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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.
"(Signed)"

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.

 

舍佩托夫卡四周到处是战壕,到处是带刺的铁丝网。整整一个星期,这座小城都是在隆隆的炮声和清脆的枪声中醒来和入睡的。只是到了夜深的时候,才安静下来。偶尔有一阵慌乱的射击声划破夜空的沉寂,那是敌对双方的暗哨在互相试探。天刚亮,车站上的炮位周围就又忙碌起来。大炮张着黑色的嘴,又凶狠地发出可怖的吼叫声。人们急急忙忙往炮膛里装新的炮弹。炮手把发火栓一拉,大地便颤动起来。炮弹嘶嘶地呼啸着,飞向三俄里外红军占据的村庄,落下去,发出震耳欲聋的爆炸声,把巨大的土块掀到空中。

红军的炮队驻扎在一座古老的波兰修道院的院子里,修道院坐落在村中心的高岗上。

炮队政委扎莫斯京同志翻身跳了起来。他刚才枕着炮架睡了一觉。他紧了紧挂着沉甸甸的毛瑟枪的腰带,仔细倾听着炮弹的呼啸声,等待它爆炸。院子里响起了他那洪亮的喊声:“同志们,明天再接着睡吧!现在起床。起——床——!”

炮手们都睡在大炮跟前。他们和政委一样迅速地跳起来。

只有西多尔丘克一个人磨磨蹭蹭,他懒洋洋地抬起睡昏的头,说:“这帮畜生,天刚亮就呜呜乱叫,真是坏透了!”

扎莫斯京大笑起来:“哎,西多尔丘克,敌人真不自觉,也不考虑一下你还没睡够。”

西多尔丘克爬起来,不满意地嘟哝着。

几分钟之后,修道院里的大炮怒吼起来,炮弹在城里爆炸了。佩特留拉部队在糖厂那座高烟囱上搭了一个瞭望台,上面有一个军官和一个电话兵。

他们是攀着烟囱里的铁梯爬上去的。

整个城市的情况历历在目,就像在手掌上一样。他们从这里指挥炮兵发射。围城红军的每个行动他们都看得清清楚楚。今天布尔什维克军队非常活跃。用蔡斯望远镜可以看到红军各个部队运动的情况。一列装甲火车一边打炮,一边顺着铁轨缓慢地开向波多尔斯克车站。后面是步兵散兵线。红军几次发起进攻,想夺取这个小城,但是谢乔夫师的部队隐蔽在近郊的战壕里,固守着。战壕里喷射出凶猛的火焰,四周全是疯狂的射击。每次进攻,枪炮声都异常密集,汇成了一片怒吼。布尔什维克部队冒着弹雨进攻,后来支持不住,退却了,战场上留下了不动的尸体。

今天,对这座城市的攻击一次比一次顽强,一次比一次猛烈。空气在隆隆的炮声中震荡。从糖厂的烟囱上可以看到,布尔什维克的战士们时而匍匐在地,时而跌倒又爬起来,不可阻挡地向前推进。他们马上就要全部占领车站了。谢乔夫师把所有的预备队都投入了战斗,还是没有堵住车站上已被打开的缺口。奋不顾身的布尔什维克战士已经冲进了车站附近的街道。守卫车站的谢乔夫师第三团的士兵,遭到短促而猛烈的攻击之后,从设在城郊花园和菜地的最后防线上溃退下来,凌乱地朝城里狼狈逃窜。红军部队不给敌人喘息的机会,继续挺进,用刺刀开路,扫清了敌人的零星阻击部队,占领了所有街道。

谢廖沙一家和他们的近邻都躲在地窖里,但是,现在任何力量也不能迫使他再呆在这里了。他非常想到上面去看看。

尽管母亲再三阻拦,他还是从阴冷的地窖里跑了出来。一辆“萨盖达奇内号”装甲车隆隆地从他家房前急速驰过,一面逃,一面胡乱向四周射击。一群惊恐的佩特留拉败兵跟在装甲车后面逃跑。有个匪兵跑进了谢廖沙家的院子,慌慌张张地扔掉身上的子弹带、钢盔和步枪,跳过栅栏,钻进菜园子,不见了。谢廖沙决心到街上去看看。佩特留拉的败兵正沿着通往西南车站的大路逃窜,一辆装甲车在后面掩护他们。通往城里的公路上,一个人也没有。这时,突然有一个红军战士跳上了公路。他卧倒在地,顺着公路朝前打了一枪。紧接着出现了第二个、第三个……谢廖沙看见他们弯着腰,边追赶,边打枪。一个晒得黝黑、两眼通红的中国人,只穿一件衬衣,身上缠着机枪子弹带,两手攥着手榴弹,根本不找掩蔽物,一个劲猛追过来。跑在最前面的是一个非常年轻的红军战士,端着一挺轻机枪。这是打进城里的第一支红军队伍。谢廖沙高兴极了。他奔到公路上,使劲地喊了起来:“同志们万岁!”

他出现得太突然了,那个中国人差点把他撞倒。中国人正要向他猛扑上去,但是看到这个年轻人这样兴奋激动,就停住了。

“佩特留拉的,跑到哪里去了?”中国人气喘吁吁地冲着他喊道。

但是,谢廖沙已经顾不上听他的。他迅速跑进院子,抓起逃兵扔下的子弹带和步枪,追赶红军队伍去了。他和这支队伍一起冲进了西南车站,直到这个时候,红军战士们才注意到他。他们截住了好几列满载弹药和军需品的火车,把敌人赶进了树林,停下来整顿队伍。这时,那个年轻的机枪手走到谢廖沙跟前,惊讶地问:“同志,你是打哪儿来的?”

“我是本地人,就住在城里,早就盼着你们来啦!”

红军战士们把谢廖沙围了起来。

“我的认识他,”那个中国人高兴地笑着说。“他的喊‘同志们万岁!’他的布尔什维克,我们的人,年轻人,好人!”他拍着谢廖沙的肩膀,用半通不通的俄语夸奖他。

谢廖沙的心欢快地蹦跳着。他马上就被红军战士当作自己人了。他刚刚同他们一起,参加了攻打车站的肉搏战。

小城又活跃起来了。受尽苦难的人们都从地下室和地窖里走出来,涌到门口,去看开进城的红军队伍。安东尼娜·瓦西里耶夫娜和瓦莉亚在红军队伍里发现了谢廖沙。他光着头,腰上缠着子弹带,背着步枪,走在战士们的行列里。

安东尼娜·瓦西里耶夫娜气得两手一扬,拍了一下巴掌。

谢廖沙,她的儿子,居然也去打仗啦!这还了得!想想看,他竟在全城人面前背着枪,大模大样地走着,以后会怎么样呢?

