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Part One Chapter 9

The octopus has a bulging eye the size of a cat's head, a glazed reddish eye green in the centre with a pulsating phosphorescent glow. The octopus is a loathsome mass of tentacles, which writhe and squirm like a tangled knot of snakes, the scaly skin rustling hideously as they move. The  octopus stirs. He sees it next to his very eyes. And now the tentacles creep over his body; they are cold and they sting like nettles. The octopus shoots out its sting, and it bites into his head like a leech, and, wriggling convulsively, it sucks at his blood. He feels the blood draining out of his body into the swelling body of the octopus. And the sting goes on sucking and the pain of its sucking is unbearable.
Somewhere far far away he can hear human voices:
"How is his pulse now?"
And another voice, a woman's, replies softly:
"His pulse is a hundred and thirty-eight. His temperature 103.1. He is delirious all the time."
The octopus disappears, but the pain lingers. Pavel feels someone touch his wrist. He tries to open his eyes, but his lids are so heavy he has no strength to lift them.

Why is it so hot? Mother must have heated the stove. And again he hears those voices: "His pulse is one hundred and twenty-two now." He tries to open his eyelids. But a fire burns within him. He is suffocating.
He is terribly thirsty, he must get up at once and get a drink. But why does he not get up? He tries to move but his limbs refuse to obey him, his body is a stranger to him. Mother will bring him some water at once. He will say to her: "I want to drink." Something stirs beside him. Is it the octopus about to crawl over him again? There it comes, he sees its red eyes. . . . From afar comes that soft voice: "Frosya, bring some water!"
"Whose name is that?" But the effort to remember is too much for him and darkness engulfs him once more. Emerging presently from the gloom he recalls: "I am thirsty."
And hears voices saying: "He seems to be regaining consciousness." Closer and more distinct now, that gentle voice: "Do you want to drink, Comrade?"
"Can it be me they are addressing? Am I ill? Oh yes, I've got the typhus, that's it." And for the third time he tries to lift his eyelids. And at last he succeeds. The first thing that reaches his consciousness through the narrowed vision of his slightly opened eyes is a red ball hanging above his head. But the red ball is blotted out by something dark which bends towards him, and his lips feel the hard edge of a glass and moisture, life-giving moisture. The fire within him subsides.
Satisfied, he whispers: "That's better."
"Can you see me, Comrade?"
The dark shape standing over him has spoken, and just before drowsiness overpowers him he manages to say: "I can't see, but I can hear. . . ."
"Now, who would have believed he would pull through? Yet see how he has clambered back to life! A remarkably strong constitution. You may be proud of yourself, Nina Vladimirovna. You have literally saved his life." And the woman's voice, trembling slightly, answers: "I am so glad!"
After thirteen days of oblivion, consciousness returned to Pavel Korchagin. His young body had not wanted to die, and slowly he recovered his strength. It was like being born again. Everything seemed new and miraculous. Only his head lay motionless and unbearably heavy in its plaster cast, and he had not the strength to move it.

But feeling returned to the rest of his body and soon he was able to bend his fingers.

Nina Vladimirovna, junior doctor of the military clinical hospital, sat at a small table in her room turning the leaves of a thick lilac-covered notebook filled with brief entries made in a neat slanting handwriting.

August 26, 1920

Some serious cases were brought in today by ambulance train. One of them has a very ugly head wound. We put him in the corner by the window. He is only seventeen. They gave me an envelope with the papers found in his pockets and the case history. His name is Korchagin, Pavel Andreyevich. Among his papers were a well-worn membership card (No. 967) of the Young Communist League of the Ukraine, a torn Red Army identification book and a copy of a regimental order stating that Red Army man Korchagin was coinmended for exemplary fulfilment of a reconnaissance rnission. There was also a note, evidently written by himself, which said: "In the event of my death please write to my relatives: Shepetov-ka, Railway Junction, Mechanic Artem Korchagin."
He has been unconscious ever since he was hit by a shell fragment on August 19. Tomorrow Anatoli Stepanovich will examine him.

