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Part One Chapter 2

Like a whirlwind the stupendous news broke into the small town: "The tsar's been overthrown!"
The townsfolk refused to believe it.
Then one stormy winter day a train crawled into the station: two students in army greatcoats, with rifles slung over their shoulders, and a detachment of revolutionary soldiers wearing red armbands jumped out onto the platform and arrested the station gendarmes, an old colonel and the chief of  the garrison. Now the townsfolk believed the news. Thousands streamed down the snowbound streets to the town square.
Eagerly they drank in the new words: liberty, equality and fraternity.
Turbulent days followed, days full of excitement and jubilation. Then a lull set in, and the red flag flying over the town hall where the Mensheviks and adherents of the Bund had ensconced themselves was the sole reminder of the change that had taken place. Everything else remained as before.
Towards the end of the winter a regiment of the cavalry guards was billeted in the town. In the mornings they sallied out in squadrons to hunt for deserters from the South-Western Front at the railway station.
The troopers were great, beefy fellows with well-fed faces. Most of their officers were counts and princes; they wore golden shoulder straps and silver piping on their breeches, just as they had in the tsar's time—for all the world as if there had been no revolution.
For Pavel, Klimka and Sergei Bruzzhak nothing had changed. The bosses were still there. It was not until November that something out of the ordinary began to happen. People of a new kind had appeared at the station and were beginning to stir things up; a steadily increasing number of them were soldiers from the firing lines and they bore the strange name of "Bolsheviks".
Where that resounding, weighty name came from no one knew.
The guardsmen found it increasingly hard to detain the deserters. The crackle of rifles and the splintering of glass was heard more and more often down at the station. The men came from the front in groups and when stopped they fought back with bayonets. In the beginning of December they began pouring in by trainloads.
The guardsmen came down in force to the station with the intention of holding the soldiers, but they found themselves raked by machine-gun fire. The men who poured out of the railway carriages were inured to death.
The grey-coated frontliners drove the guards back into the town and then returned to the station to continue on their way, trainload after trainload.

