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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 8
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Part Two Chapter 8

Down below, the sea broke on the jagged chaos of rock. A stiff dry breeze blowing from distant Turkey fanned his face. The harbour, protected from the sea by a concrete mole, thrust itself in an irregular arc into the shore-line. And overlooking it all were the tiny white cottages of the town's outskirts perched on the slopes of the mountain range which broke off abruptly at the sea.
It was quiet here in the old park outside of the town. Yellow maple leaves floated slowly down onto its grass-grown paths.
The old Persian cabby who had driven Pavel out here from town could not help asking as his strange fare alighted:
"Why come here of all places? No young ladies, no amusements. Nothing but the jackals. . . .
What will you do here? Better let me drive you back to town, mister tovarish!"
Pavel paid him and the old man drove away.
The park was indeed a wilderness. Pavel found a bench on a cliff overlooking the sea, and sat down, lifting his face to the now mild autumn sun.
He had come to this quiet spot to think things over and consider what to do with his life. The time had come to review the situation and take some decision.
His second visit to the Kyutsams had brought the family strife to a head. The old man on learning of his arrival had flown into a rage. It fell naturally to Korchagin to lead the resistance. The old man unexpectedly encountered a vigorous rebuff from his wife and daughters, and from the first day of Pavel's arrival the house split into two hostile camps. The door leading to the parents' half of the house was locked and one of the small side rooms was rented to Korchagin. Pavel paid the rent in advance and the old man was somewhat mollified by the arrangement; now that his daughters had cut themselves off from him he would no longer be expected to support them.
For diplomatic reasons Albina remained with her husband. As for the old man, he kept strictly to his side of the house and avoided meeting the man he so heartily detested. But outside in the yard he made as much noise as possible to show that he was still the master.
Before he went to work in the co-operative shop, old Kyutsam had earned his living by shoemaking and carpentry and had built himself a small workshop in the backyard.

To annoy his lodger, he shifted his work bench from the shed to a spot in the yard right under Pavel's window where he hammered furiously for hours on end, deriving a malicious satisfaction from the knowledge that he was interfering with Korchagin's reading.
"Just you wait," he hissed to himself, "I'll get you out of here. .. ."
Far away a steamer laid a small dark trail of smoke over the sea at the very horizon. A flock of gulls skimmed the waves with piercing cries.

Pavel, his chin resting in his hand, sat lost in thought. His whole life passed swiftly before his mind's eye, from his childhood to the present. How had these twenty-four years of his been lived?
Worthily or unworthily? He went over them again, year by year, subjecting them to sober, impartial judgement, and he found to his immense relief that he had not done so badly with his life. Mistakes there had been, the mistakes of youth, and chiefly of ignorance. But in the stormy days of struggle for Soviet power he had been in the thick of the fighting and on the crimson banner of Revolution there were a few drops of his own life's blood.
He had remained in the ranks until his strength had failed him. And now, struck down and unable to hold his place in the firing lines, there was nothing left for him but the field hospital. He remembered the time when they had stormed Warsaw and how, at the height of battle, one of the men had been hit. He fell to the ground under his horse's hooves. His comrades quickly bandaged his wounds, turned him over to the stretcher-bearers and sped onward in pursuit of the enemy. The squadron had not  halted its advance for the sake of one fallen soldier. Thus it was in the fight for a great cause and thus it had to be. True, there were exceptions. He had seen legless machine-gunners on gun carriages in battle. These men had struck terror into the enemy's ranks, their guns had sown death and destruction, and their steel-like courage and unerring eye had made them the pride of their units. But such men were few.
What was he to do now that defeat had overtaken him and there was no longer any hope of returning to the ranks? Had he not extracted from Bazhanova the admission that the future held even worse torment in store for him? What was to be done? The question was like a yawning abyss spreading at his feet.
What was there to live for now that he had lost what he prized most — the ability to fight? How was he to justify his existence today and in the cheerless tomorrow?

