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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 » Part Two Chapter 3
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Part Two Chapter 3
But youth triumphed. Pavel did not succumb to the typhoid fever. For the fourth time he crossed the border line of death and came back to life. It was a whole month, however, before he was able to rise from his bed. Gaunt and pale, he tottered feebly across the room on his shaky legs, clinging to the wall for support. With his mother's help he reached the window and stood there for a long time looking out onto the road where pools of melted snow glittered in the early spring sunshine.
It was the first thaw of the year. Just in front of the window a grey-breasted sparrow perched on the branch of a cherry-tree was preening its feathers, stealing quick uneasy glances at Pavel.
"So you and I got through the winter, eh?" Pavel said, softly tapping on the window pane.
His mother looked up startled.
"Who are you talking to out there?"
"A sparrow.... There now, he's flown away, the little rascal." And Pavel gave a wan smile.
By the time spring was at its height Pavel began to think of returning to town. He was now strong enough to walk, but some mysterious disease was undermining his strength. One day as he was walking in the garden a sudden excruciating pain in his spine knocked him off his feet. With difficulty he got up and dragged himself back to his room. The next day he submitted to a thorough medical examination. The doctor, examining Pavel's back, discovered a deep depression in his spine.
"How did you get this?" he asked.
"That was in the fighting near Rovno. A three-inch gun tore up the highway behind us and a stone hit me in the back."
"But how did you manage to walk? Hasn't it ever bothered you?"
"No. I couldn't get up for an hour or two after it happened, but then it passed and I got into the saddle again. It has never troubled me till now,"
The doctor's face was very grave as he carefully examined the depression.
"Yes, my friend, a very nasty business. The spine does not like to be shaken up like that. Let us hope that it will pass."
The doctor looked at his patient with undisguised concern.

One day Pavel went to see his brother. Artem lived with his wife's people. His wife Styosha was aplain-featured young peasant woman who came from a poverty-stricken family. A grimy slant-eyed urchin playing in the small, filthy yard stared fixedly at Pavel, picking his nose stolidly.
"What d'ye want?" he demanded. "Maybe you're a thief? You'd better clear off or you'll get it from my Ma!"
A tiny window was flung open in the shabby old cottage and Artem looked out.
"Come on in, Pavel!" he called.
An old woman with a face like yellowed parchment was busy at the stove. She flung Pavel an unfriendly look as he passed her and resumed her clattering with the pots.
Two girls with stringy pigtails clambered onto the stove ledge and stared down from there at the newcomer with the gaping curiosity of little savages.
Artem, sitting at the table, looked somewhat uncomfortable. He was aware that neither his mother nor his brother approved of his marriage. They could not understand why Artem, whose family had been proletarian for generations, had broken off with Galya, the stonemason's pretty daughter and a seamstress by trade whom he had been courting for three years, to go and live with a dull,ignorant woman like Styosha and be the breadwinner in a family of five. Now, after a hard day's work at the railway yard he had to toil at the plough in an effort to revive the run-down farm.

Artem knew that Pavel disapproved of his desertion to what he called the "petty-bourgeois elements", and he now watched his brother take stock of his surroundings.
They sat for a while exchanging a few casual remarks. Presently Pavel rose to go, but Art emdetained him.
"Wait a bit, and have a bite with us. Styosha will bring the milk in soon. So you're going away again tomorrow? Are you sure you're quite strong enough, Pavka?"
Styosha came in. She greeted Pavel, and asked Artem to go with her to the barn and help her carry something. Pavel was left alone with the dour old woman. Through the window came the sound of church bells. The old woman laid down her pothook and began to mutter sourly:
"Lord above, with all this cursed housework a body can scarce find time to pray!" She took off her shawl and, eyeing the newcomer askance, went over to the corner where hung the holy images,dreary and tarnished with age. Pressing together three bony fingers she crossed herself.
"Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name!" she whispered through withered lips.
The urchin playing outside in the yard leapt astride a black lop-eared hog. He dug his small bare heels smartly into its sides, clung to its bristles and shouted to the running, snorting beast: "Geeup, gee-up! Whoa! Whoa!"
The hog with the boy on its back dashed madly about the yard in a desperate effort to throw him,but the slant-eyed imp kept his seat firmly.
The old woman stopped praying and stuck her head out of the window.
"Get off that pig this minute, you little beast, or I'll wring your neck!"
The hog finally succeeded in shaking his tormentor off his back, and the old woman, mollified,returned to her icons, composed her features into a pious expression and continued:
"Thy kingdom come. . . ."
At that moment the boy appeared in the doorway, his face grimy with tears. Wiping his smarting nose with his sleeve and sobbing with pain, he whined:
"Gimme a pancake, Mummy!"
The old woman turned on him in a fury.
"Can't you see I'm praying, you cross-eyed devil, you? I'll give you pancakes, you limb of satan!..." And she snatched a whip from the bench. The boy was gone in a flash. The two little girls on top of the stove snickered.
The old woman returned to her devotions for the third time.
Pavel got up and went out without waiting for his brother. As he closed the gate behind him he noticed the old woman peering suspiciously out at him through the end window of the house.
"What evil spirit lured Artem out here?" he thought bitterly. "Now he's tied down for the rest of his life. Styosha will have a baby every year. And Artem will be stuck like a beetle on a dunghill.
He may even give up his work at the railway." Thus Pavel reflected gloomily as he strode down the deserted streets of the little town. "And I had hoped to be able to interest him in political work."
Pavel rejoiced at the thought that tomorrow he would be leaving this place and going to the big town to join his friends and comrades, all those dear to his heart. The big city with its bustling life and activity, its endless stream of humanity, its clattering trams and hooting automobiles drew him like a magnet. But most of all he yearned for the large brick factory buildings, the sootyworkshops, the machines, the low hum of transmission belts. He yearned for the mad spinning of the giant flywheels, for the smell of machine oil, for all that had become so much a part of him.

This quiet provincial town whose streets he now roamed filled him with a vague feeling of depression. He was not surprised that he felt a stranger here now. Even to take a stroll through the town in daytime had become an ordeal. Passing by the gossiping housewives sitting on their stoops, he could not help overhearing their idle chatter.
"Now who could that scarecrow be?"
"Looks like he had the consumption, lung trouble, that is."
"A fine jacket he's got on. Stolen, I'll be bound."
And plenty more in the same vein. Pavel was disgusted with it all.
He had torn himself away from all this long ago. He felt a far closer kinship now with the big city to which he was bound by the strong, vitalising bonds of comradeship and labour.
By now he had reached the pine woods, and he paused a moment at the road fork. To his right stood the old prison cut off from the woods by a high spiked fence, and beyond it the white buildings of the hospital.
It was here on this broad common that the hangman's noose had choked the warm life out of Valya and her comrades. Pavel stood in silence on the spot where the gallows had been, then walked over to the bluff and down to the little cemetery where the victims of the Whiteguard terror lay in their common graves. Loving hands had laid spruce branches on the graves and built a neat green fence around the graveyard. The pines grew straight and slender on the top of the bluff and the young grass spread a silky green carpet over the slopes.
There was a melancholy hush here on the outskirts of the town. The trees whispered gently and the fresh scent of spring rose from the regenerated earth. On this spot Pavel's comrades had gone bravely to their deaths that life might be beautiful for those born in poverty.
Slowly Pavel raised his hand and removed his cap, his heart filled with sadness.
Man's dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world
— the fight for the Liberation of Mankind. And one must make use of every moment of life, lestsome sudden illness or tragic accident cut it short.
With these reflections, Korchagin turned away from the cemetery.
At home his mother was unhappily preparing for her son's departure. Watching her, Pavel saw that she was hiding her tears from him.
"Perhaps you'll stay, Pavel dear?" she ventured. "It's hard for me to be left alone in my old age. It doesn't matter how many children you have, they all grow up and leave you. Why must you run off to the city? You can live here just as well. Or perhaps some bob-haired magpie there has caught your fancy? You boys never tell your old mother anything. Artem went and got married without a word to me and you're worse than him in that respect. I only see you when you get yourself crippled," his mother grumbled softly as she packed his meagre belongings into a clean bag.
Pavel took her by the shoulders and drew her towards him.
"No magpies for me, Mother! Don't you know that birds choose mates of their own species? And would you say I was a magpie?"

