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Рыбаков, Анатолий - Рыбаков - The dirk

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Anatoly Rybakov. The dirk

хЛНОСХ

---------------------------------

Foreign Languages PUBLISHING HOUSE

MOSCOW
1954
TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN BY DAVID SKVIRSKY

     ILLUSTRATED BY 0.VEREISKY

     DESIGNED BY A.VLASOVA


     ___________________________________


     OCR: http://home.freeuk.com/russica2
CONTENTS


     Part I

     REVSK

     Chapter 1 -The Damaged Inner Tube

     Chapter 2 -The Boys of Ogorodnaya and Alekseyevskaya Streets

     Chapter 3 -Affairs and Dreams

     Chapter 4 -The Punishment

     Chapter 5 - The Tree Hut

     Chapter 6 - The Raid

     Chapter 7 - Mother

     Chapter 8 - Visitors

     Chapter 9 - The Battleship Empress Maria

     Chapter 10 - Departure

     Chapter 11 - In the Troop Train

     Chapter 12 - The Railway Guard's Cabin

     Chapter 13 - Bandits

     Chapter 14 - Farewell


     Part II

     THE COURT IN ARBAT STREET


     Chapter 15 - A Year Later

     Chapter 16 - The Bookcase

     Chapter 17 - Genka

     Chapter 18 - Borka, the Skinflint

     Chapter 19 - Shura Bolshoi

     Chapter 20 - The Club

     Chapter 21 - Acrobats

     Chapter 22 - The "Art" Cinema

     Chapter 23 - The Dramatic Circle

     Chapter 24 - The Cellars

     Chapter 25 - Suspicious Characters

     Chapter 26 - The Aerial Runway

     Chapter 27 - The Secret

     Chapter 28 - The Code


     Part III

     NEW FRIENDS


     Chapter 29 - Ellen Bush

     Chapter 30 - The Purchase

     Chapter 31 - Mikhail Korovin

     Chapter 32 - Misha Has a Talk with Mother

     Chapter 33 - The Black Fan

     Chapter 34 - Aunt Agrippina

     Chapter 35 - Filin

     Chapter 36 - In Krasnaya Presnya District

     Chapter 37 - A Slight Misunderstanding

     Chapter 38 - Impressions

     Chapter 39 - Artists

     Chapter 40 - Experienced Sleuths

     Chapter 41 - The Performance


     Part IV

     DETACHMENT No 17


     Chapter 42 - Young Pioneers

     Chapter 43 - The Playground

     Chapter 44 - Yura's Bicycle

     Chapter 45 - The Ribbon

     Chapter 46 - Plans

     Chapter 47 - Preparing for Camp

     Chapter 48 - In Camp

     Chapter 49 - The Quartermaster General

     Chapter 50 - The Camp-Fire

     Chapter 51 - Mysterious Preparations

     Chapter 52 - The Cart

     Chapter 53 - The Sheath


     Part V

     GRADE SEVEN


     Chapter 54 - Auntie Brosha

     Chapter 55 - Class Meeting

     Chapter 56 - Lethory

     Chapter 57 - A Strange Inscription

     Chapter 58 - The Wall Newspaper

     Chapter 59 - The Regimental Gunsmith

     Chapter 60 - A Drawing Lesson

     Chapter 61 - Boris Fyodorovich

     Chapter 62 - Grandmother Podvolotskaya and Aunt Sonya

     Chapter 63 - Letters


     Part VI

     THE COTTAGE IN PUSHKINO


     Chapter 64 - Slava

     Chapter 65 - Konstantin Alekseyevich

     Chapter 66 - Correspondence

     Chapter 67 - Genka's Birthday Party

     Chapter 68 - Pushkino

     Chapter 69 - Nikitsky

     Chapter 70 - About Father

     Chapter 71 - Genka's Blunder

     Chapter 72 - Face to Face with Nikitsky

     Chapter 73 - The Terentyev Family

     Chapter 74 - New Members of the Komsomol


     Part I
REVSK


     Chapter 1
THE DAMAGED INNER TUBE


     Misha got up noiselessly from his bed, dressed, and slipped out to the porch.

     The broad, empty street was dozing in the warmth of the early morning sun. Only the crowing of roosters broke the silence, and from the house came an occasional cough and sleepy mumbling-the first sounds of animation in the cool stillness of repose.

     Misha screwed up his eyes and shivered. He felt like going back to his warm bed, but the thought of the catapult red-headed Genka had been parading yesterday made him shake off his sleepiness, and he picked his way carefully across the squeaky floor-boards to the store-room.