One day in the spring of nineteen eighteen, three chums on their way from Sergei Bruzzhak's where they had been playing cards dropped into the Korchagins' garden and threw themselves on the grass. They were bored. All the customary occupations had begun to pall, and they were beginning to rack their brains for some more exciting way to spend the day when they heard the clatter of horses' hoofs behind them and saw a horseman come galloping down the road. With one bound the horse cleared the ditch between the road and the low garden fence and the rider waved his whip at Pavel and Klim. "Hi there, my lads, come over here!" Pavel and Klim sprang to their feet and ran to the fence. The rider was covered with dust; it had settled in a heavy grey Layer on the cap which he wore pushed to the back of his head, and on his khaki tunic and breeches. A revolver and two German grenades dangled from his heavy soldier's belt.
"Can you get me a drink of water, boys?" the horseman asked them. While Pavel dashed off into the house for the water, he turned to Sergei who was staring at him. "Tell me, boy, who's in authority in your town?"
Sergei breathlessly related all the local news to the newcomer.
"There's been nobody in authority for two weeks. The homeguard's the government now. All the inhabitants take turns patrolling the town at night. And who might you be?" Sergei asked in his turn.
"Now, now—if you know too much you'll get old too soon," the horseman smiled.
Pavel ran out of the house carrying a mug of water. The rider thirstily emptied the mug at one gulp and handed it back to Pavel. Then jerking the reins he started off at a gallop, heading for the pine woods. "Who was that?" Pavel asked Klim. "How do I know?" the latter replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"Looks like the authorities are going to be changed again. That's why the Leszczinskis left yesterday. And if the rich are on the run that means the partisans are coming," declared Sergei, settling the political question firmly and with an air of finality.
The logic of this was so convincing that both Pavel and Klim agreed with him at once.
Before the boys had finished discussing the question a clatter of hoofs from the highway sent all three rushing back to the fence.
Over by the forest warden's cottage, which was barely visible among the trees, they saw men and carts emerging from the woods, and nearer still on the highway a party of fifteen or so mounted men with rifles across their pommels. At the head of the horsemen rode an elderly man in khaki jacket and officer's belt with field glasses slung on his chest, and beside him the man the boys had just spoken to. The elderly man wore a red ribbon on his breast.
"What did I tell you?" Sergei nudged Pavel in the ribs. "See the red ribbon? Partisans. I'll be damned if they aren't partisans. . . ." And whooping with joy he leapt over the fence into the street.
The others followed suit and all three stood by the roadside gazing at the approaching horsemen.
When the riders were quite close the man whom the boys had met before nodded to them, and pointing to the Leszczinski house with his whip asked:
"Who lives over there?"
Pavel paced alongside trying to keep abreast the rider.
"Leszczinski the lawyer. He ran away yesterday. Scared of you most likely. . . ."
"How do you know who we are?" the elderly man asked, smiling.
"What about that?" Pavel pointed to the ribbon. "Anybody can tell. . . ."
People poured into the street to stare with curiosity at the detachment entering the town. Our three young friends too stood watching the dusty, exhausted Red Guards go by. And when the detachment's lone cannon and the carts with machine guns clattered over the cobblestones the boys trailed after the partisans, and did not go home until after the unit had halted in the centre of the town and the billeting began.
That evening four men sat around the massive carved-legged table in the spacious Leszczinski parlour: detachment commander Comrade Bulgakov, an elderly man whose hair was touched with grey, and three members of the unit's commanding personnel.
Bulgakov had spread out a map of the gubernia on the table and was now running his finger over it.
"You say we ought to put up a stand here, Comrade Yermachenko," he said, addressing a man with broad features and prominent teeth, "but I think we must move out in the morning. Better still if we could get going during the night, but the men are in need of a rest. Our task is to withdraw to Kazatin before the Germans get there. To resist with the strength we have would be ridiculous.
One gun with thirty rounds of ammunition, two hundred infantry and sixty cavalry. A formidable force, isn't it, when the Germans are advancing in an avalanche of steel. We cannot put up a fight until we join up with other withdrawing Red units. Besides, Comrades, we must remember that apart from the Germans there'll be numerous counter-revolutionary bands of all kinds to deal with en route. I propose that we withdraw in the morning after first blowing up the railway bridge beyond the station. It'll take the Germans two or three days to repair it and in the meantime their advance along the railway will be held up. What do you think, Comrades? We must decide. . ." he turned to the others around the table.
Struzhkov, who sat diagonally across from Bulgakov, sucked in his lips and looked first at the map and then at Bulgakov.
"I agree with Bulgakov," he said finally.
The youngest of the men, who was dressed in a worker's blouse, nodded.
"Bulgakov's right," he said.
But Yermachenko, the man who had spoken with the boys earlier in the day, shook his head.
"What the devil did we get the detachment together for? To retreat from the Germans without putting up a fight? As I see it, we've got to have it out with them here. I'm sick and tired of  running. If it was up to me, I'd fight them here without fail. . . ." Pushing his chair back sharply, he rose and began pacing the room.
Bulgakov looked at him with disapproval.
"We must use our heads, Yermachenko. We can't throw our men into a battle that is bound to end in defeat and destruction Besides it's ridiculous. There's a whole division with heavy artillery and armoured cars just behind us. . . . This is no time for schoolboy heroics, Comrade Yermachenko. . . ." Turning to the others, he continued: "So it's decided, we evacuate tomorrow morning. . . . Now for the next question, liaison," Bulgakov proceeded. "Since we are the last to leave, it's our job to organise work in the German rear. This is a big railway junction and there are two stations in the town. We must see to it that there is a reliable comrade to carry on the work on the railway. We'll have to decide here whom to leave behind to get the work going. Have you anyone in mind?"
"I think the sailor Fyodor Zhukhrai ought to remain," Yermachenko said, moving up to the table.
"In the first place he's a local man. Secondly, he's a fitter and mechanic and can get himself a job at the station. Nobody's seen Fyodor with our etachment—he won't get here until tonight. He's got a good head on his shoulders and he'll get things going properly. I think he's the best man for the job."
Bulgakov nodded.
"I agree with you, Yermachenko. No objections, Comrades?" he turned to the others. "None. Then the matter is settled. We'll leave Zhukhrai some money and the credentials he'll need for his work. . . . Now for the third and last question, Comrades. About the arms stored here in the town.
There's quite a stock of rifles, twenty thousand of them, left over from the tsarist war and forgotten by everybody. They are piled up in a peasant's shed. I have this from the owner of the shed who happens to be anxious to get rid of them. We are not going to leave them to the Germans; in my opinion we ought to burn them, and at once, so as to have it over and done with by morning. The only trouble is that the fire might spread to the surrounding cottages. It's on the fringes of the town where the poor peasants live."
Struzhkov stirred in his chair. He was a solidly built man whose unshaven face had not seen a razor for some time.
"Why burn the rifles? Better distribute them among the population."
Bulgakov turned quickly to face him.
"Distribute them, you say?"
"A splendid idea!" Yermachenko responded enthusiastically. "Give them to the workers and anyone else who wants them. At least there will be something to hit back with when the Germans make life impossible. They're bound to do their worst. And when things come to a head, the men will be able to take up arms. Struzhkov's right: the rifles must be distributed. Wouldn't be a bad thing to take some to the villages too; the peasants will hide them away, and when the Germans begin to requisition everything the rifles are sure to come in handy."
Bulgakov laughed.
"That's all right, but the Germans are sure to order all arms turned in and everybody will obey."
"Not everybody," Yermachenko objected. "Some will but others won't."
Bulgakov looked questioningly at the men around the table.
"I'm for distributing the rifles," the young workers supported Yermachenko and Struzhkov.
"All right then, it's decided," Bulgakov agreed. "That's all for now," he said, rising from his chair.
"We can take a rest till morning. When Zhukhrai comes, send him in to me, I want to have a talk with him. Yermachenko, you'd better inspect the sentry posts."
When the others left, Bulgakov went into the bedroom next to the parlour, spread his greatcoat on the mattress and lay down.