安东尼娜·瓦西里耶夫娜想到这里,再也忍不住了,她大声喊起来:“谢廖沙,你给我回家,马上回来!我非给你点厉害看看不可,你这个小混蛋!要打仗,你回家打!”说着,朝儿子跑过去,想把他拦住。

但是,谢廖沙,这个她不止一次扯过耳朵的谢廖沙,却严肃地瞪了她一眼,红着脸,又羞又恼,斩钉截铁地说:“喊什么!我就在这儿,哪儿也不去!”他连停也不停,从母亲身边走了过去。

安东尼娜·瓦西里耶夫娜这下可气坏了:“好哇!你就这样跟你妈说话!往后你就别想再回家!”

“我就是不想回去了!”谢廖沙头也没有回,大声回答说。

安东尼娜·瓦西里耶夫娜惘然若失地站在路上。一队队晒得黝黑、满身灰尘的战士从她身旁走过去。

“大娘,别哭了!我们还要选你儿子当政委呢!”有人大声地开了一句玩笑。

队伍里发出了一阵愉快的笑声。连队前头响起了洪亮而和谐的歌声:

同志们,勇敢向前进,

在斗争中百炼成钢,

为开辟自由的道路,

挺起胸膛走上战场!

整个队伍跟着高声唱了起来。在这雄壮的合唱中,可以听到谢廖沙嘹亮的声音。他找到了新的家,他成了这个家庭里的一名战斗员。

在列辛斯基庄园的大门上,钉上了一块白牌。上面简单地写着:“革委会”。

旁边有一张火红的宣传画。画面上是一个红军战士,两道目光逼视着看画的人,一只手直指看画人的胸膛。下面写着:“你参加红军了吗?”

夜里,师政治部的工作人员把这些无声的“宣传员”贴遍了大街小巷。同时还贴出了革委会第一张告全体劳动人民书:

同志们!

无产阶级的军队已经占领了本市。苏维埃政权已经恢复。

我们号召全体居民保持安定。血腥虐杀犹太居民的匪徒们已经溃逃。为了不让他们卷土重来,为了彻底消灭他们,希望你们踊跃报名参加红军!希望你们全力支持劳动人民的政权!

本市的军权属于卫戍司令员,政权属于革命委员会。

革委会主席多林尼克列辛斯基

庄园里,进进出出的全是新人了。“同志”这个称呼,昨天还要为它付出生命,今天却响遍全城,到处都可以听到。“同志”——这是一个多么激动人心的字眼啊!

多林尼克忘记了睡眠,忘记了休息。

这个木匠正在忙着筹建革命政权。

别墅里一间小屋子的门上贴着一张小纸块,上面用铅笔写着:“党委会”。伊格纳季耶娃同志在这里办公。她是一个沉着镇静的女人。师政治部委派她和多林尼克两个人建立苏维埃政权机构。

只过了一天,工作人员就都坐到办公桌旁边了,打字机嗒嗒地响着,粮食委员会也成立了。粮食委员瓦茨拉夫·特日茨基是一个活泼而性急的人。他以前是糖厂的助理技师。苏维埃政权刚刚建立,他就以罕见的顽强精神投入斗争,向工厂管理部门那些隐蔽起来的、对布尔什维克心怀仇恨的贵族分子发起猛烈进攻。

在全厂大会上,特日茨基用拳头愤怒地敲着讲台的栏杆,用波兰话向他周围的工人们发表了激烈而坚定的演说。他说:“过去的一切,当然别想再回来了。咱们的父兄和咱们自己,一生一世给波托茨基伯爵当牛做马,已经当够了。咱们给他们建造宫殿,可是这位高贵的伯爵大人给了咱们什么呢?

不多不少,刚够咱们饿不死,好给他干活。

“什么波托茨基伯爵呀,桑古什卡公爵呀,那些伯爵、公爵大人骑在咱们脖子上有多少年了?难道波兰人不是跟俄罗斯人、乌克兰人一样,也有很多人给波托茨基当牲口使吗?可是现在那些贵族老爷的走狗却在波兰工人中散布谣言,说什么苏维埃政权要用铁拳来对付波兰人。

“同志们!这是无耻的诽谤。咱们各族工人还从来没有获得过像现在这样的自由。

“所有的无产者都是兄弟,可是对那些贵族老爷,请你们相信,我们一定要狠狠地收拾他们。”

他用手在空中画了一个弧形,又使劲敲了一下讲台的栏杆。

“是谁逼着我们弟兄去流血,去自相残杀呢?是国王,是贵族。许多世纪以来,他们总是派遣波兰农民去打土耳其人,一个民族进攻、屠杀另一个民族的事不断发生。死了多少人!造成了多少灾难!谁愿意这样?难道是我们吗?不过,这一切很快就要结束了。那些毒蛇的末日来到了。布尔什维克向全世界喊出了使资产阶级胆战心惊的口号:‘全世界无产者,联合起来!’工人和工人要成为兄弟,这样,咱们才能得救,才有希望过上幸福的生活。同志们,参加共产党吧!

“波兰也要成立共和国,不过,是苏维埃共和国,没有波托茨基之流的共和国,咱们一定要把那些家伙连根拔掉。苏维埃波兰将由咱们自己当家做主人。你们谁不认识布罗尼克·普塔申斯基?革委会已经任命他当咱们厂的委员了。‘不要说我们一无所有,我们要做天下的主人。’咱们也会有自己的庆祝胜利的节日,同志们,千万别听那些暗藏的毒蛇的鬼话!要是咱们工人齐心协力,那么就一定能够把世界人民团结在一起!”

特日茨基从内心深处,从一个普通工人的内心深处发出了这清新的呼声。

当他走下讲台的时候,青年们一齐向他欢呼,表示支持。

只有年纪大的人不敢发表意见。谁知道,也许明天布尔什维克就会撤走,那时候就得为自己说出的每一句话付出代价。就是不上绞架,也肯定会被赶出工厂。

教育委员是切尔诺佩斯基。他是一个身材瘦削而匀称的中学教师。目前,他是本地教育界中唯一忠于布尔什维克的人。革命委员会对面驻扎着一个特务连。这个连的战士在革委会昼夜值勤。一到晚上,在革委会院子里,挨着大门,就架起一挺上好子弹带的马克沁机枪。旁边站着两个拿步枪的战士。

伊格纳季耶娃同志正向革命委员会走来。一个年轻的小战士引起了她的注意。她问:“小同志,你多大了?”