His mother smiled in spite of herself.
"No, Mother, I've given my word to keep away from the girls until we've finished with all the bourgeois in the world. Bit long to wait, you say? No, Mother, the bourgeoisie can't hold out very long now. Soon there will be one big republic for all men, and you old folk who've worked all your lives will go to Italy, a beautiful warm country by the sea. There is no winter there, Mother. We'll install you in the rich men's palaces, and you'll lie about in the sun warming your old bones
while we'll go and finish off the bourgeois in America." "That's a lovely fairy-tale, Son, but I shan't live to see it come true. . . . You're just like your
grandad, the sailor, always full of ideas he was. A regular brigand, God forgive him! Finished up at Sevastopol and came home with one arm and one leg missing and two crosses and two silver medals on his chest. But he died poor. Bad-tempered too, he was. Hit some official over the head with his crutch once and was sent to jail for about a year. Even his military crosses didn't help him then. Yes, it's your grandad you take after and no mistake."
"Now then, Ma, we can't have such a sorrowful farewell, can we? Let me have my accordion. I haven't touched it for a long time."
He bent his head over the mother-of-pearl rows of keys and began to play. His mother, listening, caught a new quality in his music. He never used to play like this. The dashing, rollicking tunes with the trills and runs, the intoxicating rhythms for which the young accordionist had once been famed, were gone. His fingers had lost none of their power or skill, but the melody that flowed from under them now was richer and deeper.
Pavel went to the station alone.
He had persuaded his mother to stay at home for he knew that the final parting would upset her too much.
The waiting crowd piled pell-mell into the train. Pavel climbed onto one of the topmost shelves and sat there watching the shouting, excited passengers arguing and gesticulating down below.
As usual everyone carried packs and bundles which they shoved under the seats.
As soon as the train got into motion the hubbub subsided somewhat and the passengers settled down to the business of stuffing themselves with food.
Pavel soon fell asleep.

On his arrival in Kiev, Pavel set out at once for Kreshchatik Street in the heart of the city. Slowly he climbed onto the bridge. Everything was as it had been, nothing had changed. He walked across the bridge, sliding his hand over the smooth railings. There was not a soul on the bridge. He paused before descending to admire the majesty of the scene. The horizon was wrapped in the velvety folds of darkness, the stars sparkled and glittered with a phosphorescent glow. And down below, where the earth merged with the sky at some invisible point, the city scattered the darkness with a million lights. . . .
Voices raised in argument invaded the stillness of the night and roused Pavel from his reverie.
Someone was coming this way. Pavel tore his eyes away from the city lights and descended the stairs.
At the Area Special Department the man on duty informed Pavel that Zhukhrai had left town a long time ago.

He questioned Pavel searchingly and, satisfied that the young man really was a personal friend of Zhukhrai, finally told him that Fyodor had been sent to work in Tashkent on the Turkestan front.
Pavel was so upset by the news that he turned and walked out without asking for further details. A sudden weariness made him sink down onto the doorstep to rest.
A tramcar clattered by, filling the street with its din. An endless stream of people flowed past him.
Pavel caught snatches of gay women's laughter, a rumbling bass, the high-pitched treble of a youth, the wheezy falsetto of an old man. The ebb and flow of hurrying crowds never ceased.
Brightly-lit trams, glaring automobile headlights, electric lights ablaze over the entrance to a cinema near by.... And everywhere — people, filling the street with their incessant hum of conversation.
The noise and bustle of the avenue dulled the edge of the pain caused by the news of Fyodor's departure. Where was he to go now? It was a long way to Solo-menka where his friends lived.
Suddenly he remembered the house on University Street. It was not far from here. Of course he would go there! After all, the first person he longed to see, after Fyodor, was Rita. And perhaps he could arrange to spend the night at Akim's place.
He saw a light in the end window from afar. Controlling his emotion with an effort he pulled open the heavy oaken outer door. For a few seconds he paused on the landing. Voices issued from Rita's room and someone was strumming on a guitar.
"Oho, so she allows guitars nowadays. Must have relaxed the regime," he said to himself. He tapped lightly on the door, biting his lip to quell his inner excitement.
The door was opened by a young woman with corkscrew curls. She looked questioningly at Korchagin.
"Whom do you want?"
She held the door ajar and a brief glance within told Pavel that his errand was fruitless.
"May I see Rita Ustinovich?"
"She's not here. She went to Kharkov last January and I hear she's in Moscow now."
"Does Comrade Akim still live here or has he left as well?"
"No, he isn't here either. He is Secretary of the Odessa Gubernia Komsomol now."
There was nothing to do but turn back. The joy of his return to the city had faded.
The problem now was to find somewhere to spend the night.
"You can walk your legs off trying to look up old friends who aren't there," he grumbled to himself, swallowing his disappointment. Nevertheless he decided to try his luck once more and see whether Pankratov was still in town. The stevedore lived in the vicinity of the wharves and that was nearer than Solomenka.
By the time he reached Pankratov's place he was utterly exhausted. "If he isn't here either I'll give up the search," Pavel vowed to himself as he knocked at a door that had once been painted yellow.
"I'll crawl under a boat and spend the night there."
The door was opened by an old woman with a kerchief tied under her chin. It was Pankratov's mother.
"Is Ignat home, Mother?"
"He's just come in."
She did not recognise Pavel, and turned round to call: "Ignat, someone to see you!"
Pavel followed her into the room and laid his knapsack on the floor. Pankratov, sitting at the table eating his supper, glanced quickly at the newcomer over his shoulder.
"If it's me you want, sit down and fire away, while I get some borshch into my system," he said.
"Haven't had a bite since morning." And he picked up a giant wooden spoon.
Pavel sat on a rickety chair to one side. He took off his cap and, relapsing into an old habit, wiped his forehead with it.
"Have I really changed so much that even Ignat doesn't recognise me?" he asked himself.
Pankratov dispatched a spoon or two of borshch, but since his visitor said nothing, he turned his head to look at him.
"Well, come on! What's on your mind?"
His hand with the piece of bread remained suspended in mid air. He stared at his visitor blinking with astonishment.
"Hey.... What's this? ... Well, of all the! ..."
The sight of the confusion and bewilderment on Pankratov's red face was too much for Pavel and he burst out laughing.
"Pavka!" cried the other. "But we all thought you were a goner! Wait a minute, now? What's your name again?"
Pankratov's elder sister and his mother came running in from the next room at his shouts. All three began showering Pavel with questions until at last they finally satisfied themselves that it really was Pavel Korchagin and none other.
Long after everyone in the house was fast asleep Pankratov was still giving Pavel an account of all that had happened during the past four months.
"Zharky and Mityai went off to Kharkov last winter. And where do you think they went, the beggars? To the Communist University! Got into the preparatory course. There were fifteen of us at first. I also got into the spirit of the thing and applied. About time I got rid of some of the sawdust in my noodle, I thought. And would you believe it, that examination board flunked me!"
Pankratov snorted at the memory and went on: "At first everything was fine. I fitted in on all counts: I had my Party card, I'd been in the Komsomol long enough, nothing wrong with my background and antecedents, but when it came to political knowledge I got into hot water.
"I got into an argument with one of the chaps on the examining board. He comes at me with a nasty little question like this: 'Tell me, Comrade Pankratov, what do you know about philosophy?'
Well, the fact is I didn't know a damned thing about philosophy. But there was a fellow used to work with us at the wharves, a grammar school student turned tramp, who had taken a job as a stevedore for the fun of it. Well, I remember him telling us about some brainy fellows in Greece who knew all the answers to everything, philosophers they called them, he said. Well, there was one chap, can't remember his name now, Diogineez or something like that, he lived all his life in a
barrel. .. . The smartest of them all was the one who could prove forty times over that black was white and white was black. A lot of spoofers, you see? So I remembered what that student told me and I says to myself: 'Aha, he's trying to trip me up.' I see that examiner looking at me with a twinkle in his eye and I let him have it. 'Philosophy,' I says, 'is just poppycock, and I'm not going to have any truck with it, Comrades. The history of the Party, now, that's another matter. I'll be
only too glad to have a crack at that.' Well, they went for me good and proper, wanted to know where I'd gotten those queer ideas of mine. So I told them about that student fellow and some of the things he'd said and the whole commission nearly split their sides. The laugh was on me all right. But I got sore and walked out.
"Later on that examiner fellow got hold of me in the Gubernia Committee and lectured me for a good three hours. It turns out that the student down at the docks had got things mixed up. It seems philosophy is all right, dashed important, as a matter o' fact.
"Dubava and Zharky passed the exams. Mityai was always good at studies, but Zharky isn't much better than me. Must have been his Order that got him by. Anyway I was left back here. After they went I was given a managing job at the wharves — assistant chief of the freight wharves. I always used to be scrapping with the managers about the youth and now I'm a manager myself. Nowadays if I come across some slacker or nitwit I haul him over the coals both as manager and Komsomol secretary. He can't throw dust in my eyes! Well, enough about me. What else is there to tell you?
You know about Akim already; Tufta is the only one of the old crowd left on the Gubernia Committee. Still on his old job. Tokarev is Secretary of the District Committee of the Party at Solomenka. Okunev, your fellow commune member, is on the Komsomol District Committee.
Talya works in the Political Education Department. Tsvetayev has your job down in the repair shops. I don't know him very well. We only meet occasionally in the Gubernia Committee; he seems to be quite a brainy fellow, but a bit standoffish. Remember Anna Borhart? She's at Solomenka too, head of the Women's Department of the District Party Committee. I've told you about all the others. Yes, Pavel, the Party's sent lots of folk off to study. All the old activists attend the Gubernia Soviet and Party School. They promise to send me too next year."
It was long past midnight when they retired for the night. By the time Pavel awoke the next morning, Pankratov had gone to the wharves. Dusya, his sister, a strapping lass closely resembling her brother, served Pavel tea, keeping up a lively patter of talk all the while. Pankratov the elder, a ship's engineer, was away from home.
As Pavel was preparing to go out, Dusya reminded him:"Don't forget now, we're expecting you for dinner."

