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首页 » 英文励志小说 » How The Steel Was Tempered 钢铁是怎样炼成的 » Pary One Chapter 7
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Pary One Chapter 7

For a whole week the town, belted with trenches and enmeshed in barbed-wire entanglements,went to sleep at night and woke up in the morning to the pounding of guns and the rattle of rifle fire. Only in the small hours would the din subside, and even then the silence would be shattered from time to time by bursts of fire as the outposts probed out each other. At dawn men busied themselves around the battery at the railway station. The black snout of a gun belched savagely and the men hastened to feed it another portion of steel and explosive. Each time a gunner pulled at a lanyard the earth trembled underfoot. Three versts from town the shells whined over the village occupied by the Reds, drowning out all other sounds, and sending up geysers of earth.
The Red battery was stationed on the grounds of an old Polish monastery standing on a high hill in the centre of the village.
The Military Commissar of the battery, Comrade Zamostin, leapt to his feet. He had been sleeping with his head resting on the trail of a gun. Now, tightening his belt with the heavy Mauser attached to it, he listened to the flight of the shell and waited for the explosion. Then the courtyard echoed to his resonant voice.
"Time to get up, Comrades!"
The gun crews slept beside their guns, and they were on their feet as quickly as the Commissar.
All but Sidorchuk, who raised his head reluctantly and looked around with sleep-heavy eyes.
"The swine—hardly light yet and they're at it again. Just out of spite, the bastards!"
Zamostin laughed.
"Unsocial elements, Sidorchuk, that's what they are. They don't care whether you want to sleep or not."
The artilleryman grumblingly roused himself.
A few minutes later the guns in the monastery yard were in action and shells were exploding in the town.
On a platform of planks rigged up on top of the tall smoke stack of the sugar refinery squatted a Petlyura officer and a telephonist. They had climbed up the iron ladder inside the chimney.
From this vantage point they directed the fire of their artillery. Through their field glasses they could see every movement made by the Red troops besieging the town.

Today the Bolsheviks were particularly active. An armoured train was slowly edging in on the Podolsk Station, keeping up an incessant fire as it came. Beyond it the attack lines of the infantry could be seen. Several times the Red forces tried to take the town by storm, but the Petlyura troops were firmly entrenched on the approaches. The trenches erupted a squall of fire, filling the air with a maddening din which mounted to an unintermittent roar, reaching its highest pitch during the attacks. Swept by this leaden hailstorm, unable to stand the inhuman strain, the Bolshevik lines fell back, leaving motionless bodies behind on the field.
Today the blows delivered at the town were more persistent and more frequent than before. The air quivered from the reverberations of the gunfire. From the height of the smoke stack you could see the steadily advancing Bolshevik lines, the men throwing themselves on the ground only to rise again and press irresistibly forward. Now they had all but taken the station. The Petlyura division's available reserves were sent into action, but they could not close the breach driven in their positions.

Filled with a desperate resolve, the Bolshevik attack lines spilled into the streets adjoining the station, whose defenders, the third regiment of the Petlyura division, routed from their last positions in the gardens and orchards at the edge of the town by a brief but terrible thrust, scattered into the town. Before they could recover enough to make a new stand, the Red Army men poured into the streets, sweeping away in bayonet charges the Petlyura pickets left behind to cover the retreat.
Nothing could induce Sergei Bruzzhak to stay down in the basement where his family and the nearest neighbours had taken refuge. And in spite of his mother's entreaties be climbed out of the chilly cellar. An armoured car with the name Sagaidachny on its side clattered past the house, firing wildly as it went. Behind it ran panic-stricken Petlyura men in complete disorder. One of them slipped into Sergei's yard, where with feverish haste he tore off his cartridge belt, helmet and rifle and then vaulted over the fence and disappeared in the kitchen gardens beyond. Sergei looked out into the street. Petlyura soldiers were running down the road leading to the Southwestern Station, their retreat covered by an armoured car. The highway leading to town was deserted. Then a Red Army man dashed into sight. He threw himself down on the ground and began firing down the road. A second and a third Red Army man came into sight behind him. . . . Sergei watched them coming, crouching down and firing as they ran. A bronzed Chinese with bloodshot eyes, clad in an undershirt and girded with machine-gun belts, was running full height, a grenade in each hand. And ahead of them all came a Red Army man, hardly more than a boy, with a light machine gun. The advance guard of the Red Army had entered the town. Sergei, wild with joy, dashed out onto the road and shouted as loud as he could:
"Long live the comrades!"
So unexpectedly did he rush out that the Chinese all but knocked him off his feet. The latter was about to turn on him, but the exultation on Sergei's face stayed him.
"Where is Petlyura?" the Chinese shouted at him, panting heavily.
But Sergei did not hear him. He ran back into the yard, picked up the cartridge belt and rifle abandoned by the Petlyura man and hurried after the Red Army men. They did not notice him until they had stormed the Southwestern Station. Here, after cutting off several trainloads of munitions and supplies and hurling the enemy into the woods, they stopped to rest and regroup.
The young machine gunner came over to Sergei and asked in surprise:
"Where are you from, Comrade?"
"I'm from this town. I've been waiting for you to come."
Sergei was soon surrounded by Red Army men.
"I know him," the Chinese said in broken Russian. "He yelled 'Long live comrades!' He Bolshevik, he with us, a good fellow!" he added with a broad smile, slapping Sergei on the shoulder approvingly.
Sergei's heart leapt with joy. He had been accepted at once, accepted as one of them. And togetherwith them he had taken the station in a bayonet charge.
The town bestirred itself. The townsfolk, exhausted by their ordeal, emerged from the cellars and basements and came out to the front gates to see the Red Army units enter the town. Thus it was that Sergei's mother and his sister Valya saw Sergei marching along with the others in the ranks of the Red Army men. He was hatless, but girded with a cartridge belt and with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
Antonina Vasilievna threw up her hands in indignation.
So her Seryozha had got mixed up in the fight. He would pay for this! Fancy him parading with a rifle in front of the whole town! There was bound to be trouble later on. Antonina Vasilievna could no longer restrain herself:
"Seryozha, come home this minute!" she shouted. "I'll show you how to behave, you scamp! I'll teach you to fight!" And at that she marched out to the road with the firm intention of bringing her son back.
But this time her Seryozha, her boy whose ears she had so often boxed, looked sternly at his mother, his face burning with shame and anger as he snapped at her: "Stop shouting! I'm staying where I am." And he marched past without stopping.
Antonina Vasilievna was beside herself with anger.
"So that's how you treat your mother! Don't you dare come home after this!"
"I won't!" Sergei cried, without turning around.
Antonina Vasilievna stood speechless on the road staring after him, while the ranks of weather beaten, dust-covered fighting men trudged past.
"Don't cry, mother! We'll make your laddie a commissar," a strong, jovial voice rang out. A roar of good-natured laughter ran through the platoon. Up at the head of the company voices struck up in unison:

