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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.

 

海浪在他脚下拍打着岸边的乱石。从遥远的土耳其吹来的干燥的海风,吹拂着他的脸。这里的海岸曲折地弯进陆地,形成一个港湾,港口有一条钢骨水泥的防波堤。蜿蜒起伏的山峦伸到海边突然中断了。市郊的一座座小白房像玩具似的,顺着山势向上,伸展到很远的地方。

古老的郊区公园里静悄悄的。很久没有人收拾的小径长满了野草。被秋风吹落的枯黄的槭树叶,慢慢地飘向地面。

一个波斯老车夫把保尔从城里拉到这里。他扶着这位古怪的乘客下车的时候,忍不住问道:“你到这儿来干吗?没姑娘,也没戏院,只有胡狼……真不明白,你来干什么!还是坐我的车回去吧,同志先生!”

保尔付了车钱,老车夫也就走了。

公园里一个人也没有。保尔在海边找到一条长凳,坐了下来,让已经不太热的太阳照着他的脸。

今天,他特意到这僻静的地方来,回顾他的生活历程,考虑今后怎么办。该是进行总结,做出决定的时候了。

保尔第二次到丘察姆家,使这一家的矛盾激化到了极点。

老头子听说他来了,暴跳如雷,在家里大闹了一场。领着母女三人进行反抗的,当然是保尔了。老头子没有想到,妻子和女儿会给他这样有力的反击。从保尔来到那天起,这一家人就分开过了,两边的人互相敌对,彼此仇视。通向两个老人房间的过道钉死了,把一间小厢房租给了保尔。房钱是预先付给老头子的。他似乎很快也就坦然了:两个女儿既然同他分了家,就再也不会向他要生活费用了。

从外交上着想,阿莉比娜仍然跟老头子住在一起。老头子不愿意同那个冤家照面,从来不到年轻人这边来。但是在院子里,他却像火车头一样喘着粗气,表示他是这里的主人。

老头子没有到合作社工作以前,会两门手艺——掌鞋和做木工活。他把板棚改成了作坊,抽空捞点外快。现在,为了同房客捣乱,他故意把工作台搬到保尔的窗子底下,幸灾乐祸地使劲敲钉子。他非常清楚,这样一来保尔就看不成书了。

“等着瞧吧。我早晚要把你赶出去……”他低声嘟哝着。

在接近地平线的远方,远航轮船吐出来的黑烟,像乌云一样在渐渐扩散。一群海鸥尖叫着,向海上飞去。

保尔双手抱着头,陷入了沉思。他的一生,从童年到现在,一幕幕在他眼前闪过。这二十四年他过得怎样?好,还是不好?他一年又一年地回忆着,像一个铁面无私的法官,检查着自己的一生。结果他非常满意,这一生过得还不怎么坏。

当然也犯过不少错误,有时是因为糊涂,有时是因为年轻,多半则是由于无知。但是最主要的一点是,在火热的斗争年代,他没有睡大觉,在夺取政权的激烈搏斗中,他找到了自己的岗位,在革命的红旗上,也有他的几滴鲜血。

我们的旗帜在全世界飘扬,

它燃烧,放射出灿烂的光芒,

那是我们的热血,鲜红似火……

他小声诵读着他喜爱的一首歌曲中的诗句,难为情地笑了。“老弟,你那点英雄浪漫主义,还没有完全扔掉呢。平平常常、普普通通的东西,你总爱给它们抹上一层绚丽的色彩。

可要说到辩证唯物主义的钢铁逻辑,老弟,那你就差劲啦。着忙生什么病呢?过五十年生也不晚嘛。同志,现在应该学习,正是大好时机。而眼下要紧的是活下去,他妈的。我怎么那么早就给捆住了手脚呢?”他十分痛苦地想着,五年来第一次恶狠狠地骂开了娘。

难道他能料到这种飞来的横祸吗?老天爷给了他一副什么都经受得起的、结结实实的身板。他回想起小时候跟风比赛,飞快地奔跑,爬起树来跟猴子一样灵活,四肢有力、肌肉发达的身子轻而易举从这根树枝挪腾到那根树枝上。但是动乱的岁月要求人们付出超人的力量和意志。他没有吝惜,无保留地把全部精力奉献给了以不灭的火焰照亮他生活之路的斗争。他献出了他拥有的一切,到了二十四岁,风华正茂之时,正当胜利的浪潮把他推上创造性幸福生活的顶峰,他却被击中了。他没有马上倒下,而是像一个魁伟的战士,咬紧牙关,追随着胜利进击的无产阶级的钢铁大军。在耗尽全部精力以前,他没有离开过战斗的队伍。现在他身体垮了,再也不能在前线坚持战斗。唯一能做的事是进后方医院。他还记得,在进攻华沙的激战中,一个战士被子弹打中了,从马上跌下来,摔倒在地上。战友们给他匆忙地包扎好伤口,把他交给卫生员,又翻身上马,追赶敌人去了。骑兵队伍并没有因为失去一个战士而停止前进。为伟大的事业进行斗争的时候就是这样,也应该是这样。不错,也有例外。他就见到过失去双腿的机枪手,在机枪车上坚持战斗。这些战士对敌人来说是最可怕的人,他们的机枪给敌人送去死亡和毁灭。这些同志意志如钢,枪法准确,他们是团队的骄傲。不过,这样的战士毕竟不多。

