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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?"
"Yes."
"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:
"Violet."
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.
"Why?"
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.
"Volyntseva."
"Your brother is secretary of the Komsomol cell at the yards, isn't he?"
"Yes."
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.

青春胜利了。伤寒没有能夺走保尔的生命。保尔已经是第四次跨过死亡的门槛,又回到了人间。卧床一个月之后,苍白瘦削的保尔终于站起来,迈着颤巍巍的双腿,扶着墙壁,在房间里试着走动。母亲搀着他走到窗口,他向路上望了很久。

积雪融化了,小水洼闪闪发光。外面已经是乍暖还寒的早春天气了。

紧靠窗户的樱桃树枝上,神气十足地站着一只灰胸脯的麻雀,它不时用狡猾的小眼睛偷看保尔。

“怎么样,冬天咱们总算熬过来了吧?”保尔用指头敲着窗户,低声说。

母亲吃惊地看了他一眼。

“你在那儿跟谁说话?”

“跟麻雀……它飞走了,真狡猾。”他无力地笑了笑。

百花盛开的春天到来了。保尔开始考虑回基辅的问题。他已经康复到能够走路了,不过体内还潜伏着别的什么病。有一天,他在园子里散步,突然感到脊椎一阵剧痛,随即摔倒在地上。他费了好大劲,才慢慢挪到屋里。第二天,医生给他做了详细的检查,摸到他脊椎上有一个深坑,惊讶地叫了一声,问:“这儿怎么有个坑?”

“大夫,这是公路上的石头给崩的。在罗夫诺城下,一颗三吋炮弹在我背后的公路上炸开了花……”

“那你是怎么走路的?没什么影响吗?”

“没有。当时我躺了两个来钟头,接着又继续骑马了。这是头一回发作。”

医生皱着眉头,仔细地检查了那个坑。

“亲爱的,这可是非常讨厌的事情。脊椎是不喜欢这种震动的。但愿它以后别再发作了。穿上衣服吧,柯察金同志。”

医生掩饰不住自己的忧虑,同情地看着这个病人。

阿尔焦姆住在他老婆斯捷莎的娘家,斯捷莎年纪不大,长得很丑。她家是贫穷的农民。有一天,保尔顺路去看阿尔焦姆。在肮脏的小院子里,有一个邋遢的斜眼小男孩在跑着玩。

他一看见保尔,就毫不客气地用小眼睛瞪着他,一面专心致志地抠鼻子,一面问:“你要干什么?是来偷东西的吧?最好快走,我妈妈可厉害啦!”

这时,破旧的矮木房的小窗户打开了,阿尔焦姆在叫他:“进来吧,保夫鲁沙!”

一个脸黄得像羊皮纸的老太婆,手里拿着火叉子,在灶边忙着。她冷冷地瞧了保尔一眼,让保尔走过去,接着把锅勺敲得丁当乱响。

两个留短辫子的大女孩,急忙爬到炉炕上,像没有见过世面的野蛮人,好奇地探头打量着客人。

阿尔焦姆坐在桌子旁,有点难为情。他的婚事,母亲和保尔都不赞成。他是个血统工人,不知道为什么竟跟相处了三年的石匠女儿、美丽的被服厂女工加莉娜断绝了关系,同难看的斯捷莎结了婚,入赘到这个没有男劳动力的五口之家。

每天从机车库下工以后,他的全部精力都花在犁杖上,重整那份衰败的家业。

阿尔焦姆知道,保尔不赞成他,曾说他投入了“小资产阶级自发势力”的怀抱,因此,他观察着弟弟,看他对这里的一切有什么反应。

兄弟俩坐了一会儿,说了一阵见面时常说的那些没有什么意思的寒暄话,保尔就要起身告辞。阿尔焦姆不让他走。

“等一等,跟我们一起吃点东西吧,斯捷莎这就拿牛奶来。

这么说,你明天就要走?你身体还很弱呢,保尔。”

斯捷莎走进房里,同保尔打过招呼,就叫阿尔焦姆到打谷场帮她搬东西。屋子里就剩下保尔和那个不爱答理人的老太婆了。窗外传来了教堂的钟声,老太婆放下火叉子,不满意地嘟哝着:“啊!我主耶稣,我成天忙这些鬼事情,连祷告都没工夫了!”她摘下脖子上的披巾,斜眼看着客人,走到屋子的一个角落,那里挂着年久发黑、面带愁容的圣像。她捏着三个瘦骨嶙峋的手指,在胸前划了一个十字。

“我们在天上的父,愿人都尊你的名为圣……”她嚅动着干瘪的嘴唇,小声说。

院子里,小男孩一下子骑到一只耷拉着大耳朵的黑猪身上。他双手紧紧抓住猪鬃,两只赤脚拼命踢它,高声吆喝着,弄得那只猪团团打转,哼哼乱叫。

“驾!驾!走啊,开步走!吁!别胡闹!”

猪驮着孩子满院乱跑,想把他甩下来,可是那个斜眼的调皮鬼却骑得很稳当。

老太婆停止了祈祷,把头探出窗外,喊道:“我叫你骑,摔不死你!快下来,你怎么不瘟死呢!给我滚开!你这小疯子。”

那只猪到底把骑手甩下来了。老太婆满意了,她又回到圣像跟前,做出满脸虔诚的样子,继续祈祷:“愿你的国降临……”

男孩哭哭啼啼,满脸泪痕,走到门口,用袖子揩着摔伤的鼻子,疼得哼哼唧唧地喊:“妈妈呀——我要奶渣饺子!”

老太婆转过身来,恶狠狠地骂道:“你这个斜眼鬼,连祷告也不让我做。狗崽子,我这就让你吃个够!……”说着,就从凳子上抓起一根皮鞭。男孩立刻跑得无影无踪了。那两个女孩子在炉灶后面扑哧一声,偷偷地笑了。

老太婆又第三次去祈祷。

保尔没有等哥哥回来,就站起身来走了。他关栅栏门的时候,看见老太婆从靠边的小窗户探出头来。她在监视他。

“什么鬼迷住了哥哥的心窍,把他勾引到这儿来了?现在他到死也摆脱不掉了。斯捷莎每年给他生一个孩子,他会像甲虫掉在粪堆里,越陷越深,弄不好连机车库的工作也会丢掉。可我原来还想吸引他参加政治活动呢。”保尔走在小城阒无人迹的街道上,悒悒不乐地想。

但是,他想到明天就要离开这里,回到那个大城市去,那里有他的朋友和心爱的人们,他又高兴了。那个大城市的雄伟的景象,蓬勃的生气,川流不息的人群,电车的轰隆声,汽车的喇叭声都使他为之神往。然而最吸引他的,还是那些巨大的石头厂房和熏黑了的车间,机器,还有那滑轮的轻微的沙沙声。他向往那巨轮飞速旋转、空气中散发着机油气味的地方,向往那已经习惯了的一切。可是在这里,在这个僻静的小城里,保尔漫步街头,心里却有一种难言的怅惘。难怪保尔觉得这个小城变得陌生和无聊了。连白天出去散散步,都会惹得人心里不痛快。比如说,当他从那些坐在台阶上闲扯的长舌妇跟前走过的时候,常常听到她们急促地这样议论:“瞧,姐妹们,哪儿来的这么个丑八怪?”

“看样子,是个痨病鬼。”

“那件皮上衣倒挺阔气,准是偷来的……”

还有许多诸如此类令人厌恶的事情。

他跟这些早就一刀两断,对他来说,那个大城市变得更亲切、更可爱了。那里有朝气蓬勃、意志坚强的阶级弟兄,有劳动。

保尔不知不觉走到松林跟前,在岔路口停住了。右边是阴森森的老监狱,有一道高高的尖头木栅栏,把它和松林隔开。监狱后面是医院的白色楼房。

就是在这里,在这空旷的广场上,瓦莉亚和她的同志们被绞死了。保尔在原来设置绞架的地方默默地站了一会儿,然后走向陡坡,顺坡下去,到了埋葬烈士的墓地。

不知道是哪个有心人,在坟墓周围摆上了用云杉枝编的花圈,像给这块小小的墓地修了一道绿色的围墙。陡坡上挺拔的松树高高矗立,峡谷的斜坡上绿草如茵。

这里是小城的边缘,寂静而冷清。松林在低语,春天的大地在复苏,散发着潮湿的泥土气息。同志们就是在这里英勇就义的。他们为那些出生即贫贱、落地便为奴的人能过上美好的生活,献出了自己的生命。

保尔慢慢地摘下了帽子。悲痛,巨大的悲痛,充满了他的心。

人最宝贵的是生命。生命每个人只有一次。人的一生应当这样度过:回首往事,他不会因为虚度年华而悔恨,也不会因为卑鄙庸俗而羞愧;临终之际,他能够说:“我的整个生命和全部精力,都献给了世界上最壮丽的事业——为解放全人类而斗争。”要抓紧时间赶快生活,因为一场莫名其妙的疾病,或者一个意外的悲惨事件,都会使生命中断。

保尔怀着这样的思想,离开了烈士墓。

家里,母亲在给儿子收拾出门的行装,她很难过。保尔看着妈妈,发现她在偷偷地流泪。

“保夫鲁沙,你别走啦,行吗?我岁数大了,孤零零的一个人过日子多难受啊。不管养多少孩子,一长大就都飞了。那个城市有什么可留恋的呢?这儿一样可以过日子嘛。是不是看中了哪个短尾巴的小鹌鹑了?唉!你们什么也不跟我这个老太婆说。阿尔焦姆成亲,一句话也没说。你呢,更不用说了。总要等你们生病了,受伤了,我才能见到你们。”妈妈一面低声诉说着,一面把儿子的几件简单衣物装到一个干净的布袋里。

保尔抱住母亲的肩膀,把她拉到自己怀里。

“好妈妈,那儿没有什么鹌鹑!你老人家不知道吗?只有鹌鹑才找鹌鹑做伴。照你那么说,我不也成鹌鹑了吗?”

