  lights. Hot smells of cooking and engines escaped from
the  hatches.  The sight  of the now  colourless city heightened  the stormy
green of the Golden Horn.
     The ship's  engines  were snorting heavily and laboriously. The surface
of the  water seemed as flat as a sheet of glass, yet the ship began to rock
     Pavlik  had just  finished^  the last  piece of  rahat-lakoum,  thickly
coated with powdery  sugar. He all but  choked on it; it  tasted doughy, and
was gummy and sticky. Suddenly he felt an  acid metallic after-taste in  his
mouth. His jaws contracted spasmodically. The  greenness of  the clear water
reminded  him of the rahat-lakoum and he shut his eyes tight. But the moment
he  did so, he  felt he was flying up and down on a swing. With great effort
he tried to say, "Daddy, I'm sick," but he was overtaken by vomiting.
     At that  instant  a  jagged  flash of lightning  pierced the coal-black
clouds over  the  crescent of St. Sophia's and the  surrounding minarets. It
was followed by a crack that  seemed to split the sky in two and poured  the
shattered fragments down upon the city  and harbour. A whirlwind whipped  up
columns  of dust on  the  hills. The water foamed.  When  they cleared Serai
Burna and entered  the Sea of  Marmara, that is,  the Marble Sea, its shoppy
surface did indeed resemble the colour pattern of marble.
     Petya missed the storm in the Sea of Marmara, for he,  too, fell victim
to Pavlik's malady. The two of them, white as chalk, lay prone in the stuffy
cabin. Father rushed from one to  the other, not knowing what to do. But the
Italian stewardess, with long-practiced  efficiency,  ran  up  and  down the
corridor, providing the afflicted with basins.
     There was more to it than  the  rocking of  the vessel and  the Eastern
sweets. The boys, overtired, were feeling  the effects  of the rushing about
in the heat, the noise  of the streets, and the mass of new impressions. The
seasickness soon passed, but  they  were feverish and delirious.  The ship's
doctor  examined them  thoroughly,  in  the  traditional  manner of the  old
European doctors: he pressed their tongues down  with the handle of a silver
spoon  borrowed from  the first-class dining-room; his  strong,  experienced
fingers   kneaded  their  bare  stomachs;  he  tapped  them  with  a  little
rubber-tipped  hammer; he listened  to their breathing through a stethoscope
and  without it, by placing his large, fleshy  ear to their bodies; he  felt
their pulse, keeping his eyes on his  large gold  watch,  the lid  of  which
reflected  the  round porthole and the  water rushing past it; he  joked  in
Latin with an alarmed Rather, trying to cheer him. He said there was nothing
seriously  wrong, that they should stay in bed for  three days; he gave them
laxative  powders  and  left  graciously,  after prescribing  chicken broth,
toast, and a light omelette.
     His last  words gravely upset  Vasily  Petrovich,  because  experienced
travellers in Odessa had  warned  him never  to  request anything  from  the
ship's dining-room that was not on the menu, because:  "You don't know those
thieves: they'll rob you,  that's how they  make their money; they'll charge
you for the  service,  the  bread,  la  ten per-cent tip, and God knows what
else, and before you know where you are, you'll have nothing left."
     Although  mortified  by  the prospect,  Vasily  Petrovich  nevertheless
struggled  with  his  dictionary and  in broken Italian ordered two bowls of
chicken broth with toast and two omelettes, a la carte.
     And to the boys missed the Dardanelles and Salonika, as well as the Sea
of  Marmara. Only the  noises  of the  port,  mingled with the confusion  of
Greek,  Turkish, and  Italian  voices, reached  them  through  the half-open

     They were sailing south through the Gulf of Salonika, with the open sea
on  the left and  barren shores on the  right.  The coast gave way  to hills
which rose gradually until they became a  mountain range. A single peak rose
above the range, and  a bank of motionless fluffy clouds hung over the peak.
There  was something enchanting about the lone mountain  and the clouds that
threw  blue shadows on it. The passengers trained  their binoculars on it as
if they expected to see a miracle performed there before their very eyes.
     Father, pressing his  red  Baedeker  to  his  breast with  one hand and
holding his binoculars in the other, was also peering at the magic mountain.
When Petya came up, he turned towards his son eagerly. His eyes shining with
excitement, he  placed  Mother's  little  mother-of-pearl  opera-glasses  in
Petya's hand and said:
     "Look, Mount Olympus!"
     Petya did not get the import of his words.
     "Olympus!" Vasily Petrovich  repeated triumphantly. Petya  decided that
Father was joking, and laughed.
     "You're not serious?"
     "I told you it's Olympus!"
     "Which Olympus? Mount Olympus?"
     "Do you know of any other?"
     And  Petya  suddenly realized that the land that was  now so close  was
none other than ancient Pieria,  and that this mountain was Homer's Olympus,
the home of the Greek gods whom Petya knew so well from his ancient history.
     Maybe the gods were still there? Petya lifted Mother's opera-glasses to
his eyes,  but,  unfortunately,  they  were too weak  to  magnify the sacred
mountain. All he could make  out was a flock of sheep moving up a slope like
the shadow of a cloud and  the erect  figure of  the shepherd  surrounded by
dogs. He was certain, however, that he could see the gods quite clearly. One
of the clouds  resembled  the reclining Zeus, another, flying  in  a flowing
garment  like  Athena, was in  all probability  rushing to help  Achilles at
     The previous summer Vasily Petrovich,  anxious to broaden  the horizons
of his sons, had  read them the Iliad from cover to cover, so that Petya now
had  no  trouble at all singling out the flying Athena.  However, that meant
that Troy, too, must be somewhere nearby.
     "Daddy, where's Troy? Shall we see it?" Petya asked breathlessly.
     "Alas, my boy," Father said, "we've left Troy far behind. It's near the
Dardanelles, and you won't see it now." Then he added reproachfully, hinting
at the sad  affair  of  the Eastern  sweets, "Thus Fate punishes  Greed  and
     His words, undoubtedly, were just. Still, Petya  thought Fate  had been
too cruel  in depriving  them of the  delight of seeing Troy  with their own
eyes-and all because of that awful rahat-lakoum.
     In  order not to set Petya too strongly against Fate, Vasily  Petrovich
hastened to add that they would not have been able to see Troy from the ship
anyway, and peace between the boy and Fate was restored.
     Two  days later, when Petya saw Athens, he was more  than  rewarded for
having missed seeing Troy.
     The barren rocky  mountains  of  Euboea, longest of the  Greek islands,
stretched for  many  weary miles. At last they left  the island behind. That
night they sailed  through straits and saw lighthouses along the shore.  The
ship  changed speed  several times and swung  round. It  was late when  they
finally  fell asleep, and next morning when they awoke the ship was anchored
in Piraeus harbour, in full sight of Athens.
     This time Vasily Petrovich was determined to do without the services of
a guide.
     The  Greek guides  differed  from  the Turkish  in that they  had amber
rosaries in their hands, were  shorter, and  wore small black fezzes without
tassels  instead of red ones with  black tassels. Unlike the warlike Moslems
they  did not make a frontal assault  on the tourists, cursing and shouting;
instead,  they surrounded  them  silently  like humble  Christians and their
endurance usually won out. When Vasily Petrovich found himself in the centre
of a tight circle of guides fingering amber rosaries and looking at him with
quiet, gentle, olive-black eyes, he did not feel at all intimidated.
     "Nyet!"  he  said  vehemently in  Russian,  and  then,  to  sound  more
convincing, he added in French and in German, "Non!  Nein!" At the same time
his arm sliced through the air so swiftly in a gesture of refusal that Petya
thought he heard the air whistle.
     None of this, however,  made any impression  on  the guides. They  kept
their  ground,  fingering  their  rosaries,   their  large  noses   drooping
forlornly. Vasily Petrovich took his  boys  firmly  in tow and forged ahead.
The guides too moved on and did not let them out of the circle.
     Vasily Petrovich ignored them. He  strode  down the  streets of Piraeus
with the confidence of a native. It was not for nothing  that he  had  spent
the past  few days in his cabin, unmindful of the sea breezes, poring over a
guide-book to Piraeus and Athens.
     The startled  guides made a timid attempt to  hustle the Bachei  family
into one of  the large, dilapidated carriages that trailed their  footsteps;
Pavlik yelled, "Go away!" as loud as he could, causing the guides to retreat
somewhat. But the magic circle remained intact.
     They reached the railway  station without  having  once lost their way,
bought tickets, and departed for Athens under  the  noses of the dumbfounded
guides who crowded  the  platform. Athens turned out  to be a stone's  throw
away.  When they arrived there, they made their way to another station  just
as silently  and as resolutely as  before, and set out immediately  for  the
ancient city in a suburban train with open carriages.
     Excited  by  the  battle  with  the  guides,  their  victory,  and  the
possibility of renewed attacks, they  had not been paying much attention  to
their surroundings. However, when they  reached the  mountain-top, which was
covered with  marble fragments,  and  suddenly  beheld  the  Acropolis:  the
Parthenon,  the  Propylaea,  the small temple of Wingless  Victory,  and the
Erechteion-all of which seemed to be a confused mass and yet was an ensemble
of heavenly unity-they gasped at the sheer beauty of the scene,  an art that
had been imitated time without number all over the world, becoming ever more
insignificant and trivial.
     Like all great monuments of architecture, they seemed at first sight to
be rather small and  exquisite, seen against the wild  expanse  of  sky,  so
clear and so blue that it made their heads swim.
     This was the realm of marble columns and  stairways,  yellowed by time,
alongside which the figures of the numerous tourists seemed dwarfed.
     Oh,  how Vasily Petrovich had dreamed  of seeing the Acropolis with his
own eyes, of touching the ancient stones! It had been the dream of his life.
He had visualized the day when  he would take his  children to the Parthenon
and  tell them of the  Golden Age of  Pericles  and of its genius, the great
Phidias.  Reality, however,  which was much cruder and simpler, added to the
majesty, so  much  so that  Vasily Petrovich was  unable to utter a word; he
stood in silence, stooping slightly under the impact of the scene that moved
him almost to tears.
     Petya  and Pavlik,  on the other hand,  were  not losing any time; they
scrambled up the slippery  pebbles towards the  Parthenon, wondering  why it
seemed so near and yet was  so  far. They helped each other  up, scaring the
lizards  as  they  climbed the weather-beaten  stairways, until  they  found
themselves  at last among the Doric columns, which seemed to  have  been put
together from gigantic marble millstones.
     The  noonday  sun  blinded  them, but they were  not aware  of the heat
because  there  was  a fresh  wind blowing from  the  Archipelago. The tiled
roof-tops of  Athens  glittered far below, blending with the landscape. They
could  see the port, the rows of ships, the forest  of masts about the roofs
of  the warehouses,  and out  in  the harbour,  sprinkled with  the  silvery
glitter  of sunshine,  was an English warship, emitting an  ominous cloud of
     Still  further  down, on the opposite shore, away beyond the hills, was
the Gulf of Petalis,  and  they could see the azure strip  of water that was
more ancient than Hellas itself-the Gulf of Corinth.
     One could stand there silently till nightfall, feeling neither fatigue,
nor boredom,  nor anything earthly, nothing  but an awareness of the supreme
beauty created by man.

     But they  would have to hurry, for the ship sailed  at five, and Vasily
Petrovich  wanted  to  show  the boys  the Athens museums. Nothing, however,
could  add  to the  impression  made by the  Acropolis:  neither the  marble
statues of the  gods  and heroes, nor the earthen vessels  behind  the glass
show-cases, nor the Tanagra  statuettes, nor the amazing  amphorae and  flat
bowls adorned with red and white figures against a black background.
     Out once  more in the  narrow  streets of  the  Piraeus port,  with its
picturesque oriental atmosphere, but possessing nothing that the Bacheis had
not already seen in Constantinople, they decided to risk a cup  of coffee in
a Greek cafe.
     It  was cooler  inside. The cafe smelt of  boiling coffee, anise, roast
lamb,  and something else  that was so appetizing it made  the boys'  mouths
water. Vasily Petrovich  tried to calculate the cost of  a meal in drachmas,
land decided to order two portions  of a Greek dish for the three of them. A
kindly little Greek woman, with a pronounced moustache and dressed in black,
wiped  the marble  table-top  with a kitchen towel and set down a platter of
lamb stew with Greek sauce.
     It was  then, that they realized just  what could be done  with a small
amount  of  purple  egg-plants, red  tomatoes,  green  pepper, parsley,  and
genuine olive oil.
     While  they were busy polishing off the last traces of the  amber sauce
with pieces of  bread, the kindly proprietress stood stroking Pavlik's head.
Her dark-brown hand was adorned with an Athos signet-ring and  her  sad eyes
were full of maternal tenderness, as she said in broken Russian:
     "Eat, boy, eat!"
     When they  had finished, she cleared  the  table, wiped the marble  top
again, and retired modestly behind  the  counter, where a candle was burning
beneath an  icon and a palm  branch.  Her husband  now took  her  place.  He
brought in a tray with three small cups of steaming coffee, three glasses of
water, three saucers with Greek pastry, and three saucers of wild-orange jam
with  nuts. Besides all this,  he  asked Vasily Petrovich in  broken Russian
whether he  would care  for  a hookah,  an  offer which  was  rejected  with
considerable vehemence.
     It was cosy and homely in  the cafe. There  were lace  curtains on  the
windows, the walls were papered, and a canary warbled in a bamboo cage.
     There were other customers  in the  cafe,  but  they sat  around  their
tables so sedately  and unobtrusively  that they did not  in any way disturb
the tranquillity  of the  establishment. They had cups of coffee and glasses
of water before  them, but,  engrossed  in games of dominoes, telling  their
beads, or reading  newspapers, they hardly touched them; they were more like
relatives than chance customers. Even the portraits of the King and Queen of
Greece over the door leading  to the kitchen did  not  have an official look
about them, and could have passed for enlargements of Grandma and Grandpa on
their  wedding day. It  was  hard to believe that the marble temple  of  the
Parthenon which crowned the  summit of the nearby mountain had been built by
the  ancestors of  these  mild-looking Greeks  who were moving  the dominoes
across  the  marble table-tops and  sucking  the  snake-like  pipes of their
gurgling hookahs.
     While the  Bacheis  were  sipping  the strong  coffee,  the  proprietor
remained standing near their  table, entertaining  them in their own tongue.
His  sister, he told them, was married  to the  eldest  son of  Themistocles
Kriadi, the  owner of  a Greek bakery  in  Odessa, and he himself had  spent
three years  in Odessa as a boy.  His grandfather, who had  been a member of
the Hetaeria, a secret society,  had lived in Odessa for a while too, whence
he had returned to fight for the liberation  of Greece and had been executed
by the Turks.
     Apparently, he had taken Vasily  Petrovich for a Russian revolutionary,
forced to  flee abroad, and  so he made no bones about criticizing the state
of  affairs in Russia and the  Russian government; he  heaped abuse  on  the
tsar,  Nicholas  the  Bloody, and was certain  there  would soon be  another
revolution in Russia which would dethrone the  tyrants and bring freedom for
     Vasily Petrovich felt uncomfortable and anxiously  looked round several
times,  but each  time  the proprietor  assured him that  all decent  Greeks
sympathized with  the Russian revolution, and that they would  soon  have  a
revolution -in Greece,  too, to get rid of the Turks  once and for all.  His
Russian  was  so  impossible  that  the boys  were  bursting with restrained
laughter.  Pavlik even  held  his  nose tight to  keep from giggling. Father
tapped the  marble table menacingly  with his wedding-ring  and  they calmed
down a bit.
     Street  vendors came in several times and offered the foreigners  their
     One  had long strings  of dried sponges hanging round  his neck and was
carrying a bowl of goldfish. The orange-red fish swam among wisps of seaweed
and were of such a brilliant  hue that the coffee shop was lighted up by  an
eerie glow and resembled a submarine kingdom.
     Another had dozens of pairs of hard  slippers with curled  pointed toes
and   streaming  pink  and  light-blue   gauze  scarves   which  immediately
transformed the cafe into a kind of Arabian Nights shop.
     This  impression was heightened by a  Syrian selling oriental rugs, and
when a man with long robes and copper-wares appeared on the threshold, there
could  be no doubt left that the Bachei  family  was now in Baghdad and that
the cafe proprietor was none other than Harun-al-Rashid in disguise.
     However,  the appearance of a seller  of Eastern  sweets, who laid  out
before  them  his bright lacquered boxes of halvah, rahat-lakoum, and dates,
so terrified the boys, and  especially Pavlik, who felt a menacing acid lump
in his throat, that the mirage vanished on the instant.
     Although Vasily  Petrovich had made up his mind not to buy anything, he
failed to resist the temptation, the only excuse Being that the purchase was
both inexpensive and essential. He bought Petya a wide-brimmed straw hat. It
did  not exactly go with  his naval cadet's outfit, but  he  could no longer
wear his warm sailor's cap.  Petya's  head  was dripping wet; sweat trickled
down  his  temples  and  his  neck.  His  cap  would  be  so  drenched  with
perspiration during the day that it would barely dry by morning.
     Petya was loath to  part with the cap which made him  look like the Boy
Captain.  He tried the new hat on in front of  the  fly-blown mirror and saw
that he now resembled a Boer. At any  rate, Boer generals wore the same kind
of wide-brimmed hats, although theirs were  felt, not straw. Petya had often
seen their pictures in old copies of the Niva, dating back to the  Boer War.
All he needed now was a carbine and bandolier.
     "You look just like a young Boer," Father said. That settled it.
     The young Boer strutted around in front of the mirror and  was eager to
parade on the streets in his new attire.
     Just then the  sound of a long boat whistle came  from the direction of
the  port. They  immediately  recognized  the deep Italian baritone  of  the
Palermo-they could pick it  in a thousand. And so, leaving a few drachmas on
the table, they rushed towards the pier.
     The Palermo  was already out in the  harbour.  Suddenly, Petya realized
that he  had forgotten his  old  cap in the coffee-house. He broke out  in a
cold sweat; without a word, he turned  round  and raced back. Neither Father
nor Pavlik noticed his absence at first.  It was all too apparent,  however,
when they were  getting  into  the boat.  That  which  Vasily  Petrovich had
dreaded above all was now a reality: one of the children was lost!
     Meanwhile,  Petya was  frantically  running  up  and  down the dockland
alleys looking  for the coffee-house.  But all  the side-streets were alike,
and there were so many coffeehouses on  each street that he soon realized he
was lost. He had lost all sense of direction and cursed  himself for  having
got so excited about the new hat as to forget the old one. In  every cafe he
saw  the  same  marble-topped  tables, portraits of the  King  and Queen  of
Greece, dominoes, steaming cups of coffee, gurgling hookahs,  papered walls,
lace curtains, little  moustached women  behind the counters under the icons
with  the palm branches and burning  candles, proprietors  absorbed in their
     Petva rushed  into passionate  explanations, switching from  Russian to
French, telling them he had lost his cap, but no one understood him, because
the Greeks knew  very little Russian,  and his French was pretty  bad. Petya
thought  of Near Mills,  of Terenty, and Sinichkin. The  picture  of  Gavrik
stuffing the  letter under the lining of the sailor's  cap  Uncle Fedya  had
made was so clear  in his memory. Now he knew that Uncle Fedya had  left the
seam open  on  purpose,  that  he,  Petya, had  been entrusted  with  a very
important mission. They  had relied on him,  and he had behaved like a vain,
foolish child who had imagined he looked like a Boer in his silly straw hat.
     He was so ashamed of himself and so upset that he was ready to cry.
     He hated the  new straw hat that was  bobbing up and down on an elastic
band on his back as  he darted  among the peddlers,  donkeys  with creels of
fruit, ice-cream vendors, and street barbers. The coffee-house he sought had
vanished into thin  air. His one thought  v/as  to find it, and there was no
telling how it would  have ended if  he had  not heard the Palermo blow  her
third and last whistle. He ran in the  direction  of the  sound and  finally
came  out  on  the  pier  where Father  was  explaining something  from  his
Self-Taught Greek handbook  to a port official in  a tunic and a hard-peaked
cap with purling.
     "There  he  is!  Thank  God!"  Vasily Petrovich shouted and  shook  his
handbook so  vigorously over his head that his pince-nez  fell off his  nose
and dangled on the black cord. "Dreadful child! How dare you! Where have you
been all this time?"
     "I forgot my cap,"  Petya  panted. "I looked everywhere for it. I don't
know where it is. I couldn't find our coffeehouse."
     "What!" Father screamed. "Because of a filthy, rotten cap!"
     "Daddy, it's not rotten!" Petya mumbled mournfully.
     "Rotten!" Father bellowed.
     "Oh, Daddy, you don't understand a thing!" Petya groaned.
     "I don't understand?" Father  said and his lower jaw and shaking  beard
jutted out as he grabbed the boy by the shoulders.
     He  began  to   shake   him,  shouting,  "I  don't  understand?   Don't
understand?" when the moustached Greek proprietress suddenly appeared on the
pier, carrying a small package.
     "Boy," she said, smiling sadly, "you  forget your  hat. Ai-ai-ai. It so
hot in Athens,  but in the  nights on the  vapora  in Archipelago you'll  be
cold, your little head gets cold. Here your hat."
     Petya  grabbed  his  cap.  It  was wrapped up  in  la back  copy  of  a
French-Language newspaper,  Le Messager  d'Athenes.  He  did not even get  a
chance to thank  the kind woman, as his  father  bundled him  into the boat,
which hurried them off to the ship. They reached it just as the sailors were
about to pull in the gangway.
     An  hour later the "vapora," as the kind  Greek  woman had  called  the
ship, was passing Aegina Island.  Athens had vanished in the  blur  of magic
colours of a Mediterranean sunset.
     Petya  saw  nothing  of it.  He was  busy  in  the cabin,  removing the
slightly creased  and sweat-soaked  letter from the  lining  of his cap  and
putting it in the inner  pocket of his Alpine rucksack. The  address  on the
envelope was in French:

     W. Oulianoff
     4. Rue Marie Rose
     Paris XIV.

     They were  a  long time rounding Greece, and finally they  cleared Cape
Malea.  The  last  of  the  islands, resembling a hunk  of  dry  bread,  was
swallowed  up by the purple swell of the Archipelago. For two days they were
out  of sight of land. The sun  rose and set, but the barren flatness of the
Mediterranean seemed motionless. The sea kept  changing colours: it was dark
blue at dawn, bright  blue at  noon, and copper-purple at  sunset, but there
was no hint of green in it, as in the Black Sea. They were already conscious
of  the nearness of Africa, that huge burning  continent,  and if it had not
been for the wind-true, a hot one, but tempered somewhat by the sea-it would
have been very hard to endure the intense, almost tropical, heat.
     The wind was chasing long rows  of waves along the Ionian Sea. The deck
rose and fell gently  enough to make the rolling of the ship  even pleasant.
The  engines  worked  steadily. From time to time stokers who  had  finished
their shifts would appear in the forecastle,  where  they would  douse  each
other with sea water from the  fire-pump. Petya had learned to tell the time
by  their appearance. But in point  of fact it was immaterial what  the time
was-time seemed just as motionless as  the ship in the  middle of  the  blue
     Petya  roamed all over the Palermo. One of the strangest places was the
cattle-deck which housed a herd of cows. Petya felt that he was in a cowshed
as he walked down the narrow  passage-way  between  the rows of cows' tails.
The cows shifted their weight  lazily, making the manure ooze  through their
cloven hoofs. He was  glad to feel  the springy  layers of straw beneath his
feet instead of the hard deck planks. Part of the deck was taken up by bales
of pressed hay which  obscured the view of the sea. The hot sun beat down on
the hay, making it exude all its stored-up field smells.  Petya would pull a
dry, withered stalk  of  siage  or  burdock out of  the  solid mass,  rub it
between his palms, and smell the powdered leaves. Then he would think he was
somewhere in Bessarabia, in Budaki,  and not on board  a ship sailing in the
Mediterranean. It was strange and very pleasant.
     It was  fun to crawl past  the signal bell  to the very tip of the bow,
lie down on  the hot deck, cautiously stick his  head over the side and look
all the way down. A huge anchor arm protruded from the hawse-hole there, and
still farther below he could see the  ship's stem cut through the waves with
a sure constancy. Salt spray blew into  his face, he felt the metallic smell
of the deeply ploughed waves, and below the water-line he saw the bright red
of the keel shining through the boiling sapphire of the  water. This was the
one  spot  where  the  ship's  motion,  its  full  speed,  could  really  be
appreciated, making him as dizzy as if  he were  on a merry-go-round.  Petya
could have  watched  the rushing water for  hours  on end, listening  to the
strains  of a  mandolin played by Pieripo, one of the stokers,  a young  lad
with pearly flashing teeth and blue-black curly hair. After coming off watch
he  would sit astride the  anchor chain and pluck the  strings, evoking with
its gentle tinkling notes a foretaste of Italy.
     And then,  Italy lay  before  him. A  dim cone  loomed up  through  the
morning  mist. This was  Mount  Etna. It began to  grow taller and wider; la
strip of hilly country rose from the sea. They were approaching Sicily.
     The  nearer  they got to the shore, the gloomier did the land look.  It
was nothing like Petya's mental picture of Italy.
     They could see Catania quite  clearly on the  rocky slope. The port was
surrounded by hillsides of hardened black lava which descended to the water,
giving it its dark hue.
     Italy  had a  harsh  welcome for  the travellers:  there  was a sirocco
blowing. The Italians pronounced it "shirokko"; it was a dry, scorching wind
from  Africa. The mercury  reached 113. Clouds of dust rolled along streets
that had been hacked out of the lava streams or paved with lava stones, just
as in Odessa. The sky was a dull  leaden yellow.  Mules  and horses with red
ear-muffs harnessed to  fancy carriages stood glumly on the square, and  the
wind blew the spray of a fountain and their dusty tails to one side.
     A  few  straggling pedestrians moved phlegmatically  along the  street.
Even the guides who  were sitting around  the fountain were too  listless to
come over to the tourists, and merely waved their picture postcards.
     They could hear the dry rustle of palm leaves, whipped by the wind. The
green-black leaves  of magnolia trees gleamed dully; the  paths were  strewn
with broken  branches and  huge  waxen flowers, dead  and speckled  with the
brown  of  decay;  shreds  of  grey  cobweb  fluttered  in  the laurels  and
stone-pines-all dominated by the shadow of Mount Etna.
     The  wisest thing would  have  been  to return to the  ship. But Vasily
Petrovich's  guide-book stated that the  city stood on  the site of  ancient
Catana  which,  except for the ruins of  its Forum, theatre, and some  other
early Roman architectural relics, had been buried in lava. He was determined
that the boys should see them.
     They doggedly climbed uphill  against the wind, exhausted land sweating
profusely, until at  last they beheld the ruins. By then,  however, the boys
were so tired that the sights meant nothing to them.
     They  by-passed  the museum.  They felt  that they had been roaming for
ages through the  streets  of the city, that in all likelihood the ship  had
finished unloading and taking on fresh cargo, and they could now resume  the
     But the sirocco had slowed  work  down at the port; the cattle had just
been taken off,  and the Bacheis had to push  their way through the  herd to
get on board. The animals were too weary to moo; they only looked at Petya's
straw  hat through bleary eyes, while the sirocco tore  at  their tails  and
whistled around their horns.

     Next  day the ship entered  the  Strait of Messina  and  dropped anchor
opposite the city of the same name. What a wonderful change it was! Here was
the picturesque Italy of  world-famous  water-colours and oleographs: a blue
sky, a still  bluer sea, white sails,  cliffs, and shores covered by  orange
and olive groves.
     From  the harbour,  Messina  looked  enticing and  beautiful, but Petya
suddenly felt there was something wrong in  the number of houses and the way
they were spaced. There seemed  to be fewer than there should have been. And
there were sinister  dead spaces between  them, hidden  amongst  the scraggy
     There was something  vaguely frightening  in the very name of the city.
Not until  they reached  the pier did  Petya  realize  half the city  was in
     Then,  suddenly, he recalled the  words the whole world had  uttered in
terror  three  years  before: the Messina  earthquake. He himself had  often
repeated  those words,  without really  understanding them. He  had seen the
ruins  of  Byzantium, of ancient Greece, and of early Roman settlements, but
these had  been magnificent  stones, historical monuments, and no more; they
had fallen into a  state of  decay over  thousands of centuries.  They  were
truly astounding, but they did not wring the heart. Now, however, Petya  was
looking  at heaps of recent  debris  which, not so very  long ago,  had been
streets  of  houses.  The city had been destroyed and  tens of thousands  of
people had perished in a matter of minutes, and neither fortress towers, nor
marble columns, nor anything else remained as a reminder of the catastrophe.
A pitiful heap of rubbish,  bits of  walls  with shreds  of cheap  wallpaper
still  clinging to them, stucco laths, broken  glass and twisted  iron beds,
overgrown with  pea-trees  and nightshade, was all  that met the eye. It was
the first destroyed city  that Petya had ever  seen; and it was not a famous
ancient one from his history book-no, this was a very ordinary, rather small
modern Italian city, inhabited by very ordinary Italians.
     Years later,  when Petya,  a  grown man,  beheld  the  ghastly ruins of
European cities, he was still haunted by the ruins of Messina.
     It was the same depressing scene of abject poverty everywhere, although
partially concealed  by lush southern  vegetation and the  bright colours of
the Sicilian summer. Most of the inhabitants were still living  in temporary
shacks, tents, and huts thrown together from the debris. Multi-coloured rags
were drying on the clothes-lines. Goats  grazed on  the grass-grown  rubbish
heaps. Half-naked children with eyes as shiny as anthracite roamed the razed
streets  and poked  in the ruins, still  hoping to  find something of  value
     The  little  shacks  on the  sites  of  former  shops  sold  postcards,
lemonade, coal, and olives.
     The Bacheis  walked  down the scorching streets of the half-dead  city,
surrounded  by fishermen, boatmen, and children.  They grabbed the tourists'
hands, smiled, looked into their faces, and  showered them with torrents  of
rapid  Italian. These people  were neither guides  nor  beggars, and it  was
impossible  to  understand what  they  wanted.  They patted Petya's sailor's
collar  and touched his  blue  blouse  excitedly repeating, "Marinaio russo,
marinaio russo!"
     Suddenly,  Vasily  Petrovich understood  what  it  was  all  about.  He
remembered that a Russian squadron had been anchored off Messina at the time
of  the earthquake  and that the sailors  had  selflessly  and  courageously
helped the people of  the doomed city.  Petya's regulation  naval blouse and
many other things about them told the people that the Bacheis were Russians,
and  they  were expressing their gratitude, especially to the little Russian
     They  used strange words  but  understandable gestures to  describe the
terrible earthquake  and  the heroism of the  Russian sailors who had rushed
into the burning houses and  pulled the injured and the dying from under the
     A grey-haired, ragged woman, carrying  a large earthen  pitcher, pushed
her way through the crowd and offered the Bacheis  a tray with three glasses
of cold water-aqua frescal-as her  only means of expressing her gratitude to
the Russians. Petya's heart swelled with pride, but he regretted that he was
not wearing  his sailor's cap and was sorrier still that it did not have the
St. George ribbon.
     "Grazie, Russo!" the Italians  repeated, shaking hands with  all three,
and this was quite understandable.
     There were other words spoken too:
     "Evviva la rivoluzione, evviva la republica russa!"
     Apparently, in the  eyes of the  Messina fishermen and  boatmen, Vasily
Petrovich's   dishevelled   beard,   his    steel-framed   pince-nez,    his
democratic-looking  Russian  shirt  and  tussore coat corresponded  to their
image of a Russian revolutionary,  a man illuminated by the far-off blaze of
1905, the undying glory of the barricades in Presnya  District in Moscow and
the mutiny on board the battleship Potemkin.
     That evening the Palermo weighed anchor,  passed  out  of the Strait of
Messina, entered the Tyrrhenian  Sea,  and  set  course for Naples, her home

     The  stifling  night was  so black  that even  the stars  that  thickly
spangled the velvet  sky  did little  to  lighten  it. Were  it not  for the
shimmering,  snow-white  foam  down  below, the  slight  tilt  of  the  deck
underfoot, and the swishing sound of the waves racing  past, one would think
the ship was flying, not sailing.
     Petya  could not fall asleep that night, perhaps because it  was  their
last night aboard. He paced up and  down his  favourite walk, the  spar-deck
near the wheel-house. The sailor at the helm was as still as a statue. Petya
liked to  watch  him,  waiting for the mysterious, inexplicable moment when,
for no apparent reason, the helmsman would move his hands and turn the wheel
a little. It spun  around smoothly and silently; yet  immediately, somewhere
right beneath their feet, the engine  began to work; they heard short bursts
of  escaping steam, a chain rattled,  and  steel  rods moved in their  oiled
grooves  along the sides, slightly turning the rudder.  That  meant that the
ship had yawed and the helmsman was bringing her back.
     There was something strange about the fact that the ship sailing on its
course should suddenly  yaw. What  mysterious  forces of nature could affect
its simple mechanical movement? The wind? Currents? The motion of the Earth?
Petya did not know the answer, but the realization that these unknown forces
existed and were constantly at work all around him, and that it was possible
to overcome them,  instilled in Petya a great respect for the helmsman and a
still greater respect for the compass at which he glanced from time to time.
     For the first time in his life Petya really grasped the full meaning of
this wonderful,  simple  instrument,  invented  by  man's genius  to  battle
against the dark  forces of nature. A brass bowl on a cast-iron stand  stood
alongside  the wheel, and a brightly illumined dial set on a thin pin seemed
to be  floating freely inside  it under  a glass cover. The disk, or compass
card,  was divided into  points,  degrees, and  fractions  of  degrees.  The
navigator had laid a copper ruler to point out their course,  and the moment
the  ship  veered ever  so slightly  the  markings on the  disk moved out of
place:  then the helmsman, by turning the wheel, would bring them into place
     The copper ruler was now pointing  towards Naples.  Although everything
around them was as black as  the bottom of la coal-pit, the ship raced ahead
unerringly,  at  full  speed,   making  up  for  the  time  lost  at   their
     Suddenly Petya noticed a strange light away on the  horizon. It did not
look  like a lighthouse  or like  the glow  of an  approaching ship. It  was
almost red and very uneven. It shone  for a while  and went out; two minutes
later  it would flare up again,  shine and go out again; and so it continued
at regular  intervals-a  rhythmic  appearing and  disappearing, but  growing
bigger all the  time. It was as if someone had  put a smouldering matchstick
in his mouth, and the breathing- made the little ember glow brightly.
     By now the waves and the edges of a dark night  cloud were brushed with
light, and a blast of heat seemed to come from the direction of the glow.
     "What can it be?" Petya exclaimed in a frightened voice.
     "Stromboli," a familiar voice answered. This was the first mate who had
just  come up on the  spar-deck. "Il  famoso vulcano Stromboli"  he repeated
solemnly and handed Petya his large sea binoculars, the dark lenses of which
reflected the red glow of Stromboli.
     They were  passing the volcano  now and Petya looked at  it through the
binoculars. Just then  a flame shot up,  as if  coming from  the  pipe  of a
samovar. The fire illuminated the edge of the crater, and Petya even thought
he heard an underwater rumbling and felt a wave of volcanic heat, but it was
only his fancy.
     Before  long Stromboli had  slipped  behind; however, its  fiery breath
could be seen through the pitch darkness, casting a grim light on  the waves
and clouds.
     Petya  was  in  ecstasy:  he  had  just  seen  with  his  own   eyes  a
fire-spouting  mountain, a real, genuine volcano! It  wasn't every schoolboy
who could  boast  of having seen one.  Schoolboy-why,  probably not  even  a
single  teacher  had ever  been  so near  to a  real volcano!  Not even  the
geography  teacher. Not  even the head  of the school. Maybe the head of the
Education Department  had seen  one, but certainly not the school inspector.
What would Auntie say when she found out he had seen a volcano! And what  la
fuss their friends would make! This time not  even  Gavrik would wrinkle  up
his  nose  disdainfully,  spit through his  teeth  and  say,  "Now  tell  me
another." Too bad  there were no witnesses except the helmsman and the first
mate. Perhaps though  it was  even better that  Daddy and  Pavlik  had slept
through it all.  This  time  Petya would  be cock of the walk of  the Bachei
     Petya  waited  until the volcano had disappeared  completely  and  then
rushed below anticipating his triumph and Pavlik's humiliation when he would
burst into the cabin and say, "I've just seen a volcano-you've slept through
the whole thing!"
     But the triumph was not to be: all the  other passengers had  long been
lining the rails, and Pavlik,  who  had been awakened by his  waiter friend,
was standing at the stern, his chin pressed against the rail, trying to look
interested while Vasily Petrovich  lectured in popular vein  on  the volcano
they had just observed.
     Thereupon  Petya went below  to the  cabin  to  be the first  to inform
Auntie of the great event. He rummaged in his  rucksack and found the nicest
of all  the  Constantinople postcards with a picture of the Galata Tower  on
it, and wrote: "Dear  Auntie! You'll never guess  what happened! Of  course,
you won't believe me, but I've just seen a  real, active volcano with my own
     Petya paused, made a bargain with his conscience, and resolutely added:
"It was erupting!"
     By this time  Petya  was really  convinced that  the  volcano had  been
erupting.  When  he  had  snatched  up  his  pencil,  he was  bursting  with
impressions  and was  ready  to fill up  every inch of space on the postcard
with a magnificent description of a volcano erupting in the open sea. But no
sooner  had he  written the first  majestic  sentences  than his inspiration
petered out.
     To tell the truth, Pliny the Younger had already described  an erupting
volcano and  Petya, having  read the description  in his geography textbook,
did not feel like competing with one  of Rome's  finest  writers, especially
since  Pliny  had described something that he had witnessed,  whereas  Petya
would have to describe what he had not seen.
     And so after the words "It was erupting!" he added: "Your loving nephew
Petya," and hid the postcard in the rucksack, hoping to post it at the first
     Thus,  if Petya's description of the erupting volcano  lacked something
of  Pliny's accuracy, its truly classical  laconism  left the great writer's
effort very much in the shade.

     A number of rocky islands  were sighted during  the day. Bathed  in the
silver light of the  noonday sun, they seemed like some ethereal silhouettes
of  varying  shades  of deep blue: the  nearer  ones a darker hue, the  more
distant-lighter.  The  Palermo  was  steaming   full  speed  ahead.  It  had
disembarked the last of the  steerage passengers, its freight decks had been
swabbed  and scrubbed white, the  copper coamings  and  ladders were shining
brightly, the  lifeboats  and  lifebuoys had  had a fresh coat of paint, the
Italian flag was fluttering in the  breeze; the Palermo again became a spick
and span ocean liner.
     "There's  Capri,  and Ischia, and Procida," Vasily Petrovich called out
the  names  of  the islands  they were passing as they  entered the  Bay  of
     "Vesuvius!" Pavlik shouted at the top of his lungs. True enough, it was
Vesuvius. The grey-blue silhouette of the twin peaks, with  sulphurous smoke
pouring out  of one of  them,  was outlined  sharply  in the bright haze. It
melted before their eyes, vanished into thin air, and revealed a panorama of
the city and hundreds of ships at anchor in the harbour.
     A flock of gulls attacked the Palermo. The graceful white birds floated
on outspread wings, snatching at  shreds of greens thrown out of the kitchen
porthole. To  tell the  truth, Petya  was already  bored  with the ship.  At
first, when  everything had been new and mysterious, it had fascinated  him;
now, however, at the end of the long  voyage, it no longer  interested  him.
But when he set foot on the paved yard of the Naples custom-house,  he, like
the Prisoner of Chillon, suddenly regretted his prison.
     He felt, after all, that he did  not want  to part  with the ship, with
its wonderful places, strange smells, and the  long, narrow, unpainted beech
deck planks caulked with tar and scrubbed clean with sand.
     During the customs  inspection  Petya  was  terrified lest  the Italian
inspector  find  the letter in  his  rucksack. However, the more than meagre
baggage of the Bachei family was completely ignored by the customs officers.
     The official did not even glance at the unique concoction of the Odessa
harness-and-luggage industry as he passed  by. All he did was jab his  thumb
in it, and the agent following him  drew a circle in chalk  on each of their
bags. The Bacheis were now free to pick up their things and go.
     There was something humiliating in this official  disdain, for they did
examine  the other passengers' baggage.  These  were  mainly  the  expensive
trunks and suitcases of the first-class passengers,  covered with  gay hotel
labels. The  officials  minutely examined the exquisite clothing, pulled out
Syrian  shawls,  crystal humidors  of  Turkish tobacco,  and  round  jars of
Russian caviar, and respectfully demanded duty.
     Vasily Petrovich  and  the  boys  hoisted their Alpine  bags  with some
effort and hauled the bursting  sack  out  on to  the scorching square. They
were immediately  surrounded by a crowd of screeching hotel agents. Each had
a  gold-braided  cap with the name of his hotel  on the peak. Petya had once
witnessed a similar scene at the  Odessa  railway station, whither  they had
gone to meet Grandma. It had amused  him to see a swarm of vociferous agents
dragging at the coat-tails of a protesting gentleman clutching his umbrella.
     But the  Odessa agents were no match for their  Neapolitan  colleagues.
The Neapolitans were three times  more numerous and four times as audacious.
They  shrieked as they attacked Vasily Petrovich: "Grand-Hotel! Continental!
Livorno! Vesuvio! Hotel di Roma! Hotel di  Firenze! Hotel di  Venezia!" They
brandished wads of brightly illustrated prospectuses and promised fabulously
low rates, unheard-of comforts, suites facing Vesuvius, family table d'hote,
breakfasts thrown in, and excursions to Pompeii.
     Vasily  Petrovich  waved  frantically to  a  group  of porters  in blue
blouses  with  badges on  their chests  who were  sitting on the flagstones,
utterly indifferent to the massacre of defenceless tourists by hotel agents.
Vasily  Petrovich  tried to break  through to the  cabmen. He was successful
too, but they were as impassive as the porters: they sat on their high boxes
with meters, smoking long, foul-smelling cigars, and not one of them offered
Vasily Petrovich a helping hand.
     On the contrary, when  he had finally managed to gain the lower step of
one of the cabs, the cabman  glared at him, snatched off his  well-worn felt
hat, shook it menacingly at Vasily Petrovich and screamed, "No, signor, no!"
so that Vasily Petrovich was forced to retreat.
     There  was  something sinister  about  the strange indifference  of the
cabmen and porters. Vasily Petrovich did not know what to make of  it. Later
on  they  found out that they  had arrived in Naples the  day the  coachmen,
porters,  and  tramway  workers  had  struck work  in  protest  against  the
government's preparations for war with Turkey.
     But this did  not  help the Bacheis  very much,  for the hotel  agents,
apparently satisfied that Italy should conquer  Tripoli, were not on strike.
Despite his deep dislike of the police, Vasily Petrovich  was about ready to
appeal  to two carabineers  for help. They  were as alike as peas in a  pod:
both wore three-cornered  hats and black  trousers with red stripes down the
sides, both had the  same type of moustache  and both  had big noses. But at
that moment things took a different turn.
     A small, fat, shrewd hotel agent  had the bright idea that the way to a
father's heart lay through his love for his son. He hoisted a kicking Pavlik
on to one shoulder, the plaid rucksack  on to the other, and made off down a
side-street. Vasily Petrovich and Petya dashed after him, but it took them a
good forty minutes  of fast sprinting  to catch  up  with  him at  the Hotel
     When he had finally deposited Pavlik and the rucksack in the lobby, the
agent hung his cap up on a peg over the desk and was immediately transformed
from agent  into owner  of  the  establishment.  It turned out  that he also
personified four  others: waiter, chef, lift-boy  and porter-in other words,
he was the entire personnel of the hotel, not counting the chamber-maid  and
cashier- posts held by his wife.
     The Hotel Esplanade was located between a second-hand clothing shop and
an eating-house in an alley so narrow that no two carriages could  ever pass
each other  there. This,  however,  was a  minor  detail, for the  alley was
actually a large stairway of  wide  and worn stone slabs.  Garments of every
hue were drying on the clotheslines strung between  the tall, narrow houses,
and  although  Naples  was  resplendent in the radiant colours  of June, the
alley was dark and damp; even a green  gas-lamp  shone in the  window of the
     Hotel  Esplanade  boasted  but four  rooms,  all  of  them  facing  the
glassed-in gallery of the courtyard  which was very much like the courtyards
in  the  older  parts  of Odessa-the only  difference  being that  here  the
flowering oleanders and azaleas grew not out of green tubs, but straight out
of the  ground, and the garbage heap was full of oyster shells, red crayfish
shells, and squeezed-out lemons,  in addition to green vegetable parings and
fish entrails.  When Vasily Petrovich  saw the two forbidding canopied beds,
the chipped iron wash-basin adorned with views of the Bay of Naples, and the
wallpaper which  told  only too well of bedbugs, he grabbed up his rucksack,
ready to  run from  the den, but his  tired legs failed him. He sank  into a
wobbly chair, took out  his Italian phrase-book,  and  began bargaining. The
proprietor  insisted  on ten  lire a day, Vasily Petrovich offered one. They
finally settled for three, which was only one lira more than  it should have
cost.  They  were  now free to  begin the sightseeing. But Vasily  Petrovich
suddenly felt  too  tired to get up from his chair. Now only  did he realize
how  exhausting the  long sea voyage  had  been, although  it had seemed  so
pleasant and comfortable. With  an effort he reached  the  bed and lay there
all in, wiping the glasses of his pince-nez with his handkerchief.
     "I think," he said, addressing the boys with an apologetic smile, "I'll
have a nap. You should  have forty  winks too. Take off your sandals and lie
down for a bit."
     Pavlik, who  could hardly  keep his eyes  open,  began  taking off  his
sandals. Petya, however,  was dying to see the city. He wanted  to  send off
his  correspondence: the letter Gavrik had given him and the postcard he had
written  to  Auntie,  describing  the  "eruption" of  Stromboli. Father  was
opposed  to the idea, but Petya  said with such assurance that he  wasn't  a
baby and looked so deeply pious  as he faced the crucifix,  crossed himself,
and  promised he'd  be  back the  minute he bought  the  stamp, that  Vasily
Petrovich finally agreed and gave him a silver lira for the stamps. Pavlik's
eyes turned green at  the sight of it. "What about me?" he said, buckling on
his sandals.
     "You should go to sleep," Petya answered coldly.
     "I'm not asking you, I'm asking- Daddy."
     "God forbid!" Father was aghast at the mere thought.
     "I like  that," Pavlik said, his  face all screwed  up, just in case he
might have to start crying at a moment's notice.
     "What do you mean-I like that?" Father asked sternly.
     "Petka can go and I've got to stay in?"
     "First of  all, don't say, 'I like  that.' It's about time you  learned
how to behave, and secondly, say, 'Petya, 'riot ' Petka.' "
     "All right," Pavlik agreed readily. "But if Petya can go, why can't I?"
     "Because Petya's older than you are."
     Pavlik hated that argument. No matter how much he grew, or  how hard he
tried, he was always smaller than Petya.
     "It's not my fault that Petya's older," he whined. "He goes everywhere,
but I can't go anywhere!"
     "I have a special reason  for going. I have my correspondence to attend
to, while  you just want  to come along to make mischief," Petya said in his
haughtiest voice.
     "Maybe I have correspondence too? Daddy, please, let me go!"
     "It's out  of  the  question!"  Father  said resolutely,  and  Pavlik's
spirits rose.
     As a rule, after saying, "It's out of the question," Father would pause
arid add, "but if  you give me your word that you'll behave..." or something
to that effect.  And so  to speed things up,  Pavlik shammed a fit of tears,
stealing looks at Father out of the corner of his eye. He knew his daddy.
     "However," Vasily  Petrovich said, unable to  stand the tears, "if  you
promise to-"
     "Oh, I swear by the Holy Cross!" Pavlik said quickly -and blundered.
     Father frowned.
     "How many times have I told you never  to  swear! An oath  degrades the
person who takes it. When you promise  something, it is enough to  give your
word. Any  decent  person's  word can only  be  sacred.  So',  one's word is
     "I give you my word," Pavlik said triumphantly, buckling a sandal, and,
in his haste, made another blunder.
     "What do you give me your word about?"
     "That I'll behave."
     "That's the main thing. And don't move an inch from Petya."
     "I won't."
     "You won't what?"
     "I won't move an inch from Petya," Pavlik said.
     "Very well then."
     "And  tell him  to listen to me," Petya added,  "otherwise I won't take
him, because he'll surely get lost and I'll be responsible for him."
     "I won't get lost," Pavlik said.
     "Yes, you will! You always get lost!"
     "Who got lost last time, in Odessa, when we nearly got left behind, and
when Auntie was so worried she nearly went crazy?"
     "I'm not fibbing."
     "Now then, children, no quarrelling!"
     "It's not me, it's Petka."
     "In that case, you'll both stay in."
     "No, Daddy!" Pavlik pleaded. "I give you my word I'll behave."
     "And do what you're told?" Petya asked.
     "Yes," Pavlik answered.
     "Without fail?"
     "Yes." Pavlik sounded slightly annoyed.
     "Don't forget, now!" Petya said pompously and severely.
     "All right, run along,"  Father mumbled sleepily as he curled up on the
bed under the ridiculous canopy. "And for heaven's sake don't  get lost," he
added in a barely audible whisper.
     He was snoring before Petya and Pavlik got to the bottom of the stairs.
     Of course, they got lost.
     Once out  in the street, Petya  took  Pavlik  by the  hand. Pavlik  was
furious, but could not -say a thing, since he had memorized Father's saying,
"If you've given your word, keep it."
     The first thing was  to buy a stamp. This was not as simple a matter as
in Russia, where lots of shops sold  postage stamps. Shops  were not lacking
here, but  none of them sold stamps. In fact, the shopkeepers could not even
understand what it was that Petya wanted, although he glibly rattled off the
Italian he had learned on the ship.
     "Prego, signor,"  Petya .said  bravely, but there was a frightened look
in  his eyes, "prego, signor... una, una  ..." However, he could not explain
what the "una" he wanted was, because he did not  know  the word for "stamp"
in Italian.
     He  would then pull out  the envelope, spit on  his  finger, and give a
wonderful performance of sticking an imaginary stamp on an envelope.  "Don't
you see, una stamp.  Una stamp." At which point the shopkeeper would gesture
dramatically  in the  true  Neapolitan  manner  and  hold  forth volubly  in
language  that  left Petya  bewildered.  This scene was repeated  about  ten
times,  until, finally,  after  they  had  gone  up  and down  three or four
streets, the  owner of a wine-vault  that was  bedecked inside and out  with
clusters of mandolin-shaped  raffia-covered bottles  took them to the corner
and pointed far off into the distance. He accompanied  the gesture by a long
theatrical monologue; the  only two words Petya  was able  to  make out were
posta centrals, that is, the central post-office.
     The boys  set  out  in the  direction indicated.  Petya  would  stop  a
passer-by occasionally and, bestowing a severe look on Pavlik, would ask:
     "Prego, signor, la posta centrale?"
     Some of the passers-by understood him, some did not, but all were eager
to help the two young foreigners who wanted to buy stamps.
     The Neapolitans  proved to  be  splendid  people-kind and warm-hearted,
though somewhat  fussy. They  were  not  a bit like  the Neapolitans of  the
pictures: handsome men  in short  trousers and wide crimson  sashes with red
kerchiefs on  their  curly  heads and  ravishingly  beautiful women  in lace
     They were very  ordinary-looking people; the men wore black jackets and
faded hats, the women, black blouses and no hats. All the men  had one thing
in common: no shirt collars-just a stud  at the neck in front of their  open
shirts; the women wore coral ornaments.
     They took the greatest interest in Petya and Pavlik,  they forgot about
their own affairs, and a large, noisy crowd gathered to take the boys to the
post-office.  The  gathering  stopped  at  every corner  and  had  a  heated
discussion as to which street to take next.
     They  threw torrents of words at each other as they dragged the boys in
different  directions  and if the boys had not been holding on to each other
so persistently, they most certainly would have been dragged apart. More and
more people  joined the crowd. Ragged, olive-skinned street urchins,  lively
as little devils, ran before  the crowd as if they were accompanying a band.
An old  organ-grinder  with  a  long,  foul-smelling  cigar stuck under  his
yellow-white moustache trailed along at the end of the procession.
     They were now walking down the middle of  the street. People peered out
of  windows, curious to know what it was  all about;  when  they  found out,
they, too,  would  gesticulate  wildly,  pointing out  the  shortest way.  A
kind-hearted signorina  wiped Pavlik's  hot  neck  with her handkerchief and
called him bambino.
     Stray dogs, every bit  as  nasty as those  in Constantinople,  attached
themselves to the  throng. The whole business was developing  into a  street
     Petya was becoming nervous. The only thing that kept him going  was the
knowledge  that he, as the elder brother, was responsible  to his father for
Pavlik's  safety.  He rattled off his Italian,  mixing  it with French words
from Margot's French textbook and Russian exclamations.
     "Si, signorino, si, signorino," the Neapolitans said soothingly, seeing
how excited he was.
     At the same time, Petya was taking in all he could of  the famous city.
At first they passed through narrow, dark alleys, with iron gas-lamps on the
walls  of  the houses. Then  they suddenly  came  out upon a dazzling  white
square  with a fountain and an  ancient  church, through  the open doors  of
which came the solemn sounds of an organ.
     Once they caught  a fleeting glimpse of the  unbelievably blue sea, the
beach, and a  row of stately, hairy date-palms in the distance. They crossed
a busy shopping centre. Then they skirted a bleak monastery wall with a huge
statue of a saint in a niche. They went up and down steep  street stairways,
past tall, narrow houses where  some of the windows with green shutters were
real,  the others  painted on for the sake of symmetry, but so expertly done
that one could hardly tell the difference.