The Gubernia Committee of the Party presented the usual scene of bustling activity. The front door opened and closed incessantly. The corridors and offices were crowded, and the muffled clicking of typewriters issued from behind the door of the Administration Department.
Pavel lingered in the corridor for a while in search of a familiar face, but finding no one he knew,went straight in to see the secretary. The latter, dressed in a blue Russian shirt, was seated behind a large desk. He looked up briefly as Pavel entered and went on writing.
Pavel took a seat opposite him and studied the features of Akim's successor.
"What can I do for you?" the secretary in the Russian shirt asked as he finished his writing.
Pavel told him his story.
"I want you to restore my membership and send me to the railway workshops," he wound up.
"Please issue the necessary instructions."
The secretary leaned back in his chair.
"Well put you back on the lists, of course, that goes without saying," he replied with some hesitation. "But it'll be a bit awkward to send you to the workshops. Tsvetayev is there. He's a member of the Gubernia Committee. We'll have to find something else for you to do."
Korchagin narrowed his eyes.

"I don't intend to interfere with Tsvetayev's work," he said. "I'm going to work at my trade and not as secretary. And since my health is rather poor I would ask you not to assign me to any other job."
The secretary agreed. He scribbled a few words on a slip of paper.
"Give this to Comrade Tufta, he'll make all the arrangements."
In the Personnel Department Pavel found Tufta giving a dressing down to his assistant. Pavel stood for a minute or two listening to the heated exchange, but since it threatened to last for a long time, he broke in.
"You'll finish the argument another time, Tufta. Here's a note for you about fixing up my paper."
Tufta stared. He looked from the paper to Korchagin, until at last it dawned on him, "I'll be damned! So you didn't die after all? Tut, tut, what are we going to do now? You've been struck off the lists. I myself turned in your card to the Central Committee. What's more, you've missed the census, and according to the circular from the Komsomol C.C. those who weren't registered in the census are out. So the only thing you can do is to file an application again in the regular way." Tufta's tone brooked no argument.
Pavel frowned.
"I see you haven't changed, Tufta. The same musty old bureaucrat. When will you learn to be human?"
Tufta sprang up as if a flea had bitten him.
"I would thank you not to lecture me. I am in charge here. Circular instructions are issued to be obeyed and not violated. And you'd better be careful with your accusations!"
With these words, Tufta sat down and demonstratively drew the pile of unopened mail toward him.
Pavel walked slowly to the door, then remembering something, he went back to the desk and picked up the secretary's slip that lay before Tufta. The latter watched him closely. He was a mean spiteful person, with nothing youthful about him, a trifle ridiculous with his big ears that seemed forever on the alert.
"All right," Pavel said in a calm mocking voice. "You can accuse me of disorganising statistics if you like, but, tell me, how on earth do you manage to wangle reprimands for people who go and die without giving formal notice in advance? After all, anyone can get sick if he wants to, or die if he feels like it, there's nothing in the instructions about that, I bet."
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" roared Tufta's assistant, no longer able to preserve his neutrality.
The point of Tufta's pencil broke and he flung it on the floor, but before he had time to retort several people burst into the room, talking and laughing. Okunev was among them. There was much excitement when Pavel was recognised and endless questions were fired at him. A few minutes later another group of young people came in, Olga Yureneva with them. Dazed by the shock and delight of seeing Pavel again, Olga clung to his hand for a long time.
Pavel had to tell his story all over again. The sincere joy of his comrades, their undisguised friendship and sympathy, the warm handclasps and friendly slaps on the back made Pavel forget about Tufta for the moment.
But when he had finished his account of himself and told his comrades about his talk with Tufta there was a chorus of indignant comments. Olga, with an annihilating look at Tufta, marched off to the secretary's office.

"Come on, let's all go to Nezhdanov," cried Okunev. "He'll take care of him." And with these words he took Pavel by the shoulders and the whole group of young friends trooped after Olga into the office of the secretary.
"That Tufta ought to be taken off the job and sent down to the wharves to work under Pankratov for a year. He's a hidebound bureaucrat!" stormed Olga.
The Gubernia Committee secretary listened with an indulgent smile when Okunev, Olga and the others demanded that Tufta be dismissed from the Personnel Department.
"Korchagin will be reinstated without question," he assured Olga. "A new card will be issued him at once. I agree with you that Tufta is a formalist," he went on. "That is his chief failing. But it must be admitted that he has not done so badly on the job. Komsomol personnel statistics wherever I have worked have always been in a state of indescribable chaos, not a single figure could be relied on. In our Personnel Department the statistics are in good order. You know yourselves that Tufta often sits up nights working. Here's how I look at it: he can always be removed, But if his place is taken by some free and easy chap who knows nothing about keeping
records, we may not have any bureaucracy, but neither will we have any order. Let him stay on the job. I'll give him a good talking to. That will help for a while and later on we'll see."
"All right, let him be," Okunev agreed. "Come on, Pavel, let's go to Solomenka. There's a meeting at the club tonight. Nobody knows you're back yet. Think what a surprise they'll get when we announce: 'Korchagin has the floor!' You're a great lad, Pavel, for not dying. What good would you be to the proletariat dead?" And Okunev threw his arm around his friend and piloted him down the corridor.
"Will you come, Olga?"
"Of course I will."
Korchagin did not return to the Pankratovs for dinner, in fact he did not go back there at all that day. Okunev took him to his own room in the House of Soviets. He gave him the best meal he could muster, then placed a pile of newspapers and two thick files of the minutes of the District Komsomol Bureau meetings before him with the advice: "Glance through this stuff. Lots of things happened while you were frittering away your time with the typhus. I'll come back toward evening and we'll go to the club together. You can lie down and take a nap if you get tired."
Stuffing his pockets full with all kinds of papers and documents (Okunev scorned the use of a portfolio on principle and it lay neglected under his bed), the District Committee secretary said good-bye and went out.
When he returned that evening the floor of his room was littered with newspapers and a heap of books had been moved out from under the bed. Some of them were piled on the table. Pavel was sitting on the bed reading the last letters of the Central Committee which he had found under his friend's pillow.
"A fine mess you've made of my quarters, you ruffian!" Okunev cried in mock indignation. "Hey, wait a minute, Comrade! Those are secret documents you're reading! That's what I get for letting a nosy chap like you into my den!"
Pavel, grinning, laid the letter aside.
"This particular one doesn't happen to be secret," he said, "but the one you're using for a lampshade is marked 'confidential'. Look, it's all singed around the edges!"

Okunev took the scorched slip of paper, glanced at the title and struck himself on the forehead in dismay.
"I've been looking for the damn thing for three days! Couldn't imagine where it had got to. Now I remember. Volyntsev made a lampshade out of it the other day and then he himself searched for it high and low." Okunev folded the document carefully and stuffed it under the mattress. "We'll put everything in order later on," he said reassuringly. "Now for a bite and then off to the club. Pull up to the table, Pavel!"
From one pocket he produced a long dried roach wrapped in newspaper and from the other, two slices of bread. He spread the newspaper out on the table, took the roach by the head and whipped it smartly against the table's edge to soften it. Sitting on the table and working vigorously with his jaws, the jolly Okunev gave Pavel all the
news, cracking jokes the while.