他的话把母亲逗得笑起来。

“妈妈,我发过誓,只要全世界的资产阶级还没消灭光,我就不找姑娘谈情说爱。什么,你说要等很久?不,妈妈,资产阶级的日子长不了啦……一个人民大众的共和国就要建立起来,将来你们这些劳动了一辈子的老头老太太,都送到意大利去养老。那个国家可暖和了,就在海边上。那儿根本没有冬天,妈妈。我们把你们安顿在资本家住过的宫殿里,让你们在温暖的阳光底下晒晒老骨头。我们再到美洲去消灭资产阶级。”

“孩子,你说的那种好日子,我是活不到了……你爷爷就是这个样子,脾气特别古怪。他是个水兵,可是真像个土匪,愿上帝饶恕我这么说!那年他在塞瓦斯托波尔打仗,回到家里,只剩了一只胳膊一条腿。胸口倒是戴上了两个十字奖章,还有挂在丝带上的两个五十戈比银币,可是到后来老头还是穷死了。他性格可倔强了。有一回他用拐棍敲了一个官老爷的脑袋,为这事蹲了差不多一年大牢。十字奖章也没帮上忙,人家照样把他关了起来。我看你呀,跟你爷爷一模一样……”

“怎么啦?妈妈,咱们这回分别,干吗要弄得愁眉苦脸的呢?把手风琴给我,我已经好久没拉了。”

他低下头,俯在那排珠母做的琴键上,奏出的新鲜音调使母亲感到惊奇。

他的演奏和过去不一样了。不再有那种轻飘大胆的旋律和豪放不羁的花腔,也不再有曾使这个青年手风琴手闻名全城的、令人如醉如痴的奔放情调。现在他奏得更和谐,仍然有力量,比过去深沉多了。

保尔独自到了车站。

他劝母亲留在家里,免得她在送别的时候又伤心流泪。

人们争先恐后地挤进了车厢。保尔占了一个上铺,他坐在上面,看着下面过道上吵嚷的激动的人群。

还是和以前一样,人们拖上来很多口袋,拼命往座位底下塞。

列车开动之后,大家才静下来,并且照老习惯办事,狼吞虎咽地吃起东西来。

保尔很快就睡着了。

保尔要去的第一所房子,坐落在市中心,在克列夏季克大街。他慢慢蹬着台阶走上天桥。周围的一切都是熟悉的,一点也没有变。他在天桥上走着,一只手轻轻地抚摩着光滑的栏杆。快要往下走的时候,他停住了脚步——天桥上一个人也没有。在深不可测的高空,展现出宏伟壮观的夜景,令人看得入迷。黑暗给地平线盖上了墨色的天鹅绒,无数星星在燃烧,恰似磷火闪闪发光。下面,在天地隐约相接的地方,是万家灯火,夜色中露出一座城市……

有几个人迎着保尔走上桥来。他们激烈地争论着,打破了黑夜的寂静。保尔不再去看城市的灯火,开始走下桥去。

保尔到了克列夏季克大街军区特勤部,传达室值班的警卫队长告诉他,朱赫来早就不在本市了。

他提出许多问题来盘问保尔,直到弄清楚这个年轻人确实是朱赫来的熟人,才告诉他,朱赫来两个月以前调到塔什干去了,在土耳其斯坦前线工作。保尔非常失望,他甚至没有再详细打听,就默默地转身走了出来。疲倦突然向他袭来,他只好在门口的台阶上坐一会儿。

一辆电车开过去,街上充满了轰隆轰隆的声音。人行道上是不尽的人流。多么热闹的城市啊:一会儿是妇女们幸福的欢笑声,一会儿是男人们低沉的交谈声,一会儿是年轻人高亢的说笑声,一会儿是老年人沙哑的咳嗽声。人来人往,川流不息,脚步都是那样匆忙。电车上灯火通明,汽车前灯射出耀眼的光芒,隔壁电影院的广告周围,电灯照耀得如同一片火光。到处是人,整条街上都是不绝的人声。这就是大城市的夜晚。

大街上的喧嚷和繁忙多少减轻了他因为朱赫来的离去而产生的惆怅。但是,上哪里去呢?往回走,到索洛缅卡去吗——那里倒有不少朋友,就是太远了。离这里不远是大学环路,那里的一所房子自然而然地浮现在眼前。他现在当然应该到那里去。本来嘛,除了朱赫来之外,他首先想看望的同志不就是丽达吗?到了那里,他还可以在阿基姆房间里过夜。

他远远地就看到了楼角窗户上的灯光。他尽力使自己不要激动,拉开了那扇柞木大门。他上了楼梯,在门外站了几秒钟,听到丽达房间里有人谈话,还有人在弹吉他。

“嗬!这么说,连吉他也让弹了?规矩放松了。”保尔心里想,一面用拳头轻轻地敲了敲门。他感到心情激动,赶忙咬紧了嘴唇。

开门的是一个不认识的青年女子,两鬓垂着鬈发。她上下打量着保尔,问:“您找谁?”

她没有关门,保尔扫了一眼房内陌生的陈设,就什么都明白了,不过他还是问了一句:“我找乌斯季诺维奇,她在吗?”

“她不在这儿了,一月份就到哈尔科夫去了,听说又从哈尔科夫到了莫斯科。”

“那么,阿基姆同志还住在这儿吧?他也搬走了吗?”

“阿基姆同志也搬走了。他现在是敖德萨省团委书记。”

保尔无可奈何,只好转身走了。回到这个城市的喜悦心情已经暗淡了。

现在要认真考虑一下在哪里过夜的问题了。

“照这样一家家找下去,走断了腿也找不到一个人。”保尔克制着内心的苦恼,闷闷不乐地咕哝着。不过,他还是决定再碰碰运气——找潘克拉托夫去。他就住在码头附近,找他总比到索洛缅卡近得多。

保尔已经走得精疲力竭,总算到了潘克拉托夫家门口。他敲了敲曾经油成红褐色的门,暗暗下了决心:“要是他也不在,我就不再跑了,干脆钻到小船底下睡一宿。”

一个老太太开了门,她头上扎着一块朴素的头巾,这是潘克拉托夫的母亲。

“大娘,伊格纳特在家吗?”

“他刚回来,您找他吗?”

她没有认出保尔,回头喊道:“伊格纳特,有人找你!”

保尔跟她走进房里,把口袋放在地上。潘克拉托夫一面嚼着面包,一面从桌子旁边转过身来,对客人说:“既然是找我,你就坐下谈吧,我得先把这碗汤灌下去。

从大清早到现在,只喝了点白开水。”潘克拉托夫拿起了一把大木勺。

保尔在他旁边的一张破椅子上坐下来,摘下帽子,习惯地用帽子揩了揩前额,心想:“难道我变得这么厉害,连伊格纳特都认不出我来了?”

潘克拉托夫喝了两勺汤,没有听到客人说话,又转过头来,说:“说吧,你有什么事?”

他拿着一块面包,正往嘴里送,突然手在半路上停了下来。他一下愣住了,眨着眼睛说:“啊!……等一等……呸!你真会胡闹!”

保尔看见潘克拉托夫紧张得满脸通红,忍不住哈哈大笑起来。

“是你,保尔!我们还以为你死了呢!……等一等,你到底是谁?”

潘克拉托夫的母亲和姐姐听到他的喊声,从隔壁房间跑了过来。他们三个人一起,终于认出了站在他们面前的确实是保尔。

家里人早都睡了,潘克拉托夫还在给保尔讲四个月来发生的各种事情。

“扎尔基、杜巴瓦和什科连科去年冬天就到哈尔科夫去了。这三个家伙不是去干别的,而是上了共产主义大学。扎尔基和杜巴瓦进的是预科,什科连科上一年级。我们一共十五个人参加考试。我是心血来潮,也跟着报了名。心想,肚子里净是稀汤,也得装点干货进去。哪知道,考试委员会却把我推上了沙滩,让我搁浅了。”

潘克拉托夫气呼呼地哼了一声,又接着说:“开头事情倒挺顺当。一切条件我都合格,党证有,团龄也够,经历和出身更不成问题,鸡蛋里挑不出骨头来。但是一到政治考试,我就倒霉了。

“我让考试委员会的一个同志给卡住了。他问了我这么一个小问题:‘请您说说,潘克拉托夫同志,您对哲学有什么认识?’你知道,我对哲学是一窍不通。可是我马上想起来,我们那儿有过一个装卸工,上过中学,是个流浪汉。他当装卸工是为了做做样子。有一回,他对我们说:从前,天晓得是什么时候,在希腊有那么一些自以为了不起的学者,人们都管他们叫哲学家,其中有那么一个宝贝,名字我记不清了,好像叫伊杰奥根[这里是指第奥根(约公元前404—前323年),古希腊哲学家。——译者],他一辈子都住在木桶里,还有一些别的怪毛病……他们当中最有能耐的一个,能够用四十种方法证明黑的就是白的,白的就是黑的。一句话,他们都是些胡说八道的家伙。你瞧,我一下子想起了那个中学生讲的故事,心想:‘这位考试大员竟想从右翼包抄我。’他狡猾地看着我。我就不管三七二十一,放了一炮。我说:‘哲学就是空口说白话,故弄玄虚。同志们,我才不想学这种胡说八道的玩意儿呢。更说党史嘛,我可满心喜欢学。’他们一听,就刨根问底,让我讲讲我的这些新见解是从哪儿来的。我把中学生的话添油加醋地说了一遍,考试委员们全都哈哈大笑起来。我气坏了。