How was he to fill his days? Exist merely to breathe, to eat and to drink? Remain a helpless bystander watching his comrades fight their way forward? Be a burden to the detachment? No, better to destroy his treacherous body! A bullet in the heart — and be done with it! A timely end to a life well lived. Who would condemn the soldier for putting himself out of his agony?
He felt the flat body of his Browning in his pocket. His fingers closed over the grip, and slowly he drew out the weapon.
"Who would have thought that you would come to this?"
The muzzle stared back at him with cold contempt. Pavel laid the pistol on his knee and cursed bitterly.
"Cheap heroics, my lad! Any fool can shoot himself. That is the easiest way out, the coward's way.
You can always put a bullet through your head when life hits you too hard. But have you tried getting the better of life? Are you sure you have done everything you can to break out of the steel trap? Have you forgotten the fighting at Novograd-Volynsky when we went into the attack seventeen times in one day until finally, in spite of everything, we won through? Put away that gun and never breathe a word of this to anyone. Learn how to go on living when life becomes unbearable. Make your life useful."
He got up and went down to the road. A passing mountaineer gave him a lift on his cart. When they reached town he got off and bought a newspaper and read the announcement of a meeting of the city Party group in the Demyan Bedny Club. It was very late when he returned home that night. He had made a speech at the meeting, little suspecting that it was the last he was ever to make at a large public gathering.
Taya was still awake when he got home. She had been worried at Pavel's prolonged absence.
What had happened to him? She remembered the grim, cold look she had observed that morning in his eyes, always so live and warm. He never liked to talk about himself, but she felt that he was under some severe mental strain.
As the clock in her mother's room chimed two she heard the gate creak and, slipping on her jacket, she went to open the door. Lola, asleep in her own room, murmured restlessly as Taya passed her.
"I was beginning to get worried," Taya whispered with relief when Pavel came in.
"Nothing is going to happen to me as long as I live, Taya," he whispered. "Lola's asleep? I am not the least bit sleepy for some reason. I have something to tell you.

Let's go to your room so as not to wake Lola."
Taya hesitated. It was very late. How could she let him come to her room at this late hour? What would mother think? But she could not refuse for fear of offending him.

What could he have to say to her, she wondered, as she led the way to her room.
"This is how it is, Taya," Pavel began in a low voice. He sat down opposite her in the dimly-lighted room, so close that she could feel his breath. "Life takes such strange turns that you begin to wonder sometimes. I have had a bad time of it these past few days. I did not know how I could go on living. Life had never seemed so black. But today I held a meeting of my own private 'political bureau' and adopted a decision of tremendous importance. Don't be surprised at what I have to say."
He told her what he had gone through in the past few months and much of what had passed through his mind during his visit to the park.
"That is the situation. Now for the most important thing. The storm in this family is only beginning. We must get out of here into the fresh air and as far away from this hole as possible.
We must start life afresh. Once I have taken a hand in this fight I'm going to see it through. Our life, yours and mine, is none too happy at present. I have decided to breathe some warmth into it.
Do you know what I mean? Will you be my life's companion, my wife?"
Taya was deeply moved by his confession, but these last words startled her.
"I am not asking you for an answer tonight," he went on. "You must think it over carefully. I suppose you cannot understand how such things can be put so bluntly without the usual courting.
But you and I have no need of all that nonsense. I give you my hand, little girl, here it is. If you will put your trust in me you will not be mistaken. We can both give each other a great deal. Now, here is what I have decided: our compact will be in force until you grow up to be a real human being, a true Bolshevik. If I can't help you in that I am not worth a kopek. We must not break our compact until then. But when you grow up you will be freed of all obligations. Who knows what may happen? I may become a complete physical wreck, and in that case, remember, you must not consider yourself bound to me in any way."
He fell silent for a few moments, then he went on in tender, caressing voice: "And for the present, I offer you my friendship and my love."
He held her fingers in his, feeling at peace, as if she had already given her consent.
"Do you promise never to leave me?" "I can only give you my word, Taya. It is for you to believe that men like me do not betray their friends. . . . I only hope they will not betray me," he added bitterly. "I can't give you an answer tonight. It is all very sudden," she replied. Pavel got up.