现在,他身体彻底垮了,失去了重新归队的希望,他该怎样对待自己呢?他终于使巴扎诺娃吐露了真情,这个女医生告诉他,前面还有更可怕的不幸等待着他。怎么办?这个恼人的问题就摆在面前,逼着他解决。

他已经失去了最宝贵的东西——战斗的能力,活着还有什么用呢?在今天,在凄凉的明天,他用什么来证明自己生活得有价值呢?又有什么来充实自己的生活呢?光是吃、喝、呼吸吗?当一名力不从心的旁观者,看着战友们向前冲杀吗?

就这样成为战斗队伍的累赘吗?他想起了基辅无产阶级的领袖叶夫格妮亚·博什。这位久经考验的女地下工作者得了肺结核,丧失了工作能力,不久前自杀身亡。她在简短的留言中解释了这样做的理由:“我不能接受生活的施舍。既然成了自己的党的病患,我认为继续活下去是不必要的。”把背叛了自己的肉体也消灭掉,怎么样?朝心口开一枪,就完事了!过去既然能够生活得不坏,现在也应该能够适时地结束生命。一个战士不愿再受临终前痛苦的折磨,谁能去责备他呢?

他的手摸到了口袋里光滑的勃朗宁手枪,手指习惯地抓住了枪柄。他慢慢掏出手枪。

“谁想到你会有今天?”

枪口轻蔑地直视着他的眼睛。他把手枪放到膝上,恶狠狠地骂了起来:“这算什么英雄,纯粹是冒牌货,老弟!任何一个笨蛋,随便什么时候,都会对自己开一枪。这样摆脱困境,是最怯懦、最省事的办法。生活不下去——就一死了之。对懦夫来说,也不需要更好的出路。你试过去战胜这种生活吗?你尽一切努力冲破这铁环了吗?你忘了在诺沃格勒—沃伦斯基附近,是怎样一天发起十七次冲锋,终于排除万难,攻克了那座城市吗?把枪藏起来吧,永远也不要对任何人提起这件事。

就是到了生活已经无法忍受的时候,也要善于生活下去,要竭尽全力,使生命变得有益于人民。”

他站起来,朝大道走去。一个过路的山里人赶着四轮马车,顺路把他拉进城里。进城后,他在一个十字路口买了一份当地的报纸。报上登着本市党组织在杰米扬·别德内依俱乐部开会的通知。保尔回到住处的时候,已经是深夜了。他在积极分子会议上讲了话,自己也没有想到,这竟是他最后一次在大会上讲话。

达雅还没有睡。保尔出去这么久没有回来,她很担心。他怎么啦?到哪儿去了呢?她发觉保尔那双一向活泼的眼睛,今天显得严峻而冷漠。他很少讲到自己,但是达雅感觉到,他正在遭受某种不幸。

母亲房里的钟敲了两下,外面传来了叩门声。她立即披上外套,跑去开门。廖莉娅在自己房间里,喃喃地说着梦话。

“我都担心你出了什么事呢。”保尔走进过道的时候,达雅小声对他说。她很高兴他终于回来了。

“我是到死也不会出什么事的,达尤莎。怎么,廖莉娅睡了吗?你知道,我一点也不想睡。我要把今天的事跟你谈一谈。到你屋里去吧,要不,会把廖莉娅吵醒的。”他也小声对她说。

达雅犹豫了一下。她怎么好深更半夜还同他在一起谈话呢?母亲知道了,会怎么想呢?但是这话又不便对保尔讲,他会不高兴的。再说,他想告诉她什么呢?她一边想,一边已经走进自己的房间。

“是这么回事,达雅,”他们在黑暗的房间里面对面地坐下之后,保尔压低了声音说。他俩离得很近,达雅连他的呼吸都可以感觉到。“生活起了这样的变化,我自己也有点莫名其妙。这些日子我心情很不好。我不知道在这个世界上今后该怎么生活。有生以来,我从来没有像这几天这样苦闷。今天我召开了自己的‘政治局’会议,做出了非常重要的决议。

我把这些话告诉你,你可不要感到奇怪。”

保尔把近几个月的全部心情和今天在郊区公园里的许多想法都告诉了她。

“情况就是这样。现在谈谈主要的吧。你们家里的这场好戏刚刚开锣,你得冲出去,吸吸新鲜空气,离开这个窝越远越好。应该从新开始生活。我既然卷入了这场斗争,咱们就把它进行到底。你我两人的个人生活都不痛快。我决心放一把火,让它烧起来。你明白这是什么意思吗?你愿意做我的朋友,做我的妻子吗?”