“‘怎么着,你们把我当傻瓜吗?’说完,我抓起帽子就回家了。

“后来,我在省委碰到了那位考试委员,他跟我谈了三个多钟头。原来,是那个中学生胡说八道。哲学其实是一门很不简单的大学问。

“杜巴瓦和扎尔基都考上了。当然,杜巴瓦念过不少书,可扎尔基并不比我强多少。不用说,这是他的勋章起了作用。一句话,我落了一场空。后来。叫我在码头上抓业务,代理货运主任。我以前总是为了青年的事跟那些头头们发生冲突。现在我自己也管起生产来了。有时候,要是有人偷懒或者马虎大意,我就同时以主任和共青团书记的身份对付他。对不起,他什么也别想瞒过我。好了,我自己的事,以后再谈吧。还有什么新闻没跟你说呢?阿基姆的情况你已经知道了。团省委的老熟人,只有图夫塔还在老地方没动。托卡列夫在索洛缅卡区当党委书记,你们那个公社的社员奥库涅夫在团区委会。塔莉亚主管政治教育部。在铁路工厂里,你原来的工作由茨维塔耶夫担任了;这个人我不太了解,有时候在省委碰到,看样子,小伙子挺机灵,就是有点自负。你也许还记得安娜·博哈特,她也在索洛缅卡,是区党委的妇女部长。其他人的情况,我已经对你说过了。保夫鲁沙,党把许多人送去学习了。原先那些骨干都在省党政干部学校学习。他们答应明年也把我送去。”

直到后半夜,他们才睡觉。早晨,保尔醒来的时候,潘克拉托夫已经不在家,上码头去了。他的姐姐杜霞身体健壮,长得很像弟弟,一面招待保尔吃早点,一面兴致勃勃地向他讲着各种琐事。潘克拉托夫的父亲是轮船上的司机,随船出航了。

保尔收拾好东西打算上街,杜霞嘱咐他:“别忘了,我们等您吃午饭。”

团省委还跟从前一样热闹。大门总也关不上。走廊上,房间里,人来人往,办公室里不断传出啪嗒啪嗒的打字声。

保尔在走廊上站了一会儿,看看能不能碰到熟人,结果一个也没有,于是他走进了书记办公室。团省委书记穿着蓝色斜领衬衫,坐在一张大写字台后面。他匆匆瞥了保尔一眼,又埋头写他的东西了。

保尔在他对面坐下来,仔细观察这个接替阿基姆的人。

“有什么事?”穿斜领蓝衬衫的书记写完一页纸,在下面打了个句号,然后问保尔。

保尔把自己的情况说了一遍。

“同志,现在我需要恢复组织关系,回铁路工厂去。请指示下面办一办。”

书记往椅背上一仰,踌躇地说:“团籍当然要恢复,这是不成问题的。不过再派你回铁路工厂,就不太好办了。那儿的工作已经有茨韦塔耶夫在做,他是这一届的团省委委员。我们派你到别的地方去吧。”

保尔皱了皱眉头。

“我到铁路工厂去,并不会妨碍茨韦塔耶夫工作。我是要求到车间去干本行,而不是去当共青团书记。请不要派我做别的工作,因为我现在身体还很弱。”

书记同意了,他在一张纸上草草写了几个字。

“把这个交给图夫塔同志,他会把这件事办妥的。”

登记分配部里,图夫塔正在痛骂一个负责团员登记的助手。他们俩吵得难解难分,保尔听了一会儿,看他们一时吵不完,就打断了正喊得起劲的登记分配部部长,说:“图夫塔,你等一会儿再接着跟他吵吧。这是书记给你的条子,先把我的证件办一办。”

图夫塔一会儿看看字条,一会儿看看保尔,看了半天才明白过来。

“啊,这么说,你没死!现在怎么办呢?你已经被除名了。

是我亲自把卡片寄到团中央的。再说,你也错过了全俄团员登记。根据团中央指示,凡是没有重新登记的,一律取消团籍。所以,你只有一条路好走——重新履行入团手续。”图夫塔用一种没有商量余地的腔调说。

保尔皱起了眉头。

“你还是那个老样子?年轻轻的小伙子,连档案库的老耗子都不如。图夫塔,你什么时候才能有点长进呢?”

图夫塔一下子跳了起来,好像被跳蚤咬了一口。

“我的工作我负责,用不着你来教训我。上面发指示,是要我照办,不是要我违抗。你骂我是耗子,我要控告你。”

图夫塔一面用这样的话威胁保尔,一面示威似的拿过一堆没有拆开的信件,那副神气表示:用不着再谈下去了。

保尔不慌不忙地走到门口,他想起了什么事情,又走回桌旁,拿起放在图夫塔面前的字条。登记分配部部长注意地瞧着保尔。这个长着两只大招风耳朵的年轻小老头,气呼呼地坐着,摆出一副一丝不苟的样子,真是又可气又可笑。

“好吧!”保尔用一种讥讽的口吻冷冷地说。“当然,你可以给我扣上‘破坏统计工作’的帽子。不过,我倒要请问你,要是有人事前没向你申请,自己一下子就死了,你有什么高招治他呢?这种事谁都会摊上,说病就病了,说死就死了。关于这方面的条文指示,大概没有吧。”

“哈!哈!哈!”图夫塔的助手再也无法保持中立,忍不住放声大笑起来。

图夫塔的铅笔尖一下子折断了。他把铅笔摔到地上,但是还没有来得及回击保尔,就有几个人说说笑笑地涌进了房间。其中有奥库涅夫。大家见了面,又是惊又是喜,问长问短,简直没有个完。过了几分钟,又进来一群青年,其中有一个是奥莉加·尤列涅娃。她简直有点不知所措了,惊喜地握住保尔的手,久久不放。

后来的人又逼着保尔把他的情况从头到尾说了一遍。同志们出自内心的喜悦,真挚的友谊和同情,热烈的握手,亲切而有力的拍肩打背,使他一时忘记了图夫塔。

说到最后,保尔把他和图夫塔的谈话告诉了同志们。大家都气愤地嚷了起来。奥莉加狠狠地瞪了图夫塔一眼,到书记办公室去了。

“走,找涅日达诺夫书记去!他会叫他开窍的。”奥库涅夫说着,一把搂住保尔的肩膀,和大伙一起跟在奥莉加的后面,找书记去了。

“应该把图夫塔撤职,送到潘克拉托夫那儿去,在码头上当一年装卸工。他纯粹是个死抠公文的官僚!”奥莉加忿忿地对书记说。

团省委书记宽容地微笑着,倾听着奥库涅夫、奥莉加还有其他同志提出的撤换图夫塔的要求。

“恢复柯察金团籍的事,没什么问题,马上就发给他团证。”涅日达诺夫安慰他们说,接着又表示:“我也同意你们的看法,图夫塔是个形式主义者。这是他的主要缺点。不过,也得承认,他那摊子工作搞得相当不错。凡是我工作过的团委机关,统计和报表工作都搞得一塌胡涂,没有一个数字是可靠的。可是咱们这个登记分配部门,统计工作一清二楚。你们自己也知道,图夫塔有时在办公室一直干到半夜。我想,撤换他随时都可以。不过,要是换上一个小伙子,人也许挺痛快,就是对统计工作一窍不通,到那时候,官僚主义倒是没有了,可统计工作也没有了。还是让他干吧。我好好克他一顿。这能管一阵子,以后看情况再说。”

“好吧,去他的!”奥库涅夫同意了。“走,保夫鲁沙,咱们到索洛缅卡去。今天我们在俱乐部开积极分子大会。还没有人知道你活着,我要突然宣布:‘现在请柯察金同志讲话!’保尔,你真行,没死就对了。真的,要是你死了,对无产阶级还有什么用处呢?”奥库涅夫开玩笑地结束了他的话,接着就搂住保尔,推着他一起到走廊上去了。

“奥莉加,你来吗?”

“一定来。”

潘克拉托夫一家等保尔吃午饭,没有等着,他直到晚上也没有回去。奥库涅夫把保尔带回自己住处去了。他在苏维埃大楼有一间房子。他倾其所有,款待保尔,然后又拿出一堆报纸和两本厚厚的共青团区委会会议记录,放在保尔面前,说:“这些东西你看看吧。你在家养病,耽误了不少时间。翻翻这些东西,了解一下过去和现在的情况。我晚上回来,咱们一起到俱乐部去。累了,你就躺下睡一会儿。”

奥库涅夫把一大沓文件、证明、公函分别塞进几个衣袋里——这位团区委书记根本不用公事包,一直把它扔在床底下——最后,又在房里兜了一个圈子,走出去了。

傍晚,他回来的时候,屋里满地都是打开的报纸,床底下的一大堆书也拖了出来,有一部分就放在桌子上。保尔坐在床上,读着中央委员会最近的几封指示信。这些信是他在奥库涅夫的枕头底下翻出来的。

“你这个强盗,把我房间弄成什么样子了!”奥库涅夫装作生气的样子喊道。“喂,等一等,你怎么偷看机密文件呢?

唉,真是开门揖盗啊!”

保尔微笑着把信放在一边。

“这正好不是什么机密文件,你当灯罩用的那张才是地地道道的密件呢。它的边都烤焦了,看见没有?”

奥库涅夫拿过那张烤焦了边的纸,看了看标题,拍了一下前额,惊叫道:“哎呀,这个鬼玩意儿!我一连找了它三天,连个影子也没有。现在我想起来了,是沃伦采夫前天用它做了灯罩,后来他自己也找得满头大汗。”奥库涅夫小心翼翼地把文件叠起来,塞在褥子下面。“过些时候都会收拾好的。”奥库涅夫自我安慰地说。“现在先吃点东西,再到俱乐部去。保夫鲁沙,坐到桌子这边来吧。”

奥库涅夫从衣袋里拿出一条用报纸包着的干鳟鱼,又从另一个衣袋里掏出两块面包。他把桌子上的文件往边上推了推,在空出来的地方铺上一张报纸,然后抓住鱼头,在桌子上摔打起来。

乐天派的奥库涅夫坐在桌沿上,起劲地嚼着,有说有笑地把最近的新闻告诉了保尔。

奥库涅夫从通勤口把保尔领到了后台。在宽敞的大厅里,靠舞台右侧的钢琴旁边,坐着一群铁路上的共青团员,塔莉亚·拉古京娜和安娜·博哈特跟他们挤在一起。安娜对面的椅子上是沃伦采夫。这位机车库团支部书记微微摇晃着身子,一本正经地坐在那里。他脸色红润,好像八月的苹果,头发和眉毛都是麦黄色的,身上穿着一件十分破旧的褪了色的黑皮夹克。

他旁边是茨韦塔耶夫,懒洋洋地用胳膊肘拄在钢琴盖上。

茨韦塔耶夫是一个长着栗色头发、嘴唇线条分明的漂亮青年。

他的衬衫领子敞开着。

奥库涅夫走近这群青年的时候,听到安娜说的最后两句话:“有的人总是千方百计把吸收新团员的工作搞得复杂化,茨韦塔耶夫就是这样。”

“共青团可不是随便进出的大杂院。”茨韦塔耶夫固执地用粗鲁而轻慢的语气反驳说。

“你们瞧,你们瞧!尼古拉今天容光焕发,多神气,活像一个擦亮的铜茶壶。”塔莉亚一见到奥库涅夫,就大声喊了起来。

奥库涅夫被拉进人群,大家七嘴八舌地向他提出了问题:“你到哪儿去了?”