     They  reached a  street which  was blocked  completely by a long row of
empty  tram-cars. Striking  conductors  and drivers,  carrying their leather
bags and brass keys, were walking  up and down, exchanging  a few words with
the passers-by.
     The moment the crowd accompanying the boys saw the tram-cars, they lost
all interest in the young foreigners. Attention was now focussed entirely on
the  strikers, especially  as the first rows  of demonstrators, carrying red
and black flags,  portraits  and slogans, appeared  at the  far  end  of the
     The people  rushed towards them, leaving the boys to their own devices.
Pavlik grasped Petya's hand and watched the demonstrators approach.
     Grim-looking bearded men in wide-brimmed hats carried a black flag with
a white inscription, and portraits of other bearded  men, among whom Pavlik,
much to his surprise, recognized Lev Tolstoi.
     Behind the bearded men came others with shaven chins and in small caps.
They carried a red flag and the portraits of two more bearded men whom Petya
had never seen before. These were Marx and Engels.
     The  people  in  the  demonstration  were  workers,  porters,  stokers,
sailors, and shop assistants. They wanted to keep  in slow step, but  it was
no good,  the more they  tried, the  more they quickened their pace to their
natural Italian tempo.
     They waved their hats and walking-sticks and shouted out slogans:
     "Long  live socialism!  Workers of  the  world,  unite!  Down  with war
expenditures! Down with the government of war! We want peace!"
     Passers-by  joined  the  demonstration.  Many  of  them  were  wheeling
bicycles. Street vendors  pushed  their handcarts. The old organ-grinder had
joined them, too. Everything was bathed  in the rosy glow of sunset, lending
a theatrical  setting to the scene, but  still Petya was greatly alarmed. He
squeezed Pavlik's hand, and his alarm was transmitted to Pavlik.
     "Petka," he shouted, "this is a revolution!"
     "No, it's a demonstration," Petya said. "Who cares-let's run!"
     But they were now caught up in the crowd and had no idea how to get out
or which way to run.
     Just then  they  heard  loud voices behind  them,  speaking Russian.  A
number  of  people, including a boy Petya's age in  a  jacket, were elbowing
their way through the crowd, closer to the marchers.  The boy  in the jacket
had a high forehead and a duck-like nose with drops of perspiration  on  it;
he was  pushing and shoving with  all his might.  A thin  man with  a yellow
moustache above  a shaven chin, wearing a cream-coloured summer coat and cap
all awry, apparently the boy's  father, had a  firm grip on his shoulder and
kept repeating in a hollow bass voice:
     "Take  it easy, Max, take it easy!" He stretched his long, sinewy  neck
over the heads of the crowd and looked sharply ahead; although urging Max to
take it easy, he himself, apparently,  was unable  to follow this advice. At
times he would turn around and shout to someone behind, accenting his o's in
a Nizhny-Novgorod fashion.
     "Come    closer,    gentlemen!    Come    closer.   Last   year   these
anarchist-syndicalists were lying on the tracks blocking the  way with their
bodies, but  look  at them  today. There's  a  world of  difference in their
     "Yes, you're  right!" a man in a pince-nez  and panama  replied rolling
his r's and swallowing the endings of the words. "This  proves my point that
although Russia has  become the centre of  revolution since 1905, still, the
consolidation of the European proletariat is progressing rapidly. I beg your
pardon," he said  to Petya in passing,  as the  sleeve of  his ample  jacket
brushed against the boy's head.
     He  was followed by  another Russian in a cheap, ill-fitting suit and a
new felt  hat  on his round,  firmly-set head. The  new-comer had  a  bamboo
walking-stick on his arm and forged ahead, cutting his way through the crowd
with his bulging chest; he saw only the demonstrators who seemed to draw his
whole  being irrepressibly. His knitted  eyebrows,  twitching face  muscles,
parted lips, and small angry eyes-all seemed strangely familiar to Petya.
     The arm with the bamboo cane thrust Petya aside, and the boy had a good
look at  the short fingers, the thick, square-cut nails, the white knuckles,
and an anchor tattooed on the bulging muscle between thumb and forefinger.
     Petya had no time to wonder why the little faded  blue anchor seemed so
familiar or who these Russians were  and what they were doing here,  because
the crowd swayed and surged first to the right, then to the left, and  Petya
caught a glimpse of the three-cornered hats  and narrow  red stripes on  the
trousers of  the  carabineers at the far end of the street. He saw the black
plumes of the bersaglieri's hats as they passed on the double, rifles at the
     A harsh,  menacing bugle  blast pierced the  air.  For a split second a
hush descended on the crowd. It was broken by the sound of shattering glass,
and then  everything  spun around  in a howling, screaming, wailing, running
     Several shots rang out.
     Petya  and Pavlik  were  swept away  by the stampede; they  held  hands
tightly, trying to keep together. Petya forgot that they were abroad  and at
any minute he  expected to see Cossacks gallop out of a side-street, lashing
out left and right with their whips. He thought he was running down Odessa's
Malaya Arnautskaya,  an impression heightened by  the fact that  here,  too,
they were treading on scattered chestnuts.
     Someone knocked Pavlik over.  He fell and skinned  his  knee, but Petya
pulled him to his  feet  and  dragged him on. Pavlik  was so scared  that he
forgot to cry, he kept repeating:
     "Run! Hurry, let's run!"
     Finally,  they were swept  into  a  narrow courtyard  paved  with  worn
flagstones and cluttered with dustbins. There were lovely iron grates on the
ground-floor windows. The boys ran under a dirty marble archway, where  each
step rang and resounded like a pistol shot, and found themselves out  in the
street,  opposite  a  small  park on  a  steep  slope.  Several people  were
scrambling up the dark,  weathered  stones that covered the  slope. This was
all that was left of the  crowd  that had swept them into the courtyard. The
boys began to climb  the slope too, but it was  much steeper and higher than
it had seemed. A marble lion's head jutted  out of the wall, and a stream of
water spurted from  an iron pipe in  the lion's  mouth into a marble  basin.
Petya  edged Pavlik towards the basin and  tried to  push him up. But Pavlik
could not get a grip.
     "Come  on, climb up!"  Petya  shouted. "You clumsy  ox!" Just then more
people ran out of the marble gateway. These were the Russians-the boy in the
short jacket and the three men Petya had seen in the crowd.
     The boy was tugging his father along by the sleeve, but the father kept
stopping and turning back. His fists  were clenched and his cap had slid  to
the back  of his  head; a shock of yellow hair  showed from under the tilted
peak; his moustache bristled and his blue eyes burned with an angry fire.
     "Do you  want to be killed? Come on," the boy was saying, as he hung on
to him tightly, "take it easy!"
     "Alexei Maximovich, you're much too reckless! You have no right to take
such a risk!" the man in the pince-nez said, rubbing his bruised shoulder.
     "I'll  be damned if  I don't go back and give  that long-nosed idiot in
the striped  trousers one in  the face!" Alexei Maximovich  muttered in  his
deep voice. "I'll teach him to respect women!" A fit of coughing reduced him
to silence.
     The boy  in the  short jacket  was  holding on grimly to  his  father's
sleeve. The man with the anchor on his  hand  also seemed ready to dash back
into the fray and restrained himself with difficulty.
     "Come on, climb, Pavlik!" Petya shouted  desperately. At the  sound  of
his voice the Russians turned to him.
     "Look, Russians!" the boy said.
     "What are you doing here?" the man in the pince-nez said sternly.
     The man with the anchor on his hand scaled the wall as nimbly as a cat,
extended  his  bamboo cane, and helped the others up, one  by one, including
Petya and a tear-stained Pavlik.
     It  was so calm and  peaceful there, it was difficult to imagine that a
few moments before,  somewhere  nearby, soldiers and  carabineers  had  been
breaking up  the demonstration, broken glass had  jangled  on  the pavement,
people had fallen, and the revolvers had barked in the streets.
     Alexei Maximovich looked at Petya and Pavlik quizzically.
     "Well, young gentlemen of the Russian Empire, and what may you be doing
     Feeling  that they were  now among fellow-countrymen, the boys' spirits
rose.  They kept interrupting  each other  in their  haste  to  relate their
adventures, but  all the  while  Petya had the feeling that somehow the men-
Alexei Maximovich and the one with the anchor on his hand-were familiar.  No
matter how he strained his memory he could not place  Alexei Maximovich, but
he  soon remembered and recognized the other,  although he  could  not quite
believe it at first.
     "Well, well,  you travellers, things aren't so bad," Alexei  Maximovich
said. "One skinned knee for the two of you. It could have been much worse."
     With these words he gathered Pavlik  under  his arm  ' and  carried him
over to the fountain. He washed his knee thoroughly, bandaged it swiftly and
tightly with a handkerchief, set the boy down, and  told him to walk up  and
     "Fine! You can return to the ranks now. First  rinse your face and paws
in  the basin,  though, or you'll  really frighten your father. By the  way,
what's your name?"
     "And your brother's?"
     "Excellent. Max, come over here. I  have a job for  you. Take these two
Apostles-Peter and Paul-to the post-office, help them buy a stamp,  drop the
letter in the letter-box, tell them how to get back to their hotel, and come
back as fast as you can, otherwise we'll miss the boat. Arrivederci, signori
Apostles,  bon voyage!" he said, shaking  hands with  Petya and Pavlik.  His
large graceful hand was saffron-yellow from the sun.
     "Merci," the  well-brought-up  Pavlik answered, awkwardly  scraping his
bandaged leg.
     "Come on," the boy said, shepherding the two  of them. "The post-office
is only about five minutes' walk from here."
     "You probably don't remember me, but I recognized you," Petya wanted to
say as he went up to the man with the anchor on his hand; however, something
held  him back.  He said nothing and  looked -straight into the man's  eyes.
"Maybe  he'll  recognize  me  too,"  he  thought  anxiously.  But  the  man,
evidently, did not recognize him, though he noticed his blouse, fingered the
material, and said:
     "Where was it made?"
     "In the tailor's shop of the Naval Battalion," Petya answered.
     "I can see that right away. Regulation stuff!"
     It seemed to Petya that there was no mirth in his chuckle.
     "Come on, fellows, let's go!" the boy said.  "We've  got to get back to
     The post-office really  was  a stone's throw  away;  however,  the boys
managed to talk a few things over on the way.
     "What's your name?" Petya asked.
     "But Max and Moritz,  seeing  that, climbed the  roof to  get the hat,"
Petya recited from a well-known  illustrated  children's book  of the day by
Wilhelm Busch.
     "Trying to  be funny?"  Max said  menacingly. He was apparently sick of
being teased about his name, and he dug Petya lightly in the ribs.
     Of  course, in other circumstances, Petya  would  never have let such a
thing pass, but this time he decided not to make a fuss about it.
     "Who's your father?" he asked, changing the subject.
     "You mean you don't know my father?" Max appeared to be surprised.
     "Why should I know him?" Petya asked.
     "Well,  because everyone seems to know him," Max mumbled in  confusion.
He had a bad habit of mumbling, and he always spoke as if he were sucking on
a sweet.
     "Who is he, then?"
     "A dyer," Max answered.
     "You're fibbing!" Petya said.
     "Honestly, he's a dyer," Max insisted,  sucking on the imaginary sweet.
"Don't you believe me? Ask anyone. He's a dyer and his name is Peshkov."
     "Quit fibbing! Dyers aren't like that."
     "There are all kinds of dyers."
     "If he's a dyer, what is he doing here, in Italy?"
     "He lives here."
     "Why doesn't he live in Russia?"
     "Curiosity killed the cat."
     There  was  something  in the  way he said  the  familiar  phrase  that
reminded Petya of Gavrik, Near Mills, Terenty,  and Sinichkin-of  everything
associated in  his  mind with the  word  "revolution." Now  it had  suddenly
reared up before him here, in Naples, in the immobile tram-cars, the running
crowd,  the sound of shattering  glass, the shots,  the sinister  blue-black
plumes on the bersaglieri's hats, the flags, the portraits, and, finally, at
the sight of the man with the anchor on his hand, for he  had recognized the
sailor from the Potetnkin.
     Petya wanted to  ask Max  how Rodion Zhukov  happened  to be in Naples,
about the man in the pince-nez, and what they were all  doing in  Italy, but
at that moment they stopped outside the post-office.
     "Let's have the correspondence," Max said.
     "What for?" Petya asked suspiciously.
     "Come on, hand it over! I haven't time to argue. Where is it going?"
     "The postcard's for my aunt in Odessa, the letter's going to Paris."
     "To Paris?"
     "Then we'll send it express."
     "What's express?"
     "Hayseed!"  Max  said,  making sucking noises with his tongue. "Express
means express.  You know, by non-stop express  train. Daddy always sends his
Paris letters by express. Give me the letter."
     Petya hesitated for a moment, then pulled the creased envelope from his
pocket. Max snatched it from him, ran over to the window, and began to speak
a rapid, if lisping, Italian.
     "What  about  the money?" Petya shouted, but instead of  answering, Max
kicked out his foot several times, as much as to say: keep quiet!
     Two minutes later he walked over to Petya and handed him the receipt.
     "What about the money?" Petya repeated.
     "Silly, I send off a dozen letters every day, and 1 have  a whole  heap
of stamps. See?"  He took out a handful  of  stamps from his pocket. "When I
stay  with  Dad  I  always post  his letters for him.  But  how do you  know
Vladimir Ilyich?"
     "Who's Vladimir Ilyich?" Petya asked.
     "Who's Lenin?"
     "The man  who  lives in Paris  on Rue Marie  Rose. Ulyanov.  I read the
address on the envelope. The letter's for him, isn't it?"
     "Sure it is!" Petya said. "But I didn't write it."
     "Did  your  father tell you  to  post it?" "No. It  was  given to me in
Odessa. I was asked to post it." And Petya blushed suddenly.  Max nodded his
round head.
     "I know what you mean. Don't look so suspicious.  We often send letters
to Lenin ourselves. That is, my father writes them and I post them off.  And
we always  send them express. Now, tell me where you are  staying."  "At the
Hotel Esplanade."
     Max frowned and that made him look more like his father than ever.
     "I don't think  it's  very far from here.  Go straight down this street
till you come to a fountain, turn left, cross two more streets and you'll be
right in front of your hotel. Arrivederci, I must run now."
     He shook hands with  the two boys hurriedly, crossed the street, turned
the corner, and disappeared behind a painted statue of a Madonna in a niche,
adorned with flowers and lemon branches with tiny green lemons on them.

     Hand it over," Pavlik said as he winced and rubbed his knee.
     "Hand it over!" Pavlik repeated and even stretched out his  hand. "Hand
over half the lira."
     "What are you talking about?"
     ' "About the lira. The one Daddy gave you for the stamp."
     "Oh,  so that's  what you mean! Well, let  me tell you  something." And
Petya put his thumb to his nose and waggled his fingers.
     "That's  thieving,"  Pavlik said,  whining  piteously  and throwing out
quick glances.
     "Shut up!" Petya hissed. "All the Italians are watching us."
     "I  don't care! Let them all  see  what a  thief  you are!"  And Pavlik
wailed louder. That was too much for Petya.
     "All right," he said dryly. "If that's the kind of pig you are, you can
have half of it. But we'll have to get it changed first."
     "No, you give me the  lira, and I'll give you fifty centesimos change."
Pavlik rummaged around  under his blouse, felt  something there,  and pulled
out a small silver coin.
     "Where did you  get that?" Petya asked severely in a good imitation  of
Vasily Petrovich's voice.
     "I won it from  the cook on the  Palermo!" Pavlik answered not  without
     "How many times have I told you not to gamble, you wretch!"
     "Well, what about you? Who yanked all the buttons off Daddy's uniform?"
     "That was when I was small."
     "Well, I'm small now," Pavlik reasoned.
     "Yes,  and what a  rat  you are," Petya  said angrily. "Just wait. I'll
tell Daddy all about it!"
     "And you'll be a telltale till you die!" Pavlik shouted triumphantly.
     "Gelato!  Gelato! Gelato!" a  heavenly Italian tenor sang out. The boys
saw an ice-cream vendor wheeling along the same kind of green box the Odessa
ice-cream  vendors had;  the only  difference  was  that this one  was  much
longer, it was decorated with scenes of Naples, and had  four wheels instead
of two.
     The boys' eyes met, and at that moment peace  was restored as well as a
feeling of deep affection, all based  on  a  passionate desire to  disregard
Father's iron  rule; never to buy anything in the street and never, never to
eat anything without permission.
     They read the  same burning  question in  each  other's  eyes  at  that
instant: what  was to be done  if there  were no one to give permission? The
most natural solution was: if there  is  no  one  about, we'll  have  to eat
without permission.
     Petya,  the linguist,  stepped  forward  and  opened his  mouth to  say
something that started with the words, "Prego, signor..."
     But the handsome  young ice-cream vendor,  with a  hat resembling a red
stocking on  his curly locks, was a bright fellow.  He opened the long  box,
and the boys were  astounded to  see a huge chunk of ice instead of  the two
familiar copper  containers with  tin  lids.  The  ice-cream man  took out a
little steel  plane  and  started planing  the ice  log.  Then he packed two
glasses full of ice shavings and poured an  artificially bright-green liquid
from a bottle over them.
     The boys were fascinated. For  some reason, though, it was not  at  all
sweet, and they soon felt as if they had eaten melted water-colours.
     The vendor was not wasting time. He soon had another two glasses ready;
this time he poured something  so dazzlingly  pink  over  them  that  Pavlik
turned green at the memory of the rahat-lakoum he had had in Constantinople.
Petya refused  the proffered ices. Using Vasily Petrovich's firm gesture, he
said "Basta!" in faultless Italian, paid the man ten  centesimos, and hauled
Pavlik off without another word.
     The bad taste of the strange ices was  forgotten  the  moment  the boys
came to a  booth snuggling against an old stone  wall from which a stream of
spring water flowed.
     There was a basket of enormous Neapolitan lemons on the counter next to
some jars of powdered sugar and tall glasses.
     In a twinkling of an eye the man at  the counter  had sliced two lemons
in half, put them  through a squeezer, and caught the  juice in two glasses.
He added powdered sugar to the juice and deftly placed the glasses under the
stream of  water. They filled up with something breath-takingly  pearly  and
foaming  at the rims, and the glasses became dimmed. The boys were entranced
the moment their parched lips touched the wonderful beverage.
     The  sun was setting. A round  purple-pink evening  cloud hung over the
white square  and the fountain. It was  so vast that the people, the houses,
and even the church spires seemed tiny beneath it.
     There  was something awe-inspiring  about the beautiful scene. The boys
turned left,  as Max had told them, and ran  homewards, but the weird  light
cast by the cloud  made the city still more alien and unfamiliar. They could
not recognize a single street.
     Night was falling  rapidly, although the  cloud still glowed in the now
purple  sky. Whichever way the  boys  turned,  it  followed them, its  round
crimson edges peeping out from behind the roof-tops. The narrow streets were
fast  becoming  crowded  with  people out  for  a  walk, as is the custom in
southern cities towards  evening. The air was full of the sound of  scuffing
feet on the stone pavements. The heat of the day was replaced by the heat of
the evening, not so dry perhaps, but more stifling.
     Streaks of  light fell on the pavements from the  open doorways of  the
cafes and bars. The tinkling of  mandolins  drifted down from balconies. The
mingled smells of hot coffee, gas, anisette, oysters, fried fish, and lemons
seemed twice as strong. Women fanned their faces, and  the ice-cream vendors
and news-boys sang out louder and more melodiously.
     Coral-sellers mysteriously appeared in doorways. Petya  felt there  was
something in the highest  degree dangerous and  sinful about  their bowlers,
shoved down  over their sinister eyes,  their sugary smiles beneath the dyed
moustaches, their velvet  vests  and morning coats,  their  dark  bejewelled
fingers, and about the  wide, flat  boxes hanging round their necks on stout
belts which they  supported in front of them while  they  silently displayed
their  treasures to  passing ladies: they held out blood-red corals, strings
of smaller corals, and pale-pink ones that  seemed almost  white and were as
big and smooth as beans; they displayed  mounted Pompeii cameos and clusters
of translucent gems. Set out  on black velvet and illuminated by the deathly
glare of the gas-lamps, the little stones gave Petya a strange impression of
being tiny inanimate creatures from another planet.
     Pavlik was more worried by  the hostile eyes of the  vendors; he thrust
his  hand  inside his  blouse, clenching his  fist  tightly  over the  small
Italian coins there.
     One  of the side-streets seemed  vaguely  familiar. The boys turned the
corner and ran along the  flagstones up the hill. Suddenly, the houses ended
and  they saw Vesuvius. They had apparently approached it from another side,
as it was quite different  now:  it had only one peak and was gigantic. They
were  almost alongside it. The volcano was  bathed in  the last rays of  the
dying  sunset, a monstrous cap  of  sulphurous smoke  hung  over  the  peak,
seething  with  the  scorching  heat of molten  iron,  and  it seemed as  if
Vesuvius was ready to erupt at any minute. The boys ever, thought they heard
an underground tremor.
     They were so panic-stricken that  they rushed madly downhill and bumped
right into their dishevelled father, who had  been searching the streets for
them for the past three hours.
     He was  so relieved at seeing them he even forgot to  scold  them. They
were all so exhausted after  the day that  they flopped on to their beds the
minute they  got back and did not  even bother to wash  up.  They slept like
logs,  despite the impossible heat,  the  droning mosquitoes, and the noises
and music coming from the street all night long.

     Next  morning marked the  beginning of an  exciting and delightful life
which swept them up and whirled  them  through cities  and hotels  until,  a
month and a  half later,  utterly worn  out,  the  travellers  recrossed the
Russian border and found themselves home once more.
     Although they had  followed a well-planned route, whenever Petya looked
back  on that journey  it always  seemed to him to have been a mad jumble of
unrelated travelling impressions, of beautiful scenery, palaces,  fountains,
squares and, of course, museums.
     The Bacheis  had  too little  money to allow themselves  the luxury  of
stopping somewhere along the route for an extra day to rest up, look around,
and gather their thoughts and impressions.
     For instance,  they  spent only  three days in  Naples, but  into those
three days they crammed: a boat trip to the Isle of  Capri to see the famous
Blue Grotto and, on the  way hack, a walk round Sorrento and Castellamrnare;
a visit to the site of the excavations at Pompeii and  to Vesuvius, climbing
nearly as  high as the  crater;  they went  to practically every museum, art
gallery, and church in Naples, including the famous Aquarium, where the boys
beheld the magic of the submarine world behind  the glass cases, illuminated
from  above like the stage of a unique theatre. There, in the  Mediterranean
Sea water, among  the white coral trees and  polyps which resembled blue and
red  chrysanthemums, giant  lobsters crawled over lovely sea-shells and fish
swam up  and down like interplanetary dirigibles that  had reached Mars from
the Earth.
     As they sat in the stuffy railway carriage, about ready to leave Naples
for  Rome, Vasily  Petrovich  looked out of  the  window and said with  some
     "If I'm not mistaken, that's  Alexei Maximovich Gorky." He adjusted his
pince-nez,  leaned  out of  the  window, and  began  to scrutinize  someone.
"Gorky!" he exclaimed confidently.
     Petya stuck his  head out under his father's arm.  A rather large group
of  people  were strolling down the  platform. They were carrying travelling
bags and speaking loudly in Russian. Petya immediately singled out the tall,
slightly stooped figure of the man who had recently bandaged Pavlik's knee.
     Now he  knew why the man had seemed so familiar, for he had  often seen
his  photographs in  magazines  and  on  postcards. It was Gorky, the famous
writer. Petya also spotted the sailor carrying a cheap suitcase.
     A woman  in mourning passed, accompanied by  a girl of about  thirteen,
evidently  her daughter. He caught a  glimpse of  a small face  with serious
eyes and  lips pressed tightly together in grief, a dark chestnut braid tied
with a black ribbon and thrown over a thin shoulder.
     Then  the  train pulled out,  and  the group  on the  platform  slipped
backward.  Petya had a last glimpse of Gorky, the sailor, the woman, and the
girl.  They were standing beside a train at the other side of  the platform.
Apparently, some of the party  were leaving, and the others were seeing them
     "Gorky! Gorky!" Petya yelled, waving his hat.
     The girl turned and looked at Petya. Their  eyes met. At that instant a
cloud  of acrid  smoke enveloped him. Petya  shut his  eyes, but he was  not
quick enough, for a tiny cinder flew into1 his eye  and  became lodged under
the upper lid.
     The  subsequent torment killed  all  the  pleasure  of the journey from
Naples to Rome.
     A nail in your shoe or a cinder in your eye! We have all  suffered from
these evils at one time or other. It starts as a slightly unpleasant feeling
and gradually drives the victim frantic with pain.
     At first Petya was just uncomfortable from the alien body lodged in his
eye.  The eye was watery and he was certain the  tears would wash the cinder
out and bring a feeling of blessed relief. But the tears kept streaming down
his  face, while the cinder stayed put. It was lodged way  up under the  lid
and scratched and irritated the eyeball at the slightest movement.
     Blinded by tears and feeling that  his eye was on fire, Petya rushed up
and down the stuffy carriage, not knowing what to do. In his agony he bumped
into the other passengers. He bruised his knee, but  the new pain  could not
eliminate the old one.
     Father  insisted  he  sit  quietly  and  not  rub  his  eye  under  any
circumstances, for then the cinder would wash out by itself. But it did not.
Petya  began to  rub his eye again;  the pain  became unbearable. He moaned,
screamed, and in  his despair beat out a tattoo on the floor with his heels.
With shaking hands Father tried to  raise the eyelid  and  get at the cinder
with the  tip of his handkerchief. Petya would not let him.  He kept running
back and forth to the wash-room,  where he would pour some tepid  water from
the wash-basin into his cupped palm and bathe his eye in it. Nothing helped.
It was infinitely worse than a toothache.
     In  the  rare  moments when  the  pain subsided,  Petya saw dry, barren
hills,  white dust  on the highway, level  crossings and little huts of  the
trackmen behind  rickety  fences  made  of  old  sleepers  and surrounded by
sunflowers, hollyhocks, and dirty pigs; all  these flashed  by the  carriage
windows in  the glare of  the Italian noon. Were  it  not for the  groves of
lovely Italian pines, their spreading branches and almost black needles, one
would think the train was approaching a town in the Ukraine instead of Rome.
     All  this was  bleary and flitting, there was  but  one impression, one
scene that remained constant: the railway platform in Naples, the  group  of
people, the  woman in mourning,  and the  girl with  the black ribbon in her
chestnut hair. She was embedded in his mind as the cinder in his eye.
     All things eventually come to an end. Petya's torment ended too. An old
Italian woman with a coral cross on her wrinkled neck  sat at the far end of
the carriage. FOT baggage she had a wicker  basket with ducks' heads  poking
through the  top;  she  had  been reading  her  prayer-book  throughout  the
journey, but she had missed nothing  of what  was going on  in the carriage.
When Petya for the tenth time rushed to  the wash-room to bathe his eye, she
suddenly reached out and  grabbed him with her strong,  knotty hands, forced
him down on the bench,  got  hold of his head, and drew it towards her dark,
hairy, witch-like face.
     Without  a word she raised his eyelid with nimble  fingers,  opened her
hot mouth, stuck  out her long  tongue, and licked the cinder that  had been
rubbed into the mucous membrane. Petya instantly felt a wave of  relief. The
old woman picked the cinder off her tongue, held it triumphantly between two
fingers  for  all  to see,  and said something  in Italian; the sentence was
greeted with applause, making the ducks quack boisterously.
     Then she kissed Petya  on the head, crossed him from left to right, and
returned to her prayer-book.

     The  train  pulled into  Rome.  Three  wandering  musicians-a mandolin,
guitar, and violin - played their last piece. Thus, to the strains of "Santa
Lucia" and the grating of brakes, they came to a stop.
     Again the Bacheis were surrounded by a noisy crowd of agents and guides
as they made their way  to an ancient phaeton.  The  driver cracked his long
whip over the nags, turned the  handle of a Large meter attached to the side
of the box, and they jogged  off over the sun-scorched squares of Rome, past
spouting fountains that left greenish strips on  the paving stones and, like
the needles of a compass, pointed in the direction  of the prevailing  south
wind.  After his recent  torture Petya sat  back and  took his fill  of  the
sights. It seemed as if his eyesight had improved threefold. He kept turning
this way and that, so as not. to miss a single detail of the famous city.
     The lean driver in a squashed black  felt hat smothered them  in clouds
of foul  smoke from his long cigar. Instead of  taking the shortest route to
the hotel, he zigzagged through every street in the  city. The centesimos in
the  window of  the meter  mounted, rapidly  turning  into lire; to distract
their attention  from the meter,  the  driver,  with  a theatrical  gesture,
called  out  the  sights. They passed  the Caracalla  thermae,  St.  Angel's
Castle, the Tiber, the Forum, St. Peter's, and the Coliseum.
     Father spread  out a map  of Rome on his lap. One would think he  could
not  believe his  eyes and was seeking  a  theoretical confirmation  of  the
obvious  fact of  the  existence  of the city  of  Rome  and all its  famous
landmarks, so well known from paintings and photographs.
     The real Rome was not as magnificent as the descriptions and paintings.
Monotonously lighted by the sun, wilted from the heat, it lay spread out  on
its ancient hills beneath the pale-blue sky and seemed much simpler and more
beautiful than one had imagined.
     The summer streets  were  deserted. Papal  guards  stood  watch at  the
entrance  to  Vatican City. They  wore uniforms  of the Middle Ages and were
armed with  halberds. Pavlik,  who had been to  the Opera with Auntie during
the previous winter, now shouted at the top of his voice:
     "Look! Look! Huguenots!"
     Before Petya could clap his hand  over his brother's  mouth he shrilled
still louder, bubbling over with joy and surprise:
     "Donbasilios! Look, Donbasilios!"
     True  enough, two Catholic priests were  making  their way  through the
colonnade of St. Peter's. They wore black soutanes and  long hats  with  the
brims rolled up,  and carried  umbrellas under their arms; no two  men could
have looked more like Don Basilio from The 'Barber of Seville than they.
     Several monks  crossed  the  square.  A  barefoot Franciscan  went  by,
wearing a  crude  hair-shirt tied  with  a  cord, for all the world like  an
ancient  prophet. Plump, jolly  Benedictines strolled along,  telling  their
beads, and the sun shone on their tonsures.
     Black-robed nuns passed  with lowered  heads; they  had  weird-looking,
huge, snow-white, firmly-starched, light-as-a-feather batiste head-dresses.
     A little grey donkey pulled  a cart. The  cart was  at least eight feel
high  and had  solid  wooden  wheels  that  creaked as  loudly  as the first
primitive carts must  have  creaked,  bringing to Petya's mind a picture  of
Hannibal's baggage train, moving through  the dust  at  the golden  gates of
     Just then  a  carriage  on springs,  harnessed  tandem with four  black
horses, flew  out of  a side-street. The spokes  of  the  wheels spun round,
flashing  like lightning  in  the sun. A  behatted  cardinal reclined on the
leather  cushions.  Petya  caught a  glimpse  of  his  bluish cheeks,  heavy
eyebrows, and haughty, cruel eyes, pencilled like an actor's.
     The cardinal surveyed  the  Bachei family and  the  old driver, who had
whipped the hat off his bald head and folded his hands piously. There was no
telling  just what  it was the prince of  the church thought,  but he smiled
cordially,  freed  his  thin rosary-entwined hand from his  lace  cuff  and,
without  drawing his fingers together, by  an imperceptible movement  of his
palm, blessed  the travellers. His purple robe flashed past and the carriage
vanished, leaving a faint odour of incense in its wake.
     Two weeks later, having crossed and recrossed Italy from one end to the
other, the  tourists  found themselves  in Switzerland, strictly in  keeping
with Vasily Petrovich's plan. They decided to stop and rest for a bit before
setting out once more.
     To tell the truth, they had had enough of changing trains  and being on
the  go all the time, but it  was almost impossible to stop now, for  Father
had been tempted to buy some very reasonable special  tickets from  a travel
agency in Milan, that  entitled them to travel  without extra  cost  on  any
railway in Switzerland they cared to within a period of sixty days.
     Sixty days was too much as far as the Bacheis were concerned, since the
summer holidays would be over in  a  month  and a half. However, the tickets
were  valid  for sixty days,  and what they  lost in time  they made  up  on
Pavlik,  as they had  given his age as seven and  bought only  two full-fare
third-class tickets for the three of them.
     It was  cheating,  even if petty, and before Vasily Petrovich agreed to
go through  with it  he  stood for a  long time wiping  the  glasses of  his
pince-nez in embarrassment  and twisting his neck  from side to side. But in
the  end the tickets were bought and stamped with the date of purchase, thus
marking  the beginning of  a  strange,  restless period when they  felt that
every day not spent in a railway carriage was ruinous to their finances.
     However, they just had to stop for a rest.

     Here they  were, sitting  in wicker  chairs  on the open terrace  of  a
small, inexpensive  boarding-house in Ouchy on  the  shore  of Lake  Geneva.
Tiers  of hotels, parks,  and  church spires rose on  a slant to the rear of
them and disappeared into the  clear sky over  Lausanne. A strip of sky-blue
water, dotted with winged  sails and gulls, shone through the pleasant green
of the gardens and  vineyards. Savoy lay before them across the lake, veiled
in  a haze  of  sunshine; there  were velvety meadows, gorges,  and  valleys
adorned  by tiny picturesque villages, and  above it all,  the wild mountain
range that stretched right across the horizon.
     Mont Blanc was supposed to be  somewhere in  the  vicinity,  but Vasily
Petrovich  tried in vain to locate it through  his little opera-glasses, for
the  outline of the  range  was obscured  by  clouds. This  was all the more
disappointing since their room was one "with a view of Mont Blanc."
     A  middle-aged chamber-maid wished the  travellers ban matin and  set a
tray-the complet-on the table.  It consisted of a tea-set, a straw basked of
tiny bits of toast, butter curls, jam and honey; there was also a sugar-bowl
with midget dominoes  of sugar  so brittle they had to be picked up gingerly
with sugar tongs, as they crumbled at the slightest pressure.
     Vasily  Petrovich put  on  his  pince-nez  and  examined  the  strange,
yellowish sugar closely. Then he  picked up  a cube, smelled it,  tasted it,
and announced that this was real cane-sugar.
     Cane-sugar! The discovery  astounded  the boys.  Petya  was  especially
excited, for he visualized Auntie's amazement and his friends' jealousy when
they found out that  he  had seen real cane-sugar with his own  eyes and had
even had some in  his tea, while sitting  on a terrace "with a view of  Mont
Blanc." That was worth writing  about. He pulled out his stationery box, but
the Swiss morning was so heavenly, the stillness  so  breath-taking, and the
bees hung over the  honey  pot so motionlessly, that Petya suddenly found he
could not move a finger, let alone begin writing.
     He now realized how dead tired he was and how badly he needed a rest.
     Scenes of Italy  kept flashing through his mind chaotically. He saw St.
Mark's and the lion with its paw  on a stone Bible sharply  outlined against
the intensely blue  sky, and that was Venice.  Then light-blue double-decked
tram-cars  rounded  the beautiful  square  and  the  white marble  lace-like
cathedral, adorned  by two thousand Gothic  statues,  and that was Milan. He
saw himself in  a cloud of dry white dust  passing  the  marble quarries  of
Carrara  where  huge marble panels,  cubes, slabs, and chunks that had  just
been sawn lay in piles ready for shipment; finally, the many-tiered graceful
Tower of Pisa leaning motionlessly to one side.
     Once their train had stopped at a remote siding in the middle of a hot,
beautiful valley, and they could see the cloudy purple mountain range on the
horizon and feel the slight breath of chill Alpine air. Suddenly, they dived
into the Simplon tunnel,  twenty-two miles through the heart  of a mountain;
there was a sudden darkness,  the stale smell of coal, the deafening clamour
of steel, and  the black  mirrored  surfaces  of the locked carriage windows
which  reflected  the  sinister, ghastly dimness  of the flickering electric
lights in the carriages.
     And  then,  after  an  endless  half-hour  of  depressing,  motionless,
headlong movement, when it seemed as if there was no air left to breathe and
there would never  be an end  to the infernal darkness  pressing in on every
side on the train and the two exhausted engines, then, suddenly, there  came
the dazzling rush  of  daylight, the  clatter of falling window-sashes,  the
refreshing breeze that tore through the carriages from the  Rhone Valley and
blew away  the  stale  smells of the tunnel.  Mountains.  Glaciers. Valleys.
Wooden chalets  with huge round cheeses on the roofs. Herds of red and black
Swiss cows  and  the melodious clack,  instead of tinkle, of the flat wooden
bells in the sunny  calm of the  station, the white  cross on  the red Swiss
flag, and a St. Bernard on a huge poster advertising Suchard Chocolate.
     Petya was now in a new country, a lovely, toy country.
     The voices of people arguing drifted up to them from the terrace below.
     They were speaking Russian. At the sound of his native tongue Petya sat
up and listened.
     "You cannot ignore the  main thesis  adopted unanimously at the January
meeting of the Central Committee," a woman said in a shrill voice, stressing
the words "ignore" and "meeting."
     "I'm  not ignoring  it, but..." a man's voice objected  softly,  with a
veiled note of irony in the clear baritone.
     "You're  wrong, sir.  You are either ignoring it or  pretending not  to
ignore it."
     "Where's your proof?"
     "The January  meeting was absolutely clear  as  to the  true nature  of
Social-Democratic work," a second male voice suddenly joined in.  It was the
deep, angry voice of an old  smoker  who was constantly  clearing his throat
and spitting.
     "Now, now," the sarcastic baritone said.
     The woman's voice became shriller:
     "Denial of the illegal Social-Democratic party, belittling its role and
its meaning, attempts to shorten the programme, tactical aims and slogans of
revolutionary  Social-Democracy testify to  the influence of the bourgeoisie
on the proletariat."
     Vasily  Petrovich jumped at the  words "revolutionary Social-Democracy"
and "proletariat"  which had been spoken so loudly that they  carried across
the garden. He looked at the children anxiously.
     The woman's voice persisted:
     "There  are  people who discard  such  basic  slogans of  revolutionary
Marxism  as the hegemony of the working class in the fight for socialism and
a democratic revolution!"
     "Does that mean me?"
     "Yes, it does. You and those like you."
     "God knows what's  going  on here!" Vasily Petrovich mumbled,  and  his
nose became white from excitement. "Children, go inside this minute!"
     But  Petya, burning  with curiosity,  was hanging  over the balustrade,
trying to see what was going on on the terrace below.
     Through the green  ivy-covered lattice he saw a table with a pitcher of
milk  on  it  and  several  people  sitting  around  in  wicker  chairs:  an
angry-faced woman  in  a black jacket who looked  like  a  school-teacher, a
consumptive young man in a cotton shirt  and a worn coat, and a good-looking
gentleman in a tussore  jacket,  with a shiny, steel-rimmed pince-nez on his
fleshy Roman nose, through which, at that very moment, the words "now, now,"
were being forced sarcastically.
     "You and those like you are the backers of Stolypin's 'workers'  party'
and  exponents of bourgeois influence on the proletariat, with your call for
a so-called legal or  open workers' party!" the woman continued, rapping the
table sharply with her knuckles.
     "That's   right.  Exponents  of  genuine  bourgeois   influence,"   the
consumptive young man  rattled  off in a hollow voice, as he choked in a fit
of  coughing and  spat,  then struck a match with  shaking  hands. "And your
'open'  workers'  party  while  Stolypin  is  running  things  simply  means
desertion  on  the  part  of  those who  have  renounced  the  aims  of  the
revolutionary struggle of the masses against  autocracy, the Third Duma, and
all that Stolypin stands for!"
     This  was  too  much for Vasily  Petrovich.  He grabbed  Petya  by  the
shoulders and shoved him into the room, saying:
     "Never listen to such things! Stay right here! Pavlik, come in at once!
My God, why must we suffer this! Politics, politics everywhere!"
     , When the boys were settled in the room, Vasily Petrovich  went out on
the  terrace and shouted to the people below  in  a voice that trembled with
     "I would ask you to choose your words more carefully! At least, you can
refrain from shouting. Remember, there are children here."
     The people down below stopped talking. Then a nasal voice staid:
     "Comrades, we  are  being  spied upon." His  words  were followed  by a
scraping of chairs, and the woman's voice said:
     "There's your 'open' party for you! Why, we aren't safe from the tsar's
spies even in free Switzerland!"
     "I  say!"  Vasily  Petrovich  shouted threateningly, and he  flushed an
angry red.
     However, the  glass door  downstairs  was  slammed  demonstratively;  a
confused  Vasily Petrovich muttered,  "A  fine state of affairs, this!" went
into his room, and slammed his door just as demonstratively.
     "Daddy,  they're Russians, aren't  they?" Pavlik  whispered. "Are  they
     "Don't be silly, they're Social-Democrats!" Petya said.
     "I didn't ask you. Daddy, what are they doing here?"
     "Stop  asking  stupid questions!"  Father  said impatiently. "And  stop
worrying about things that don't concern you," he added, looking straight at
     "But, Daddy,"  Pavlik persisted,  "they're Russians,  like  us,  aren't
     "Yes, yes, they're Russians all right, but they're  emigres. Let's have
no more of this," he concluded dryly.
     "What are emigres? Are they people who are against the tsar?"
     "That's enough!" Father barked resolutely.
     And so, the political  discussion was ended. That was the last they saw
of the emigres on the floor below.

     The episode made a  big impression on  Petya. Again his thoughts turned
to that strange phenomenon known as  "the Russian revolution."  His thoughts
were of Russia and the Russians.
     Until then  he had  taken  it for granted  that  all Russians-no matter
whether they were rich or poor, peasants or workers, officials or merchants,
officers or soldiers-were loyal subjects of His Majesty, the Emperor. It was
a concept that was  as natural to  him as the fact that the Black Sea  was a
large mass of salt water or that the sky was a mass of blue air.
     But the familiar concept received  a jolt during their travels when, to
Petya's surprise, they began to encounter not a few Russians.
     He noticed  that all Russians abroad  were divided into two categories:
tourists and  emigres. The tourists  were  wealthy,  very  wealthy,  and the
Bachei family never really came in contact with them, because they travelled
first-class on  the  railways and  -ships,  stayed  at  fabulously expensive
hotels,  dined  on the terraces  of fashionable restaurants and,  for  their
outings,  they  hired the  best carriages,  thoroughbred riding  horses, and
automobiles that were far more elegant than the one owned by  the Ptashnikov
brothers, which, until then, Petya had considered a miracle, the pinnacle of
wealth and luxury.
     No  matter  where  these Russian tourists  appeared,  they were  always
surrounded, in Petya's eyes, by an aura of wealth and luxury. They travelled
in  families,  with   well-dressed  children,  accompanied  by  governesses,
companions, travel agents and guides that were  as pompous and impressive as
     The males were well-groomed, the  females squeamish, there  were  young
girls and young gallants, women whose age told and elegant old gentlemen who
smelled of strange perfumes and expensive cigars.
     Sometimes,  in  the cool semi-darkness of an art  gallery  or among the
scorching ruins of  an ancient  theatre, the  Bacheis would  find themselves
standing next  to these people,  but even  here  an invisible wall separated
them and made closer contact entirely out of the question. In their presence
Petya  smarted under  the  humiliating  feeling  of  shame,  if not  for his
family's poverty, then, at all events, for their lack of worldly things.
     Secretly,  he  was   mortified   by   his  father's  shabby  suit,  his
down-at-heel shoes,  cheap  straw hat, and celluloid collar and cuffs  which
Father carefully cleaned every night  and  then washed in  soap suds.  Petya
hated himself  for this feeling of  shame, but he could not overcome it.  He
felt all the more humiliated because he knew his father was secretly just as
ashamed as  he was. In the  presence of  the wealthy tourists, Father's face
took on  a strained expression of indifference,  his  beard twitched and his
hands made imperceptible movements, so  that the edges of his  cuffs crawled
up out of sight into his coat sleeves.
     But most humiliating  of all was that the wealthy Russians seemed never
to notice the presence of the Bacheis.
     They would simply stop  talking  Russian and switch casually to another
language - French, Italian,  or English - and continue their conversation as
naturally and easily as if they had been speaking Russian.
     The pictures of the great masters, which Vasily Petrovich regarded with
bowed head and tears in  his eyes, they examined from various angles through
lorgnettes  and  from  under  their hands, commenting knowingly and admiring
them in a dignified manner.
     They beheld the ruins of an  ancient  theatre with such looks on  their
faces  as if they expected  a Greek chorus to  appear and ancient  actors in
masks to stage a tragedy for their benefit.
     It seemed as if everything there belonged to them, on the basis of some
ancient immutable law. And Petya  felt that they  were  truly the masters of
everything.  The whole  world was theirs, or,  at  least,  belonged to their
kind, and as for Russia-it certainly was theirs.
     That is why the second category of Russians abroad, the emigres, seemed
all the more  a strange group to him. They were  the  exact opposite of  the
     These  were   poor,  shabbily  dressed  intellectuals.  They  travelled
third-class,  went   on   foot,   and  lived   in  the   smallest,  cheapest
boarding-houses. Thus, the Bacheis  were in constant contact with  them, and
Petya was soon able to form a very definite opinion of them.
     These  were men and  women  like those the  Bacheis encountered at  the
boarding-house in Ouchy. They  were  preoccupied with  politics. Petya often
heard  them  say various  "political" words rather  loudly, much  to  Vasily
Petrovich's dismay.
     They  were  for ever arguing,  heedless of their  surroundings:  at the
railway station when seeing friends  off, in  the mountains near a waterfall
that  covered  the trembling ferns with fine spray, at dinner, in  a  museum
while examining hollow boulders  sawed  in  half and full of gleaming purple
crystals of amethyst.
     The  emigres,  in Petya's opinion, were all possessed by a single idea.
Petya  understood that  it was  a matter  of politics, but could only  guess
vaguely  at  what exactly it was all about. He knew that they were  "against
the autocracy." And if  they were constantly on  the go, it was  not because
they were touring, but because they had  to go,  in the interests  of  their
"common cause."
     Once, in  Geneva, the Bacheis came upon a rather large group of emigres
on a little island,  near  the  Rousseau  monument.  Black swans swam on the
lake,  and the bronze  Rousseau, an old man with a haggard, passionate face,
sat in his bronze chair watching them as  they plunged their  graceful necks
under the  water and snatched savagely at the pieces of bread thrown to them
from the  daintily  painted  boats. While  Vasily  Petrovich  was  standing,
bare-headed, before the statue  of the  writer and philosopher  whom he  had
worshipped  since student days, Petya heard the  loud voices of the emigres.
They were sitting in the shade of the willows, targuing as  usual. Suddenly,
Petya heard a familiar name: Ulyanov.
     "Ulyanov-Lenin is in Paris now, isn't he?"
     "Yes, he lives in Longjumeau."
     "There is a Party school there, I believe?"
     "Yes. Lenin  lectures to Party workers there on  political economy, the
agrarian question, and the theory and practice of socialism."
     "What's his attitude towards the Capri school?"
     "Utterly irreconcilable, of course."
     "After his resolution on the  situation in the Party-it was adopted  at
the  meeting  of  the  Paris  second  group  for  assistance to the  Russian
Social-Democratic Labour Party-you can  be sure he will  never  agree to any
     "I haven't read the resolution."
     "It's at the printer's already."
     "What about Plekhanov?"
     "Well, Plekhanov will always be Plekhanov."
     "So you think-"
     "I always thought and think now that there is  only one  line of action
open to the Russian revolution, and that is Lenin's line. And the sooner all
of  us  realize  this,  the sooner  the  Russian  revolution will  become  a
     Petya suddenly felt  that the  emigres, whom until  then  he had always
regarded as a bunch of eccentrics, forced into  exile after the unsuccessful
revolution of 1905, were a force  to be taken seriously. Why, they had Party
schools, central committees, assistance  groups,  and held special meetings.
They  even  printed their resolutions. Apparently, far from  giving in after
the  defeat  of  the 1905  Revolution,  many  of them were now  working hard
preparing  for another revolution.  They had  a leader too -  Lenin-Ulyanov,
probably the one Gavrik's letter  was for. Petya had heard the  name Ulyanov
several times  already. He  tried  to picture this man who  lived in a place
called Longjumeau, near Paris, preparing a new revolution in Russia.
     Now, whenever Petya saw Russian  emigres in a railway  carriage or at a
station, he was certain they were going to Paris, to Ulyanov's Party school.
Of course, that was where the emigres Gorky was seeing off at the station in
Naples were going,  including  the  woman  in mourning  and the girl who had
looked at Petya  so severely at  the very moment the train had pulled out of
the station and the cinder had flown into his eye.