At the club Okunev took Korchagin through the back entrance behind the stage. In the corner of the spacious hall, to the right of the stage near the piano sat Talya Lagutina and Anna Borhart with a group of Komsomols from the railway district. Volyntsev, the Komsomol secretary of the railway shops, was sitting opposite Anna. He had a face as ruddy as an August apple, hair and eyebrows the colour of ripe corn. His once black leather jacket was extremely shabby.
Next to him, his elbow resting negligently on the lid of the piano, sat Tsvetayev, a handsome young man with brown hair and finely chiselled lips. His shirt was unbuttoned at the throat.
As he came up to the group, Okunev heard Anna say:
"Some people are doing everything they can to complicate the admission of new members.
Tsvetayev is one."
"The Komsomol is not a picnic ground," Tsvetayev snapped with stubborn disdain.
"Look at Nikolai!" cried Talya, catching sight of Okunev. "He's beaming like a polished samovar tonight!"
Okunev was dragged into the circle and bombarded with questions.
"Where have you been?"
"Let's get started."
Okunev raised his hand for silence.
"Hold on, lads. As soon as Tokarev comes we'll begin."
"There he comes now," remarked Anna.
Sure enough the Secretary of the District Party Committee approached. Okunev ran forward to meet him.
"Come along, Dad, I'm going to take you backstage to meet a friend of mine. Prepare for a shock!"
"What're you up to now?" the old man growled, puffing on his cigarette, but Okunev was already pulling him by the sleeve.

Okunev rang the chairman's bell with such violence that even the noisiest members of the audience were silenced.
Behind Tokarev the leonine head of the genius of the Communist Manifesto, in a frame of evergreen, surveyed the assembly. While Okunev opened the meeting Tokarev could not keep his eyes off Korchagin who stood in the wings waiting for his cue.
"Comrades! Before we get down to the current organisational questions on the agenda, a comrade here has asked for the floor. Tokarev and I move that he be allowed to speak."
A murmur of approval rose from the hall, whereupon Okunev rapped out:
"I call upon Pavel Korchagin to address the meeting!"
At least eighty of the one hundred in the hall knew Korchagin, and when the familiar figure appeared before the footlights and the tall pale young man began to speak, a storm of delighted cries and thunderous applause broke from the audience.
"Dear Comrades!"
Korchagin's voice was steady but he could not conceal his emotion.
"Friends, I have returned to take my place in the ranks. I am happy to be back. I see a great number of my comrades here. I understand that the Solomenka Komsomol has thirty per cent more members than before, and that they've stopped making cigarette lighters in the workshops and yards, and the old carcasses are being hauled out of the railway cemetery for capital repairs.
That means our country is getting a new lease on life and is mustering its strength. That is something to live for! How could I die at a time like this!" Korchagin's eyes lit up in a happy smile.
Amid a storm of applause and greetings he descended the platform and went over to where Anna and Talya were sitting. He shook the hands outstretched in greeting, and then the friends moved up and made room for him between them. Talya laid her hand on his and squeezed it tight. Anna's eyes were still wide with surprise, her eyelashes quivered faintly as she gave Pavel a look of warm welcome.

The days slipped swiftly by. Yet there was nothing monotonous about their passage, for each day brought something new, and as he planned his work in the morning Pavel would note with chagrin that the day was all too short and much of what he had planned remained undone.
Pavel had moved in with Okunev. He worked at the railway shops as assistant electrical fitter.
He had had a long argument with Okunev before the latter agreed to his temporary withdrawal from work in the Komsomol leadership.
"We're too short of people for you to cool your heels in the workshops," Okunev had objected.
"Don't tell me you're ill. I hobbled about with a stick myself for a whole month after the typhus.
You can't fool me, Pavel, I know you, there's something behind all this. Come on, out with it,"Okunev insisted.
"You're right, Kolya, there is. I want to study."
"There you are!" Okunev cried exultantly. "I knew it! Do you think I don't want to study too? It's downright egoism on your part. Expect us to put our shoulders to the wheel while you go off to study. Nothing doing, my lad, tomorrow you start as organiser."
Nevertheless, after a lengthy discussion Okunev gave in.
"Very well, I'll leave you alone for two months. And I hope you appreciate my generosity. But I don't think you'll get along with Tsvetayev, he's a bit too conceited."
Pavel's return to the workshops had put Tsvetayev on the alert. He was certain that Korchagin's coming would mark the beginning of a struggle for leadership. His self-esteem was wounded and he prepared to put up a stiff resistance. He soon saw, however, that he had been mistaken. When Korchagin learned that there was a plan afoot to make him a member of the Komsomol Bureau he went straight to the Komsomol secretary's office and persuaded him to strike the question off the agenda, giving his understanding with Okunev as the excuse. In the Komsomol shop cell Pavel took a political study class, but did not ask for work in the Bureau. Nevertheless, although he had officially no part in the leadership, Pavel's influence was felt in all phases of the collective's work.
In his comradely, unobtrusive fashion he helped Tsvetayev out of difficulties on more than one occasion.
Coming into the shop one day Tsvetayev was amazed to see all the members of the Komsomol cell and some three dozen non-Party lads busy washing windows, scraping many years' accumulation of filth off the machines and carting heaps of rubbish out into the yard. Pavel, armed with a huge mop, was furiously scrubbing the cement floor which was covered with machine oil and grease.
"Spring-cleaning? What's the occasion?" Tsvetayev asked Pavel.
"We're tired of all this muck. The place hasn't been cleaned for a good twenty years, we'll make it look like new in a week," Korchagin replied briefly.
Tsvetayev shrugged his shoulders and went away.
Not content with cleaning out their workshop, the electricians tackled the factory yard. For years the huge yard had served as a dumping ground for all manner of disused equipment. There were hundreds of carriage wheels, and axles, mountains of rusty iron, rails, buffers, axle boxes — several thousand tons of metal lay rusting under the open sky. But the factory management put a stop to the young people's activities.
"We have more important things to attend to. The yard can wait," they were told.
And so the electricians paved a small area of the yard outside the entrance to their shop, placing a wire mat outside the door and left it at that. But inside their shop the cleaning continued after working hours. When Strizh, the chief engineer, dropped in a week later he found the workshop flooded with light. The huge iron barred windows, freed from their heavy layer of dust and oil, now admitted the sunlight which was reflected brightly in the polished copper parts of the diesel engines. The heavy parts of the machines shone with a fresh coat of green paint, and someone had even painted yellow arrows on the spokes of the wheels.
"Well, well..." Strizh muttered in amazement.
In the far corner of the shop a few of the men were finishing their work. Strizh went over. On the way he met Korchagin carrying a tin of paint.
"Just a moment, my friend," the engineer stopped him. "I fully approve of what you have done here. But where did you get that paint? Haven't I given strict orders that no paint is to be used without my permission? We can't afford to waste paint for such purposes. We need all we've got for the engine parts."
"This paint was scraped out of the bottoms of discarded cans. We spent two days on it but we scraped out about twenty-five pounds. We're not breaking any laws here, Comrade Engineer."
The engineer snorted again, but he looked rather sheepish.
"Then carry on, of course. Well, well. Now this is really interesting. How do you explain this ...
what shall we call it ... this voluntary striving for cleanliness in a workshop? All done after working hours, I take it?"
Korchagin detected a note of genuine perplexity in the engineer's voice.
"Of course," he said. "What did you suppose?"
"Yes, but...."
"There is nothing to be surprised at, Comrade Strizh. Who told you that the Bolsheviks are going to leave dirt alone? Wait till we get this thing going properly. We have some more surprises in store for you."
And carefully skirting the engineer so as to avoid splashing him with paint, Korchagin moved on.
Every evening found Pavel in the public library where he lingered until late. He had made friends with all the three librarians, and by using all his powers of persuasion he had finally won the right to browse freely among the books. Propping the ladder against the tall bookcases he would sit there for hours leafing through volume after volume. Most of the books were old. Modern literature occupied one small bookcase — a few odd Civil War pamphlets, Marx's Capital, The Iron Heel by Jack London and several others. Rummaging among the old books he came across Spartacus. He read it in two nights and when he finished it he placed it on the shelf alongside the works of Maxim Gorky. This gradual selection of the more interesting books with a modern revolutionary message lasted for some time.
The librarians did not object.