“快开会吧。”

奥库涅夫伸出一只手,要大家安静下来:“弟兄们,别着急,托卡列夫马上就来,他一到咱们就开会。”

“瞧,他来了。”安娜说。

果然,区委书记正向他们走来。奥库涅夫快步迎了上去。

“走,大叔,到后台去,我让你看一个熟人。你一定会大吃一惊。”

“又出了什么新鲜事?”老人咕哝了一句,使劲抽了一口烟。奥库涅夫抓住他的手,把他拖走了。

奥库涅夫把手里的铃摇得震天响,连那些最爱说话的人也赶紧闭上了嘴。

托卡列夫身后挂着《共产党宣言》的伟大作者的画像,看上去像雄狮。画像周围饰着青松扎成的框子。奥库涅夫宣布开会的时候,托卡列夫一直注视着站在后台过道上的保尔。

“同志们,有一位同志要求在讨论当前团的任务以前,先说几句话,我和托卡列夫都同意,认为应该让他发言。”

会场里响起了赞成的喊声。于是奥库涅夫立刻宣布:“现在请保尔·柯察金发言,向大家表示问候!”

大厅里一百个人当中,至少有八十个认识保尔,所以当大家熟悉的这个面色苍白的高个子青年出现在舞台上,并且开始讲话的时候,会场里立即响起了热烈的掌声和欢呼声。

“亲爱的同志们!”

保尔的声音是平和的,但是却掩盖不住他内心的激动。

“朋友们,我又回到你们中间来了,又回到自己的战斗岗位上来了。回到这里,我感到非常幸福。我在这里看到了许多老朋友。奥库涅夫给我看了一些材料,咱们索洛缅卡区增加了三分之一的新团员,铁路工厂和机车库再也没有人做打火机之类的私活了,已经报废的机车,又从废铁堆里拖了出来,进行彻底修理。这些都表明,我们的国家正在复兴,正在强大起来。生活在这个世界上是大有可为的。你们说,在这样的时候,我怎么能死呢!”说到这里,保尔脸上现出了幸福的笑容,两眼射出了炯炯的光芒。

保尔在一片欢迎声中走下舞台,向安娜和塔莉亚坐的地方走去。他很快和几个人握了手。朋友们挤出一个位子,让他坐下。塔莉亚把手放在保尔手上,紧紧地握着。

安娜睁圆了眼睛,睫毛微微颤动着,露出惊喜的神情。

日子飞一样的过去了,没有一天是平平淡淡的,每天都有新的内容。保尔早上起来,安排一天的工作,总苦于时间不够用,计划要做的事总有一些做不完。

保尔跟奥库涅夫住在一起。他在铁路工厂工作,当电工的助手。

保尔同奥库涅夫争论了好久,奥库涅夫才同意他暂时不担任领导工作。

“咱们现在人手不够,可你倒想躲到车间去图清闲。你别拿病当借口。我也得过伤寒,好了以后,有一个月的时间是拄着棍子到区委会上班的。我知道你,保尔,根本不是为了这个。你跟我讲实话,到底是什么原因?”奥库涅夫追问保尔。

“尼古拉,原因就是我想学习。”

奥库涅夫得意地喊了起来:“啊,原来是这样!你想学习,那么照你说,我就不想吗?

老兄,你这是个人主义。这就是说,让我们大家都忙得团团转,你却坐着读书。这可不行啊,亲爱的,你明天就到组织部上班去吧。”

经过好一番争论,奥库涅夫终于让步了。

“好吧,给你两个月的时间,算是对你的特殊照顾。不过,你跟茨韦塔耶夫一定合不来,那个人很自高自大。”

对于保尔的回厂,茨韦塔耶夫确实是怀有戒心的。他认为保尔一回来,一定会跟他争夺领导权,于是这个自命不凡的人就准备着进行反击。但是没过几天,他就认识到自己估计错了。当保尔听说厂团委打算叫他参加团委工作的时候,他立即跑到书记办公室,摆出他和奥库涅夫达成的“协议”,说服茨韦塔耶夫把这个问题从议事日程上撤销。在车间团支部,保尔也只负责领导一个政治学习小组,并没有想在支委会担任什么工作。尽管他正式表示不参加领导工作,但是他对工厂团组织的全部工作的影响还是能够感觉得出来的。有好几次,他都以同志的态度,不声不响地帮助茨韦塔耶夫摆脱了困境。

有一次,茨韦塔耶夫走进车间,不禁吃了一惊。这个支部的全体团员和三十几个非团青年正在擦洗窗户和机器,刮去多年积在上面的污垢,往外清除废物和垃圾。保尔正用一个大拖布使劲擦着满是油污的水泥地面。

“干吗这样下工夫大清扫?”茨韦塔耶夫不明白是怎么回事,这样问保尔。

“我们不愿意在肮脏的地方工作。这儿已经有二十年没打扫了。我们要在一周之内让车间焕然一新。”保尔简单地回答他说。

茨韦塔耶夫耸了耸肩膀,走开了。

这些电气工人并不满足于清扫车间,他们又动手收拾院子。这个大院子很久以来就是个堆垃圾的地方,那里什么东西都有。几百个轮轴、堆积如山的废铁、钢轨、连接板、轴箱等等——成千上万吨钢铁就放在露天里生锈、腐烂。但是,他们的行动后来被厂领导制止了,理由是:“还有比这更重要的工作,清理院子先不用着急。”

于是他们在自己车间门口用砖铺了一小块平地,上面安了一个刮鞋泥用的铁丝网垫,这才住手。但是车间内部的清扫工作并没有停,晚上下班以后一直在干。一星期后,当总工程师斯特里日来到这里的时候,整个车间已经面目一新了。

由于擦掉了多年的油垢,阳光透过带铁栏的大玻璃窗,射进了宽敞的机器房,照得柴油机上的铜件闪闪发亮。机器的大部件都刷上了绿油漆,有人还精心地在轮辐上画了几个黄箭头。

“嗯……好……”斯特里日惊奇地说。

在车间远处的角落里,有几个人就要干完活了。斯特里日朝他们走去。保尔恰好提了满满一罐调好的油漆迎面走来。

“等一等,亲爱的。”总工程师叫住了他。“你们这样做,我倒是很赞赏,不过,是谁给你们的油漆?我规定过,不经我批准,是不许动用油漆的。现在这种材料非常缺。油漆机车的部件,比你们现在做的事情要重要得多。”

“油漆是我们从扔掉的空油漆筒里刮下来的。我们刮了两天,攒了二十五六磅。这完全不违反规章制度,总工程师同志。”

总工程师又嗯了一声,他已经有些难为情了。

“既然这样,你们就干吧。嗯……不过这倒很有意思……你们这种……怎么说好呢?这种搞好车间卫生的主动精神该怎么解释呢?这些活你们不是在业余时间干的吗?”

保尔从总工程师的语气里觉察出,他确实是不大理解,便回答说:“当然罗。可您是怎么想的呢?”

“是呀,我也是这样想的,不过……”

“您的问题就在这个‘不过’上,斯特里日同志。谁跟您说过,布尔什维克会放着垃圾不管呢?您等着瞧吧,我们干的范围还要扩大。那时候会有更多的事情叫您吃惊呢。”

保尔小心地不让油漆蹭到总工程师身上,从他身旁绕过,朝门口走去。

每天晚上,保尔都到公共图书馆去,待到很晚才走。他和图书馆的三个女馆员都混熟了,便向她们展开宣传攻势,终于取得了她们的同意,可以随意翻阅各种书籍。他把梯子靠在高大的书橱上,一连几小时坐在上面,一本一本翻阅着,寻找有意思的和有用的图书。这里大部分都是旧书。只有一个不大的书橱里放着少量新书。其中有偶然收到的国内战争时期的小册子,有马克思的《资本论》和杰克·伦敦的《铁蹄》[美国作家杰克·伦敦(1876—1916)的长篇小说,描写资本家对工人阶级的压迫。——译者],还有几本别的书。在旧书里,保尔找到了一本叫《斯巴达克》[意大利作家拉·乔万尼奥里(1838—1915)的长篇小说。斯巴达克是公元前74—前71年意大利最大规模奴隶起义的领袖。——译者]的小说,他花了两个晚上的时间把它读完,放到另一个书橱里,同高尔基的作品摆在一起。他总是把那些最有意思的和内容相近的书放在一起。

他这样做,图书馆那三个馆员从来不过问,她们反正无所谓。

一件乍看起来无关紧要的事情,突然打破了共青团组织那种单调的平静。中修车间团支部委员科斯季卡·菲金,一个麻脸、翘鼻子、动作迟缓的小伙子,在给铁板钻孔的时候,弄坏了一个贵重的美国钻头。造成事故的原因是他的极端不负责任,甚至可以说是故意破坏。这件事发生在早上。中修车间工长霍多罗夫让菲金在铁板上钻几个孔。起初他不干,后来工长坚持要他干,他才拿起铁板,开始钻孔。霍多罗夫这个人对别人要求过严,有些吹毛求疵,在车间里大家都不喜欢他。他以前还是个孟什维克,现在什么社会活动也不参加,对共青团员总是侧目而视。但是他精通业务,对本职工作认真负责。他发现菲金没有往钻头上注油,在那里“干钻”,就急忙跑到钻床跟前,把它关了。