     Petya could not get the girl out of his mind. Strange as it might seem,
he often thought  of  her with  a bitter feeling of  loneliness,  and in his
heart  he  reproached  her  for  appearing   so  suddenly  and  as  suddenly
disappearing, as  if  she  were to blame. He exaggerated the meaning  of the
look that had passed between them.
     He  had  already  read Turgenev,  Lermontov's  A  Hero  of  Our  Times,
Tolstoi's War and Peace,  and,  it  goes  without saying, Pushkin's  Yevgeny
Onegin,  and most of  Goncharov. Although Vasily  Petrovich,  who chose  the
books  his  boys  read,  had  emphasized  the social  significance of  these
classical  works,  Petya  was captivated  by  an entirely  different aspect,
namely: romance.
     He literally devoured the pages devoted to love, and leafed through the
rest, which  were full of "social significance," or, as Vasily Petrovich put
it,  "the gist of  the book."  For Petya the gist of the book were the  love
     He was a sensitive boy, given to  day-dreaming, and the exalted love in
the Russian novels  held him in thrall. However, that was theory, and it did
not seem to have its counterpart in reality. "Love at  first sight" or "cold
indifference," when applied to a girl from the fourth form in a black school
pinafore and a felt hat  with a  green school bow,  and carrying an oilcloth
satchel in her small hands, was a hopeless occupation,  since the girl would
but smile coyly at his efforts, unable to appreciate what it was all about.
     Nevertheless, Petya  often  drifted off into  a day-dream,  and then he
would become Pechorin or Onegin or Mark Volokhov, although, actually, he was
really much more like Grushnitsky, Lensky, or Raisky.
     Needless  to say, all the girls he knew would then  be transformed into
Marys, Tatyanas, and Veras, all of them lovely and all unhappy, a fact which
fed his vanity. However, the girls concerned rarely had any idea of what was
going on in his head and looked on him as a queer and conceited boy.
     At first, their travelling impressions  had been so all-consuming- that
Petya had had no time to think of love. But then, a tiny cinder had flown in
his eyes, marking the beginning of a new romance.
     It was "love  at first sight." Petya had no doubt about  that, although
he had yet to make up his mind who she was and who he himself was. Since the
thing  had taken place in a foreign country,  Turgenev would be  the closest
parallel. She might  be Asya,  or, stretching the  point  a  bit, Gemma from
Spring Torrents.  There were several pros to  these selections, as Petya, in
the role of the main hero, was the object of their ardent and devoted love.
     Petya's  intuition told him  that actually  she was  neither  Gemma nor
Asya. In  fact,  she was more the Tatyana type. But he rejected Tatyana, for
then he would have to be Onegin, and that  in no way satisfied his  need for
mutual love.
     Nor would Princess Mary or  Bela do, simply because Petya was  tired of
being Pechorin, a role he had abused considerably in recent times.
     Vera,  the heroine of Goncharov's The Precipice, was best suited. There
was something mysterious and wilful about her, too. In this case he would be
Mark  Volokhov, as he  was  definitely  opposed to the role of the  luckless
Raisky. That settled it. It was not a bad choice at all, especially since he
had never yet been Mark Volokhov.
     No sooner had Petya settled on Mark  Volokhov and Vera than he suddenly
decided the mysterious netherworld  kiss of Klara Milieh was exactly what he
wanted. She,  then, would be Klara  Milieh. What could  be  better? However,
just then an inner voice whispered that this, too, was untrue.
     Meanwhile, love could not wait, it would not stand the loss of a single
minute. Petya finally compounded  all the  women characters in his favourite
books,  retaining Klara Milich's nether-world kiss and adding the black  bow
and the chestnut braid, and found at last his own  "true love," the' girl of
his dreams-tender,  faithful,  and loving, whom  Fate had  given him for one
fleeting moment and then had snatched away so cruelly.
     Petya's soul was filled with longing.  A strange feeling of  loneliness
never left him. He loved this feeling and, far from spoiling his trip across
Switzerland, it seemed somehow to enhance it.
     He was no longer Pechorin, or Onegin, or Mark Volokhov. He was himself,
but he had changed and suddenly matured.
     Vasily  Petrovich was  rather  worried at the change that had come over
Petya, transforming him before his very eyes from  a  boy  into a  youth. He
felt that his son was experiencing something novel and  attributed it to the
mass of  new  impressions. Perhaps, that really was  the cause of it. But he
had  no  idea of  the state Petya's soul was in as a result  of  a too vivid
imagination. He would sometimes come over to him, look  into his  eyes,  and
run his big veined hand through the boy's hair.
     "How are things, my little Petya?" he would ask fondly.
     At which  Petya, who was pretty close to tears of self-pity, would hold
him off and say glumly:
     "I'm not little."
     Whenever the  opportunity offered,  Petya would  look at himself in the
mirror,  trying to  assume a  grim, manly expression.  He began brushing his
hair a new way to keep  the  cow-licks down, using  his  father's brush  and
dousing it generously with water.

     At Petya's insistence  they  bought  woollen capes  and  alpenstocks in
Interlaken. Then Petya began  to drop hints about a  green Tyrol hat  with a
pheasant feather and  spiked  shoes.  But  Father  was so careful  of  every
centime that he flatly refused and became angry as well.
     Petya would not part with his cape even on the hottest days; he did not
wear it  in  the usual  way, but  threw  one end  over his  shoulder in  the
classical  Spanish manner. If Pavlik's  cape looked like  a modest pelerine,
Petya's most certainly was transformed into a cloak.
     Pavlik trailed his long purple-barked staff artlessly;  Petya leaned on
his as if it were a shepherd's crook.
     At  times he would  smile sadly,  walk away and  stand on  a  cliff all
alone, peering down at a tiny village and lovely little church at the bottom
of a valley.
     Once he talked Father into climbing a mountain in.  had  weather,  when
the automatic barometer on  Fluelen Square was etching  a  sinister,  uneven
line on the paper ribbon of a barely moving spool.
     "It's misty on top and there's  a blizzard, we won't  be  able to see a
thing, and we'll only waste our money on the funicular," Father said. To his
horror, he had  just found out  that  their special tickets did  not include
trips on the funicular.
     Petya used  every  means  of  persuasion to make his  father  see  that
mountain-climbing on sunny  days was a  dull business, for there was nothing
of interest except tiresome snow-capped peaks and the glaciers, and that  it
was much more interesting in bad weather, when all the other tourists sought
the  comfort of their hotel  rooms, and when one  could actually  see a real
snow-storm in July.
     "No one but us will be seeing it!" Petya insisted.
     And  he had his way. They  set out in the slanting, stepped carriage of
the electric funicular, which pulled them upwards at  a practically vertical
     Of course, they were alone in the carriage. For some time they crept up
a  steep slope covered by pine woods which were later replaced by firs.  The
trees floated downwards diagonally and so Petya first saw the roots and then
the  pointed  crowns  hung with cones; they kept getting smaller  until they
vanished out of sight in the haze of the hot July day.
     There were foaming waterfalls lost among the ferns.
     It was  getting cooler. The tree  belt  ended.  The  last  station  was
crawling down  towards them. It was  a spotless  little  house with a  moist
roof.  The  Bacheis  descended from the  carriage, Vasily  Petrovich  leafed
through  his Baedeker, and they set  out  on  foot up the mountain,  winding
their way among black boulders covered with silvery fungi.
     There  were  signs  of  mist everywhere.  It was  hard  going  over the
slippery  quartz pebbles, especially  in  leather-soled  sandals. The  stony
ground was  overgrown  with creeping Alpine roses  and  cyclamens. Suddenly,
Petya found  his first  edelweiss among the clumps  of damp  moss.  It was a
strange, star-shaped, dead-looking flower that seemed to be cut out of white
cloth.  Petya pinned the  flower to  his chest by  sticking  the stem in the
collar of his blouse.
     The horizon was very high  and near now, and a grey mist rolled towards
them. Everything was suddenly wrapped in gloom: they had entered a cloud. It
became very chilly. In a second  their woollen capes  turned white  from the
mist. Darkness enveloped them. A  biting  wind blew stinging, icy rain  into
their faces.
     Vasily Petrovich insisted that they  turn  back  immediately, but Petya
continued  climbing  higher, gathering  his  cape round him and tapping  the
steel point of his alpenstock on the wet stones.
     The cold became more intense.
     First wet and  then dry snow-flakes appeared among the raindrops. In an
instant the rain had turned into a snow-storm.
     "Come back! Come back this minute!" Father shouted.
     Petya  did not  hear him.  He was enraptured  by the  grim  beauty of a
summer blizzard. He ran to the  edge  of the  cliff  that usually  offered a
magnificent  view of  the entire range, including the Monte Rosa,  Jungfrau,
and the Matterhorn.
     Nothing  could  be  seen  of  them  now.  The  snow  swirled  overhead,
underfoot, and on every side of him,  covering the flowers and boulders with
a white blanket.
     "All that  money thrown  away,"  Father  muttered,  trying  to catch  a
glimpse of the famous mountains.
     "Oh,  Dad, you don't understand a  thing!" Petya protested. "Don't  you
see, it's summer down there, and it's hot, while we - we're in the middle of
a snow-storm! Wasn't it worth coming up here for that alone?"
     "So  it's summer down there  and  winter up here.  A perfectly  natural
thing. What's  so  extraordinary  about that' You're  in the  mountains, you
know. You're just a dreamer."
     Petya was covered with snow, there were snow-flakes on his eyebrows and
eyelashes  as he stood with his arms folded on his chest and his cape flying
in the wind. He was  lost in melancholy rapture at  the thought of the  girl
who  had  been so cruelly  snatched away from him and taken off to Paris. He
was filled with his unrequited love and loneliness, although in his heart of
hearts he was exultant as  he  pictured himself  standing  there, suffering,
forsaken  by all, with an edelweiss pinned to  his chest  and a crude Alpine
cape that could never protect him from the cold flung over his shoulders.
     "Enough!  We've  had enough of the beautiful  view!"  Father  grumbled.
"Before you know it you'll both be down with pneumonia."
     "So what! Who  cares?" Petya answered, but he was glad to turn his back
on the piercing wind and run downhill after Pavlik.
     On the way back to the funicular they came upon a shepherd's hut-a real
Swiss chalet with stones on the flat roof.  They  warmed  up and dried their
clothes at the fireside and an old Swiss  woman gave them three  tall narrow
glasses of cold goat's milk for a small coin.
     As Vasily Petrovich was sipping the milk he was thinking: how wonderful
it is here,  how  quiet! How restful! Perhaps, this is what happiness really
means: living on a small plot, in a small hut, breeding cows, making cheese,
breathing the clear mountain air,  and not feeling  yourself a slave ,of any
government, religion,  or society. Rousseau, that great hermit and sage, was
absolutely right. These thoughts had flitted through his tired brain before,
but now  they became amazingly  clear. They were as tangible  and visible as
the drops of milk that glistened in his damp beard.
     To tell the truth, Petya was  really pleased when the funicular lowered
them slowly  into the warm, sunlit valley and the strange  excursion came to
an end, On the whole, they were satisfied with it.
     "Ah-hh, it was well  worth while," Vasily Petrovich  said  as he rubbed
his hands. "We saw real edelweiss in its natural surroundings!"
     Pavlik, although wont to conceal his feelings, was as pleased as Punch.
He  fussed around  secretively  in  a  corner  of their hotel  room,  hiding
something  carefully  as he  rummaged around  in  the  rucksack, banging and
knocking whatever it was. As it later turned out, he had not wasted his time
while in' Switzerland. Hawing seen quite a few  precious stones and crystals
in  the  shop windows, found, so it was  said, in the surrounding mountains,
the boy decided he could make his fortune if only he kept his eyes peeled on
the ground  during their  excursions-treasure was just lying around, waiting
to  be picked up.  So he  had  secretly filled  his rucksack  with stones he
considered to be of especial value. Today, while  Petya  stood  lost in  his
romantic reverie and Father  was busy exploring the Alpine flora, Pavlik had
found two rather large round stones. He was certain they were packed full of
amethysts. All he had to do was saw them in half,  and out would come a pile
of precious stones.  Pavlik was  a cautious boy and decided to postpone this
operation till he got home. Once there,  he would sell his gems on the quiet
and make his life's dream come true, that is, buy a second-hand bicycle.
     From that day on Petya began to dream of Paris with renewed passion. He
had a strange premonition that he would see "her"  there,  and  the  meeting
would be the beginning of a new, incredibly happy existence.
     Paris was included in their itinerary, but before starting out they had
to  make the  best use  of their special railway  tickets and see as much of
Switzerland as they could.
     Actually, they  were rather fed up with Switzerland, with its  cheeses,
milk,  chocolate,  boarding-houses,  funiculars.  collections  of  minerals,
wooden toys, and beautiful views-all so very much alike wherever they went.
     They could not back out now: after all, they did  not want to waste the
money  they  had  spent on  the  tickets! And so they  continued  riding and
changing  trains in every  conceivable  direction for  the  sole purpose  of
realizing their investment.
     They stood around a deep pit  in Bern,  watching  the famous bears walk
back and forth on their hind legs, begging for titbits.
     On a green meadow  on the outskirts of  Lucerne they saw  a huge yellow
dirigible, on which the words "Villa Lucerne" were inscribed.
     They  were  caught in  a  storm on  Lake  Vierwaldstatter and  saw  the
terrifying lightning flashes reflected on the surface of water that suddenly
had turned black.
     They were amazed at the truly Italian city  of Lugano, a city of noisy,
babbling  crowds,  macaroni,  mandolins,   bottles  of  Chianti,  and   iced
     The peaked towers of Chillon Castle  seemed to rise straight  up out of
the lake and were outlined  against the jagged  peak  of Dent du Midi. There
they  .saw the  famous  dungeon and  iron  ring, the  stone  columns  and an
inscription, attributed to Byron, scratched out on one of them.
     They bought Auntie a light silk  blanket  in one of the towns of German
Switzerland. At one of the stations a group of lively, stocky Tyrol marksmen
came into their  carriage; they  wore short  trousers and wide green braces;
tiny caps,  adorned  with pheasant feathers,  were stuck  on  the muzzles of
their guns, and they yodelled as they sang Tyrol melodies.
     There were many  other impressions, but they were all confused, leaving
them with a feeling of a constant need to keep on travelling.
     When the time  arrived  for them  to  go  on to Paris, Vasily Petrovich
hesitated. He  was  sitting  in their  small room  in  one of Geneva's cheap
hotels  and going over their  resources, covering a scrap  of notepaper with
long columns of tiny figures.
     "Well, when do we leave for Paris?" Petya asked impatiently.
     "Never!" Father snapped.
     "But you promised us."
     "I know, but I'm calling it off."
     "We haven't enough money  left. How can we go to Paris when it's nearly
August; Auntie says that the entrance exams at Faig's begin on the first; in
any case, it's about time you and Pavlik stopped having a good  time and got
down to reviewing a few subjects before the new term begins. In other words,
we've had enough!"
     "Daddy, you're fooling!" Petya pleaded.
     "You heard what I said!" Father muttered.
     When Petya noticed that Father's voice had  reverted to the usual tone,
he changed his approach.
     "But you promised, and it's not honourable to go back on your word," he
said casually and rather impudently.
     "How dare you speak to your  father  like that! Be quiet! You  insolent
child!" Vasily Petrovich shouted and grabbed Petya by the shoulders,  with a
mind to give him a  good  shaking, but  then  he remembered  that  they were
abroad, and let it go at one short yank, after which they all felt relieved:
thank God, the matter had been  settled at last, there would not be any more
travelling. They would go back to dear old Odessa via Vienna.
     They  realized how  incredibly tired  they were, how bored  by  endless
jolting in railway carriages, sleeping in hotels,  buying postcards, running
to art galleries, speaking French, and eating Swiss soup and tiny pieces  of
meat with vegetables instead of borshch and vareniki.
     They wanted to swim in the  sea, eat a good slice of sweet water-melon,
drink steaming  tea from the samovar, and have strawberry  jam and hot  buns
with deliciously melting iced butter.
     Terribly homesick, they left the very next day.
     They  were  in such  a rush that  although they broke  their journey in
Vienna for two  days,  it made no impression on them whatever. They  had had
too much. The only recollection that remained was a scene  they saw from the
carriage window as they were pulling out of the station: a  crimson strip of
sunset  and  the  endlessly  drawn-out  skyline  of  steeples  and   spires,
weather-vanes  and the enormous Ferris wheel in Prater  Amusement Park which
towered over  the city and  seemed somehow to  be a strange symbol of Vienna
     The  train crawled  slowly,  and it  took them nearly two  days and two
nights  to reach the Russian  border. All because Vasily Petrovich, true  to
his principle of economizing on  tickets,  had decided not to waste money on
the express train  -SchneUzug -  and had  booked tickets on the Personenzug,
that is,  the  slow passenger train which,  despite its very appropriate and
pretty-sounding name, turned out to be a freight-and-passenger train.

     Journeying across Switzerland,  Petya and Pavlik had both become expert
rail travellers and had learned to determine the  exact speed of a  train by
the telegraph  poles flashing past. For instance, if  one could count slowly
to five or six  between poles, that  meant the train was doing  about thirty
miles an hour. The Swiss trains were mostly fast trains-they counted to five
between the  poles. Sometimes there were trains that  had only four  or even
three counts between poles. But on the Austrian Personenzug they  counted up
to  ten between the poles-a tortoise speed. No longer did the poles flash by
the windows in quick succession;  each one sailed by slowly, lazily trailing
thin  wires with lonely swallows  perched on them, and the wait for the next
pole was  so long  that at  times it seemed as if there would not  be a next
pole. The train stopped at every station and  siding on the  way. There were
no sleeping-berths. They travelled day and night  on the hard wooden benches
of the closely packed third-class carriage.
     Their   fellow-passengers  were  not   the  well-dressed,  polite,  and
good-natured  tourists and farmers of the Swiss trains. These were Austria's
poor:   artisans  with   their  tools,  soldiers,   market-women,   Jews  in
old-fashioned coats and white stockings and with side whiskers  so  long and
curled that they seemed to be faked.
     There were a lot of Slavs in the carriage-Czechs,  Poles, and Serbians;
some  were  in  national  costume.  They  smoked  foul-smelling  cigars  and
porcelain pipes with long, hanging chubouks and green tassels. They ate  dry
Austrian sausage, filling the carriage  with the odour of garlic;  as Vasily
Petrovich said, sniffing the air, it had a purely local flavour.
     The passengers spoke a mixture of  Slavic  languages, and dialects, and
German was hardly heard.
     Most passengers had but  short distances to travel. People  kept coming
in and going out at every station. An old organ-grinder boarded the train at
one of the many stops. He had on a green hunting-jacket with buttons made of
a deer's antlers and was not unlike the Emperor  Franz Josef. Finding a seat
in the corner of the carriage, he began grinding out his tunes. After he had
played ten Viennese waltzes and marches, he took his battered Tyrol hat  and
passed it round,  bowing  with truly royal grace. However,  the only one who
gave him  anything was  a woman  with tear-reddened eyes who took some coins
from her purse, wrapped them in paper, and dropped them into his hat. At the
nearest  station he shouldered his  little organ with  shreds of glass  bead
ornaments hanging from it and got off the train.
     For a long  time after, the pitiful sounds of the old organ vibrated in
Petya's  ears.  His  mood blended  strangely  with  the  shabby  and forlorn
appearance of  the strangers who surrounded him, with  the twilight, and the
faint creaking of the carriage lantern; the Austrian conductor in a soft cap
had  just placed  a  lighted candle-end in it  which cast a red glow on  the
sides of the carriage and the sealed red Westinghouse brake handle.
     They  approached the Russian border the next  day, in  a state of utter
exhaustion. It was drizzling. As before people got off at every stop, but no
new passengers boarded the train.  When some people sitting next to them got
out, Vasily  Petrovich spread his raincoat on the empty seats and placed his
travelling-bag at the head for a pillow, to  make a place for Pavlik. But an
Austrian soldier suddenly loomed  up,  shoved Pavlik aside, flopped down  on
the  bench, put his  head on the travelling-bag, and  was sound asleep in an
instant, filling the carriage with his snoring.
     "How dare you!" Vasily Petrovich shouted in a high-pitched voice, livid
with rage. "You boor!"
     But the soldier lay there  as if he were made of lead; he heard nothing
and understood less. It suddenly dawned on Vasily Petrovich that the soldier
was dead drunk. This was the last straw.
     "You insolent curl Do you hear? Get up this minute! Get off our seats!"
     The soldier opened  his watery-blue eyes,  winked, belched  loudly, and
fell asleep again.
     Pavlik  began  pounding  at  the  tops  of  the double-stitched,  heavy
military boots, shouting:
     "Get out! Get out!"
     The soldier raised himself up slowly and stared  at Pavlik in amazement
for a few moments,  uncertain whether to laugh or get  angry. He decided  on
the latter. Laying his heavy hand with dirty nails on Pavlik's face, his red
moustache bristling, he spluttered and shouted in German:
     "Get  out,  you Russian swine!  You're not the boss  here!  This  isn't
Russia! I'll box your ears off for insulting the Austrian army!"
     The conductor strolled in at the sound of the rumpus.
     "Remove this drunken wretch!" Father demanded.
     But the  conductor sided with the soldier. He threw out his  chest  and
informed Father sternly that there  were  no reserved seats in the  carriage
and  each  passenger  was  entitled  to  occupy any  empty  seat he  wished;
moreover, if the Russian gentleman persisted in insulting  the Austrian army
he  would throw him and his children and their things off  the  train. Those
were his exact words, "Mit Kind and Kegel hinaus!"
     When Vasily Petrovich  heard that he was being accused of insulting the
Austrian army, he really got scared. "Calm down," he mumbled to Pavlik as he
pulled his raincoat and travelling-bag from under the soldier.
     The  soldier's sword rattled as life turned over  and began snoring and
whistling once more.
     He jumped up at the very  next station and left the carriage, muttering
Austrian oaths concerning the Russian swine.
     The  Bacheis  remained  sitting  there,  stung  to  the  quick.  Vasily
Petrovich was pale and his beard shook. But there was nothing he could do.
     When  they  eventually reached the border,  there  was only  one  other
passenger  left. He occupied the far  corner,  hugging a wicker basket and a
holdall with a pillow and an old quilt in it.
     He was  apparently a Russian too, and  his appearance classified him as
an emigre.
     He  seemed very agitated, although he  was trying  to  appear calm.  In
fact, he  even  pretended to be  dozing. An Austrian official passed through
the carriage  soon afterwards and took their  passports. Petya noticed  that
the passenger's hands trembled as he handed the officer his passport. With a
screeching of  brakes  the train  came to a stop. The Bacheis  hauled  their
things on to the filthy, deserted platform and set out for the custom-house.
There  was a  long  screened counter  made up  o>f rails worn white; several
Russian customs  officials and a Russian gendarme  captain in  a  light-blue
tunic with silver braid were standing behind it.
     They  spread  their  baggage  on  the  counter for inspection. For some
reason, Vasily Petrovich  always got  excited and irritated whenever he  had
anything to do with officialdom, even when there  was no apparent reason for
it. He had the feeling that his dignity was being trampled upon.
     "Do you have any  coffee,  tobacco, perfumes,  or silks?"  the  customs
official asked as he ran his  hand indifferently over the things laid out on
the counter.
     "You can find out for yourself," Father said and flushed as he tried to
control the trembling of his jaw. "I am not obliged to declare anything."
     The   customs   official   rummaged   about   in   the   travelling-bag
disinterestedly, pulled  a few stones out of Pavlik's bag,  shrugged, looked
them over, replaced them, and went off.
     "Where have you come from?"  the gendarme captain asked coldly, and his
spurs jingled slightly.
     "From Austro-Hungary, as you see."
     "You've been to Switzerland, too, I gather?" the captain said politely,
pointing his grey, suede-clad hand at their capes and alpenstocks.
     "Obviously," Vasily Petrovich said with a hint of irony in his voice.
     "Did you bring any literature with you?"
     "What do you mean?"
     "I mean Geneva or Zurich Social-Democratic publications.  It's my  duty
to  warn  you  that  any  attempt  to  carry  such  anti-government  illegal
publications across the frontier can lead to the most dire consequences."
     Vasily Petrovich had no time  to open  his  mouth and tell  the captain
what he thought of him, for the latter suddenly turned his back  on him  and
walked  off quickly; in fact, he  practically ran  towards the passenger who
had been in the carriage with them.
     The  man was standing  at the  railed  counter,  surrounded by  customs
officials who were  emptying the contents  of  his wicker  basket on to  the
counter.  There were  a pair of student's serge  trousers, cotton  shirts, a
pair of boots, a quilt, and linen. They fingered his quilt methodically.
     "Nikiforov!"  the  captain said loudly, and  a little man  in  civilian
dress with a large pair of shears suddenly appeared next to him. "Let's have
the quilt!"
     The  little  man went over  to the counter and began ripping the  seams
     "You have  no  right  to destroy  my property," the passenger  said and
turned as white as a sheet.
     "Don't worry, we  won't spoil it,"  the officer replied..  He stuck his
hand  into an  open  seam and began  pulling out  packs of  cigarette  paper
squeamishly  with two fingers. The thin paper  was closely covered with fine
print. Two men  in bowler hats ran up and  seized the man.  He turned a deep
red  and suddenly  tried to break free. As he looked about  he shouted  in a
weak voice:
     "Tell the comrades I was taken at the border. My name  is Osipov!  Tell
them I was caught. I'm Osipov!"
     He was hustled through a side door with the railroad's iron monogram on
     "The  other passengers are  requested  to return  to  the  platform and
continue their  journey,"  the gendarme  captain  said  and handed  out  the
     The Bacheis walked across the station to the opposite platform, where a
Russian train with "Volochisk-Odessa" written on the carriage plates awaited
them. A Russian station-master in a red cap went up to a brass bell and rang
twice. Thus did Russia greet them.

     The next day they  drove  from the  station  with  Auntie  in two  real
Russian cabs, past  Kulikovo Field  and Athos Church,  which  to  Petya  now
seemed very small and somehow provincial. Auntie seemed provincial too in  a
huge  new  cart-wheel hat and a hobble  skirt so narrow that  she could only
toddle along with tiny steps.
     Petya noticed that although Auntie was glad to see them,  she made much
less  fuss  than she  usually did  when they came back in  the  autumn  from
Budaki.  It was almost as though she was displeased about  something. With a
sudden shock of surprise, Petya realized  what the trouble was. In her heart
of  hearts  Auntie was  deeply hurt that they had not taken her  abroad with
     All her talk with Vasily Petrovich and the boys was tinged with a faint
irony. She  kept  calling  them "our famous travellers," and when Petya told
her  about the blizzard  in the mountains, Auntie said loftily, "I can  well
imagine it."
     The  house  where they lived seemed to have got smaller  and their flat
looked cramped  and dark. The silken quilt they had brought from Switzerland
as a  present left Auntie completely unimpressed.  And in general,  at first
there was a certain awkwardness, unease.
     It soon vanished, however, and everything slipped back into old groove,
that is  except  for  Pavlik's  disappearance  on  the second  day  and  his
reappearance late in the evening, hungry, worn out and tear-stained.
     "Great  heavens! What  on earth's  happened?" cried Auntie, throwing up
her hands as she saw  her darling in such a state. "Where have  you been all
this time?"
     "Oh, let me alone," he said gloomily.
     "Very well, but-"
     "I was in town."
     "What for?"
     "Let me alone, can't you!"
     "You're frightening me, Pavlik!"
     "I went to sell those precious stones."
     "What stones?" Auntie looked into Pavlik's face in alarm.
     "Precious stones," he repeated, "the ones I brought from Switzerland. I
wanted to sell them and buy a second-hand bicycle."
     Auntie's chin trembled.
     "Well? And what happened?"
     "I  went to Purits Brothers on Richelieu Street,  and  to Faberge's  on
Deribasovskaya Street, and then to two  jeweller's shops on Preobrazhenskaya
Street-and  a lot  more  after that. And  then I went to  the archaeological
museum and the University and to the pawnbroker's. ..."
     "Great  heavens!" Auntie  groaned, pressing  the  ends of  her  fingers
against her temples.
     "I thought perhaps  they bought things like  that  too." Pavlik slumped
wearily  on to  a chair and  let his head rest on the table. "But  they  all
     "What did they all say?"
     "They said my stones were just ordinary rocks."
     "Oh, chickie dear, ray own little one!"  Auntie  gasped,  between tears
and laughter. "My  poor little traveller, my little gold-digger! Oh, I can't
stop. I'll die of laughing! You'll be the death of me yet!"
     That was the end of the brief story of the Bachei family's travels.
     Petya, however, was still bursting with impressions. Time after time he
gave  Auntie  and  Dunyasha  the  cook eloquent,  detailed  descriptions  of
Constantinople, the Mediterranean, a volcanic eruption, the disturbances  in
Naples, the Simplon  tunnel, the blizzard in the  mountains, the dungeons of
the Chillon  Castle  and the dirigible "Villa Lucerne." He displayed all the
picture postcards,  souvenirs  and  free travel agency prospectuses  he  had
stuffed  into  his suitcase. Every day  he sauntered over Kulikovo Field and
along all the streets round his  house  in the hope of meeting  some  boy he
knew and telling him all about the trip abroad. But it was still a fortnight
before  the  end  of  the holidays and the  boys  had not come back from the
country or the seaside. The town was empty.
     Petya was lonely and dull.  He looked with distaste at the deep blue of
the  August  sky  arching  over  the gardens  and  roof-tops. He  heard  the
monotonous, sleepy cries of hawkers coming from all sides, and felt ready to
die of boredom.
     "Your friend  Gavrik's been  several  times," said  Auntie one day, "he
wanted to know when you'd be back from your travels."
     "What!" cried Petya. "Gavrik!" He stopped,  confused by the realization
that   he  had  never   once  even  thought   of  Gavrik   recently.  Gavrik
Chernoivanenko!  How  could  he have  forgotten him?  Why, that was just the
person Petya was wanting!
     Although the day was hot, even sultry, Petya  seized his Swiss cape and
alpenstock and without losing a moment set off for Near Mills.

     Now that Petya had an aim, the town no longer seemed so empty and dull.
It  was  Sunday,  and the bells rang melodiously.  The  little  engine on  a
suburban train gave  a merry  toot as it  puffed  past Kulikovo Field toward
Bolshoi Fontan, pulling its string of open coaches filled with passengers in
Sunday clothes, the officers  looking particularly festive in their starched
white tunics sparkling with gold buttons  and  crossed  by  narrow straps on
which their swords hung. Cooks were coming home with market baskets on their
arms,  their  usual load  of provisions  topped off with bunches of dark-red
dahlias and  orange  amaranthuses  that  looked  like  vegetables. Handcarts
filled with water-melons, plums and early grapes rattled along the road. All
this  gave Petya a holiday  feeling, a special lift  of  the spirits, and he
gaily struck the metal  end of his alpenstock against the stone slabs of the
pavement and the metal horse-blocks.
     He walked so fast that he got over  the quite considerable  distance to
Near Mills in half an hour. He  was  bathed in perspiration  and slowed down
only when he  came to the familiar  fence made of  old sleepers.  Here Petya
stopped to get his breath,  then began to put on the cape which up to now he
had carried on his arm. But he hardly had draped it around him and assumed a
solemn look, when somebody cried quite close, "Oh, who's that?"
     Petya turned and saw a pretty girl in her teens wearing a cotton dress;
she was looking at him over the fence in something like awe. .
     Motya  had grown so  much  taller and so  much  prettier  in the summer
months that at first he did not know her again. And before  he  realized who
she was  she  recognized  him, flushed crimson and  backed towards the house
with small steps, never taking her frightened, admiring eyes off the boy.
     Finally she bumped into the  mulberry  tree  beneath  which  hens  were
pecking  at  the  reddish-black  berries, staining the smooth  clay  of  the
courtyard with the juice. Then she called in a faint voice, "Gavrik, Petya's
     "Aha,  back again,"  Gavrik said, appearing  at the door of the hut. He
was barefoot and his unbelted Russian shirt was open at the throat. With one
hand he held up his trousers, in the other was a Latin textbook.
     "You've been a long  time on your travels! I'm going through  the Latin
grammar a second time by myself- darn the thing! Well, give me your  paw and
let's take a look at you."
     Petya grasped Gavrik's strong hand, already the hand of a man, and then
Motya's small one-soft, but rough on the palm.
     "Thanks very much about the letter," said Gavrik when they were sitting
on the bench by the table fixed in the ground under the mulberry tree.
     "I sent it from Naples," Petya said and added carelessly, "express."
     "I know," said Gavrik seriously.
     "How d'you know?"
     "We've had an answer. Thanks again, very much. You're a pal. You helped
us a lot."
     Petya felt much flattered, although he was secretly  a  bit  put out to
find that Gavrik was paying no attention to his  cape and alpenstock. Motya,
however,  never took her  eyes off these strange  things, and at last  asked
timidly, "Petya, does everyone go about like that over there?"
     "Not everyone, of course,  only  some people," Petya explained  with  a
condescending smile. "Mostly those who  go mountain-climbing. Because  up on
top you  may get caught in  a blizzard. And without  an alpenstock you can't
climb up at all, it's dreadfully slippery."
     "And did you climb up?"
     "No end of times," Petya sighed.
     "Oh,  how lucky you are!" said Motya, gazing reverently at the cape and
the iron-shod stick.
     Gavrik, however, could not hold back a comment of a different kind.
     "Better take that thing off, Petya, look at the way you're sweating."
     Petya treated this with silent contempt.
     Then he began eagerly telling  them  everything about the trip, sparing
no colours  and careful  to remember  the  smallest detail. Gavrik  listened
rather  indifferently, but Motya, sitting by  Petya  on  the  corner of  the
bench, whispered from time to time, "How lucky you are!"
     It  would  be  wrong,  however,  to  say  that  Gavrik  was not  at all
interested in  what Petya  had  to tell. But the  things that interested him
were  not  those that  interested  Motya.  For  instance, he  listened  with
indifference  to  Petya's  description  of  the  volcanic  eruption and  the
blizzard in  the mountains. But  when it came to the tram workers' strike in
Naples, and  the meeting  with Maxim Gorky, and the emigres,  then  Gavrik's
eyes  sparkled,  knots  of  muscle appeared at the sides  of  his  jaw,  and
bringing his fist down on Petya's knee he cried, "Aha! That was  grand! That
was well done!"
     But when Petya, in a half-whisper, afraid that Gavrik might not believe
him,  said that he  thought he had seen Rodion Zhukov in  Naples, Gavrik not
only believed it,  he  even nodded  and  said, "That's right. It was him. We
know  about  it.  You  probably saw him when he left  the  Capri school  for
Longjumeau, to go to Ulyanov-Lenin."
     Petya stared at his friend in surprise.  How he had changed! It was not
only  that  he  was  taller  and  more  mature,  there  was  a  concentrated
determination about him,  an  assurance and  even-this struck Petya  most of
all-a certain confidence and ease. Look  how freely and easily he pronounced
the  French  word  Longjumeau,  and  how  ordinary   and  natural  the  name
Ulyanov-Lenin sounded when he spoke it.
     "Oh, so you know Longjumeau too?" said Petya ingenuously.
     "Of course," Gavrik answered, smiling with eyes alone.
     "They've got a ... Party school  there,"  Petya went on, not quite sure
of himself and hesitating before the words "Party school."
     Gavrik regarded  Petya thoughtfully  as though weighing  him  up,  then
laughed gaily.
     "Seems like you didn't waste your time abroad,  brother! You've started
to understand a few things. Good!"
     Petya dropped his eyes modestly, then suddenly jumped as though  stung.
He had just remembered the incident at the  frontier  and felt instinctively
that  it had something to do  with Gavrik's last words or, to be more exact,
with the thought behind them.
     "Gavrik, listen," he began excitedly, then glanced at Motya and stopped
     "Motya,  you go  off and  take a walk  somewhere," said Gavrik  firmly,
patting her on the shoulder over which her fair braid with its bow of cotton
was prettily, flung.
     The girl pouted, but rose obediently and went  away at once, from which
Petya concluded that this was nothing uncommon in the Chernoivanenko family.
     "Well, what is it?" Gavrik asked.
     "Osipov  wanted  his  comrades  told  that  he'd .been  caught  at  the
frontier," said Petya, lowering his  voice; he then told Gavrik all that had
happened in the customhouse at Volochisk the day they had crossed.
     Gavrik listened  in  silence, with a  serious face,  then said, "Just a
     He  went into the cottage  and came out again  in a moment, followed by
     "Ah, here's our foreign traveller," said Terenty, holding out his hand.
"Welcome home! And thank  you  very much about the letter.  You  helped us a
lot, got us out of a hole."
     Petya  noticed that Terenty too  seemed somehow to  have changed during
the summer. Although his broad, pock-marked workman's face was as rough-hewn
and frank as before, Petya  read a greater  firmness and independence in its
features. Like Gavrik he was comfortably barefoot, but his trousers were new
and of  good quality, a  jacket was thrown over his shoulders and his  clean
shirt had  a metal stud in a buttonhole at the  top, from which  it could be
concluded that Terenty wore stiff collars.
     He sat down where  Motya had sat, beside Petya, flung his strong, heavy
arm round the boy's shoulders, and gave him a hug.
     "Well? Let's have it."
     Petya repeated the story in great detail.
     "A bad business,"  said  Terenty, scratching one  bare  foot  with  the
other. "That's the second mail-bag gone wrong. Those students are no good at
all.  I said we ought  to arrange it  through-" Terenty and Gavrik exchanged
meaning  looks. "Well, and  of course,"  Terenty turned  back to Petya, "you
know all this doesn't concern anyone else."
     "He understands a bit already," said Gavrik.
     "So much  the better,"  Terenty said  casually  and  then  changed  the
subject quite definitely. "You won't be going abroad again? Well, all right.
It's not so bad at home, either. And about the letter, thanks again. You did
a big thing for us. Stay here a while, take a walk, maybe,  and I'll go back
inside, I've got visitors. I'll be seeing  you. Look, the best thing you can
do is to go on the common, Zhenya's there, he's got a  new kite. I bought it
at Kolpakchi's. It's the latest construction, and will fly in any wind."
     He was clearly anxious to get back to his guests.
     "Motya, why've you gone off and left Petya?" he called. "Come  and take
him to the common. I've got to go, excuse me."
     Terenty walked quickly back into the cottage; through the small windows
Petya could see  it was  full of people.  He had a feeling Terenty wanted to
get  rid  of him, but before  he had  time to formulate a feeling of offence
Motya appeared, Gavrik  took  him by the arm  and all three went off to  the
common. Eight-year-old Zhenya, Motya's brother, was very much like Gavrik at
the same age, only plumper and better dressed. Surrounded by all the boys of
Near Mills, he was trying to fly a strange kind of kite, not a  bit like the
ones which Petya's generation had made out of reeds, newspaper, glue, thread
and coarse grass for a tail.

     It  was  a  shop kite  that  looked like  a geometrical  drawing,  with
canary-yellow calico stretched over  it and tight connecting wires that made
it  look  like  the Wright  brothers'  biplane.  Two  boys  stood on  tiptoe
zealously holding the  apparatus as high as they could reach, while  Zhenya,
holding the thin cord, waited for the best moment to race across the common,
pulling his flying machine after him. At last he screwed up his eyes and ran
into  the  wind,  butting  it  with  his head.  The  kite  shot  up,  swayed
uncertainly, circled and fell back on the grass.
     "The brute just won't fly," Zhenya hissed through his teeth, wiping his
wet,  angry, freckled  face with the tail of his shirt.  Evidently, this was
not the first time the kite had flopped.
     All the boys of Near Mills rushed to the kite, whooping and chattering,
but  Zhenya pushed them angrily  aside. "Keep  your hands off," he said  and
started untangling the cord.
     "Zhora, Kolya, go  back and hold it  up again. As high as you  can, but
don't let it go till I shout. See?"
     He  seemed  used to  giving orders, and  the  others  to  obeying them,
although he was  the youngest there. The  real Chernoivanenko breed, thought
Gavrik  with a sense of  pride, as  he watched  Zhora and  Kolya  take their
places again and hold up the kite while  Zhenya spat on his index finger and
raised it to gauge the wind.
     "This time you're going to fly, see if you don't," he  muttered like an
invocation,  and took a  firm  grip of the cord.  "Are you ready  there?" he
called. "One, two, three- let go!"
     The kite shot up-and fell. Mocking laughter came from the boys.
     "It won't fly, no good trying," someone shouted.
     "Bone-head!" Zhenya replied. "D'you know what kind of kite this is? Dad
bought  it  at  Kolpakchi's  on  Yekaterininskaya  Street; it cost one ruble
forty-five kopeks."
     "A lot your Dad knows about kites!"
     "You leave my Dad alone, or I'll give you a sock in the jaw!"
     "It won't fly anyway, it's got no tail."
     "You  fool, it's not an  ordinary kite, it's from a shop, I'll show you
whether it'll fly or not."
     But try as he would, the shop kite flopped  back  on  the ground  every
     "Your Dad just threw away his money."
     It  was a painful situation. The disappointed spectators began drifting
     "Wait a  bit, where  are  you going, stupids?" cried Zhenya, trying  to
smile as he  squatted on his heels  by the kite. "Come back  here, it'll fly
all right this time."
     But his authority was now completely gone and  like a defeated general,
he  could get none to heed him. At first Petya and  Gavrik exchanged glances
and  contemptuous  observations  about  the  shop  toy  which  couldn't come
anywhere  near the good old  home-made kites. But after a while Gavrik began
to feel the family honour was in danger.
     He frowned  and  paced weightily  over to the kite. "Keep off, it's not
yours,"  whined Zhenya, almost in tears, trying to  push his uncle away with
his elbow.
     "Is that so?" remarked Gavrik; raising Zhenya by the shoulders, he gave
him a shove  with his knee on the seat. Then he walked unhurriedly all round
the  kite without  touching it,  carefully  examining  all  its  struts  and
     "So that's  it. Now  I see," he  said at last and bent  a stern look on
Zhenya. "Can't you see where the centre of gravity is, dunderhead?"
     "Where?" asked Zhenya.
     "Utochkin the flyer," Gavrik scoffed, without condescending to explain.
     Once  more  he bent a  keen-eyed gaze on  the kite,  stooped  over  it,
refastened a string and moved an aluminium ring a little.
     "Now it's  a different matter. Come on, let's show 'em." And  he winked
at Petya.
     Petya and Motya took the ends of the kite and held it over their heads.
Gavrik picked up the ball  of string lying on the ground among  the withered
immortelles, shouted, "Let go!" and ran against the wind.
     The kite slipped out of Petya's and Motya's hands and  shot  upward-but
this  time  it  did  not  falter and fall,  it hung  lightly in the air  and
followed the running Gavrik in a graceful curve. Petya and Motya stood there
with hands still raised, as though reaching out  to the  kite, begging it to
return. But it flew on, drawn by the cord, mounting smoothly higher.
     Gavrik stopped and the kite stopped too, almost directly over his head.
     "Aha! That's taught you!" he  called up,  wagging a finger at the kite.
He began carefully twitching the taut line and the kite twitched too, like a
fish on a hook. Then he moved the ball forward and back, carefully unwinding
the line which slid off-  arid up in little jerks. The kite  obediently rose
higher and higher, catching the wind and repeating the movements of the ball
in Gavrik's hands, but with a smoother, wider sweep. It was so high now that
they had to throw their heads far back to see it.
     The kite  became smaller, it floated  against the deep-blue August sky,
slender and golden,  bathed in the warm sunshine, every surface catching the
fresh sea breeze.
     Zhenya ran  along beside his Uncle Gavrik, begging  and  pleading to be
allowed to hold the line, but it was no good.
     "Keep off, kid," said Gavrik, watching  the kite through narrowed eyes.
It  was only when the whole line had been paid  out  and Gavrik had given  a
final twitch to the kite as though making sure it  was firmly fastened, that
he handed it over to Zhenya.
     "Hold it tight, if you let that go you'll not catch it again."
     Motya ran home for paper and they began "sending up letters." There was
something magical in the way a fragment  of paper  with a hole in the middle
threaded  on to  the stick began hesitantly  rising  up the  line, sometimes
stopping as  though it had caught on something. The nearer the "letter" came
to the kite, the faster it climbed  until  at last it slipped quickly up and
clung to the  kite  like  steel  to a magnet,  while a  second and  a  third
followed it up, and  Petya imagined that  letters from him full of love  and
complaint were sliding up  one after  the other into the blue emptiness,  to
... Longjumeau.
     Suddenly the line slipped out  of Zhenya's hands. The  kite, liberated,
flew up with the wind, carrying a long garland of "letters." They all had to
run for a long time, jumping ditches and  climbing fences, before they found
it at last outside the town, in the steppe, lying in thick silver wormwood.
     When they at last came home to Near Mills, it was evening, the big moon
still  shed  little light  but  faint  ashy shadows were cast  by fences and
trees, the air was perfumed with four-o'clocks,  and grey moths circled  and
fluttered mysteriously in the darkness of the hedges.
     As they  neared the house,  Petya saw a number of  people coming out of
the gate. One of  them he recognized  as Uncle Fedya,  the  sailor  from the
tailor  shop at Sabarisky Barracks who had made him the navy blouse. But the
sailor seemed not to recognize him in the dim light.
     Petya also  noticed a young woman in a hat and a blouse, and an elderly
man  in a jacket  and top-boots carrying a railwayman's lantern, evidently a
guard or engine-driver. Fragments of talk came to him.
     "Levitsky writes in Our Dawn that the  failure of the  1905  Revolution
was  partly due to the fact that  no bourgeois government  was formed,"  the
young woman's voice said.
     "Your Levitsky's  just a Liberal and nothing more, he only makes a show
of  being a Marxist," a man's voice replied. "You read the Star,  there's an
article by Lenin, that'll help you to get things straight."
     "I  propose  we  keep  off  discussion  out of  doors.  You  can  start
quarrelling again next Sunday," said a third voice.
     There  was  smothered  laughter  and  the figures  disappeared  in  the
     "Who are those visitors?" Petya asked and felt  at once that  he should
not have asked.
     "Oh,  just people,"  said  Gavrik reluctantly. "It's a sort  of  Sunday
school." To change the subject  he went on, "On  the fourteenth of  August I
want  to take  the  exams for three  forms. I've been through everything. If
you'll  just help me with the Latin a  bit." "Of course I will," said Petya.
The Chernoivanenko family would not hear  of letting Petya go before supper.
Terenty placed a  candle with a glass shade on the table under  the mulberry
tree,  at once attracting  a whole swarm of  moths.  His  wife, washing  the
teacups after  the visitors,  wiped her hands on her  apron  and went up  to
Petya. Of  all the Chernoivanenko  family  she had  changed  the least.  She
greeted the boy country-fashion, holding out her hand with stiff fingers.
     Motya  brought a  big  dish covered with a homespun  cloth  out  of the
     "Maybe you'd like to try our plum dumplings, Petya?" she asked shyly.
     After supper Petya set  off home. Gavrik walked with him almost to  the
station. It was a warm summer night,  a harvest moon in a  misty  ring shone
through  the  dark  branches, crickets were  shrilling  everywhere,  on  the
outskirts dogs barked as they do in villages, and somewhere a gramophone was
playing.  Petya felt  a  pleasant weariness  after this long  delightful day
which had imperceptibly opened before him  something  new, something  he had
previously sensed only vaguely.
     On that  day Petya matured  inwardly,  as though he had grown older  by
several years. Perhaps it was on that day the boy finally became a youth.
     Now he no longer had any  doubts  that it was to  a certain extent from
Near   Mills,  from   Terenty's  cottage,  that  this   thing   called   the
"revolutionary movement" came.