     A narrow ray of light coming from a tiny window near the ceiling fell on a bicycle against the wall. It was an old machine that had been assembled from spare parts; its tyres were flat, the spokes broken and rusty, and the chain cracked. On the wall over the bicycle hung a torn inner tube with patches of every hue and colour; Misha took it down, cut out two thin strips with his penknife, and replaced it so that the cuts were hidden against the wall.

     He cautiously opened the door and was about to leave the storeroom, when he suddenly caught sight of Polevoy in the passage, barefooted, in a striped jersey and with his hair all rumpled. Misha softly pulled the door back, leaving it slightly ajar, and watched through the narrow opening.

     Polevoy went into the yard, stopped in front of a neglected kennel, and looked about him attentively.

     "Why isn't he asleep?" Misha wondered. "And he's behaving queerly, too."

     Everyone called Polevoy "Comrade Commissar." He was a tall strongly built man with fair hair and sly, laughing eyes. He had once been a sailor, and he always wore wide black trousers and a jacket that smelled of tobacco, and carried a revolver on a belt under the jacket. All the boys envied Misha because Polevoy lived in his house.

     "Why isn't he in bed?" Misha thought. "Now I'll never get out of here!"

     Polevoy sat on a log near the kennel and looked round the yard again. His searching gaze swept the opening Misha was peeping through and the windows of the house.

     Then he slipped his hand under the kennel, rummaged about a long time evidently feeling for something, and finally straightened up, rose to his feet, and went back to the house. The door of his room made a scraping sound, the bed creaked under his heavy weight, and everything became still again.

     Misha wanted to start making a catapult right away, but he also wanted to know what Polevoy had looked for under the kennel. He moved up to it stealthily, then stopped to think.

     Should he look? What if someone saw him? Misha sat on the log and eyed the windows. No, it was wrong to be so inquisitive ... he scooped out the earth and thrust his hand under the kennel. Of course there was nothing there, Misha told himself. He had simply imagined that Polevoy was looking for something. He rummaged about under the kennel. Nothing, of course! Only earth. He would not take it out and look at it even if something was hidden there; all he wanted was to make sure. His fingers touched something soft like a piece of cloth. So there was something there, after all. Should he take it out? Misha looked at the house again, gave the cloth a tug, scraped away the earth, and pulled out a package.

     As he opened the package the steel blade of a dagger flashed in the sunlight. A dirk! Naval officers carried dirks like that. It had three sharp edges and no sheath. Coiled round the yellowed bone handle was a small bronze serpent with open jaws and tongue curled upwards.

     It was only an ordinary naval dirk. Why was Polevoy hiding it? Strange. Very strange-Misha inspected the dirk again, then wrapped it in the cloth, put it back under the kennel, covered it with earth, and returned to the porch.

     The gates of neighbouring yards were thrown open with a clatter and the cows, their tails swishing, lumbered out importantly to join a passing herd. They were followed by a boy who wore a long ragged coat that came down to his bare heels and a sheepskin cap. He was shouting at the cows and deftly cracking a whip that trailed after him in the dust like a snake.

     Misha thought of the dirk as he sat on the porch making the catapult. It was an ordinary one, except for the small bronze serpent. But what was Polevoy hiding it for?

     He finished the catapult. It was better than Genka's, he was sure, and, to try it, he picked up a stone and let it fly at some sparrows hopping in the street. The stone missed the target. The sparrows flew off and alighted on the neighbouring fence. Misha wanted to try another shot but was stopped by the sound of steps in the house, the grating of the damper, and the splashing of water in the tub. He hid the catapult under his shirt and went into the kitchen.

     Grandmother was moving large baskets of cherries that stood on a bench. She was wearing a greasy dressing-gown, the pockets weighed down with keys. Her plump face was careworn and furrowed with wrinkles, and near-sightedness made her blink her small, slightly squinting eyes.

     "Take your hands off!" she exclaimed when Misha put his hand into a basket. "The idea... with dirty paws!"

     "Stingy!" Misha grumbled.

     "You can have some later. Go and wash yourself first."

     Misha went to the sink; he wetted his palms under the tap, touched the tip of his nose, slid his hands across the towel, and went to the dining-room.