“你瞎了,还是昨天才来干活?!”他大声责问菲金。他知道这样干下去,钻头非坏不可。

但是,菲金反倒骂了工长一顿,并且又开动了钻床。霍多罗夫只好到车间主任那里去告状。菲金想在领导到来之前把一切都弄妥帖,他没有停下机床,就赶紧跑去找注油器。可是等他拿了注油器回来,钻头已经坏了。车间主任打了一份报告,要求把菲金开除出厂。团支部公开袒护他,说这是霍多罗夫打击青年积极分子。车间领导还是坚持要开除他,于是这件事就提到了工厂的团委会上讨论。事情就这样闹开了。

团委会的五个委员,有三个主张给菲金申斥处分,并调动他的工作。茨韦塔耶夫就是这三个委员中的一个。另外两个委员干脆认为菲金没有错。

团委会是在茨韦塔耶夫的房间里举行的。屋里有一张大桌子,上面铺着红布,还有几个长凳和小方凳,是木工车间的青年自己做的。墙上挂着领袖像,还有一面团旗,挂在桌子后边,占了整整一面墙。

茨韦塔耶夫是个“脱产干部”。他本来是个锻工,由于最近四个月表现出来的才干,被提拔担任共青团的领导工作,当上了团区委常委和团省委委员。他原先在机械厂工作,新近才调到铁路工厂来。一到职,他就把权紧紧抓在自己手里。他是一个独断专行的人,一下子就把大伙的积极性压下去了,他什么都一手包办,但是又包办不过来,于是就对其他委员大发脾气,责备他们无所事事。

就连这个房间也是在他的亲自监督下布置的。

茨韦塔耶夫主持会议,他仰靠在唯一的一把从红色文化室搬来的软椅上。这是一次内部会议。当党小组长霍穆托夫要求发言的时候,外面有人敲了敲扣着的门。茨韦塔耶夫不满意地皱了皱眉头。外面又敲了几下。卡秋莎·泽列诺娃站起来开了门。门外站着的是保尔,卡秋莎让他进来。

保尔已经在朝一只空凳子走过去,茨韦塔耶夫把他叫住:“柯察金!我们现在开的是内部会议。”

保尔的脸红了,他慢慢朝桌子转过身来。

“我知道。我希望了解一下你们对菲金事件的意见。我想提出一个跟这件事有联系的新问题。怎么,你反对我参加会议吗?”

“我并不反对,但是你自己也知道,团委内部会议只有团委委员才能参加,人多了不便于讨论。不过你既然来了,就坐下吧。”

保尔第一次受到这样的侮辱。他的两道眉毛中间现出了一条深深的皱纹。

“干吗来这套形式主义呢?”霍穆托夫不以为然地说。但是保尔摆摆手不让他说下去,一面在方凳上坐下来。“我要说的是,”霍穆托夫谈到了正题。“大家对霍多罗夫有看法,这是无可非议的,他确实不合群,不过咱们的纪律也够糟的。要是所有的团员都这么随便弄坏钻头,咱们还拿什么干活?这会给团外青年造成很不好的影响。我认为应该给菲金警告处分。”

茨韦塔耶夫没容他说完,就开始反驳。保尔听了大约十分钟,已经了解了团委对菲金事件的态度。快要进行表决的时候,他要求发言。茨韦塔耶夫勉强同意了。

“同志们,我想就菲金事件跟你们谈谈我的意见。”

出乎他自己的意料,保尔的声音竟是那样严厉。

“菲金事件仅仅是一个信号,主要的问题并不在他身上。昨天我搜集了一些数字。”保尔从口袋里掏出一个记事本。

“这些数字是考勤员给我的。请你们注意听一听:百分之二十三的共青团员每天上班迟到五分钟到十五分钟。这已经成了常规。百分之十七的共青团员每月照例旷工一天到两天,但是团外青年旷工的却只有百分之十四。数字比鞭子还要厉害。我顺便还记了另外一些数字:党员每月旷工一天的有百分之四,迟到的也是百分之四。非党的成年工人每月旷工一天的占百分之十一,迟到的占百分之十三。损坏工具的有百分之九十是青年工人,其中刚参加工作的是百分之七。从这里可以看出,咱们团员干活远远不如党员和成年工人。不过情况并不是各处都一样。锻工车间就很好,电工车间也还可以,其他车间的情况就大同小异了。依我看,关于纪律问题,霍穆托夫同志只讲了四分之一。我们现在的任务就是要缩小差距,赶上先进。我不想在这里高谈阔论,讲空话,我们必须毫不留情地向不负责任和不守纪律的现象发起进攻。老工人说得很直率:从前我们给老板干活,给资本家干活,干得倒要好些,认真些,现在呢,成了主人,却不像个主人的样子。这过错主要不在菲金或是别的什么人身上,而在咱们这些人身上,因为咱们不仅没有同这种不良倾向进行坚决的斗争,相反,却常常寻找各种借口,袒护像菲金那样的人。

“刚才萨莫欣和布特利亚克发言说,菲金是自己人,像大家常说的,是个‘地地道道的自己人’,因为他是积极分子,又担负着社会工作。至于他弄坏了钻头嘛,那有什么了不起的?谁还不弄坏点东西。况且,小伙子是自己人,而霍多罗夫工长却是外人……虽然,从来也没人对他进行过工作……不错,他爱挑剔,可他已经有了三十年的工龄!我们暂且不说他的政治立场,在这件事上,他现在做得对。他这个外人爱护国家财产,而我们却随便糟蹋进口的贵重工具。这样的怪现象,该怎么解释呢?我认为,咱们现在应该打响第一炮,从这里开始,发起进攻。

“我建议把菲金作为懒惰成性、工作不负责任、破坏生产的人从共青团里开除出去。要把他的事情登在墙报上,同时,把上面那些数字写在社论里,公布出去,不要怕任何议论。我们是有力量的,我们是有后盾的。共青团的基本群众是优秀的工人。他们当中有六十个人在博亚尔卡筑路工地经受过锻炼,那是一次最好的考验。有他们参加和帮助,我们一定能够消除落后现象。不过,应当永远抛弃现在这样的工作方法。”

保尔一向沉静,不爱讲话,这一席话却说得激烈而尖锐。

茨韦塔耶夫初次看到保尔的本色。他意识到保尔是正确的,但是,他对保尔怀有戒心,不肯同意保尔的意见。他认为保尔的发言是针对团组织的全盘工作提出了尖锐的批评,是在破坏他茨韦塔耶夫的威信,所以,他决定进行反击。他指责保尔,头一条就是偏袒孟什维克霍多罗夫。

激烈的辩论持续了三个小时。天已经很晚了,会议才得出结果:大家都转而同意保尔的意见,茨韦塔耶夫被大量无情的事实所击败,失去了多数的支持。这时,他竟采取了压制民主的错误行动,在最后表决之前,要保尔离开会场。

“好吧,茨韦塔耶夫同志,我就走,不过这并不能给你增添什么光彩。我还是要提醒你,如果你仍然坚持己见,明天我就把这件事提交全体大会讨论。我相信,多数人是不会支持你的。茨韦塔耶夫,你错了。霍穆托夫同志,我认为,你有责任在全体大会召开之前,把这个问题先提到党的会议上去讨论。”

茨韦塔耶夫气势汹汹地喊道:“你有什么可吓唬人的?不用你说,我也知道该怎么办,我们还要讨论一下你的所作所为呢。要是你自己不工作,就别妨碍别人。”

保尔带上门,用手擦了擦发热的前额,穿过空无一人的办公室,向门口走去。到了外面,他深深地吸了一口气。他点着烟,朝拔都山上托卡列夫住的那座小房子走去。

保尔到托卡列夫家的时候,正赶上他在吃晚饭。

“你们那儿有什么新闻?讲给我们听听。达丽亚,给他盛碗饭来。”托卡列夫一面让保尔坐下,一面说。

托卡列夫的妻子达丽亚·福米尼什娜和她的丈夫正相反,又高又胖。她把一盘黄米饭放在保尔面前,然后用白围裙揩揩湿润的嘴唇,温厚地说:“吃吧,亲爱的。”

以前,当托卡列夫在铁路工厂工作的时候,保尔经常到他家串门,坐到很晚才走。这次回城以后,他还是第一次来看老人。

老钳工用心地听着保尔讲的情况。他自己什么也没有说,只是一边忙着用勺吃饭,一边嗯、嗯地答应着。吃完饭,他用手帕擦了擦胡子,又清了清喉咙。

“你当然是对的。我们早就该把这件事认真地抓一抓了。

铁路工厂是这个区的重点单位,应该从这个厂下手。这么说,你跟茨韦塔耶夫闹翻了?这不好。那个小伙子是很自傲,不过你不是挺会做青年人的工作吗?正好,我要问你,你在铁路工厂干什么工作?”

“我在车间。没什么特别的,反正什么都干点。在团支部里领导一个政治学习小组。”

“在团委担任什么工作呢?”

保尔有点不好开口了。

“我身体不太好,还想多学习点东西,这一段没正式担任领导工作。”

“你看,问题就出在这儿!”托卡列夫带点责备的口气大声说。“孩子,只有身体不好这一条,还算个理由,要不然真得说你一顿。现在身体怎么样,好点了吗?”