Comrades, the bugles are sounding,
Shoulder your arms for the fray.
On to the kingdom of liberty
Boldly shall we fight our way. . . .

The ranks joined in a mighty chorus and Sergei's ringing voice merged in the swelling melody. He had found a new family. One bayonet in it was his, Sergei's.
On the gates of the Leszczinski house hung a strip of white cardboard with the brief inscription:
"Revcom." Beside it was an arresting poster of a Red Army man looking into your eyes and pointing his finger straight at you over the words: "Have you joined the Red Army?"
The Political Department people had been at work during the night putting up these posters all over the town. Nearby hung the Revolutionary Committee's first proclamation to the toiling population of Shepetovka:

"Comrades! The proletarian troops have taken this town. Soviet power has been restored. We call on you to maintain order. The bloody cutthroats have been thrown back, but if you want them never to return, if you want to see them destroyed once and for all, join the ranks of the Red Army. Give all your support to the power of the working folk. Military authority in this town is in
the hands of the chief of the garrison. Civilian affairs will be administered by the Revolutionary Committee.
"Signed: Dolinnik "Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee."
People of a new sort appeared in the Leszczinski house. The word "comrade", for which only yesterday people had paid with their life, was now heard on all sides. That indescribably moving word, "comrade"!
For Dolinnik there was no sleep or rest these days. The joiner was busy establishing revolutionary government.
In a small room on the door of which hung a slip of paper with the pencilled words "Party Committee" sat Comrade Ignatieva, calm and imperturbable as always. The Political Department entrusted her and Dolinnik with the task of setting up the organs of Soviet power.
One more day and office workers were seated at desks and a typewriter was clicking busily. A Commissariat of Supplies was organised under nervous, dynamic Tyzycki. Now that Soviet power was firmly established in the town, Tyzycki, formerly a mechanic's helper at the local sugar refinery, proceeded with grim determination to wage war on the bosses of the sugar refinery who, nursing a bitter hatred for the Bolsheviks, were lying low and biding their time.
At a meeting of the refinery workers he summed up the situation in harsh, unrelenting terms.
"The past is gone never to return," he declared, speaking in Polish and banging his fist on the edge of the rostrum to drive home his words. "It is enough that our fathers and we ourselves slaved all our lives for the Potockis. We built palaces for them and in return His Highness the Count gave us just enough to keep us from dying of starvation.
"How many years did the Potocki counts and the Sanguszko princes ride our backs? Are there not any number of Polish workers whom Potocki ground down just as he did the Russians and Ukrainians? And yet the count's henchmen have now spread the rumour among these very same workers that the Soviet power will rule them all with an iron hand.
"That is a foul lie, Comrades! Never have workingmen of different nationalities had such freedom as now. All proletarians are brothers. As for the gentry, we are going to curb them, you may depend on that." His hand swung down again heavily on the barrier of the rostrum. "Who is it that has made brothers spill each other's blood? For centuries kings and nobles have sent Polish peasants to fight the Turks. They have always incited one nation against another. Think of all the bloodshed and misery they have caused! And who benefited by it all? But soon all that will stop.
This is the end of those vermin. The Bolsheviks have flung out a slogan that strikes terror into the hearts of the bourgeoisie: 'Workers of all countries, unite!' There lies our salvation, there lies our hope for a better future, for the day when all workingmen will be brothers. Comrades, join the Communist Party!
"There will be a Polish republic too one day but it will be a Soviet republic without the Potockis, for they will be rooted out and we shall be the masters of Soviet Poland. You all know Bronik Ptaszinski, don't you? The Revolutionary Committee has appointed him commissar of our factory.
'We were naught, we shall be all.' We shall have cause for rejoicing, Comrades. Only take care not to give ear to the hissing of those hidden reptiles! Let us place our faith in the workingman's cause and we shall establish the brotherhood of all peoples throughout the world!"
These words were uttered with a sincerity and fervour that came from the bottom of this simple workingman's heart. He descended the platform amid shouts of enthusiastic acclaim from the younger members of the audience. The older workers, however, hesitated to speak up. Who knew but what tomorrow the Bolsheviks might have to give up the town and then those who remained would have to pay dearly for every rash word. Even if you escaped the gallows, you would lose your job for sure.
The Commissar of Education, the slim, well-knit Czarnopyski, was so far the only schoolteacher in the locality who had sided with the Bolsheviks.
Opposite the premises of the Revolutionary Committee the Special Duty Company was quartered;its men were on duty at the Revolutionary Committee. At night a Maxim gun stood ready in the garden at the entrance to the Revcom, a sinewy ammunition belt trailing from its breech. Two men with rifles stood guard beside it.