     Grandfather was already there, sitting in his customary seat "at the head of the long table covered with a brown oilcloth with a flowered pattern. He was a grey-haired old man with a thin beard and a reddish moustache, and when Misha came in he was using his thumb to carry a pinch of tobacco to his nostrils and sneezing into a yellow handkerchief. There was laughter in his lively eyes, set in kindly beaming wrinkles, and from his jacket came a mild, pleasant smell, that was exclusively his own.

     Breakfast had not yet been served, and to while away the time Misha pushed his plate into the middle of a rose in the pattern of the oilcloth and with his fork traced a ring round it.

     A deep scratch appeared on the oilcloth.

     "My respects to Mikhail Grigoryevich!" Polevoy's merry voice boomed behind Misha.

     Polevoy came out of his room with a towel tied round his waist.

     "Good morning, Sergei Ivanovich," Misha replied with a sly look at Polevoy: he would never guess that Misha knew about the dirk!

     Misha covered the scratch with his elbows when Grandmother carried the samovar into the room.

     "Where's Senya?" Grandfather asked.

     "In the store-room," Grandmother replied. "Took it into his head to repair his bicycle at this unearthly hour!"

     Misha started at these words and took his elbows off the table, forgetting all about the scratch. Went to repair the bike?! Just his luck! Uncle Senya had not gone near the bicycle all summer and of all days he had to do the repairing to-day. He was bound to see the tube now and make a tiresome fuss.

     Uncle Senya certainly was a nuisance! If Misha got into a scrape with Grandmother she would simply give him a scolding and let it go at that. But not Uncle Senya. Not him! His style was to curl his lips and begin a long lecture. Whenever that happened he would look past Misha, fidget with his pince-nez, endlessly putting it on and taking it off, pull at the gilt buttons on his student uniform. Misha could not see why he still wore that uniform: he had been expelled from the university a long time ago for "stirring up disturbances." It would be interesting to know what disturbances such a well-mannered person as Uncle Senya could stir up. His face was pale and grave, and he wore a short moustache. At dinner he usually squinted over a book and ate his food absent-mindedly.

     The clatter of the bicycle in the store-room made Misha start again.

     And when Uncle Senya appeared in the doorway with the slashed tube in his hand Misha sprang out of his chair, overturning it as he dashed out of the house.


     Chapter 2
THE BOYS OF OGORODNAYA AND ALEKSEYEVSKAYA STREETS


     He dashed across the garden, scrambled over the fence and landed in the neighbouring street-Ogorodnaya. Only a hundred yards separated this street from his own-the Alekseyevskaya; but the Ogorodnaya boys, sworn enemies of the boys from the Alekseyevskaya, noticed Misha and charged upon him from all sides, gleefully whooping and whistling at the prospect of beating up a boy from the Alekseyevskaya, and a Moscovite to boot.

     Misha quickly climbed back on to the fence and straddled his legs over it.

     "What, caught me?" he shouted at them. "You miserable Ogorodnaya (Ogorodnaya-from the Russian ogorod, meaning vegetable garden. -Tr). scarecrows!"

     He could not have picked on a deadlier insult. A hail of stones showered down on him. Misha slid off the fence, feeling a lump swelling on his forehead, but the stones continued to fly, landing near the house from which Grandmother made a sudden appearance. She peered near-sightedly and, turning to the house, called to someone. Uncle Senya, most likely. Misha pressed himself against the fence.

     "Hey, fellows," he called out, "wait a sec! I want to tell you something."

     "What?" demanded a voice from the other side of the fence.

     "First stop throwing!" Misha climbed back to the fence, cautiously watching the boys' hands, and said: "Why did you all team up against one fellow? Play fair-one against one."

     "Come on then!" cried Petka Petukh ( Petukh-from the Russian meaning cock.-Tr.), a sturdy boy of about fifteen throwing off his torn jacket and pugnaciously rolling up his sleeves.

     "Let's agree that while we're fighting you fellows won't interfere," Misha warned.

     "All right, all right, come down!"

     Uncle Senya was already standing beside Grandmother on the porch. Misha jumped off the fence and Petukh immediately stepped up to him. He was almost twice Misha's size.

     "Hey, what's that?" Misha said, poking at the steel buckle on Petka's belt.

     The rules forbade any metal objects on the clothes of the opponents. Petukh took off the belt, and his trousers almost dropped. He caught them with one hand and while he was tying them up with a bit of string someone had given him, Misha pushed the boys to make a wider ring.

     "Give us more room!" he was saying; then, seeing a chance of getting away, he shoved one of the boys aside and took to his heels.

     The Ogorodnaya boys started off in pursuit, shouting and whistling; Petukh brought up the rear, holding on to his trousers and almost crying with disappointment.