达雅一直十分激动地听着他的倾诉,听到最后一句话,她感到很意外,不由得打了一个寒战。保尔接着说:“达雅,我并不要求你今天就答复我。你好好地全面想一想。你一定不明白,这个人怎么不献一点殷勤,不说一句甜言蜜语,就提出这种问题。要那套无聊的玩意儿干什么呢!我把手伸给你,就在这儿,小姑娘,握住它吧。要是这次你相信我,你是不会受骗的。我有许多东西是你需要的,反过来也是一样。我已经想好了:咱们的结合一直延续到你成长为一个真正的人,成为我们的同志,我一定能帮助你做到这一点,不然,我就一点价值也没有了。在这之前,咱们都不能破坏这个结合。一旦你成熟了,你可以不受任何义务的约束。

谁知道,也许有一天我会完全瘫痪。你记住,到那时候我也绝不拖累你。”

稍停片刻,他又亲切而温情地说:“现在我就请你接受我的友谊和爱情。”

他握住她的手不放,心情很平静,好像她已经答应了他似的。

“你不会抛弃我吗?”

“达雅,口说不足为凭。你相信一点好了:像我这样的人是不会背叛朋友的……但愿朋友们也不背叛我。”他辛酸地结束了他的话。

“我今天什么都不能对你说,这一切来得太突然了。”她回答说。

保尔站了起来。

“睡吧,达雅,天快亮了。”

他回到自己房间,和衣躺在床上,头刚挨着枕头,就睡着了。

保尔房间里,靠窗有一张桌子,上面放着几摞从党委图书馆借来的书,一沓报纸和几本写得满满的笔记。还有一张从房东那里借来的床,两把椅子;有一扇门通达雅的房间,门上挂着一幅很大的中国地图,上面插着许多红色和黑色的小旗。保尔取得了当地党委的同意,可以利用党委资料室的书刊,党委还指定本城最大的港口图书馆主任当他的读书指导。

不久他就陆续借来了大批书籍。廖莉娅看着他,觉得很惊奇,他从清早到晚上一直埋头读书,做笔记,只在吃饭的时候才休息一会儿。每天晚上,他们三个人都在廖莉娅房间里谈天,保尔把读到的东西讲给姐妹俩听。

老头子后半夜到院子里,总是看到那个不受欢迎的房客的窗户里透出一线灯光。老头子踮起脚,悄悄走到窗前,从窗板缝里看到了伏在桌子上读书的保尔的头。

“别人都睡了,可这位呢,点着灯整宿不睡。大模大样,像是他当家一样。两个丫头也敢跟我顶嘴了。”老头子闷闷不乐地想着,走开了。

八年来,保尔第一次不担任任何工作,有这么多的空闲时间。他像一个刚刚入门的学生,如饥似渴地读着书,每天读十八个小时。长此以往,他的健康会受到多大的危害,就难说了。幸好有一天,达雅像是随便告诉他:“我把柜子搬开了,通你房间的门已经可以打开。你有什么事要找我谈,可以走这个门,不用再穿过廖莉娅的房间了。”

保尔的脸上露出了光彩。达雅高兴地浅浅一笑——他们的结合成功了。

从此,老头子半夜里再也看不到厢房的窗户透出灯光,母亲开始发现达雅眼神里有掩饰不住的欢乐。她的两只眼睛被内心的火烧得亮晶晶的,眼睛下面隐约现出两块暗影——这是不眠之夜的结果。这座不大的住宅里,经常可以听到吉他的琴声和达雅的歌声了。

这个获得了欢乐的女人也常常感到苦恼,她觉得自己的爱情好像是偷来的。有一点响动,她就要哆嗦一下,总觉得是母亲的脚步声。她老是担心,万一有人问她为什么每天晚上要把房门扣上,她该怎么回答呢。保尔看出了她的心情,温柔地安慰她说:“你怕什么呢?仔细分析起来,你我就是这里的主人。放心睡吧。谁也没有权力干涉咱们的生活。”

达雅脸贴着爱人的胸脯,搂着他,安心地睡着了。保尔久久地听着她的呼吸,一动也不动,生怕惊醒她的甜梦。他对这个把一生托付给他的少女,充满了深切的柔情。

达雅的眼睛近来总是那样明亮,第一个知道这个原因的,是廖莉娅,从此,姐妹俩就疏远了。不久,母亲也知道了,确切些说,是猜到了。她警觉起来,没有想到保尔会这样。有一次,她对廖莉娅说:“达尤莎配不上他。这么下去会有什么结果呢?”