Comrade Ignatieva on her way to the Revcom went up to one of them, a young Red Army man,and asked:
"How old are you, Comrade?"
"Going on seventeen."
"Do you live here?"
The Red Army man smiled. "Yes, I only joined the army the day before yesterday during the fighting."
Ignatieva studied his face.
"What does your father do?"
"He's an engine driver's assistant."
At that moment Dolinnik appeared, accompanied by a man in uniform.
"Here you are," said Ignatieva, turning to Dolinnik, "I've found the very lad to put in charge of the district committee of the Komsomol. He's a local man."
Dolinnik glanced quickly at Sergei—for it was he.
"Ah yes. You're Zakhar's boy, aren't you? All right, go ahead and stir up the young folk."
Sergei looked at them in surprise. "But what about the company?"
"That's all right, we'll attend to that," Dolinnik, already mounting the steps, threw over his shoulder.
Two days later the local committee of the Young Communist League of the Ukraine was formed.
Sergei plunged into the vortex of the new life that had burst suddenly and swiftly upon the town. It filled his entire existence so completely that he forgot his family although it was so near at hand.
He, Sergei Bruzzhak, was now a Bolshevik. For the hundredth time he pulled out of his pocket the document issued by the Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party, certifying that he, Sergei,was a Komsomol and Secretary of the Komsomol Committee. And should anyone entertain any doubts on that score there was the impressive Mannlicher—a gift from dear old Pavel—in its makeshift canvas holster hanging from the belt of his tunic. A most convincing credential that!
Too bad Pavlushka wasn't around!
Sergei's days were spent on assignments given by the Revcom. Today too Ignatieva was waiting for him. They were to go down to the station to the Division Political Department to get newspapers and books for the Revolutionary Committee. Sergei hurried out of the building to the street, where a man from the Political Department was waiting for them with an automobile.
During the long drive to the station where the Headquarters and Political Department of the First Soviet Ukrainian Division were located in railway carriages, Ignatieva plied Sergei with questions.
"How has your work been going? Have you formed your organisation yet? You ought to persuade your friends, the workers' children, to join the Komsomol. We shall need a group of Communist youth very soon. Tomorrow we shall draw up and print a Komsomol leaflet. Then we'll hold a big youth rally in the theatre. When we get to the Political Department I'll introduce you to Ustinovich. She is working with the young people, if I'm not mistaken."
Ustinovich turned out to be a girl of eighteen with dark bobbed hair, in a new khaki tunic with a narrow leather belt. She gave Sergei a great many pointers in his work and promised to help him.
Before he left she gave him a large bundle of books and newspapers, including one of particular importance, a booklet containing the programme and rules of the Komsomol.
When he returned late that night to the Revcom Sergei found Valya waiting for him outside, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself!" she cried. "What do you mean by staying away from home like this? Mother is crying her eyes out and father is very angry with you. There's going to be an awful row.
"No, there isn't," he reassured her. "I haven't any time to go home, honest I haven't. I won't be coming tonight either. But I'm glad you've come because I want to have a talk with you. Let's go inside."
Valya could hardly recognise her brother. He was quite changed. He fairly bubbled with energy.
As soon as she was seated Sergei went straight to the point.
"Here's the situation, Valya. You've got to join the Komsomol. You don't know what that is? The Young Communist League. I'm running things here. You don't believe me?

All right, look at this!"
Valya read the paper and looked at her brother in bewilderment.
"What will I do in the Komsomol?"
Sergei spread out his hands. "My dear girl, there's heaps to do! Look at me, I'm so busy I don't sleep nights. We've got to make propaganda. Ignatieva says we're going to hold a meeting in the theatre soon and talk about the Soviet power. She says I'll have to make a speech. I think it's a mistake because I don't know how to make speeches. I'm bound to make a hash of it. Now, what about your joining the Komsomol?"
"I don't know what to say. Mother would be wild with me if I did."
"Never mind mother, Valya," Sergei urged. "She doesn't understand. All she cares about is to have her children beside her. But she has nothing against the Soviet power.

On the contrary, she's all for it. But she would rather other people's sons did the fighting. Now, is that fair? Remember what Zhukhrai told us? And look at Pavel, he didn't stop to think about his mother. The time has come when we young folk must fight for our right to make something of our lives. Surely you won't refuse, Valya?

Think how fine it will be. You could work with the girls, and I would be working with the fellows. That reminds me, I'll tackle that red-headed devil Klimka this very day. Well, Valya, what do you say? Are you with us or not? I have a little booklet here that will tell you all about it."
He took the booklet of Komsomol Rules out of his pocket and handed it to her.
"But what if Petlyura comes back again?" Valya asked him in a low voice, her eyes glued to her brother's face.