     The new term  opened  on the  fifteenth of  August and some days before
that, Vasily Petrovich went to Faig's  school to  conduct re-examinations of
pupils who had failed in the end-of-term exams. He came home to dinner  in a
radiant mood,  for  Mr.  Faig  had been more than affable  to him,  and  had
personally taken him  all  over  the school, showing him  the  gym  and  the
physics laboratory fitted up with all the  best,  modern  equipment imported
from  abroad. Finally  Mr. Faig had taken him home in  his own carriage,  so
that the  whole street  had  seen Vasily  Petrovich  in his frock-coat, with
exercise books under his  arm, jump rather awkwardly out of the carriage and
bow to Mr. Faig who  vouchsafed a glimpse of his  dyed  side-whiskers and  a
wave of a hand in Swiss glove in the window.
     At dinner Vasily Petrovich was in high spirits and re-dated a number of
humorous  incidents illustrating the ' ways  and customs  of the Faig school
where  certain pupils, the spoiled  sons of rich parents, stayed two or even
three years in each form, grew whiskers, married and  started families while
still within the walls  of that  god-forsaken  establishment; why, there had
even been a case when a Faig pupil came to school with his own son, the only
difference being that father was in the sixth form, and son in the first.
     "Se  non  e  vero  e ben  trovafo!"  cried  Vasily  Petrovich  laughing
infectiously-it's not true, but it's well invented.
     Auntie, however, did not appear to share his mood. She kept shaking her
head doubtfully and  saying,  "Well, well, I somehow can't see  you stopping
there long."
     In the evening Vasily Petrovich sat down to correct the exercise books.
The boys heard him snort a number of times, and  once he muttered, "What the
devil is all this? Disgraceful! It's got to be  put a stop to, and at once,"
and threw down his pencil.
     Out  of the ten boys  taking their Russian exam  a second  time, Vasily
Petrovich failed seven, and although at the  teachers' meeting Mr. Faig made
no  objections,  his expression  was one of  grieved indignation. This  time
Vasily Petrovich came home by horse-tram, and not in high spirits.
     At the end of  the first term the teaching staff learned that a certain
Blizhensky was  to  enter  the  school.  This Blizhensky was  the  son of  a
broadcloth millionaire, a young man who had been to a number of high schools
in St. Petersburg, then to others in Moscow and Kharkov, and finally  to the
Pavel Galagan College  in Kiev, known as  a  school  that accepted the worst
pupils in the Russian Empire, even those who had been expelled in disgrace.
     However, strange as it might  be, the Pavel Galagan College too had got
rid  of this prodigy. So  now he  was to  enter the  fifth form  at  Faig's.
Although  entrance examinations  in the  middle of  the  year  were strictly
prohibited, an exception was made in some roundabout way for the millionaire
Blizhensky's son.
     A few days before this examination  Mr. Faig,  meeting Vasily Petrovich
in the assembly hall  before morning prayers, took his arm and walked up and
down the corridor  with him, confiding some of his ideas with regard  to the
latest West-European pedagogical trends.
     "I have a great respect for your strictness," he concluded. "In fact, I
really admire it. I am strict myself- but I am  also fair. And I stand by my
principles. You failed  seven boys  not  long ago, and did I ever say a word
against it? But, my dear Vasily Petrovich,  let us be frank-" He took a very
thin  gold watch from  his  waistcoat pocket and glanced  at it. "There  are
times  when  pedagogical  strictness  can bring  results which  are just the
opposite  of  those  desired.  Rejected  by  an establishment  of  learning,
standing outside its walls,  a young man,  instead of becoming an  educated,
useful member of our young constitutional society, may  enter the service of
the police, may perhaps-entre nous  soit dit- become  an agent of the secret
police, a spy, and in the end fall under the influence of the Black Hundred.
I believe that to you, a Tolstoian and ...  h'm ... perhaps a revolutionary,
this would be very undesirable."
     "I  am  not  a Tolstoian,  still  less  a  revolutionary,"  said Vasily
Petrovich with a touch of irritation.
     "I say it only between ourselves. You may depend on my discretion.  But
everybody  in  this town  knows  that you  have  had  differences  with  the
authorities and have perhaps to a certain extent suffered for it. You  are a
Red,  Vasily  Petrovich. I will  say  no more.  Not a word!  But I would  be
extremely disappointed, nay! grieved, if this young  man were to fail in his
entrance examination.  He  is the  only heir  to a million, and  ...  he has
already suffered  much.  In a word, I beg of you," Mr. Faig concluded in his
softest, gentlest voice, "do not cause me any more unpleasantness. Be strict
but merciful. This, in the interests of our educational establishment  which
I hope are as dear to you as to me. I think you understand me."
     On this day Vasily  Petrovich again rolled home in Mr. Faig's carriage.
For some days he felt as though he had eaten tainted fish.
     "To hell with it!"  he decided at last. "I'll  give the  young swine  a
bare pass. You can't knock down a wall with a pea-shooter."
     When the exam was actually held,  however, a few days later, and Vasily
Petrovich saw the "young swine" sitting alone in his glory at a table in the
middle of the assembly hall, before the entire Areopagus of teachers- for he
was  to be examined  in all subjects  simultaneously and  briefly-the  blood
rushed to his head.
     The young man, about twenty years of age, was in the full-dress uniform
of the Pavel Galagan  College,  and the high, stiff  collar constricted  his
throat and pushed against his powdered  cheeks, making him look as though he
were choking. The back of his  clipped neck  displayed  a liberal amount  of
pimples, and his reddish-chestnut hair parted in the middle was so plastered
with brilliantine that his flat, snaky head shone like a mirror. Now, Vasily
Petrovich  could  not  stand   men  who  used  lotions,  and  the  smell  of
brilliantine made him  feel sick.  But  most  of all  his sense  of what was
proper was outraged by the gold pince-nez  which perched most  incongruously
on  the  young man's  coarse  nose, giving  his  little pig's eyes a frankly
impudent expression.
     What a blockhead, thought Vasily Petrovich, irritated, tossing his head
and fastening all the buttons of his frock-coat.
     As he stood  to attention to answer the examiners' questions, the young
man thrust out his broad rear, which seemed to be poured into his uniform.
     When Vasily Petrovich's turn came, he put a  number of simple questions
in an indifferent voice,  received answers that  brought  a melancholy smile
from Mr. Faig, drew the report form towards  him with trembling fingers  and
put  down a fail. The exam ended in funereal silence. Vasily  Petrovich went
home  on  the horse-tram, took off his collar that seemed to have become too
tight, removed his frock-coat and boots, refused  any dinner and lay down on
his bed,  face to the wall. Neither Auntie nor the  boys ventured to ask him
anything, but all understood something very serious must have happened.
     In the evening  the bell rang, and when Petya opened the door he saw an
old  man in a long  beaver coat and a young man with  gold pince-nez wearing
the smart uniform cap of the Ravel Galagan College.
     "Is  Vasily Petrovich at home?"  the old man asked, and without waiting
for an answer marched  straight towards the dining-room in his coat and hat,
pointing towards the half-open door with his  ivory-headed stick and asking,
"In there, eh?"
     Vasily Petrovich barely had time to get into his frock-coat and boots.
     "I'm Blizhensky.  Good evening," the old  man wheezed. "You failed this
idiot of mine today, and you were quite right. In your place I'd have bashed
his face in as well. Come here, you worthless lout." And he turned round.
     The young man emerged from behind his father, took off his cap and held
it in both hands, his glistening head hanging.
     "Down on  your  knees!" his father  rasped,  striking his  stick on the
floor. "Kiss Vasily Petrovich's hand!"
     The young man did  not kneel, nor did he kiss Vasily  Petrovich's hand,
he  gulped  and  then  began to cry noisily, rubbing a  red  nose  with  his
     "He's sorry, he'll  not do it again," the old  man said. "Now you  will
give him private lessons at  home twice  a week, and pull him up. As for the
entrance examination, we can settle it like this." The  old man  felt in the
pocket of  his frock-coat,  on the lapel of which  Vasily Petrovich saw  the
silver  medal  of the  Society  of Michael  the  Archangel  (  A reactionary
Black-Hundred  organization.-Tr.) on  its tricolour ribbon, took out a blank
exam report form and handed it to Vasily Petrovich. "Here  you will put down
a pass for  the young  fool,  and the old  report  with  God's help  we will
destroy. Faig and the other teachers have agreed."
     He  then took out a note-case and laid two  "Peters"  on  the table-two
five-hundred-ruble notes with a Peter I watermark.
     "What is it?" mumbled Vasily Petrovich confusedly, with a weak gesture,
glancing at the money through his pince-nez. Then he realized the outrageous
insult of  the proposal. He paled until  even his  ears were white, he shook
from head to  foot  so that Petya feared he would die of heart failure  now,
this  very  instant. Then the colour flooded back to  his face until it  was
purple and he gasped dumbly.
     "Sir, you are  a scoundrel!" he screamed. He sobbed with rage. "Get out
of here! How dare you?... In my own house!... Get out! Get out this minute!"
     The  old man, startled and frightened, crossed himself rapidly  several
times and then ran at top  speed from the room, through  the hall and out of
the  door, overturning the rickety  what-not with its piles  of  music.  And
Vasily  Petrovich  ran after him,  awkwardly pushing at his  back, trying to
strike him  on the back  of the  head, while Petya pulled his father's coat,
crying, "Daddy, please! Daddy, don't!"
     Altogether, it was a disgraceful scene which ended with the old man and
the young one pelting down the stairs, while Vasily Petrovich on the landing
flung  after them  the five-hundred-ruble notes which fluttered slowly  from
wall to wall of the stair-well.
     The  two Blizhenskys, father and son,  picked up the money, then looked
up, and the  old man yelled senselessly, "Mangy  Jews!"  and threatened with
his ivory-topped stick.
     The  next  day  a messenger brought Vasily  Petrovich a letter from Mr.
Faig  in  a  long,  elegant  envelope  of  thick  paper  with  a   fantastic
coat-of-arms embossed on  it. In  most  courteous terms Vasily Petrovich was
informed that  in consideration  of  differences of views  on  questions  of
education, his further services  at  the school had become superfluous.  The
letter  was written for some reason in French  and ended with the signature:
Baron Faig.
     Although  this  was  a terrible  blow  for  the Bachei  family,  Vasily
Petrovich  accepted it with perfect  calm. He could  have  expected  nothing
     "Well, Tatyana Ivanovna,"  he said to Auntie, cracking his fingers, "it
appears  that  my  pedagogical  activities ..."  he smiled  ironically,  "it
appears that my  pedagogical activities are ended and  I shall have to  seek
some other profession."
     "But why?" Auntie asked. "You could give private lessons."
     "To swine like that?" cried Vasily  Petrovich,  his voice rising almost
to a scream. "Never! I'll carry sacks at the port first!"
     Despite the seriousness of  the situation, Auntie  could not restrain a
faint,  melancholy smile. Vasily Petrovich  jumped  up  as  though stung and
began pacing the room.
     "Yes, sacks!" he said excitedly. "And I see nothing shameful or amusing
in it. The overwhelming majority of the population in the Russian Empire are
engaged in manual labour. Why should I be any exception?"
     "But you are a man of learning."
     "Of  learning?" said Vasily Petrovich bitterly. "Yes, I  don't  dispute
it. But I'm not a man, I'm a slave!"
     "What did you say?" cried Auntie, raising her hands.
     "You heard  me. A  slave. That's  the  only word for it. First, I was a
slave  of  the  Ministry of Education  as  represented  by  the head  of the
Education Department, and he drove  me out like  a dog because I presumed to
have my own opinion about Tolstoi. Then, I became the slave of Faig, a slimy
scoundrel, and he drove me  out  like a  dog, too, because I  was honest and
refused to give a pass to that dolt, that blockhead Blizhensky, for the sole
reason that he was the  son of a millionaire,  if you  please.  To hell with
both of them and the whole Russian government into the bargain!" he shouted;
it burst out of him, and for  a second he himself was  frightened at what he
had said. But he could no longer stop. "And if in this Russia of ours I have
to be  somebody's slave," he went on, "then I'd sooner  be an ordinary slave
and not an  intellectual one. At least I'll  keep my inner integrity....  Oh
God," he groaned with sudden tears in his eyes and looked at the icon. "What
a blessing that He in His  mercy took my poor Zhenya, that she does not have
to share  these  indignities with  me! How would she have borne  it,  seeing
nothing left to her husband but to carry sacks down at the port."
     "How you keep harping on those sacks," said Auntie, wiping her eyes.
     "Yes, sacks, sacks!" Vasily Petrovich repeated defiantly.
     Night had fallen. Pavlik was  asleep, breathing  heavily, but Petya lay
awake,  listening to the voices  in the dining-room.  He had  a vivid mental
picture  of  his  father,  for  some reason without overcoat and hat, in his
frock-coat and old boots, going down the famous Odessa steps to the port and
then  dragging about the heavy jute sacks of copra. But  there was something
false,  artificial  about the  picture. Petya  himself  could  not  take  it
seriously, yet nevertheless he was so sorry for his father that he wanted to
weep, to run to  him, embrace him and  cry, "Never mind, Daddy, it'll be all
right, I'll carry sacks with you too, we'll manage somehow!"


     Of  course,  Vasily  Petrovich  did  not carry  sacks, and although the
situation continued to be dreadful, even tragic, time went on and  there was
no outward change to be  seen in the life of the Bachei  family, except that
Vasily  Petrovich  spent most  of his time  at  home, trying not  to go  out
     The approach of poverty was so unnoticeable that a kind of tranquillity
settled  on  them  all. As  for the outside world-friends and neighbours-the
Faig  episode passed unremarked,  or rather, it  was tacitly agreed  that if
Vasily Petrovich had  quarrelled with two school principals in the course of
one year, he must be impossible to  get on  with and he  had nobody to blame
but himself.
     A factor which helped  to distract  attention from  Vasily  Petrovich's
affairs  was  the murder of Stolypin in  Kiev, an  event which shook up  the
whole Russian  Empire. Some were horrified, others  felt the  rise of vague,
undefined hopes. For a month people talked of nothing but the "Bagrov shot,"
and were quite sure it smelt of revolution,  although all knew that Stolypin
had  been shot  by one of his own body-guards  and the incident probably had
nothing to do with revolution at all.
     "Say what you like, Vasily Petrovich, but something's  got to be done,"
said Auntie very decidedly one day. "We can't go on like this."
     "What do you suggest?" Vasily Petrovich asked wearily.
     "I've thought of a plan, but I  don't know how you will  regard it. Not
far  from  Kovalevsky's  country-house  there's a  really  beautiful  little
place," said Auntie insinuatingly.
     "Never in this world!" cried Vasily Petrovich resolutely.
     "Wait a minute," Auntie said gently. "You don't even let me finish."
     "Never in this world!" he cut in with still greater resolution.
     "But look-"
     "Oh,  heavens,"  snapped Vasily Petrovich, frowning. "I know everything
you're going to say."
     "Now that's just where you're wrong."
     "I'm not.  But  it's all nonsense.  And you're only building castles in
the air. I don't want  to  hear  another  word about  it. To start off with,
where's the money to come from?"
     "We'd hardly need any. Perhaps just a very little."
     "Never!" Vasily Petrovich cut her short.
     "Now, why not?"
     "Because  I am against the whole principle of private property in land.
You'll never make me become  a  real estate owner.  The land belongs to God.
Yes, to God and the people who till it. I will  not do it, and  that's all I
have to say. Besides, it's only empty dreams."
     Auntie waited patiently for Vasily Petrovich to finish.
     "I've listened to you," she said  gently,  "and now you listen  to  me.
After all, it isn't even polite to interrupt in the middle of a sentence."
     "Be so kind as to say all you want to say; but I do not wish to own any
real estate whatsoever and I won't. And that's the end of it."
     "In  the  first  place,  you  don't   have  to   own  property.  Madame
Vasyutinskaya is prepared to rent the place. And secondly,  we need  pay her
at first only about as much as we're  paying for  this flat; the rest of the
money will come from the sale of the crop."
     Hearing  Auntie  talk of sales of crops,  Vasily  Petrovich  boiled  up
     "So that's it! And  may I be permitted to inquire  where this sale will
take place and what this crop is to be?"
     "Black and white cherries, pears, apples and grapes," said Auntie.
     "So you suggest that I start trading in fruit?"
     "But why not?"
     "Well, of  all  things...."  Unable  to  find  words, Vasily  Petrovich
shrugged his shoulders.
     Auntie ignored his impatient  gesture.  "We could do very well, and get
out of all our difficulties at once."
     "If that's the case, then why doesn't your Madame Vasyutinskaya want to
reap all these benefits for herself?"
     "Because  she's an  old lady  and  all  alone,  and she  intends  to go
     Vasily Petrovich snorted.
     "So  your  lonely old do-nothing wants to go abroad  and shift all  her
worries on to our shoulders, is that it?"
     "All right, have it your  own  way,"  said  Auntie shortly, leaving the
final question  unanswered. "I thought  you'd be  attracted by my-  idea  of
renting a  delightful  cottage  close to town, close to the sea, tilling the
soil, eating the produce of your own labour and at least being  independent.
It's completely according  to  your  principles. But if you  don't  like the
     "I don't!"  said  Vasily Petrovich  stubbornly, and Auntie dropped  the
     She understood her brother-in-law well enough to know that she had said
enough for the present. Let him calm down and think it over, get used to the
     A few days later he opened the subject himself.
     "You do get fantastic ideas," he- said. "I've noticed you've always got
something foolish  in  your head-letting rooms, or cooking dinners-things of
that sort. And nothing ever comes of it all."
     "Something will come of this," said Auntie calmly.
     "Just another of your castles in the air."
     Auntie made no reply.
     A few more days passed.
     "It's absurd to think that we'd even have the physical  strength to run
a place like that."
     "The  house  is quite a  small  one," Auntie  said, "and there are only
thirteen  acres of  land attached to  it." With a faint smile she added, "In
any case, I don't think it would be any  harder than carrying sacks down  at
the docks."
     "That is not funny at all," said Vasily Petrovich flushing.
     Again  the  subject  was dropped,  but  now  Auntie  knew  that  Vasily
Petrovich would soon give way. And she was right.
     Gradually, imperceptibly, Auntie's idea was capturing his  imagination.
It  was not  such a foolish one after all; in fact, it contained a good deal
of common sense, and Vasily  Petrovich  was  secretly much taken with it, it
fell into line with the views of life which had recently been taking form in
his mind, especially since his visit to Switzerland. These  views were still
vague and undefined, a mixture of Jean Jacques Rousseau  and  the Narodniks,
of  "going to the  people" and of  natural education.  He pictured  a clean,
uncomplicated,  patriarchal  country  life,  independent  of  the  state.  A
flourishing  little patch of  soil cultivated  by his own hands and those of
his family, without  the use of  hired labour. Something in  the  spirit  of
Switzerland, of the cantons.
     Now it appeared that his dream was close to realization. Everything was
there-the small patch of land, the orchard, even the vineyard  which made it
particularly like  southern Switzerland. True, there were  no mountains, but
there  was  the  sea  with  bathing  and  fishing.  And  most  important  of
all-freedom,  independence  from  the state. What a wonderful upbringing for
the children!
     The end  of it  was that Vasily Petrovich finally took fire  and  asked
Auntie to tell him all the  details. From her room she brought a plan of the
place. It appeared she had already gone quite a long way in her negotiations
with Madame Vasyutinskaya. The  house itself was a five-room affair  with an
outside kitchen, then there  was a  stable,  a labourer's  hut, a rain-water
cistern and a shed which, Auntie said, held the wine press.
     "Why, it's not just a summer cottage, it's a whole manor house!" Vasily
Petrovich cried gaily.
     Then they set to  work counting  the fruit  trees  and the vines, which
were indicated by circles. Their calculations showed that within a year they
would  pay the whole rent  and have a solid  sum left over.  But perhaps all
this was only on paper? Auntie suggested going to see for themselves.
     They boarded the little suburban train that passed their house and went
to  the  sixteenth  station,  from  which  a  horse-tram  took  them  to the
Kovalevsky country-house. After that, guided by Auntie, they walked  a  mile
or so across the steppe to "their cottage."
     Auntie was evidently familiar with the place. She stroked the dog as it
rattled its chain, and tapped at the watchman's window. A sleepy-looking boy
came  out,   whom  Auntie  called  Gavrila.  He  was   the  last  of  Madame
Vasyutinskaya's  labourers and  acted  as watchman, stableman  and  vineyard
tender. Now he showed the Bacheis over the house and grounds.
     They saw  the vineyard, the orchard, and even more trees  than they had
expected, for about three  acres of  recently planted cherry trees  had  not
been included in the plan.
     Everything was  in excellent  condition: the  vines were bent  over and
covered  with  soil for the winter, and  the trunks of the apple  trees were
swathed in straw to protect them from rabbits and field mice.
     It  had been  a mild winter with little  snow. Some  still  lay on  the
mounds  of earth over the vines but it had already thawed on the sunny side.
Near the  house, however, where some very thick dark-green fir  trees stood,
great snow-drifts still lay on the flower-beds, gilded  by the setting  sun,
with  the clearly  etched  dark-blue shadows of garden seats  and of  shrubs
lying in long, wavy lines across  them. The windows shone like  gold tinsel.
It was  exactly like those  winter landscapes which Petya  saw every year at
the  spring exhibitions held by South Russian artists, where Auntie took the
boys to teach them the love of beauty.
     With a great  rattling Gavrila  opened the glass door of the house, and
they went through the empty,  cold rooms  lighted by slanting rays of frosty
     All  round  about lay the dead,  snow-covered steppe, criss-crossed  by
rabbit tracks and with  nothing but Kovalevsky's house  roof  and a  distant
stretch of sea to catch the eye.
     They  went through the house and  other buildings,  then  back  to  the
orchard. Vasily Petrovich noticed that one carelessly wrapped apple tree had
been gnawed. He stopped and turned a stern look on Gavrila.
     "Look  at that, that won't do," he said. "We'll have the rabbits eating
our whole crop!"

     The  next day final negotiations  began with Ma-dame Vasyutinskayia-and
so did  the search for money to  pay  the  initial  instalment of rent,  the
inevitable expenses attached to removal and starting in a new place.
     For the first time Petya discovered  that money was not only earned, it
could also be "found." But  to find money appeared to be something extremely
complicated, worrying and, worst of  all,  humiliating. His father was often
out, but now nobody said Vasily Petrovich  was at  school,  or had gone to a
teachers' meeting, they simply said he had "gone to town."
     Father  and Auntie used  new words, words which  Petya had  never heard
before, such as mutual credit association, short-term loan, pawnbroker, note
of hand, six per cent per annum, and second mortgage.
     Very often,  after  going to town  a  number of times, Vasily Petrovich
would  come  home  disturbed  and  upset,  refuse any  dinner, take off  his
frock-coat  and  lie  down  on the  bed  with  his  face  to the  wall. That
mysterious  lottery-loan  bond,  part  of Mother's  dowry, emerged from  the
drawer.  Up  to now  Petya had only heard  of it  once  a  year, when Vasily
Petrovich  crossed himself and opened the Odessa Leaflet to  see whether  it
had won two hundred thousand.
     One day when they came home from school Petya and Pavlik found that the
piano-also  part  of Mother's dowry-had  disappeared from  the  dining-room,
leaving a patch of floor that  looked clean and  freshly painted.  The  room
seemed so bare without it that Petya nearly burst into tears.
     Then the rings disappeared from Auntie's fingers.
     Finally the  day  came,  a Sunday, when  Auntie with  trembling fingers
pushed a thick  package of bank-notes, notes of hand and a receipt signed by
a  notary into her reticule, put on  her hat, gloves  and best squirrel cape
left by her late sister, and said decisively, "Vasily Petrovich, I'm going!"
     "Very well," Vasily Petrovich replied dully through the door.
     "Come, Petya," Auntie said resolutely. The boy was to accompany her, in
case anyone tried to rob her on the way.
     Auntie clutched the reticule containing their  whole possessions to her
chest while Petya walked grimly behind with  sharp  glances right and  left.
But  there  was  nothing to arouse suspicion.  It  was Lent, the bells  rang
funerally over the town, and most of the people  they met  were old women in
dark  clothes returning from morning service  with  strings of  convent-made
bread-rings, soft but very sour-looking.
     Madame Vasyutinskaya lived  quite nearby,  in a time-darkened  house of
limestone standing in a quiet side-street near the sea.
     Petya saw an old woman in mourning, sunk deep into an old arm-chair. He
had heard it said that Madame Vasyutinskaya was paralyzed and "had lost  her
legs," but the last bit seemed to be  wrong, for he could  quite plainly see
feet in  fur slippers  on a soft footstool. The room was small and very hot;
it had a tiled  stove with brass fittings and a great deal  of old-fashioned
mahogany furniture.  In  the  corner numerous  lamps burned  with  blue  and
crimson  flames before  icons  hung  with a multitude of Easter decorations,
large  and small, of crystal, porcelain  and gold, dangling on silk ribbons.
Outside the window he could  see  lilac bushes and a flock of  sparrows that
fluttered and squabbled among the grey, bare twigs with their swelling buds.
     In front of the  old lady stood a  Japanese table with a  coffee-set, a
round  bast  box  of  chocolate  halvah  and  a  silver  bread-basket   with
convent-made  bread-rings. The room smelt of coffee and the cigarettes which
Madame Vasyutinskaya  smoked. She glanced at Petya, nodded her massive  head
in its old-fashioned black bonnet and talked to  Auntie a little while about
the weather and  politics.  Then she rang a silver bell and  at  once an old
footman  in a tailcoat  and soft slippers came  in on his shaky  legs from a
neighbouring  room,  letting  in the monotonous  trilling  of canaries,  and
placed an inlaid rosewood box on the table before his mistress.
     Nervous and for some reason flushing, Auntie  took the money and  notes
of hand from her reticule and handed them to  the old woman, who put them in
her  box  without  counting them and gave Auntie  a  paper  folded in  four,
bearing a number of  coloured stamps-the agreement.  Petya noticed  that the
box was lined with pink quilted satin like a wedding coach.
     The old woman locked the box with a small key that hung round her neck.
The sharp click gave Petya a momentary feeling of fright.
     Auntie carefully tucked  the  agreement into her reticule. Then the old
footman  shuffled  out  noiselessly with  the box, and Madame Vasyutinskaya,
puffing, poured three cups of coffee out of the brass pot.
     "What a lovely thing!" said Auntie, taking the  dark-blue cup with  its
gleam of worn gold inside. "It's Gardner, isn't it?"
     "Old Popov,"  the old woman answered in her  deep baritone, and emitted
two streams of tobacco smoke from her nose.
     "Really? I quite took  it for  Gardner," said  Auntie, and  raising her
veil, began drinking coffee in tiny, elegant sips. The old woman put a piece
of chocolate halvah on a saucer and held it out to Petya.
     "No, it's old Popov," she said, turning her bloated face to Auntie. "It
was a wedding present from my late husband. He was a man of  great taste. We
had an estate near Chernigov, forty hundred acres, but  after  the  peasants
burned the house and killed my husband in 1905, I sold the land and  came to
live here. But I think you  know  all that. Until Stolypin was  killed," she
continued in the same wheezing monotonous baritone,  "I still preserved some
illusions. Now  I  have  none.  Russia needs a firm hand and the  late Pyotr
Arkadyevich  Stolypin, peace  to his soul,  was  the  last real nobleman and
administrator who could have saved the  Empire from revolution.  That is why
they  shot him.  But  our Emperor, God  forgive  me,  he's worth nothing.  A
dish-rag....  Don't you listen," she added sternly, turning  to Petya, "it's
too early for you to hear such things. Eat your halvah. I tell you," and she
turned her bovine eyes on  Auntie  and lowered her voice,  "he is  not God's
Anointed, but a plain  coward. Instead of shooting and hanging these rabble,
he flew  into  a panic.  How could any man with sense and understanding give
Russia a constitution and allow that disgraceful All-Russian talking-shop in
the Tavrichesky Palace, with Yids spitting dirt at the government and openly
calling for revolution!"
     With the last words her voice rose to a sudden scream, so strident that
even the canaries in the neighbouring room were silenced for a little while.
     "And they'll get it, mark my words-revolution will come, and very soon,
and then those scum will hang all decent people on  the  first lamppost. But
I'm not such a fool as to sit here and  wait  for  it. I had enough with  my
Chernigov estate. You can all do as you like, but I shall go abroad. I shall
go,  and leave  a curse  on  this  country  with  its  Social-Democrats  and
factions,   and  resolutions,  and  strikes,  and  May  Day   meetings,  and
workers-of-the-world-unite! Take  my land and  run it  as  you please-if the
rabble are kind enough to give their permission, that is!"
     She was  no longer talking, she was screaming at the top of  her voice,
and Petya looked with mingled  terror and disgust  at her eyes,  rolling  in
     "Excuse me,"  she  said suddenly in her ordinary voice. "Will you be so
kind as to pay the second instalment on  your note of hand to my lawyer, and
he will forward it to me."
     Auntie  quickly  began  preparing  to  go, pulling  on  her  gloves and
straightening her hat. Madame Vasyutinskaya did not stop her. When they came
out of the  house, they noticed  open trunks in the little yard  ;and  coats
hung on  ropes  to air. Evidently Madame Vasyutinskaya really  did intend to

     Soon afterwards, the Bachei family moved to their new home. Not  all at
once, however. Vastly Petrovich  went  first  to  take  possession and  have
everything in order before spring came.
     Auntie and the  boys were to  remain in town for a little while longer,
to sub-let the flat and store the furniture.
     The boys were still going to school, for the fees had been  paid at the
beginning  of the year. What they would  do the  next year  depended on  the
success of the new venture.
     Gavrik  often visited them  now.  He had taken and passed the exams for
three forms as  an  out-student;  Petya was coaching him for the  sixth-form
exam, but now he did not refuse the fifty kopeks a lesson.
     Gavrik was  still working in the  Odessa Leaflet  print-shop, not  as a
printer's  devil,  however;  he was  already an  apprentice type-setter  and
earning quite  good wages.  Sometimes  he  came  straight  from work  in the
evening, bringing with him the acrid,  alluring smell of the  print-shop. He
was very apt at his job and in some ways had already outstripped his master.
When he  came to the Bachei home,  he was no longer shy and awkward, he bore
himself confidently and one day even brought a half-pound of sweets for tea.
He  handed  the  little package  to Auntie, saying,  "Allow  me to make this
little  present. It's my  pay-day.  They're Abrikosov's caramels, I know you
like them."
     The misfortunes of the Bachei family -seemed to have brought Gavrik and
Petya closer  together. Gavrik not only sympathized with Petya-he understood
his situation,  which was much more important. Incidentally, from  beginning
to end of the whole affair he expressed his own very definite views about it
all quite freely.
     Vasily  Petrovich's dismissal  from  the  Faig  establishment, although
unpleasant, was something inevitable, for after all better to starve than to
work for  such a parasite, such a blood-sucker. Here,  Gavrik fully approved
of Vasily  Petrovich's action. But  to sell the piano for a  song and rent a
farm-this  was  another  matter;  he  could  not  believe that  a family  of
intellectuals would be able to till the soil with their own hands.
     "You don't know a thing  about it,  you'll get calluses and that's all.
Stolypin farmers!" he added with a smile.
     Petya  had  noticed  lately  that  Gavrik  linked  up  everything  with
     "Yes, but what was Father to do?" he asked with irritation.
     "What he'd  done  before. Give people learning. That's what a teacher's
job is."
     "But if he's not allowed?"
     "Eh, brother, they can't forbid anyone to teach folks."
     "But what folks? Where are they?"
     "He'd  find them if he looked for  them," said Gavrik evasively. "Well,
let's get on with the lesson."
     After their  lessons Petya would often walk part of  the way  home with
Gavrik, sometimes he even went as  far as Near Mills. There were many things
they  talked of on the way,  and  Gavrik was not so  secretive as  formerly.
Petya learned that there  was  a committee of  the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party  in the town. It consisted of Beks and Meks. The Beks  were the
Bolsheviks and the Meks-the Mensheviks. There was a clear line between them.
Terenty and all his friends belonged to the Beks.
     There  had been a  Party conference in Prague not  long  before, and at
this conference  Ulyanov, who was also called Lenin or Frey, the one who had
been  sent the letter by Petya, had defeated  the Meks, and now there was  a
real revolutionary party of the working class.
     "And  will  there be  a  revolution?" asked  Petya,  remembering Madame
Vasyutinskaya and her dreadful eyes that rolled like those of a madwoman.
     "All in good time," said Gavrik. "We've got to get our forces together.
Then we'll see."
     Once he  pulled  out  of his  pocket a  dirty canvas  bag  filled  with
something hard, and held it up before Petya's nose.
     "See that?" he winked.
     "What is it? Buttons for tiddly-winks?"  asked Petya, surprised. He had
never thought Gavrik could still go in for silly things like that.
     "Aha!"  said Gavrik.  "Like a game?" And his eyes sparkled slyly. Petya
held out his hand.
     "Let's see."
     "Hands off," said Gavrik sternly and hid the bag behind his back.
     Petya realized that this must be something very different from buttons.
     "I  suppose it's  the kind of buttons that nearly blew  up  our kitchen
that  time," he said, remembering how the pans had leaped  on the stove  and
the macaroni dangled from the ceiling.
     "Not quite, but  something  like it," said Gavrik, who evidently wanted
to show off  but could not  make up  his mind. "Guess again, you're  getting
     "Show me!" Petya pleaded, burning with curiosity.
     "Not now."
     "Don't be so inquisitive," said Gavrik and pushed the bag deep into his
trouser pocket.
     Petya, offended, asked no more but sulked in silence.
     When the friends  drew level with  the depot, however, Gavrik led Petya
behind  a corner. He looked  round  carefully,  then pulled out the  bag and
unfastened the knotted  string with his teeth. He tipped something out on to
his palm  and held it under  Petya's eyes.  His palm was filled with  little
metal pieces that smelt strongly of printer's ink.
     "Type," he said mysteriously.
     Petya did not understand.
     "Type for printing. Letters."'
     Petya had never seen real  type. As a  child, it  is true, he had  been
given  a toy printing-set in a flat tin box. There  had  been  several dozen
rubber letters, a frame, a pad soaked with thick ink, and a pair of  pincers
for  handling the letters. You could set a number  of words in the frame and
then stamp them  on  paper, making printed lines  with black strips  between
them. But of course, real printing was something quite different.
     "And can you set type and print yourself?"
     "Of course!"
     "And will it be just as clear as in the newspaper?"
     "Just as clear."
     "Set something, show me."
     "Set something, eh?" Gavrik thought a  moment. "All right. But let's go
on a bit first."
     They  went  round the depot,  crawled under  trucks, ran down  from the
embankment and found  themselves in a  deep gully thick  with dry weeds from
last year.  There they sat down on the ground. From his pocket Gavrik took a
steel  thing  with  a  clip  which he called a  composing-stick and  started
quickly setting letter after letter of type in a long line.
     He then took a stump of pencil from his pocket and rubbed the lead over
the letters. Again he delved  into that bottomless  pocket, took out a scrap
of clean newsprint, laid the composing-stick on it and pressed down with his
     "Ready!" He held out the paper to Petya, but without letting go of it.
     "Workers  of the world, unite!"  Petya read these strange words faintly
but clearly printed in real newspaper lettering.
     "What's that?" he asked, admiring the  deft speed with which Gavrik had
done it all.
     "What we've been  talking about," said Gavrik; he  tore the  paper into
minute fragments and let the wind carry them away. "But remember!" He wagged
a finger smelling of kerosene under Petya's nose.
     "You needn't worry."
     Gavrik went up close to Petya  and breathed into his ear, "I've got out
fifteen bags of type like this."

     At the end of March  Auntie finally  managed to sublet the flat on good
terms.  Now  the furniture had  to be taken care  of,  and then  they  could
finally move. Gavrik talked it over with Terenty and then suggested that the
furniture be put  in  their shed  at Near  Mills to save storage  costs; and
Petya could live there too, until the end of the school exams.
     This  seemed ideal, and Auntie agreed gladly. She herself decided to go
and stay with an old school friend, taking Pavlik with her.
     So one fine  day two great flat carts called platforms, each drawn by a
pair of horses, drove  into the yard. And the Bachei furniture  was  carried
     They  had  all  thought there  was  a great deal  of  furniture in  the
apartment, they had feared  two platforms  would not  hold it all. It turned
out, however, that the second platform was only half filled. And when tables
and chairs were stood  upside  down on  the platforms  and  fastened on with
thick ropes,  the  suites  which  to  Petya had  always looked  so  fine and
expensive,   especially  the   drawing-room   suite  with  its  golden  silk
upholstery, lost all their grandeur.
     The  bright   sunshine  seemed  to   bring  all  defects  into  glaring
prominence,   every  scratch,   crack  and  tear.  The   wash-stand   looked
particularly forlorn with its broken  pedal and  the  crack right across the
marble. The bronze dining-room lamp became insignificant with the  shade and
bronze ball removed and thrown down amid the supporting chains on the floor;
it  looked  a silly, old-fashioned thing that nobody in  their  senses would
want. Petya's most unpleasant surprise,  however, was the bookcase which had
always been  known  in  the Bachei  family as "Vasily  Petrovich's library."
Empty of books, lying  on its side, it looked miserably small, almost like a
toy,  and  all  the  books-the  famous Brockhaus  and  Efron  Encyclopaedia,
Karamzin's History of  the  State of  Russia,  Pushkin, Lermontov,  Tolstoi,
Gogol,    Turgenev,    Dostoyevsky,    Nekrasov,    Sheller-Mikhailov    and
Pomyalovsky-taken all together,  made up about  a dozen  piles strongly tied
with string. In fact, all these things as they were carried out did not look
like solid, dignified furniture at all, but just old junk.
     Petya climbed up  beside the driver of the first  platform to show  him
the way. Dunyasha, her nose swollen with crying, sat on  the second, holding
the mirror that reflected the street at a fantastic, dizzy angle.
     Auntie,  standing by  the  open gate with  Pavlik  beside her,  crossed
herself and for some reason waved her handkerchief.
     All  the way  Petya was  afraid he  might meet  some  of the  boys from
school. Although he  would never have admitted it  even to himself,  he  was
ashamed  of  their  furniture and  ashamed to  be taking it to  such  a poor
quarter  of the town as Near Mills. It was not so easy  to get accustomed to
the idea that now they too were "poor."
     Terenty and Gavrik were not at home, only the Chernoivanenko mother and
daughter  were there to meet him. Motya was more excited than  anyone  else,
she followed each article as it was carried across the front garden into the
shed, which had long been cleared for them.
     "Oh, Petya,  what  beautiful  chairs  you've got!" she cried in sincere
admiration, and touched the silk upholstery of an armchair,  rubbed down  in
places so that the white threads showed.
     Zhenka appeared with a crowd of  boys. They swarmed round the platforms
at  once, climbing with bare feet on to the wheels, feeling  the bronze ball
from the  lamp  and  turning  the  taps  of the wash-stand;  Zhenka  himself
actually  climbed  on  to the  box,  seized the  reins, assumed a  daredevil
expression and shouted, "Whoa there, damn you!"  A few  cuffs, however, soon
scattered  the whole gang and  they tore  down  the unpaved street,  raising
clouds of dust.
     When the furniture was stowed in the shed and the platforms drove away,
Dunyasha shouldered a bundle containing her clothes and icons and set off on
foot straight across the steppe to the cottage, which was not far from there
as the crow flies.
     "Well, so now you're  going to live  here with us at  Near Mills," said
Motya gaily,  then noticed Petya's downcast look and  added, "But whit's the
matter? Don't you like it here? You mustn't think it isn't nice, it is, it's
awfully nice. The snowdrops are  out  on the  steppe, just the other side of
the common, and there'll soon be violets in the gullies. We can go  and pick
them sometimes. Wouldn't you like it?"
     Gavrik soon came home from the print shop and stealthily  showed  Petya
another bag of type.
     "That's the sixteenth," he said with a wink.
     "Look out, one of these days you may get caught," said Petya.
     "Well, if I'm caught, I'm caught," sighed Gavrik. "Can't be helped."
     The  next  moment,  however, he was  gaily singing  a comic  song  very
popular on the outskirts of Odessa: "When they caught him, well, they socked
him-hey! hey! hey!"
     At first glance there might not seem to be much sense in the words, but
Petya always  felt  some hidden meaning, some daring,  fighting challenge in
that song.
     They arranged a nook for Petya  among the neatly  stacked  furniture in
the shed, with  bed, table, lamp and bookshelf. There was plenty of room, so
Gavrik brought his own bed in too, to live with Petya.
     Terenty came home from  work, nodded to  Petya and cast a business-like
look  round the shed. With \a dissatisfied grunt he rearranged the furniture
to occupy less room and put a brick under the  bookcase to stop it wobbling.
When he had finished there was even more space.
     "But mind you behave yourselves, no  fooling. I  know  you-you'll start
smoking,  or stop each  other studying." He turned to Petya. "You'll have to
work hard or they'll fail you, sure as I stand here. They won't forgive your
dad for Blizhensky. They're  all the same gang. You'll  see that I am right.
     He slipped the bag of tools off his shoulder, threw off his oily jacket
and  went to the  bowl standing  on a bench by  the fence.  Motya gave him a
piece of  blue-veined washing soap, stepped up on  a low  stool  and  poured
water from a jug over his large, black hands. Then he bent his head for her,
and washed face, head and neck, spluttering, ridding  himself  of metal dust
and smoke. His washing took a long time,  he continued until he was as fresh
and pink as  a baby pig. Then  he  took the embroidered  towel hanging  over
Motya's shoulder and dried himself with the same gusto.
     Petya, meanwhile,  was digesting with alarm Terenty's final words which
he believed  without the faintest hesitation, particularly as he himself had
long felt something cold  and  threatening in the  faces of the director and
school inspector whenever he passed them.
     Petya was no longer  surprised to find Terenty so  well informed  about
all their circumstances, even  the incident with Blizhensky. He  had stopped
regarding  Terenty as  a  plain master  mechanic at  the railway  workshops,
earning  good wages, maybe, but still only a  workman. Petya understood well
that in Terenty's other, secret life,  which was called "Party work," he was
not only bigger and more important  than Vasily Petrovich, he  was much more
important than  the  school  director, than  Mr. Faig, than  the head of the
Education Department,  perhaps  even  more  important than  the Governor  of
Odessa, Tolmachov.
     They all had supper  together. Terenty's wife picked up the prongs  and
pulled an  iron  pot  out  of  the  stove,  country-style. The pot contained
cabbage soup without  meat.  It was followed by a  pan  of potatoes fried in
sunflower oil. Everything was eaten with  wooden  spoons. The rye bread  was
fresh and very fragrant. A head of  garlic and some pods of  red pepper were
on the table, but only  Terenty and Gavrik took any; they put the red pepper
in the cabbage soup and rubbed the garlic on the crust of bread.
     Petya, not to be outdone by his friend, also took a polished, fiery-red
pod of pepper, put it in his soup and mashed it.
     "Oh, don't!" said Motya in a frightened whisper.
     But Petya had already managed to swallow a mouthful of the soup and was
now sitting, tears in his  eyes, his tongue thrust out, feeling as though he
breathed fire.
     "Maybe you'd like some garlic too?" asked Gavrik innocently.
     "Go to hell!" said Petya  with  difficulty, wiping the tears  from  his
     When  they rose from table,  Petya, like a well-brought-up boy, crossed
himself before the dark icon of St. Nicholas-the one he had seen as a boy in
Grandad Chernoivanenko's hut, bowed first to the mistress of the house, then
to the  master  and  said, "Thank you  most humbly."  To  which the mistress
answered kindly, "Good health go with it. Excuse the supper."
     That was how Petya's life in Near Mills began.
     They  rose at six in the morning  and washed in the yard, pouring  cold
water from the  well over  each other from a jug, ate a piece of black bread
spread with plum jelly and washed it down with tea.
     Then the  three men-Terenty,  Gavrik and Petya-set off  for  work. They
went out of  the gate together just as the factory whistles sounded from all
sides in a  long-drawn-out, imperative  yet indifferent wail.  The mist of a
March morning trembled from their monotonous chorus.
     Gates  creaked  and banged all over Near Mills  and  the streets filled
with men hurrying  to work. There were more and  more of them, they overtook
one another, greeted one another in passing, gathered into small groups.
     Terenty  walked quickly, in  silence,  his tools clanking softly in his
bag. Petya and Gavrik  could  hardly  keep up with him. Most  of the workers
greeted  Terenty  and he replied, mechanically  raising the  little cap like
cyclist's wear from  his  big,  round  head. Soon he  joined  a large  group
turning into a side-street while Petya and Gavrik went straight on together.
     They parted  company at the station, Petya turning right  to the school
while Gavrik, casually raising one large finger to the peak of a cap exactly
like Terenty's, went on through the town to the print-shop.
     All  the  time  he  was  at  school  Petya  had  a  strange feeling  of
awkwardness, timidity, alienation. He kept away  from  the other  boys. When
the  long recess  came, he  looked for  Pavlik, and the two brothers  walked
silently up  and down  the corridors, holding  each  other's bells. Pavlik's
face was very serious, even grim.
     On returning  to  Near Mills, Petya went into the shed and settled down
to  his  lessons,  working with desperate intensity as though preparing  for
     In the  evening Terenty and Gavrik came home  and they all  had supper.
After that  Petya  drilled  Gavrik  in Latin, and Gavrik in his turn drilled
Motya in all subjects-for she wanted to enter the fourth form at school.
     It was  eleven when they  finally went to bed. Petya and Gavrik put out
the  lamp and then lay talking in  the  dark. Although,  to be exact, it was
Petya who did most of the talking. Gavrik had little to say, only pushed his
head deeper into  the pillow. After the day's work  he  liked to have a good

     More than  once  Petya tried to tell Gavrik about the  girl  he fell in
love with abroad; he would introduce it with a rapid description of Vesuvius
and the Blue Grotto in Capri with its magical underwater lighting that makes
hands  and  faces look as though made of blue glass;  but when  he  began to
speak in hints and half-sentences of that  wonderful  first meeting  at  the
station  in  Naples, he  found Gavrik  was already asleep,  even starting to
     Once, however, Petya did manage to tell Gavrik about his romance before
his friend finally dropped  off to sleep. "And  what  happened after  that?"
asked Gavrik, more from politeness than interest.
     "Nothing," sighed Petya. "We parted for ever."  "Well, that's very sad,
of course," said Gavrik, frankly yawning. "What was her name?"
     "Her name?"  said Petya  slowly and mysteriously; it was a very awkward
moment. With a shade of secret grief he said, "Ah, what does a name matter!"
     "Well, what was she like, at least-dark or fair?" asked Gavrik.
     "Neither dark nor fair,  more ... how can I explain? Her  hair was sort
of  chestnut,  or  better,  dark  chestnut,"  Petya  answered  with  painful
     "Uhuh, I understand," mumbled Gavrik. "Well, let's go to sleep."
     "No, wait a minute,"  said Petya, whose  imagination was only beginning
to get to work. "Don't go to sleep yet. I want you to advise me, as pal-what
ought I to do now?"
     "Write to her," said Gavrik. "You know her address, don't you?"
     "Ah, what would that help!" said Petya in grief-stricken accents.
     "But if you love her," said Gavrik judicially.
     "What's  love?" said  the  disillusioned Petya  and  quoted  Lermontov,
slightly out of place:

     But love is no solace-too fleeting it is,
     Unequal to life-long devotion.