她忧心忡忡,却又没有勇气同保尔谈谈。

青年们开始来找保尔。小房间有时挤得满满的。蜂群一样的嗡嗡声不时传到老头子耳朵里。他们常常齐声歌唱:

我们的大海一片荒凉,

日日夜夜不停地喧嚷……

有时候唱保尔喜爱的歌:

泪水洒遍茫茫大地……

这是工人党员积极分子小组在集会,保尔写信要求担负一点宣传工作,党委就把这个小组交给了他。保尔的日子就是这样度过的。

保尔双手重新把住了舵轮,生活的巨轮几经周折,又朝着新的目的地驶去。他的目标是通过学习,通过文学,重返战斗行列。

但是,生活给他设置了一个又一个障碍,每次遇到波折,他都不安地想:这回对他达到目的地,不知道会有多大影响。

突然,那个考大学不走运的乔治带着老婆从莫斯科回来了。他住在革命前当过律师的岳父家里,不断回来刮他母亲的钱。

乔治一回来,家庭关系更加恶化了。他毫不犹豫地站在父亲一边,并且同那个敌视苏维埃政权的岳父一家串通一气,施展阴谋诡计,一心要把保尔从家里轰出去,把达雅夺回来。

乔治回来以后两个星期,廖莉娅在邻区找到了工作,带着母亲和儿子搬走了。保尔和达雅也搬到很远的一个滨海小城去了。

半年过去了。国家开始进行伟大的工程。社会主义已经到了现实生活的门槛前面,正由理想变成人类智慧和双手创造的庞然巨物。这座空前宏伟壮观的大厦正在奠定它的钢筋混凝土的地基。

“钢、铁、煤”这三个有魔力的词越来越多地出现在进行伟大建设的国家的报纸上。

“要么我们跑完这段距离,赶上技术发达的资本主义国家,用最短的时间,也建立起自己强大的工业,使我们在技术方面不依赖于资本主义世界,要么我们就被踩死,因为没有钢、铁、煤,不要说建成社会主义,就是保住正在进行社会主义建设的国家,也是办不到的。”党通过领袖之口这样告诉全国人民,于是全国出现了为钢铁而战的空前热潮,人们迸发出来的巨大激情世所未见。“速度”这个词也发出了热烈的行动号召。

在久远的古代,为抵抗贵族波兰以及当时还强盛的土耳其的入侵,哥萨克分队曾驰骋在扎波罗什营地上,杀得敌人闻风丧胆,如今在昔日的营地上,在霍尔季扎岛近旁,另有一支部队在安营扎寨。这是布尔什维克的部队,他们决定拦腰截断古老的第聂伯河,驾驭它那狂暴的原始力量,去开动钢铁的涡轮机,让这条古老的河流像生活本身一样为社会主义工作。人向自然界发动了进攻,在汹涌的第聂伯河的急流处,给它桀骜不驯的力量戴上钢筋水泥的枷锁。

在三万名向第聂伯河开战的大军中,在这支大军的指挥员中,有过去的基辅码头工人、现今的建筑工段段长伊格纳特·潘克拉托夫。大军从两岸向河流夹击,从战斗打响的第一天起,两岸之间就展开了社会主义竞赛,这是工人生活中的新生事物。

潘克拉托夫那硕大的身躯轻快地在跳板上、小桥上跑来跑去,一会儿在搅拌机旁跟弟兄们说两句俏皮话,一会儿消失在土壕沟里,一会儿又突然在卸水泥和钢梁的站台上露面。

一大清早,他那佝偻的身子出现在“吃紧的”工区,直到深夜他才把终于疲乏了的巨大躯体放倒在行军床上。

有一次,他面对晨雾笼罩的河面,面对河岸上一望无际的建筑材料,看得出了神,不禁回想起森林中小小的博亚尔卡。当时似乎是一个大工程,同目前的情景相比,不过是一件儿童玩具罢了。

“瞧咱们这气派,发展得多快,伊格纳特好兄弟。第聂伯河这匹烈马让咱们给套住了。老爷子们再也不用在这急流险滩上折腾吃苦头啦。给你一百万度电,没说的!这才是咱们真正生活的开端,伊格纳特。”一股热流从他胸中涌起,仿佛他贪婪地喝下了一杯烈酒似的。“博亚尔卡那些弟兄们在哪儿呢?把保尔,还有扎尔基两口子都叫来多好,咳!那我们就把左岸的人给盖啦。”想到博亚尔卡,他又不由得想起了朋友们。

那些跟他一起在隆冬季节大战博亚尔卡的人,还有那些共同创建共青团组织的人,如今分散在全国各地,从热火朝天的新建筑工地到辽阔无边的祖国的偏僻角落,都在重建新生活。过去,他们那批早期共青团员,大约有一万五千人。有时在茫茫人海中相遇,真是亲如手足。现在,他们那个小小的共青团已成为巨人。原先只有一个团员的地方,如今能拉出整整一个营。

“冲我们来吧,小鬼头们。前不久还在桌子底下钻来钻去呢。我们已经在前线干开了,他们还要妈妈用衣襟替他们擦鼻涕。一转眼的工夫,都蹿起来了,在工地上还拼命想把你撵到乌龟壳里去。对不起,这一招可不行。咱们还得走着瞧。”

潘克拉托夫饱吸了一口河边清新的空气,深深感受到一种满足。二十岁的共青团员安德留沙·小托卡列夫在左岸第七工段当支部书记,今天晚上潘克拉托夫要把那个工段“挂到自己拖轮的钩子上”,到那时他肯定也会有这种满足感的。

至于刚才他回忆起的那位朋友和战友保夫鲁沙·柯察金,他现在被抛弃在偏僻遥远的滨海小城,为争取归队而进行着顽强艰苦的斗争,既有失败的悲哀,也有胜利的欢乐。

阿尔焦姆很少收到弟弟的信。每当他在市苏维埃办公桌上见到灰色信封和那有棱有角的熟悉的字体,他就会失去往常的平静。现在,他一面撕开信封,一面深情地想:“唉,保夫鲁沙,保夫鲁沙!咱们要是住在一起该多好。

你经常给我出出主意,对我一定很有用,弟弟!”