This thought had not yet occurred to Sergei and he pondered it for a moment.
"I would have to leave with all the others, of course," he said. "But what would happen to you?
Yes, it would make mother very unhappy." He lapsed into silence.
"Seryozha, couldn't you enrol me without mother or anyone else knowing? Just you and me? Icould help just the same. That would be the best way."
"I believe you're right, Valya."
Ignatieva entered the room at that point.
"This is my little sister Valya, Comrade Ignatieva. I've just been talking to her about joining theKomsomol. She would make a suitable member, but you see, our mother might make difficulties.
Could we enrol Valya so that no one would know about it? You see, we might have to give up the town. I would leave with the army, of course, but Valya is afraid it would go hard with mother."
Ignatieva, sitting on the edge of a chair, listened gravely.
"Yes," she agreed. "That is the best course."

The packed theatre buzzed with the excited chatter of the youth who had come in response to notices posted all over town. A brass band of workers from the sugar refinery was playing. The audience, consisting mainly of students of the local secondary school and Gymnasium, was less interested in the meeting than in the concert that was to follow it.
At last the curtain rose and Comrade Razin, Secretary of the Uyezd Committee, who had just arrived, appeared on the platform.
All eyes were turned to this short, slenderly built man with the small, sharp nose, and his speech was listened to with keen attention. He told them about the struggle that had swept the entire country and called on youth to rally to the Communist Party. He spoke like an experienced orator but made excessive use of terms like "orthodox Marxists", "social-chauvinists" and the like, which his hearers did not understand. Nevertheless, when he finished they applauded him warmly, and after introducing the next speaker, who was Sergei, he left.
It was as he had feared: now that he was face to face with the audience, Sergei did not know what to say. He fumbled painfully for a while until Ignatieva came to his rescue by whispering from her seat on the platform: "Tell them about organising a Komsomol cell."
Sergei at once went straight to the point.
"Well, Comrades, you've heard all there is to be said. What we've got to do now is to form a cell.
Who is in favour?"
A hush fell on the gathering. Ustinovich stepped into the breach. She got up and told the audience how the youth were being organised in Moscow. Sergei in the meantime stood aside in confusion.
He raged inwardly at the meeting's reaction to the question of organising a cell and he scowled down at the audience. They hardly listened to Ustinovich. Sergei saw Zalivanov whisper something to Liza Sukharko with a contemptuous look at the speaker on the platform. In the front row the senior Gymnasium girls with powdered faces were casting coy glances about them and whispering among themselves. Over in the corner near the door leading backstage was a group of young Red Army men. Among them Sergei saw the young machine gunner. He was sitting on the edge of the stage fidgeting nervously and gazing with undisguised hatred at the flashily dressed
Liza Sukharko and Anna Admovskaya who, totally unabashed, were carrying on a lively conversation with their escorts.
Realising that no one was listening to her, Ustinovich quickly wound up her speech and sat down.
Ignatieva took the floor next, and her calm compelling manner quelled the restless audience.
"Comrades," she said, "I advise each of you to think over what has been said here tonight. I am sure that some of you will become active participants in the revolution and not merely spectators.
The doors are open to receive you, the rest is up to you. We should like to hear you express your opinion. We invite anyone who has anything to say to step up to the platform."
Once more silence reigned in the hall. Then a voice spoke up from the back.
"I'd like to speak!"
Misha Levchukov, a lad with a slight squint and the build of a young bear, made his way to the stage.
"The way things are," he said, "we've got to help the Bolsheviks. I'm for it. Seryozhka knows me.
I'm joining the Komsomol."
Sergei beamed. He sprang forward to the centre of .the stage.
"You see, Comrades!" he cried. "I always said Misha was one of us: his father was a switchman and he was crushed by a train, and that's why Misha couldn't get an education. But he didn't need to go to Gymnasium to understand what's wanted at a time like this."
There was an uproar in the hall. A young man with carefully groomed hair asked for the floor. It was Okushev, a Gymnasium student and the son of the local apothecary.