     "In that  case, shut  up  and  let  me get to sleep,"  grunted  Gavrik,
turning round on the other side and pulling the pillow over his ear.
     Not another word could be got from him.
     But Petya lay awake for a long time.
     He could  see  the moon like a  greenish sickle peeping in through  the
tiny window. Time after time he heard  the gate creak. There was a murmur of
talk and more than once people came into the little yard and went out again.
     "Don't go  straight there, go round by the marshalling yard." The voice
was Terenty's, evidently he had had visitors again.
     Petya began thinking of  that girl, but somehow he  could no longer see
her clearly. The picture was hazy- a braid with a black ribbon,  a cinder in
his eye, the blizzard in  the  mountains-and that was all. It seemed that he
had simply forgotten her.
     It was rather chilly in the shed. Petya  took down his Swiss cape  from
the  wall  and spread  it over  his bed. Now he  saw himself  as the  lonely
traveller  in  a  poor shepherd's  hut.  There he lay, rolled  in his  cape,
forgotten by all, with a broken heart and a  tormented soul. And she whom he
so  loved, at  this very  moment  perhaps  she was....  Petya  made  a  last
desperate  effort to picture what she could be doing, but instead found  his
mind drifting to quite different thoughts-thoughts of the corning exams, the
new life waiting for him on the farm, and strangest thing of all-thoughts of
Motya. Really, it  wouldn't be such a  bad idea to go out to the steppe with
her sometime to pick snowdrops.
     It had never before  entered his head that Motya  could possibly be the
heroine of a romance. But now it seemed the most natural thing in the world,
he was surprised he had not  thought of it. After  all, she was pretty,  she
loved him-of that Petya had no doubt whatsoever, and most important  of all,
she was always there, at hand.
     These  thoughts induced a pleasant  excitement, and instead of going to
sleep in  tears, Petya drifted into slumber with  a Languid,  self-satisfied
smile and wakened with a feeling of something new and extremely pleasant.
     Instead of sitting down to his  lessons when he  came home from school,
he sought out Motya, who was helping her mother make potato cakes,  and went
straight to the point.
     "Well, how about it?" he said with a condescending smile.
     "How  about what?" asked  Motya, diffident  as  always  when talking to
     "Have you forgotten?"
     "What?" Motya repeated even more diffidently, and glanced up at the boy
from under her brows with sweet, innocent eyes.
     "I thought you intended to go and pick snowdrops."
     She blushed and her fingers began crumbling the edge of a potato cake.
     "Do you mean it?"
     "Of course. But if you don't want to go, well, it doesn't matter."
     "Mummy, can  you manage without me?" asked  Motya. "I  promised to show
Petya where the snowdrops and violets grow."
     "Go  along,  children, go and gather  your  flowers,"  said  her mother
     Motya  ran  behind the curtain,  unfastening her apron as she went. She
put  on  her best goatskin  shoes and the  coat  she had rather grown out of
during the winter, and  flung her braid over her  shoulder. She was terribly
excited, and a faint dew of perspiration appeared on her neat nose.
     Meanwhile,  Petya,  deliberately unhurried, strode nonchalantly  to the
shed, put on his cloak, picked  up  his alpenstock  and presented himself to
Motya in his sombre glory-somewhat spoiled by the school cap.
     "Well, let's go,"  said Petya with all the  grand indifference he could
     "Yes, let's go," Motya answered in a very small  voice, her head  down,
and led the way to the gate, her new shoes squeaking loudly.
     While they  crossed the common where the cows  were  already grazing on
last  year's grass, Petya turned over the very  important  question of which
Motya  was  to  be- Olga or Tatyana? In  any  case he,  of course,  remained
Yevgeny  Onegin.  He selected the  old  version  of  Yevgeny Onegin  as  the
easiest,  to avoid  too  much  trouble.  Motya  was not worth anything  more
complicated.  Now  he  must  decide  quickly  whether she would  be  Olga or
Tatyana, and then make a beginning.
     In appearance  she was not  a bit like Tatyana,  she would make a  much
better Olga-if  it weren't for that  coat  with  its too  short sleeves,  of
course, and  those dreadful  squeaking shoes that could surely be  heard all
over Near Mills.
     Here  was  the end  of  the common, time to start. Petya quickly merged
Tatyana and Olga, getting quite a suitable hybrid whom he could preach to in
the best Onegin style:

     And, in some quiet place apart
     Instruct the lady of his heart. . .

     and yet whose hand he could tenderly press; and best of all there would
be  no need for  kissing, the very thought  of  which made  Petya thoroughly
     He would continue to be Onegin but with a faint touch  of Lensky which,
however, should not hamper him in following the great rule:

     A woman's love for us increases .
     The less we love her, sooth to say. . .

     It could become  a  splendid  romance.  It was  rather a  drawback,  of
course,  that he really did like Motya. That  was quite  out of  place if he
were  to be Onegin. But  Petya resolved to treat his feelings with contempt,
and as  soon as they  were out on the steppe  he said sternly,  "Motya, I've
something very serious to say to you."
     The girl's heart turned over and she halted, alarmed by his grim look.
     "Have you ever loved anyone?" asked Petya with still greater sternness.
     "Yes," answered Motya in a small voice.
     Petya's face showed an  involuntary smile of  self-satisfaction, but on
the instant he banished it and asked, looking straight into her eyes,
     "A lot of people," answered Motya simply.
     Petya bit back  the word "fool,"  that  nearly slipped  out, and set to
work patiently explaining what love was, what it meant  in general and  what
it meant in particular. Motya understood and flushed crimson.
     "Well then?" Petya asked insistently.
     "You know  for yourself,"  Motya  whispered almost  inaudibly,  raising
happy, tear-filled eyes to his face.
     She  was so  sweet in that moment that Petya was ready to  fall in love
with her, very much  like Lensky with Olga, in spite  of the squeaking shoes
and  the coat bought on the market. But such a  very easy victory could  not
satisfy him, it was too commonplace.
     "So I can count on your friendship?" he asked.
     "Yes, of course," said Motya. "Always."
     "Then I  must tell you  my secret. Only  promise that  it shall  remain
between ourselves."
     "I give my word, I swear it by  the true Cross," said Motya and quickly
crossed herself several times. "May I die here on this  spot if I ever say a
     "I have fallen in love," said Petya mournfully.
     He stood in silence for a moment,  then told Motya about  his  romance,
word for word as he had told it to Gavrik in the shed.
     Motya listened in silence, her  arms hanging despondently, and when  he
finished she asked in a voice unlike her own, "What is her name?"
     "What does a name matter!" Petya answered.
     "And you love her very, very much?" said Motya in lifeless tones.
     "That's just it," Petya answered.
     "I wish you all happiness," said Motya in a barely audible voice.
     "Yes, but I want your advice as a friend-what  ought I  to do now?  How
should I act?"
     "Write her a letter if you love her so much."
     "But what is love?  'Love is  no  solace-too fleeting it is, unequal to
life-long devotion,'" said Petya, in a. somewhat dramatic sing-song.
     "I wish you all happiness," said Motya. Her eyes suddenly narrowed like
a cat's, almost frightening Petya.  Then she turned and walked rapidly  back
the way they had come.
     "Stop,  where  are  you  going? What about the snowdrops?" Petya called
     "I wish you all happiness," she said again, without turning.
     Petya ran  after  her, the  cape hampered him  but he overtook her. She
flung off the hand he put on her shoulder and quickened her steps.
     "Silly  girl, I was  only joking,  can't you understand  I  was joking?
Can't you take a joke?" Petya mumbled. "Why do you have to lose your  temper
like that?"
     Now that she was angry he liked her twice as much as before.
     Motya ran all the way across the  common and only slowed her pace  to a
walk when she reached the street.
     Petya walked beside her, protesting:
     "I was only joking. Can't you understand that? Silly girl, to lose your
temper this way!"
     "I've not lost my temper," she said quietly.
     The storm of jealousy had passed, she was the old Motya again.
     "Let's make up, then," Petya proposed.
     "But I  haven't quarrelled with you," she  answered.  She even forced a
faint  smile  because she did not want people to see them quarrelling in the
     Petya was embarrassed but inwardly triumphant.  Taken  all round it had
been an excellent love scene.
     It  was  Zhenya who  spoiled it  all.  He had long  been watching them,
together with his  faithful  followers.  And  now  the  whole  gang  of boys
followed  them  at a cautious distance chanting in chorus,  "Spoony, spoony,

     One day at the beginning of April  Gavrik came home from the print-shop
much later than usual. Petya was in the shed going over his geometry.
     "Soldiers  have fired  on the workers at the Lena gold-fields,"  Gavrik
said before  he  was  properly inside,  and without removing his cap crossed
over and sat down on the edge of his bed.
     Petya already knew from the talk he had heard in  Near  Mills that  far
away  in  Siberia,  in  the  dense  taiga  by  the Lena  River,  there  were
gold-fields where workers lived in horrible conditions. He also knew that at
one  of  the  worst of these,  the  workers  had been on strike  ever  since
February and  had even  sent deputations to the other fields. The strike was
led by the Beks, while the Meks were trying to persuade the  workers to call
off the strike and make peace with the management. But the workers would not
listen to the Meks and  the strike spread. Over six thousand were out.  That
was the last  news which had  come by devious routes from the banks  of  the
     Now Gavrik sat, his hands between his knees, staring at the green shade
of the lamp that was reflected in his fixed eyes. His breathing was slow but
deep,  like  a  succession of  sighs-evidently he had  hurried home from the
     At first Petya did not take in the full significance of Gavrik's words.
It had been said so simply, almost without expression: "Soldiers have  fired
on the workers." He looked again at Gavrik, at his frozen, haggard face, and
realization flooded his mind.
     "How-how did  they  fire?"  he  asked,  feeling  his face stiffen  like
     "Just like  that.  Quite  simple,"  said Gavrik roughly. "From  rifles.
Company, aim! Fire!"
     "How do you know?"
     "I  set the  dispatch  myself. Nonpareil, six point. It came  in  three
hours ago. It's  to be in today's issue- if they don't  take it out. You can
expect any dirt from them. Well, I'm off," he said, rising with a jerk.
     "Where are you going?"
     "To  Terenty  at  the workshops.  Seems  he's  doing  overtime  on  the
     With that Gavrik turned and went.
     Petya felt he could not  bear it alone in the shed, he ran after Gavrik
and  overtook him by the  gate.  Silently they  walked together  through the
transparent darkness of the April night. The first apple blossom was  out in
the gardens, but in Siberia  it  was still winter with hard  frost,  and the
Lena River lay ice-bound under its covering of snow.
     Petya had  come out without a coat and soon felt  chilly. He thrust his
hands into the sleeves of his school jacket and huddled his elbows to him as
he walked  beside  Gavrik.  A church clock  somewhere struck  eleven. In the
houses everyone was asleep and the  windows were dark; the only lamp was the
electric  light  at  the gates  of  the  railway  workshops,  that cast  its
reflection  on the  lines.  The  watchman  was  dozing,  the  bottom  of his
sheepskin peeped through the open door of his shelter.
     Petya and Gavrik went round the locomotive shop, and peered through the
dusty glass, broken here and there. Petya could  see the flickering light of
a furnace,  and the great bulk of an engine  slung in chains  from the roof.
Workers walked about beneath it. Petya  at once recognized Terenty, carrying
an  oily steel  connecting-rod on his  shoulder, one hand steadying  an  end
wrapped in a black rag.
     A railway engineer in a  uniform cap  and  a tunic with shoulder-straps
stood, feet astride,  at  one side, holding  a large blueprint as  though it
were a newspaper he was reading.
     All  this  Petya  had  seen many  times  before, it  contained  nothing
unusual, still  less menacing. But now a  chill  of fear ran through him. He
felt that any moment those chains  might  snap and the pendant  engine crash
down with all its  giant weight  upon  the men  standing  underneath. For an
instant the picture was so real before him that he shut his eyes.
     But at that moment Gavrik  put two fingers into his mouth and whistled.
Terenty  turned and  looked at  the dark  glass of  the  window  that  dimly
reflected the electric lights in the shop. Then with a smooth heavy movement
of  his  great  body  he slid  the  rod  from his shoulder and carried it on
outstretched arms away  to the side.  Soon after that he appeared round  the
corner and came up to the boys.
     "What's the matter?" he asked Gavrik, but looked at Petya.
     "Soldiers have  fired  on the workers  at  the Lena gold-fields,"  said
Gavrik in a low  voice. "A dispatch came from Irkutsk today. I ran off eight
copies just in case." He handed Terenty a sheet of fresh proofs.
     Terenty  turned his  back to the lighted window and read the  dispatch.
Petya could not see the expression of his face but felt it must be dreadful.
Suddenly Terenty  bent, snatched up a piece of clinker from  the  ground and
flung it against the wall with such force that it shattered to fragments.
     For some  time he  stood breathing heavily, mastering himself, then  he
led Gavrik aside and they talked quickly for a moment.
     On the  way  back Gavrik several times left Petya and disappeared for a
little  while.  Once Petya saw him go to somebody's gate  and thrust a white
paper into the crack. He guessed that this was a copy of the dispatch.
     They returned to their shed, put out the  light and went to bed, but it
was a  long time before the boys could  sleep. Petya found himself listening
fearfully to  the  sounds of the  night.  He had the feeling that  something
terrible was going to begin.  Shouting crowds would run  down  the street, a
fire  would  break  out  somewhere,  there  would  be  revolver  shots.  But
everything was quiet.
     The  pointsman's horn sounded  from the  railway crossing; then a goods
train passed.  A cart rattled along the uneven road a long way off, he could
hear  an  empty  bucket banging  under  it.  Then came the third  cock-crow,
prolonged and sleepy, caught up  by bird  after bird throughout  Near Mills.
That was followed by the factory whistles and then the creaking of gates.
     The day passed as usual. At recess, however, Petya  noticed some of the
big boys  reading a  newspaper under the  stairs, and  heard  the  whispered
words, "There's trouble at the Lena gold-fields."
     Gavrik came home even later than  the previous  day-  he had waited for
the latest news-and brought a big bundle  of proofs with  him. They were  of
dispatches giving the details of the Lena massacre. Five  hundred killed and
wounded. Petya went cold with horror.
     Night came.  Terenty said a few  words  to  Gavrik, then they both went
out.  Petya  wanted to go too,  but they refused to take him. Left alone, he
went to  bed,  pulled his cape right  over  his  head and fell asleep. Soon,
however, he was awake again.
     Everything was very  quiet. Petya lay on his back, eyes open, trying to
picture five hundred killed and wounded. But  it  was impossible,  no matter
how he strained his imagination.  All he could see was an indistinct picture
of a snow-covered field  strewn  with the dark forms of  dead  workers.  The
meaning of the picture  was  immeasurably worse  than the picture itself and
this inconsistency tormented Petya, and would let him think of nothing else.
     Suddenly  it occurred  to him that five hundred was  just the number of
pupils and teachers at his school. He  pictured  the corridors,  staircases,
class-rooms, gym  and the assembly hall full of dead and  wounded pupils and
teachers, the  pools of blood  on the tile floors,  the screams, the groans,
the confusion....
     A shudder ran through him.
     But still it was not  the same, because this was only fancy  while that
had been real. Those  bodies were real, not  imaginary, and Petya started to
remember all the dead bodies he had seen.
     He  remembered  Mother  in  her coffin, looking like a bride, her  lips
blackened from medicine and a strip of  paper on her forehead. He remembered
Uncle Misha in his frock-coat, his arms with  their bony white hands crossed
on his  breast.  He remembered Vitya Seroshevsky,  one  of  the boys in  the
fourth  form who had  died of diphtheria, looking like a large  doll in  his
blue  uniform. Grandad- Mother's father-with  his  bald head  reflecting the
light of the candles. An infantry general who  had been taken past the house
in an open coffin on a gun-carriage, with all  his decorations carried  on a
velvet cushion in front.
     But none of these had been killed, they had died  a natural death, they
were taken to  the cemetery  with wreaths  and incense and music and singing
and lanterns  on  crape-swathed  staffs. However dreadful  they might  look,
these  motionless  forms  still bore  human semblance  amid all the funereal
trappings, and they could not give Petya any idea of those  hundreds who lay
prone in the snow, and his torment continued.
     Suddenly he saw again what had long been thrust away into the very back
of  his memory  and hardly ever came to the surface,  because it was so much
more terrible than anything else.
     Petya remembered  1905, Terenty's  bandaged head with  blood  trickling
down his  temple, he remembered the room with its smashed  furniture full of
the smoke  of  gunfire,  and the  man with the indifferent waxen  face and a
black hole above the open  eye who lay so  uncomfortably on the floor  among
empty  cartridge clips and cartridge  eases. He remembered the  two Cossacks
galloping past,  dragging after  them  on a  rope the  corpse of a man Petya
knew, Joseph Karlovich, who owned the shooting-gallery, and leaving a  long,
strangely bright trail of red on the grey, dusty road.
     Again Petya  saw the  snow-covered field and the dead bodies. But it no
longer tormented  him with unreality, for now  he understood the  meaning it
held. What it meant was that some people killed others because those  others
did not want to be slaves.
     Rage flooded Petya. He bit the pillow to hold back tears. But they came
nevertheless. In  the  morning he rose, weary from  a sleepless  night, with
dark circles under his eyes, haggard and sombre.
     Gavrik and Terenty  had not  yet come home. Motya, a grey knitted shawl
round  her head and shoulders, silently gave him a mug  of tea and a hunk of
bread and jam. She 'had not yet combed her hair, she stole  fearful looks at
the  boy  and  shivered  in the chill of early morning-probably she  had not
slept all night either. Her mother was washing clothes out in the yard, with
iridescent  soap-bubbles  rising from  her tub. She mournfully  wished Petya
good morning.
     On this day  Petya set off for school alone. The streets looked just as
they always did. Workers walked in groups on their way to the morning-shift.
They seemed to go  faster than  usual. Groups  knotted together  and in some
places  formed crowds. Passing them, Petya  could feel hostile looks cast at
his cap with its badge, his bright buttons and belt with the uniform buckle.
     Although the early sunshine filled the street with warm, rosy light and
the air was  clear and  fresh with the  scents of April, although the little
shunters  whistled  gaily  to  one another as  usual,  an invisible funereal
shadow seemed to lie over everything.
     Petya saw the elderly local policeman pacing his beat down  the street.
But at the cross-roads he saw another policeman, one he did  not know. Petya
greeted the old policeman  as  usual  with a courteous  lift  of his cap and
passed the stranger with head  down; but he could feel the man examining him
from head to foot with fierce eyes in a young, soldierly face.
     News-boys were running  about  the  town  shouting, "Lena events,  full
report, five hundred killed and wounded!"
     It  was strangely  quiet  at the  school, both  at  lessons and  during
recess. On his way home,  before he got to Near Mills, Petya heard a factory
whistle, then another, and a third, until their chorus made the air vibrate.
     At  the cross-roads  where the  strange  policeman  had  stood  in  the
morning, Petya found a thick crowd that swelled with every minute as  people
joined  it singly or in  groups, running out from all  the  nearby  streets,
gardens and waste lots.
     He realized that  this was a strike, and the men in this crowd were the
workers from various mills and factories who had just downed tools.
     He wanted to turn back and go another way, but a fresh crowd swelled up
behind him, carrying him along with it. The  two masses of people joined and
Petya  found himself in the middle, hemmed in on all sides. He  tried to get
out but  his satchel hindered him. One  strap  broke and the satchel slipped
down. With an effort Petya twisted round, slid it off his  shoulder and held
it in front  of him,  pushing away the backs and elbows that pressed against
     Petya was  too small to see what was going on in front, all he knew was
that he was being carried along somewhere, that the crowd had some  definite
objective and  that somebody  was guiding  its movement.  He began to feel a
little calmer and with the corner of  his  satchel straightened the cap that
had been pushed to one side.
     The  people  moved very slowly. There  was  nothing  menacing in  their
movement, as Petya had thought at first,  rather it was resolute,  tense and
     The factory whistles which had drowned  out every other sound gradually
died away, and he could hear the hum of voices.
     At last everyone  stopped. Petya  saw  the long  roofs  of  the  repair
workshops and  felt railway lines under  his feet-he stumbled and would have
fallen but  for somebody's big, strong hand. Then  there  was a general move
forward again, and frantic police whistles.
     The crowd separated into groups and Petya saw the familiar gates of the
workshops.  They were closed and before  them the  policeman with the fierce
eyes was running to and fro, sabre in hand, now and then blowing hard on his
whistle and shouting, "Disperse or I fire!"
     Another policeman, the old man Petya knew,  kept moving about aimlessly
in  front of  the crowd, waving his  hands  like  an orchestra conductor and
pleading in lachrymose tones,  "Gentlemen, do be  sensible, gentlemen, do be
     "Come on, break down the gates," said a man in an old railway  cap with
a red band  on the sleeve of his wadded jacket; he was standing  on the roof
of the  engine shop.  His voice  was not  loud  but  it carried  everywhere.
Evidently this was one of the leaders.
     The wrought-iron gates squealed on their rusty hinges and began to give
in under the pressure of the crowd. There was the sound of a chain snapping.
One leaf of the gates, torn away, fell with a  rattle in the yard, the other
hung crookedly from its brick gate-post.
     The crowd rushed in. Everything became confused.
     Later  on Petya learned  that  the management  had tried  to  crush the
strike by bringing in strike-breakers and locking the gates.
     Once inside,  the crowd scattered among  the shops, and then Petya  saw
something like the  kind of game children play, only  the players were angry
men. The shop door opened and men ran wildly out, followed  by other men who
overtook them and flogged them on the  head and neck  with oily rags twisted
into hard ropes as they ducked and dodged. It was like a  game of "tag." But
nobody laughed or shouted,  and one of the fleeing men  had  blood trickling
from his nose; he smeared it over his face with the sleeve of his torn shirt
as he ran.
     A  small  open  truck appeared at the shop door,  pushed by a couple of
dozen workers with tense, determined faces. And there in the truck, his legs
drawn up awkwardly, his hands gripping the sides,  sat the railway  engineer
whom Petya has seen the night he had gone with Gavrik to the  workshops. His
cap was back  to front,  which  gave his handsome  face with its well-tended
beard a very stupid look.
     Zhenya Chernoivanenko  and  the boys  who had shouted "Spoony,  spoony,
kissy-kissy-coo" after Petya and Motya, zealously helped the adults  to push
the truck.
     Petya was not frightened  any longer, nor did the  crowd seem alarming.
He  was caught up  in  the general  mood and ran after the truck, his  brows
drawn tangrily together. He pushed some of the boys aside, got  his  satchel
against the edge of the truck and began shoving with the  others. He felt as
though it were his effort alone that moved it.
     As soon as the truck and its burden emerged from the factory gates they
were greeted with  shouts  and whistles from all sides. Some  of the men had
picked  up the policeman with the fierce eyes.  Holding him by the shoulders
and top-boots', they gave him a swing and tossed him on to the engineer. His
sabre was gone, and so was his revolver.
     The other policeman, the old one, was not thrown into the truck; he got
a couple of  blows  on  the back of the head  with  a  hard  twisted rag and
shambled  away  by  the  fence,  without  sabre,  revolver  or  cap, smiling
     The truck was pushed for about half a mile, then abandoned on the line,
and  Petya,  Zhenya  and the other  boys  went  back  to the  workshop.  But
everybody  had gone,  only a few workers  with shot-guns  and  red arm-bands
paced up and down by the smashed gates.
     Petya and Zhenya made their way home through strangely deserted streets
and  lanes.  Motya  was standing by the gate -and at  once started  scolding
     "You little ruffian, you tramp, where've you been all this time? And as
for you," she turned on Petya, "you ought to be  ashamed of yourself, taking
a child to a strike! Just look at yourself, if your father could see you!"
     Ever since  that walk to get snowdrops Motya had had a tendency to find
fault with Petya.
     He looked down at his boots  all  scratched by clinker,  at his crushed
satchel with the broken strap, at the buckle of his belt pushed to one side.
     "You're  all  dirty," Motya went on. "Go  and get washed quickly,  I'll
fetch water for you."
     "Stop ordering us about!" said Zhenya.  He pulled out of his pocket the
whistle which had only recently hung round the neck of the old policeman and
blew a shrill blast.
     "You scoundrel! You little ruffian!" Motya threw up her hands, but then
surrendered and burst into a fit of childlike laughter.
     At that moment  an open cab appeared in  the distance. Swaying over the
ruts,  wheels rattling, it  raced down  the  street.  Men with red arm-bands
bumped on the seats and shouted something as they passed each gate.
     Petya saw Terenty  among them, waving  his little cap. His face was red
and excited which  made  the white scar on his temple stand out all the more
     "Out to  the common!"  he shouted, pointing  ahead with his cap, hardly
aware that it was his own house he was passing.
     Petya flung his satchel over  the  fence  and  raced  after  Motya  and
Zhenya. The common was already black with people.
     The sun had  only just sunk behind the barrows and great clouds sailing
through the sky  seemed  to shed their own light  over the meeting.  Terenty
stood erect on  the seat of  the cab, surrounded by the crowd. With one hand
he steadied  himself  on the driver's shoulder, and  gestured  energetically
with the  other. His  voice  carried to Petya in fragments borne on gusts of
wind. Sometimes he could make out whole sentences.
     The  wrathful voice that seemed to fly with the  breeze over the silent
crowd, over  the quiet steppe, filled Petya with a burning sense of struggle
for freedom. His  heart beat hard. And when the people sang in discord, "You
fell a victim in the fight"  and  there was a flicker of  movement as  heads
were bared, Petya  too removed his cap and  clutched it  to his  breast with
both hands,  singing with the others. He could  not hear himself, but beside
him he could hear the high  voice of Motya as she stood on tiptoe, her  neck
stretched, singing enthusiastically:
     "... Fresh ranks of the people have risen to fight...."
     Petya had the feeling that in a moment mounted Cossacks  would dash out
from somewhere and a massacre would begin. But everything was quiet, and the
silhouettes  of  the  sentries  stationed on the hillocks  and barrows  were
outlined black against the glow of the sunset.
     The   meeting  ended   and  the  people  dispersed   as   quickly   and
inconspicuously as they had gathered. The common emptied.  But on the  young
grass among  crushed dandelions Petya  saw a great  number  of sticks,  iron
bolts and pieces of brick which the  workers had brought with  them, just in
case.  Then Terenty and  Gavrik  appeared.  They walked in  step,  hands  in
pockets, looking well satisfied with the day's work.
     "Come  on, come on," said Terenty, passing one hand over Motya's  cheek
and holding out  the  other to  Petya.  "Don't dawdle. It's  true  there are
meetings and  demonstrations  all over  the town  and the  police don't know
which way to turn, and Tolmachov's sitting at home wondering what to do, but
all the same.... We'd better be getting along."
     This time,  however, the  police evidently were at a loss, and Governor
Tolmachov  did not venture  to send for  troop's. Throughout the twenty-four
hours  of the strike, not a single soldier or policeman was seen  about Near
Mills, except for the old local policeman who spent the whole day going from
house to house, begging tearfully for his sabre and revolver. He came to the
Chernoivanenkos' too, and Terenty went out into the yard to talk to him.
     "Terenty, lad," he pleaded,  "I knew you when you were in diddies. Have
a good heart. Tell your lads to give me my weapons back, or I'll be put  out
of the police. They're the property of the Crown."
     Terenty frowned.
     "What d'you mean by my lads? Think what you're saying."
     "As if  you didn't know yourself,"  said the  old man with a  wink, and
added  guilelessly, "your lads,  the  ones that are  revolutionaries. You're
their chief, aren't you?"
     Terenty took the man by the shoulder and led him out of the gate.
     "Get  along  with  you,  old 'un! And  don't  babble of things you know
nothing about. Or if you do-better keep off the streets at night. Get that?"
     "Ah, Terenty, Terenty." The old policeman sighed  and shambled along to
the next house.
     The  following day the strike ended and everything went  on as  before.
Factory whistles filled the  air every morning just as  they had, but now it
was  no longer cold and misty, but bright with sunshine  and filled with the
fragrance of flowers and the song of birds. And the people  going to work in
groups  and crowds seemed to  Petya  to be  different too,  they walked more
boldly,  they looked cheerful  and confident and in some  way  brighter  and
cleaner-probably because they had got rid of their clumsy winter clothes and
many were already in light canvas jackets and coloured cotton shirts.
     Coming home from school Petya felt very hot in his heavy uniform jacket
and cap, which soon became quite wet on the inside.
     Lessons finished a week before the exams. From morning  to night  Petya
sat at the table under the mulberry tree, his fingers in his  ears, learning
events and  dates, wagging his head like a Chinese  mandarin. He had made up
his mind to  get top marks in  all the exams whatever  happened, for he knew
full well that  no  leniency would be shown him,  he would be failed  on any
pretext. He got thin, and his hair, long uncut, straggled on his neck.

     Come to the station with me?"  said Gavrik  one day, appearing suddenly
behind Petya.
     Petya was so  deep in  his  swotting  that  he did not even wonder  why
Gavrik was not at work. He only wagged his head a little faster and mumbled,
"Let me alone."
     Glancing up, however, he saw a very mysterious  smile on Gavrik's face.
Still more surprising was  his  carefully combed hair, the new cotton  shirt
held in by  a new belt, the pressed trousers and the new boots which he wore
only on very special occasions. All this must mean something unusual.
     "Why the station?" Petya asked.
     "To get the newspaper."
     "What newspaper?"
     "Our own. A daily.  The workers' paper,  lad.  Sent straight  from  St.
Petersburg by express. It's called the Pravda."
     Petya had already heard talk of the  new workers' paper the Beks  would
soon  be putting  out in St.  Petersburg. Collections had  been made for  it
among the workers, Petya had seen the money. Sometimes Terenty or Gavrik had
brought it home from work and  after counting it carefully, put it away in a
tin box that had once  held sweet drops. Once  a  week Terenty would send it
away by post, and put the receipt in the same box.
     The money was  mostly in small coins, even in single kopeks. Ruble  and
three-ruble notes appeared but rarely,  and it was  difficult to imagine how
such a big thing as a daily paper could possibly emerge from these coppers.
     But now  it  seemed  that it  could, and  it  was  coming  on  the  St.
Petersburg-Odessa express.
     To be frank, Petya was already heartily sick  of  grinding  away at his
books all day  and every day, from  morning  to night.  He  was glad of  the
excuse for a break. The idea of going to the station  was enticing. It was a
place  that  always  attracted  him.   The  network  of  rails  spurred  his
imagination to  picture the unknown regions  to which their smoothly curving
lines led.
     The west Petya had already seen. But there was still the north, all its
boundlessly vast expanses-Russia with Moscow, St. Petersburg, ancient  Kiev,
Arkhangelsk, the  Volga,  and Siberia  which  was Bo  hard  to  picture, and
finally  the Lena  River which was now not merely  a  river but  an event in
history,  reeking  with blood-like  Khodynka  (  A  place  in  Moscow  where
thousands of people were trampled to death in May 1896 during the coronation
of  Nicholas  II  due  to  the  authorities'  criminal  negligence.-Tr.)  or
Tsushima. And it was from there, from  the north, from the smoky,  foggy St.
Petersburg, that the express would today bring the newspaper Pravda.
     When Petya  and Gavrik arrived at the station, the train was already in
and stood  by the platform. It consisted entirely of shining  Pullmans, blue
or  yellow,  without a single third-class  green coach.  And there were  two
coaches such as neither Petya nor Gavrik had ever seen before; involuntarily
the lads stopped before them.
     They were faced with brightly polished wood, and  the door handles, the
corners of windows, the foreign letters  of the inscription and the badge of
the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits were of brass that glittered in
the sun. Even the outside conveyed a smart severity, like that of a ship.
     When the boys, nudging one another, peeped in through a window with its
narrow band of painted glass  at the top, they gasped at the luxury  inside,
at the  polished mahogany  panels,  the stamped-plush walls,  the snow-white
rumpled  bedding, the electric-light bulbs  like  milky tulips, the blue net
for light articles, the heavy bronze spittoon and the carpet on the floor.
     In the  other coach they  saw something even more  astounding-a  buffet
with  bottles  and  hors-d'oeuvres,  and  a waiter  in a  tailcoat  clearing
pyramidal  napkins from the  tables,  napkins so white and  stiff that  they
might have been made of marble.
     Even Petya who had been abroad had never  imagined anything  like this,
let alone Gavrik.
     "Oooh, just look!" Petya  whispered, pressing his face  so hard against
the thick glass that his nose left a moist imprint.
     Gavrik's  eyes  narrowed and with  a queer smile he hissed through  his
teeth, "That's how our fine gentry travel."
     "Keep off the coach, please!" said a stern voice with a foreign accent,
and  a  conductor  in  the   uniform  jacket   and  cap  of  the   Compagnie
Internationale des Wagons-Lits shoved the boys  away  with a firm hand as he
     Gavrik  wrinkled his  nose,  doubled up his  arm  and thrust the  elbow
towards  the  man-in Near  Mills  an  indication of  the utmost mockery  and
contempt. But the conductor, from the height of his superiority, ignored the
gesture, and the boys went on to the luggage coach.
     At  the moment  flat cane  baskets were being brought out; through  the
open  nets  covering them  the lads  could  see fresh,  moist  flowers-Parma
violets  and  roses,  sent through St. Petersburg from Nice to Werkmeister's
flower shop. Werkmeister himself, a gentleman in a short light bell-bottomed
coat with mourning bands on the sleeve and on a top hat, was supervising the
unloading, accompanying each  basket the  porter  carried to the cart with a
gentle touch from a finger bearing two wedding rings.
     The boys could smell  the perfume  of damp  flowers, strange among  the
coal and metal smells of the railway station, and this suddenly brought back
to Petya  that station in Naples, so like this one except  for the palms and
the  agaves,  and  the forgotten girl  with the black ribbon in her chestnut
braid. And again he  felt the bitter-sweet pang of parting. He  even fancied
that he saw her before him.
     But at that moment Gavrik  seized his sleeve and pulled him after a big
truck  loaded with  piles  of St. Petersburg  newspapers and magazines.  Two
porters  wheeled it  with  some difficulty, the  small iron  wheels striking
sparks as they rumbled over the asphalt.
     The boys  ran  alongside,  trying to  guess  which  pile contained  the
Pravda. The truck was wheeled off the platform into the station building and
came to a squealing stop beside a newspaper stall-a carved bookcase of fumed
oak, big as an organ, with hundreds of books, newspapers and magazines lying
.and hanging all over it.
     Petya loved  to look  at  all these novelties from St.  Petersburg. The
covers  of  love  and  detective  novels excited  him,  so did the  coloured
caricatures  of the Satirikon,  and  Alarm-Ctock,  and  the garlands of  The
Leichtweiss Cave, Nat  Pinkerton,  Nick Carter,  and Sherlock Holmes series,
that hung on lines like washing, with tiny pictures of  these famous foreign
detectives, with pipes or  without, among whom the famous Russian  detective
Putilin   looked   very   tnai've  and  provincial  with   his   ministerial
side-whiskers  and  his  old-fashioned  silk  hat.   Then  there  were   the
illustrated weekly journals-The Spark, Sun of Russia,  All the World,  Round
the World, and especially  that new magazine  which had only just come  out,
the Blue  Journal,  which really was  blue all  through, smelt  strongly  of
kerosene and stained the fingers.
     All these  dozens, hundreds,  thousands of printed sheets  promising  a
fantastic variety  of  ideas and  subjects,  but  actually  offering only an
appalling emptiness,  fascinated  Petya, and he stood before them as  though
     Meanwhile, the bundles of newspapers had been flung one after the other
beneath the counter. The  stout, long-bearded  old  man with  a  gold  chain
across his waistcoat, who rented  the stall, kept putting  a small pince-nez
on his  strawberry-coloured  nose,  leafing  through  his  account  book and
jotting down  notes with a pencil,  while  a very thin, bony  lady in a hat,
whose  pointed  angry  face made  her  look like  a pike,  flung  bundles of
newspapers  on  the  counter,  from  which they were quickly snatched up  by
news-boys and the owners of street stalls who had been queuing up for a long
     "Fifty  New  Times,  thirty Country Life,  a  hundred  and fifty  Stock
Exchange, a hundred Speech. There you are, next!"  she  cried in a  croaking
voice, and in an instant the bundles were carried  off on shoulders or heads
across  the  station  square.  There  they  were  pitched  on to  handcarts,
wheelbarrows  or cabs  to  be distributed over the whole  city  as  fast  as
     Gavrik  took his place  at the end of the queue with a  little group of
people  who did not look like stall owners or news-boys. More  than anything
else they  looked  like  workers.  Gavrik  greeted some  of  them  and  they
exchanged  a  few quick words, impatiently  eyeing the bundles of newspapers
disappearing from the counter.
     Petya had the feeling they were apprehensive about something.
     At last their turn came.
     "And what do you want?" asked the pike-faced lady, with a stern look at
the strangers. She knew all her regular clients  by sight but these  she had
never seen before. "What have you come for?"
     "Our  paper's the Pravda." An  elderly worker with  a clipped moustache
wearing a  Sunday  jacket  and tie but smelling strongly  of  varnish pushed
forward to the counter. "We are from the Gena Factory,  the Ropit Wharf, the
repair  workshops, the Weinstein Flour Mill, the Schawald  Shipping  Company
and the  Zur and Co.  Furniture  Factory. To begin with we want fifty copies
     "What's that you say? Pravda?  I've never heard of such a paper,"  said
the lady in an artificial voice and turned to the old man. "Ivan Antonovich,
does our agency handle the newspaper Pravda?"
     "What's  the  matter?" asked the old  man, and without raising his head
from his accounts  shot a hostile look  at the  customers out  of his small,
piercing eyes.
     "There's an application for three  hundred copies of some Pravda," said
the lady.
     "Not some Pravda," Gavrik corrected her, "but  the workers' daily paper
which has its office at 37, Nikolayevskaya Street, St. Petersburg. Isn't  it
     "It's not arrived," said the old man indifferently. "Come tomorrow."
     "Excuse me," said an elderly worker,  "but that's  not possible.  We've
had a telegram."
     "It's not arrived."
     "Not arrived, hasn't  it?" the  elderly worker snapped,  frowning. "The
Black-Hundred New Times  has  come, the  bourgeois Speech has come, but  the
workers' Pravda isn't here? Where's your lousy freedom, then?"
     "For  that sort  of  talk I  could-  Sofya  Ivanovna, go quick for  the
     "What's that?" said the elderly worker very quietly, and his thick grey
brows drew  closer together. "Perhaps you want to send for the soldiers too?
As they did on the Lena?"
     "Don't waste your breath on them, Yegor Alexeyevich!"  shouted a lad in
a  seaman's cap  with  blue  tattooing on Ms  sinewy arm-evidently  from the
Schawald  Shipping Company. "Put  him out!" He made a rush for the  old man,
pushing aside the pike-faced lady, whose hat went askew.
     Petya shut his eyes. Now, he thought,  something terrible  will happen.
But all he heard was the old man whining, "Don't touch me, I'll have the law
on you...."
     When he  opened his  eyes he saw  Gavrik standing  behind  the counter,
triumphantly  pulling out  a  big package  of  the Pravda  printed  on cheap
yellowish paper with  the name in big,  black letters, as straight and stern
as the meaning of the word. (Pravda-truth.-Tr.)
     "But mark this, gentlemen, we don't sell retail!" hissed the lady. "And
don't  expect  credit.  Either  you  take  the whole  consignment-a thousand
copies, and pay  on the spot, or you  can get out and tomorrow your beggarly
Pravda  goes  back  to St.  Petersburg,  and  the sooner  it goes  smash the
     The paper was a cheap  one, fitted for lean pockets. Other  papers cost
five kopeks, the  Pravda  only two.  But even so,  a  thousand copies  meant
twenty rubles, a big sum in those days.
     The six turned out their pockets  but found that they could only scrape
up sixteen rubles seventy-four kopeks.
     "Ragamuffins,  beggars,  rabble,  and  want to  push  your  noses  into
politics," rattled the lady all in one breath,  turned  her back and put her
lace-mittened hand on the pile of papers.
     "Just  a  minute,"  said  the young  fellow from  the Schawald Shipping
     He raced into the first-class  waiting-room, handed  his  silver  watch
over the refreshment counter and was back in a moment with a five-ruble note
crumpled in his hand.
     So ten minutes later Gavrik and Petya were marching towards Near Mills,
each with a package of papers on his shoulder.
     Although  the  newspaper  was  published  legally,  with  the necessary
permit, Petya felt like a  law-breaker. Whenever the boys passed a policeman
he  felt the  man was looking  at them with great  suspicion. As a matter of
fact, he was often right.
     It would have been hard not to notice two youths, one in school uniform
and the  other  dressed  as  a  workman, striding along very  quickly,  with
sizeable bundles on their shoulders and obviously excited, the boy in school
uniform looking round apprehensively  at  every  step and  the young workman
whistling the "Varshavyanka" as  loudly  as he could, beating out the rhythm
with his stride.
     The nearer  they  came to their house, the faster the  boys  went until
they were almost running. Sometimes Gavrik tossed his bundle in the air and,
imitating  newsboys, shouted, "New daily workers' paper, the Pravda!  Latest
news! All about the Lena massacre!" His eyes burned.
     When  they  came to  Sakhalinchik, quite close  to Near  Mills,  Gavrik
pulled out a number of copies and raced  ahead at full  speed,  waving  them
over  his head and  shouting, "The  Tsar's  Minister Makarov tells the State
Duma, 'What has been will be!' Down with the butcher Makarov! Long  live the
workers' Pravda! Buy  the workers' Pravda\ Two kopeks  a copy! What has been
won't be!"
     They came  to the  factory district and here Gavrik was quite  at home.
This was his own world, where he  felt free and independent. Big  gates with
brass lettering on wire  netting. Square  brick buildings and tall chimneys.
The squat concrete tower of the  "Cocovar" margarine factory  with  its huge
placard of a bulldog-faced chef offering a dish with a steaming pudding. The
waterworks, the depot, the elevators.. ..
     Here and there workers in blue shirts  and greasy overalls came running
out, drawn by Gavrik's cries. Some of them bought  papers and handed coppers
to Gavrik which he slipped into his mouth like a real news-boy.
     Once  a  policeman  noticed the disturbance  and  whistled, but  Gavrik
showed his elbow  from  the distance  and  the  boys dived  quickly  down an
     Petya's fears had almost left him, it was as though they  were  playing
some exciting, risky game.
     Suddenly they heard the  beat of running feet behind them. They turned.
A man with his jacket open and flying was racing after them. He had bow legs
and weaved from side to side, shouting, "Hi! You lads there! Stop!"
     At first  Petya thought  he  wanted  to  buy a paper and  waited, but a
second  glance showed  him his  mistake. The man running  after them  held a
short rubber truncheon  and  on his lapel was the badge of the Black-Hundred
Union with its tricolour ribbon.
     "Run!" shouted Gavrik.
     But the  man with the truncheon  was  there already; Petya felt a heavy
blow  which luckily missed  his head and  descended on the bundle of papers,
just clipping his ear in passing.
     Fragments of newsprint flew on all sides.
     "Hands off!"  Gavrik snarled, hoarse with rage; with  his free  hand he
gave the man such a blow that he staggered back and almost fell. "Hands off,
you blackguard! Murderer, bastard! I'll kill you!"
     Without removing his  eyes from  the man,  Gavrik slipped the bundle of
papers from his shoulder and reached them back to Petya.
     "Take those and run  to the repair shops, call the workers' squad,"  he
said rapidly, licking  his lips and forgetting Petya  might  not  know  what
workers' squads were.
     But Petya knew. Hugging the papers, he raced along the narrow street at
top speed.
     Gavrik and the man faced each other on the road. Still licking his lips
and breathing  heavily  through his nose, Gavrik  slowly slid his right hand
into  his  pocket. When he just  as  slowly  took  it  out,  it held a steel
     "I'll kill you!" he repeated, his hard eyes fixed on the man as  though
he wanted to fix in his  mind that puffy dark face that looked  as though it
had  been stung by  bees,  the little  pig's eyes, the bullet-head with hair
parted at the side and combed across  the low forehead, and the crooked grin
of a bully.
     "Now  then, you  scum!"  said  the man and aimed a blow with his rubber
truncheon; but Gavrik dodged it and raced after Petya.
     He heard the beat  of boots behind him, and  when the sound came  close
Gavrik  suddenly threw himself down on the ground;  the man caught his foot,
tripped and measured his length. Gavrik promptly sat down on him and started
hammering the man's black head with his knuckle-duster, repeating  fiercely,
"Hands off! Hands off! Hands off!"
     The man  got his  hand into his pocket  with a groan  and pulled out  a
small black Browning. A number of shots rang out, but Gavrik managed to  get
his foot on the man's  arm and  the bullets only struck harmless sparks from
the cobbles.
     "Help! Police!" sobbed  the man and,  twisting his head round, suddenly
hit Gavrik on the leg.
     Gavrik gasped and  the next  minute they were rolling  over and over on
the ground. It is hard to say how it would have ended,  for  Gavrik was much
smaller  and  weaker than his  opponent, but at  that moment assistance came
from the repair workshops.
     Five men of the workers' squad armed with pieces of piping and spanners
tore the Browning and the rubber truncheon out of the bully's hand, gave him
a  couple  of  buffets  and all but  carried Gavrik into the  yard.  It  all
happened so  quickly that when  a policeman  came  running up, drawn by  the
firing, he found nobody  in  the street except Gavrik's assailant sitting on
the ground, slumped against the fence of  the  "Cocovar" margarine  factory,
spitting out blood-covered teeth.
     From  then  on  the  new  paper   was  sold  regularly,  first  in  the
working-class districts  and round the factories, and then here and there in
the centre of the city.