"Go to bed, Taya. It will soon be morning." He went to his own room and lay down on the bed without undressing and was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.
The desk by the window in Pavel's room was piled high with books from the Party library, newspapers and several notebooks filled with notes. A bed, two chairs and a huge map of China dotted with tiny black and red flags pinned up over the door between his room and Taya's, completed the furnishings. The people in the local Party Committee had agreed to supply Pavel with books and periodicals and had promised to instruct the manager of the biggest public library in town to send him whatever he needed. Before long large parcels of books began to arrive. Lola was amazed at the way he would sit over his books from early morning, reading and making notes all day long with only short breaks for breakfast and dinner. In the evenings, which he always spent with the two sisters, he would relate to them what he had read.
Long past midnight old Kyutsam would see a chink of light between the shutters of the room occupied by his unwelcome lodger. He would creep over to the window on tiptoe and peer in through the crack at the head bent over the books.
"Decent folks are in their beds at this hour but he keeps the light burning all night long. He behaves as if he were the master here. The girls have got altogether out of hand since he came," the old man would grumble to himself as he retired to his own quarters.
For the first time in eight years Pavel found himself with plenty of time on his hands, and no duties of any kind to attend to. He made good use of his time, reading with the avid eagerness of the newly-enlightened. He studied eighteen hours a day. How much longer his health could have withstood the strain is hard to say, but a seemingly casual remark from Taya one day changed everything.
"I have moved the chest of drawers away from the door leading to your room. If ever you want to talk to me you can come straight in. You don't need to go through Lola's room." The blood rushed to Pavel's cheeks. Taya smiled happily. Their compact was sealed.

The old man no longer saw the chink of light through the shuttered window of the corner room, and Taya's mother began to notice a glow in her daughter's eyes that betrayed a happiness she could not conceal. The faint shadows under her eyes spoke of sleepless nights. Often now Taya's singing and the strumming of a guitar echoed through the little house.
Yet Taya's happiness was not unmarred; her awakened womanhood rebelled against the clandestine relationship. She trembled at every sound, fancying that she heard her mother's footsteps. What if they asked her why she had taken to closing her door on the latch at night? The thought tormented her. Pavel noticed her fears and tried to comfort her.
"What are you afraid of?" he would say tenderly. "After all, you and I are grown-up people. Sleep in peace. No one shall intrude on our lives."
Comforted, she would press her cheek against his breast, and fall asleep, her arms around her loved one. And he would lie awake, listening to her steady breathing, keeping quite still lest he disturb her slumber, his whole being flooded with a deep tenderness for this girl who had entrusted her life to him.
Lola was the first to discover the reason for the shining light in Taya's eyes, and from that day the shadow of estrangement fell between the two sisters. Soon the mother too found out, or rather, guessed. And she was troubled. She had not expected it of Korchagin.
"Taya is not the wife for him," she remarked to Lola. "What will come of it, I wonder?"
Alarming thoughts beset her but she could not muster the courage to speak to Korchagin.
Young people began visiting Pavel, and sometimes his little room could barely hold them all. Thesound of their voices like the beehive's hum reached the old man's ears and often he could hear them singing in chorus:

Forbidding is this sea of ours,
Night and day its angry voice is heard. . .

and Pavel's favourite:

The whole wide world is drenched with tears....

It was the study circle of young workers which the Party Committee had assigned to Pavel in response to his insistent request for propaganda work.
Once more he had gripped the helm firmly with both hands, and the ship of life, having veered dangerously a few times, was now steering a new course. His dream of  returning to the ranks through study and learning was on the way to being realised.
But life continued to heap obstacles in his path, and bitterly he saw each obstacle as a further delay to the attainment of his goal.
One day the ill-starred student George turned up from Moscow, bringing a wife with him. He put up at the house of his father-in-law, a lawyer, and from there continued

to pester his mother with demands for money.
George's coming widened the rift in the Kyutsam family. George at once sided with his father, and together with his wife's family, which was inclined to be anti-Soviet, he sought by underhand means to drive Korchagin out of the house and induce Taya to break with him.
Two weeks after George's arrival Lola got a job in another town and she left, taking her mother and her little son with her. Soon afterward, Pavel and Taya moved to a distant seaside town.