Tugging at his tunic, he began:
"I beg your pardon, Comrades. I don't understand what is wanted of us. Are we expected to go in for politics? If so, when are we going to study? We've got to finish the Gymnasium. If it was some sports society, or club that was being organised where we could gather and read, that would be another matter. But to go in for politics means taking the risk of getting hanged afterwards. Sorry, but I don't think anybody will agree to that."
There was laughter in the hall as Okushev jumped off the stage and resumed his seat. The next speaker was the young machine gunner. Pulling his cap down over his forehead with a furious gesture and glaring down at the audience, he shouted:
"What're you laughing at, you vermin!"
His eyes were two burning coals and he trembled all over with fury. Taking a deep breath he began:
"Ivan Zharky is my name. I'm an orphan. I never knew my mother or my father and I never had a home. I grew up on the street, begging for a crust of bread and starving most of the time. It was a dog's life, I can tell you, something you mama's boys know nothing about. Then the Soviet power came along and the Red Army men picked me up and took care of me. A whole platoon of them adopted me. They gave me clothes and taught me to read and write. But what's most important,
they taught me what it was to be a human being. Because of them I became a Bolshevik and I'll be a Bolshevik till I die. I know damn well what we're fighting for, we're fighting for us poor folk, for the workers' government. You sit there cackling but you don't know that two hundred comrades were killed fighting for this town. They perished. . . ." Zharky's voice vibrated like a taut string.
"They gave up their lives gladly for our happiness, for our cause. . . . People are dying all over the country, on all the fronts, and you're playing at merry-go-rounds here. Comrades," he went on, turning suddenly to the presidium table, "you're wasting your time talking to them there," he jabbed a finger toward the hall. "Think they'll understand you? No! A full stomach is no comrade to an empty one. Only one man came forward here and that's because he's one of the poor, an orphan. Never mind," he roared furiously at the gathering, "we'll get along without you. We're not going to beg you to join us, you can go to the devil, the lot of you! The only way to talk to the likes of you is with a machine gun!" And with this parting thrust he stepped off the stage and made straight for the exit, glancing neither to right nor left.
None of those who had presided at the meeting stayed on for the concert.
"What a mess!" said Sergei with chagrin as they were on their way back to the Revcom. "Zharky was right. We couldn't do anything with that Gymnasium crowd. It just makes you wild!" "It's not surprising," Ignatieva interrupted him. "After all there were hardly any proletarian youth there at all. Most of them were either sons of the petty bourgeois or local intellectuals—philistines all of them. You will have to work among the sawmill and sugar refinery workers. But that meeting was not altogether wasted. You'll find there are some very good comrades among the students."
Ustinovich agreed with Ignatieva.
"Our task, Seryozha," she said, "is to bring home our ideas, our slogans, to everyone. The Party will focus the attention of all working people on every new event. We shall hold many meetings, conferences and congresses. The Political Department is opening a summer theatre at the station.
A propaganda train is due to arrive in a few days and then we'll get things going in real earnest.
Remember what Lenin said—we won't win unless we draw the masses, the millions of working people into the struggle."
Late that evening Sergei escorted Ustinovich to the station. On parting he clasped her hand firmly and held it a few seconds longer than absolutely necessary. A faint smile flitted across her face.
On his way back Sergei dropped in to see his people. He listened in silence to his mother's scolding, but when his father chimed in, Sergei took up the offensive and soon had Zakhar Vasilievich at a disadvantage.
"Now listen, dad, when you went on strike under the Germans and killed that sentry on the locomotive, you thought of your family, didn't you? Of course you did. But you went through with it just the same because your workingman's conscience told you to. I've also thought of the family.
I know very well that if we retreat you folks will be persecuted because of me. But I couldn't sit at home anyway. You know how it is yourself, dad, so why all this fuss? I'm working for a good cause and you ought to back me up instead of kicking up a row. Come on, dad, let's make it up and then ma will stop scolding me too." He regarded his father with his clear blue eyes and smiled affectionately, confident that he was in the right.
Zakhar Vasilievich stirred uneasily on the bench and through his thick bristling moustache and untidy little beard his yellowish teeth showed in a smile.
"Dragging class consciousness into it, eh, you young rascal? You think that revolver you're sporting is going to stop me from giving you a good hiding?"
But his voice held no hint of anger, and mastering his confusion, he held out his horny hand to his son. "Carry on, Seryozha. Once you've started up the gradient I'll not be putting on the brakes. But you mustn't forget us altogether, drop in once in a while."

It was night. A shaft of light from a crack in the door lay on the steps. Behind the huge lawyer's desk in the large room with its upholstered plush furniture sat five people: Dolinnik, Ignatieva, Cheka chief Timoshenko, looking like a Kirghiz in his Cossack fur cap, the giant railwayman Shudik and flat-nosed Ostapchuk from the railway yards. A meeting of the Revcom was in progress.
Dolinnik, lea'ning over the table and fixing Ignatieva with a stern look, hammered out hoarsely:
"The front must have supplies. The workers have to eat. As soon as we came the shopkeepers and market profiteers raised their prices. They won't take Soviet money. Old tsarist money or Kerensky notes are the only kind in circulation here. Today we must sit down and work out fixed prices. We know very well that none of the profiteers are going to sell their goods at the fixed price. They'll hide what they've got. In that case we'll make searches and confiscate the bloodsuckers' goods. This is no time for niceties. We can't let the workers starve any longer.
Comrade Ignatieva warns us not to go too far. That's the reaction of a fainthearted intellectual, if you ask me. Now don't take offence, Zoya, I know what I'm talking about. And in any case it isn't a matter of the petty traders. I have received information today that Boris Zon, the innkeeper, has a secret cellar in his house. Even before Petlyura came, the big shopown-ers had huge stocks of goods hidden away there." He paused to throw a sly, mocking glance at Timoshenko.
"How did you find that out?" queried Timoshenko, surprised and annoyed at Dolinnik's having stolen a march on the Cheka.
Dolinnik chuckled. "I know everything, brother. Besides finding out about the cellar, I happen to know that you and the Division Commander's chauffeur polished off half  a bottle of samogon between you yesterday."
Timoshenko fidgeted in his chair and a flush spread over his sallow features.
"Good for you!" he exclaimed in unwilling admiration. But catching sight of Ignatieva's disapproving frown, he went no further. "That blasted joiner has his own Cheka!"