     A few days later exams  began. It cost Motya and her mother a good deal
of work to clean  and mend Petya's uniform, for it had been in more than one
adventure since its owner had come to live in Near Mills.
     Petya's ear, which caught a glancing  blow by the rubber truncheon, was
no longer painful but was still blue and swollen, and in general presented a
disreputable appearance. Petya hoped a dusting of tooth-powder would make it
look a little more presentable and allowed Motya to do the powdering,  which
she did, passing a rag very gently and carefully  over the injured  ear, her
tongue thrust out in concentrated effort.
     Petya  did not do at all badly  in  his  exams, although the  examiners
tried hard to fail him.
     The  tense, tiring examination period, which as always  coincided  with
the first May thunderstorms, thickly flowering lilacs, summer heat and short
sleepless  nights  filled  with  moonlight  and  the  whispers   of  lovers,
thoroughly exhausted Petya. When  he finally returned to Near Mills from the
last exam-eyes  sparkling,  hair rumpled, hands covered  with ink and chalk,
perspiring and happy-it would have been hard to recognize him for  the  same
boy he  had been a couple  of months before, so  much  older and  thinner he
     The next day he shouldered his pillow and blanket and set off for home.
     The first person  he  saw there was his father.  Vasily  Petrovich  was
weeding round the cherry trees, tearing out grass and chamomiles and tossing
them  into a  basket.  Petya  looked at  the kindly,  unshaven  face and the
noticeably greyer hair, the  dark-blue shirt, faded at the back and bleached
almost white under the arms, the old trousers, baggy at the knees, the dusty
sandals and the pince-nez that fell off and dangled on its  cord  every time
his father bent down-and a flood of warmth filled him.
     "Dad!" he called, "I'm through!"
     His father turned and a  happy smile lighted up the  wet  bearded  face
with a swollen vein running across the forehead.
     "Ah, Petya! Well, congratulations, that's fine."
     The  boy dropped his pillow  and blanket on the  dusty  grass and flung
both arms round his father's hot, sunburned neck, noticing with surprise and
a secret thrill of pride that they were almost the same height.
     Auntie appeared  from the flowering  lilacs with  the hoe in her hands.
Petya did not recognize her at once, for she had a kerchief fastened tightly
round her head, making her look like a peasant woman.
     "Auntie, I've passed them all!" Petya cried.
     "I  know,  I heard  you, congratulations," said Auntie, wiping  her wet
forehead with her arm. She beamed,  but she could not refrain from improving
the occasion. "Now you're in the seventh form, I hope you'll behave better."
     Dunyasha,  her head in a kerchief and a  hoe in her hands  like Auntie,
also congratulated the young master on his success.
     Then came  a creaking of wheels followed by a big, bony, very old horse
in funereal black blinkers pulling  a long water-cart. The horse was  led by
the lanky youth, Gavrila, whom Petya had seen before, and Pavlik sat astride
the barrel, barefoot and in a big straw hat, holding the reins and whip.
     "Hey,  Petya!  Hullo!"  he  called, spitting to  one  side like  a real
carter.  "Look, I can drive  him a bit already!  Here you,  stop!  Whoa!" he
shouted at the  horse, which at once stood motionless on its trembling legs,
evidently glad to do so.
     Gavrila set to  work watering the  trees,  pouring a bucketful into the
hollow dug round each. The dry earth absorbed  the water instantaneously. In
a few minutes Petya realized the work entailed in looking after an orchard.
     Summer  was  beginning and there  had  not  been a single  really  good
rainfall. In the cistern the water was right down to the bottom.  Now it had
to be brought from the horse-tram terminus.
     The orchard was  in blossom and the  trees  were covered  ,with ovaries
that  needed  moisture  all  the  time. It  was a good  thing  that with the
Vasyutinskaya orchard they had got that  old  horse, called Warden,  and the
water-cart. But a  tremendous amount  of water was needed, and  Warden could
barely crawl.
     From morning to night there was the creaking of  un-greased wheels from
the water-cart, the crack of the whip  .and the  heavy breathing of the bony
black nag  that  looked  ready to  fall down and  give  up the  ghost at any
moment. It was  hard  to make him rise from his wet straw in the morning. He
trembled all over,  weakly  shifting his great cracked hoofs, and  the flies
crawled round his blind, watering eyes.
     This somewhat  dashed their  spirits, and at times  seemed like  a  bad
omen. But the weather was wonderful and the crop promised to be so rich that
the Bachei  family, busy from  morning to night with their unaccustomed  but
enjoyable physical work, felt splendid.
     At first Petya thought he never would learn to dig round the trees. The
heavy spade  twisted awkwardly in his hands  and  seemed  too  blunt to  cut
deeply into the ground with its thick growth  of grass and  chamomiles.  His
hands smarted and he rubbed blisters on the palms. But by  the time they had
burst and turned into calluses, he began to understand the way of it.
     It seemed that the spade should be put down at  an angle, and he should
press not only with his hands but also, and mainly, with his foot-slowly and
evenly; there  was a crack of tearing roots and the spade went down into the
black soil right to the very top. Then came the blissful moment when he bore
down with all his  weight on the handle, felt it bend  a  little, and with a
pleasant effort turned over the heavy layer of soil  with its imprint of the
spade and half a wriggling red worm.
     At first Petya  worked in sandals, but then  began  digging barefoot to
save them, and the contact of his skin  with the warm iron was another thing
he enjoyed. He ^realized that  this was not play, it was work, the future of
the family depended on it.
     All of them worked in the sweat of their brows, it  was a real struggle
for  existence. They had dinner at midday on the big glassed-in veranda, hot
from the  sunshine. They ate  borshch,  boiled beef, and grey wheaten  bread
which  they bought from the German settlers at> Lustdorf. They were so tired
they  ate almost in silence, and  what  talk  there  was concerned  only the
weather, rain and the crop.
     Although  they were living in a summer cottage  they were quite  unlike
the usual holiday  crowd. They slept on folding beds in the big, comfortless
rooms,  with spades, hoes, buckets, watering-cans and other implements lying
about in the corners. They washed  at  dawn by  the water-cart, and although
the sea was  not  far away,  only about a  mile and a half, they seldom went
bathing- there was no time.
     Vasily Petrovich  became thin and haggard; he  was evidently overtaxing
his  strength but he refused to slacken off,  and  worked so hard that Petya
often worried about him.
     Everything appeared to be going  well.  It was the kind  of life Vasily
Petrovich  had  often  dreamed  of in secret, especially  after his European
tour-with something of Switzerland, something of the Rousseau spirit, a life
independent of the government or society. A little plot of land, an orchard,
a vineyard, healthy physical  toil  and leisure devoted to reading, walking,
philosophical conversation and all the rest of it.
     So far, it is true,  there had been only the healthy physical  toil, no
time was left for the leisure devoted to spiritual joys. But after all, that
was natural, the new life was only just beginning.
     Nevertheless, Vasily Petrovich  was never free from a  nagging sense of
worry. He was uneasy about the crop.
     The  ovaries stood thick  on the cherry  trees, fine, green balls  that
swelled day by  day, but who could  say how they would  go on? Suppose there
was no rain, the water carried proved insufficient  and the  crop  was lost?
And even if it was not lost, how were they to sell it?
     Up  to  now  the question of  selling the crop  had never been properly
discussed,  it had  been  somehow  taken  for  granted.  People would  come,
wholesale  dealers  from the market, and buy  up the whole of it. All right.
But what if they didn't come and didn't buy it?
     Meanwhile,  the date for the  second payment on  the note  of hand  was
drawing near, and  two  postcards had come from abroad, with a reminder from
the old woman and a warning that if the payment was not  made punctually she
would at  once protest the  bill, close the agreement and let  the  farm  to
other tenants.
     This took all peace of mind from Vasily Petrovich and he began to  lose
his temper about trifles.
     Auntie  remained cheerful, she made various  plans and fastened a sheet
of  paper  to a  telegraph  post  by the  horse-tram terminus  announcing  a
comfortable cottage of two completely isolated  rooms to let in a delightful
spot on the steppe not far from  the  sea, with  an orchard and vineyard; it
could be  rented  either  for the season or  by the month. Full  service  if
     These  two  separate rooms were  nothing more  nor less  than the  tiny
neglected hut roofed with shingles where Madame Vasyutinskaya's servants had
once lived. It stood  by itself, its windows facing the steppe, amid a thick
growth of  silvery wormwood; to Petya, who had explored the whole place,  it
was a wonderful, mysterious, and very romantic spot.
     However,  people who read the notice and  came to take  a look were not
impressed.  One and all  said the same thing, "You call it 'not far from the
     Gavrik came a number of times to study Latin. He liked the farm, but he
still  had  no  use   for  all  this  business  of  physical  toil  and  the
sweat-of-your-brow, he looked upon it as an eccentric whim.  He  did not say
so straight out,  however.  On the  contrary, he asked very  seriously about
watering, hoeing, crop  prospects  and  the  wholesale price of cherries. He
gave no advice, only shook his head in concern and sighed so sympathetically
that Petya even began to have qualms about the success of their venture.
     Gavrik said little about his work in the print-shop  and  life in  Near
Mills,  he seemed  reluctant to discuss it, but from the little he  did  say
Petya concluded that things were  not going very smoothly. After the big May
Day demonstration which he  had  hardly noticed in his absorption  in exams,
the police had got busy again, there had been house searches and some people
had been arrested; the police had been to the Chernoivanenkos', too, but had
found nothing and Terenty was not arrested.
     "In general, it's hard to work," said Gavrik, and Petya was in no doubt
about the sense in which he used the word "work."
     On  one of his  visits, as  though  continuing that topic, Gavrik  said
suddenly,  "About  renting  out  that  cottage of yours-it's  not such a bad
     "Yes, but nobody wants it," said Petya.
     "If you look properly you may find someone," Gavrik answered, as though
he had thought it all over.  "There  are people for  whom a place like  that
would be just the very  thing. Not everyone likes to take  a  room in  town,
where you have to hand in your  papers for registration the moment you  move
in. Get me?" he ended sternly, looking very straight at Petya.
     "I get you all right," Petya answered with a shrug.
     "Well then, remember," said Gavrik still  more sternly. "The point is,"
he went on more  gently, almost casually, "I know a widow with  a child,  an
assistant  doctor, she's from another town and she wants  a room where  it's
quiet.  Of  course,  we could fix  her up  in our shed,  but  in  Near Mills
conditions aren't all we want-you understand? Such a watch kept, it's no use
trying. The widow's  got all her. papers  in order, you've no need  to worry
about that."
     "I understand," said Petya.
     "Well,  I needn't explain any more, then.  Terenty told me to sound you
out about it. I've never  seen her myself. But I'm sure  she'll be all right
with you. A quiet place,  like a farm really,  neither town nor village, and
plenty of  summer cottages all round. Who'll  ever notice her? Couldn't find
anything better. Now the next question- what's the rent?"
     "I believe it's seventy rubles for the season."
     "Eh, lad, that's opening your mouth a bit too wide! You'll get  nothing
that way. Fifteen rubles a month's a good fair price. She can pay two months
in advance. But what's the sense of talking to you about it? I'll go to your
     Gavrik did talk  to  Auntie and  soon convinced  her that it  would  be
better to have a real, concrete thirty rubles-which weren't to be  picked up
on  the ground- rather than an imaginary seventy. As for the  widow  and her
child, Gavrik said nothing about her but made it clear that he had specially
sought out a suitable tenant for them and was thus doing the Bachei family a
very good turn-although he made no actual promises.
     The  rain  did  not  come.  The  drought continued  and  the  heat  was

     Warden was fed  freshly cut hay instead of oats to save money, and fell
sick with a stomach disorder; for the fourth day he lay with distended belly
on his straw, too weak even to raise himself on his forefeet, let alone pull
the  water-cart. The German vet came from  Lustdorf, examined the  horse and
looked into his gaping mouth. To  Auntie's question whether he would be able
to  pull  the cart again, the  vet answered,  "That horse  has  done all his
pulling. Time to send him to the knacker's."
     The ovaries on the trees ceased to swell; they  looked as if they would
never grow any  bigger, but remain as they  were, the size of peas. And most
dreadful of all, some of them turned yellow and dropped off.
     The Bacheis continued earthing up trees from morning to night, although
they felt it was useless labour.
     "Auntie,  Daddy,  Petya, come  quick,  the Persians  are  here!"  cried
Pavlik, racing up  to them  under the  low boughs  of the trees,  waving his
straw hat.
     In  reality   these  were   not   Persians  at  all,  they   were   two
powerfully-built Jews  in dark-blue  belted  shirts hung to their  knees and
tall  sheepskin hats pulled  low over their brows-dealers who  bought  fruit
wholesale,  and were  called  Persians because in the old days Persians  had
done all this type of fruit-trading in Odessa.
     Petya  saw  two  men  standing by  the  dry  water  barrel  with  faces
expressionless as those of carved idols. He gazed at them as at the arbiters
of fate, with fear and hope. Even at the exams he had been less agitated.
     The whole Bachei family surrounded the Persians.
     One of them addressed Auntie.
     "Are you the  mistress  here?"  he asked in  a  low rumbling voice that
seemed to  issue from his stomach.  "We'll take a look  at  your crop, maybe
we'll buy it on the tree-if there's anything left of it."
     Without waiting for an answer, both Persians walked along the overgrown
paths, glancing carelessly  at the trees and now and  then stopping to touch
an ovary or feel the soil round the roots.
     The  Bacheis followed them  in silence, trying to guess their thoughts.
Although  the men's faces remained  expressionless, it  was  plain  that the
situation  was  really  bad. When they had  finished  their examination, the
Persians brought  their sheepskin hats  close together  and  whispered for a
     "They need water," said  one,  addressing Auntie;  they whispered again
and walked silently away.
     "Well?" asked  Auntie, following them  with tiny  steps  and overtaking
them at the gate.
     "They  need  water,"  the man repeated, halting, and after  a  moment's
thought he added, "fruit like that we wouldn't take even as a gift."
     "Come now,  you're  exaggerating," said Auntie  with a kind  of  forced
coquettishness, trying to turn it into a joke, "Let's be serious."
     "Well, we'll give you  twelve rubles for the whole crop as  it  stands,
take  it or  leave it,"  the  man answered and pushed his hat lower over his
     Auntie flushed with indignation. Such an  absurd sum  as  twelve rubles
was an insult. She could hardly believe her ears.
     "What's that? How much did you say?"
     "Twelve rubles," the man repeated roughly.
     "Vasily Petrovich,  you  hear  what they're  offering?"  cried  Auntie,
clasping her hands and forcing a laugh.
     "What's wrong with that?  It's a good price," said the Persian. "Better
take it  while you can get  it,  in another week you won't get five,  you'll
just have blistered your hands for nothing."
     "Boor!" said Auntie.
     "Sirs,  will you kindly  get out of here!" cried Vasily Petrovich,  and
his jaw shook. "Outside! Out, I say! Gavrila, put them out, throw them  out!
Robbers!" And Vasily Petrovich stamped his foot.
     "No  need for abuse," said the Persian quite  pacifically. "First learn
to look after your fruit, then it'll be time enough to shout."
     So the men left, not forgetting to shut the gate behind them.
     "Just think, the  impudence of it!"  Auntie kept repeating. She dropped
her spade and fanned herself with her handkerchief.
     "Now, don't you go getting upset about it, ma'am," said Gavrila.  "Just
take no  notice.  They only came to push  down the price. I know their sort.
But what they said  about  water, that's right. Our orchard has  to have it.
The trees  want  water. No  water, no crop. And  there you are, the horse is
down.  No  way to bring it. If  only  it would rain  now. Water-you can't do
without it."
     Scant comfort in that.
     They  tried to hire a horse from the  German settlers in  Lustdorf, but
nothing  came of it: first  the Germans named  an impossibly high price, and
then refused  point-blank,  saying they needed their  horses themselves. The
real  fact  was  that they  all  had their  own  orchards and the  ruin of a
competitor just suited them.
     "Amazing, how  unneighbourly  they are!"  cried Auntie  at dinner-time,
cracking her fingers, a thing she had never done before.
     "What's  to  be  done, what's  to  be done,"  mumbled Vasily Petrovich,
bending a little too low over his plate. "Homo homini lupus est, which means
'Man's a  wolf  to  man'.... If you  remember, I told  you at the time  this
stupid idea of trading  in fruit would end badly." His ears turned  red as a
cock's comb.
     He had said  it would end badly-he could well have said it would end in
complete ruin. It was clear without words. Auntie turned  pale with the pain
of hearing  these cruel,  unjust words. Her eyes filled with  tears  and her
lips trembled.
     "Vasily  Petrovich,  aren't  you  ashamed,"  she said imploringly,  her
fingers at her temples.
     "Why should I be  ashamed? It's all your fantastic idea ...  your crazy
     Vasily  Petrovich could  no  longer stop,  he had  lost all control  of
himself. He jumped up and suddenly saw Pavlik apparently holding his nose so
as not  to  giggle; actually the boy was biting his fingers  desperately  to
keep himself from crying.
     "What!" yelled Vasily Petrovich  in  a voice not his own. "You have the
impudence to laugh! I'll  teach you  to respect your father! Stand  up,  you
rascal, when your father speaks to you!"
     "Dad-Daddy!" sobbed  Pavlik,  and clapped his hands  over  his face  in
     But Vasily Petrovich was beyond understanding. He  picked  up his plate
of soup  and smashed it down  on  the floor.  Then  he twisted his arm round
awkwardly, gave Pavlik a buffet on the back of the neck and rushed out  into
the  orchard,  slamming  the door  behind him  with  such violence  that the
coloured glass at the top fell in shattered fragments.
     "I  can't live  in this madhouse any longer!" Petya  suddenly screamed.
"Damn you! I'm going to Near Mills and I'm not coming back!" He ran into his
room to put his things together.
     Altogether,  it was a shameful, degrading scene. One might have thought
they had all lost their senses, gone mad as dogs do in the heat.
     The heat certainly was dreadful-close, exhausting,  dry, burning-enough
to  drive anybody mad.  The pale sky  seemed to have a  dull, scorching veil
drawn over it. Waves of heat came from the steppe as they come from the open
door of an  oven. Hot winds carried clouds of dust. The acacias rustled with
a dry, papery sound and the grass was grey. The strip of  sea on the horizon
looked brown, speckled with greyish-white foam; and whenever the roar of the
wind died down one could hear the sound of waves-dry and monotonous like the
distant rattle of pebbles thrown on to some huge sieve.
     The  dusty  shadows  of  trees  flickered on the walls and ceilings  of
rooms. A terrible day.... Not  only Petya but  Vasily Petrovich, Auntie  and
even Pavlik were ready to collect their belongings and run away-anywhere, to
get  away from the sight of  one another and the mutual sense of injury. But
of course nobody did run away, they only wandered aimlessly about in the hot
rooms  and along  the  rustling paths. They felt  fettered  to this wretched
place which had at first looked like heaven on earth.
     Towards evening a figure appeared in  the orchard-a short, stout man in
a tall sheepskin hat, but brown this time instead of black. This was another
Persian, a real one  this time, with long eastern moustaches  and languorous
eyes. He went quickly round the orchard  leaning ion a short stick, and then
stood beside the kitchen  waiting  for  somebody  to  come out.  As  no  one
appeared,  however, he went to the  house and rapped on the window  with his
     When Auntie  peeped out, he  said, "Hi, Mistress!"  and  pointed at the
orchard with a yellow hand adorned with dirty nails. "I'll buy your crop for
five rubles. Better take it or you'll be sorry later."
     "Ruffian!" cried  Auntie in a  dreadful voice. "Gavrila, what  are  you
about? Throw him out!"
     But the  real Persian did  not wait for Gavrila,  he ran off with small
limping steps and disappeared in an instant.
     Then came the third postcard from Madame  Vasyutinskaya, reminding them
of the date for the next payment.
     Nobody wanted  any  supper  that  day,  and for a long  time  the  four
soup-plates  of yoghurt sprinkled with sugar stood untouched on the table on
the veranda.
     In  the middle of  the  night a dreadful,  inhuman,  bloodcurdling  cry
awakened everybody. What could it be? Outside the windows the black outlines
of the fruit trees swayed as in fever. Then the cry was repeated, still more
dreadful,  with  a kind of  screaming, sobbing  laugh  in  it. Somebody came
running along the path, waving a lantern. Then there was  a battering on the
glazed  door  that shook  the  house. Gavrila  stood on the step, waving his
     "Come quick, ma'am, Warden's dying," he cried in a frightened voice.
     Petya  flung something on  and raced to the stable, trembling from head
to foot. Auntie, Vasily Petrovich, Dunyasha and Pavlik, barefoot and wrapped
in a blanket, stood huddled round the door.
     Gavrila's  lantern  shed an ominous  light inside the stable.  He could
hear the deep,  vibrating groans of the dying horse. They  stood  petrified,
helpless, unable to think of any way to stave off this catastrophe.
     Just before  dawn the horse gave one last  dreadful scream vibrant with
pain  and terror,  and  then  fell silent for ever. In  the morning  a  cart
arrived  and he  was taken out  somewhere far away on the steppe-huge, bony,
black,  with bared teeth and long outstretched legs ending in cracked  hoofs
and shining, worn iron shoes.

     They were all so crushed by this disaster that nobody did any work  all
day. The  death of Warden was not only a bad omen, it  was the final blow to
all  their  hopes, it  meant  inevitable ruin for the  family. Utter despair
     After dinner the wind died down  somewhat but the sultry heat was worse
than ever. Not a cloud could be  seen in the pale, dusty-looking sky. A band
of  lilac  lay  along  the  horizon,  a   deceptive  reflection  of  distant
thunderstorms  that constantly  gathered  but never  broke. This was not the
first time there  had  been  a promise  of  storm, but  it  had always  been
followed by disappointment, either  the cloud had melted  away imperceptibly
in the scorching air or it had passed by  and broken somewhere  out  to sea,
with a useless rolling of thunder echoing over the steppe.
     Today it  was the same. The storm broke far away. Nobody was surprised,
they  had already  lost all hope of rain, although that was  the only chance
left for the crop. Petya was  weary after a sleepless night; he did not know
what to do with  himself  and wandered out on  the steppe, roaming aimlessly
until a  big circuit brought  him to the sea.  He  climbed down  the  cliff,
clutching at roots and boulders, and finally sat down on the hot pebbles.
     The water  was  still heaving after the storm  of the previous day, but
the waves, heavy with seaweed,  no longer beat angrily against the beach but
rolled smoothly up it, leaving stranded jelly-fish and dead sea-horses.
     It  was a wild, deserted strip of  coast,  and  Petya, who  had all day
longed to  be alone, felt easier there, lapped in a quiet melancholy. It was
a long  time since  he had bathed and now he  undressed quickly  and slipped
with pleasure into the warm, foamy water.
     There was a  special,  inexplicable delight in this bathe which he took
quite alone. First he  swam along the  shore for a little way among slippery
rocks washed by the sea and covered with  brown weeds, then he turned out to
sea. As usual,  he swam on  his  side, kicking  his legs  like  a  frog  and
flinging one hand forward in a broad  overarm swing.  He pushed his shoulder
through the waves, trying to raise  that splash which  made him feel  he was
cutting swiftly  through the water although in reality his speed was nothing
wonderful.  He was  very pleased with  himself. He  particularly  liked that
shoulder which  pushed  through  the  water-brown, smooth  as  silk under  a
gleaming wet film that reflected the sunshine.
     The time had long  passed when  he had been afraid to  go far  from the
shore. He would strike out boldly for the open sea and then turn over on his
back, let  the waves rock him, and  stare  up  at  the sky until he  had the
feeling  that he was looking down  at it, hanging, void of weight, in space.
The whole world  vanished, he  forgot  everything  but  himself,  alone  and
     Now too, he  swam out about a  mile, turned  over... and gasped  at the
change that had taken place around him. The sky overhead was still clear and
the  sea shone with a  hot, blinding  glare, but it had a hard glitter, like
the glitter of anthracite.
     Petya looked  back to  the shore. Over the narrow  strip of cliff, over
the  steppe  hung  something  huge,  black,  surging  and-most  terrible  of
all-quite  silent.  Before  Petya  had  time  to  realize that  this  was  a
thundercloud it  rolled up  to the sun,  which was  blindingly white like  a
magnesium  flare, and  swallowed  it  up in  an  instant, extinguishing  all
colours from the world so that everything became a leaden grey.
     Petya swam back as fast as he could, and anyway he could, trying to get
ashore before  the storm burst. Far away on the steppe, under the slaty sky,
he could see whirling dust-devils chasing one another.  And when  he climbed
up the beach and turned to look at the sea, the place where he had only just
been was already a seething mass of foam whipped by a squall, with sea-gulls
flying wildly over.
     Petya barely managed to catch his  trousers and shirt as they fled with
the  wind along the beach. While he was climbing the cliff everything turned
as dark as late evening. He raced at  top  speed to  the horse-tram terminus
where rails were being laid for electric trams and concrete poured for a new
building. Just as  he got there lightning flashed, there was a great bang of
thunder and  in the  hush  that  followed  he  could  hear  the roar  of the
approaching downpour.
     Petya ran on to the road,  and as though some gate  had opened, a sharp
scent of wet hemp struck him, followed by a solid wall of rain.
     In an instant the road became a river. The lightning flashes showed him
the foaming torrent that swirled  round his  legs. His feet  'slipped. There
was no sense trying to get  home through  that. Up to the knees  in water he
made  his  way back  to the tram-shelter,  crossing  himself every time  the
lightning flashed close by with an almost  simultaneous clap of thunder.  It
was  only as he slipped down into a deep gutter that Petya suddenly realized
this  was  the thunderstorm, the downpour, for which the whole Bachei family
had waited so desperately. It was not ordinary water, it was the water which
would soak the orchard, fill the empty cistern and save them from ruin.
     "Hurrah!"  shouted Petya  and ran  through  the storm to  the farm,  no
longer afraid of anything.
     He slipped and fell several times on the way, flopping  full length  in
the mud, but  now this warm  mud felt  wonderful.  When  he reached home the
sunset showed dimly through a  break in the main-clouds and the storm rolled
away out to sea where  lightning flashed convulsively and thunder snarled on
a dark-blue horizon. But  Petya had hardly time to race along  the paths and
admire the muddy water filling the hollows round the trees, to plant a happy
kiss on  his father's wet beard, to give Pavlik a friendly buffet and shout,
"Grand,  Auntie,  isn't it?" before the storm came back,  more  violent than
     Several  times  after that it circled over the sea and returned  again.
The rain  continued  all  through the night, sometimes pouring in  torrents,
sometimes stealthily quiet, barely  audible, while under the trees thousands
of tiny  streams glittered in  the lightning  flashes  which  illumined  the
orchard with all its distant, mysterious corners.
     The whole night Gavrila, a sack over his head,  ran round the house and
over the roof fixing  up the pipes that collected the water and poured it in
rapid torrents  into the cistern.  And to the noise of the  filling  cistern
Petya fell into a deep, happy sleep.
     It was late when he awakened. A rosy sun shone like a jewel through the
warm  mist,  and the wet  garden  was full  of bird-song. Auntie  looked  in
through the open window.
     "Get up, lazy-bones!" she called gaily.  "While you've been asleep, our
tenants have come!"
     "The widow with a child?" asked Petya yawning.
     "The very same," Auntie answered with the mischievous smile that showed
her spirits were excellent. "There's tea ready, come along."
     Of course, Petya wanted to see  the  widow and child, so he  hurried to
the veranda.
     He halted, thunderstruck.
     Sitting at  the  table  between  Vasily  Petrovich  and Pavlik,  calmly
drinking  tea, were  that same  lady  and  that  same girl he  had  seen the
previous year at the station in Naples.
     He  gave his head a shake as  though a cinder  had  flown  into his eye
     "Ah,  here's  our Petya,  let me introduce him,"  said  Auntie with her
society smile.
     Petya almost burst out with "We know each other already," but something
held him back. Blushing, he went round the table, clicked his heels politely
and waited for the lady to extend her hand first, as a well-bred boy should.
After clasping the  cool, slender  fingers of the mother, Petya looked  with
secret hope at  the  daughter,  asking  with  his  eyes whether she  did not
remember him.
     But the girl only looked surprised at Petya's queer expression and held
out  her  little  hand  indifferently,  saying,  "Marina."  That  was  quite
unexpected,  for in  accordance with  character  portrayal  by  Pushkin  and
Goncharov, Petya had  always thought of  her as Tanya or  Vera.  And now she
turned out to be  Marina.  Petya eyed her with frank reproach, as though she
had deceived him.
     She  looked  just  the same as she  had  in Naples, with the same short
summer  coat, the same black hair-ribbon and  the  same  little jutting chin
that  gave  her  pretty  face  with  its  rather high cheek-bones  a  lofty,
unapproachable expression.  Her  hazel  eyes  were cold and  disapproving as
though asking, "What do you want of me?"
     "Frailty, thy  name is  woman," thought Petya  bitterly, and then  with
still  greater bitterness realized that she had not  forgotten him, she  had
never even noticed him.
     Petya felt insulted, his pride had suffered a blow.
     "In that case, all is over between us," he said with his eyes, and with
a cold, indifferent shrug he turned and went to his place.
     "Stop making faces," said Auntie.
     "I'm  not making faces," Petya answered, and straightaway stuffed  soft
bread in his tea to make a "pudding." The way of making it was this: you put
pieces of soft bread in  a half-filled glass  of tea,  then  when  the bread
swelled  you turned the glass upside down on the saucer, producing something
which by  a  great  stretch  of imagination  resembled a pudding.  This  was
considered bad manners in the Bachei family, so Vasily Petrovich  gave Petya
a  very  stern look through his  glasses and tapped the table with his index
     "I shall send you away!"
     "Please, don't think he  doesn't  know how  to behave,  he's just shy,"
said  Auntie,  addressing  the  mother  but  with  a   sly  glance  at   the
daughter-which made Petya snort and start messing the "pudding"  up with his
     Marina's  mother,  however,   was  disinclined   to  keep   the  polite
conversation going.  She evidently  found  no  pleasure  in this  ceremonial
tea-drinking with strangers, people who happened to be letting her rooms but
who otherwise did not interest her in the least.
     She was a brunette with a  small,  jutting chin  like her daughter's, a
dark shadow on her upper lip, a shabby widow's bonnet and wary eyes.
     "About the rent," she said, continuing the talk which Petya's  entrance
had interrupted. "I was told that it's fifteen rubles a month. That suits me
very  well  and I'd like to pay two months  in  advance, thirty rubles." She
opened a black bag like the ones midwives carry and took out some notes. "We
shan't  want board, we've a kerosene stove and  we'll  manage for ourselves.
Here is the money, exactly thirty rubles."
     "Oh, that's quite all right,"  mumbled Auntie, flushing and embarrassed
as  she always was when money  was discussed.  "You don't need to give it me
now  ...  later would do.... Well,  merci, then." She pushed the money which
had a slight hospital smell carelessly under the sugar-bowl.
     Marina's mother put  her  hand  in  her  bag again  as  though  seeking
something  else (her papers, thought Petya), but evidently changed her mind,
took her hand out and snapped the bag to with a decisive click.
     "And now if you don't mind, I'd like to go to our rooms," she said.
     Refusing assistance,  mother and daughter picked up their belongings-an
oilcloth satchel,  a  kerosene  stove  wrapped in newspaper,  a  bag  and an
umbrella-and crossed the garden to the cottage, leaving deep imprints on the
wet paths.
     "A  rather strange woman," observed  Vasily Petrovich. "But  after all,
what's that got to do with us?"
     "In any case,  she seems quite cultured," said Auntie with a sigh, took
the money out from under  the  sugar-bowl and  slipped it into the pocket of
her smart apron.
     For a little while  the weather cleared, and the garden sparkled in the
hot sunshine. But hardly had the Bacheis picked up their spades and gone out
to start work when the clouds gathered again and the  rain recommenced,  but
this  time a warm, gentle rain, just the kind needed to ensure  a good crop.
It went on  with short breaks for a whole week, and in that week  the garden
was literally transformed.
     The ovaries swelled before  their eyes, promising  excellent fruit. The
trees seemed to be thick  with cherries-still green, it is true, but getting
ready to change colour. With all this a spirit of gaiety, hope and affection
reigned among the Bacheis, and nobody noticed the change in Petya.

     For  some  time  the  boy  had been  in  a  constant  state of  subdued
excitement. A tense half-smile kept flitting over  his face. He did not know
what to do with himself, especially as all the trees were already earthed up
and  well watered  by  the rain,  so  that there was  no  work  to keep  him
occupied.  Petya's  heart  and mind were  concentrated  on  one aim -to  see
Marina. Simple  enough, one might think. She was  living  right beside  him.
They had been introduced. They could see each other a dozen times a day. But
it was not like that at all.
     The Pavlovskayas (that  was their  name) never left their rooms,  never
appeared in the garden. Evidently they avoided society-or to put it plainly,
they were in  hiding. Petya understood that well enough, but it made matters
no easier for him.
     For a whole week he saw Marina  only  once, and that was at a distance.
She was returning from  the terminus, waist-deep in wheat, holding up a  big
black umbrella and carrying a tin can-evidently for kerosene.
     Petya raced home, put on his cape  and started walking up  and down  by
the gate with a most  casual,  indifferent  air. But Marina  took  the  path
through  the fields  and  Petya only  caught a  glimpse  of her  closing the
umbrella and disappearing into the cottage.
     Petya roamed about  the orchard a long time  in the  rain, choosing the
parts  that  gave  him a  view of the cottage, but the girl did  not  appear
     Late that  evening,  when darkness fell, Petya-holding his  breath  and
inwardly despising himself-crept up to the cottage  and crouched down in the
thick wormwood  that  showered him  from  head  to foot  with  the  aromatic
rain-water from its leaves.
     One  of the windows was dark but the  other was  pale with candlelight.
Looking  in, Petya saw Marina's bent head and her moving hand as  she  wrote
earnestly;  the  light  gave her  fingers the  faintly  transparent  look of
porcelain. Behind her  the large shadow of  Madame  Pavlovskaya moved up and
down  the  whitewashed  wall raising and lowing  an  open book-from which he
could conclude that Marina was writing dictation.
     This sobered Petya a little, it even brought a scornful smile.
     At that moment the girl's  hand  halted  in  indecision.  Marina sought
counsel on the ceiling. Petya could see her jutting chin,  frowning brow and
narrowed  eyes; on  one of them she  had a  sty  coming.  As  she  gazed  in
puzzlement at the  ceiling she  licked her lips once  or  twice, and  such a
sudden  wave of emotion shook Petya that  he shut his eyes. No, never in all
his  life had  he loved  anyone as  he  loved this dark-haired girl with the
independent, jutting chin and the sty coming on her eye.
     He had loved her for a  long time, a year  already. But before this she
had  been  a dream, a phantasy.  He  had  almost  ceased to  believe  in her
existence.-He had  forgotten her to  such an extent that  sometimes he could
not even picture  her. It had  not really  been love, only  a premonition of
love,  mingled with the blizzard in  the mountains,  the  black swans  round
Rousseau's island,  the sulphurous smoke  of Vesuvius, the  vague  imaginary
picture  of Paris, the magic words  "Longjumeau" and  "Marie Rose"-in short,
everything which  a  year before had captured  his imagination and wrung his
     Now   it  was  an  ordinary,  everyday  love,   alluring  in  its  very
accessibility. Marina  was no  longer loftily unapproachable,  there  was no
more  mystery about her. Just an  ordinary girl, not even especially pretty,
with a sty  on her eye, writing dictation. Tomorrow she would  go  out for a
walk in the garden and he would go up and talk to her. They would talk for a
long time and then they would never part again.
     Petya  went home to bed and fell asleep in the blissful certainty  that
on the morrow a new, delightful life  was going to begin. He could  even see
himself  as  Yevgeny  Onegin  and her  as  Tatyana, anticipating  the secret
rendezvous  at which he would at first "instruct the lady  of his heart" and
then say he'd been joking and take her arm.
     But nothing of the kind happened.
     Marina still did not  appear, and  Petya reproached  her inwardly, even
called her a fair deceiver, as though she had made him some promise. Then he
resolved to chastise her by indifference, to take no more notice of her. For
a whole day he kept his eyes away from their windows.  Of course it was very
cruel, but it had to  be done. Let her  realize what he was capable of if he
were deceived. She had only herself to blame.
     The  next day Petya  decided to let  wrath  give  way to kindness, for,
after all, he loved her. Again he began eyeing the cottage from afar. But it
was all no good, she did not appear.
     After that he so far lost the mastery over himself as to risk going  up
quite close a number  of times. He noticed that a  new path had been  beaten
from the door, leading out into the  steppe. Aha,  so that was why she never
appeared in the garden! She preferred wandering over the steppe. And what if
that narrow  path were nothing other than a hint, an  invitation to a secret
rendezvous?  Heavens above,  how had  he failed to understand!  Why,  it was
clear  as  daylight!  So  he  began  roaming  about  the   steppe,  glancing
impatiently at the cottage. At any moment she would see him and come out. He
would be tender, but firm.
     The only fly in the ointment was that the weather had turned hot again,
too hot for his cape.
     But  alas!-she  still  stayed   inside.  It   seemed  as  if  she  were
deliberately mocking him.
     "You wait,"  thought Petya.  "Your kerosene will come to  an end,  then
we'll see!"
     As though  to taunt him, the  weather  was  wonderful. The  lilacs were
over, but white acacia and jasmine were in full bloom,  filling the air with
their sweet, languorous fragrance. At night the added scent of night violets
and flowering tobacco made the air still more intoxicating, their pale stars
vaguely visible in the twilight on the luxuriant flower-beds in front of the
     In the evening a great golden moon rose over the  sea, and by  midnight
it hung over the steppe, bathing everything in a warm, jasmine light.
     Could anything be more romantic? And all of it wasted!
     Weary of  idleness  and  love, Petya could  neither  sleep  nor eat. He
became thin and haggard and his eyes had a restless glitter.
     "What's the matter, fallen in love?"  asked Auntie, looking at him with
     Petya wanted to wither her with a glance, but all he managed was such a
pitiful travesty of a smile that she shrugged her shoulders.
     The end of it all was that Petya decided  to write a diary. He found an
old  exercise book, tore  out some  pages with algebra  problems and  wrote,
"Love has come to me...." He had expected it would be perfectly easy to fill
the whole book with a detailed description of his emotions, which he felt to
be so extraordinary and so vast. But try as he would, he could find -nothing
more to add, such was the surging confusion of his mind.
     Then he turned desperately to the last resort-to write her a letter and
appoint a rendezvous.
     Of  course,  there  was nothing so very  extraordinary  about that. But
Petya's condition had reached the stage where the object of one's love seems
a  being of a  loftier sphere, an ideal  far above ordinary human relations,
even though  she does go to buy kerosene with an umbrella over her head,  or
even writes dictation.
     However, there was nothing else left to do.
     For love-letters  it was common to use what were called "secret notes,"
very popular in the "flying post," game played at parties.  These were small
pieces of coloured paper with perforated glued edges, which could be doubled
and sealed, serving as notepaper and envelope. To open them one tore off the
perforated part. They came under the same category as confetti, serpentines,
silken masks and other ball-room trifles. These were  the proper medium  for
tender messages. But Petya had none, and  there was nowhere to buy them. The
best he could do was to fold a sheet of paper torn from an exercise book and
himself make pin-holes along its loose edges.
     This  took some effort,  but to write  the note itself was still worse.
Petya wrote five rough copies before he achieved the following:
     "Marina!! I must speak to you about  something very important. Come out
to the steppe tomorrow at exactly eight in  the evening. I do not sign this,
for I  hope  you can guess the sender." Petya  heavily  underlined the words
"something very important," secretly relying on feminine curiosity.
     He went into the orchard  and scratched some resin from a cherry  tree.
With  considerable satisfaction  he chewed it  soft, stuck the note together
with it and wrote on the outside, "To Marina. Personal and private."
     Petya slipped  the note into  his pocket and went straight  off to look
for  Pavlik. He found  him in the stable. And  found him playing  cards with
Gavrila. At  the  moment of Petya's appearance he was kneeling  with  raised
hand, preparing to slam down the ace of hearts  with all the force  of which
he was capable on a rubbed,  worn  knave that  lay on  the ground beside the
pack, surrounded by crawling insects and piles of small coins.
     Pavlik's  face  was  filled  with  reckless  excitement,  but  Gavrila,
kneeling opposite,  looked downcast, and drops  of sweat ran  down  his long
freckled nose.
     "Aha," thought Petya, "so this is  how my fine brother  spends the day,
this is what idleness can lead to!"
     "Pavlik, come here!" he said sternly.
     Pavlik jumped as though stung, and with a quick, agile movement twisted
round and sat on the pack, looking at his brother with innocent brown eyes.
     "Come here!" Petya repeated with increased sternness.
     "Now don't take it wrong, young master," said Gavrila, forcing a laugh.
"We're not gambling,  we're just fooling about to pass the time, like. May I
die here on the spot if we're not!"
     "Tell-tale-tit!" chanted Pavlik, just in case, inconspicuously scraping
out the money from under him.
     Petya, however, only frowned and shrugged his shoulders.
     "That's not what I'm after," he said. "Come here."
     He led Pavlik away into the bushes, halted with legs astride and bent a
stern look on him.
     "It's  this-"  He stopped,  at a loss for a  moment.  "I want you to do
something for me ... or rather, not to do something, to go on an errand."
     "I know, I know," said Pavlik quickly.
     "What do you know?" asked Petya, frowning.
     "I know what you want. You want me to take  a note to  that  new  girl.
Isn't that it?"
     "How did you guess?" cried the startled Petya.
     "Huh!" Pavlik answered scornfully. "D'you  think  I can't see the silly
way you're going on? But you needn't try to get me to take your notes 'cause
I won't!"
     "Oh yes, you will," said Petya menacingly.
     "Think you're somebody, don't you!" said Pavlik  boldly, but retreating
a step to be on the safe side.
     "You will go!" Petya hissed obstinately.
     "No I won't."
     "Yes you will!"
     "No I won't, and you  can stop ordering me about, too. I'm not a kid to
run after girls with  your notes. Go there and  have Madame Pavlovskaya pull
my ears, eh? I'm not such a fool!"
     "So you won't go, won't you?" asked Petya with an ominous smile.
     "No I won't!"
     "All right, so much the worse for you!"
     "And what'll happen?"
     "Simply that I'll go right away and tell Father you're gambling."
     "And I'll go right  away and  tell everyone you're in love with the new
girl and you're writing her sloppy notes and you sit in  the weeds under her
window and stop her learning her lessons and everybody'll laugh at you. Aha,
got you!"
     "You little worm," said Petya.
     "You're another."
     "All the same, you'd better hold your tongue," said Petya dully.
     "I'll hold mine if you hold yours."
     With  those  words Pavlik strutted back  to the  stable  where Gavrila,
bored with nothing to do, was lying en the ground shuffling the cards.
     No hope there.
     That night Petya again crept  to the cottage and sat among the wormwood
for  a long time, plucking up courage to  toss the note  in through the open
window. This time  the whole house  was dark, evidently  both  were  asleep.
Petya even thought  he could hear deep breathing. The moon shone so brightly
on  the whitewashed walls that they  looked blue, patterned by  the  swaying
shadows of acacias, while the wormwood in which Petya sat gleamed silver.
     Several  times Petya had to change  his position, seeking shadows  that
would hide  him from  the moonlight, and  finally  made so much noise that a
deep sigh sounded from inside and an irritated voice  said, "I'm sure I hear
someone walking round the house all the time."
     Then another voice, soft and sleepy,  replied,  "Go to sleep, Mum, it's
just cats."
     Petya  waited trembling until all was  quiet,  then  he took  from  his
pocket the  note, tied  round  a stone,  and tossed it  in through  the open
     Covered  with cold  sweat he slunk  back. When he at  last  came to his
canvas  bed  and  started silently  undressing, he  heard  Pavlik's  ominous
whisper from under the blanket.
     "Aha! Think  I  don't  know  what  you've been  doing?  Throwing  in  a
note-huh! Thank your stars you didn't get your ears pulled!"
     "You little swine," hissed Petya.
     "You're another," mumbled Pavlik sleepily.

     It is hard to think how Petya would have got through the  following day
if the watering of the orchard had not started again.
     Petya stood zealously turning the cistern handle to pull up the bucket,
then letting the water out into the tank from which it  was carried all over
the garden. He had himself volunteered for this tiring, monotonous job which
would leave his mind free to think of the rendezvous.
     The unoiled axle of  the  latticed iron  drum  squealed mournfully. The
chain  rattled crisply as it  wound  and  unwound.  The heavy bucket crawled
slowly  up, the  falling  drops  sounding  metallically  hard in the echoing
darkness of the cistern, then it raced  down again, dragging the  wet  chain
after it,  so that the  drum whirled wildly round and one had to  skip aside
pretty quickly to avoid a sharp blow from the handle.
     His arms and back ached, his shirt was soaking, sweat ran down his face
and  dripped from  his chin, but Petya went on working, refusing to rest. He
was  in a state of  bliss which at one moment nearly turned to  despair when
the day darkened, clouds  came rolling up  and a few drops fell, promising a
downpour in the evening that would put any meeting on the steppe out of  the
     However, the rain passed over, the clouds dispersed and towards evening
a cool breeze sprang up-a most fortunate  circumstance, since it allowed him
to put on his cape.
     When Petya, after making a wide detour for  caution's sake, came to the
little path by the cottage, the setting sun was blazing over  the steppe and
his shadow was so long that it looked as though he were on stilts.
     The monastery  bells  were ringing for  vespers. From the distance came
the  melancholy song  of  reapers. The white  wall of the cottage was tinted
pink by the sun and  the  windows were a blinding gold. Petya's  hands  were
like  ice,  and  his  mouth  felt  cold,  as  though  he  had  been  sucking
     Without  any real reason for it, Petya had told  himself that she would
most certainly come. But although he would not for  the  world have admitted
it, a secret doubt lurked at the bottom of his heart.
     He  Lay  prone on the grass, his  chin resting on his fists, staring at
the  cottage as though by sheer force of will he could compel  her now, this
very moment, to  come out on the steppe. Actually, this already was not love
but insistent pride, not passion but obstinacy; it was an aimless turbulence
of spirit, the wish  to bring his ideal down from heaven to earth and assure
himself that Marina was  not a  scrap better  than other girls-for instance,
Motya- probably worse.
     And  yet  his  imagination  still enthroned  her as the  only  one, the
unattainable one,  despite the sty and that chin like the  toe of a shoe-and
perhaps even because of that.
     Suddenly, between waves of despair and hope, he saw the familiar figure
pass the cottage, up to the  waist in wormwood; he  could hardly believe his
eyes,  so great was  his happiness.  Marina came  to him quickly, almost too
quickly, shading her eyes with her hand from the sun that beat straight into
her face.  She was in a  short summer coat with the  collar raised,  and her
hair was done  a  new  way; the same black  bow was  there,  but a  sprig of
jasmine had been added.
     "Good  evening," she  said,  holding out  her hand to Petya.  "I had an
awful  job getting away. You've no idea what  Mum's like. You'll see, she'll
call me back at once. Come along quick."
     She smiled and walked  along the path leading into the steppe, followed
by Petya, who was knocked right off his balance and even disappointed by her
confident ease, and especially by her frankly mischievous smile.
     Whatever he had expected, it had been something very different-shyness,
embarrassment, silent  reproach,  even severity-but most certainly not this.
One might think she had only been  waiting for the chance to run out to meet
a boy! She did not even ask why he  wanted her  to come. And that jasmine in
her hair! Petya could see now that  she was  small only in size, in age  she
must be  fifteen; and  she had  probably had plenty  of  experience  in love
affairs-perhaps she had even been kissed.
     In general, it was as though she had suddenly turned into her own elder
     "Aren't you hot in that cape?" she asked, glancing round.
     "Aren't you hot in your coat?" Petya retorted dully.
     Evidently she  did  not understand irony,  for  she answered,  "It's  a
summer coat, your cape's a heavy woollen one."
     "A  Swiss  cape,  specially  for the  mountains!" remarked  Petya,  not
without a boastful note.
     "Yes, I see that," answered Marina.
     When they  were a good distance from the  house, they left the path and
strolled  slowly side by side among the suslik holes and wild flowers, which
threw  down long  shadows. For a time  they said nothing,  listening  to the
rustle of the grass and flowers under their feet.
     The sun sank behind a distant barrow. A cool breeze rose.

     "Are you fond of the steppe?" asked Marina.
     "I love the mountains," Petya answered sombrely.
     He had  not  the faintest idea  how he ought to proceed now. He had got
what he wanted, this  was a  real 'rendezvous, it was even more-a long  walk
out  on  the  steppe  at  sunset.  But  all  the  same he  was  awkward  and
embarrassed. In some way  she had got  the upper hand over  him in the first
moment. And well he knew it.
     "I love the steppe," said Marina, "though I like mountains too."
     "No, the mountains are finer," said Petya stubbornly.
     He  had  never in his life found it so difficult to talk to a girl. How
much easier  it had been with Motya,  for  instance.  Of course, Motya loved
him, while this one-you couldn't  guess. ... But the worst  of  all was that
she did not display the faintest desire to know why he had asked her to meet
him. What was that-pretence or indifference?
     With  every  moment  that  passed  he  loved  her  more,  he  was  most
desperately in love. And not at all as he had been  before, he was no longer
in love with a far-away dream, but with an enchantingly close reality.
     As they strolled  along she would now  and  then  give  a  little laugh
without any visible reason, and  that teasing laughter seemed  very familiar
to Petya, although he could not for the life  of him remember where and when
he had heard it.
     "Just wait, my dear," thought Petya, admiring Marina's pretty head with
the  black ribbon and the sprig of jasmine. "Just wait,  we'll see what song
you'll sing in a little while."
     "Just  imagine," he said  with a crooked, sarcastic smile, "once upon a
time I was most tremendously in love with you."
     "You-with me?"  asked Marina  in  surprise and shrugged  her shoulders.
"When could that have been?"
     "A long time ago.  Last year," sighed Petya.  "And you, I suppose,  you
never even guessed?"
     She halted and looked up at him with grave probing eyes.
     "That is quite impossible."
     "But it was so."
     "Where, and when?"
     Petya  looked at her  with  tender reproach  and said very  slowly  and
distinctly, "June. Italy. Naples. The railway station. Can you deny it?"
     In  an  instant  Marina's face changed completely;  she looked serious,
alarmed. Her colour mounted.
     "You're making a mistake," she said curtly,  with a look that seemed to
shut him out  at  once. "We've never been in Italy ... or any other  foreign
     Petya knew this was not true.
     "Yes, you have, you were wearing the same  coat and  the same black bow
in  your hair!" he cried eagerly. "You walked along  the platform  with your
mother. And Maxim Gorky was there. Our train started and I leaned out of the
window and looked at you, and you looked  back at me. Wasn't that so? Didn't
you look at me? Can you deny it?"
     She frowned and shook her head in  silence, but the deep colour did not
leave her face, even her chin was red. She was beginning to be angry.
     "Can you deny it? Can you?" Petya insisted.
     "Nothing of the kind ever happened, you've just dreamed it!"
     "I even know where you were going. Shall I  tell you? Well? To  Paris!"
cried Petya with a kind of bitter triumph.
     She shook her head land the colour began to leave her face.
     "Marie Rose, Longjumeau," said Petya softly, impressively, looking bard
into her eyes and enjoying her discomfiture.
     She turned so pale that Petya was frightened.  Then her face  stiffened
in a look of contempt.
     "You're making it all up,"  she said carelessly and even forced herself
to laugh, a strange laugh that sounded so familiar.
     Suddenly he realized it  was  Vera's mermaid laugh from  The Precipice,
and he himself was the miserable Raisky.
     "Remember once  and for  all that nothing of the  sort  ever happened,"
Marina said. She turned and walked rapidly back towards the house.
     Petya ran after her.
     "Don't follow me," she said without turning.
     "Marina, wait a bit ... but why?" Petya groaned piteously.
     She  turned,  let  her eyes travel  over  him from  head to foot with a
contemptuous look, said, "Babbler!" and ran home.
     Petya had never expected the  long-awaited rendezvous to end in fiasco.
He was completely puzzled  by her anger. All he  knew  was that he  had lost
her, if not for ever, at least  for a very long  time. And when? At the very
moment everything was  perfect, when dusk was creeping over the steppe and a
great moon hung over the distant hills, with a pale light like the glow of a
paper lantern.