Artem did not often receive letters from his brother and the sight of an envelope with the familiar handwriting waiting for him on his desk in the City Soviet always made his heart beat faster.
Today too as he opened the envelope he thought tenderly:
"Ah, Pavel! If only you lived nearer to me. I could do with your advice, lad."

"Artem," he read. "I am writing to tell you all that has happened to me lately. I do not write such things to anyone but you. But I know I can confide in you because you know me well and you will understand.
"Life continues to press down on me on the health front, dealing me blow upon blow. I hardly managed to struggle to my feet after one blow when another, more merciless than the last, lays me low. The most terrible thing is that I am powerless to resist. First I lost the power of my left arm.
And now, as if that were not enough, my legs have failed me. I could barely move about (within the limits of the room, of course) as it was, but now I have difficulty in crawling from bed to table.
And I daresay there is worse to come. What tomorrow will bring me no one knows.
"I never leave the house now, and only a tiny fragment of the sea is visible from my window. Can there be a greater tragedy than that of a man who combines in himself a treacherous body that refuses to obey him, and the heart of a Bolshevik, a Bolshevik who passionately yearns to work, to be with all of you in the ranks of the fighters advancing along the whole front in the midst of the stormy avalanche?
"I still believe that I shall return to the ranks, that in time my bayonet will take its place in the attacking columns. I must believe that, I have no right not to.

For ten years the Party and the Komsomol taught me to fight, and the leader's words, spoken to all of us, apply equally to me:
'There are no fortresses Bolsheviks cannot take.'
"My life now is spent entirely in study. Books, books and more books. I have accomplished a great deal, Artem. I have read and studied all the classics, and have passed my examinations in the first year of the correspondence course at the Communist University. In the evenings I lead a study circle of Communist youth. These young comrades are my link with the practical life of the Party organisation. Then there is Taya's education, and of course love, and the tender caresses of my little wife. Taya and I are the best of friends. Our household is very simply run — with my pension of thirty-two rubles and Taya's earnings we get along quite well. Taya is following the path I myself took to the Party: for a time she worked as a domestic servant, and now has a job as a dishwasher in a canteen (there is no industry in this town).
"The other day she proudly showed me her first delegate's credentials issued by the Women's Department. This is not simply a strip of cardboard to her. In her I see the birth of the new woman, and I am doing my best to help in this birth. The time will come when she will work in a big factory, where as part of a large working community she will become politically mature. But she is taking the only possible course open to her here.
"Taya's mother has visited us twice. Unconsciously she is trying to drag Taya back to a life of petty, personal selfish cares. I tried to make Albina see that she ought not to allow the shadow of her own unhappy past to darken the path her daughter has chosen. But it was no use. I feel that one day the mother will try to stand in her daughter's way and then a clash will be unavoidable. I shake your hand.

"Your Pavel."

Sanatorium No. 5 in Old Matsesta.... A three-storey brick building standing on a ledge hewed into the mountain-side. Thick woods all around and a road winding down to the sea. The windows are open and the breeze carries the smell of the sulphur springs into the room. Pavel Korchagin is alone in the room. Tomorrow new patients will arrive and then he will have a room-mate. He hears steps outside the window and the sound of a familiar voice. Several people are talking. But where has he heard that deep bass voice before? From the dim recesses of his memory, hidden away but not forgotten, comes the name: "Ledenev. He and none other."
Pavel confidently called to his friend, and a moment later Ledenev was beside his bed shaking his hand warmly.
"So Korchagin is still going strong? Well, and what have you got to say for yourself? Don't tell me you have decided to get sick in real earnest? That will never do!

You should take an example from me. The doctors have tried to put me on the shelf too, but I keep going just to spite them." And Ledenev laughed merrily.
But Pavel felt the sympathy and distress hidden behind that laughter.
They spent two hours together. Ledenev told Pavel all the latest news from Moscow. From him Pavel first heard of the important decisions taken by the Party on the