he thought to himself as he eyed the Chairman of the Revcom.
"Sergei Bruzzhak told me," Dolinnik went on. "He knows someone who used to work in the refreshment bar. Well, that lad heard from the cooks that Zon used to supply them with all they needed in unlimited quantities. Yesterday Sergei found out definitely about that cellar. All that has to be done now is to locate it. Get the boys on the job, Timoshenko, at once. Take Sergei along. If we're lucky we'll be able to supply the workers and the division."
Half an hour later eight armed men entered the innkeeper's home. Two remained outside to guard the entrance.
The proprietor, a short stout man as round as a barrel, with a wooden leg and a face covered with a bristly growth of red hair, met the newcomers with obsequious politeness.
"What do you wish at this late hour, Comrades?" he inquired in a husky bass. Behind Zon, stood his daughters in hastily donned dressing-gowns, blinking in the glare of Timoshenko's torch. From the next room came the sighs and groans of Zon's buxom wife who was hurriedly dressing.
"We've come to search the house," Timoshenko explained curtly.
Every square inch of the floor was thoroughly examined. A spacious barn piled high with sawn wood, several pantries, the kitchen and a roomy cellar—all were inspected with the greatest care.
But not a trace of the secret cellar was found.
In a tiny room off the kitchen the servant girl lay fast asleep. She slept so soundly that she did nothear them come in. Sergei wakened her gently.
"You work here?" he asked. The bewildered sleepy-eyed girl drew the blanket over her shouldersand shielded her eyes from the light.
"Yes," she replied. "Who are you?"
Sergei told her and, instructing her to get dressed, left the room.
In the spacious dining room Timoshenko was questioning the innkeeper who spluttered and fumed in great agitation:
"What do you want of me? I haven't got any more cellars. You're just wasting your time, I assure you. Yes, I did keep a tavern once but now I'm a poor man. The Petlyura crowd cleaned me out and very nearly killed me too. I am very glad the Soviets have come to power, but all I own is here for you to see." And he spread out his short pudgy hands, the while his bloodshot eyes darted from the face of the Cheka chief to Sergei and from Sergei to the corner and the ceiling.
Timoshenko bit his lips.
"So you won't tell, eh? For the last time I order you to show us where that cellar is."
"But, Comrade Officer, we've got nothing to eat ourselves," the innkeeper's wife wailed. "They've taken all we had." She tried to weep but nothing came of it.
"You say you're starving, but you keep a servant," Sergei put in.
"That's not a servant. She's just a poor girl we've taken in because she has nowhere to go. She'll tell you that herself."
Timoshenko's patience snapped. "All right then," he shouted, "now we'll set to work in earnest!"
Morning dawned and the search was still going on. Exasperated after thirteen hours of fruitless efforts, Timoshenko had already decided to abandon the quest when Sergei, on the point of leaving the servant girl's room he had been examining, heard the girl's faint whisper behind him:
"Look inside the stove in the kitchen."
Ten minutes later the dismantled Russian stove revealed an iron trapdoor. And within an hour a two-ton truck loaded with barrels and sacks drove away from the innkeeper's house now surrounded by a crowd of gaping onlookers.

Maria Yakovlevna Korchagina came home one hot day carrying her small bundle of belongings.
She wept bitterly when Artem told her what had happened to Pavel. Her life now seemed empty and dreary. She had to look for work, and after a time she began taking in washing from Red Army men who arranged for her to receive soldiers' rations by way of payment.
One evening she heard Artem's footsteps outside the window sounding more hurried than usual.
He pushed the door open and announced from the threshold: "I've brought a letter from Pavka."

"Dear Brother Artem," wrote Pavel. "This is to let you know that I am alive although not altogether well. I got a bullet in my hip but I am getting better now. The doctor says the bone is uninjured. So don't worry about me, I'll be all right. I may get leave after I'm discharged from hospital and I'll come home for a while. I didn't manage to get to mother's. I joined the cavalry brigade commanded by Comrade Kotovsky, whom I'm sure you've heard about because he's famous for his bravery. I have never seen anyone like him before and I have the greatest respect for him. Has mother come home yet? If she has, give her my best love. Forgive me for all the
trouble I have caused you. Your brother Pavel.
"Artem, please go to the forest warden's and tell them about this letter."

Maria Yakovlevna shed many tears over Pavel's letter. The scatterbrained lad had not even given the address of his hospital.
Sergei had become a frequent visitor at the green railway coach down at the station bearing the sign: "Agitprop Div. Pol. Dept." In one of the compartments of the Agitation and Propaganda Coach, Ustinovich and Ignatieva had their office. The latter, with the inevitable cigarette between her lips, smiled knowingly whenever he appeared.
The Secretary of the Komsomol District Committee had grown quite friendly with Rita Ustinovich, and besides the bundles of books and newspapers, he carried away with him from the station a vague sense of happiness after every brief encounter with her.
Every day the open-air theatre of the Division Political Department drew big audiences of workers and Red Army men. The agit train of the Twelfth Army, swathed in bright coloured posters, stood on a siding, seething with activity twenty-four hours a day. A printing plant had been installed inside and newspapers, leaflets and proclamations poured out in a steady stream. The front was near at hand.
One evening Sergei chanced to drop in at the theatre and found Rita there with a group of Red Army men. Late that night, as he was seeing her home to the station where the Political Department staff was quartered, he blurted out: "Why do I always want to be seeing you, Comrade Rita?" And added: "It's so nice to be with you! After seeing you I always feel I could go on working without stopping."
Rita halted. "Now look here, Comrade Bruzzhak," she said, "let's agree here and now that you won't ever wax lyrical any more. I don't like it."
Sergei blushed like a reprimanded schoolboy.
"I didn't mean anything," he said, "I thought we were friends . . . I didn't say anything counter revolutionary, did I? Very well, Comrade Ustinovich, I shan't say another word!"
And leaving her with a hasty handshake he all but ran back to town.
Sergei did not go near the station for several days. When Ignatieva asked him to come he refused on the grounds that he was too busy. And indeed he had plenty to do.