“快十七了。”

“是本地人吗?”

小战士微笑着说:“是的,我是前天正打仗的时候参军的。”

伊格纳季耶娃端详着他。

“你父亲是干什么的?”

“火车副司机。”

这时,多林尼克和一个军人走进栅栏门。伊格纳季耶娃对他说:“您瞧,我给共青团区委物色到了一个领导人,他是本地人。”

多林尼克迅速打量了一下谢廖沙。

“你是谁家的孩子?”

“勃鲁扎克家……”

“哦,扎哈尔的儿子!好哇,你就干吧,把你的伙伴们组织起来。”

谢廖沙惊讶地看了他们一眼,说:“那我在连里的事怎么办呢?”

多林尼克已经跑上台阶,回过头来说:“这个我们自有安排。”

第二天傍晚,当地的乌克兰共产主义青年团委员会就建立起来了。

新的生活那样突然而又迅速地闯了进来。它占据了谢廖沙的整个身心,把他卷进了漩涡。他已经把自己的家完全忘记了,虽然这个家就近在眼前。

他,谢廖沙·勃鲁扎克,已经是一个布尔什维克了。他多次从口袋里掏出乌克兰共产党(布)委员会发的白纸卡片,上面写着:谢廖沙是共青团员、团区委书记。要是有人居然还怀疑这一点,那么,请看他军便服皮带上威风凛凛地挂着的那支曼利赫尔手枪,这是好朋友保尔送给他的,外面还套上了手缝的帆布枪套。这可是一个最有说服力的证件。唉,保夫鲁沙要是在这里该多好!

谢廖沙整天忙着执行革命委员会的各项指示。现在伊格纳季耶娃正等着他,他们要一道上火车站,到师政治部去,给革委会领书报和宣传品。他急忙往大门口跑去,政治部的工作人员已经准备好了小汽车,在那里等着他们。

到车站去的路很远。苏维埃乌克兰第一师的政治部和参谋部就设在车站的列车上。伊格纳季耶娃利用乘车的时间,跟谢廖沙谈了工作。

“你的工作做得怎么样了?组织建立了吗?你的朋友都是些工人子弟,你要把他们发动起来。要在最短时间内建立一个共产主义青年小组。明天我们就起草一个共青团的宣言,把它打印出来。然后把青年召集到剧院里,开个大会。我再介绍你跟师政治部的乌斯季诺维奇同志认识认识。她大概是做你们青年工作的。”

丽达·乌斯季诺维奇原来是个十八岁的姑娘。乌黑的头发剪得短短的,穿着一件草绿色的新制服,腰里扎着一条窄皮带。谢廖沙从她那里学到了许多东西,她还答应帮助他进行工作。分手的时候,乌斯季诺维奇给了他一大捆宣传品,另外,还特意送给他一本共青团纲领和章程的小册子。

天已经很晚了,他们才回到革命委员会。瓦莉亚一直在花园里等着他。一见面,她就劈头盖脸地数落了他一顿:“你真不害臊!怎么,你一点都不顾家了吗?为了你,妈天天哭,爸也老发脾气。这样下去,准得闹出事来!”

“放心好了,瓦莉亚,什么事也不会出。我是没工夫回家。

说实在的,真没工夫。今天我也不能回去。我正好想跟你谈谈。到我屋里去吧。”

瓦莉亚简直认不出弟弟来了。他完全变了,就像让谁给充了电似的。他让姐姐坐在椅子上,开门见山就说:“是这么回事。你加入共青团吧。不明白吗?就是共产主义青年团。我就是团的书记。你不信?给你,看看这个!”

瓦莉亚看过了证件,难为情地望着弟弟,说:“我入共青团能干些什么呢?”

谢廖沙双手一摊,说:“什么?没什么可干的?我的好姐姐!我忙得简直连觉都顾不上睡。发动群众,有多少工作要做!伊格纳季耶娃说:应当把大家都召集到剧院去,给他们讲讲苏维埃政权的问题。她说我也得讲讲话。我想,这可不成,我实在不知道该怎么讲,准得出洋相。好了,你还是直截了当说吧:入团的事怎么样?”

“我不知道。要是我加入,妈准会气炸肺的。”

“你别管妈嘛,瓦莉亚。”谢廖沙不以为然地说。“她不懂得这些事情。她光想把孩子们拢在她身边。对苏维埃政权,她一点反对的意思也没有,反倒是同情的。但是她只希望别人到前线去打仗,不愿让自己的孩子去。难道有这样的道理吗?

朱赫来跟咱们讲的话,你还记得吗?你看保尔,人家就不管他妈怎么样。现在咱们已经有了真正生活的权利。怎么样,我的好瓦莉亚,难道你会不同意?你参加进来该有多好!你动员姑娘们,我负责做小伙子们的工作。克利姆卡那个红毛鬼,我今天就叫他乖乖地进来。怎么样,瓦莉亚,你倒是参加不参加?我这儿有一本讲这件事的小册子,你看看。”

谢廖沙把小册子从衣袋里掏出来,递给了姐姐。瓦莉亚目不转睛地盯着弟弟,低声问:“要是佩特留拉的兵再打回来,可怎么办呢?”

谢廖沙第一次认真地考虑起这个问题来。

“我吗,当然跟大家一起撤走。可是你怎么办呢?到那时,妈可真要遭罪了。”他沉默了。

“你把我的名字写上吧,谢廖沙,就是别让妈知道。除了咱俩,谁也别告诉。我什么都可以帮你干,还是这样好一些。”

“你说得对,瓦莉亚。”

这时伊格纳季耶娃走了进来。

“伊格纳季耶娃同志,这是我姐姐瓦莉亚。我正跟她谈入团的事。她倒是挺合适的,就是我母亲不太好办。能不能把她吸收进来,谁也不告诉呢?万一咱们不得不撤退,我当然扛起枪就走了,可是她舍不得母亲。”

伊格纳季耶娃坐在桌边上,注意地听他讲完,说:“好,这样办比较妥当。”