The calm routine of Komsomol life at the railway shops was suddenly disturbed by what appeared at first to be an insignificant incident: repair worker Kostya Fidin, member of the cell bureau, a sluggish lad with a snub nose and a pock-marked face, broke an expensive imported drill on a piece of iron. The accident was the result of downright carelessness; worse, it looked like deliberate mischief on Fidin's part.
It happened in the morning. Khodorov, senior repair foreman, had told Kostya to drill several holes in an iron plate. Kostya refused at first, but on the foreman's insistence he picked up the iron and started to drill it. The foreman, an exacting taskmaster, was not popular with the workers. A former Menshevik, he took no part in the social life of the plant and did not approve of the Young Communists. But he was an expert at his job and he performed his duties conscientiously.
Khodorov noticed that Kostya was drilling "dry", without using any oil. He hurried over to the machine and stopped it.
"Are you blind or what? Don't you know better than to use a drill that way!" he shouted at Kostya, knowing that the drill would not last long with such handling.
Kostya snapped back at him and restarted the lathe. Khodorov went to the department chief to complain. Kostya in the meantime, leaving the machine running, hurried off to fetch the oiling can so that everything would be in order by the time the chief appeared. When he returned with the oil the drill was broken. The chief submitted a report recommending Fidin's dismissal. The bureau of the Komsomol cell, however, took up the cudgels on Fidin's behalf on the grounds that Khodorov had a grudge against all active Komsomol members. The management insisted on Fidin's dismissal, and the case was put before the Komsomol bureau of the workshops. The fight was on.
Three of the five members of the bureau were in favour of giving Kostya an official reprimand and transferring him to other work. Tsvetayev was one of the three. The other two did not think Fidin should be punished at all.
The bureau meeting to discuss the case was called in Tsvetayev's office. Around a large table covered with red cloth stood several benches and stools made by the Komsomols of the carpenter shops. There were portraits of the leaders on the walls, and the railway workshops' banner was spread over one entire wall behind the table.
Tsvetayev was now a "full-time" Komsomol worker. He was a blacksmith by trade, but being a good organiser had been promoted to a leading post in the Komsomol: he was now a member of the Bureau of the Komsomol District Committee and a member of the Gubernia Committee besides. He was a newcomer to the railway shops. From the first he had taken the reins of management firmly into his hands. Self-assured and hasty in his decisions, he had suppressed the initiative of the other Komsomol members from the outset. He insisted on doing everything himself — even the office had been decorated under his personal supervision — and when he found himself unable to cope with all the work, stormed at his assistants for their inactivity.
He conducted the meeting sprawled in the only soft armchair in the room which had been brought from the club. It was a closed meeting. Khomutov, the Party organiser, had just asked for the floor, when there was a knock on the door which was closed on the latch. Tsvetayev scowled at the interruption. The knock was repeated. Katya Zelenova got up and opened the door. Korchagin stood on the threshold. Katya let him in.
Pavel was making his way to a vacant seat when Tsvetayev addressed him.
"Korchagin, this is a closed meeting of the bureau."
The blood rushed to Pavel's face, and he turned slowly to face the table.
"I know that. I am interested in hearing your opinion on the Fidin case. I have a point to raise in connection with it. What's the matter, do you object to my presence?"
"I don't object, but you ought to know that closed meetings are attended only by bureau members.
The more people there are the harder it is to thrash things out properly. But since you're here you might as well stay."
Korchagin had never suffered such a slight. A crease appeared on his forehead.
"What's all the formality about?" Khomutov remarked disapprovingly, but Korchagin stopped him with a gesture, and sat down. "Well, this is what I wanted to say," Khomutov went on. "It's true that Khodorov belongs to the old school, but something ought to be done about discipline. If all the Komsomols go smashing up drills, there'll be nothing to work with. What's more, we're giving a rotten example to the non-Party workers. In my opinion the lad ought to be given a serious warning."
Tsvetayev did not give him a chance to finish, and began voicing his objections. Ten minutes passed. In the meantime Korchagin saw which way the wind was blowing. When the matter was finally put to the vote he got up and asked for the floor. Tsvetayev reluctantly permitted him to speak.
"I should like to give you my opinion of the Fidin case, Comrades," Pavel began. His voice sounded harsh in spite of himself.
"The Fidin case is a signal, and it is not Kostya's action in itself that's most important. I collected some-figures yesterday." Pavel took a notebook out of his pocket. "I got them from the timekeeper. Now listen carefully: twenty-three per cent of our Komsomols come to work from five to fifteen minutes late every day. That has become a rule. Seventeen per cent don't report for work at all one or two days out of every month; the percentage of absenteeism among young non-Party workers is fourteen per cent. These figures sting worse than a whiplash, Comrades. I jotted down a few more: four per cent of our Party members are absent one day a month, and four per cent report late for work. Of the non-Party workers eleven per cent miss one day in the month while thirteen per cent regularly report late for work. Ninety per cent of breakages are accounted for by young workers, seven per cent of whom are newcomers. The conclusion to be drawn from these figures is that we Komsomols are making a far worse showing than the Party members and adult workers. But the situation is not the same everywhere. The foundry record is excellent, the electricians are not so bad, but the rest are more or less on the same level. In my opinion Comrade Khomutov said only a fraction of what ought to be said about discipline. The mmediate problem now is to straighten out these zigzags. I don't intend to begin agitating here, but we've got to put a stop to carelessness and sloppiness. The old workers are frankly admitting that they used to work much better for the master, for the capitalist, but now we're the masters and there's no excuse for working badly. It's not so much Kostya or any other worker who's to blame. We ourselves, all of us, are at fault because instead of fighting the evil properly we sometimes defend workers like
Kostya under one or another pretext.
"Samokhin and Butylyak have just said here that Fidin is a good lad, one of the best, an active Komsomol and all that. What if he did bust a drill, it could happen to anybody. He's one of us, while the foreman isn't... . But has anyone ever tried to talk to Khodorov? Don't forget that grumbler has thirty years of working experience behind him! We won't talk about his politics. In the given case he is in the right, because he, an outsider, is taking care of state property while we are smashing up valuable tools. What do you call such a state of affairs? I believe that we ought to strike the first blow now and launch an offensive on this sector.
"I move that Fidin be expelled from the Komsomol as a slacker and disorganiser of production.
His case should be discussed in the wall newspaper, and these figures published in an editorial article openly without fear of the consequences. We are strong, we have forces we can rely on.
The majority of the Komsomol members are good workers. Sixty of them have gone through Boyarka and that was a severe test. With their help and their assistance we can iron out the difficulties. Only we've got to change our attitude to the whole business once and for all."
Korchagin, usually calm and reticent, spoke with a passion that surprised Tsvetayev. He was seeing the real Pavel for the first time. He realised that Pavel was right, but he was too cautious to agree with him openly. He took Korchagin's speech as a harsh criticism of the general state of the organisation, as an attempt to undermine his, Tsvetayev's, authority, and he resolved to make short shrift of his opponent. He began his speech by accusing Korchagin of defending the Menshevik Khodorov.
The stormy debate lasted for three hours. Late that night the final point was reached. Defeated by the inexorable logic of facts and having lost the majority to Korchagin, Tsvetayev made a false step. He violated the rules of democracy by ordering Korchagin to leave the room just before the final vote was taken.
"Very well, I shall go, although your behaviour does not do you credit, Tsvetayev. I warn you that if you continue to insist on your viewpoint I shall put the matter before the general meeting tomorrow and I am sure you will not be able to win over the majority there. You are not right, Tsvetayev. I think, Comrade Khomutov, that it is your duty to take up the question with the Party group before the general meeting."
"Don't try to scare me," Tsvetayev shouted defiantly. "I can go to the Party group myself, and what's more I have something to tell them about you. If you don't want to work yourself, don't interfere with those who do."
Pavel closed the door behind him. He passed his hand over his burning forehead and went through the empty office to the exit. Outside on the street he took a deep breath of air, lit a cigarette and set out for the little house on Baty Hill where Tokarev lived.
He found the old mechanic at supper.
"Come on, let's hear the news. Darya, bring the lad a plate of gruel," said Tokarev, inviting Pavel to the table.
Darya Fominishna, Tokarev's wife, as tall and buxom as her husband was short and spare, placed a plate of millet gruel before Pavel and wiping her moist lips with the edge of her white apron said kindly: "Set to, dearie."
Pavel had been a frequent visitor at the Tokarevs' in the days when the old man worked in the repair shops, and had spent many a pleasant evening with the old couple, but this was his first visit since his return to the city.
The old mechanic listened attentively to Pavel's story, working busily with his spoon and making no comment apart from an occasional grunt. When he had finished his porridge, he wiped his moustache with his handkerchief and cleared his throat.
"You're right, of course," he said. "It's high time the question was put properly. There are more Komsomols down at the workshops than anywhere else in the district and that's where we ought to start. So you and Tsvetayev have come to blows after all, eh? Too bad. He's a bit of an upstart, of course. You used to get on with the lads, didn't you? By the way, what exactly is your job at the shops?"
"I'm working in one of the departments. And generally I'm in on everything that's doing. In my own cell I lead a political study circle."
"What about the bureau?"
Korchagin hesitated.
"I thought that while I still felt a bit shaky on my legs, and since I wanted to do some studying, I wouldn't take part officially in the leadership for a while."
"So that's it!" Tokarev cried in disapproval. "Now, my boy, if it weren't for your health I'd give you a good scolding. How do you feel now, by the way? Stronger?"
"Good, and now get to work in earnest. Stop beating about the bush. No good will come of sitting on the sidelines! You're just trying to evade responsibility and you know it. You must put things to rights tomorrow. Okunev will hear from me about this." Tokarev's tone showed his annoyance.
"No, dad, you leave him alone," Pavel hastened to object. "I asked him not to give me any work."
Tokarev whistled in scorn.
"You did, eh, and he let you off? Oh well, what can we do with you, Komsomols. . . . Will you read me the paper, son, the way you used to? My eyes aren't as good as they might be."