One night someone fired at Comrade Shudik as he was going home through a street inhabited mainly by Poles who held managerial positions at the sugar refinery. The searches that followed brought to light weapons and documents belonging to a Pilsudski organisation known as the Strelets.
A meeting was held at the Revcom. Ustinovich, who was present, took Sergei aside and said in a calm voice: "So your philistine vanity was hurt, was it? You're letting personal matters interfere with your work? That won't do, Comrade."
And so Sergei resumed his visits to the green railway coach.
He attended a district conference and participated in the heated debates that lasted for two days.
On the third day he went off with the rest of the conference delegates to the forest beyond the river and spent a day and a night fighting bandits led by Zarudny, one of Petlyura's officers still at large.
On his return he went to see Ignatieva and found Ustinovich there. Afterwards he saw her home to the station and on parting held her hand tightly. She drew it away angrily. Again Sergei kept away from the agitprop coach for many days and avoided seeing Rita even on business. And when she would demand an explanation of his behaviour he would reply curtly: "What's the use of talking to you? You'll only accuse me of being a philistine or a traitor to the working class or something."
Trains carrying the Caucasian Red Banner Division pulled in at the station. Three swarthy-complexioned commanders came over to the Revcom. One of them, a tall slim man wearing a belt of chased silver, went straight up to Dolinnik and demanded one hundred cartloads of hay. "No argument now," he said shortly, "I've got to have that hay. My horses are dying."
And so Sergei was sent with two Red Army men to get hay. In one village they were attacked by a band of kulaks. The Red Army men were disarmed and beaten unmercifully.

Sergei got off lightly because of his youth. All three were carted back to town by people from the Poor Peasants'Committee.
An armed detachment was sent out to the village and the hay was delivered the following day.
Not wishing to alarm his family, Sergei stayed at Ignatieva's place until he recovered. Rita Ustinovich came to visit him there and for the first time she pressed Sergei's hand with a warmth and tenderness he himself would never have dared to show.

One hot afternoon Sergei dropped in at the agit coach to see Rita. He read her Pavel's letter and told her something about his friend. On his way out he threw over his shoulder: "I think I'll go to the woods and take a dip in the lake."
Rita looked up from her work. "Wait for me. I'll come with you."
The lake was as smooth and placid as a mirror. Its warm translucent water exuded an inviting freshness.
"Wait for me over by the road. I'm going in," Rita ordered him.
Sergei sat down on a boulder by the bridge and lifted his face to the sun. He could hear her splashing in the water behind him.
Presently through the trees he caught sight of Tonya Tumanova and Chuzhanin, the Military Commissar of the agit train, coming down the road arm-in-arm. Chuzhanin, in his well-made officer's uniform with its smart leather belt and numberless straps and leather shiny top-boots, cut a dashing figure. He was in earnest conversation with Tonya.
Sergei recognised Tonya as the girl who had brought him the note from Pavel. She too looked hard at him as they approached. She seemed to be trying to place him. When they came abreast of him Sergei took Pavel's last letter out of his pocket and went up to her.
"Just a moment, Comrade. I have a letter here which concerns you partly."
Pulling her hand free Tonya took the letter. The slip of paper trembled slightly in her hand as she read.
"Have you had any more news from him?" she asked, handing the letter back to Sergei.
"No," he replied.
At that moment the pebbles crunched under Rita's feet and Chuzhanin, who had been unaware of her presence, bent over and whispered to Tonya: "We'd better go."

But Rita's mocking, scornful voice stopped him.
"Comrade Chuzhanin! They've been looking for you over at the train all day."
Chuzhanin eyed her with dislike.
"Never mind," he said surlily. "They'll manage without me.
Rita watched Tonya and the Military Commissar go.
"It's high time that good-for-nothing was sent packing!" she observed dryly.
The forest murmured as the breeze stirred the mighty crowns of the oaks. A delicious freshness was wafted from the lake. Sergei decided to go in.
When he came back from his swim he found Rita sitting on a treetrunk not far from the road. They wandered, talking, into the depths of the woods. In a small glade with tall thick grass they paused to rest. It was very quiet in the forest. The oaks whispered to one another. Rita threw herself down on the soft grass and clasped her hands under her head. Her shapely legs in their old patched boots were hidden in the tall grass.
Sergei's eye chanced to fall on her feet. He noticed the neatly patched boots, then looked down at his own boot with the toe sticking out of a hole, and he laughed.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked.
Sergei pointed to his boot. "How are we going to fight in boots like these?"
Rita did not reply. She was chewing a blade of grass and her thoughts were obviously elsewhere.
"Chuzhanin is a poor Communist," she said at last. "All our political workers go about in rags but he thinks of nobody but himself. He does not belong in our Party. . .