剧院里挤满了嘁嘁喳喳的年轻人,他们都是看到城里各处张贴的召开群众大会的海报之后跑来的。糖厂的工人管乐队正在演奏。到会的大部分是中小学生。

他们到这里来,与其说是为了开会,倒不如说是为了看节目。

幕终于拉开了,刚从县里赶来的县委书记拉津同志出现在舞台上。

这个身材瘦小、鼻子尖尖的人立刻引起了全场的注意。大家都很有兴趣地听他讲话。他谈到了席卷全国的斗争,号召青年们团结在共产党的周围。他讲起话来像一个真正的演说家,用了很多诸如“正统的马克思主义者”、“社会沙文主义者”这样的字眼,听众显然是不明白的。

他讲完的时候,全场响起了热烈的掌声。他让谢廖沙接着讲话,自己先走了。

谢廖沙担心的事情果然发生了。他怎么也讲不出话来。

“怎么讲?讲什么呢?”他苦苦思索着,想说,又找不到恰当的话,感到很窘。

伊格纳季耶娃给他解了围,她在桌子后面小声提示他:“谈谈组织支部的事吧。”

谢廖沙马上谈起了实际问题:“同志们,刚才你们什么都听到了,现在咱们需要成立个支部。谁赞成这个提议?”

会场里一片寂静。

丽达出来帮忙了。她向大家讲起了莫斯科青年建立组织的情况。谢廖沙尴尬地站在一旁。

到会的人对建立支部的事这样冷淡,使他十分恼火。他不时向台下投出不友好的目光。人们并没有认真听丽达讲话。

扎利瓦诺夫一边轻蔑地看着丽达,一边小声地跟莉莎嘀咕着什么。坐在前排的高年级女生,鼻子上扑着粉,交头接耳地议论着,狡猾的小眼睛滴溜溜地四处转。靠近舞台入口的角落里,坐着几个年轻的红军战士。谢廖沙看见他认识的那个青年机枪手也在那里。他正焦躁不安地坐在舞台边上,用仇恨的眼光看着打扮得非常时髦的莉莎·苏哈里科和安娜·阿德莫夫斯卡娅。她们正旁若无人地同向她们献殷勤的男生交谈着。

丽达发觉没有人听她讲话,就草草地结束了,让伊格纳季耶娃接着讲。伊格纳季耶娃不慌不忙地讲起来,会场终于安静下来了。

“青年同志们,”她说。“你们每个人都可以认真想一想在这里听到的话。我相信,你们当中一定有不少同志愿意积极参加革命,而不愿意袖手旁观。革命的大门是敞开着的,参加不参加取决于你们自己。希望你们也谈一谈。有要发言的同志,请讲吧。”

会场里又是一阵沉默。突然,后排有人喊了一声:“我讲两句!”

稍微有点斜眼、样子像只小熊的米什卡·列夫丘科夫挤到了台前。

“既然是这么回事,是帮布尔什维克的忙,那我不会说个不字。谢廖沙知道我,我报名参加共青团。”

谢廖沙高兴地笑了。他一下子冲到台中央,说:“同志们,你们看见了吧?我说过嘛,米什卡是自己人,他爸爸是扳道工,让火车给压死了,米什卡就失了学。别看他没上完中学,可是我们的事业,一说他就明白了。”

会场上这时喧嚷起来。一个名叫奥库舍夫的中学生要求发言。他是药店老板的儿子,梳着怪里怪气的飞机头。他走上舞台,整了整制服,说:“抱歉得很,同志们。我弄不明白,究竟想要我们做什么。

要我们搞政治吗?那我们什么时候学习呢?我们总得把中学念完吧。要是组织个体育协会,办个俱乐部,让我们在那里聚会聚会,读点书,那倒是另一回事。可现在是要我们搞政治,搞来搞去,最后就会给绞死。对不起,我想这种事情是没有人乐意干的。”

会场里响起了笑声。奥库舍夫跳下舞台,坐了下来。这时候那个年轻的机枪手出来讲话了,他狠狠地把军帽拉到前额上,愤怒的目光朝台下扫了一下,大声喊道:“笑什么?你们这帮混蛋!”

他的眼睛像两块烧红了的火炭。他深深地吸了一口气,气得浑身发抖,接着说:“我叫伊万·扎尔基。我没见过爹,没见过娘,从小就是个无依无靠的孤儿。白天要饭,晚上就在墙根底下一躺,挨饿受冻,没个安身的地方。日子过得连狗都不如,跟你们这帮娇小姐、阔少爷比,完全是另一个样!

“苏维埃政权来了,红军收留了我。全排都把我当作亲生儿子看待,给我衣服,给我鞋袜,教我文化,最主要的是教我懂得了做人的道理。是他们教育我,使我成了布尔什维克,我是到死也不会变心的。我现在心明眼亮,知道为什么要进行斗争:是为了我们,为了穷人,为了工人阶级的政权。可是你们呢?却像一群公马,在这里咴咴叫个不停。你们哪里知道,就在这座城下,有二百个同志牺牲了,永远离开了我们……”扎尔基的声音像绷紧的琴弦一样,铿锵作响。“为了我们的幸福,为了我们的事业,他们毫不犹豫地献出了生命……现在全国各地,各个战场上,都有人在流血牺牲,在这样的时候,你们倒在这里寻开心。”他突然转过身来,朝主持会议的人说:“而你们呢,同志们,却找到了他们头上,找了这么一帮人来开会。”他用手指着台下。“难道他们能懂吗?不可能!饱汉不知饿汉饥。这里只有一个人响应了号召,因为他是穷人,是孤儿。没有你们,我们照样干。”他愤怒地朝台下喊道。“我们才不来求你们呢,要你们这号人有什么用!你们这样的,只配吃机枪子弹!”他气呼呼地喊出了最后这句话,跳下台来,眼皮都没有抬,径直朝门口走去。

主持会议的人谁也没有留下来参加晚会。在回革委会的路上,谢廖沙沮丧地说:“简直是一塌糊涂!还是扎尔基说得对。找这帮中学生来开会,事没办成,反而惹了一肚子气。”

“这没什么好奇怪的。”伊格纳季耶娃打断他说。“这些人里面几乎没有无产阶级的青年。大多是小资产阶级,或者是城市知识分子、小市民。应当在工人中间开展工作。你要把重点放在锯木厂和糖厂。不过今天的大会还是有收获的,学生中间也有好同志。”

丽达很赞成伊格纳季耶娃的看法,她说:“谢廖沙,我们的任务,就是要不断把我们的思想、我们的口号灌输到每个人的头脑中去。党要使所有劳动者关心每一件新发生的事情。我们要召开一系列群众大会、讨论会和代表大会。师政治部准备在车站开办一个夏季露天剧场。宣传列车这几天就到,我们马上就能把工作全面铺开。还记得吧,列宁说过:如果我们不能吸引千百万劳苦大众参加斗争,我们就不会取得胜利。”

夜已经深了,谢廖沙送丽达回车站去。临别时,他紧紧地握住她的手,过了一会儿才放开。丽达微微笑了一下。

回城的时候,谢廖沙顺路到家看看。随便母亲怎么责骂,他都不做声,也不反驳。但是,当他父亲开始骂他的时候,他就立刻转入反攻,把父亲问得哑口无言。

“爸爸,你听我说,当初德国人在这儿,你们搞罢工,还在机车上打死了押车的德国兵。那个时候,你想到过家没有?