     Misha ran as fast as his legs could carry him, his bare heels flashing in the sun. Behind him he heard the patter of his pursuers' feet, their heavy breathing and cries. He made a sharp turn, dashed down a short alley, and reached his own street. The Alekseyevskaya boys came running to his rescue, but the others turned back without going into battle.

     "Where've you come from?" red-haired Genka asked.

     Misha drew a sharp breath and looked round at his friends.

     "Ogorodnaya Street," he said nonchalantly. "Fought fair and square with Petukh, and when I was getting the better of it, they all jumped on me."

     "You fought Petukh?" Genka asked dubiously.

     "Who else? You? A tough chap he is; look at the bump he gave me!" Misha said, touching his forehead.

     His friends gazed on this blue mark of his valour with great respect.

     "I gave him something to remember me by, too," Misha continued. "And I took away his catapult."

     He pulled a catapult with long red rubber bands out of his shirt.

     "Better'n yours by a long shot!"

     He hid the catapult and gave a contemptuous look at the girls making mud-pies.

     "Well, and what are you doing?" he jeered at Genka. "Playing hide-and-seek, catchers? 'Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, big bad wolf, big bad wolf-"

     "What d'you take me for!" Genka exclaimed with a shake of his red forelock, but for some reason he flushed and said quickly "Let's play knives."

     "For five hot ones with grease."

     "Right."

     They sat on the wooden pavement and began throwing a penknife into the ground in turns: a plain throw, from the palm, a long throw, over the shoulder, a straight throw....

     Misha finished the ten throws first and Genka stretched his hand out to him. Then Misha made a fierce face and raised two spit-wetted fingers. The few seconds that these preliminaries took seemed eternal to Genka, but Misha did not hit him.

     "The grease's dried up," he said, lowering his hand.

     He started wetting his fingers all over again. This was repeated before every blow, until Misha finally paid off all the five hot ones. Genka tried to hold back the tears welling up in his eyes as he blew on his smarting hand; it had turned blue.

     The sun was rising higher and higher in the sky; the shortening shadows pressed closer to the fences; the street lay hushed, hardly breathing in the torpid heat; and the air was stifling. The boys decided to go swimming and trooped off to the River Desna.

     The narrow road, grooved by hardened ruts, wound across the fields that spread out in all directions in greenish-yellow squares. These seemed to sink into hollows and clamber the hills, gradually becoming round and moving off into the distance in a broad arc that supported the woods, the isolated barns, and the pensive clouds.

     The wheat stood tall and still. The boys tore off the ears and chewed the grain, energetically spitting out the husks that stuck to their palates. There was a rustling in the wheat and frightened birds flew up into the air almost from under their feet.

     At the river's edge the boys chose a sandy spot, undressed, and jumped into the water, splashing it up in huge fountains. They swam, dived, wrestled, jumped from a rickety bridge, and finally climbed back to the bank and dug themselves into the hot sand.

     "Misha, is there a river in Moscow?" Genka asked.

     "Yes. The Moscow River. I've already told you that a thousand times."

     "You mean it flows through the city?"

     "Yes."

     "Then how can you swim in it?"

     "In trunks. They won't let you near a mile of it without trunks. The mounted militia watches."

     Genka smirked in disbelief.

     "What are you smirking for?" Misha said getting angry. "You haven't seen anything except your Revsk, and you think you're smart!"

     He fell silent, watching a drove of horses approach the river. "Now you tell me: what's the smallest horse?" he asked. "A foal," Genka replied without hesitation.

     "There, you don't know! The pony's the smallest horse. There are Shetland ponies, they're the size of dogs; while Japanese ponies are like cats almost."

     "You're fibbing!"

     "Who, me? If you'd been to a circus just once you wouldn't argue. You haven't been to a circus, have you? Own up: you haven't?... There you are. And you're arguing!"

     Genka stopped to think for a moment.

     "A horse like that's no good," he said, "can't use it in the cavalry, or anywhere else."

     "What's the cavalry got to do with it? D'you think people fight only on horseback? If you want to know, one sailor's worth three cavalrymen."

     "I'm not saying anything about sailors," Genka said, "but you can't do without cavalry. Nikitsky's gang is all mounted."

     "Well, what about it!" Misha said with a contemptuous curl of his lip. "Polevoy'll catch that Nikitsky soon anyway."

     "That's not so simple," Genka contended, "they've been trying to get him a whole year now, and they can't."