The following morning Pavel, coming home from the electric power station where he had been working as a stoker's helper for a year now, felt that something unusual was afoot. The town seethed with excitement. As he went along he met people carrying one or two and sometimes even three rifles each. He could not understand what was happening and he hurried home as fast as he could. Outside the Leszczinski garden he saw his acquaintances of yesterday mounting their horses.
Pavel ran into the house, washed quickly and, learning from his mother that Artem had not come home yet, dashed out again and hurried over to see Sergei Bruzzhak, who lived on the other side of the town.
Sergei's father was an engine driver's helper and owned a tiny house and a small plot of land.
Sergei was out, and his mother, a stout, pale-faced woman, eyed Pavel sourly.
"The devil knows where he is! He rushed out first thing in the morning like one possessed. Said they were giving out rifles somewhere, so I suppose that's where he is. What you snotnosed warriors need is a good hiding—you've got out of hand completely. Hardly out of pinafores and already dashing off after firearms. You tell the scamp that if he brings a single cartridge into this house I'll skin him alive. Who knows what he'll be dragging in and then I'll have to answer for it.
You're not going there too, are you?"
But before Sergei's mother had finished scolding, Pavel was already racing down the street.
On the highway he met a man carrying a rifle on each shoulder. Pavel dashed up to him.
"Please, uncle, where did you get them?"
"Over at Verkhovina."
Pavel hurried off as fast as his legs could carry him. Two streets down he collided with a boy who was lugging a heavy infantry rifle with bayonet attached. Pavel stopped him.
"Where'd you get that?"
"The partisans were giving them away out there opposite the school, but there aren't any more. All gone. Handed them out all night and now only the empty cases are left. This is my second one,"
the boy declared proudly.
Pavel was utterly dismayed by the news.
"Damn it, I should've gone straight there," he thought bitterly. "Now it's too late!"
Suddenly an idea struck him. Spinning around, he overtook the boy in two or three bounds and snatched the rifle out of his hands.
"One's enough for you. This is going to be mine," he said in a tone that brooked no opposition.
Infuriated by this robbery in broad daylight, the boy flung himself at Pavel, but the latter leapt back and pointed the bayonet at his antagonist.
"Look out or you'll get hurt!" Pavel shouted.
The boy burst into tears of helpless rage and ran away, swearing at Pavel as he went. Pavel, vastly pleased with himself, trotted home. He climbed over the fence, ran into the shed, laid his acquisition on the crossbeams under the roof, and, whistling gaily, entered the house.