     For some days after that Marina did not appear  at  all. Petya tossed a
number of notes  in through  the window,  trying on various pretexts to lure
her  to meet  him,  even  promising  to  reveal some tremendously  important
secret, but nothing helped. And he realized he had lost her for ever.
     He was in despair.  And his despair was deepened by the fact that there
was absolutely  nobody to whom he could  confide  his  unsuccessful romance,
pour out in eloquent words his "tormented soul," as Petya mentally described
the painful sting of hurt pride. So Gavrik's appearance was a godsend.
     He  turned up quite suddenly,  as was his  wont of  late. Petya saw him
standing in  the  orchard,  but it  was  a  puzzle how he had got there. Not
through  the  gate, that  was  certain, for  Petya himself had been standing
there  all  the  time,  watching  to  see whether anyone  would  go to fetch
     Gavrik  had  a  worn  textbook tricked under  his  belt and carried  an
exercise  book rolled into  a  tube with  which he kept angrily striking his
knee. In general, his look was sombre.
     "Hullo, come to study a bit?"
     "No, to catch sparrows," Gavrik answered curtly.
     Petya chose a shady spot with a view of the cottage, and they sat  down
among the chamomiles beneath a cherry tree.
     "Well, what have you got there?" asked Petya languidly.
     "I have to learn De hello Gallico."
     "Aha. Now  listen, and  I'll explain it all. The point is that De hello
Gallico  was written by Caesar. He was called  Gaius Julius and he  was  the
Roman emperor who-"
     "I  know all  that.  I have to read it  and translate it, and learn the
first chapter by heart."
     "All right, we can do that," said Petya obligingly. "Open your book and
start translating."
     "I've done the translation," said Gavrik.
     "What do you want, then?"
     "I've  got  to  learn  the  first  chapter.  And  that's far worse than
learning poetry so far as I'm concerned."
     "But it is necessary," Petya said didactically, gradually slipping into
the role of teacher.  "Give me  your book, I'll  read aloud  and  you repeat
everything after me."
     "But don't you know it by heart?" asked Gavrik suspiciously.
     Petya, however, ignored this  indiscreet question; he took the book out
of Gavrik's hand and began reading with great expression:
     "Gallia est omnis divisa in paries tres. Repeat that."
     "Gallia est omnis divisa  in paries ires" Gavrik repeated, his forehead
deeply creased.
     "Good!" said Petya. "Now-"
     But at that moment  he thought  he  saw a  movement by the  cottage. He
craned his neck to see better.
     "No good looking over there," Gavrik said quietly.
     Petya started.
     "How did you guess?" he asked, blushing. They knew one another too well
for pretence.
     "Oh,  don't  play the  bread-and-butter  miss!" snapped Gavrik. "Anyone
might think the Pavlovskayas had dropped down from the skies.  You know very
well it was we who sent them-to keep them out of the  way of the police. You
need a  head  on  your  shoulders, not a  turnip.  They're not just ordinary
people  getting  out  of  the  summer  heat,  they're  in  hiding," he  said
incisively. "And they're working.  And  then you  had to  start off with all
that romantic nonsense! All  right, amuse yourself  with it if you like, but
don't  bother them with your  talk. And that's just what you've  been doing.
'Why, I  know you. Why, I saw you abroad!  Marie Rose, Longjumeau!' Have you
any  idea what. Marie Rose and Longjumeau mean?"  Gavrik  suddenly  realized
that his  voice had risen;  he stopped short and looked about him. There was
nobody near, but he continued  in a lower tone,  "It is from there  that all
the instructions come. And since I've gone so far,  I don't mind telling you
that  if they catch Pavlovskaya, it'll be a serious blow. I'm talking to you
like this because we consider you one of us. Am I right?"
     Gavrik looked hard at Petya through narrowed  eyes, awaiting a straight
answer to a straight question.
     Petya  thought a moment, then  nodded  silently.  It was the first time
Gavrik  had spoken  so  openly,  definitely,  keeping  nothing back, calling
everything by its name.
     "I swear-" Petya began and felt his throat close up with excitement. He
wanted badly  to say something deeply significant,  perhaps  impressive.  "I
swear-" he repeated, and tears welled in his eyes.
     "There you  are, I knew you'd start right off  with something  of  that
sort," said Gavrik. "You needn't bother. Fine words butter no  parsnips, and
we've heard plenty of talkers."
     "I'm not just a talker," Petya said in a huff.
     "I don't  mean  you, though you're not  the silent  type-  Marie  Rose,
Longjumeau. You  drop that  sort of thing. This isn't  a game, it's serious.
And if it comes to the point, we shan't stand on ceremony with you. You know
what underground work is?"
     "Of course I do," said Petya, not without dignity.
     "Oh no, you  don't,"  Gavrik  answered. "In the first  place  it  means
holding your  tongue.  Tell  one  person today,  and he'll spill  everything
tomorrow.  You can never  get back what you've said.  Do you  know what  she
     "Marina. She thought you'd been sent after her. A busy."
     "What's a busy?"
     "You're really slow to catch on.  A busy's a detective. A police agent.
It's  time  you knew things like that. You alarmed the Pavlovskayas so badly
they  were planning to  leave  that  very  night,  to  get somewhere  a safe
distance from your place. A good thing I happened along just then, or they'd
have  been gone. They'd got their things packed,  but I told  them  you were
more or less one of us, and not to worry."
     Petya sat silent, crushed. He had never imagined his romance could have
such serious consequences. In general there was much that had never occurred
to him.
     "She's  certainly a nice  girl. I wouldn't mind  taking a stroll arm in
arm with her at twilight myself. But I've no time," Gavrik sighed.
     Petya stared at him  with something like horror, unable to believe  his
ears. To talk like that about "her"! It was sacrilege. But Gavrik, stretched
out  among the chamomiles, his arms  under his head,  continued  in the same
tone, as though it were the most ordinary thing in the world:
     "On  the  other hand, think of  her.  She has no father. He died abroad
last  year of  galloping  consumption. He belonged to our organization, too.
Her mother's a Party worker. She's got a false passport. They always have to
be moving from place to place, hiding, changing their rooms. The  girl's got
to study  somehow, and not fall  behind.  They stay  at  home  all the  time
because they  can only go out when it's absolutely necessary.  And after all
she's young, it's dull for her. So it was natural enough that when you threw
that note in, she was  pleased. Why shouldn't  she go for  a walk with a boy
once in a while? And  by the way, believe it or not, she liked you, too. But
then you went and spoiled everything with your big mouth."
     Petya flinched as from a toothache.
     "Wait a moment," he said, "how do you know all this?"
     Gavrik stared at Petya with unconcealed surprise.
     "Well!  Do you think they  feed  on air? Incidentally, that's not their
name  at  all, but  it  doesn't matter.  I  dash  over  twice  a  week  with
provisions. Well, and sometimes there  are  instructions from the  committee
     Another unpleasant  surprise for Petya. So Gavrik often visited Marina,
he was a friend of the family.
     "So that's it! But why do you  never come  to  us?"  asked  Petya, with
something like jealousy.
     "Because I generally come at night."
     "Cloak and dagger stuff?" Petya asked with a note of irony.
     "What do  you think? Why attract attention? You never can tell who  may
notice,  especially in  times like  these. Don't  you  know what's going on?
There are strikes all  over. The  secret  police  are going crazy,  sniffing
everywhere-no joke about it. It's worse than 1905."
     Again Petya felt the  atmosphere of Near Mills, which had faded away of
     "What about  a smoke, comrade?" Gavrik said, pulling a package of cheap
cigarettes from his pocket.
     Petya  had  never  smoked and he  felt  no  desire  to.  But  the  word
"comrade,"  which Gavrik  pronounced with  a kind  of  special intonation of
stern independence, the very look of the package of Peal Cigarettes made  by
the Laferrne Co., five kopeks for twenty, advertised in the Pravda, made him
pull a stiff cigarette from the package and place it awkwardly in his mouth.
     "Good idea," said Petya, imitating Gavrik's sternness and independence,
and squinting at the end of the cigarette as Gavrik held a match to it.
     They smoked for a few moments, Gavrik  with obvious enjoyment, inhaling
and spitting like a real workman, Petya removing his cigarette  every moment
from  his mouth and for some reason eyeing the cardboard end that emitted  a
white trickle of heavy smoke.
     Nothing  more was said about the Pavlovskayas.  They worked a little on
Caesar,  then Gavrik left, saying in farewell, "Well,  that's that. The main
thing is not to lose your nerve."
     What that applied to, Petya did not know.
     Now  he was filled  with a  turmoil of contradictory emotions-jealousy,
anger  at himself, hope, despair  and,  strangest of all, an ardent, surging
thirst for life.
     He thought of all kinds of ways to remedy his error and draw Marina out
for a meeting. Day in, day out, this filled his mind.

     Just  at this  time  the  early cherries began to  ripen. They  ripened
quickly, almost visibly, and every kind at once -black, red, pink and white.
Although the Bacheis had  been eagerly watching the progress  of  this great
harvest, nevertheless,  the actual realization  of its size came  upon  them
suddenly one fine morning when a black cloud of starlings swooped down  over
the orchard, followed by a grey cloud of sparrows.
     The birds descended on the trees; and  while  Vasily Petrovich,  Petya,
Pavlik, Dunyasha and Gavrila ran about below  frightening off  the marauders
with  umbrellas,  sticks, hats, handkerchiefs  and shouts, Auntie put on her
lace  gloves  and  hat,  and,  sparkling  with  happy excitement,  took  the
horse-tram to town where she intended first to find out the  retail price of
early cherries, and then to sell them wholesale at the market.
     It was evening when she returned, and as she approached the orchard she
heard shots.  It  was Pavlik,  instructed by Gavrila, firing an old shot-gun
which they had found in the attic.
     "Heavens! What  are you  doing?"  she  gasped in horror as she saw  her
gentle little darling pushing a charge into the gun.
     "Frightening  off the  sparrows. Look  out!"  Pavlik shouted and with a
most ferocious expression fired somewhere into the air, after which a little
cloud of feathers drifted down.
     Evidently, the war against the birds was going well.
     "Well, what's the commercial news?" asked Vasily Petrovich, rubbing his
hands. "I hope it's something good."
     "Yes and no," answered Auntie.
     "Now, just how do I take that?" he asked with a cheerful smile.
     At least  a dozen times that day he had gone round the orchard and seen
that the harvest was not  merely good, it was amazingly, fantastically rich.
Whole  poods of very large cherries hung from the branches, gleaming  in the
sun like jewels with all shades of red, from the palest creamy pink, through
coral, to that dark crimson which looks almost black.
     "How do you mean?" he asked again, not quite so cheerfully this time-he
had seen that Auntie looked rather upset.
     "I'll  tell you everything in a  minute, let  me wash up first, and for
goodness' sake, a cup of tea. I'm dying for tea!"
     All this boded nothing good.
     In half an hour Auntie was sitting on the veranda eagerly drinking tea.
     "It was like this. First  of  all I  went to  a  number of fruit shops.
There aren't many cherries yet, and the shops are selling them at fifteen to
twenty kopeks a pound."
     "Well,  well, well-that's splendid!" cried  Vasily Petrovich,  mentally
calculating how much  they would get from each tree, even at a  conservative
estimate of two poods per tree. "If that's the case, we're rich!"
     "Yes,  but  wait  a minute," said  Auntie wearily.  "That's the  retail
price. We  want to sell  wholesale. So I went to  the  wholesale  market and
found the fruit section.  It turned  out that the  wholesale price was  much
     "Of course, quite natural!"  cried Vasily Petrovich stoutly. "It always
is. What is it?"
     "They offer two rubles forty a pood. Our delivery."
     Vasily  Petrovich touched the steel frame of his pince-nez and his lips
moved as he calculated once more.
     "H'm ... yes... well, of course  that's rather a different sum. But all
the same it's quite good, quite good. We'll be  able to make our payment and
have quite a nice little profit too." And Vasily Petrovich  looked  gaily at
Auntie through his pince-nez.
     "You're very unpractical,"  said Auntie.  "Don't forget the two-forty's
with our delivery." With emphasis she repeated the words, "Our delivery!"
     "Ah yes ... delivery,"  mumbled Vasily Petrovich. "Now,  just what does
that imply?"
     "It  means  we've  got to  bring  the cherries  to them  there, at  the
wholesale market."
     "Well? What's wrong with that? We'll bring  them.  And then-kindly hand
over the money!"
     "Oh,  it's  impossible to  discuss  anything with you!"  cried  Auntie,
exasperated.  "Just stop a  moment and think -how are  we going  to  deliver
them? With what?  We have no  horse, no cart, no  baskets, no bast, no-we've
absolutely  nothing,  and no  means  of getting  them there. Not  to mention
picking  the fruit-that is, if  the  birds leave  any of it. We haven't even
     "M'yes," mumbled Vasily Petrovich vaguely, blew his nose and said, "But
it's all very queer. Why  does it have to be our delivery? You ought to have
told them-if you want our cherries, please come and get them."
     "I did."
     "They refused."
     "H'm.  There  must be some  misunderstanding there. After all,  there's
such a thing as competition. If one refused, perhaps another would agree."
     "I went round  'all of them,  and the impresson  I  got was that  there
isn't any competition  at  all,  it's all one band.  They're amazingly alike
even to-look at. Dark-blue shirts, red faces, sheepskin hats. The  same kind
of robbers  as those Persians who came to try and force down the price.  And
they all  talk  about some  Madame  Storozhenko.  It  looks as  if  all  the
wholesale fruit trade is in this lady's hands."
     "Well, why didn't you go and talk to her, then?"
     "I tried.  But you can't catch  her.  From morning to  night she drives
round orchards buying up the crops."
     "What are we going to do, then?" asked Vasily Petrovich.
     "I don't know," answered Auntie.
     They sat  staring at  each other in perplexity. Vasily Petrovich  wiped
his brown  neck  with a dirty  handkerchief  while Auntie  drummed  with her
fingers on a saucer. And Petya felt disaster again  looming over the family,
but  disaster much more  terrible than that other time when the  orchard was
drying up.
     The cherries ripened  every hour. The red ones blackened, the pink ones
reddened, the cream-coloured ones  turned a warm pink, while the white  ones
deepened  to a  honey  colour that  made the mouth water in anticipation  of
their sweetness. From early morning the war against the birds  went on. They
fastened bright-coloured rags to the branches, they set up scarecrows,  they
ran about under  the trees  clapping their hands  and shouting hoarsely, and
every now and then there was a report from the shotgun.
     It  was even harder work than hoeing  and bringing water. Oh, how Petya
learned  to hate starlings! How different they seemed now from  those poetic
birds whistling  gaily in  a  dozen different keys, making a spring day seem
brighter, paths more shady, and the little white clouds look as though  they
were sweetly sleeping.
     Now the birds were marauders descending in flocks upon the orchard from
all sides.  They pecked  the cherries with their sharp beaks, always finding
the ripest and tearing out a triangular piece of pulp.
     They did not so much  eat cherries as spoil them. When they were driven
off the trees, the whole flock continued flying about above them, describing
circles and swooping curves.
     The  Bacheis tried picking the cherries themselves, standing on chairs,
and discovered how difficult it was for inexperienced hands. They decided to
start off by  selling cherries retail and sent Gavrila  with a big basket to
Bolshoi Fontan.
     Gavrila spent all  day going round the villas and  brought back seventy
kopeks  and a strong smell of vodka, told them thickly  that this was all he
had been given and went off to sleep in the weeds behind the stable.
     Some summer  visitors  from nearby  villas  came to the  orchard to buy
cherries-two pretty girls with lace parasols and a student in a white tunic.
They asked for two pounds, but as Auntie had no scales she poured about five
into the dainty basket the student carried over his shoulder on a stick.
     -The girls at once hung cherries over their little ears and dimpled and
laughed, looking  prettier than  ever, while  Auntie gazed at them as though
wondering, "Dear God, how can anyone be so happy!"
     Then the postman brought  a typed letter from the notary containing the
ominous warning that the final date for payment was in three days.
     Auntie  hurried   to  town  again  but  returned  empty-handed;  Madame
Storozhenko  had  been away again and  the Persians, as though  mocking  all
common  sense,  had  offered  not  two-forty, but  a  ruble-thirty  a  pood,
delivered.  It  seemed likely that they  had been  rude to  Auntie as  well,
because she was nearly crying as  she tore off her hat and paced up and down
the veranda  saying  again  and again,  "What  rascals!  Heavens above, what
     Only one  thing  remained-to  hire  carts, horses and baskets from  the
German settlers, and flying in the face of Vasily Petrovich's principles, to
exploit  labour by  hiring girls from the villages  round  about and get the
fruit off the trees as quickly as possible-for the birds had  already pecked
a quarter of it.
     The Germans refused to let them have any carts  or horses and the girls
were already working in other orchards.
     "Curse  the  hour  when  I  let  myself  get drawn  into  this  idiotic
business!" cried Vasily Petrovich.
     "Vasily Petrovich, for your dead  wife's sake have  mercy  on me!" said
Auntie through her tears, in a voice that showed her nose was swollen.
     Then, to wind up the whole business,  the gate opened  creakingly and a
britzka rolled  in. One Persian sat on  the box, another stood on  the step,
and a  very  large,  stout lady  in  a  white  linen  coat and  a dusty  hat
ornamented  with  faded forget-me-nots  swayed and  jolted on the  seat. The
britzka went straight across the beds of petunias and  flowering tobacco and
halted by the house. The Persians at once seized the lady's elbows arid  she
climbed awkwardly down.
     She had  a fat but muscular face  with  a moustache, purple cheeks  and
expressionless eyes.
     "Here,  you, boy-what's your  name-don't  stand  there staring, run and
call  the master,  and look  sharp,"  she said in  the raucous  voice of the
market-place,  and was just going to sit down,  puffing, on  an iron  garden
chair brought  by  one  of the Persians  when Auntie  appeared,  followed by
Vasily Petrovich. "Are  you the owners here?" she asked and  without waiting
for an answer  held  out a hand with short thick  fingers  projecting from a
black lace mitten first to Vasily Petrovich, then to Auntie.
     "Good morning," she said. "I'm Madame Storozhenko."
     Auntie bubbled over with excitement.
     "Ah, how extremely kind  of  you," she twittered, assuming  her society
smile. "I have twice  tried to find you at the wholesale market but you were
always away.  You  are such an  elusive lady!"  And Auntie shook her  finger
charmingly at Madame  Storozhenko. "But I see that if the mountain does  not
go to Mohammed, then Mohammed comes to the mountain."
     "It  makes  no  difference,"  said  Madame  Storozhenko,  ignoring  the
aphorism  about the mountain and Mohammed. "They told me you  wanted to sell
your crop. I'll buy it."
     "In  that case, perhaps, you would care to  look at the orchard?"  said
Auntie, exchanging a most significant look with Vasily Petrovich.
     "I know  that  orchard like  the  palm  of  my hand,"  answered  Madame
Storozhenko.  "It's not my  first time  here. I always bought  the crop when
Madame Vasyutinskaya was running it. And I must  say she ran it much better.
Half your cherries  are pecked.  Of course,  it's no business of mine, but I
can tell  you, you've neglected the orchard  badly.  You'll hardly make ends
meet this  way.  I've  been trading in  fruit only five years myself, before
that  I dealt in fish, but you can  ask anyone  and they'll  tell you Madame
Storozhenko knows  a  thing  or  two about fruit.  You call  those cherries?
They're more like lice. You can take my word for it."
     Vasily  Petrovich  and  Auntie   stood  before  Madame  Storozhenko  in
alternating  hope and fear. Their fate depended  on her alone, but there was
nothing to be read on her coarse face. At last Madame Storozhenko spoke:
     "Take it or leave it, I've no time to waste on you. Here!" She opened a
big leather bag hanging on a strap over her shoulder,  and took out  a crisp
hundred-ruble note, evidently prepared beforehand. "There you are!"
     "What-only a  hundred  rubles! Why,  we've three hundred  to pay on the
note of hand alone!"
     "Take it and  less chat,"  repeated  Madame Storozhenko. "And say thank
you for it, too. At least you'll have nothing more to worry about, I'll look
after the picking, packing and transport.
     "Madame   Storozhenko,  have  you  no   conscience?"  Vasily  Petrovich
expostulated. "It's sheer robbery!"
     "My dear man," Madame Storozhenko wheezed condescendingly, "I've got to
make something out of it, haven't I?"
     "Yes, but these  cherries will  sell for at least  five hundred rubles,
we've reckoned it up," said Auntie.
     "Well, if you've reckoned  it up,  go and sell your crop yourselves and
don't waste other people's time. A hundred rubles, that's my last word."
     "But we've got to pay on a note of hand."
     "I know. In a  day  or two you've got to pay Madame Vasyutinskaya three
hundred  and if you don't, you lose the place. And lose it you will, because
you've no money and you'll be bankrupt  anyway. So my advice is to take what
you  can,   at   least  it'll  feed  you  a  little  while.  As  for  Madame
Vasyutinskaya's property, she'll rent it  to me through the notary. It'll do
much better with me than with you."
     "We'll see about all that!" said Auntie, turning pale.
     "Better drop those  airs!" snapped Madame Storozhenko with  unconcealed
contempt,  looking Vasily Petrovich  and  Auntie  up and down  with a black,
incomprehensible malice.  "You  think  I don't know your sort? You haven't a
single  kopek between  you. You're  beggars!  Paupers! And  call  yourselves
     "My dear madame," said  Vasily Petrovich, "what right have you to speak
this way?"
     Madame Storozhenko turned majestically to Auntie.
     "Listen-what's your name-tell this man  of yours to  climb off his high
horse, because in  three  days  I'll  kick  you out  of here with  all  your
rubbish. Ragamuffins!"
     Vasily  Petrovich made  a convulsive  movement,  he wanted to speak but
could only stamp his foot and make strangled sounds like a dumb man; then he
slumped down on the veranda step clutching his head in his hands.
     "Take  the  hundred  and  write a  receipt,"  said Madame  Storozhenko,
holding it out to Auntie unconcernedly.
     "You're  a wicked, vile woman!"  cried Auntie,  trembling from head  to
foot. She burst into tears and stumbled into the house.
     It  was such a  dreadful, disgraceful scene that not only Petya, Pavlik
and Dunyasha-even Gavrila  was  shocked into immobility,  and nobody noticed
Gavrik, who had emerged some time before from among the trees.
     Now he marched slowly, with a slight  roll, to Madame Storozhenko,  his
right hand thrust deep in his trouser pocket.
     "Get out of here, you  mangy  old market  shark!" he hissed through his
teeth. "Get out!"
     She   stared  at  him,   amazed,   then  suddenly  recognized  in  this
sixteen-year-old  workman  the  little  beggar  boy,  the  grandson  of  old
Chernoivanenko, who used to  bring bullheads to her at the wholesale  market
when she  still  had a fish stall. Madame Storozhenko had  a good memory and
she  realized  in  a flash that she was faced with her  old  enemy. In those
days, however,  he  had been small and defenceless and she could  do  as she
liked with him; now he was very different. Instinctively the old fox  sensed
     "Now, now, none of your bullying!" she  cried, moving restlessly  about
by the britzka, and turned to her Persians. "What are you thinking of? Smash
his mug in!"
     The Persians advanced,  lowering their heads in the sheepskin hats; but
Gavrik  withdrew his hand from his  pocket holding a knuckle-duster, and his
white lips tightened into a straight line.
     "Get out of here!"  he repeated ominously. He seized the reins close to
the bit and led the horse out of the gate, while Madame  Storozhenko and the
Persians clambered into the moving britzka as best they could.
     For a  long time the  hat with the forget-me-nots could  be seen moving
along the road between fields of green grain, and Madame Storozhenko's voice
could be heard screeching curses and obscene threats in the direction of the
     Gavrik returned,  breathing hard  as  though he had  been  doing  heavy
physical work. He held out  his hand  in silence to  Petya, patted  Pavlik's
shoulder  and  stood  for a while beside  Vasily  Petrovich,  who was  still
sitting on the steps, his face in his hands.
     Then  Gavrik spat angrily, said, "Well, we'll see," and ran through the
orchard out into the steppe, disappearing as suddenly as he had come.
     For  a long time all  were silent-they felt that there was nothing more
to be  said. At last Vasily Petrovich  passed his hand down his face  with a
visible  effort and  wiped his  glasses with the hem of his  long  shirt; an
unexpected smile appeared on his face-a helpless childlike smile.
     "Thus, their feasting turned to disaster," he said with a sigh.
     But strange as it might seem, it was a sigh of relief.

     For  a little while calm  and quietness reigned in the house and in the
orchard.  The  Bacheis went about as though they had  just awakened and were
not yet  quite sure whether  it  was all  real or  a  dream.  They were very
considerate  to  each other,  even affectionate.  In the  evening  they  ate
yoghurt and  drank tea. They chatted  and joked.  But there was not one word
about their situation; it was as though they were saving all their  physical
,and mental strength for that very near future, the thought of  which was so
     They went to bed early  and slept well,  luxuriating in  rest after all
their labour and perturbation, knowing  that the coming day would bring them
nothing new.
     At dawn Petya felt someone tugging his foot. He opened his eyes and saw
the wide-open  window and Gavrik standing by  his  bed.  The sun had not yet
risen, but it  was already  quite light in  the  room; the cool air of early
morning was  pouring  in;  outside, the trees  stood dark  green  against  a
crimson strip of sky, and the cocks were crowing sleepily in the distance.
     "Get up!" whispered Gavrik.
     "Why?" Petya whispered back.  He was so accustomed to  his friend's way
of popping up without warning  that his appearance at this early hour was in
no way startling.
     "Get your clothes on and out to work!" said Gavrik mysteriously, gaily,
and jerked his head  towards the  open  window. He turned, jumped on to  the
sill, and disappeared in the orchard.
     Petya knew  Gavrik, he  knew  this was no fooling,  it was serious.  He
dressed rapidly and shivering in the early chill followed Gavrik out through
the window.
     Voices came from the orchard. Petya went round the house and saw people
under  the cherry  trees. There was the beat of axes, the squeal of saws.  A
little way  off a  lad  he did not know  passed  by with a  new roughly made
ladder on his  shoulder. A similar ladder leaned against a tree,  and on the
top rung  stood a barefoot girl, one hand holding a branch heavy with fruit,
the other shading her eyes  from the sun which was just  rising over the sea
bathing her in blinding but still cool rays.
     "Petya!" the  girl called. He recognized Motya.  "What  are  you  doing
here?" he asked, approaching.
     "Picking  your fruit,"  she answered  gaily,  and Petya  saw the basket
hanging  from her arm.  "But  you've  quite forgotten us," she  added with a
sigh. "You never come to Near Mills now."
     She too had hung cherries over her ears and Petya thought they made her
look even prettier than before.
     "Well, here we are, you see," she went on merrily, pulling cherries off
the branches and dropping them into  her basket, leaves and all. "We've been
working over an hour, and you've only  just  managed to get your  eyes open.
Lazy-bones! God'll punish you for it!" She laughed so heartily that her foot
     "Oh, catch me, I'm falling!" she cried,  but managed to  hold on, while
cherries rained down on Petya from the basket.
     "Look here, seriously, what's going on?" Petya asked.
     "Can't  you see for yourself?"  said Motya. "Your friends have come  to
gather your crop so it won't be lost."
     Petya looked round. And everywhere, on the trees and under them, he saw
more or less familiar  faces  from  Near Mills. With  surprise he recognized
Uncle  Fedya  Sinichkin, the  old railwayman, the young  schoolmistress  and
others of Terenty's  occasional  or regular visitors. Motya's brother Zhenya
was  there  too with  all his friends,  sitting  in  the trees like monkeys,
filling caps, baskets land  boxes with amazing dexterity and speed. Wherever
Petya looked he saw bare legs, bare, sunburned arms  and cotton shirts, from
all  sides he heard voices, laughter, jests and chaff. Before  he  had fully
taken it all in,  Gavrik came running  up carrying a pile of  old sacks  and
bast matting on his shoulder.
     "Here, take hold, put these under the trees,"  he  panted, and tossed a
number of sacks over to Petya.
     With a feeling that something very good was happening, caught up in the
atmosphere of  gay  activity, Petya  promptly  set to work spreading out the
sacks, crawling round them on his knees to smooth out the folds.
     Soon  great, ripe cherries began  falling on them with soft  thuds from
baskets, caps and aprons.
     When  Auntie,  wakened  by  the  noise,  came out  on  the  veranda  to
investigate, her first thought was that Madame Storozhenko had already taken
possession of the orchard and her roughs were unceremoniously plundering the
     Although  she  had  resigned  herself to the  knowledge  that  this was
inevitable, nevertheless, the sight of strangers stripping the trees was too
much for  her. She turned pale and  cried weakly, "How  dare  you! You've no
right! Robbers!"
     "Na-a-ay, you're  all  wrong," Gavrik half sang on a warm, affectionate
note as he passed her dragging a  ladder,  "We're your  own folks, from Near
Mills.  Now,  don't  you  worry  about anything,  not a single cherry'll  go
astray, I'll see  to that personally. Except maybe one or two that drop into
somebody's mouth by accident, that sort of thing might very well happen. But
what's it matter? You see yourself what a grand crop it is. I hope you never
have  any worse! Selling it retail, you'll get at least three rubles a pood.
And as for that old market bitch!" And Gavrik put his thumb to his nose.
     "Stop  a minute, I  don't  understand, won't you explain?" said Auntie,
looking into Gavrik's angry, determined face and  trying to make out what it
was all about.
     "Don't be angry with us  for not asking you  first," he said.  "No time
for  it-this is when a day feeds a year, as the  saying goes. Let the moment
slip and  it's gone! We had to  get hold  of  the wood for  ladders, and the
sacks  and bast mats and all that sort of thing. Wasn't  it the thing to do?
Or should we have let that old shark make beggars of you all?  No  sir! Time
to stop that! They've  sucked enough of our blood. The  day's gone  when  we
used to stand in front of them like asses."
     Auntie stared at Gavrik, his militant stance, a boy with a peeling nose
and yet a man with serious, angry eyes that said much more than his words.
     Perhaps she did not yet understand  everything, but the  main thing was
clear. Kind folks from Near Mills had come to their aid, and again there was
hope that they might be saved. Auntie's housewifely instincts reawakened.
     She quickly tied a  kerchief round her head and hurried about under the
trees,  putting  this and that right. She  told them to place the sacks  and
matting  so that they  would  not  have to carry the fruit so far, asked the
pickers to keep the various kinds of cherries  separate, gaily told the boys
not to put  more in their  mouths than in the baskets, sent Gavrila to fetch
some buckets  of drinking  water, then herself climbed a ladder into one  of
the trees, hung cherries over her ears  and, singing "The Sun is Low" at the
top  of  her voice,  began picking cherries and  dropping them  into  an old
     What a  wonderful day that was! It was a long time since Petya had felt
so full  of  bubbling  happiness. True, he  had no  ladder and did not  pick
cherries from the trees, which would have been more interesting, but running
about underneath was not so bad  either.  Now here,  now there, a full heavy
basket descended from the leafy  branches; he caught it in his arms,  poured
its contents out on to the  nearest  pile,  returned  to  the tree, sent the
basket  up again with a bounce from his head  and  went on to  the next tree
where another awaited him.
     His arms ached  pleasantly from  the  unaccustomed exercise, and it was
wonderful to see the pile of dark, shining berries growing  before his eyes,
prettily  mingled  with dark leaves, to which striped wasps  added flecks of
bright gold.
     Petya  was in charge of  ten  trees. Practically every minute  somebody
called him  to  take  a  filled  basket.  But Motya's  voice  was  the  most
     "Petya, come here, mine's full! Where are you? Don't be so lazy! Here!"
     A  soft arm  in a pink  cotton sleeve would  lower a  heavy basket, and
through the leaves  Petya could  see Motya's rosy face  and  a cherry  stone
between her lips.
     By midday all were tired,  and  Gavrik marched up  and down between the
trees, calling out, "Break off, dinner-time, break off!"
     That was when Petya suddenly saw Marina and her mother. They were quite
close, coming  towards  him with  arms round  one another's waists like  two
girls, and the cherries  hung on their ears and the baskets in  their  hands
showed they must have been helping too.
     At  the sight  of Madame Pavlovskaya Petya's  courage oozed  out of his
toes. What if she had guessed who  it was that rustled in the weeds at night
and tossed love-notes in through the window?  Why, she really might pull his
ears!  That  first  time  he  saw  her  she  had  looked  rather  stern  and
disapproving.  But now, in her old house frock,  with  cherries hung on  her
ears, she seemed very kind and good-humoured. And Marina smiled with evident
pleasure, not a trace was left of that  cold, contemptuous  look  with which
she had thrown the dreadful word "babbler" at him.
     "Good morning,"  Petya  said  in confusion, and in an effort to produce
the best  possible  impression on Marina's mother essayed la polite click of
his  heels, which  came  off rather badly owing to his  being barefoot.  But
nobody seemed to notice.
     "You're  quite right, it  really is a marvellously good  morning," said
Marina's mother  with a kind of deep, serious smile. "Isn't it,  Petya? Your
name is Petya, isn't it?"
     She examined  him  with  interest,  for she  knew well enough about the
notes. Marina,  for her part, glanced up innocently and  said,  "It's a long
time since I've seen you," just as if nothing had ever happened.
     She provoked him. Petya would have liked to make some brilliantly witty
reply, but all  he could manage was to mumble morosely, "Well, that's not my
     "Why, whose is  it, then?" said Marina captiously, turned a little away
from Petya and began  picking at a rubbery drop of resin on the bark  of the
cherry tree under which she stood.
     "You  know whose," Petya  replied with  tender reproach, and then  took
fright-wasn't that almost a declaration?
     Auntie  came up just at  the  right  moment  to greet  the visitors and
rescue her nephew from the awkward situation.
     "Ah, it's  you?  At last! I  never  seem  to see you. How can you  shut
yourself up like that? After all, people come out here to enjoy the country,
the sea  air,  the garden. It's all here waiting for you and still you  stay
indoors all day,"  she twittered,  at  once  assuming  the mincing,  society
manner  which,  according  to her ideas, was  the correct one for a  refined
owner  of  a villa talking to  her refined guests. "Good gracious, what do I
see?" And Auntie clasped her hands.  "You have baskets! Is it  possible that
you have come to help us? But that is too charming, too kind of you! I won't
conceal it, we  were in a difficult situation,  a dreadful situation. Such a
wonderful  harvest, and  we, impractical  people  that we are.... You are  a
cultured person yourself, you will understand."
     "Yes, oh yes," said Madame Pavlovskaya coldly. "It  is a small but very
typical  incident,  clearly  illustrating  the  concentration  of commercial
capital. It  would seem that this Storozhenko-or whatever  her name is-has a
monopoly  of  the  local fruit  market  and  is  now  destroying  her weaker
competitors by fair means or foul. You must have been very blind not to have
seen it  at  once.  The  strong swallow up the weak-such is the  law  of the
historical development of capitalism."
     Auntie  listened  in alarm. Madame  Pavlovskaya, it  seemed, was  fully
informed about all their  affairs,  despite the fact  that  she never showed
herself outside the cottage.
     Of  all  she said Auntie  understood one  thing  only-that  it was very
"political,"   and  Madame   Pavlovskaya   must  be   a   dangerous  person.
Nevertheless, she tried to bring the talk back to the society tone.
     "You are absolutely right," she said, "and Madame Storozhenko is a real
monster.  A  rude,  uneducated animal,  absolutely out  of  place  in decent
     Pavlovskaya frowned.
     "Madame  Storozhenko is first and foremost a foul creature that must be
     "Yes,  but  how?" said  Auntie,  with  a shrug  of distaste.  "I  can't
complain to a magistrate-it would be paying her too big a compliment!"
     Pavlovskaya  looked earnestly at  Auntie  for  a moment, then  suddenly
smiled, the way one smiles at children who ask foolish questions.
     "The magistrate? That's fine," she said and gave a dry, angry laugh.
     Auntie  looked  at  this  small  woman  with  the  amused, intelligent,
resolute  face, the  stubborn  little chin,  the  dark shadow  on her  upper
lip-and  felt she belonged  to some special, strange world, a world hard  to
understand, but a world which drew one.
     She  wanted  to  ask,  "Are you a  Social-Democrat?"  but  instead  she
embraced Pavlovskaya  and cried  impulsively,  like a  girl,  "Oh, I do like
     "I  don't know why,"  answered Pavlovskaya seriously, but it  was clear
that she liked Auntie too.
     Evidently, Pavlovskaya had started off with a  wrong impression of  the
Bachei family. She had thought them ordinary tenant farmers making money out
of  letting rooms and running the orchard, and they turned out to be  naive,
impractical people unable to cope with life and in bad trouble as a result.
     The sense  of  strain  disappeared and  talk became  easy. And although
Pavlovskaya  maintained  her  reserve,  within five  minutes Auntie's  quick
understanding  had  given  her a  fairly accurate  picture  of  all that was
happening round her.
     She realized that these pickers Gavrik had brought from Near Mills were
not  just casual workers,  but people united by  common interests and,  most
surprising of all, well acquainted with the Pavlovskayas. And in all of this
there seemed to be some mysterious significance.


     Petya and Marina  strolled along a path in  the garden, each pretending
to be deep in thought, but actually not knowing  what to say, or rather  how
to begin.
     "Are you angry  with me?" asked  Marina, and as Petya remained morosely
silent  she cautiously  scratched his sleeve.  "Don't  be  angry," she said.
"Better let's be friends. Shall we?"
     Petya squinted down at her  and scented a trick. She was trying to lure
him  into  a  declaration.  She  wanted him  to  say,  "I don't  believe  in
friendship between a man and a woman." And then she would catch him at once.
Oh, no,  my dear, that's an  old game.  I'm not so silly! And Petya remained
     "Why are you so quiet?" she asked, trying to see his face.
     "There's  nothing I can say to you," he answered in a significant tone.
Let her understand it any way she liked. She sighed, then lowering her voice
almost to a whisper she asked, "Have you been wanting to see me?"
     "Have you?" asked Petya in his turn, not recognizing his own voice.
     "Yes, I  have,"  she  answered and  dropped her head so  low  that  the
cherries  fell off her  ears.  She  stopped  and  picked  them  up  in  some
     "I even dreamed of you once," she said, blushing.
     Petya could  not  believe  his  ears.  "What's  this,"  he  thought  in
agitation.  "Can this be  a confession  of love?" Petya had never even dared
dream  of such happiness. But now,  when she shyly, truthfully told  him she
had  wanted to see  him,  she  had dreamed  of him, Petya  suddenly  felt an
enormous  relief, even disappointment.  Well,  that was all  right!  Only  a
minute ago she had seemed inaccessible, and now she had become a nice but at
the same time quite ordinary girl, not in the least like that Marina whom he
had loved in such hopeless torment.
     "Have you ever dreamed of me?" she asked.
     Petya felt the  decisive moment had come, the whole  further  course of
the romance depended on his answer. If he said, "Yes," it was the same  as a
declaration  of love. Where would he be then? He dreamed of her, she dreamed
of him; he loved  her,  she  loved him.  Mutual love. The  very thing he had
wanted. Of course, it was very nice and all that, but wasn't it a little too
soon?  Just as  things  were getting  interesting-there you were,  all of  a
sudden-mutual love!
     Of course, that would  relieve Petya of all sorts of worry and  trouble
like sleepless nights, jealousy, or sitting in wet wormwood tossing notes in
through a window.  That was certainly a  big advantage. But afterwards? Only
one thing  left-to  kiss  her. The very thought of that made  Petya  hot and
uncomfortable. No, no, anything you like, only not that!
     But there stood Marina leaning against the  ladder under a cherry tree,
looking at him  with darkened eyes and licking cracked lips that even looked
hot, lips from which Petya could not tear his eyes.
     "Why don't  you answer?" she insisted, in the voice of a snake-charmer.
"Did you dream of me?"
     Again she was clearly gaining the upper  hand. Another second and Petya
would  have  submissively  whispered,  "Yes." But  a  spirit  of  doubt,  of
contradiction, triumphed.
     "Strange as it may be, I haven't," said  Petya with a strained, crooked
smile which he imagined to be icy.
     She dropped her Lashes and turned slightly pale.
     "Aha,  caught  the  wrong  bird  this  time,  my  dear,"  thought Petya
     He  had no pity  for her. Now, when  he  felt himself the conqueror, he
already liked her less.
     "Is that true?" She raised her  eyes and with feigned interest examined
the crown of the tree under which they were standing. Petya  even thought he
caught  a faint smile as though she had seen something amusing there. But he
was not to be caught by tricks like that.
     "You see," said Petya,  who was far from wanting to  bring matters to a
break, "it's not so much that I haven't  seen you in  dreams, but I've never
dreamed of you."
     "What do you mean?" she  asked with interest and  again  smiled up into
the tree, and even seemed to wink at it slyly.
     "It's  simple  enough," Petya answered. "To see a person in a  dream is
one  thing,  to  dream of a person is another. Can't  you understand that? I
could have seen you, you  see all sorts of things in dreams. Plenty of them.
But to dream specially of one person-that's something quite different."
     "I don't understand," she said, biting her lip.
     "I'll explain. To dream of a person, that's when ... well, how shall  I
put it... when, well,  when  you're in love,  or  whatever it is.  You,  for
instance,  have  you  ever loved  anyone?" asked  Petya  sternly, up on  his
     "Yes. You," Marina answered quickly.
     Petya frowned to hide his satisfaction.
     "I don't believe in women's love," he answered with weary disillusion.
     "You're  wrong. And have you ever loved anyone?" she  asked.  She could
not have found a question that would please him more. Like a silly mouse she
came running into the trap so cleverly, insidiously set out by Petya.
     "Questions of that kind are never answered," said Petya, "but I'll tell
you,  because I regard  you as my  friend. After all, we are friends, aren't
     "I don't believe in friendship between a man and a woman," said Marina.
     "Well,  I  do!" said  Petya  in  chagrin. She  was beginning  really to
irritate  him;  she kept on  saying just  the things  he ought to have said.
Anyone would have thought she had never read a single love-story.
     "You're wrong," she observed. "But I thought you had  something to  say
to me?"
     "I wanted to  say-or rather, not say, to tell....  Well,  say  or tell,
what does it matter. But of course, only to you as  a friend, because nobody
else  knows or ever will  know."  Petya half  turned  from her  and hung his
head.-"I have loved," he said with a sad smile.  "Or rather, I love now. But
it is of no importance."
     "And she?"
     "Ah,  even more than I love her! I love, but  she is  in love.  And one
day, just imagine it, we went out on the steppe to  gather snowdrops. It was
a lovely evening in spring-"
     "I know," said Marina quickly. "It's Motya, isn't it?"
     "How did you guess?"
     "That doesn't matter. I did. Though I can't understand what you see  in
her," she added with a slight grimace. "Do you really love her?"
     "It's  queer, but  I do," said Petya  with a shrug. "I don't understand
myself how it  happened. There's nothing special  about her,  just  a pretty
face, but-there you are."
     There  was a  rustle in  the  leaves  above  and  a  cherry stone fell,
probably dropped by a starling.
     "Shoo!" cried Petya, waving his arms.
     "So that's it," said Marina jealously. "So you like going to the steppe
for snowdrops? Well, and what happened there? I suppose you kissed her?"
     "Questions like that are never answered," said Petya evasively.
     "But I'm your  friend so you've got to  tell me  everything. You've got
to!" Marina cried with an angry stamp.
     "Aha,  jealous, are you, my dear?" thought Petya. "You  wait, I've more
for you yet!"
     "Tell  me this minute, did you  kiss her or not? Or I'll go  right away
and you'll never see me again! You hear me? Never!" Her eyes flashed.
     She was  wonderfully pretty  at the  moment, and Petya with a  careless
shrug answered, "All right. Of course I kissed her."
     "Oh, for  shame, you little  fibber!" That  was Motya's voice from over
their  heads, and the next moment  Motya  herself,  her  face flushed,  came
sliding down and started hopping round Petya on one foot  chanting, "I never
thought you'd tell such fibs! I never thought you'd tell such fibs!"
     "Oh, Motya, you're a wonder, how you ever kept from laughing too soon!"
cried Marina, clapping her hands.
     "I  had to keep  my hand over my  mouth all the  time!"  Motya bubbled,
still hopping round Petya. "Fib-ber! Fib-ber!"
     Petya wished the earth would open and swallow him.
     "So that was it?" said Marina menacingly. "So you kissed her, did you?"
She went  close up  to Petya, with a quick,  dexterous  movement  twisted  a
strand of his hair round her finger and gave it a good, hard tug.
     "Ow! That hurts!" cried Petya.
     "Didn't you hurt me?" said Marina.
     Despite all the horror of his situation, Petya could not but appreciate
that splendid answer, taken straight from Turgenev's First Love.
     Suddenly  Marina gave her  mysterious, mermaid laugh  and with feminine
inconsequence said, "Listen, Motya, let's just give him a good beating!"
     "Let's!"  said Motya, and the two girls advanced  on Petya with ominous
     With a quick movement he twisted away  from  under their very hands and
raced off at top speed, bare heels twinkling.
     Off went the girls after him. He could hear their merry, mocking cries.
They  were overtaking him. Then Petya decided on a well-known trick-to throw
himself  down  right  under the feet of  his pursuers. He was in too great a
hurry,  however, he flopped  down  before  the  girls were close enough. And
there he was,  looking  foolish on  all fours, while the girls leisurely ran
up, sat astride on him and started pummelling him.
     It did not hurt particularly, but it was humiliating.
     "Don't kick a man when he's down!" Petya groaned piteously.
     Then with  triumphant giggles they turned to tickling him. He  squealed
with helpless laughter. But just at the right moment Gavrik dropped from the
skies to help his friend.
     "Two to one's not fair! Rescue all!" he cried and flung himself down on
the girls. "Come on all! Come on all!"
     The summons immediately brought Pavlik, Zhenka  and the  boys and girls
of  Zhenka's gang, and  in a few moments  all that  could be seen under  the
trees was a  pile of heaving,  panting, giggling, squealing bodies, arms and

     That  night  Vasily  Petrovich  had  slept  like  the  dead-  the heavy
dreamless  sleep  of a  tormented exhausted  man, devoid of  all  thought or
     It was  late when he wakened,  and for a  long time he continued lying,
eyes closed, face to the wall, unable to imagine  what  would happen to them
all now.
     At last he forced  himself to rise, dress and  go out into the orchard.
There he saw piles of cherries on the sacks and matting spread out under the
trees,  and  a great many  people-some  familiar, some strangers-standing on
ladders  or sitting  on  the  branches, gathering  the  crop. He  saw horses
cropping the  grass near  two platforms. And finally  he saw  Auntie  coming
towards him with small energetic steps, smiling cheerfully.
     "Well,  Vasily  Petrovich,  everything's  settled  and  it couldn't  be
     "What do you mean?"  he answered in a monotonous, expressionless voice.
A  faint smile  appeared on  his face, a strange fixed smile like  that of a
     "Oh, good gracious, what else could I mean but our crop, our cherries!"
Auntie answered gaily.
     At the word "cherries" Vasily Petrovich started.
     "No, no! For pity's sake,"  he groaned,  "for pity's  sake spare me all
that-that torture."
     "But listen a moment," said Auntie gently.
     "I won't  listen! I don't want to listen!  Leave  me alone!  I'd sooner
carry sacks at the  port!" cried Vasily Petrovich desperately, and, turning,
ran back into the house without looking hack, stumbling, waving his arms.
     "Listen to me at least!" Auntie called after him.
     He made  no  reply, he did  not want to understand anything except that
this  must  be  another  of  Auntie's  foolish  ideas  and  they  were   now
irretrievably ruined.
     He lay  down  again on  his  bed,  face to the  wall, wanting one thing
only-to be let alone.
     Auntie did let him alone, she knew it was no good talking to him. So in
two days everything was done, without Vasily Petrovich's participation.
     Platforms  drove  away and drove  back  again.  Horses snorted. Baskets
creaked. In the evening camp-fires sparkled on the steppe and, together with
the  smoke, the wind brought an appetizing smell of stew and baked potatoes,
and  the sound of singing. All  this made  for  a  cheerful,  almost festive
atmosphere. And it was indeed a festival of gay, free work.
     Vasily  Petrovich, however, saw nothing of it, or rather, he refused to
see  anything. He  was  in the  hopeless,  desperate, tormented state  of  a
trusting  man who  suddenly discovers that he has been  grossly deceived. He
realized that the whole world had deceived him.
     His world had been one of illusions. And the most dangerous of them had
been his belief that he was a free man of independent mind.  For  in reality
he, with all his  splendid, lofty thoughts,  his purity of spirit, his noble
heart,  with all his love  for his  country and his people, had been  a mere
slave, as much  a slave as  the millions of  other Russians, a slave  of the
church,  the state,  and what  was  called "society." As soon  as he made  a
feeble attempt to be honest and independent, the state poured its wrath upon
him in the person of  the official from the Education Department, "society,"
in the person of Faig; and when he tried to live by  the labour of his hands
so as to  preserve his  independence, to earn his bread  in the sweat of his
brow, he found that  this too was impossible, because  it did  not happen to
suit. Madame Storozhenko.
     Most of the time Vasily  Petrovich  spent  on his  bed,  but  now he no
longer turned his face to the wall,  he lay on his back,  his arms folded on
his chest, staring  at the ceiling with its  play  of green reflections from
the  orchard  outside.  His  jaws  were tightly clenched  and angry  furrows
crossed his handsome forehead.
     On the third day Auntie knocked at the door-softly but very decidedly.
     "Vasily Petrovich, would you mind coming out for a minute?"
     He jumped up and sat on the edge of the bed.
     "What is it? What do you want?"
     "Come on to the veranda."
     "There's something important."
     "Will you kindly spare me any important affairs whatsoever."
     "All the same, I beg you to come."
     Vasily Petrovich caught a new, serious note in Auntie's voice.
     "Very well," he said dully. "Just a minute."
     He tidied himself, put on his  sandals, rinsed his  face,  smoothed his
hair with a wet brush and went out, prepared for any trials or humiliations.
     But  instead  of a  bailiff,  a policeman, a notary or something  along
those lines, he saw a stout  man of middle age in a canvas jacket-apparently
a workman, who  held a piece of sugar in  his  teeth  and  was  drinking tea
"through"  it from a saucer balanced on three fingers. Perspiration trickled
down  his red, pock-marked face,  and judging by the  warm  smile with which
Auntie regarded him, he was evidently a most admirable person.
     "Ah, here you are, let me introduce you," Auntie said. "This is Terenty
Semyonovich Chernoivanenko  from Near Mills. You remember, Petya stayed with
him, and our furniture's there."
     "I'm Gavrik's brother, your Petya's friend," said Terenty. He carefully
put  down the saucer and held out his great hand to  Vasily Petrovich. "Very
glad to make your acquaintance. I've heard a lot about you."
     "Really?" Vasily  Petrovich  said,  seating  himself at the  table  and
unconsciously assuming his "teacher" pose with one leg flung over the other,
his  pince-nez on  the black  cord dangling from  his hand.  "Well, well, it
would be interesting to hear exactly what it was you heard about me."
     "Oh, just that first you couldn't get on with  the  authorities because
of Count Tolstoi,  and  then you couldn't  get on with Faig because of  that
blockhead Blizhensky," Terenty said with a sigh, "well, and all the  rest of
it. And of course, you acted quite rightly and we respect you for it."
     Vasily Petrovich pricked up his ears.
     "And who are 'we'?" he asked.
     Terenty laughed good-naturedly.
     "  'We,' Vasily Petrovich, are ordinary  working folk. The people, that
     Vasily Petrovich's alertness increased. It all .smacked of  "politics."
With some uneasiness he looked at Auntie, because this,  of course,  must be
her latest undertaking,  and perhaps a dangerous one. But  suddenly he saw a
pile of paper  money on the table-green  three-ruble notes, blue  fives  and
pink tens, neatly stacked and tied round with .thread.
     "What's that money?" he asked.
     "Just imagine," Auntie said with a modest smile of hidden triumph, "our
early cherry crop's sold and this is what we've made."
     "Six  hundred  and fifty-eight  rubles clear  profit!"  Terenty  added,
rubbing his hands. "Now you'll be all right!"
     "But just a moment," cried Vasily  Petrovich, mistrusting his own eyes.
"How did it all happen? The horses? The platforms? Our delivery? What? How?"
     "That's simple," Terenty said. "Our firm is on a sound footing. For the
right  kind  of  people we  can get  hold of anything-horses, platforms,  or
packing.  Because we're,  well  ...  the proletariat. Everything  is in  our
hands, Vasily Petrovich. Isn't that so?"
     Although the word "proletariat" was one of the most dangerous, smelling
not only of politics but even of revolution,  Terenty spoke it so simply and
naturally that Vasily Petrovich accepted it  just  as naturally, without the
slightest inner protest.
     "So  it's  you who  arranged  everything?"  he  said,  putting  on  his
pince-nez and looking at Terenty with renewed cheerfulness.
     "Yes, we did it," Terenty answered with a shade  of pride, and returned
Vasily Petrovich's cheerful look.
     "Our saviour!" said Auntie,
     Then she told  him in detail  and with a good deal of humour about  the
sale  of the cherries. They  had been taken on platforms through  the  whole
town and  sold right from  the platforms retail, and their success had  been
phenomenal.   People    grabbed    them    up,   sometimes    buying   whole
basketfuls-especially the  white  and pink ones; the black ones were less in
     "And  just   imagine,"  said  Auntie,  wrinkling  her  nose,  her  eyes
sparkling, "our Pavlik was the best salesman of all."
     "What?" Vasily Petrovich frowned. "Pavlik sold cherries?"
     "Of course," Auntie said, "we all did. Do you think I didn't  sell them
too? I most certainly did. I  put on an old hat a la Madame Storozhenko, sat
on the box by the driver, and drove in triumph along  all the streets. Well,
and how could I  stop the children after that?  They all sold cherries-Petya
and Motya and Marina and little Zhenya."
     "Wait  a moment,"  Vasily Petrovich said sternly. "Did my children sell
cherries in the streets? I think I can't have understood you properly."
     "Oh,  good  gracious,  there's  nothing to understand.  They sat on the
platforms  and drove  along  the  streets  shouting,  'Cherries!  Cherries!'
Somebody had to do the shouting. Just think how they enjoyed it! But Pavlik,
Pavlik!  He really amazed me. He shouted  better than any of the others. I'd
never thought. You know, he's got a voice just like-  Sobinov's. And such an
artistic manner,  and the most important  thing-a  real understanding of the
customer! He always knew how to treat them, when to  insist on a  high price
and when to lower it a bit."
     "Oh, this  is  outrageous!" muttered  Vasily  Petrovich  and  was  just
preparing  to  be  really  angry when he suddenly seemed to hear  his Pavlik
calling  out  in  a  voice  like  Sobinov's,  "Cherries! Cherries!"  and  an
involuntary smile slipped under his moustache. He snatched his pince-nez off
and sat back with his benevolent teacher's "He-he-he!" It did not last long,
however, in a moment he was frowning again.
     "It's  not  really  very funny,  though,"  he  said with  a  sigh.  "If
anything, it's sad. But it's a true  saying:  When in Rome, do as the Romans
     "That's true," Terenty said, "but  it's not  all the truth. You mustn't
just do as the Romans do, you must fight them.  Or  they'll gobble you up so
there's nothing  left. Take that  old  bitch Madame  Storozhenko-excuse  the
language, but it's  the only name for her-she almost swallowed  you whole. A
good thing we managed to get here in time."
     "Yes," said Vasily  Petrovich, "I  don't know how to  thank you. You've
literally saved us from  ruin. Thank you! Thank you  from the  bottom of  my
     "Fine words butter no parsnips," said Terenty with a grin.
     Vasily Petrovich looked  at Auntie in some  perplexity. He did not know
what to  do  next.  Ought he to offer Terenty  money? But  Terenty evidently
guessed his thought.
     "Nay, it's not money I mean,"  he said. "We helped you out, well,  just
to be neighbourly. From a feeling of solidarity. And, of course, not  to let
a good man down. Now we want you to help us a bit."
     Terenty kept using  the word "we,"  but for  some reason it  no  longer
alarmed Vasily Petrovich.
     "How can I help you?" he asked with interest.
     "This way." Terenty took out a folded  handkerchief and wiped  his big,
kindly face and round cropped head with the satiny-white soar on the temple.
"We've got  a small study  circle, a sort of Sunday school. We  read various
pamphlets, books, and  newspapers, and so  far as we can, we study political
economy. Well, that's all right as far as it goes," and Terenty sighed, "but
it  doesn't  go  far  enough.  Vasily  Petrovich,  we're  short  of  general
knowledge. You  know-history, geography ... how life began in the world  ...
that sort of thing. Now, how do you look at that?"
     "You mean, you want me to read some popular lectures?" Vasily Petrovich
     "That's  exactly it.  Yes, and a bit  of Russian literature wouldn't do
any harm either. Pushkin, Gogol, Count Tolstoi. ... In general, whatever you
think is needed, you know more about that. And in return we'll help you with
the orchard. The early cherries  are all sold, but there are still  the late
cherries, and apples, and  pears. And you've  a vineyard too. Not  very big,
but it'll take a good bit of work. You'll never manage it all by yourselves.
So that's the idea, you help us and we'll help you."
     Vasily Petrovich had already  resigned himself to the  thought that his
educational activities were over, and now such a  blaze of joy flared  up in
him that for  a  moment he could hardly  master himself. He  even rubbed his
hands  and  flashed  his pince-nez in his  old  class-room  manner, .saying,
"Well,  well...."  But  with  the  memory  of  the  trouble  and humiliation
connected with his former work, his enthusiasm quickly died out.
     "Ah, no," he said,  "no, no!  Anything but that!  I've had enough." His
face bore an imploring look and he cracked his fingers. "For pity's sake not
that! I vowed to myself. And what  sort of teacher am I if they've driven me
out from everywhere?" he concluded bitterly.
     "Why,  Vasily Petrovich, how can  you talk like  that!"  cried  Auntie,
     "They didn't drive you out, they tried to gobble you up," Terenty said.
"You stuck in the throat of those gentry, so they just tried to get  you out
of the way. It's as Simple as that. We  stick in their throats too, but they
can't get rid of us.  We're too tough. They  couldn't  settle us properly in
1905, and now, in 1912,  they don't have a chance. And you want to deny it!"
he added reproachfully, although Vasily  Petrovich  had  said  nothing, only
stared at Terenty, trying to find the connection between 1905, 1912  and his
own fate which had worked out so dreadfully.
     "No," he said at last,  but with less resolution. "All  you  say may be
right to a certain extent, but it doesn't make it any easier for me." He was
just going to  add that he would rather go to the port and carry sacks,  but
for some  reason  stopped himself, thrust his  beard forward  and said, "And
that's that."
     "All right,"  Terenty said,  "have it your own  way. But I think you're
making a mistake. Where's the sense of  it if a  teacher stops teaching? Why
should  you  stop?  What's  it  matter that  you  couldn't  agree with  that
blockhead of an official  and that shark Faig?  They're  not the people. The
people  are still very  ignorant, you know  it  yourself. They  need  light,
knowledge. The working class lacks  educated people. And  where can  we find
them, when we haven't the means?  Who can help us  as  you can? We've helped
you,  you help us. We've got to  be  neighbourly, Vasily Petrovich. It's not
far from us to  you. The same proletariat. It's only two miles from here  to
Near Mills, across  the  steppe  as the  crow  flies. Well, what  about it?"
Terenty bent a warm look on Vasily Petrovich. "You won't have to come to us.
We'll  come  ourselves, if you agree; on Saturday evenings after work, or on
Sundays. We'll earth  up  your trees and water  the orchard  and work in the
vineyard, and  then you'll teach us a bit after.  Out in the open air, under
the trees, on the grass or somewhere on the steppe, in -some quiet spot-that
would really be fine. Especially as the police  have been giving us no peace
at all in Near Mills lately. As soon as folks get together anywhere to  talk
or  read  books-there's  a  raid,  a   search,  a  fuss-and  come   to   the
police-station. But  this is ideal. Even if they should come it is all plain
and  clear-folks  working in an orchard, the  most  ordinary  thing  in  the
     Terenty talked gently, almost tenderly, respectfully, now and then just
touching Vasily Petrovich's sleeve with two fingers as softly  as though  he
were removing a wisp of down. And the more  he talked, the more that idea of
lessons under the sky, in the open air, appealed to Vasily Petrovich. It was
just  the  thing  that  had been lacking-free enlightenment inspired by free
physical labour.