     "They will," Misha said confidently.

     "Easy to say," Genka looked up, "but he's wrecking trains every day. Father's already afraid of driving his engine."

     "Never mind, they'll catch him."

     Misha yawned, dug deeper into the sand and shut his eyes. Genka was also dozing. They did not feel like arguing any longer in the heat. The silent steppe was lazily withdrawing into the horizon as though to escape the scorching sun.


     Chapters 3
AFFAIRS AND DREAMS


     Genka went home to dinner, but Misha went to the crowded, noisy Ukrainian market.

     He wandered about the market for a long time, looking at the carts piled high with green cucumbers, red tomatoes, and wicker-baskets of berries; the pink, shrilly squealing sucking-pigs; the white geese flapping their great wings; the sluggish oxen endlessly chewing the cud, their sticky saliva dribbling to the ground.

     As he walked through the market Misha remembered the Moscow bread and the watery milk bartered for potato peel. He longed for Moscow, its tram-cars, and evening lights.

     He stopped before an invalid rolling three beads on a bench. Each was of a different colour-red, white, and black. The man covered one of them with a thimble and offered a prize to anyone guessing its colour. But the right colour was elusive.

     "Friends!" the invalid said, appealing to the losers. "If I start losing to everyone I'll have to sell my last leg. You've got to under stand that."

     While Misha was examining the beads, someone suddenly put a hand on his shoulder. Turning round he saw Grandmother standing behind him.

     "Where on earth have you been the whole day?" she asked sternly, clinging tenaciously to Misha's shoulder.

     "Swimming," Misha mumbled.

     "Swimming!" Grandmother repeated. "How do you like that? He was swimming-well, we'll speak about it at home."

     She gave him her basket of purchases and marched him off.

     Grandmother walked in silence. She smelled of onions, garlic and of something fried, something boiled, like all the smells in the kitchen.

     "What'll they do to me?" Misha thought as he walked beside Grandmother. He was in a bit of a jam, he could see that. Against him there were Grandmother and Uncle Senya. For him-Grandfather and Polevoy. But what if Polevoy was not at home? That would leave only Grandfather. And what if Grandfather was sleeping? That would leave no one to stand up for him, and give Grand mother and Uncle Senya a free hand. They would take it in turn lecture him. Uncle Senya would lecture and Grandmother would rest, and then Grandmother would take over and Uncle Senya would rest.

     There was hardly anything they would leave unsaid! They would call him bad-mannered, say he would never amount to anything; that he was a disgrace to the family; that he was a trial to his mother and that if he had not yet driven her to her grave he would do so in the next few days (he felt sure they would say that, even though Mother was living in Moscow and he had not seen her for two months); that it was amazing how the earth held him at all-and many other things like that....

     When they came home Misha put the basket in the kitchen and went to the dining-room. Grandfather was sitting near the window listening to Uncle Senya discussing the political situation, as he reclined on the sofa and smoked a cigarette. They did not even so much as glance at Misha when he entered. That was on purpose! To make Misha feel small, to show that looking at him was a waste of time. That was Uncle Senya's way of torturing people. As far as Misha was concerned he could do as he liked, it was even better that way, because by the time Uncle Senya was ready to deliver his lecture Polevoy would come home. Misha sat on a chair and listened to their conversation.

     A few words were enough to tell him that Uncle Senya was raising a panic again. Bandit Makhno had occupied a number of towns, he said, and Antonov, another bandit, had approached the outskirts of Tambov. Fancy getting panicky over that! Last year, when the White Poles had occupied Kiev and Wrangel had broken through into the Donbas, Uncle Senya had also started to panic. Well, what had happened then? The Red Army had crushed the lot. Before that there had been Denikin, Kolchak, Yudenich ( Whiteguard generals who led the counter-revolution in the U.S.S.R. during the Civil War.-Ed.), and other Whiteguard generals. The Red Army had smashed them all. And it would lick these, too. .

     From Makhno and Antonov, Uncle Senya turned to Nikitsky.

     "You can't call him a bandit," Uncle Senya said, unbuttoning the collar of his student jacket. "Moreover, they say he's a man of culture, a former naval officer."

     What? Nikitsky not a bandit? Misha almost choked with indignation. Why, Nikitsky was burning down villages and killing Communists, member of the Komsomol, (All-Union Lenin Young Communist League.-Tr.) and workers! What was bandit then? It was disgusting to listen to Uncle Senya's prattle.