Summer evenings in the Ukraine, especially in small Ukrainian towns like Shepetovka, which are more like villages on the outskirts, are beautiful indeed. These calm summer nights lure all the young folk out of doors. You will see them in groups and in pairs—on the porches, in the little front gardens, or perched on woodpiles lying by the side of the road. Their gay laughter and singing echo in the evening stillness.
The air is heavy and tremulous with the fragrance of flowers. There is a faint pinpoint glimmer of stars in the depths of the sky, and voices carry far, far away. . . .
Pavel dearly loved his accordion. He would lay the melodious instrument tenderly on his knees and let his nimble fingers run lightly up and down the double row of keys. A sighing from the bass, and a cascade of rollicking melody would pour forth. . . .
How can you keep still when the sinuous bellows weave in and out and the accordion breathes its warm compelling harmonies. Before you know it your feet are answering its urgent summons. Ah,how good it is to be alive!
This is a particularly jolly evening. A merry crowd of young folk have gathered on the pile of logs outside Pavel's house. And gayest of them all is Galochka, the daughter of the stonemason who lives next door to Pavel. Galochka loves to dance and sing with the lads. She has a deep velvety
Pavel is a wee bit afraid of her. For Galochka has a sharp tongue. She sits down beside Pavel and throws her arms around him, laughing gaily.
"What a wonder you are with that accordion!" she says. "It's a pity you're a bit too young or you'd make me a fine hubby. I adore men who play the accordion, my poor heart just melts."
Pavel blushes to the roots of his hair—luckily it is too dark for anyone to see. He edges away from the vixen but she clings fast to him.
"Now then, you wouldn't run away from me, would you? A fine sweetheart you are," she laughs.
Her firm breast brushes Pavel's shoulder, and he is strangely stirred in spite of himself, and the loud laughter of the others breaks the accustomed stillness of the lane.
"Move up, I haven't any room to play," says Pavel, giving her shoulder a slight push.
This evokes another roar of laughter, jokes and banter.
Marusya comes to Pavel's rescue. "Play something sad, Pavel, something that tugs at your heartstrings."
Slowly the bellows spread out, gently Pavel's fingers caress the keys and a familiar well-loved tune fills the air. Galochka is the first to join in, then Marusya, and the others.

All the boatmen to their cottage Gathered on the morrow,O, 'tis goodAnd O, 'tis sweetHere to sing our sorrow. . . .

The vibrant young voices of the singers were carried far away into the wooded distances.
"Pavka!" It was Artem's voice.
Pavel compressed the bellows of his accordion and fastened the straps.
"They're calling me. I've got to go."

"Oh, play just a little more. What's your hurry?" Marusya tried to wheedle him into staying.
But Pavel was adamant.
"Can't. We'll have some music tomorrow again, but now I've got to go. Artem's calling." And with that he ran across the street to the little house opposite.
There were two men in the room besides Artem: Roman, a friend of Artem's, and a stranger. They were sitting at the table.
"You wanted me?" Pavel asked.
Artem nodded to him and turned to the stranger:
"This is that brother of mine we've been talking about."
The stranger extended a knotted hand to Pavel.
"See here, Pavka," Artem said to his brother. "You told me the electrician at the power plant is ill.
Now what I want you to do is to find out tomorrow whether they want a good man to take his place. If they do you'll let us know."
The stranger interrupted him.
"No need to do that. I'd rather go with him and speak with the boss myself."
"Of course they need someone. Today the power plant didn't work simply because Stankovich was ill. The boss came around twice—he'd been looking high and low for somebody to take his place but couldn't find anyone. He was afraid to start the plant with only a stoker around. The electrician's got the typhus."
"That settles it," the stranger said. "I'll call for you tomorrow and we'll go over there together."
Pavel's glance met the calm grey eyes of the stranger who was studying him carefully. The firm,steady scrutiny somewhat disconcerted him. The newcomer was wearing a grey jacket buttoned from top to bottom—it was obviously a tight fit for the seams strained on his broad, powerful
back. His head and shoulders were joined by a muscular, ox-like neck, and his whole frame suggested the sturdy strength of an old oak.
"Good-bye and good luck, Zhukhrai," Artem said accompanying him to the door. "Tomorrow you'll go along with my brother and get fixed up in the job."