想到过。可你还是干了,因为工人的良心叫你这样干。我也想到了咱们的家。我明白,要是我们不得不撤退,为了我,你们会受迫害的。但是反过来,要是我们胜利了呢?那我们就翻身了。家里我是呆不住的。爸爸,这个不用说你也明白。为什么还要吵吵闹闹呢?我干的是好事,你应该支持我,帮助我,可你却扯后腿。爸爸,咱们讲和吧,这样,我妈就不会再骂我了。”他那双纯洁的、碧蓝的眼睛望着父亲,脸上现出了亲切的笑容。他相信自己是对的。

扎哈尔·勃鲁扎克局促不安地坐在凳子上。他微笑着,透过好久没有刮的、又硬又密的胡须,露出了发黄的牙齿。

“你这个小滑头,反倒启发起我的觉悟来了?你以为一挎上手枪,我就不能拿皮带抽你了吗?”

不过,他的话里并没有威胁的语气。他不好意思地踌躇了一下,毅然把他那粗糙的大手伸到儿子跟前,说:“开足马力闯吧,谢廖沙,你既然正在爬大坡,我绝不会给你刹车。只是你别撇开我们不管,要经常回来看看。”

黑夜里,半掩的门缝中透出一线亮光,落在台阶上。在一间摆着柔软的长毛绒沙发的大房间里,革命委员会正在开会。律师用的宽大的写字台周围坐着五个人:多林尼克,伊格纳季耶娃,戴着哥萨克羊皮帽、样子像吉尔吉斯人的肃反委员会主席季莫申科和另外两名革委会委员——一个是大个子的铁路工人舒季克,一个是扁鼻子的机车库工人奥斯塔普丘克。

多林尼克俯在桌子上,固执的目光直盯着伊格纳季耶娃,用嘶哑的声音一字一句地说:“前线需要给养。工人需要食粮。咱们刚一到这儿,投机商人和贩子就抬高物价。他们不肯收苏维埃纸币,买卖东西要么用沙皇尼古拉的旧币,要么就用临时政府发行的克伦斯基票子。咱们今天就把物价规定下来。其实咱们心里也清楚,哪一个投机商也不会照咱们规定的价钱卖东西。他们一定会把货藏起来。那时候咱们就来个大搜查,把那些吸血鬼囤积的东西统统征购过来。对这帮奸商一点也不能客气。咱们决不能让工人再挨饿。伊格纳季耶娃同志警告我们别做得太过火。照我说呀,这正好是她的知识分子的软弱性。你别生气,伊格纳季耶娃同志,我说的都是实实在在的事。而且,问题还不在那些小商贩身上。你瞧,今天我就得到了一个消息,说饭馆老板鲍里斯·佐恩家里有个秘密地窖。还在佩特留拉匪徒到来之前,有些大商人就把大批货物囤积在这个暗窖里。”

他嘲讽地微笑着,意味深长地看了季莫申科一眼。

“你怎么知道的?”季莫申科慌张地问。他又羞又恼,因为搜集这类情报本是他季莫申科的责任,现在竟让多林尼克走在前面了。

“嘿——嘿!”多林尼克笑了。“老弟,什么都逃不过我的眼睛。我不光知道暗窖的事,”他接着说,“我还知道你昨天跟师长的司机喝了半瓶私酒呢。”

季莫申科在椅子上不安地动了几下,发黄的脸一下子涨红了。

“你这瘟神好厉害呀!”他不得不佩服地说。他向伊格纳季耶娃瞥了一眼,看见她皱起了眉头,就不再做声了。“这个鬼木匠!他竟有自己的肃反班子。”季莫申科看着革委会主席,心里这样想。

“我是听谢廖沙·勃鲁扎克说的。”多林尼克继续说。“他大概有个什么朋友,在车站食堂当过伙计。这个朋友听厨师们说,原先食堂里需要的东西,数量、品种不限,全由佐恩供应。昨天,谢廖沙搞到了准确的情报:确实有这么一个地窖,就是不知道具体的地点。季莫申科,你带几个人跟谢廖沙一道去吧。务必在今天把东西找到!要是能成功,咱们就有东西供应工人、支援部队了。”

半小时以后,八个武装人员走进了饭馆老板的家里,还有两个留在外面,守着大门。

老板是个滚圆的矮胖子,活像一只大酒桶,一脸棕黄色的络腮胡子,又短又硬。他拐着一条木腿,点头哈腰地迎接进来的人,用嘶哑低沉的喉音问:“怎么回事啊,同志们?这么晚来,有什么事吗?”

佐恩的背后站着他的几个女儿。她们披着睡衣,给季莫申科的手电筒照得眯缝着眼睛。隔壁房间里,那个又高又胖的老板娘一边穿衣服,一边唉声叹气。

季莫申科只简单地说:“搜查。”

每一块地板都查过了。堆满木柴的大板棚、所有的储藏室、几间厨房、一个很大的地窖都仔细搜遍了。但是连暗窖的痕迹也没有发现。

靠近厨房的一个小房间里,正睡着饭馆老板的女佣人。她睡得正浓,连有人进屋都不知道。谢廖沙小心地把她叫醒。

“你是什么人?是这儿的佣人吗?”他向这个还没有睡醒的姑娘问道。

她不知道发生了什么事情,一边拉起被头盖住肩膀,一边用手遮住电筒的光亮,惊疑地回答:“是这儿的佣人。你们是干什么的呀?”