     Polevoy finally came. Misha sighed with relief. Now his punishment would be put off till to-morrow, at the earliest.

     Polevoy took off his jacket and washed. Then everyone sat down to supper. His laughter filled the room. He called Grandfather-father and Grandmother-mother; he winked playfully at Misha and addressed him as Mikhail Grigoryevich. After supper they went out of the house and sat on the porch steps.

     The evening brought a fresh coolness into the garden; some girls were singing in the distance and snatches of their songs reached the porch; the dogs barked incessantly in the vegetable gardens.

     Polevoy pulled at a pipe of home-grown tobacco and spoke if voyages to distant lands, of mutinies on the high seas, of cruisers and submarines, of Ivan Poddubny and other famous wrestlers in black red, and green masks, of strong men lifting three horses together with the carts, each cart containing ten persons.

     Misha gaped in wonder. Orange lights blinked timidly from the dark rows of little wooden houses huddling close on the silent street Polevoy also spoke of the Empress Maria on which he had served during the world war.


     The Empress Maria was a huge ship, the most powerful battleship in the Black Sea Fleet. She was launched in June 1915 and blew up near Sevastopol in October 1916, half a mile off the coast.

     "A black business that was," Polevoy said. "She was not struck by a mine or a torpedo, but blew up on her own. The magazine of the first turret, that had about forty-eight tons of powder in it, was the first to explode. That set everything off. In an hour the ship was already under water; the survivors, less than half the crew, were all either badly burned or injured."

     "Who blew her up, then?" Misha asked.

     Polevoy shrugged his broad shoulders.

     "Many people tried to get to the bottom of it," he said, "but all to no purpose; and then came the Revolution. You have to ask the tsarist admirals for an explanation."

     "Sergei Ivanovich," Misha asked suddenly, "who's greater, a tsar or a king?"

     "Hm!. . ." Polevoi spat out the brown tobacco juice. "One's as good as the other."

     "And are there still tsars in other countries?"

     "Yes, here and there."

     "Should I ask him about the dirk?" Misha thought. "No, better not. He might think I had followed him on purpose."

     A little later everyone went back into the house. Grandmother made her usual evening rounds, closing the shutters. The iron bolts clanged warningly. The kerosene lamp hanging in the dining-room was put out, and the moths and midges that had swarmed around it melted into the darkness.

     Misha lay awake in bed a long time.

     The moon sent its pale threads through the chinks in the shutters, and a cricket began chirping behind the stove in the kitchen.

     They had no crickets in Moscow. What would a cricket be doing in a big, noisy apartment, where people walked in and out at night, banging the doors and clicking the electric switches! That was why he heard a cricket only in Grandfather's quiet house when he lay alone with his dreams in the dark room.

     What a splendid thing it would be if Polevoy gave him the dirk. He would not be unarmed as now. And the times were alarming, with the Civil War going on. Bandits were running loose in the Ukrainian villages, and even the towns were not safe. Detachments of the local self-defence corps patrolled the streets at night, armed with old rifles with rusty bolts and no bullets.

     Misha dreamed of the future when he would be tall and strong, when he would wear bell-bottomed trousers, or, better still, puttees; smart khaki army puttees.

     He would carry a rifle, hand-grenades, machine-gun belts, and wear a revolver on a creaky leather waist-belt.

     He would ride a raven-black horse, slender-legged, sharp-eyed, with a powerful croup, short neck, and a sleek coat.

     And he would catch Nikitsky and break up his gang. Then he and Polevoy would go to the front and fight shoulder-to-shoulder; he would save Polevoy's life heroically and die, leaving his friend to grieve for him all his life; and he would never again meet a boy like Misha....

     And Misha went to sleep.


     Chapter 4
THE PUNISHMENT


     Misha did not doubt that Uncle Senya had invented this punishment. It could not have been anyone else. And the thing that hurt most was that Grandfather was siding with him.

     "Got all the running about you wanted yesterday?" he said,, looking up at Misha while they were having their breakfast. "Well, I'm glad of that. Should last you for a week, at least. I'm afraid you'll have to stay indoors to-day."

     Waste the whole day at home! To-day. On Sunday! The fellows were going to the woods and might even cross to the island in a boat, while he ... Misha twisted his mouth and stared at his plate.

     "What are you sulking about?" Grandmother said. "You're getting far too mischievous."

     "That's enough," interjected Grandfather, rising from the table. "He's got his punishment. Now it's all over."

     Misha slouched despondently from room to room. What a rotten place this is! he thought.

    

... ... ...
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