The Germans entered the town three days after the detachment left. Their coming was announced by a locomotive whistle at the station which had latterly been deserted.
"The Germans are coming," the news flashed through the town.
The town stirred like a disturbed anthill, for although the townsfolk had known for some time that the Germans were due, they had somehow not quite believed it. And now these terrible Germans were not only somewhere on their way, but actually here, in town.
The townsfolk clung to the protection of their front-garden fences and wicket gates. They were afraid to venture out into the streets.
The Germans came, marching single file on both sides of the highway; they wore olive-drab uniforms and carried their rifles at the ready. Their rifles were tipped with broad knife-like bayonets; they wore heavy steel helmets, and carried enormous packs on their backs. They came from the station into the town in an endless stream, came cautiously, prepared to repel an attack at any moment, although no one dreamed of attacking them.

In front strode two officers, Mausers in hand, and in the centre of the road walked the interpreter, a sergeant-major in the Hetman's service wearing a blue Ukrainian coat and a tall fur cap.
The Germans lined up on the square in the centre of the town. The drums rolled. A small crowd of  the more venturesome townsfolk gathered. The Hetman's man in the Ukrainian coat climbed onto the porch of the chemist's shop and read aloud an order issued by the commandant, Major Korf.


All citizens of the town are hereby ordered to turn in any firearms or other weapons in their possession within 24 hours. The penalty for violation of this order is death by shooting.


Martial law is declared in the town and citizens are forbidden to appear in the streets after 8 p.m. Major Korf, Town Commandant.