谢廖沙向她说明了来意,叫她穿好衣服,就走了。

这时候季莫申科正在宽敞的饭厅里盘问老板。老板喘着粗气,喷着唾沫,非常激动地说:“你们要找什么?我再没有别的地窖了。你们再搜查也是白费时间。不错,我先前是开过饭馆,但是,现在我也是个穷光蛋了。佩特留拉的大兵把我家抢得精光,差一点没把我打死。我非常喜欢苏维埃政权,我就有这么点东西,你们都看见了。”说话的时候,他老是摊开两只又短又肥的胳臂。布满血丝的眼睛一会儿从肃反委员会主席的脸上溜到谢廖沙身上,一会儿又从谢廖沙身上溜到墙角或者天花板上。

季莫申科急得直咬嘴唇。

“这么说,你是想瞒着不讲啦?我最后一次劝告你,赶紧把地窖交代出来。”

“哎哟,你怎么啦,军官同志,”老板娘插嘴了,“我们自己都饿着肚子呢!我们家的东西全给抢光了。”她很想放声哭一场,但是却挤不出一滴眼泪来。

“饿肚子,还能雇佣人?”谢廖沙插了一句。

“哎哟,她哪儿算得上佣人哪!她是穷人家的孩子,没地方投靠,我们才把她收留下来的。不信,您让赫里斯季娜自己说吧。”

“算了,”季莫申科不耐烦地喊了一声。“再搜!”

天已经大亮了,搜查还在饭馆老板的家里顽强地进行着。

十三个小时过去了,还是什么也没有查出来,季莫申科十分恼火。他都打算下令停止搜查了。谢廖沙正打算走,忽然听到女仆在她的小房间里悄悄地说:“一定在厨房的炉子里。”

十分钟以后,厨房里那个俄国式大火炉被拆开了,露出了地窖的铁门。过了一小时,一辆载重两吨的卡车满载着木桶和口袋,穿过看热闹的人群,从老板家开走了。

一个炎热的白天,玛丽亚·雅科夫列夫娜挎着小包袱,从车站回到家里。阿尔焦姆把保尔的事跟她讲了一遍,她一边听,一边伤心地哭着。她的日子过得更加艰辛了。她一点收入也没有,只好给红军洗衣服;战士们设法给她弄到了一份口粮。

有一天,临近黄昏的时候,阿尔焦姆迈着比平常更大的步子从窗前走过,没等推门进屋,就喊了起来:“保尔来信了!”

他的信上写着:

阿尔焦姆,亲爱的哥哥:

告诉你,亲爱的哥哥,我还活着,虽然并不十分健康。我大腿上挨了一枪,不过快治好了。医生说,没有伤着骨头。不要为我担心,很快就会完全治好的。出院以后,也许会给我假,到时候我一定回家看看。妈那里我没有去成,结果却当上了红军。现在我是科托夫斯基骑兵旅的一名战士。我们旅长科托夫斯基的英雄事迹你们一定听到过。像他那样的人,我还从来没有见过,我对他是十分敬佩的。妈回来没有?要是她在家,就说她的小儿子向她老人家问好。请原谅我让你们操心了。

你的弟弟

再者,阿尔焦姆,请你到林务官家去一趟,把这封信的意思说一说。

玛丽亚·雅科夫列夫娜又流了许多眼泪。这个儿子真荒唐,竟连医院的地址都没有写。

谢廖沙经常到停在车站上的那节绿色客车车厢去。车厢上挂着“师政治部宣传鼓动科”的牌子,丽达和梅德韦杰娃就在车上的一个包厢里办公。梅德韦杰娃总是叼着一支香烟,嘴角上不时露出调皮的微笑。

这位共青团区委书记不知不觉地同丽达亲近起来。每次离开车站,除了一捆捆宣传品和报纸之外,他都带回一种由于短促的会面而产生的朦胧的欢乐感。

师政治部露天剧场天天都挤满了工人和红军战士。铁道上停着第十二集团军的宣传列车,车身上贴满了色彩鲜艳的宣传画。宣传车上热火朝天,人们昼夜不停地工作着。车上有个印刷室,一张张报纸、传单、布告就从这里印制出来。有一天晚上,谢廖沙偶然来到剧场,他在红军战士中间看见了丽达。

夜已经深了。谢廖沙送她回车站上的师政治部工作人员宿舍去。他连自己也莫名其妙地突然说:“丽达同志,我怎么总想看到你呢?”紧接着又说,“跟你在一起真高兴!每次跟你见面之后,都觉得精神振奋,有使不完的劲,想不停地工作下去。”

丽达站住了。

“你听我说,勃鲁扎克同志,咱们一言为定,往后你就别再做这类抒情诗了。我不喜欢这样。”

谢廖沙满脸通红,像一个受到斥责的小学生一样。他回答说:“我是把你当作知心朋友,才这样跟你说的,可是你却把我……难道我说的是反革命的话吗?丽达同志,往后我肯定不会再说了!”

他匆匆地握了一下她的手,拔腿就朝城里跑去。

此后一连几天,谢廖沙都没有在火车站上露面。伊格纳季耶娃每次叫他去,他都说工作忙,推托不去。事实上,他确实也很忙。

一天夜里,革委会委员舒季克回家,路过糖厂波兰高级职员聚居的街道,有人向他打黑枪。于是在那一带进行了搜查。结果查到了毕苏斯基[毕苏斯基(1867—1935),反动的资产阶级民族主义者,当时波兰的国家元首。——译者]分子的组织“狙击手”的武器和文件。

丽达到革委会来参加会议。她把谢廖沙拉到一边,心平气和地问:“你怎么啦?是小市民的自尊心发作了吧?私人的事怎么能影响工作呢?同志,这可绝对不行!”

在这之后,谢廖沙只要有机会,就又往绿色车厢跑了。

接着,谢廖沙参加了县代表大会,会上进行了两天热烈的争论。第三天,谢廖沙同参加会议的全体代表一起,带着武器,到河对岸的森林里去追剿漏网的佩特留拉军官扎鲁德内率领的匪帮,追了整整一天一夜。回来之后,谢廖沙在伊格纳季耶娃那里碰见了丽达。他送她回车站去。临别的时候,他紧紧地握着她的手。

丽达生气地把手抽了回去。谢廖沙又有很长时间不到宣传鼓动科的车厢上去。他故意避开丽达,甚至在需要面谈的时候,也有意不同她见面。后来丽达非要他解释回避她的原因,他气愤地说:“我跟你有什么好说的?你又该给我扣帽子了:什么小市民习气呀,什么背叛工人阶级呀。”

车站上开来几列高加索红旗师的军车。三个肤色黝黑的指挥员走进了革委会办公室。其中有个扎武装带的瘦高个子,进门就冲着多林尼克喊:“废话少说。拿一百车草料来。马都快饿死了。还怎么跟白匪打仗?要是不给,我把你们全砍了。”

多林尼克气呼呼地摊开双手,说:“同志,半天时间,我上哪儿给你弄一百车干草去?干草要到屯子里去拉,两天也拉不回来。”

瘦高个子目露凶光,吼道:“你给我听着。晚上不见干草,统统砍脑袋。你这是反革命。”他啪的一声,一拳头捶在桌子上。

多林尼克也光火了:“你吓唬谁?马刀我也会使。明天以前不会有干草,懂吗?”