“好点了。”

“那么这样吧,你马上把工作好好抓起来。别再拖了。站在一边,不伸手就能把事情办好,哪有这样的事!再说,谁都会批评你是逃避责任,你根本就没法辩解。明天你就要纠正过来,至于奥库涅夫,我也得狠狠训他一顿。”托卡列夫结束了他的话,语气里有点不满意。

“大叔,你可别怪他,是我自己要求他别给我安排工作的。”保尔这样替奥库涅夫说情。

托卡列夫嘲笑地嘘了一声,说:“你要求他,他就答应你,是这样吗?好吧,好吧,对你们这帮共青团员简直没办法……来吧,孩子,你还是照老规矩给我念段报纸吧……我这两只眼睛越来越不中用了。”

党委同意了团委大多数人的意见,向党团员提出了重要而艰巨的任务——人人以身作则,模范地遵守劳动纪律。会上,茨韦塔耶夫受到了严厉的批评。开头他还挺着脖子,不肯认错,后来党委书记洛帕欣发了言,这位因为患肺结核而面色苍白的老同志把他问得哑口无言,他才软下来,承认了一半错误。

第二天,铁路工厂的墙报上登出几篇文章,吸引了工人们的注意。他们大声地朗读着,热烈地讨论着。晚上,召开了团员大会,出席的人特别多。这些文章成了大家议论的中心。

菲金被开除了,团委会增加了一名新委员,由他负责政治教育工作。这个人就是保尔·柯察金。

在会上,人们异常肃静,认真地听着省团委书记涅日达诺夫的讲话。他谈到目前的任务,谈到工厂现在进入了新阶段。

散会之后,保尔在外面等着茨韦塔耶夫。

“咱们一道走吧,有些事要跟你谈谈。”他走到茨韦塔耶夫跟前说。

“谈什么?”茨韦塔耶夫闷声闷气地问。

保尔挽住他的胳膊,跟他并排走了几步,到一条长凳子跟前站住了。

“咱们坐一会儿吧。”保尔首先坐了下来。

茨韦塔耶夫的香烟一会儿亮一会儿暗。

“茨韦塔耶夫,你说说,干吗你总把我看作眼中钉呢?”

他们沉默了好几分钟。

“你要谈的原来是这个呀,我还以为是谈工作呢!”茨韦塔耶夫故作惊诧,不自然地说。

保尔坚定地把手放在茨韦塔耶夫的膝盖上。

“别装糊涂了。只有外交家才来这一套呢。你干脆回答我,为什么我总不合你的心意?”

茨韦塔耶夫不耐烦地动了一下身子。

“你干吗缠着我?哪有什么眼中钉!是我亲自建议让你担任工作的嘛。你当时拒绝了,现在倒成了我在排挤你。”

保尔听出他的话里没有一点诚意,仍然把手放在他的膝盖上,激动地说:“既然你不想说,那我就说。你认为我在挡你的道,认为我想抢你的书记当,是不是?如果你不是这样想的,就不会因为菲金的事吵起来。这种不正常的关系会使咱们的整个工作受到损失。如果只对你我两个人有影响,那就算不了什么,管它呢!你爱怎么想,就怎么想好了。可是明天咱们还要在一起工作,这会产生什么样的后果呢?你听我说,咱们之间没有什么根本的利害冲突。你我都是工人。如果你认为咱们的事业高于一切,那就请你把手伸给我,从明天起,咱们做个好朋友。要是你不把那些乌七八糟的念头扔掉,还是一味地闹无原则的纠纷,给事业造成损失,那么,我就要为每一个损失向你展开无情的斗争。这里是我的手,握住它吧,现在这还是你的同志的手。”

保尔非常满意地感觉到,茨韦塔耶夫那只骨节粗大的手,放在他的手掌里了。

一个星期过去了。正是下班的时间,区党委各个办公室逐渐静下来了。托卡列夫还没打算走,他坐在靠椅上,聚精会神地看着新收到的材料。外面有人敲门。

“进来!”托卡列夫应了一声。

保尔走了进来,把两张填好的表格放在书记面前。

“这是什么?”

“大叔,这是我要消灭不负责任的现象。我认为是时候了。如果你同意的话,请你给我支持。”

托卡列夫看了看表格的名称,又凝视了这个青年几秒钟,然后默默地拿起钢笔。表格里有一栏要填写保尔·安德列耶维奇·柯察金加入俄国共产党(布)的介绍人的党龄。他用刚劲的笔迹在这一栏里填上了“一九○三年”几个字,又在旁边一丝不苟地签了名。

“写好了,孩子。我相信你是永远不会叫我这个满头白发的老头子丢脸的。”

屋子里又闷又热,大家只有一个念头:赶快离开这里,到火车站那里的索洛缅卡区林荫路去,在栗子树底下乘凉。

“别学了,保尔,我再也受不了啦。”茨韦塔耶夫热得汗流浃背,央求保尔说。卡秋莎和其他人也都附和他。

保尔合上书,小组的学习就结束了。

正当大家起身要走的时候,墙上那架老式的埃里克松电话机焦躁地响起来。茨韦塔耶夫提高嗓门,竭力压过屋子里的谈话声,同对方交谈着。

他挂上听筒,转过身来对保尔说:“车站上有两节专车,是波兰领事馆外交人员的,他们的电灯坏了。列车过一小时开,得把电灯修理好。保尔,你带上工具箱,去一趟吧。任务挺紧急。”

两节漆得亮光光的国际客车停在车站的第一站台上。有一节作客厅用的车厢,窗户很大,里面灯火通明,另一节车厢里却是黑洞洞的。

保尔走到豪华的客车跟前,抓住扶手,正想走进车厢。

突然,有一个人从站房那边快步跑了过来,一把抓住他的肩膀:“公民,您到哪儿去?”

这声音挺熟悉。保尔回头一看,来人穿着皮夹克,戴一顶大檐制帽,细长的鼻子,高鼻梁,一副戒备的神态。

来人是阿尔秋欣,他这时候认出了保尔,于是,他的手从保尔的肩膀上滑了下来,严厉的神情也消失了,不过目光仍然疑惑地盯着工具箱。

“你要上哪儿去?”

保尔简短地说明了一下。这时,车厢后面又走出一个人来。

“我马上把他们的列车员找来。”

保尔跟着列车员走进了作客厅用的车厢,那里坐着几个人,都穿着非常考究的旅行服装。一个女人背朝着门坐在桌子旁,桌上铺着玫瑰花图案的绸台布。保尔进来的时候,她正和站在她对面的高个子军官谈话。保尔一进来,谈话马上就停止了。

保尔迅速检查了通到走廊的电线,没有发现什么毛病,就走出车厢,继续检查。那个列车员尾随着保尔,寸步不离。他又肥又壮,脖子粗得像拳击师一样,制服上钉着许多带独头鹰的大铜钮扣。

“这儿没毛病,电池也没坏,咱们到那节车厢去吧。毛病大概出在那儿。”

列车员拧了一下钥匙,打开了门,他们便走进了黑暗的走廊。保尔用手电筒照着电线,很快就找到了短路的地方。几分钟后,走廊上的第一盏灯亮了,暗淡的灯光照在走廊上。

“这间包厢得打开,里面的灯泡烧坏了,要换一换。”保尔对跟着他的人说。

“那得把夫人请来,钥匙在她那儿。”列车员不愿意让保尔单独留在这里,就带他一起去了。

那女人第一个走进包厢,保尔跟在她后面。列车员站在门口,身子堵住了门。保尔首先看到的是壁网里的两只精致皮箱,一件胡乱扔在沙发上的绸袍,窗旁小桌上的一瓶香水和一个翡翠色的小粉盒。女人在沙发的一角坐下来,一面整理她那淡黄色的头发,一面看着保尔干活。

“请夫人准许我离开一会儿,少校老爷要喝冰镇啤酒。”列车员费劲地弯下他那牛脖子,鞠着躬,谄媚地说。

女人像唱歌似的拖着长腔,娇声说:“您去吧。”

他们说的是波兰话。

走廊里的灯光射进来,落在女人的肩上。她穿着巴黎第一流裁缝用最薄的里昂绸精心裁制的连衣裙,肩膀和胳膊都裸露着。耳垂上戴着一颗闪闪发亮的圆钻石。她的脸背着光,保尔只能看见她的肩膀和胳膊,仿佛都是用象牙雕刻出来的。

保尔用螺丝刀迅速换好了车顶上的灯头座,不一会儿,包厢里的灯亮了。还需要检查一下另一盏灯,那盏灯正好在那女人坐的沙发上方。保尔走到她跟前,说:“我要检查一下这盏灯。”

“啊,真的,我妨碍您工作了。”她讲的是地道的俄语,说着便轻盈地从沙发上站起来,几乎是和保尔并肩站着。现在可以完全看清她了。那熟悉的尖尖的眉毛,那傲慢的紧闭的双唇,一点不错,站在他面前的是涅莉·列辛斯卡娅。这律师的女儿不能不注意到他那惊愕的目光。尽管保尔认出了她,她却没有发觉这个电工就是她那不安生的邻居,四年来,他已经长大了。

她轻蔑地皱了皱眉头,作为对他那惊讶表情的回答,然后走到包厢门口,站在那里,不耐烦地用漆皮便鞋的鞋尖敲着地板。保尔动手检查第二盏电灯。他拧下灯泡,对着亮看了看,突然,出乎自己的意料,当然更出乎列辛斯卡娅的意料,脱口用波兰话问她:“维克托也在这儿吗?”

保尔讲这话的时候并没有转过身来,他看不见涅莉的脸,不过长时间的沉默说明,她完全不知所措了。

“难道您认识他?”

“不但认识,而且很熟。我们过去还是邻居呢。”保尔朝她转过身来。

“您是保尔,您母亲是……”涅莉突然停住不说了。

“是老妈子。”保尔替她把话说完。

“您长得多快呀!记得您那时候还是个野孩子。”

涅莉放肆地把他从头到脚打量了一番。

“您为什么对维克托这么感兴趣呢?我记得,您和他并没有什么交情。”涅莉用她那唱歌似的女高音说,希望这场巧遇能够给她解解闷。

螺丝刀迅速地把小螺丝钉拧进墙壁。

“维克托有一笔债还没还,您见到他的时候告诉他,我还指望讨回这笔债呢。”

“请问,他欠您多少钱,我来代他还。”

她十分清楚保尔要讨的是什么“债”。佩特留拉匪兵抓保尔的前后经过,她全知道,但是她想逗弄这个“下人”一番,才这样嘲讽他。

保尔故意不理睬她。

“告诉我,听说我家的房子给抢得精光,已经快坍了,是真的吗?凉亭和花坛大概也全糟蹋得不像样了吧?”涅莉忧郁地问。

“房子现在是我们的,不是你们的了,我们根本不打算毁坏它。”

涅莉尖酸地冷笑了一声。

“嗬,看来您也受过训啦!不过,这儿是波兰代表团的专车,在这个包厢里我是主人,而您还和从前一样,是个奴才。就连您现在干活,也还是为了我这儿能有灯光,好让我舒舒服服地靠在这张沙发上看小说。过去您母亲给我们洗衣服,您给我们挑水。现在见面的时候,您我的地位仍然和从前一样。”

她得意洋洋,满怀恶意地这样说。保尔一面用小刀削电线头,一面带着毫不掩饰的轻蔑神情看着这个波兰女人。

“公民女士,单是为了您,我连一颗锈钉子也不会来钉的,不过,既然资产阶级发明了外交官,那我们也就保持着应有的礼仪,我们是不会砍下他们的脑袋的,甚至连粗野一点的话也不说,绝不会像您这样。”

涅莉脸红了。

“要是你们夺取了华沙,你们会怎样对待我呢?把我剁成肉泥,还是拿我去当你们的小老婆呢?”