collectivisation of agriculture and the reorganisation of life in the village and he eagerly drank in every word.
"Here I was thinking you were busy stirring things up somewhere at home in the Ukraine," said Ledenev. "You disappoint me. But never mind, I was in an even worse way. I thought I'd be tied to my bed for good, and now you see I'm still on my feet. There's no taking life easy nowadays. It simply won't work! I must confess I find myself thinking sometimes how nice it would be to take a little rest, just to catch your breath. After all, I'm not as young as I was, and ten and twelve hours' work a day is a bit hard on me at times. Well, I think about it for a while and even try to ease the load a little, but it's no use. Before you know it, you're up to your ears again, never getting home before midnight. The more powerful the machine, the faster the wheels run, and with us the speed increases every day, so that we old folk simply have to stay young."
Ledenev passed a hand over his high forehead and said in a kindly manner:
"And now tell me about yourself."
Pavel gave Ledenev an account of his life since they had last met, and as he talked he felt his friend's warm approving glance on him.

Under the shade of spreading trees in one corner of the terrace a group of sanatorium patients were seated around a small table. One of them was reading the Pravda, his

bushy eyebrows knitted. The black Russian shirt, the shabby old cap and the unshaved face with deep-sunken blue eyes all bespoke the veteran miner. It was twelve years since Khrisanf Chernokozov had left the mines to take up an important post in the government, yet he seemed to have just come up from the pit.
Everything about him, his bearing, his gait, his manner of speaking, betrayed his profession.
Chernokozov was a member of the Territorial Party Bureau besides. A painful disease was sapping his strength: Chernokozov hated his gangrenous leg which had kept him tied to his bed for nearly half a year now.
Opposite him, puffing thoughtfully on her cigarette, was Zhigareva — Alexandra Alexeyevna Zhigareva, who had been a Party member for nineteen of her thirty-seven years. "Shurochka the metalworker", as her comrades in the Petersburg underground movement used to call her, had been hardly more than a girl when she was exiled to Siberia.
The third member of the group was Pankov. His handsome head with the sculptured profile was bent over a German magazine, and now and then he raised his hand to adjust his enormous horn-rimmed spectacles. It was painful to see this thirty-year-old man of athletic build dragging his paralysed leg after him. An editor and writer, Pankov worked in the People's Commissariat of Education. He was an authority on Europe and knew several foreign languages. He was a man of considerable erudition and even the reserved Chernokozov treated him with great respect.
"So that is your room-mate?" Zhigareva whispered to Chernokozov, nodding toward the chair in which Pavel Korchagin was seated.

Chernokozov looked up from his newspaper and his brow cleared at once.
"Yes! That's Korchagin. You ought to know him, Shura. It's too bad illness has put many a spoke in his wheel, otherwise that lad would be a great help to us in tight spots. He belongs to the first Komsomol generation. I am convinced that if we give him our support — and that's what I have decided to do — he will still be able to work."
Pankov too listened to what Chernokozov was saying.
"What is he suffering from?" Shura Zhigareva asked softly.
"The aftermath of the Civil War. Some trouble with his spine. I spoke to the doctor here and he told me there is a danger of total paralysis. Poor lad!"
"I shall go and bring him over here," said Shura.
That was the beginning of their friendship. Pavel did not know then that Zhigareva and Chernokozov were to become very dear to him and that in the years of illness ahead of him they were to be his mainstays.