保尔信上说:

阿尔焦姆:

我想跟你谈谈我的情况。除你以外,我大概是不会给任何人写这样的信的。你了解我,能理解我的每一句话。我在争取恢复健康的战场上,继续遭到生活的排挤。

我受到接连不断的打击。一次打击过后,我刚刚站起来,另一次打击又接踵而来,比上一次更厉害。最可怕的是我现在没有力量反抗了。左臂已经不听使唤。这就够痛苦的了,可是接着两条腿也不能活动了。我本来只能在房间里勉强走动,现在从床边挪到桌子跟前也要费很大劲。到这步田地大概还不算完。明天会怎么样——还很难说。

我已经出不去屋,只能从窗口看到大海的一角。一个人有一颗布尔什维克的心,有布尔什维克的意志,他是那样迫不及待地向往劳动,向往加入你们全线进攻的大军,向往投身到滚滚向前、排山倒海的钢铁巨流中去,可是他的躯体却背叛了他,不听他的调遣。这两者集中在一个人身上,还有比这更可怕的悲剧吗?

不过我还是相信我能够重返战斗行列,相信在冲锋陷阵的大军中也会有我的一把刺刀。我不能不相信,我没有权利不相信。十年来,党和共青团教给了我反抗的艺术。领袖说过,没有布尔什维克攻不克的堡垒,这句话对我也适用。

阿尔焦姆,你会说我信里有许多熔化了的钢铁。本来嘛,我们的生活本身也不是靠蛤蟆的冷冰冰的血点燃起来的。我要你和我一道相信,保尔会回到你们身边的,哥哥,咱们还要一起好好干呢。不可能不是这样,要不然,当罪恶的旧世界已经在我们的马蹄下声嘶力竭地呻吟的时候,国内战争的火红战旗怎么还会使我们热血沸腾呢?如果在棘手的,有时甚至是残忍的生活面前我们屈膝下跪,承认失败,那我们工人的坚强意志还从何说起呢?

阿尔焦姆,朋友们听到这些话时,我有时也看到有人流露出惊奇的目光。谁知道,也许有人会想:他是让理想遮住了眼睛,看不到现实。他们不明白我的希望寄托在什么地方。

现在稍稍讲讲其他方面的情况。我的生活已形成了一个格局,局限在一块小小的军事基地上。这就是我的学习——读书,读书,还是读书。阿尔焦姆,我已经读了很多书,收获颇丰。国外的、国内的著作我都读。读完了主要的古典文学作品,学完了共产主义函授大学一年级课程,考试也及格了。晚上我辅导一个青年党员小组学习。通过这些同志,我和党组织的实际工作保持着联系。此外,还有达尤莎,她的成长和她的进步,当然还有她的爱情,她那妻子的温存体贴。

我们俩生活得很和美。我们的经济情况是一目了然的——我的三十二个卢布抚恤金和达雅的工资。她正沿着我走过的道路走到党的行列里来:她以前给人家当佣人,现在是食堂里的洗碗女工(这个小城没有工厂)。

前几天,达雅拿回来第一次当选为妇女部代表的证件,兴高采烈地给我看。对她来说,这不是一张普通的硬纸片。我注意地观察着她,看到一个新人在逐步成长,我尽自己的全部力量帮助她。总有一天,她会进入一个大工厂,生活在工人集体中间,到那时候,她就会最后成熟了。目前在我们这个小城里,她还只能走这条唯一可行的道路。

达雅的母亲来过两次。她不自觉地在拉女儿的后腿,要把她拉回到充满卑微琐事的生活中去,让她再陷入狭隘、孤独的生活圈子里。我努力劝说老太太,告诉她不应该让她过去的生活在女儿前进的道路上投下阴影。但是,这一切努力都白费。我觉得,达雅的母亲有一天会成为她走向新生活的障碍,跟这个老太太的斗争是不可避免的。

握手。

你的保尔

老马采斯塔的第五疗养院是一座石砌的三层楼房,修建在悬崖上开辟出来的平场上。四周林木环抱,一条道路曲折地通到山脚下。所有房间的窗户全敞开着,微风吹拂,送来了山下矿泉的硫磺气味。保尔房间里只有他一个人。明天要来一批新疗养员,那时他就有同伴了。窗外传来一阵脚步声。

有好几个人在谈话。其中一个人的声音很耳熟,他在什么地方听到过这浑厚的男低音呢?他苦苦思索,终于把藏在记忆深处的一个还没有忘却的名字找了出来:英诺肯季·帕夫洛维奇·列杰尼奥夫,正是他,不会是别人。保尔蛮有把握地喊了他一声。过了一分钟,列杰尼奥夫已经坐在他的旁边,快活地拉住他的手了。