The Party bureau at the workshops upheld the decision of the majority in the Komsomol bureau.
The Party and Komsomol groups undertook the important and difficult task of setting an example of labour discipline. Tsvetayev was given a thorough dressing down at the bureau. He tried to bluster at first but pinned to the wall by Lopakhin, the Secretary, an elderly man with the waxen pallor of the consumptive, Tsvetayev gave in and partly admitted his error.
The following day the wall newspaper carried a series of articles that caused something of a sensation at the railway shops. The articles were read aloud and hotly discussed, and the unusually well-attended youth meeting held that same evening dealt exclusively with the problems they raised.
Fidin was expelled from the Komsomol, and a new member was added to the bureau in charge of political education — Korchagin.
Unusual quiet reigned in the hall as the meeting listened to Nezhdanov outline the new tasks confronting the railway workshops at this new stage.
After the meeting Tsvetayev found Korchagin waiting for him outside.
"I have something to say to you," Pavel said.
"What about?" Tsvetayev asked sourly.
Pavel took him by the arm and after they had gone a few yards paused at a bench.
"Shall we sit down for a moment?" he suggested and set the example.
The burning tip of Tsvetayev's cigarette now glowed red, now faded.
"What have you got against me, Tsvetayev?"
There was silence for a few minutes.
"Oh, so that's it? I thought you wanted to talk business," Tsvetayev said feigning surprise, but his voice was unsteady.
Pavel laid his hand firmly on the other's knee.
"Get off your high horse, Dimka. That sort of talk is only for diplomats. You tell me this: why have you taken such a dislike to me?"
Tsvetayev shifted uneasily in his seat.
"What are you talking about? Why should I have anything against you? I offered you work, didn't I? You refused, and now you're accusing me of trying to keep you out."
But his words carried no conviction, and Pavel, his hand still on Tsvetayev's knee, went on with feeling:
"If you won't say it, I will. You think I want to cramp your style, you think it's your job I'm after.
If you didn't, we wouldn't have quarrelled over the Kostya affair. Relations like these can ruin our work. If this concerned only the two of us it wouldn't matter — I wouldn't care what you thought of me. But from tomorrow we'll be working together. How can we carry on like this? Now listen.
There must be no rift between us. You and I are both workingmen. If our cause is dearer to you than everything else you'll give me your hand on it, and tomorrow we'll start as friends. But unless you throw all this nonsense out of your head and steer clear of intrigues, you and I will fight like blazes over every setback in the work that results. Now here's my hand, take it, while it is still proffered to you in friendship."
A deep sense of satisfaction swept Korchagin as Tsvetayev's rough fingers closed over his palm.

A week passed. The workday was coming to an end in the District Committee of the Party. Quiet settled over the offices. But Tokarev was still at his desk. He was sitting in his armchair studying the latest reports, when a knock came at the door.
"Come in!"
Korchagin entered and placed two filled out questionnaire blanks on the Secretary's desk.
"What's this?"
"It's an end to irresponsibility, Dad. And high time, if you ask me. If you are of the same opinion I would be grateful for your support."
Tokarev glanced at the heading, looked up quickly at the young man, then picked up his pen.
Under the head: "Party standing of comrades recommending Pavel Andreyevich Korchagin for candidate membership in the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)" he wrote "1903" with a firm hand, and signed his name.
"There, my son. I know that you will never bring disgrace upon my old grey head."

The room was suffocatingly hot. One thought was uppermost in everyone's mind: to get away to the cool shade of the chestnut trees of Solomenka as quickly as possible.
"Wind up, Pavel, I can't stand another minute of this," implored Tsvetayev, who was sweating profusely. Katyusha and the others supported him.
Pavel Korchagin closed the book and the study circle broke up.
As they rose the old-fashioned Ericson telephone on the wall jangled. Tsvetayev, who answered its summons, had to shout to make himself heard above the clamour of voices in the room.
He hung up the receiver and turned to Korchagin.
"There are two diplomatic railway carriages down at the station belonging to the Polish consulate.
Their lights are out, something's gone wrong with the wiring. The train leaves in an hour. Get some tools together and run down there, Pavel. It's urgent."
The two sleepers gleaming with polished brass and plate glass stood at the first platform. The saloon-carriage with its wide windows was brightly lit. But the neighbouring carriage was in darkness.
Pavel went up to the steps of the luxurious carriage and gripped the handrail with the intention of entering the carriage.
A figure hastily detached itself from the station wall and seized him by the shoulder.
"Where are you going?"
The voice was familiar. Pavel turned and took in the leather jacket, broad-peaked cap, the thin,hooked nose and the suspicious look in the eyes.
It was Artyukhin. He had not recognised Pavel at first, but now his hand fell from Pavel's shoulder, and his grim features relaxed although his glance paused questioningly on the instrument case.
"Where were you heading for?" he said in a less formal tone.
Pavel briefly explained. Another figure appeared from behind the carriage.
"Just a moment, I'll call their guard." Several people in expensive travelling clothes were sitting in the saloon-carriage when Korchagin entered on the heels of the guard. A woman sat with her back to the door at a table covered with a damask cloth. When Pavel entered she was chatting with a tall officer. They stopped talking when the electrician appeared.

Korchagin made a rapid examination of the wiring which ran from the last lamp into the corridor, and finding it in order, left the carriage to continue his search for the damage. The stout, bullnecked guard, in a uniform resplendent with large brass buttons bearing the Polish eagle, kept close at his heels.
"Let's try the next carriage, everything is in order here. The trouble must be there."
The guard turned the key in the door and they passed into the darkened corridor. Training his torch on the wiring Pavel soon found the spot where the short circuit had occurred. A few minutes later the first lamp went on in the corridor suffusing it with opaque light.
"The bulbs inside the compartment will have to be changed. They have burned out," Korchagin said to his guide.
"In that case I'll have to call the lady, she has the key." Not wishing to leave the electrician alone in the carriage, the guard bade him to follow.
The woman entered the compartment first, Korchagin followed. The guard remained standing in the doorway, blocking the entrance. Pavel noted the two elegant leather travelling bags, a silken cloak flung carelessly on the seat, a bottle of perfume and a small malachite vanity case on the table under the window. The woman sat down in a corner of the couch, patted her fair hair and watched the electrician at work.
"Will madam permit me to leave for a moment?" the guard said obsequiously, inclining his bull neck with some difficulty. "The Major has asked for some cold beer."
"You may go," replied the woman in an affected voice.
The exchange had been in Polish.
A shaft of light from the corridor fell on the woman's shoulder. Her exquisite gown of fine silk made by the best Paris dress designers left her shoulders and arms bare. In the lobe of each delicate ear a diamond drop blazed and sparkled. Korchagin could only see one ivory shoulder and arm. The face was in shadow. Working swiftly with his screwdriver Pavel changed the outlet in the ceiling and a moment later the lights went on in the compartment. Now he had only to examine the other bulb over the sofa on which the woman sat.
"I need to test that bulb," Korchagin said, pausing in front of her.
"Oh yes, I am in your way," the lady replied in perfect Russian. She rose lightly and stood close beside him. Now he had a full view of her. The arched eyebrows and the pursed, disdainful lips were familiar. There could be no doubt of it: it was Nelly Leszczinskaya, the lawyer's daughter.
She could not help noticing his look of astonishment. But though Pavel had recognised her, he had altered too much in these four years for her to realise that this electrician was her troublesome neighbour.
With a frown of displeasure at his surprised stare, she went over to the door of the compartment and stood there tapping the heel of her patent-leather shoe impatiently. Pavel turned his attention to the second bulb. He unscrewed it, raised it to the light and almost as much to his own surprise as hers he asked in Polish:
"Is Victor here as well?"
Pavel had not turned when he spoke. He did not see Nelly's face, but the long silence that followed his query bore testimony to her confusion.
"Why, do you mean you know him?"
"Yes, and very well too. We were neighbours, you know." Pavel turned to look at her.
"You're . . . you're Pavel, the son. . . ." Nelly broke off in confusion.
". . .Of your cook," Korchagin came to her assistance.
"But how you have grown! You were a wild youngster when I knew you."
Nelly examined him coolly from head to foot.
"Why do you ask about Victor? As far as I remember you and he were not exactly friends," she said in her cooing voice. This unexpected encounter promised to be a pleasant relief to her boredom.
The screw swiftly sank into the wall.
"There is a certain debt Victor hasn't paid yet. Tell him when you see him that I haven't lost hope of seeing it settled."
"Tell me how much he owes you and I shall pay you on his account."
She knew very well what debt Korchagin had in mind. She knew that her brother had betrayed Pavel to the Petlyura men, but she could not resist the temptation to make fun of this "ragamuffin".Korchagin said nothing.
"Tell me, is it true that our house has been looted and is now falling into decay? I daresay the summer house and the bushes have all been torn up," Nelly inquired wistfully.
"The house is not yours any more, it is ours, and we are not likely to destroy our own property."
Nelly gave a mocking little laugh.
"Oh, I see you have been well schooled! Incidentally, this carriage belongs to the Polish mission and here I am the mistress and you are the servant just as you always were. You see, you are working now to give me light so that I may lie comfortably on the sofa and read. Your mother used to wash clothes for us and you used to carry water. We meet again under precisely the same circumstances."
Her voice rang with malicious triumph. Scraping the insulation off the end of the wire with his penknife, Pavel gave her a look of undisguised contempt.
"I wouldn't hammer a single rusty nail for you, but since the bourgeoisie have invented diplomats we can play the same game. We don't cut off their heads, in fact we're even polite to them, which is more than can be said of yourself."
Nelly's cheeks crimsoned.
"What would you do with me if you succeeded in taking Warsaw? I suppose you would make mincemeat out of me, or perhaps take me for your mistress?"
She stood in the doorway in a graceful pose; her sensitive nostrils that were no strangers to cocaine quivered. The light went on over the sofa. Pavel straightened up.
"You? Who would bother to kill the likes of you! You'll croak from too much cocaine anyway. I'd sooner take a whore than the likes of you!"
He picked up his tool case and strode to the door. Nelly moved aside to let him pass. He was half way down the corridor when he heard the curse she spat after him: "Damned Bolshevik!"