Life flowed on as before. Taya worked and Pavel studied. Before he had time to resume his work with the study groups another disaster stole upon him unawares. Both his legs were completely paralysed. Now only his right hand obeyed him. He bit his lips until the blood came when after repeated efforts he finally realised that he could not move. Taya bravely hid her despair and bitterness at being powerless to help him. But he said to her with an apologetic smile:
"You and I must separate, Taya. After all, this was not in our compact. I shall think it over properly today, little girl!"
She would not let him speak. The sobs burst forth and she hid her face against his chest in a paroxysm of weeping.
When Artem learned of his brother's latest misfortune he wrote to his mother. Maria Yakovlevna left everything and went at once to her son. Now the three lived together. Taya and the old lady took to each other from the first.
Pavel carried on with his studies in spite of everything.
One winter's evening Taya came home to report her first victory — she had been elected to the City Soviet. After that Pavel saw very little of her. When her day's work in the sanatorium kitchen was over Taya would go straight to the Soviet, returning home late at night weary but full of impressions. She was about to apply for candidate membership in the Party and was preparing for the long-awaited day with eager anticipation. And then misfortune struck another blow. The steadily progressing disease was doing its work. A burning excruciating pain suddenly seared Pavel's right eye, spreading rapidly to the left. A black curtain fell, blotting out all about him, and for the first time in his life Pavel knew the horror of total blindness.
A new obstacle had moved noiselessly onto his path barring his way. A terrifying, seemingly insurmountable obstacle. It plunged Taya and his mother into despair. But he, frigidly calm,resolved:
"I must wait and see what happens. If there is really no possibility of advancing, if everything I have done to return to the ranks has been swept away by this blindness I must put an end to it all."
Pavel wrote to his friends and they wrote back urging him to take courage and carry on the fight.
It was in these days of grim struggle for him that Taya came home radiant and announced:
"I am a candidate to the Party, Pavel!"
Pavel listened to her excited account of the meeting at which her application was accepted and remembered his own initial steps in the Party.
"Well, Comrade Korchagina, you and I are a Communist faction now," he said, squeezing her hand.
The next day he wrote to the secretary of the District Party Committee asking the latter to come and see him. The same evening a mud-spattered car drew up outside the house and in a few moments Volmer, a middle-aged Lett with a spreading beard that reached to his ears, was pumping Pavel's hand.
"Well, how goes it? What do you mean by behaving like this, eh? Up with you and we'll send you off to work in the village at once," he said with a breezy laugh. He stayed for two hours, forgetting all about the conference he was to have attended. He paced up and down the room, listening to Pavel's impassioned appeal for work.
"Stop talking about study groups," he said when Pavel had finished. "You've got to rest. And we must see about your eyes. It may still be possible to do something. What about going to Moscow and consulting a specialist? You ought to think it over.. . ." But Pavel interrupted him:
"I want people, Comrade Volmer, live, flesh-and-blood people! I need them now more than ever before. I cannot go on living alone. Send the youth to me, those with the least experience. They're veering too much to the left out there in the villages, the collective farms don't give them enough scope, they want to organise communes. You know the Komsomols, if you don't hold them back they're liable to try and dash forward ahead of the lines. I was like that myself." Volmer stopped in his tracks.
"How do you come to know about that? They only brought the news in today from the district."
Pavel smiled.
"My wife told me. Perhaps you remember her? She was admitted to the Party yesterday."
"Korchagina, the dishwasher? So that's your wife! I didn't know that!" He fell silent for a few moments, then he slapped his forehead as an idea occurred to him. "I know whom we'll send you.
Lev Bersenev. You couldn't wish for a better comrade. He's a man after your own heart, the two of you ought to get along famously. Like two high-voltage transformers. I was an electrician once, you know. Lev will rig up a wireless for you, he's an expert at that sort of thing. I often sit up till two in the morning at his place with those earphones. The wife actually got suspicious. Wanted to know what I meant by coming home so late." Korchagin smiled. "Who is Bersenev?" he asked.
Volmer ceased his pacing and sat down. "He's our notary public, although he's no more notary public really than I am a ballet dancer. He held an important post until quite recently. Been in the movement since 1912 and a Party member since the Revolution. Served in the Civil War on the revolutionary tribunal of the Second Cavalry Army; that was the time they were combing out the Whiteguard lice in the Caucasus. He was in Tsaritsyn too, and on the Southern Front as well. Then for a time he was a member of the Supreme Military Court of the Far Eastern Republic. Had a very tough time of it there. Finally tuberculosis got him. He left the Far East and came down here to the Caucasus. At first he worked as chairman of a gubernia court, and vice-chairman of a territorial court. And then his lung trouble knocked him out completely. It was a matter of coming down here and taking it easy or giving up the ghost. So that's how we come to have such a remarkable notary. It's a nice quiet job too, just the thing for him. Well, gradually the people here got him to take up a group. After that he was elected to the District Committee, then, before he knew it, he had charge of a political school, and now they've put him on the Control Commission.
He's a permanent member on all important commissions appointed to unravel nasty tangles. Apart from all that he goes in for hunting, he's a passionate radio fan, and although he has only one lung, you wouldn't believe it to look at him. He is simply bursting with energy. When he dies it'll be somewhere on the way between the District Committee and the court." Pavel cut him short.
"Why do you load him down like that?" he asked sharply. "He is doing more work here than before!"
Volmer gave him a quizzical look:
"And if I give you a study circle and something else Lev would be sure to say: 'Why must you load him down like that?' But he himself says he'd rather have one year of  intensive work than five years on his back in hospital. It looks as if we'll have to build socialism before we can take proper care of our people."
"That's true. I too prefer one year of life to five years of stagnation, but we are sometimes criminally wasteful of our energies. I know now that this is less a sign of heroism than of inefficiency and irresponsibility. Only now have I begun to see that I had no right to be so stupidly careless about my own health. I see now that there was nothing heroic about it at all. I might have held out a few more years if it hadn't been for that misguided Spartanism. In other words, the infantile disease of leftism is one of the chief dangers."
"That's what he says now," thought Volmer, "but let him get back on his feet and he'll forget everything but work." But he said nothing.
The following evening Lev Bersenev came. It was midnight before he left Pavel. He went away feeling as if he had found a brother.
In the morning a wireless antenna was set up on the roof of Korchagin's house, while Lev busied himself inside the house with the receiving set, regaling Pavel the while with interesting stories from his past. Pavel could not see him, but from what Taya had told him he knew that Lev was a tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed young man with impulsive gestures, which was exactly as Pavel had pictured him the moment they had first met.
When evening came three valves began to glow in the room. Lev triumphantly handed Pavel the earphones. A chaos of sounds filled the ether. The transmitters in the port chirped like so many birds, and somewhere not far out at sea a ship's wireless was sending out an endless stream of dots and dashes. But in this vortex of noises and sounds jostling one another the tuning coil picked out and clung to a calm and confident voice:
"This is Moscow calling...."
The tiny wireless set brought sixty broadcasting stations in different parts of the world within Pavel's reach. The life from which he had been debarred broke through to him from the earphone membranes, and once again he felt its mighty pulse.
Noticing the glow of pleasure in Pavel's eyes, the weary Bersenev smiled with satisfaction.