“你还活着哪?怎么样,有什么好事让我高兴高兴?你这是怎么啦,真正当起病号来了?这我可不赞成。你得向我学习。大夫也早说过我非退休不可,我就不听他们那一套,一直坚持到现在。”列杰尼奥夫温厚地笑了起来。

保尔体会到他的笑谈中隐藏着同情,又流露出一丝忧虑。

他们畅谈了两个小时。列杰尼奥夫讲了莫斯科的新闻。从他嘴里,保尔第一次听到党关于农业集体化和改造农村的重要决定,他如饥似渴地听着每一句话。

“我还以为你在你们乌克兰的什么地方干工作呢。没想到你这么倒霉。不过,没关系,我原来的情况还不如你,那时候我差点躺倒起不来,现在你看,我不是挺精神吗?现在说什么也不能无精打采地混日子。你明白吗?这样不行!我有时候也有不好的念头,心想,也许该休息一下了,稍微松口气也好。到了这个岁数,一天干十一二个小时,真有点吃不消。好吧,那就想想,哪些工作可以分出去一部分,有时候甚至都要落实了,到头来每次都是一个样:坐下来办‘移交’,一办起来就没个完,晚上十二点也回不了家。机器开得越快,小齿轮转得也越快。现在我们的前进速度一天胜过一天,结果就是我们这些老头也得像年轻时候一样干。”

列杰尼奥夫用手摸了摸高高的额头,像慈父一般亲切地说:“好,现在你讲讲你的情况吧。”

列杰尼奥夫听保尔讲他前些时候的生活,保尔注意到,列杰尼奥夫一直用炯炯有神的目光赞许地看着他。

凉台的一角,在浓密的树荫下坐着几个疗养员。紧紧皱起两道浓眉,在小桌旁边看《真理报》的,是切尔诺科佐夫。

他穿着俄罗斯斜领黑衬衫,戴一顶旧鸭舌帽,瘦削的脸晒得黝黑,胡子好久没有刮了,两只蓝眼睛深深地凹陷进去,一看就知道,他是个老矿工。十二年前,他参加边疆区领导工作的时候,就放下了镐头,可是现在他的样子,仍然像刚从矿井里上来的一样。这从他的举止言谈上,从他讲话的用词上,都可以看得出来。

切尔诺科佐夫是边疆区党委常委和政府委员。他腿上得了坏疽,这个病折磨着他,不断消耗他的体力。他恨透了这条病腿,因为它强迫他躺在床上已经快半年了。

坐在他对面,抽着烟沉思的是亚历山德拉·阿列克谢耶夫娜·日吉廖娃。她今年三十七岁,入党却已有十九年了。在彼得堡做地下工作的时候,大家都管她叫“金工姑娘小舒拉”。差不多还是孩子的时候,她就尝到了西伯利亚流放的滋味。

坐在桌旁的第三个人是潘科夫。他低着那像古代雕像一样美丽的头,正在读一本德文杂志,不时用手扶一扶鼻梁上的角质大眼镜。说起来叫人难以相信,这个三十岁的大力士竟要费很大劲才能抬起那条不听使唤的腿。米哈伊尔·瓦西里耶维奇·潘科夫是个编辑、作家,在教育人民委员部工作,他熟悉欧洲,会好几种外语。他满肚子学问,就连那个持重的切尔诺科佐夫对他也很尊重。

“他就是跟你同屋的病友吗?”日吉廖娃向坐在轮椅上的保尔那边抬了抬头,小声问切尔诺科佐夫。

切尔诺科佐夫放下报纸,脸上立刻露出了兴奋的神情。

“是呀,他就是保尔·柯察金。亚历山德拉,您一定得跟他认识一下。他让病给缠住了,不然把这个小伙子派到咱们那些难对付的地方去,倒是一把好手。他是第一代共青团员。

一句话,要是咱们大家都扶他一把,他还可以工作。我是下了这个决心的。”

潘科夫倾听着他们的谈话。

“他得的什么病?”日吉廖娃又小声地问。

“一九二○年受伤留下的病根。脊椎骨上的毛病。我问过这儿的大夫,你知道吗,他们都担心这个病会叫他全身瘫痪。你看有多严重!”

“我马上把他推过来。”日吉廖娃说。

他们的友谊就是这样开始的。保尔没有想到,日吉廖娃和切尔诺科佐夫以后都成了他最亲近的人,在后来病重的那几年里,他们是他最有力的支柱。

生活还是和从前一样。达雅做工,保尔学习。他刚要着手小组工作,一个新的不幸又偷偷地向他袭来:他双腿瘫痪了。现在只有右手还能活动。他做了许多努力,都没有效果,他知道再也不能行动了,这时候,他把嘴唇都咬出了血。达雅勇敢地掩饰着她的绝望和由于无力帮助他而产生的痛苦。

他抱歉地微笑着说:“达尤莎,咱们俩离婚吧。反正也没约定,碰到这种倒霉事还要一起过下去。这件事今天我要好好想一想,我亲爱的小姑娘。”