The following evening as he was on his way to the library Pavel met Katyusha Zelenova. She caught hold of his sleeve with her tiny hand and laughingly barred his path.
"Where are you dashing off to, old politics-and-enlightenment?"
"To the library, auntie, let me pass," Pavel replied in the same bantering tone. He took her gently by the shoulders and shifted her aside. Katyusha shook herself free and walked along beside him.
"Listen here, Pavel! You can't study all the time, you know. I'll tell you what — let's go to a party tonight. The crowd is meeting at Zina Gladysh's. The girls keep asking me to bring you. But you never think of anything but political study nowadays. Don't you ever want to have some fun? It will do you good to miss your reading for once," Katyusha coaxed.
"What sort of a party is it? What are we going to do there?"
"What are we going to do!" Katyusha smilingly mocked him. "We're not going to say prayers, we're going to have a good time, that's all. You play the accordion, don't you? I've never heard you play! Do come and play for us this evening, won't you? Just to please me? Zina's uncle has an accordion but he can't play for anything. The girls are very much interested about you, you old bookworm. Who said Komsomols mustn't enjoy themselves? Come along, before I get sick of persuading you or else we'll quarrel and then I shan't talk to you for a month."
Katyusha was a house painter, a good comrade and a first-rate Komsomol member. Pavel did not want to hurt her feelings and so he agreed, although he felt awkward and out of place at such parties.
A noisy crowd of young people had gathered at engine-driver Giadysh's home. The adults had retired to another room, leaving some fifteen lads and girls in possession of the large living room and porch which gave onto a small front garden. A game called "feeding the pigeons" was in progress when Katyusha led Pavel through the garden into the porch. In the middle of the porch stood two chairs back to back. At a call from the hostess who was leading the game, a boy and a girl seated themselves on the chairs with their backs to each other, and when she cried "Now feed the pigeons!" the couple leaned back until their lips met, much to the delight of the onlookers.
After that they played "the ring" and "postman's knock", both kissing games, although in "postman's knock" the players avoided publicity by doing their kissing not on the brightly lit porch but in the room with the lights out. For those who did not care for these two games, there was a pack of "flower flirt" cards on a small round table in the corner. Pavel's neighbour, a girl of about sixteen with pale blue eyes who introduced herself as Mura, handed him one of the cards with a coy glance and said softly:
A few years back Pavel had attended parties of this kind, and if he had not taken a direct part in the frivolities he had not thought them anything out of the ordinary. But now that he had broken for ever with petty-bourgeois small-town life, the party struck him as disgusting and silly.
Yet here he was with the "flower" card in his hands. Opposite the "violet" he read the words: "I like you very much."
Pavel looked up at the girl. She returned his look without a trace of embarrassment.
His question sounded rather flat. But Mura had her answer ready.
"Rose," she murmured and handed him another card.
The card with the "rose" bore the legend:
"You are my ideal." Korchagin turned to the girl and making a conscious effort to soften his tone, asked:
"Why do you go in for this nonsense?"

Mura was so taken aback that she did not know what to say.
"Don't you like my message?" she said with a capricious pout.
Pavel ignored the question. Yet he was curious to know more about her. He asked her a number of questions which she willingly answered. Within a few minutes he had learned that she attended secondary school, that her father worked at the repair shops and that she had known Pavel for a long time and had wanted to make his acquaintance.
"What is your surname?" Pavel asked.
"Your brother is secretary of the Komsomol cell at the yards, isn't he?"
Now it was clear to him that Volyntsev, one of the most active Komsomols in the district, was allowing his own sister to grow up an ignorant little philistine. She and her friends had attended innumerable kissing parties like this in the past year. She told Pavel she had seen him several times at her brother's place.
Mura felt that Pavel did not approve of her. Noticing the scornful smile on his face, she flatly refused to obey the summons to come and "feed the pigeons". They sat talking for another few minutes while Mura told him more about herself. Presently Katyusha came over to them.
"Shall I bring you the accordion?" she asked, adding with a mischievous glance at Mura, "I see you've made friends?"
Pavel made Katyusha sit down beside them, and taking advantage of the noise and laughter around them, he said:
"I'm not going to play. Mura and I are leaving."
"Oho! So you've fallen for her, have you?" Katyusha teased.
"That's right. Tell me, Katyusha, are there any other Komsomols here besides ourselves? Or are we the only 'pigeon fanciers'?"
"They've stopped that nonsense," Katyusha said placatingly. "We're going to dance now."
Korchagin rose.
"All right, old girl, you can dance, but Mura and I are going."