     While Terenty was still talking, Vasily Petrovich made a mental plan of
his first  lectures. He would begin,  of course, with a  popular  outline of
general history and physical geography-perhaps to be followed by astronomy.
     "Well, Vasily Petrovich, what about it? Do you agree?" Terenty asked.
     "Yes, I do," Vasily Petrovich answered decidedly.
     That day Auntie went to town, made the payment, and a new life  started
at the farm.

     For five days of the  week  everything went on  as  before. The Bacheis
continued to work in the  sweat of their brow, earthing up and watering late
cherry  and  apple trees.  The only  change  was  that  now the Pavlovskayas
sometimes joined them.
     Petya and  Marina had slipped into friendly, somewhat dull, neighbourly
terms. Nevertheless-more  from  habit than anything  else-he would sometimes
look  volumes at her to  which she usually replied by  unobtrusively putting
out her tongue.
     Every Saturday afternoon, however, a whole procession would arrive from
Near  Mills.  Motya,  Gavrik and  Zhenka  came,  then  tall, thin  Sinichkin
carrying his  spade carefully wrapped  in  newspaper under his arms. The old
railwayman  with his lamp whom Petya knew  from Near Mills and  Uncle  Fedya
would come striding .along in step  like  soldiers, Uncle Fedya with  a  big
copper kettle in his hand and a large, flat loaf of bread under his arm.
     The  young  schoolmistress  would  come  running  from  the  horse-tram
terminus, clasping a few dog-eared pamphlets to her breast.
     There were  others of Terenty's Sunday guests,  workers whom Petya  had
often seen  in the  streets, the  workshops or the gardens when  he lived in
Near Mills.
     Terenty  himself  usually came  last. He would  throw off his boots and
jacket, place them neatly under a tree and at once take charge.
     "Well, folks, time to stop smoking and get to work."
     He distributed the jobs quickly;  some people he  sent to help with the
earthing, others to  weed,  or  bring  water from the cistern, or  water the
trees, or work in the vineyard. Then he would take a spade or hoe  and start
     They worked for only a couple of hours or so, but got through more than
the  Bacheis had  done in  a week. Then  all went  to the sea for  a  bathe,
returned  refreshed,  sat  down soberly  in  a circle  under the  trees, and
Terenty went to fetch Vasily Petrovich.
     "Certainly, I'm  quite ready," he invariably replied, coming out on the
veranda in a freshly-ironed tussore jacket, starched shirt with a black tie,
and pointed kid boots.
     He approached  the  group  with his springy teacher's  step, erect  and
severe, carrying  under his arm an  exercise  book containing the outline of
his  lecture  which  he  had  been  preparing  for  several   days;  Terenty
respectfully brought a chair from the veranda and placed it for him.
     When Vasily Petrovich appeared, the "pupils" wanted to rise, but with a
quick  movement he gestured to them to remain seated, refused the  chair and
himself  sat  down  on  the  grass  as  though stressing  the special, free,
unofficial nature of the studies.
     It  should be added  that  this was the only  freedom  Vasily Petrovich
permitted himself. In  nothing else did he deviate a hair's breadth from the
strictest academic tradition.
     "Well,"  he  would say, glancing  down  at  his  notes,  "last  time we
discussed the life of primitive man who  already knew how  to make fire, who
hunted with the aid of crude  weapons of stone, but who had not yet  learned
to cultivate the land or to sow grain...."
     Petya, who sometimes joined the circle, discovered a new father-not the
ordinary, domestic  Dad-dear,  kind and  sometimes  unhappy, but  a  capable
teacher presenting his subject in a clear, logical sequence.
     Petya had never realized his father had such a fine, ringing  voice, or
that  mature working men could listen  to him with such childlike attention.
Petya noticed that they even stood a little in awe  of him. Once Uncle Fedya
forgot  where he was and lighted a cigarette. Then  Vasily Petrovich stopped
in the middle of a sentence and fixed such an icy look upon the culprit that
he crushed out  the cigarette  in his palm, flushed  crimson, jumped to  his
feet,  and standing to attention with bulging eyes jerked out  navy-fashion,
"Excuse me, Comrade Lecturer! Won't happen again!"
     "Sit  down," said  Vasily  Petrovich  coldly  and  took  up his lecture
exactly where he had broken off.
     Behind his  back  Terenty  shook  his  fist at Uncle  Fedya, and  Petya
realized that his father not only  himself took  a pride  in his profession,
but made others respect it too.
     Usually they  all spent  the night  with the  Bacheis, rising early  to
work,  so  they cooked their  supper immediately after the lecture to get to
sleep in good time.
     A  fire was lighted  beside  the  twig-and-weed  shanties, and a  great
cauldron of potato-and-pork stew was hung  over it. Night fell; the darkness
under the trees became so intense that from the distance it looked as though
the fire was burning in the mouth of a cave. Black shadowy forms moved round
it; they were gigantic and it seemed that their heads could touch the stars.
It all reminded Petya of a gipsy camp.
     When the stew was ready, Terenty would go to the house to invite Vasily
Petrovich to join them.
     In  a few moments he would  appear, this time  in  domestic garb-an old
Russian shirt and sandals on his bare feet. Someone  would hand him a wooden
spoon and, squatting down, he would eat  the rather smoky stew  with evident
relish and praise it highly.
     Then they would  drink tea, also  smoky, and  eat rye bread.  Sometimes
fishermen from Bolshoi Fontan whom Terenty  knew  would join  them, bringing
fresh  fish. On  those  occasions supper  would  continue  until  long  past
midnight.  Gradually the talk  would  turn to  political  subjects-at first-
cautiously,  in veiled- words, then with  increasing  frankness, with such a
vigour of expression  that  Vasily Petrovich would  produce  a yawn, stretch
himself, rise and say, "Well, I won't trouble you any further. Thank you for
the supper, but now I'm for bed. And I advise you to get some sleep too. The
stew was really incomparable."
     Nobody urged him  to stay. They  would put out the fire  and gather  in
Terenty's  shanty,  light the railway lantern and continue their talk-but it
was talk of a different  nature. Pavlovskaya would join them, bringing along
a  thick, worn, cloth-bound book.  Petya knew that now they would  read Karl
Marx's Capital and the latest issue of the Pravda, and after that they would
discuss Party affairs.
     This, however,  was not for Petya's ears, not  even for Gavrik's. Their
job was to  walk all  round the orchard and the house, keeping an eye on the
steppe and especially  on the roads.  If they  saw anything suspicious, they
were to give the alarm by firing the shot-gun. But who  could appear  in the
middle of the night on  the steppe, so far  from town? Who  could ever think
that  an  innocent orchard  concealed  a  small shanty  lighted by a railway
lantern where eight or ten workmen and fishermen were discussing the destiny
of Russia, the destiny  of the  world, drawing up leaflets, discussing Party
matters and preparing for revolution.
     Petya  and  Gavrik,  however,  did  their  duty conscientiously.  Petya
carried  the  old  shot-gun  they  used  for scaring  birds  slung over  his
shoulder, while Gavrik now and then slipped his right hand into  a pocket to
touch a loaded Browning of which Petya knew nothing.
     At first the girls  would  go round with them, for company.  Marina, of
course, knew what it was all about, but Motya innocently  thought  they were
guarding the orchard  against  thieves, and  followed Petya on tiptoe, never
taking her eyes off the shot-gun.
     She was no longer angry with him for being such a little liar, she even
loved him more, especially now when it was so quiet, dark and mysterious all
round, when  sleep had laid its  hand on  everything but the quails and  the
crickets, when the whole steppe lay silvery in the starlight.
     "Petya, aren't  you even a bit afraid of thieves?" she  whispered,  but
Petya pretended not to have heard.
     He  was  not  in the mood for  love. And  altogether, he  had vowed  to
himself to have no more dealings with girls. He'd had enough! Better to be a
lone, brave, taciturn man for whom women do not exist.
     He  gazed  intently  out on the empty  steppe,  ears  pricked  for  the
slightest sound. But Motya tiptoed after him and asked, "Petya, if you see a
thief will you shoot him?"
     "Of course," Petya answered.
     "Then I'll stop up my ears," Motya whispered, faint with fear and love.
     "Let me alone!"
     She said  no more,  but in a little  while  Petya heard a  queer  sound
behind him, like a cat sneezing. It was Motya's stifled giggle.
     "What are you sniggering about?"
     "Remember that time Marina and I fooled you?"
     "Idiot! It was I that fooled you both," Petya growled.
     "You let  your  imagination  run away  with you,"  said Marina  in  her
mother's voice. During these nocturnal strolls she was very quiet, reserved,
adult, said little and walked beside Gavrik, even taking his  arm sometimes.
And although that did give Petya a pang of jealousy, he continued resolutely
in his role of a man for whom love does not exist.
     But alas, love  did exist, the  whole  warm night on the  steppe seemed
filled  with it.  It was  in  everything-the  dark sky,  thick  with  summer
star-dust, the crystal choir of crickets, the gentle, warm,  scented breeze,
the distant barking of a dog, and especially the glow-worms that seemed like
fires in the far  distance, yet you  need  but stretch out your hand and the
soft,  weightless little lamp lay on your palm shedding its dead green light
on a tiny patch of skin.
     The girls collected glow-worms and put them in  each other's hair. Then
they began to yawn and soon afterwards went  to their shanty, floating  away
through the darkness like twin constellations.
     Gavrik  and  Petya continued to guard  the  camp  alone until the light
disappeared  in Terenty's  shanty.  Sometimes this  was  only when dawn  was
     In those early morning hours  Gavrik talked with unusual frankness, and
Petya  learned  much that  was  new to  him.  He understood now that  a new,
-powerful revolutionary movement had  already begun, and that  it was led by
Ulyanov-Lenin  who, Gavrik said, had moved from Paris to Cracow to be closer
to Russia.
     "And  do  you  think  it'll  really  come-revolution?"   asked   Petya,
pronouncing the dreadful word with an effort.
     "I don't just think it, I'm sure of it," Gavrik answered and added in a
whisper, "If you want to know, it's already-"
     Petya waited breathlessly for what Gavrik would  say next.  But  Gavrik
said nothing, he. could not  find the words for all he  had sensed  or heard
from  Terenty. But Petya  understood. The  Lena  shooting.  The strikes. The
meeting on  the  steppe.  The Pravda.  The fight  with  that  bully. Prague.
Cracow. Lenin. And finally this night, that lantern in the shanty. What else
was it all but a herald of the mounting tide of revolution?

     Soon the late cherries ripened. There were fewer trees this time but no
less bother.
     At the height of the picking Madame Storozhenko suddenly appeared. This
time  she did  not  enter  but had the  britzka  stop at the far side of the
scrub-grown earth bank that marked  the boundary. For a  long time she stood
on the step,  steadying  herself  with  a hand on the  head of  one  of  the
Persians, watching the work.
     "Ragamuffins,  scamps, proletarians!" she  kept screaming, shaking  her
big canvas sunshade  threateningly. "I'll  teach you to  go  forcing  prices
down! I'll have the police on you!"
     Nobody took any notice and she finally drove away, with a parting yell,
"I'll put a stop to your tricks, so help me God!"
     The next day platforms came for the cherries. While they were still out
on  the  steppe,  a little  distance from the orchard, Petya  saw some heavy
boxes thrown off them which afterwards disappeared.
     "What boxes were those?" he asked.
     "I thought  you  were  asleep,"  Gavrik  replied,  evidently  none  too
pleased. He ignored Petya's question.
     "No, but seriously, what were those boxes?"
     "What boxes?" Gavrik drawled,  with a  look of innocence. "Where'd  you
see any boxes? There aren't any!"
     But Petya had seen them plainly enough.
     "Don't play the fool!" he snapped angrily.
     Gavrik came and stood in front of him, legs apart.
     "Forget them," he  said sternly. But there was such  mysterious triumph
in his face, such a sly gleam in  his eye that Petya's curiosity only flamed
     "Tell  me-what were they?" he said again. He knew full  well that their
contents was  some important  secret,  and that  Gavrik was aching to  boast
about it. "Well?" he said insistently.
     Then Gavrik brought  his face  up  close, hesitated a moment, and after
looking all round said in a whisper, "A flat press."
     Petya could not believe his ears.
     "What?" he said.
     "A flat  press for printing," Gavrik said  very  distinctly. "Don't you
understand? Dunderhead!"
     Dozens of times Petya had passed that little gully on the steppe, thick
with tall weeds, without noticing anything special  about  it. But  when  he
looked at it this time he saw the weeds at the  bottom stir and two  figures
climb  out-first  Uncle  Fedya  and  then  the  old  railwayman.  Now  Petya
understood it all. There  must be  a cave in the  rocks at the bottom of the
gully, there were many of these caves all round the city,  opening on to the
steppe or  among the cliffs, and Petya  knew they were the entrances to  the
famous Odessa catacombs. So that was where the boxes had gone!
     "Get it?" said Gavrik and gave Petya such a  keen, almost menacing look
that  the boy was just about  to pronounce  some  solemn vow when  he caught
himself up, and returning Gavrik's look, said merely, "Yes. I got it."
     "I  hope  you do,"  said Gavrik.  "And remember,  you've  seen nothing.
Forget it all."
     "I  know," Petya  said, and they both went unhurriedly to  the  orchard
where the cherries were being poured out in piles on the platform.
     Next morning Terenty reappeared  on the veranda and  put  some money on
the table.
     "You  see how well it works out," he  said. "You help us, we  help you.
There's  a hundred and seventeen here,  and we kept  back fifteen rubles for
small expenses. I hope you don't object?"
     "Oh, of course not, of course not," Vasily Petrovich said.
     He never suspected  that these  "fifteen rubles for small expenses" had
been sent that very day to St. Petersburg,  and  that  in a week's  time the
list of acknowledgements of cash received in the Pravda would include a line
that read, "From a group of Odessa workers, 15 rubles."
     That was how the cherry crop was marketed.
     The  next  thing  would  be  the early  apples.  The summer was passing
quietly, everything was going well-except for a small  incident which passed
unnoticed by all but Petya,  on whom it left an unpleasant  impression. . As
he neared the orchard one day after a bathe he  saw a man coming out of  the
gate. There was something familiar about him. Moved by an inexplicable sense
of danger, Petya slipped  quietly  into  the  maize field and  squatted down
among  the thick stems  and rustling leaves.  The man  passed  so close that
Petya  could have reached out and  touched his dusty serge trousers and grey
canvas shoes.  He looked up and saw against the bright blue sky  and  marble
clouds a head in a summer  cap of loofah with  two peaks-in front and at the
back-the kind of cap dubbed "Hullo-Good-bye!"; he saw the grey moustache and
pince-nez of dark  glass like those worn by the blind. It was Moustache, the
secret police spy whose face  had been imprinted on Petya's mind as a child,
on the Turgenev, and whom he  had seen  again just  before his trip  abroad,
standing with a coastguard officer on board the Palermo.
     The man passed  without noticing Petya, his bluely shaved cheeks puffed
out, trumpeting softly a popular march.
     Petya waited a little while and then hurried home to find out what this
man  had come for. But  he  got little satisfaction. According to Auntie, it
was a summer resident from Bolshoi Fontan who had  simply come for cherries;
Auntie  had told him she was sorry but he was too late. He had  walked round
the orchard, praised it  and  said  he  would  most  certainly  come back in
September when the grapes were  ripe.  That was all. As it was the middle of
the week only the family had been there, and. Petya felt easier in his mind.
Perhaps  the man  really was staying at  Bolshoi  Fontan for  the summer and
really had  come only  for cherries.  After all, he  was a human being,  why
shouldn't he have a summer cottage at Bolshoi Fontan?
     Gavrik,  however, took  it much more seriously, although he agreed that
it might be mere chance".  To be  on the safe  side,  Terenty  increased the
sentries, and Gavrik and Petya paced the steppe not  only on Saturday nights
but during the day as well. It was evidently a false alarm, however, for the
man did not appear again.

     One  Saturday at  the  beginning  of  August  Petya  and Gavrik,  after
circling  round the orchard a few times  and seeing nothing suspicious, went
to the  cliffs, lay  down and  gazed out to sea. The  sun had only just set,
there  was  a brisk wind  and  the  glow was  fading from  the  pink clouds.
Dolphins played not far from the  shore, and on the horizon the  white sails
of scows stood out against the sky, for it was the mackerel fishing season.
     The  scows  moved  in various directions  and  frequently changed their
course, now approaching, now withdrawing. Sometimes one of them  would  come
quite close and  pass,  tossing, along the coast; then the two could see the
fountains of  spray  as  its  flat  bottom slapped the  water,  and  the man
standing on  the battered  bow moving a long  rod, bent like a bow, backward
and  forward.  The  boys knew  that at  the end  of  the  long  line  was  a
bait-brightly painted fish of  lead  with a  multitude  of sharp  hooks. The
great art of this kind of fishing was to adapt the speed of the bait  to the
movement  of the  shoal. The  rapacious mackerel would start to  pursue  the
shining bait  and it must not be pulled too far  ahead or made  too easy  to
seize. The fisherman must tantalize the fish before letting it snap, then it
would be firmly caught.
     It was  interesting to watch,  but  Petya and Gavrik  were  thinking of
something else.  They watched the  sails, trying to guess which was  the one
they awaited.
     In addition to the fishing boats they could see far out the smart white
sails of  the racing yachts of the fashionable clubs on  the last lap of the
annual handicap for the prize offered by the Odessa millionaire Anatre. They
were just racing for the finish, leaning over  sharply with  the wind-lovely
vessels built at the best wharves of Holland and Britain. At any other time,
of course, Petya and Gavrik  would have had  eyes for nothing else, but  now
Gavrik   only   remarked  contentedly,   "It's   like  Saturday  evening  on
Deribasovskaya Street. Crowded. Easy to slip through."
     "I believe it's that one, look, with the old 'Bolshoi Fontan lighthouse
on her beam,"  said Petya, pronouncing the words  "on her beam" with special
     "No," said Gavrik, ''Akim Perepelitsky's scow is bright blue, only just
painted, and this is all scaled off!"
     "I believe you're right."
     "I certainly am." "Look! There she is!" -
     "Opposite Golden Shore, a bit closer, look, bright blue!"
     "It's got a new jib, Perepelitsky's is patched."
     "When did they say they'd come?"
     "When the sun sets."
     "It's set now."
     "It's still too light. Needs to get a bit darker first."
     "Maybe they won't come at all?"
     "Rubbish. This is Party work."
     The boys went on staring intently out to sea.
     Only a  little while before a representative  of the  Central Committee
had  come  to Odessa secretly from abroad, from Ulyanov-Lenin, bringing  the
Party  directives regarding the  elections to  the Fourth  State Duma. For a
week  now he  had been  going everywhere addressing Party meetings about the
political situation.  Now he was expected  at  the farm.  As A precautionary
measure  a  young-fisherman,  Akim Perepelitsky, was  to  bring  him on  his
fishing boat from Langeron.
     The light  faded from  the clouds, the sea  darkened. The yachts passed
and disappeared. The  sails of fishing boats became noticeably fewer. A band
was playing far away, in  Arcadia, and the wind brought the distant music of
trumpets and the dull thud of a drum. And still Akim Perepelitsky's scow did
not appear.
     Suddenly Gavrik cried, "Look, there it is!"
     It  was not at all where  they had  expected it to  appear -instead  of
coming from the Langeron side, it appeared from  near to Lustdorf. Evidently
Akim  Perepelitsky  thought it safer to  keep  far out to sea until  he  was
opposite Lustdorf  and  then turned back to Kovalevsky's dacha. Now the scow
was quite close in, leaping  from wave  to wave before  a brisk wind, making
straight for the shore.
     There were  two  men in it. The one lying  back in the  stern with  the
tiller  under his arm was Akim Perepelitsky, Petya  knew him  at  once.  The
other-short  and thickset,  in an  old, striped singlet  under a fisherman's
canvas  coat, barefoot, trousers rolled to his knees-was sitting astride the
side of the boat, skilfully unlashing the jib-sheet.  This man Petya did not
immediately recognize.
     While the boys  raced down the cliff path  the  sails were furled,  the
rudder taken in  and  dropped  in  the  stern, the keel raised  and the scow
grounded  gently,  the bottom scraping the pebbles as it  buried its nose in
the shingle.
     Following the unwritten law of the coast, Petya and Gavrik first helped
to pull the heavy boat ashore, and then greeted the arrivals.
     "Gosh!  It's Uncle  Zhukov!" cried  Gavrik  like a child, shaking hands
vigorously with the Central  Committee"  representative. "I knew  it! I  was
sure it was you coming!"
     Zhukov looked at  Gavrik for a moment. "Aha!" he said at last.  "Now  I
know you  too. Wasn't it you who pulled me  out of the water opposite Otrada
Villa  seven  years ago? Look  how  you've  shot  up! I'm sorry  about  your
grandad.... Aye, he was a good old man, I liked him! Well, may his soul rest
in peace. I remember how  he kept praying to St. Nicholas,  not that he ever
got  anywhere by it...."  A shadow  from past  memories passed  over  Rodion
Zhukov's face.
     "What's your name, by the way? I'm afraid I've forgotten."
     "Gavrik. Gavrik Chernoivanenko."
     "Chernoivanenko? Any relation to Terenty?"
     "Yes, I'm his brother."
     "You don't say! And following in his footsteps, I  see." "Uncle Zhukov,
I know you too," Petya put in plaintively, tired of seeing the attention  of
the  Central Committee representative  concentrated on Gavrik alone. "I knew
you even before he did. When you hid in the coach, remember? And then on the
     "Well, of all things!" cried Zhukov merrily.  "So it  looks as if we're
old friends, too, if you're telling the truth."
     "I  am,  I swear it," cried Petya and crossed himself. "Gavrik can tell
you. Gavrik, tell him how I carried cartridges to Alexandrovsky Street!"
     "It's right, he did," said Gavrik.
     "And I saw you in Naples a year ago. You were with Maxim  Gorky.  Isn't
that right?"
     Zhukov looked at Petya.
     "Yes, it's right," he said. "I remember you now. You were in a sailor's
blouse, weren't you?"
     "Yes," Petya said and looked at Gavrik in triumph.
     "Only there's one thing, lads," said Zhukov sternly.
     "Forget that I was ever called  Uncle Zhukov. That's gone. I'm Vasilyev
now. Don't forget. What's my name?"
     "Vasilyev," the boys said in one voice.
     "Remember, then.... Well, and what's your name?" he asked,  turning  to
     "He's that teacher's son," Gavrik amplified.
     "I guessed it," said Zhukov, thought for a moment and added decisively,
"well, don't let's waste time. Let's go. Have they all come?"
     "Long ago," Gavrik answered.
     "All clear along the way? I gave them my word in Cracow  that I'd be as
prudent as a young lady."
     "Yes, it's all clear," Gavrik said.
     Rodion Zhukov took a round basket of mackerel from the scow and  put it
on his head, like any fisherman taking his catch to sell at the villa doors.
     "A good catch," said Gavrik with respect.
     "A whole basket in  one go and with one  silver bait,"  laughed Zhukov,
with a wink  at  Akim  Perepelitsky. Handsome  young  Akim with  a  forelock
falling over his forehead swung the  oars with lazy grace on to his shoulder
and they began to climb the cliff path.
     Gavrik went about fifty paces  in front of the two  men, Petya the same
distance  behind them; if either of them noticed anything  suspicious he was
to  whistle through his fingers. Petya held  his fingers ready, worried by a
foolish fear that if  he  needed to whistle, he might suddenly be  unable to
make  a sound.  Everything was quiet, however,  and avoiding the  road, they
made their way to the  orchard where Terenty met them by the vineyard. Petya
saw them  hug each other with many  enthusiastic slaps on the back, and then
go  to the shanties  where a  fire was  already  crackling  under the trees,
sending out showers of golden sparks.
     When  Petya  went  up to the shanties a little  later,  Rodion  Zhukov,
smoking  a short pipe  with  a  metal lid,  was  sitting  before  the  fire,
surrounded by a group of people.
     "Let's review the events that have taken place in the six months  since
the Prague Conference, comrades," he was  saying.  "In  the first place, the
Party exists again. That is  the main thing.  I don't  need to  tell you how
this was done, what tremendous difficulties  -we had to  overcome. There was
the rabid persecution by the tsarist  police, the failures, the provocation,
the incessant interruptions in the work of the local centres and the Central
Committee. But  now  that's all past, thank heaven. Our Party's  going ahead
boldly, confidently,  broadening its activities and increasing its influence
among the masses. Not in the old way, but in the  new way.  What was left to
us after the  defeat of  the 1905 Revolution?  Illegal  activities,  nothing
else.  But now  in addition to our illegal cells,  our secret little  groups
even more carefully concealed than  before, we  have broader,  legal Marxist
teaching. It is this combination of legal and illegal that characterizes our
preparations for  revolution under the new conditions. We are advancing to a
new  .revolution,  comrades,  under slogans  of  a  democratic  republic, an
eight-hour working day and complete confiscation of all the big estates. You
know  that these slogans have been caught up over the whole  of Russia. They
have been accepted by all the thinking proletariat. To put it briefly, we've
stopped  the retreat.  Stolypin's  liberal counter-revolution is on its last
legs. There  are  more  strikes, mere  uprisings.  This  is  a revolutionary
movement of the masses, it is the  beginning of the offensive of the working
masses against the tsarist monarchy."
     Petya never  took his eyes off Rodion Zhukov, off that face lighted  by
the leaping, crackling flames of the fire. He was no longer the Zhukov Petya
had seen as a child and had never forgotten.  Nor was it  the Zhukov  he had
seen in Naples, nor even  the Zhukov who had just  walked  barefoot over the
steppe  with  the  round  basket   of  fish  on  his  head.  It  was  a  new
Zhukov-Comrade Vasiilyev, exacting, almost stern,  with narrowed, imperative
eyes, a firm mouth and short  moustache clipped a  foreign way.  It  was the
sailor who had become a captain.
     "Now let's talk  about the  elections to the Fourth State Duma," Zhukov
went   on.   "Despite   persecution   and    mass   arrests,   the   Russian
Social-Democratic  Party  now has  a  clearer,  more definite programme  and
tactics than any other party. This is how Vladimir Lenin-Ulyanov, writing in
the  Workers'   Paper,  formulated  the   situation   on  the   eve  of  the
     Gavrik tugged at Petya's sleeve.
     "What  are  you  sitting  here for,  as if  you've nothing  to do?"  he
whispered. "We've got to keep watch."
     Petya  slipped quietly out of the circle,  and suddenly saw his father.
Vasily Petrovich stood  leaning  against a tree,  arms folded,  listening so
intently  to Rodion  Zhukov that  he did not  even  turn his head when Petya
jolted  his  shoulder in passing. His hair  fell in disorder over his  lined
forehead and a tiny reflected fire sparkled in each glass of his pince-nez.

     Petya and Gavrik circled the orchard and turned on to  the road leading
to the terminus.  The  old  horse-tram  had  recently  been replaced  by  an
electric tram; its deep cello note  came to  them from the distance,  a blue
electric spark travelled along  the  wire past the gardens,  and  the bright
light from the windows made the  steppe  seem still darker.  Suddenly Gavrik
stopped and  gripped  Petya's  arm. A number of white figures  were  walking
along the side of the road in single file, making straight  for the Bacheis'
orchard. Before  Gavrik  had time  to whisper, "Police!" Petya distinguished
the white summer tunics. The boys raced breathlessly back to the fire.
     "The  Liquidators shout  about  a  decent,  licensed  platform  for the
elections. But  we Bolsheviks  consider that what's needed isn't a  platform
for  the  elections,  but   elections  for  carrying  out  a   revolutionary
Social-Democratic platform. We have already used the elections  for this and
we shall continue using them, we shall use even the most reactionary tsarist
Duma for revolutionary teaching, agitation, propaganda. That's how it is!"
     Rodion Zhukov  coughed angrily and reached out to the fire for an ember
to  relight his pipe; at that moment Gavrik whispered to Terenty  who raised
his hand without getting up.
     "Just a minute, comrades. A point of order," he said in a quiet, almost
business-like  tone.  "First  of  all  please  preserve  absolute  calm  and
revolutionary self-control. We're surrounded by police."
     Petya  expected  everyone  to jump up and seize weapons. He  pulled his
shot-gun off his shoulder-he had not had time to fire it as they ran back to
the farm. Now it's going to start, he thought, fearful yet thrilled.
     To his great surprise, however, all remained  sitting quietly round the
fire. Only Rodion Zhukov with a sharp movement  knocked out his pipe  on the
ground and slipped it into his pocket.
     "All  stop where you are; you, Rodion, and you, Tamara," Terenty turned
to  Pavlovskaya, "will have  to hide for a little while.  We've  got a  good
place not far from here. Gavrik, off you go! Take our illegal workers to the
gully. They can sit it out there."
     "Damn them, they  interrupted us at  the  most  important point,"  said
Rodion Zhukov gaily. "Well, comrades, here you've got a splendid instance of
our  tactics-the  combination  of  legal  and  illegal."  His  eyes  flashed
mischievously yet somehow menacingly in the light of the fire.
     "Go on, go on underground," said Terenty impatiently.
     Pavlovskaya and Zhukov followed Gavrik, passing  beneath the  trees and
disappearing  into  the darkness.  A  slight shadow that was Marina  slipped
after them.  Petya  made  to follow her, gripping  his shot-gun, but Terenty
shook  his finger in warning and he  halted. Everything happened quickly and
quietly,  without any stir. When the police officer with  three of  his  men
followed Moustache into the orchard, trying to step quietly and  keep  their
sabres from  rattling,  they  found  a picture  of  perfect peace-a group of
people sitting by a camp-fire quietly eating supper.
     "Who are you?  What's the reason for  this assembly?" the officer asked
sternly, advancing out  of the darkness.  Without  a  doubt  he expected his
appearance to be as startling as a clap of thunder. But they went quietly on
with their supper, only the old railwayman carefully licked his wooden spoon
clean, wiped it  on  his  trousers  and  held it out to the officer  saying,
"You're welcome to join us, to have a bite of supper. Akim, move over a bit,
so there's room for His Honour to sit down."
     "Nay, what's  the good  of  that,"  drawled  Akim  Perepelitsky lazily.
"They've got a whole squad, our stew'll not  go round them all.  They'd best
go back to the station and eat their prison skilly."
     "Get up!" snapped the officer. "Who d'you think you're talking to?"
     "No need to be so  free, Your Honour, we haven't tended pigs together,"
drawled Akim more lazily still, raised himself on his elbow  and spat in the
     "Ugh-rabble!" said the officer viciously, blowing his reddish moustache
and wrinkling his fleshy nose. "You- I'll make you...."
     Meanwhile,  the  policemen stood in the darkness under the trees, ready
at any moment to  seize anyone  they could lay  hands  on, although what was
happening was very different from what they had expected.
     They had  thought they would  catch dangerous bomb-throwers red-handed,
that  they would have  to use  their sabres and  perhaps fire-arms too.  But
instead of that, this man with  the moustache had brought them to an orchard
where people  sat  round  a camp-fire peacefully eating their supper and not
only  showed no  fear of  the police  but  even  talked impertinently to the
officer. It looked as though they'd come on a fool's errand.
     "My good sir, I haven't the honour of knowing who you are," said Vasily
Petrovich  in a voice trembling  with indignation, drawing himself up to his
full height and coming up close to the officer.  "What do you want  here? By
what right  do you  break into  this orchard? And- and-and interrupt  people
having their supper," he added, his beard shaking.
     "And who might you be?" asked the officer sternly.
     "I not only might be,  I am the tenant and full master here, on a fully
legal agreement," said Vasily Petrovich, assuming a lofty schoolroom manner.
"These  are my labourers ...  seasonal labourers, if the  term  pleases  you
better,  whom I  hired to work in the garden and vineyard."  (Terenty nodded
approvingly.) "I am Councillor  Bachei, and I won't stand any trespassing on
my grounds at night!" he cried, his voice rising to a  shout, and he stamped
his sandaled foot angrily.
     "Excuse me,  we  are not  trespassing,  we  are the  police,"  said the
officer, falling back a step.
     "To me you are trespassing!" Vasily Petrovich shouted. "I wish to  have
nothing to do  with you. Why do  you  persecute me? Great heavens,"  and his
voice became plaintive.  "When  will it all end? First it was that official,
then  Faig, then Madame Storozhenko. And now the police. Leave me alone!" he
yelled, beside himself. "Let me live  in peace! Lea-ve m-ee a-lo-ne! Or I'll
lodge a complaint-with the Governor, with Major-General Tolmachov!"
     Strange  as  it  might seem, his  confused  speech  produced a  decided
impression  on  the officer, especially the mention of Tolmachov. After all,
who could  say what he was, this Bachei? Suppose he really did  complain  to
General Tolmachov?
     "You  don't  need  to raise  your voice,"  said  the  officer, more  in
expostulation  than  threat,  and  went  over  to  Moustache  who  had  been
sauntering about in the darkness under the trees, carefully looking over all
the  men round the fire, one after  the other. The officer whispered to him,
coughed, and turned back to Vasily Petrovich.
     "We have information  that  various illegal assemblages  are constantly
held  here, that  banned pamphlets are  read and-well, that people assemble.
And all assemblages are at present strictly forbidden."
     "But,  Your  Honour," said  Akim  Perepelitsky  insinuatingly,  "people
assemble for work here, to earn a bit- well, to dig round the trees  and tie
up the  vines, and do the watering.... It's a bit of  extra money for a poor
     "I'm not  talking to  you," the officer snapped. "I'm  talking  to  the
     "I don't see  that we have anything to discuss," said Vasily Petrovich.
"As for your assertion  that some kind of banned pamphlets are read here and
all the rest of it, that is simply  a figment  of your diseased imagination,
nothing more."
     "Then  why do  you  assemble these  people here  at night?"  asked  the
officer  wearily-he  had realized  long ago that the  raid  was  a  failure,
because nothing could be proved.
     "They  'assemble,'"  said  Vasily Petrovich with a  delicately ironical
emphasis on the word, "because with your kind permission I read lectures  to
     "Aha, lectures?" The officer pricked up his ears.
     "Yes,"  Vasily Petrovich  said,  straightening his pince-nez.  "Popular
educational  lectures  on  the  history  of  civilization,  literature   and
astronomy-following the programme  authorized by  the Ministry of Education.
Have you any objections?"
     "Astronomy." The officer shook his head disapprovingly and wrinkled his
fleshy nose. "Of course,  if you follow the authorized programme, then  it's
all right, you can go on."
     "Ah, so you permit it?"  cried Vasily  Petrovich  in mock delight. "You
permit it! How very condescending! Well then-in that case I will not venture
to detain  you  any  longer. Or  perhaps you would  like  to make  a search-
confiscation-or whatever you  call it? In that case, be so kind. The orchard
is at your disposal!" exclaimed Vasily Petrovich ceremoniously with a broad,
hospitable  gesture of  both  arms  as  though wishing  to  embrace all this
wonderful night with its dark trees, camp-fire, glow-worms and starry sky.
     "Dad's grand!" thought Petya, his eyes fixed  admiringly on his father.
At that moment there was the rustle of skirts and Auntie came running out.
     "What's this? What's this? What's  going on  here?" she panted, turning
alarmed eyes on the officer and the policemen.
     "Don't  get  excited,  it's nothing  dreadful,"  said  Vasily Petrovich
calmly.  "This gentleman had  been given false information-that some kind of
illegal assemblages took place here, but fortunately it all turned out to be
a mistake."
     "Aha, I understand," said Auntie. "That's probably Madame Storozhenko's
     "I can  tell  you  nothing about that, madame," said  the  officer, and
after whispering  to Moustache, he gestured angrily to the policemen.  These
shuffled about a little,  then moved away through the orchard in single file
like geese, their white  tunics  adding to the resemblance in the  darkness.
Soon they disappeared through the gate.
     "As for  those  lectures of yours,  I  shall have  to report them to my
superiors,'' the officer said.
     "To  the Governor himself if you like,"  replied Vasily  Petrovich  and
without waiting for them  to leave, he lay  down by the fire and said in his
ringing teacher's voice,
     "Well, gentlemen, let us continue. Last time I  acquainted you with the
elementary foundations of astronomy, the wonderful science of the stars. Let
me repeat briefly what I  told  you. Astronomy is  one of the  most  ancient
sciences of mankind. The Egyptians...."
     Petya  slipped cautiously out of  the  circle  of fire-light, slung the
shot-gun  over his shoulder and followed  the police, hugging the shadows of
the trees. As he came up  level with the officer and Moustache  he heard the
officer saying angrily,  "With  agents like you, I might as well sit down on
the  stove and wait for my belly  to boil." "But  I  swear  I  had  the most
reliable information!"
     "Oh, go to hell. Madame  Storozhenko greased  your  palm handsomely and
you went  and made  fools of us. Coming out here for nothing  on a  Saturday
night.  Thank heaven there's  the electric tram  now,  or we'd  have had  to
rattle back on that horse-tram!"

     So they were leaving. But Petya felt he must see them on the  tram with
his  own  eyes. Then he went back.  On  the road he  saw a small, motionless
figure. It was Motya.
     "What are you doing here?" he asked sternly.
     "Waiting," she whispered. "I was so worried about you...."
     "Nobody asked you to," he said. "Go home."
     "Have they left?"
     "On the electric tram?"
     Motya laughed softly.
     "What's so funny?"
     "It's queer-you  and I  alone  in  the empty field,  and the night  all
round.... Petya," she said after  a pause, "weren't you  frightened when you
followed them?"
     "Silly! What about the gun?"
     "Yes, that's right." Motya sighed. "But I nearly died of fear."
     The night was dark and warm, with a slight breeze. Now and then a faint
report like a shot came from Arcadia, where  fireworks were being let off. A
number of rockets  soared  into the air, glowing orange, and burst  in great
fiery  stars  that floated slowly down,  and then  their dry  cracks came to
Petya and Motya.
     "How lovely!" said Motya and sighed again.
     "Go home," was all Petya answered.
     She turned and went  obediently down the road,  and soon disappeared in
the dim silvery light.
     Petya turned into the steppe and ran to the familiar gully.  Nobody had
told him  to see  the police safely away, and  nobody had  told him to go to
Rodion Zhukov  afterwards. He was impelled  by an unconscious but sure inner
urge. It was as though some force moved him.
     It was  quite warm in the gully. Rustling through the weeds, Petya felt
his way along the steep rocky side, seeking the opening.
     "Is that you, Petya?" Gavrik's voice asked out of the darkness.
     "Yes, it's me."
     "What's happening?"
     "Everything's all right. They've gone."
     "And not taken anyone?"
     "No, no one."
     "That's good. Here, reach out your hand."
     Petya did so, and  Gavrik pulled him into the cave. For some  time they
moved ahead in complete darkness, their shoulders now and then touching  the
wall, bringing down  trickles of dry soil. Then the passage-way became lower
and narrower so that they had to crawl on all fours. At  last a faint  light
appeared, the passage widened, and Petya found himself in a  large cave hewn
out in the rock, with a sloping, smoke-blackened roof.
     A lantern hanging on the wall cast a light, crisscrossed by the shadows
of its bars, so that the cave looked like a cage. It was damp  and cool, yet
stuffy. The lack of fresh air was very noticeable. In the corner beneath the
lamp Petya saw  a  small flat  printing-press  and guessed  this was the one
brought in  the boxes he  had  seen. In  a case alongside lay the type which
Gavrik had  been bringing from the  Odessa Leaflet print-shop for two years.
On the wall hung his familiar blue overalls stained with printer's ink.
     Rodion Zhukov  w-as sitting on  the floor  his  back  against the wall,
smoking his pipe and reading a book, making pencil notes in the margin.  The
Pavlovskayas were  settled  on the boxes in  which the press had  come.  The
mother sat with her old  waterproof drawn round her, and  Marina was asleep,
her head with its  black hair-ribbon resting on her mother's knees, her feet
in their dusty little buttoned shoes, one worn  through at the  toe,  tucked
under her.
     All  of  their belongings lay on  the floor beside them-  the  kerosene
stove  wrapped in newspaper, the bundle and  the small travelling-bag, which
led to the conclusion that they always had  their things packed. They looked
like people sitting in  some small,  out-of-the-way railway station  waiting
for a train.
     "It's all right. We can go back," said Gavrik.
     Rodion Zhukov did not move, but made Petya tell him everything. Then he
thought a little and asked Petya to tell him  again, without  hurrying. Only
after Petya had given his story for the second time did Zhukov slip his book
into his pocket, rise,  stretch  luxuriously and say,  "Well,  we  can go up
again, then.  Evidently it was just chance  the bastards  happened  upon me.
Come along, Tamara."
     "Get up,  dear," said Pavlovskaya, lightly nipping Marina's nose as one
does with  a little child. The girl opened her eyes, looked round about, saw
Petya-earth-stained,    tousle-headed,    with   the   shot-gun   over   his
shoulder-smiled sleepily and smoothed her creased hair-ribbon.
     "I want to  sleep," she said pettishly, but rose obediently  and picked
up the kerosene stove.
     "No, leave your things here, just in case," said Rodion Zhukov.
     "What a darling she is," thought Petya.
     When they  came out  into the  fresh  air, the stars seemed wonderfully
bright, almost blinding. The steppe was very  quiet. Silently,  stopping now
and  then to listen, they went back to the orchard, climbed over the earthen
weed-grown  bank and seated  themselves  quietly  at  the fire where  Vasily
Petrovich was still lecturing on astronomy.
     "Just try to imagine,"  he said enthusiastically, raising  his head  to
look  at the sky, "that we have the magic power to travel through space with
the speed of light. If that were so, we could easily convince ourselves that
the  universe  is  infinite.  Look  at  that  starry  sky  which  arches  so
magnificently over us. What do we see? We see myriads of stars, planets, and
nebulae,  and finally we  see  the  Milky Way which in turn is nothing other
than  another  great collection of  stars. But all this countless number  is
only an infinitesimal part of  the universe. So, gentlemen,  imagine that we
are flying  through space with a  speed inconceivable to  the human mind and
finally  reach the most distant star. What do  we find? We  find that we see
before us another star-filled firmament. We fly to the farthest star of this
new sky but here too there  is no  end to the universe. Again a sky  full of
stars opens before us. And thus, however far we  fly through space, more and
more worlds open before  us, and there is no end  lo it because the universe
itself is endless."
     Vasily Petrovich fell silent, still looking upwards. And all the others
looked silently up too-at the familiar stars, the silvery track of the Milky
Way, thrilled, fascinated by the thought of infinity.
     Marina was sitting beside Petya,  looking up too;  and  suddenly he was
swept  with a  wave of such tenderness, such aching  love that tears rose in
his eyes.
     "Listen-" he whispered, gently touching her sleeve.
     "What?" she said almost soundlessly, without turning her head.
     The  words "I  love you" nearly slipped out,  but instead he managed to
say, "It is marvellous, isn't it?"
     "Yes," said Marina, with a movement of her head that seemed wonderfully
free and graceful. "The darker the night, the brighter the stars."
     Somewhere far  away a cock crowed, barely audible; and the slender blue
finger of light from the new Bolshoi Fontan lighthouse rose far up, into the
star-filled sky.

     Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Last-modified: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 18:58:22 GMT
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