“晚上一定得备好。”高加索人扔下一句话,走了。

谢廖沙和两名红军战士被派去征集干草。不料,在村子里碰上了一伙富农匪帮。红军战士被解除了武装,给打得半死。谢廖沙挨的打少一些。看他年轻,留了点情。贫农委员会的人把他们送回了城里。

当天晚上,来了一队高加索士兵,因为没有领到干草,便包围了革命委员会,逮捕了所有的人,包括一名清扫女工和一名饲养员。他们把被捕的人带到波多尔斯克车站,一路上还偶尔赏他们几马鞭,然后关进了一节货车车厢。革委会的院子里也驻进了一支高加索巡逻队。要不是师政委、拉脱维亚人克罗赫马利积极出面干预,革委会那些人员的处境可就不妙。克罗赫马利下了死命令,他们才获得释放。

又有一队战士被派到村子里去。第二天干草总算征集上来了。

谢廖沙不愿意惊动家里的人,就在伊格纳季耶娃房间里养伤。当天晚上,丽达跑来看望他。她握住谢廖沙的手。谢廖沙第一次感到她握得那样亲切,那样紧。他可是怎么也不敢这样握的。

一个炎热的中午,谢廖沙跑进车厢里找到丽达,把保尔的信念给她听,又向她讲了自己这位好朋友的事。临走的时候,他随便说了一句:“我要到林子里去,在湖里洗个澡。”

丽达放下手里的工作,叫住他说:“你等等,咱们一起去。”

他们两人走到水平如镜的湖边,停住了脚步。温暖而透明的湖水清爽宜人。

“你上大路口去等一会儿。我到湖里洗个澡。”丽达用命令的口气说。

谢廖沙在小桥旁边的一块石头上坐了下来,脸朝着太阳。

他背后响起了溅水声。

透过树丛,他看见冬妮亚·图曼诺娃和宣传列车政委丘扎宁正顺着大路走来。丘扎宁长得很漂亮,穿着十分考究的弗连奇军装,系着军官武装带,脚上是吱吱响的软皮靴子。他挽着冬妮亚的胳膊,一边走,一边跟她谈着什么。

谢廖沙认出了冬妮亚。就是她有一回给他送过保尔写的条子。冬妮亚也目不转睛地看着谢廖沙,显然,她也认出他来了。当冬妮亚和丘扎宁走到他身边的时候,他从口袋里掏出一封信,叫住冬妮亚说:“同志,您等一等,我这儿有一封信,跟您也有点关系。”

他把一张写得满满的信纸递给了她。冬妮亚抽出手,读起信来。信纸在她手中微微颤动着。她把信还给谢廖沙的时候,问:“他的情况,你就知道这些吗?”

“是的。”谢廖沙回答。

丽达从后面走来,碎石在她脚下响了一下。丘扎宁看见她在这里,立即小声对冬妮亚说:“咱们走吧。”

但是丽达已经把他叫住了。她轻蔑地嘲讽他说:“丘扎宁同志!列车上成天都在找您呢!”

丘扎宁不满地斜了她一眼。

“没关系,没有我,他们照样能办事。”

丽达看着丘扎宁他们两人的背影,说:“这个骗子,什么时候才能把他撵走啊!”

树林在喧闹,柞树摇晃着强劲的脑袋。湖水清澈凉爽,令人神往。谢廖沙也情不自禁地想跳入水中,洗个痛快。

洗完之后,他在离林间小道不远的地方找到了丽达,她正坐在一棵伐倒的柞树上。

两个人一边谈话,一边向树林深处走去。他们走到一小块青草茂盛的林间空地上,决定在这里休息一会儿。树林里静悄悄的。只有柞树在窃窃私语。丽达在柔软的草地上躺了下来,弯过一只胳膊枕在头下。她那两条健美的腿和一双补了又补的皮鞋,没在又高又密的青草里。谢廖沙的目光无意中落到她的脚上,看到她的皮鞋上打着整整齐齐的补丁,再看看自己的靴子,上面有一个大窟窿,已经露出了脚趾。他不禁笑了起来。

“你笑什么?”

谢廖沙伸出一只靴子,说:“咱们穿着这样的靴子,怎么打仗啊?”

丽达没有回答。她轻轻咬着草茎,心里正在想着别的事。

“丘扎宁是个坏党员,”她终于开口说。“我们所有的政工人员都穿得又旧又破,可他却只关心自己。他是到咱们党里来混混的……现在,前线情况确实严重,咱们国家得经受激烈战斗的长期考验。”她沉默了片刻,又接着说:“谢廖沙,咱们不单要用嘴和笔战斗,也要拿起枪来。中央已经决定,动员四分之一的共青团员上前线,你知道吗?谢廖沙,我估计,咱们在这儿不会待很久了。”

谢廖沙听她说着,从她的话里听出一种不寻常的音调来。

他感到很惊奇。她那双水汪汪的又黑又亮的眼睛一直盯着他。

他几乎要忘情了,想对她说,她的眼睛像一面镜子,从里面能看见一切,但是他及时控制住了自己。

丽达用胳膊肘支着,欠起身来。

“你的手枪呢?”