达雅不让他说下去。她忍不住放声痛哭起来。她哽咽着,把保尔的头紧紧搂在怀里。

阿尔焦姆知道弟弟又遭到新的不幸,写信告诉了母亲,玛丽亚·雅科夫列夫娜扔下一切,立刻到儿子这里来了。老太太、保尔和达雅住在一起,婆媳俩处得很和睦。

保尔继续在学习。

在一个阴湿的冬天的晚上,达雅带回来她获得第一个胜利的好消息——她当选为市苏维埃委员了。从那时起,保尔就很少见到她。下班以后,达雅经常从她工作的那个疗养院食堂,径直到妇女部或苏维埃去,深夜才回到家里。她虽然很疲劳,脑子里却装满了新鲜事物。吸收她为预备党员的日子临近了。她怀着十分激动的心情迎接这一天的到来。可是,偏偏在这个时候,一个新的不幸又突然袭来。保尔的病情在继续发展。他的右眼发炎,火烧火燎的,疼得难以忍受,接着左眼也感染了。保尔有生以来第一次尝到了失明的滋味——周围的一切都蒙上了一层黑纱。

一个可怕的、不可逾越的障碍,默默地出现在道上,挡住了他的路。母亲和达雅悲痛到了极点,他本人却很冷静,暗暗下定了决心:“应该再等一等。要是真的不可能再前进,要是为恢复工作所做的一切努力都被失明一笔勾销,要是重返战斗行列已经不可能——那就应该了结了。”

保尔写信给朋友们。他们纷纷来信鼓励他坚强起来,继续斗争下去。

就在他最痛苦的日子里,达雅激动而又高兴地告诉他:“保夫鲁沙,我现在是预备党员了。”

保尔一面听她讲党支部接收她入党的经过,一面回想自己入党前后的情况。

“柯察金娜同志,这么说,咱们俩可以组成一个党小组了。”说着,他紧紧地握住了她的手。

第二天,他写信给区委书记,请他来一趟。傍晚,一辆溅满泥浆的小汽车在房前停了下来,区委书记沃利梅尔走进屋里。他是个年过半百的拉脱维亚人,一脸络腮胡子。

他握住保尔的手,说:“日子过得怎么样?你怎么这么不像话呀?起来吧,我们马上派你下地干活去。”说完,他大笑起来。

区委书记在保尔家里呆了两个小时,甚至忘记了晚上还要开会。保尔说得很激动,拉脱维亚人一面听,一面在屋里踱来踱去,最后他说:“你别提小组的事了。你需要的是休息,再把眼病看出个结果来。不见得就没办法了吧。要不要到莫斯科去一趟,啊?你考虑一下……”

保尔打断了他的话:“我需要的是人,沃利梅尔同志,是活的人。孤单单一个人,我是活不下去的。我现在比任何时候都需要同活人接触。

给我派几个年轻人来吧,最好是那些小青年。他们在你们乡下,总想搞‘左’一点,嫌集体农庄不过瘾,想搞公社。这些共青团小伙子你要是照看不到,他们就会冒到前边去,脱离群众。我过去就是这样,这我知道。”

沃利梅尔停下脚步问:“这些情况今天才从区里传来,你是从哪儿知道的?”

保尔微微一笑。

“你大概还记得我爱人吧?你们昨天才吸收她入党。是她告诉我的。”

“啊,柯察金娜,就是那个洗碗工?她是你爱人?哈哈,我还不知道呢!”他想了一下,用手拍了拍前额,接着说:“有了,我们给你派个人来吧,就是列夫·别尔谢涅夫。这个同志再合适不过了。你们两个脾气挺相近,准合得来。你们有点像两只高频变压器。你知道吗,我以前当过电工,所以爱用这样的字眼,打这样的比喻。列夫还会给你装上个收音机,他是个无线电专家。你知道,我常在他家听耳机子,一听就是半夜两点。连我老伴都起了疑心,说:你这老鬼,天天晚上到哪儿逛去了?”

保尔微笑着问:“别尔谢涅夫是个什么样的人?”

沃利梅尔来回走累了,坐到椅子上说:“别尔谢涅夫是咱们区的公证人,但是,他当公证人就跟我跳芭蕾舞一样外行。不久前他还是个大干部。一九一二年参加革命,十月革命时入了党。国内战争时期他是军级干部,在骑兵第二集团军革命军事法庭工作;在高加索跟热洛巴一起消灭过‘白虱子’。他到过察里津,去过南方战线,在远东主管过一个共和国的最高军事法庭。他这人什么艰难困苦都尝过,后来肺结核把他撂倒了。他从远东来到这儿。在高加索,他当过省法院院长,边疆区法院副院长。最后他的两个肺都坏了,眼看要不行了,这才强把他调到咱们这儿。这就是咱们这个不平常的公证人的来历。这个职务挺清闲,所以他还活着。可是,今天悄悄让他领导一个支部,明天又把他拉进区委会,接着,又塞给他一个政治学校让他管,又要他参加监察委员会;成立处理难题的重要委员会时,都少不了他。除了这些,他还爱打猎,又是个无线电迷。别看他少了一个肺,可一点也不像病人。他精力很充沛。他要是死,大概也要死在从区委到法院的路上。”