. As for the front, the situation there is really very serious. Our country has a long and bitter fight before it." She paused,then added, "We shall have to fight with both words and rifles, Sergei. Have you heard about the Central Committee's decision to draft one-fourth of the Komsomol into the army? If you ask me,Sergei, we shan't be here long."
Listening to her, Sergei was surprised to detect a new note in her voice. With her black limpideyes upon him, he was ready to throw discretion to the winds and tell her that her eyes were like mirrors, but he checked himself in time.
Rita raised herself on her elbow. "Where's your revolver?"
Sergei fingered his belt ruefully. "That kulak band took it away from me."
Rita put her hand into the pocket of her tunic and brought out a gleaming automatic pistol.
"See that oak, Sergei?" she pointed the muzzle at a furrowed trunk about twenty-five paces from where they lay. And raising the weapon to the level of her eyes she fired almost without taking aim. The splintered bark showered down.
"See?" she said much pleased with herself and fired again. And again the bark splintered and fell in the grass.
"Here," she handed him the weapon with a mocking smile. "Now let's see what you can do."
Sergei muffed one out of three shots. Rita smiled condescendingly. "I thought you'd do worse."
She put down the pistol and lay down on the grass. Her tunic stretched tightly over her firm breasts.
"Sergei," she said softly. "Come here."
He moved closer.
"Look at the sky. See how blue it is. Your eyes are that colour. And that's bad. They ought to be grey, like steel. Blue is much too soft a colour."

And suddenly clasping his blond head, she kissed him passionately on the lips.

Two months passed. Autumn arrived.
Night crept up stealthily, enveloping the trees in its dark shroud. The telegraphist at Division Headquarters bent over his apparatus which was ticking out Morse and, gathering up the long narrow ribbon that wound itself snakily beneath his fingers, rapidly translated the dots and dashes into words and phrases:

"Chief of Staff First Division Copy to Chairman Revcom Shepetovka. Evacuate all official institutions in town within ten hours after receipt of this wire. Leave one battalion in town at disposal of commander of X. regiment in command sector of front. Division Headquarters,Political Department, all military institutions to be moved to Baranchev station. Report execution of order to Division Commander.

Ten minutes later a motorcycle was hurtling through the slumbering streets of the town, its headlight stabbing the darkness. It stopped, spluttering, outside the gates of the Revcom. The rider hurried inside and handed the telegram to the chairman Dolinnik. At once the place was seething with activity. The Special Duty Company lined up. An hour later carts loaded with Revcom property were rumbling through the town to the Podolsk Station where it was loaded into railway cars.
When he learned the contents of the telegram Sergei ran out after the motorcyclist.
"Can you give me a lift to the station, Comrade?" he asked the rider.
"Climb on behind, but mind you hold on fast."
A dozen paces from the agit coach which had already been attached to the train Sergei saw Rita.
He seized her by the shoulders and, conscious that he was about to lose something that had become very dear to him, he whispered: "Good-bye, Rita, dear comrade! We'll meet again sometime. Don't forget me."
To his horror he felt the tears choking him. He must go at once. Not trusting himself to speak, he wrung her hand until it hurt.

Morning found the town and station desolate and deserted. The last train had blown its whistle as if in farewell and pulled out, and now the rearguard battalion which had been left behind took up positions on either side of the tracks.
Yellow leaves fluttered down from the trees leaving the branches bare. The wind caught the fallen leaves and sent them rustling along the paths.
Sergei in a Red Army greatcoat, with canvas cartridge belts slung over his shoulders, occupied the crossing opposite the sugar refinery with a dozen Red Army men. The Poles were approaching.

Avtonom Petrovich knocked at the door of his neighbour Gerasim Leontievich. The latter, not yet dressed, poked his head out of the door.
"What's up?"
Avtonom Petrovich pointed to the Red Army men moving down the street, and winked: "They're
clearing out."
Gerasim Leontievich looked at him with a worried air: "What sort of emblem do the Poles have,do you know?"
"A single-headed eagle, I believe."
"Where the devil can you find one?"
Avtonom Petrovich scratched his head in consternation.
"It's all right for them," he said after a moment or two of reflection. "They just get up and go. But you have to worry your head about getting in right with the new authorities."

The rattle of a machine gun tore into the silence. An engine whistle sounded from the station and a gun boomed from the same quarter. A heavy shell bored its way high into the air with a loud whine and fell on the road beyond the refinery, enveloping the roadside shrubs in a cloud of bluesmoke. Silent and grim, the retreating Red Army troops marched through the street, turning frequently to look back as they went.
A tear rolled down Sergei's cheek. Quickly he wiped it away, glancing furtively at his comrades to make sure that no one had seen it. Beside Sergei marched Antek Klopotowski, a lanky sawmill worker. His finger rested on the trigger of his rifle. Antek was gloomy and preoccupied. His eyes met Sergei's, and he burst out:
"They'll come down hard on our folks, especially mine because we're Poles. You, a Pole, they'll say, opposing the Polish Legion. They're sure to kick my old man out of the sawmill and flog him.
I told him to come with us, but he didn't have the heart to leave the family. Hell, I can't wait to get my hands on those accursed swine!" And Antek angrily pushed back the helmet that had slipped down over his eyes.
. . .Farewell, dear old town, unsightly and dirty though you are with your ugly little houses and your crooked roads. Farewell, dear ones, farewell. Farewell, Valya and the comrades who have remained to work in the underground. The Polish Whiteguard legions, brutal and merciless, are approaching.
Sadly the railway workers in their oil-stained shirts watched the Red Army men go.
"We'll be back, Comrades!" Sergei cried out with aching heart.





































































































































































































































































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