One evening Anna Borhart dropped in to Okunev's place and found Korchagin there alone.
"Are you very busy, Pavel? Would you care to come with me to the plenary session of the Town Soviet? I would rather not go alone, especially since we'll be returning late."
Korchagin agreed at once. He was about to take the Mauser from the nail over his bed, but decided it was too heavy. Instead he pulled Okunev's pistol out of the drawer and slipped it into his pocket.
He left a note for Okunev and put the key where his room-mate would find it.
At the theatre where the plenum was being held they met Pankratov and Olga Yureneva. They all sat together in the hall and during the intermissions strolled in a group on the square. As Anna had expected, the meeting ended very late.
"Perhaps you'd better come to my place for the night?" Olga suggested. "It's late and you've a long way to go."
But Anna declined. "Pavel has agreed to see me home," she said.
Pankratov and Olga set off down the main street and the other two took the road up the hill to Solomenka.
It was a dark, stuffy night. The city was asleep as the young people made their way through the deserted streets. Gradually the sound of their steps and voices died away. Pavel and Anna walked at a brisk pace away from the centre of the town. At the market place they were stopped by a patrol who examined their papers and let them pass. They crossed the boulevard and came out onto a dark silent street which cut across a vacant lot. Turning left, they continued along the highway parallel to the main railway warehouses, a long row of gloomy and forbidding concrete buildings. Anna was seized by a vague feeling of apprehension. She peered anxiously into the
darkness, giving nervous jerky answers to her companion's questions. When a sinister shadow turned out to be nothing more terrible than a telephone pole, she laughed aloud and confided her nervousness to Pavel. She took him by the arm and the pressure of his shoulder against hers reassured her.
"I am only twenty-three but I'm as nervous as an old woman. If you think I'm a coward, you are mistaken. But somehow my nerves are all on edge tonight. With you here though I feel quite safe, and I'm really ashamed of my fears."
And indeed Pavel's calmness, the warm glow of his cigarette which for an instant lit up part of his face, revealing the courageous sweep of his brows — all this drove away the terrors evoked by the dark night, the loneliness of the spot and the story they had just heard at the meeting about a horrible murder committed the night before on the outskirts of town. The warehouses were left behind. They crossed the plank spanning a small creek and continued along the main road to the tunnel which ran under the railway line and connected this section of the town with the railway district.
The station building was now far behind them to the right. A train was pulling into a siding beyond the engine-shed. They were already on home ground. Up above on the railway track the coloured lights of switches and semaphores twinkled in the darkness, and over by the shed a shunting engine on its way home for the night sighed wearily.
Above the mouth of the tunnel a street lamp hung from a rusty hook. The wind swayed it gently, causing its murky yellow light to dance on the tunnel walls.
A small cottage stood solitary by the side of the highway some ten yards from the tunnel entrance.
Two years ago it had been hit by a heavy shell which had burnt out the interior and badly damaged the facade, so that it was now one huge gaping hole, and it stood there like a beggar on the roadside exhibiting its deformity. A train roared over the embankment above.
"We're nearly home now," Anna said with a sigh of relief.
Pavel made a furtive attempt to extricate his arm. But Anna would not release it. They walked past the ruined house.
Suddenly something crashed behind them. There was a sound of running feet, hoarse breathing.
They were overtaken.
Korchagin jerked his arm but Anna, petrified with fear, clung wildly to it. And by the time he was able to tear it loose, it was too late; his neck was caught in an iron grip. Another moment and he was swung round to face his assailant. The hand crept up to his throat and, twisting his tunic collar until it all but choked him, held him facing the muzzle of a revolver that slowly described an arc before his eyes.
Pavel's fascinated eyes followed the arc with superhuman tension. Death stared at him through the muzzle of the revolver, and he had neither the strength nor the will to tear his eyes from that muzzle. He waited for the end. But his assailant did not fire, and Pavel's dilated eyes saw the bandit's face, saw the huge skull, the heavy jaw, the black shadow of unshaven beard. But the eyes under the wide peak of the cap were invisible.
Out of the corner of his eye Korchagin had one brief and stark glimpse of the chalk-white face of Anna whom one of the three dragged into the gaping hole in the wall at that moment. Twisting her arms cruelly he flung her onto the ground. Another shadow leapt towards them; Pavel only saw its reflection on the tunnel wall. He heard the scuffle within the ruined house behind him. Anna was fighting desperately; her choking cry broke off abruptly as a cap was stuffed against her mouth.
The large-skulled ruffian who had Korchagin at his mercy, was drawn to the scene of the rape like a beast to its prey. He was evidently the leader of the gang and the role of passive observer under the circumstances did not suit him. This youngster he had covered was just a greenhorn, looked like one of those "railway yard softies". Nothing to fear from a snotnose like him. Give him a couple of good knocks on the head and tell him to cut along over the field and he'd run all the way to town without looking back. He relaxed his hold.
"All right you, hop it, clear out the way you came, but no squealin', mind, or you'll get a bullet in your neck." He pressed the barrel of the gun against Korchagin's forehead. "Hop it, now," he said in a hoarse whisper and lowered his gun to show that his victim need not fear a bullet in the back.
Korchagin staggered back and began to run sideways keeping his eyes on his assailant. The ruffian, thinking the youngster was still afraid that he would shoot, turned and made for the ruined house.
Korchagin's hand flew to his pocket. If only he could be quick enough! He swung round, thrust his left hand forward, took swift aim and fired.
The bandit realised his mistake too late. The bullet tore into his side before he had time to raise his hand.
The blow sent him reeling against the tunnel wall with a low howl, and clawing at the wall he slowly sank to the ground. A shadow slid out of the house and made for the gully below.
Korchagin sent another bullet in pursuit. A second shadow bent double darted toward the inky depths of the tunnel. A shot rang out. The dark shape, sprinkled with the dust from the bullet-shattered concrete, leapt aside and vanished into the blackness. Once again the Browning rent the night's stillness. Beside the wall the large-headed bandit writhed in his death agony.
Korchagin helped Anna to her feet. Stunned and shaken, she stared at the bandit's convulsions, unable to believe that she was safe.
Korchagin dragged her away into the darkness back toward the town and away from the circle of light. As they ran toward the railway station, lights were already twinkling on the embankment near the tunnel and a rifle shot rang out on the track.

By the time they reached Anna's flat, on Baty Hill, the cocks were crowing. Anna lay down on the bed. Korchagin sat by the table, smoking a cigarette and watching the grey spiral of smoke
floating upward. ... He had just killed for the fourth time in his life.
Is there such a thing as courage, he wondered. Something that manifests itself always in its most perfect form? Reliving all his sensations he admitted to himself that in those first few seconds with the black sinister eye of the gun muzzle upon him fear had laid its icy grip on his heart. And was it only because of his weak eyesight and the fact that he had had to shoot with his left hand that those two shadows had been able to escape? No. At the distance of a few paces his bullets would have found their mark, but tension and haste, sure signs of nervousness, had made him waver.
The light from the table lamp fell on his face. Anna studied his features anxiously. But his eyes were calm; only the knitted brow showed that he was deep in thought.
"What are you thinking about, Pavel?"
His thoughts, startled by the sudden question, floated away like smoke beyond the circle of light, and he said the first thing that came into his head:
"I must go over to the Commandant's Office. This business must be reported at once."
He rose with reluctance, conscious of a great weariness.
She clung to his hand for she shrank from being left alone. Then she saw him to the door and stood on the threshold until he had vanished into the night.
Korchagin's report cleared up the mystery of the murder that had puzzled the railway guards. The body was identified at once as that of a notorious criminal named Fimka Death-Skull, a murderer and bandit with a long prison record.
The next day everybody was talking about the incident by the tunnel. As it happened that incident was the cause of an unexpected clash between Pavel and Tsvetayev.
Tsvetayev came into the workshop in the middle of the shift and asked Korchagin to step outside.
He led the way in silence to a remote corner of the corridor. He was extremely agitated, and did not seem to know how to begin. At last he blurted out:
"Tell me what happened yesterday."
"I thought you knew?"
Tsvetayev jerked his shoulders uneasily. Pavel was unaware that the tunnel incident affected Tsvetayev more keenly than the others. He did not know that, for all his outward indifference, the blacksmith had formed a deep attachment for Anna Borhart. He was not the only one who was attracted to her, but he was seriously smitten. Lagutina had just told him what had happened the night before at the tunnel and he was now tormented by one question that had remained unanswered. He could not put the question bluntly to Pavel, yet he had to know the answer. His better self told him that his fears were selfish and base, yet in the conflict of emotions that seethed
within him the savage and primitive prevailed.
"Listen, Korchagin," he said hoarsely. "This is strictly between ourselves. I know you don't want to talk about it for Anna's sake, but you can surely trust me. Tell me this, while that bandit had you covered did the others rape Anna?"
He lowered his eyes in confusion before he finished speaking.
Dimly Korchagin began to see what was in his mind. "If he cared nothing for Anna he would not be so upset. But if Anna is dear to him, then...." And Pavel burned at the insult to Anna the question implied.
"Why do you ask?"
Tsvetayev mumbled something incoherent. He felt that Pavel understood what was in question and he lost his temper:
"Don't beat about the bush. All I want is a straight answer."
"Do you love Anna?"

There was a long silence. At last Tsvetayev forced out: "Yes."
Korchagin, suppressing his anger with an effort, turned and strode down the corridor without looking back.

One night Okunev, who had been hovering uncertainly around his friend's bed for some time,finally sat down on the edge and laid his hand on the book Pavel was reading.
"Listen, Pavel, there's something I've got to get off my chest. On the one hand, it mightn't seem important, but on the other, it's quite the reverse. There's been a misunderstanding between me and Talya Lagutina. You see, at first, I liked her quite a bit." Okunev scratched his head sheepishly,but seeing no sign of laughter on his friend's face, he took courage. "But then, Talya .. . well, you know. All right, I won't give you all the details, you know how it is. Yesterday she and I decided
to hitch up and see how it works out. I'm twenty-two, we're both of age. We want to live together on an equality basis. What do you think?"
Korchagin pondered the question.
"What can I say, Kolya? You are both friends of mine, we're all members of the same clan, and we have everything else in common. Talya's a very nice girl. It's all plain sailing."
The next day Korchagin moved over to the workers' hostel, and a few days later Anna gave a party, a modest Communist party without food and drink, in honour of Talya and Nikolai. It was an evening of reminiscences, and readings of excerpts from favourite books. They sang many songs and sang them well; the rousing melodies echoed far and wide. Later on, Katyusha Zelenova and Volyntseva brought an accordion, and the rich rolling basses and silvery cadences filled the room. That evening Pavel played even better than usual, and when to everyone's delight the hulking Pankratov flung himself into the dance, Pavel forgot the new melancholy style he had adopted and played with his old abandon.

When Denikin gets to know
Of old Kolchak's overthrow,
Oh, how crazy he will go!

The accordion sang of the past, of the years of storm and stress and of today's friendship, struggles and joys. But when the instrument was handed over to Volyntsev and the whirling rhythm of the "Yablochko" dance rang out, Korchagin surprised everyone by breaking into a wild tap dance —the third and last time he was to dance in his life.




























































































































































































































































































































































































































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