The German Kommandantur took up quarters in the building formerly used by the town administration and, after the revolution, by the Soviet of Workers' Deputies. At the entrance a sentry was posted wearing a parade helmet with an imperial eagle of enormous proportions. In the backyard of the same building were storage premises for the arms to be turned in by the population.
All day long weapons were brought in by townsfolk scared by the threat of shooting. The adults did not show themselves; the arms were delivered by youths and small boys. The Germans detained nobody.
Those who did not want to come in person dumped their weapons out on the road during the night, and in the morning a German patrol picked them up, loaded them into an army cart and hauled them to the Kommandantur.
At one o'clock in the afternoon, when the time limit expired, German soldiers began to take stock of their booty: fourteen thousand rifles. That meant that six thousand had not been turned in. The dragnet searches they conducted yielded very insignificant results.
At dawn the next morning two railway men in whose homes concealed rifles had been found were shot at the old Jewish cemetery outside the town.
As soon as he heard of the commandant's order, Artem hurried home. Meeting Pavel in the yard, he took him by the shoulder and asked him quietly but firmly:
"Did you bring any weapons home?"
Pavel had not intended to say anything about the rifle, but he could not lie to his brother and so he made a clean breast of it.
They went into the shed together. Artem took the rifle down from its hiding place on the beams, removed the bolt and bayonet, and seizing the weapon by the barrel swung it with all his might against a fence post. The butt splintered. What remained of the rifle was thrown far away into the waste lot beyond the garden. The bayonet and bolt Artem threw into the privy pit.
When he was finished, Artem turned to his brother.
"You're not a baby any more, Pavka, and you ought to know you can't play with guns. You must not bring anything into the house. This is dead serious. You might have to pay with your life for that sort of thing nowadays. And don't try any tricks, because if you do bring something like that home and they find it I'd be the first to be shot—they wouldn't touch a youngster like you. These are brutal times, understand that!"
Pavel promised.
As the brothers were crossing the yard to the house, a carriage stopped at the Leszczinskis' gate and the lawyer and his wife and two children, Nelly and Victor, got out.
"So the fine birds have flown back to their nest," Artem muttered angrily. "Now the fun begins, blast them!" He went inside.
All day long Pavel thought regretfully of the rifle. In the meantime his friend Sergei was hard at work in an old, abandoned shed, digging a hole in the ground next to the wall. At last the pit was ready. In it Sergei deposited the three brand-new rifles, carefully wrapped in rags: he had picked
them up when the Red Guard detachment distributed arms to the people. He had no intention of giving them up to the Germans and had laboured hard all night to make sure that they were safely hidden.
He filled up the hole, tramped the earth down level, and then piled a heap of refuse on top.
Critically reviewing the results of his efforts and finding them satisfactory he took off his cap and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
"Now let them search, and even if they find it, they'll never know who put it there, because the shed is nobody's anyway."
A firm friendship had sprung up between Pavel and the grim-faced electrician who had been working a full month now at the electric station. Zhukhrai showed the stoker's helper how the dynamo was built and how it was run.
The sailor took a liking to the bright youngster. He frequently visited Artem on free days and listened patiently to the mother's tale of domestic woes and worries, especially when she complained about her younger boy's escapades. Thoughtful and serious, Zhukhrai had a calming, reassuring effect on Maria Yakovlevna, who would forget her troubles and grow more cheerful in his company.
One day Zhukhrai stopped Pavel as he was passing between the high piles of firewood in the power station yard.
"Your mother tells me you're fond of a scrap," he said, smiling. " 'He's as bad as a game-cock,' she says." Zhukhrai chuckled approvingly. "As a matter of fact, it doesn't hurt to be a fighter, as long as you know whom to fight and why."
Pavel was not sure whether Zhukhrai was joking or serious.
"I don't fight for nothing," he retorted, "I always fight for what's right and fair."
"Want me to teach you to fight properly?" Zhukhrai asked unexpectedly.
"What d'you mean, properly?" Pavel looked at the other in surprise. "You'll see."
And Pavel was given a brief introductory lecture on boxing.
It did not come easy to Pavel. Time and again he found himself rolling on the ground, knocked off his feet by a blow from Zhukhrai's fist, but he proved a diligent and persevering pupil, and in the end he mastered the art.
One warm day after a visit to Klimka's place Pavel, for want of something better to do, decided to climb up to his favourite spot—the roof of a shed that stood in the corner of the garden behind the house. He crossed the backyard into the garden, went over to the clapboard shack, and climbed up onto its roof. Pushing through the dense branches of the cherry trees that hung over the shed, he made his way to the centre of the roof and lay down to bask in the sunshine.
One side of the shed jutted out into the Leszczinski garden, and from the end of the roof the whole garden and one side of the house were visible. Poking his head over the edge, Pavel could see part of the yard and a carriage standing there. The batman of the German Lieutenant quartered at the Leszczinskis' was brushing his master's clothes.
Pavel had often seen the Lieutenant at the gate leading to the grounds. He was a squat, ruddy-faced man who wore a tiny clipped moustache, pince-nez and a cap with a shiny lacquered peak.
Pavel also knew that he lived in the side room, the window of which opened onto the garden and was visible from the shed roof.
At this moment the Lieutenant was sitting at the table, writing. Presently he picked up what he had written and went out of the room. He handed the paper to the batman and walked off down the garden path leading to the gate. At the summer house he paused to talk to someone inside. A moment later Nelly Leszczinskaya came out. The Lieutenant took her arm and together they went out of the gate into the street.
Pavel watched the proceedings from his vantage point. Presently a drowsiness stole over him and he was about to close his eyes when he noticed the batman entering the Lieutenant's room; he hung up a uniform, opened the window into the garden and tidied up the room. Then he went out, closing the door behind him. The next moment Pavel saw him over by the stable where the horses were.
Through the open window Pavel had a good view of the whole room. On the table lay a belt and some shining object.
Driven by an irresistible curiosity, Pavel climbed noiselessly off the roof onto the cherry tree and slipped down into the Leszczinski garden. Bent double, he bounded across the garden and peered through the window into the room. Before him on the table were a belt with a shoulder strap and holster containing a splendid twelve-shot Mannlicher.
Pavel caught his breath. For a few seconds he hesitated, but reckless daring gained the upper hand and reaching into the room, he seized the holster, pulled out the new blue-steel weapon and sprang down to the ground. With a swift glance around, he slipped the revolver into his pocket and dashed across the garden to the cherry tree. With the agility of a monkey he climbed to the roof and paused to look behind him. The batman was still chatting pleasantly with the groom. The garden was silent and deserted. Pavel slid down the other side and ran home.
His mother was busy in the kitchen cooking dinner and paid no attention to him.
He seized a rag from behind a trunk and shoved it into his pocket, then slipped out unnoticed, ran across the yard, scaled the fence and emerged on the road leading to the woods. Holding the heavy revolver to prevent it from knocking against his thigh, he ran as fast as he could to the abandoned ruins of a brick kiln in the woods.
His feet seemed barely to touch the ground and the wind whistled in his ears.
Everything was quiet at the old brick kiln. It was a depressing sight, with the wooden roof fallen in here and there, the mountains of brick rubble and the collapsed ovens. The place was overgrown with weeds; no one ever visited it except Pavel and his two friends who sometimes came here to play. Pavel knew places where the stolen treasure could be safely hidden.