谢廖沙摸了一下皮带,难过地说:“上回在村子里,叫那帮富农给抢去了。”

丽达把手伸进制服口袋,掏出一支发亮的勃朗宁手枪。

“你看见那棵柞树没有,谢廖沙?”她用枪口指了指离她有二十五六步远的一棵满是裂纹的树干。然后举起手枪,同眼睛取平,几乎没有瞄准,就开了一枪。打碎的树皮撒落在地上。

“看到了没有?”她得意地说,接着又放了一枪。又是一阵树皮落地的簌簌声。

“给你,”她把手枪递给谢廖沙,用逗弄的口吻说。“现在该看看你的枪法了。”

谢廖沙放了三枪,有一枪没有打中。丽达微笑着说:“我还以为你不会打得这么好呢。”

她放下手枪,又在草地上躺下来。制服上衣清晰地显出了她那富有弹性的胸脯的轮廓。

“谢廖沙,你到这儿来。”她轻轻地说。

他把身子挪到她跟前。

“你看到天空没有?天空是碧蓝的。你的眼睛和天空一样,也是碧蓝的。这不好。你的眼睛应该是深灰色的,像钢铁一样才好。碧蓝色未免太温柔了。”

突然,她一下紧紧搂住了他那长着淡黄色头发的头,热烈地吻着他的双唇。

这个举动对谢廖沙来说太突如其来了,即便他在刑场面对枪口,也未必会这样心慌意乱。他只知道丽达在吻他,除此之外,他什么也无法理解。这个丽达,他连握她的手超过一秒钟都不敢。

“谢廖沙,”她稍稍推开他那晕乎乎的头说,“我现在把自己交给你,是因为你充满青春活力,你的感情跟你的眼睛一样纯洁,还因为未来的日子可能夺去我们的生命。所以,趁我们有这几个自由支配的时辰,我们现在要相爱。在我的生活里,你是我爱的第二个人……”

谢廖沙打断她的话头,向她探过身去。他陶醉在幸福之中,克服着内心的羞涩,抓住了她的手……

曾经难以理解的丽达如今成了他谢廖沙心爱的妻子。一股巨大的激情闯进了他的生活,这是他对丽达深沉而又博大的同志情谊,它占据了他那颗渴望火热斗争的心。开头几天,他的生活常规完全给打乱了。可是紧张繁忙的工作不等人。不久他又全身心投入了工作。

直到眼前的这个秋天,生活只赏赐给他们三四次见面的机会,这几次见面令人心醉,永生难忘。

过了两个月,秋天到了。

夜悄悄降临,用黑色的帷幕盖住了树林。师参谋部的报务员俯在电报机上,忙着收报。电报机发出急促的嗒嗒声,一张狭长的纸条从他的指缝间穿过,他迅速将那些点和短线译成文字,写在电文纸上:

第一师师参谋长并抄送舍佩托夫卡革委会主席。命令收到电报后十小时内,撤出市内全部机关。留一个营,归本战区指挥员×团团长指挥。师参谋部、政治部及所有军事机关,均撤至巴兰切夫车站。执行情况,即报来。

师长(签名)

十分钟后,一辆点着电石灯的摩托车飞速穿过寂静的街道,突突突地喷着气,在革委会大门口停了下来。通讯员把电报交给了革委会主席多林尼克。人们行动起来了。特务连马上开始整队。一小时过后,几辆马车满载着革委会的物品,从街上走过,到波多尔斯克车站,装车准备出发。

谢廖沙听完电报,跟着通讯员跑了出去,对他说:“同志,捎个脚,带我上车站,行不?”

“坐在后面吧,把牢了。”

宣传鼓动科的车厢已经挂到列车上,谢廖沙在离车厢十步左右的地方抓住了丽达的双肩。他感到就要失去一件无比珍贵的东西,低声地说:“再见吧,丽达,我亲爱的同志!咱们还会见面的,你千万别忘了我。”

他害怕自己马上就会放声哭出来。该走了。他再也说不出话来,只有紧紧地握住她的手,把她的手都握疼了。

第二天早晨,被遗弃的小城和车站已经是空荡荡的了。最后一列火车的车头拉了几声汽笛,像是告别似的。留守城里的那个营,在车站后面铁路两侧布成了警戒线。

遍地都是黄叶,树枝上光秃秃的。风卷着落叶,在路上慢慢地打转。

谢廖沙穿着军大衣,身上束着帆布子弹带,同十个红军战士一起,守卫着糖厂附近的十字路口,等待波兰军队的到来。

阿夫托诺姆·彼得罗维奇敲了几下邻居格拉西姆·列昂季耶维奇的门。这位邻居还没有穿好衣服,他从敞开的房门里探出头来,问:“出了什么事?”

阿夫托诺姆·彼得罗维奇指着持枪行进的红军战士,向他的朋友使了个眼色。

“开走了。”

格拉西姆·列昂季耶维奇担心地看了他一眼,问:“您知不知道,波兰人的旗子是什么样的?”

“好像有只独头鹰。”

“哪儿能弄到呢?”

阿夫托诺姆·彼得罗维奇烦恼地搔了搔后脑勺。

“他们当然无所谓,”他想了一会儿说。“说走就走了,可是苦了咱们,要合新政府的意,又得大伤脑筋。”

突然,一挺机枪嗒嗒地响了起来,打破了四周的寂静。车站附近有一个火车头拉响了汽笛。同时从那里传来了一下沉重的炮声。接着重炮弹划破长空,呼啸着飞过去,落在工厂后边的大道上。道旁的灌木丛立刻隐没在蓝灰色的硝烟里。闷闷不乐的红军战士沿着街道默默地撤退,不时回头看看后边。

一颗凉丝丝的泪珠顺着谢廖沙的脸流了下来。他急忙擦掉泪珠,回头向同志们看了一眼,幸好谁也没有看见。

同谢廖沙并肩走着的是又高又瘦的锯木厂工人安捷克·克洛波托夫斯基。他的手指扣在步枪扳机上。安捷克脸色阴沉,心事重重。他的眼睛碰到了谢廖沙的目光,便向他诉说了自己的心事:“这回咱们家里的人可要遭殃了,特别是我家的人。他们一定会说:‘他是波兰人,还同波兰大军作对。’他们准会把我父亲赶出锯木厂,用鞭子抽他。我劝老人家跟咱们一起走,可是他舍不得扔下这个家。唉,这帮该死的家伙,赶紧碰上他们打一仗才好呢!”安捷克烦躁地把遮住眼睛的红军军帽往上推了推。

……再见吧,我的故乡,再见吧,肮脏而难看的小城,丑陋的小屋,坎坷不平的街道!再见吧,亲人们,再见吧,瓦莉亚,再见吧,转入地下的同志们!凶恶的异族侵略者——无情的白色波兰军队已经逼近了。

机车库的工人们穿着油污的衬衫,用忧愁的眼光目送着红军战士们。谢廖沙满怀激情地喊道:“我们还要回来的,同志们!”


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