她站在门口,歪扭着身子,作出妩媚的姿势;她那吸惯了可卡因麻醉剂的鼻子轻佻地翕动着。沙发上方的灯亮了。保尔挺直了身子。

“谁要你们?用不着我们的军刀,可卡因就会要你们的命。就你这样的,白给我当老婆,我还不要呢!”

他拿起工具箱,两步就迈到了门口。涅莉赶紧闪开,保尔到了走廊尽头,才听见她咬牙切齿地用波兰话骂了一声:“该死的布尔什维克!”

第二天晚上,保尔到图书馆去,路上遇见了卡秋莎·泽列诺娃。她紧紧抓住保尔工作服的袖口,挡住他的路,开玩笑地说:“你往哪儿跑,大政治家兼教育家?”

“到图书馆去,老大娘,给让条路吧。”保尔也学着她的腔调回答,一面轻轻抓住她的肩膀,小心地把她推到一旁。卡秋莎推开他的手,和他一起并肩走着。

“我说,保夫鲁沙!你也不能老是学习呀!……咱们今天参加晚会去吧,你看行不行?大伙今天在济娜·格拉德什家里聚会。姑娘们早就要我把你带去,可你光顾搞政治。你就不兴去玩玩,高兴高兴?要是你今天不看书,脑袋准能轻松点。”卡秋莎一个劲地劝他。

“开什么晚会?都干些什么?”

卡秋莎学着他的口吻,嘲笑他说:“都干些什么?反正不是祷告上帝,快快乐乐度时光——就干这个呗。你不是会拉手风琴吗?我还没听你拉过呢。你就让我高兴一回吧。济娜的叔叔有架手风琴,可是他拉得不好。姑娘们都愿意跟你接近,可你光知道啃书本,命都不要。

我问你,哪本书上写着,说共青团员不应该有一点娱乐?走吧,趁我劝你还没劝腻烦,要不,我就一个月不跟你说话。”

卡秋莎这个大眼睛的油漆工是个好同志,挺不错的共青团员,保尔不愿意让她扫兴,因此,虽然感到别扭,还是答应了她的要求。

火车司机格拉德什家里热热闹闹地挤满了人。大人为了不妨碍青年人,都到另一个房间里去了。大房间里和通向小花园的走廊上,聚集了十五六个姑娘和小伙子。卡秋莎领着保尔穿过花园踏上走廊的时候,那里已经在玩一种叫做“喂鸽子”的游戏了。走廊正中间,背对背地放着两把椅子。由一个女孩子发令,她喊两个名字,一个小伙子和一个姑娘就出来坐在椅子上。接着她又喊:“喂鸽子!”背对背坐着的年轻人便向后扭过头,嘴唇碰到一起,当众接起吻来。后来又玩“丢戒指”、“邮差送信”,每一种游戏都少不了要接吻。尤其是“邮差送信”,为了避开大家的监视,接吻的地点从明亮的走廊移到临时熄了灯的房间里。要是有谁对这些游戏还不满足,在角落里的一张小圆桌上给他们准备了一套“花弄情”纸牌。保尔旁边的一个名叫穆拉的女孩子,大约有十六岁,用那双蓝眼睛脉脉含情地觑着他,递给他一张纸牌,轻声说:“紫罗兰。”

几年以前,保尔见到过这样的晚会,尽管他自己没有玩,可是他并不认为这是什么不正当的娱乐。可是现在,他同小城市的小市民生活永远断绝了关系,在他看来,这种晚会就未免荒唐可笑了。

不管怎么说,一张“弄情”牌已经到了他的手里。

他看见“紫罗兰”的背后写着:“我很喜欢您。”

保尔看了看姑娘。她迎着他的目光,并不感到难为情。

“为什么?”

问题提得有点不好回答,不过穆拉早就准备好了答案。

“蔷薇。”她递给他第二张纸牌。

“蔷薇”的背面写着:“您是我的意中人。”保尔面对那个姑娘,尽量使语气温和些,问她:“你为什么要玩这种无聊的玩意儿呢?”

穆拉难为情了,不知道怎么说才好。

“难道您不高兴我的坦率吗?”她撒娇地噘起了嘴唇。

保尔没有回答她的问题。不过他很想知道这个同他谈话的姑娘究竟是什么人。于是他提了几个问题,姑娘都很乐意地回答了。几分钟后,他已经了解到一些情况。她在七年制中学上学,父亲是车辆检查员。她早就认得保尔,并且想跟他做朋友。

“你姓什么?”保尔又问。

“姓沃伦采娃,名字叫穆拉。”

“你哥哥是不是机车库的团支部书记?”

“是的。”

现在保尔弄清楚了他在跟谁打交道。沃伦采夫是区里最积极的共青团员之一,他显然没有关心妹妹的成长,她渐渐变成了一个庸俗的小市民。最近一年来,她像着了迷似的参加女友们家里举行的这类接吻晚会。她在哥哥那里见到过保尔几次。

现在,穆拉已经感到她旁边的这个人不赞成她的行为,所以当别人招呼她去“喂鸽子”的时候,她一看到保尔的嘲笑的表情,就坚决拒绝了。他们又坐了一会儿。穆拉把自己的事情讲给他听。这时,卡秋莎走到了他们跟前。

“拿来手风琴,你一定拉吗?”她调皮地眯起眼睛,看着穆拉:“怎么,你们已经认识了吧?”

保尔叫卡秋莎在身旁坐下,在周围的一片喊声和笑声中对她说:“我不拉了,我跟穆拉马上就离开这儿。”

“哎哟!这么说是玩腻了?”卡秋莎意味深长地拉长了声音说。

“对,腻了。告诉我,除了你和我,这儿还有别的团员吗?

也许只有咱们两个加入了这个鸽子迷的行列吧?”

卡秋莎和解地说:“那些无聊的游戏已经停止了。马上就开始跳舞。”

保尔站了起来。

“好吧,老太婆,你跳吧,我和沃伦采娃还是得走。”

一天晚上,安娜·博哈特来找奥库涅夫。屋里只有保尔一个人。

“保尔,你挺忙吗?愿不愿意跟我一起参加市苏维埃全体会议去?两个人做伴走有意思些,要很晚才能回来呢。”

保尔很快就收拾停当了。床头上挂着他的毛瑟枪,这支枪太重了。他从桌子里取出奥库涅夫的勃朗宁手枪,放进口袋里。他给奥库涅夫留了一个字条,把钥匙藏在约定的地方。

在会场上他们遇见了潘克拉托夫和奥莉加。大家都坐在一起,会间休息的时候一起在广场上散了一会儿步。不出安娜所料,会议直到深夜才散。

“到我那儿去住吧,怎么样?已经很晚了,还要走那么远的路。”奥莉加向安娜建议说。

“不,我跟保尔已经约好一起步了。”安娜谢绝了。

潘克拉托夫和奥莉加沿着大街向下面走了,保尔他们俩则走上坡路,回索洛缅卡。

漆黑的夜,又闷又热。城市已经入睡。参加会议的人们穿过寂静的街道,四散走开,他们的脚步声和谈话声逐渐消失了。保尔和安娜很快走过了市中心的街道。在空旷无人的市场上,巡逻队拦住了他们。验过证件之后,他们继续前行。

他们穿过林荫道,走上了一条通过旷场的街道,这条街上没有灯火,也没有行人。往左一拐,就走上了和铁路中心仓库平行的公路。中心仓库是一长排水泥建筑物,阴森森的,让人害怕。安娜不由得胆怯起来。她紧盯着暗处,断断续续地跟保尔谈着话,答非所问。直到弄清楚一个可疑的阴影只不过是根电线杆子的时候,她才笑了起来,并且把刚才的心情告诉了保尔。她挽住他的手臂,肩膀紧靠着他的肩膀,这才安下心来。

“我还不到二十三岁,可是神经衰弱得像个老太婆。你也许会把我当成胆小鬼,那可就错了。不过我今天精神特别紧张。现在有你在身边,我就不觉得害怕了,老是这么提心吊胆的,真有点不好意思。”

黑夜、荒凉的旷场、会上听到的波多拉区昨天发生的凶杀案,都使她感到恐惧;但是保尔的镇定、他的烟卷头上的火光、被火光照亮的脸庞和他眉宇间刚毅的神情——这一切又把她的恐怖全都驱散了。

仓库已经落在身后了。他们走过河上的小桥,沿着车站前的公路向拱道走去;这拱道在铁路的下面,是市区和铁路工厂区交界的地方。

车站已经落在右面很远了。一列火车正向机车库后面的死岔线开去。到了这里,差不多就算到家了。拱道上面,在铁路线上,亮着各种颜色的指示灯和信号灯,机车库旁边,一辆调度机车疲倦地喘着气,夜间开回去休息了。

拱道入口的上方,有一盏路灯,挂在生锈的铁钩子上。风吹得它轻轻地来回摇晃,昏暗的灯光不时从拱道的这面墙上移到那面墙上。

离拱道入口大约十步的地方,紧靠公路,有一所孤零零的小房子。两年以前,一颗重炮弹击中了它,内部全都炸坏了,正面的墙也坍了。现在,它露着巨大的窟窿,好像乞丐站在路边,向行人亮出一副穷相。这时可以看到拱道上面有一列火车开了过去。