He climbed through a gap in one of the ovens and looked around him cautiously, but there was noone in sight. Only the pines soughed softly and a slight wind stirred the dust on the road. There was a strong smell of resin in the air.
Pavel placed the revolver wrapped in the rag in a corner of the oven floor and covered it with a small pyramid of old bricks. On the way out he filled the opening in the old oven with loose bricks, noted the exact location, and slowly set out for home, feeling his knees trembling under him.
"What will happen now?" he thought and his heart was heavy with foreboding.
To avoid going home he went to the power station earlier than usual. He took the key from the watchman and opened the wide doors leading into the powerhouse. And while he cleaned out the ashpit, pumped water into the boiler and started the fire going, he wondered what was happening at the Leszczinskis.
It was about eleven o'clock when Zhukhrai came and called Pavel outside.
"Why was there a search at your place today?" he asked in a low voice.
Pavel started.
"A search?"
"I don't like the look of it," Zhukhrai continued after a brief pause. "Sure you haven't any idea what they were looking for?"
Pavel knew very well what they had been looking for, but he could not risk telling Zhukhrai about the theft of the revolver. Trembling all over he asked:
"Have they arrested Artem?"
"Nobody was arrested, but they turned everything upside down in the house."
This reassured Pavel slightly, although his anxiety did not pass. For a few minutes both he and Zhukhrai stood there each wrapped in his own thoughts. One of the two knew why the search had been made and was worried about the consequences, the other did not and hence was on the alert.
"Damn them, maybe they've got wind of me somehow," Zhukhrai thought. "Artem knows nothing about me, but why did they search his place? Got to be more careful."
The two parted without a word and returned to their work.
The Leszczinski house was in a turmoil.
When the Lieutenant had noticed that the revolver was missing, he had called in his batman, who declared that the weapon must have been stolen; whereupon the officer had lost his temper and had smashed his fist into the batman's face. The batman, swaying from the impact of the blow,stood stiffly at attention, blinking and submissively awaiting further developments.
The lawyer, called in for an explanation, was loudly indignant at the theft and apologised to the Lieutenant for having allowed such a thing to occur in his house.
It was Victor Leszczinski who suggested that the revolver might have been stolen by the neighbours, and in particular by that young ruffian Pavel Korchagin. His father lost no time in passing on his son's conjecture to the Lieutenant, who at once ordered a search made.
The search was fruitless, and the episode of the missing revolver showed Pavel that even enterprises as risky as this could sometimes succeed.


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