保尔提了个尖锐的问题,打断了他的话,说:“你们为什么给他那么多工作呢?他在这儿比原先工作还忙。”

沃利梅尔眯缝着眼睛,瞟了保尔一下。

“要是让你领导一个小组,再加点别的工作,别尔谢涅夫也准会说:‘你们为什么给他那么多工作呢?’可是他对他自己呢,却又会说:‘宁可猛干工作活一年,也不躺在病床混五年’。爱惜人这件事,看来只有等社会主义建成之后才能做到了。”

“他说得对。我也赞成干一年,反对混五年,不过我们还是常常随便浪费人力,这等于犯罪。现在我才明白,这样做与其说是英雄行为,不如说是任性和不负责任。直到现在我才开始懂得,我没有权利这样糟蹋自己的健康。原来这并不是什么英雄行为。要不是因为蛮干,我也许还可以再坚持几年。一句话,对我来说,‘左派’幼稚病是一个主要的危险。”

“也就说得好听罢了,真让他下床干起来,早就什么都不顾了。”沃利梅尔心里这样想,但是没有说出来。

第二天晚上,别尔谢涅夫来看保尔,一直谈到半夜才走。

别尔谢涅夫离开新朋友的时候,心情就像刚刚见到了失散多年的弟弟一样。

早晨,有几个人爬上屋顶,架起了天线。别尔谢涅夫在房里一面安装收音机,一面讲着他经历过的最有意思的事情。

保尔看不见他,根据达雅的描述,知道他长着淡黄色的头发,浅蓝色的眼睛,体格匀称,动作敏捷,也就是说,他的模样跟保尔刚同他见面时想象的完全一样。

天黑的时候,三只小灯亮了,别尔谢涅夫庄重地把耳机递给保尔。太空中传来一片杂音。港口的莫尔斯电报机像小鸟一样啁啾地叫着,轮船上的无线电台正在某个地方(看样子是在近海)发报。一片嘈杂声中,可变电感器的线圈突然收到了沉着而自信的声音:“注意,注意,这里是莫斯科广播电台……”

小小的收音机,通过天线,可以收听到世界上六十个电台的播音。疾病割断了保尔同生活的联系,现在生活穿过耳机的膜片,又冲了进来,他又重新摸到了生活的强有力的脉搏。

疲劳的别尔谢涅夫看见保尔两眼闪烁着光芒,微微地笑了。

家里的人全睡了。达雅在睡梦中不安地嘟哝着。她每天很晚才回家,又冷又累。保尔很少见到她。她越是一心扑在工作上,晚上空闲时间就越少,于是保尔想起了别尔谢涅夫的话:“如果一个布尔什维克的妻子也是党员,他们就不能常见面。这有两个好处:一是彼此不会嫌弃,二是没有时间吵嘴!”

他怎么能反对呢?这本来是预料中的事。过去,达雅把她的每个晚上都给了他。那时候比现在有更多的温暖,更多的体贴。不过,那时候她仅仅是个朋友、妻子,而现在则是他的学生和党内的同志。

他懂得,随着达雅的成长,她照顾他的时间会越来越少,他认为这是理所当然的。

保尔接受了辅导一个小组的任务。

晚上,家里又热闹起来。保尔每天同青年人在一起度过几个小时,就会获得新的活力。

其余的时间他都听广播,母亲喂他吃饭,要费很大劲才能摘掉他的耳机。

失明夺去的东西,无线电又给了他——他又可以学习了。

他以无坚不摧的顽强意志进行学习,忘记了一直在发烧的身体,忘记了肉体的剧烈疼痛,忘记了两眼火烧火燎的炎肿,忘记了严峻无情的生活。

在马格尼托戈尔斯克钢铁企业建筑工地上,继保尔那一代共青团员之后,青年们高举青年共产国际的旗帜,建立了功勋,当电波把这个消息传来的时候,保尔感到无比幸福。

他想象中出现了暴风雨——像狼群一样猖獗的暴风雪和乌拉尔的严寒。狂风怒号,大雪铺天盖地而来,就在这样的黑夜里,由第二代共青团员组成的突击队,在明亮的弧光灯下,在庞大的建筑物顶上安装玻璃,从冰雪严寒中抢救那个举世闻名的联合企业刚建成的第一批车间。基辅第一代共青团员顶风冒雪铺设的森林铁路同它相比就显得微不足道了。

国家壮大了,人也成长了。

在第聂伯河上,大水冲垮钢闸,汹涌澎湃,淹没了机器和人。又是共青团员们顶住天灾,顾不上睡眠和休息,苦战两昼夜,终于把河水赶进了闸门。在这场艰巨的抢险斗争中,走在前面的是新一代的共青团员。在英雄模范人物的名单中,保尔高兴地听到了一个熟悉的名字——伊格纳特·潘克拉托夫。



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