“咱们总算快到家了。”安娜松了一口气说。

保尔想悄悄地抽回他的手,但是安娜不肯放。他们从小破房子旁边走了过去。

突然,后面有什么东西冲了过来。传来急速的脚步声,吁吁的喘气声,是有人在追赶他们。

保尔急忙往回抽手,但是安娜吓慌了,紧紧抓住不放。等到他终于使劲把手抽出来的时候,已经晚了:他的脖子被铁钳似的手掐住了。接着又被人猛然往旁一搡,他的脸就扭了过来,对着袭击他的人。那人用一只手狠劲扭住他的衣领,勒紧他的咽喉,另一只手拿手枪慢慢画了半个圆圈,对准了他的鼻子。

保尔的眼睛像中了魔法一样,极度紧张地跟着手枪转了半个圆圈。现在,死神就从枪口里逼视着他,他没有力量,也没有勇气把眼睛从枪口移开哪怕百分之一秒钟。他等着开枪,但是枪没有响,于是保尔那睁得溜圆的眼睛看见了歹徒的面孔:大脑袋,方下巴,满脸黑胡子,眼睛藏在大帽檐下面,看不清楚。

保尔用眼角一扫,看见了安娜惨白的脸。就在这时,一个歹徒正把她往破房子里拽。歹徒扭着她的双手,把她摔倒在地上。保尔看见拱道墙壁上又有一条黑影朝这边奔来。身后的破房子里,正在搏斗。安娜拼命地挣扎着,一顶帽子堵住了她的嘴,从被掐住的脖子里发出的喊叫声中止了。监视着保尔的那个大脑袋歹徒,显然不甘心只做这种兽行的旁观者,他像野兽一样,迫不及待地要把猎物弄到手。他大概是个头子,现在这样的“分工”,他是不能满意的。眼前,他抓在手里的这个少年太嫩了,看样子不过是个机车座的小徒工。

这么个毛孩子对他不会有什么危险的。“只消用枪在他脑门上戳几下,让他到旷场那边去——他准会撒腿就跑,一直跑到城里,连头也不敢回。”大脑袋想到这里,松开了手。

“赶快滚蛋……从哪儿来,到哪儿去,你敢吱一声,就一枪要你的命。”大脑袋用枪筒戳了戳保尔的前额。“快滚!”他嘶哑地低喝了一声,同时把枪口朝下,免得保尔害怕他从背后开枪。

保尔连忙往后退,头两步是侧着身子走的,眼睛还盯着大脑袋。歹徒以为他是怕吃子弹,便回身朝那座房子走去。

保尔马上把手伸进口袋,心想:“千万慢不得,千万慢不得!”他一个急转身,平举左臂,枪口刚一对准大脑袋歹徒,啪的就是一枪。

歹徒懊悔已经来不及了。没等他抬起手来,一颗子弹已经打进了他的腰部。

他挨了这一枪,喑哑地叫了一声,身子撞在拱道的墙壁上,他用手抓着墙,慢慢地瘫倒在地上。这时,一条黑影从小房的墙洞里钻出来,溜进了深沟。保尔朝这条黑影放了第二枪。接着,又有一条黑影弯着腰,连跑带跳地向拱道的暗处逃去。保尔又开了一枪。子弹打在水泥墙上,灰土撒落到歹徒身上,他往旁边一闪,在黑暗中消失了。保尔朝黑影逃走的方向又打了三枪,枪声惊动了宁静的黑夜。墙根底下,那个大脑袋歹徒像蛆虫一样,身体一屈一伸,在作垂死的挣扎。

安娜吓呆了,她被保尔从地上搀起来,看着躺在那里抽搐的歹徒,不相信自己已经得救了。

保尔用力把她从明亮的地方拉向暗处,他们转身往城里走,奔向车站。这时候,在拱道旁边,在路基上,已经有了灯光,铁路线上响起了报警的枪声。

当他们好不容易走到安娜的住所的时候,拔都山上的雄鸡已经报晓了。安娜斜靠在床上。保尔坐在桌子旁。他抽着烟,聚精会神地凝视着灰色的烟圈袅袅上升……刚才他杀死了一个人,在他一生中,这是第四个了。

到底有没有总是表现得完美无缺的勇敢呢?他回想着自己刚才的经历和感受,不得不承认,面对黑色的枪口,在最初几秒钟,他的心确实是凉了。再说,让两个歹徒白白逃走了,难道只是因为他一只眼睛失明和不得不用左手射击吗?

不。只有几步远的距离,本来可以打得更准些,但是由于紧张和匆忙才没有命中,而紧张和匆忙无疑是惊慌失措的表现。

台灯的光照着他的头,安娜正注视着他,不放过他面部肌肉的每一个动作。不过,他的眼睛是安详的,只有额上那条深深的皱纹说明他在紧张地思索。

“你想什么呢,保尔?”

他一怔,思绪中断了,像一缕烟从半圆形的灯影里飘了出去。他把临时产生的一个念头说了出来:“我应该到卫戍司令部去一趟,报告事情的经过。”

他不顾疲劳,勉强站了起来。

安娜真不愿意一个人待在屋里。她拉着保尔的手,好一会儿才放开。她把他送到门口,直到这个现在对她是这样可贵可亲的人在夜色中走出很远,才关上了门。

保尔到了卫戍司令部,他们才弄清了铁路警卫队刚才报来的无头案。死尸马上就认出来了:这是警察局里早就挂了号的一个强盗和杀人惯犯——大脑袋菲姆卡。

第二天大家都知道了拱道附近发生的事件。这件事使保尔和茨韦塔耶夫之间发生了一场意外的冲突。

工作正紧张的时候,茨韦塔耶夫走进车间,把保尔叫到跟前,接着又把他带到走廊上,在僻静的角落里站住了。他很激动,一时不知道话从哪里讲起,最后,才说了这么一句:“你谈谈昨天是怎么回事。”

“你不是都知道了吗?”

茨韦塔耶夫心神不安地耸了耸肩膀。保尔不知道,昨天夜里的事对茨韦塔耶夫的震动比对别人强烈得多。他也不知道,这个锻工虽然表面上淡漠,实际上对安娜·博哈特却颇为钟情。对安娜有好感的不止茨韦塔耶夫一个,但是他的感情要复杂得多。他刚才从拉古京娜那里听到了拱道附近的事,思想上产生了一个恼人的、无法解决的问题。他不能把这个问题直接向保尔提出来,可是又很想知道答案。他多少也意识到,他的担心是出自一种卑鄙的自私心理,但是,内心矛盾斗争的结果,这次还是一种原始的、兽性的东西占了上风。

“保尔,你听我说,”他压低声音说。“咱们俩这次谈话,过后别告诉任何人。我明白,为了不让安娜感到痛苦,你是不会说的,不过,你可以相信我。告诉我,那个歹徒掐住你的时候,另外两个是不是强奸了安娜?”说到这里,茨韦塔耶夫再也不敢正视保尔,忙把目光移向一旁。

保尔这才开始模模糊糊地明白了他的意思。“如果茨韦塔耶夫对安娜只是一般的感情,他就不会这么激动。可是,如果他真的爱安娜,那么……”保尔替安娜感到受了侮辱。

“你干吗要问这个?”

茨韦塔耶夫前言不搭后语地说了些什么,当他觉得人家已经看透了他的心思,就恼羞成怒地说:“你耍什么滑头?我要你回答,可你倒盘问起我来了。”

“你爱安娜吗?”

一阵沉默。然后茨韦塔耶夫挺费劲地说:“是的。”

保尔勉强压住怒火,一转身,头也不回地沿走廊走了。

一天晚上,奥库涅夫不好意思地在朋友的床旁边来回踱了一会儿,后来在床沿上坐下来,用手捂住保尔正在读的一本书。

“保尔,有件事得跟你说一下。从一方面说,好像是小事一桩,从另一方面说呢,又完全相反。我跟塔莉亚·拉古京娜之间弄得怪不好意思的。你看,一开始,我挺喜欢她,”奥库涅夫抱歉地搔了搔头,但是看到保尔并没有笑他,就鼓起了勇气:“后来塔莉亚对我……也有点那个了。总而言之,我用不着把全盘经过都告诉你,一切都明摆着,不点灯也看得见。昨天我们俩决定尝试一下建立共同生活的幸福。我二十二岁了,我们俩都成年了。我想在平等的基础上跟塔莉亚建立共同生活,你看怎么样?”

保尔沉思了一下,说:“尼古拉,我能说什么呢?你们俩都是我的朋友,出身都一样。其他方面也都相同,塔莉亚又是一个再好不过的姑娘……这样做是理所当然的。”

第二天,保尔把自己的东西搬到机车库的集体宿舍里去了。几天之后,在安娜那里合伙举行了一次不备食物的晚会——庆祝塔莉亚和尼古拉结合的共产主义式的晚会。晚会上大家追述往事,朗诵最动人的作品,一起唱了许多歌曲,而且唱得非常好。战斗的歌声一直传到很远的地方。后来,卡秋莎和穆拉拿来了手风琴,于是整个房间响彻了手风琴奏出的银铃般的乐曲声和浑厚深沉的男低音和声。这天晚上,保尔演奏得十分出色,当大个子潘克拉托夫出人意外地跳起舞来的时候,保尔就更是忘怀一切了。手风琴一改时兴的格调,像燃起一把火一样奏了起来:

喂,街坊们,老乡们!

坏蛋邓尼金伤心啦,

西伯利亚的肃反人员,

把高尔察克枪毙啦……

手风琴的曲调追忆着往事,把人们带回那战火纷飞的年代,也歌唱今天的友谊、斗争和欢乐。可是,当手风琴转到沃伦采夫手里的时候,这个钳工马上使劲奏出了热烈的“小苹果”舞曲,跟着就有一个人旋风似的跳起舞来,这个人不是别人,正是保尔。他跺着脚,疯狂地跳着,这是他一生中第三次也是最后一次跳舞。



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