The big house was hushed. Taya murmured restlessly in her sleep. Pavel saw little of his wife these days. She came home late, worn out and shivering from cold. Her work claimed more and more of her time and seldom did she have a free evening. Pavel remembered what Bersenev had told him on this score:
"If a Bolshevik has a wife who is his Party comrade they rarely see one another. But this has two advantages: they never get tired of each other, and there's no time to quarrel!" And indeed, how could he object? It was only to be expected. There was a time when Taya had devoted all her evenings to him. There had been more warmth and tenderness in their relationship then. But she had been only a wife, a mate to him; now she was his pupil and his Party comrade.
He knew that the more Taya matured politically, the less time she would be able to give him, and he bowed to the inevitable.
He was given a study group to lead and once again a noisy hum of voices filled the house in the evenings. These hours spent with the youth infused Pavel with new energy and vigour.
The rest of the time went in listening to the radio, and his mother had difficulty in tearing him away from the earphones at mealtimes.
The radio gave him what his blindness had taken from him — the opportunity to acquire knowledge, and this consuming passion for learning helped him to forget the pain that racked his body, the fire that seared his eyes and all the misery an unkind fate had heaped upon him.
When the radio brought the news from Magnitostroi of the exploits of the Komsomols who had succeeded Pavel's generation he was filled with happiness.
He pictured the cruel blizzards, the bitter Urals frosts as vicious as a pack of hungry wolves. He heard the howling of the wind and saw amid the whirling of the snow a detachment of second-generation Komsomols working in the light of arc lamps on the roof of the giant factory buildings to save the first sections of the huge plant from the ravages of snow and ice. Compared to this,how tiny seemed the forest construction job on which the first generation of Kiev Komsomols had battled with the elements!

The country had grown, and with it, the people.And on the Dnieper, the water had burst through the steel barriers and swept away men and machines. And again the Komsomol youth had hurled themselves into the breach, and after a furious two-day battle had brought the unruly torrent back under control. A new Komsomol generation marched in the van of this great struggle. And among the heroes Pavel heard with pride the name of his old comrade Ignat Pankratov.









































































































































































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