August 27

Today we examined Korchagin's wound. It is very deep, the skull is fractured and the entire right side of the head is paralysed. A blood vessel burst in the right eye which is badly swollen. Anatoli Stepanovich wanted to remove the eye to prevent inflammation, but I dissuaded him, since there is still hope that the swelling might go down. In doing this I was prompted solely by aesthetic considerations. The lad may recover; it would be a pity if he were disfigured.
He is delirious all the time and terribly restless. One of us is constantly on duty at his bedside. I spend much of my time with him. He is too young to die and I am determined to tear his young life out of Death's clutches. I must succeed.
Yesterday I spent several hours in his ward after my shift was over. His is the worst case there. I sat listening to his ravings. Sometimes they sound like a story, and I learn quite a lot about his life.
But at times he curses horribly. He uses frightful language. Somehow it hurts me to hear such awful cursing from him. Anatoli Stepanovich does not believe that he will recover. "I can't understand what the army wants with such children," the old man growls. "It's a disgrace."

August 30

Korchagin is still unconscious. He has been removed to the ward for hopeless cases. The nurse Frosya is almost constantly at his side. It appears she knows him. They worked together once.
How gentle she is with him! Now I too am beginning to fear that his condition is hopeless.

September 2, 11 p.m.

This has been a wonderful day for me. My patient Korchagin regained consciousness. The crisis is over. I spent the past two days at the hospital without going home.
I cannot describe my joy at the knowledge that one more life has been saved. One death less in our ward. The recovery of a patient is the most wonderful thing about this exhausting work of mine.
They become like children. Their affection is simple and sincere, and I too grow fond of them so that when they leave I often weep. I know it is foolish of me, but I cannot help it.

September 10

Today I wrote Korchagin's first letter to his family. He writes his wound is not serious and he'll soon recover and come home. He has lost a great deal of blood and is as pale as a ghost, and still very weak.

September 14

Korchagin smiled today for the first time. He has a very nice smile. Usually he is grave beyond his years. He is making a remarkably rapid recovery. He and Frosya are great friends. I often see her at his bedside. She must have been talking to him about me, and evidently singing my praises, for now the patient greets me with a faint smile. Yesterday he asked:
"What are those black marks on your arms, doctor?" I did not tell him that those bruises had been made by his fingers clutching my arm convulsively when he was delirious.

September 17

The wound on Korchagin's forehead is healing nicely. We doctors are amazed at the remarkable fortitude with which this young man endures the painful business of  dressing his wound.
Usually in such cases the patient groans a great deal and is generally troublesome. But this one lies quietly and when the open wound is daubed with iodine he draws himself taut like a violin string.Often he loses consciousness, but not once have we heard a groan escape him.
We know now that when Korchagin groans he is unconscious. Where does he get that tremendous endurance, I wonder?

September 21

We wheeled Korchagin out onto the big balcony today for the first time. How his face lit up when he saw the garden, how greedily he breathed in the fresh air! His head is swathed in bandages and only one eye is open. And that live, shining eye looked out on the world as if seeing it for the first time.

September 26

Today two young women came to the hospital asking to see Korchagin. I went downstairs to the waiting room to speak to them. One of them was very beautiful. They introduced themselves as Tonya Tumanova and Tatiana Buranovskaya. I had heard of Tonya, Korchagin had mentioned the name when he was delirious. I gave them permission to see him.

October 8

Korchagin now walks unaided in the garden. He keeps asking me when he can leave hospital. I tell him—soon. The two girls come to see him every visiting day. I know now why he never groans. I asked him, and he replied: "Read The Gadfly and you'll know."

October 14

Korchagin has been discharged. He took leave of me very warmly. The bandage has been removed from his eye and now only his head is bound. The eye is blind, but looks quite normal. It was very sad to part with this fine young comrade. But that's how it is: once they've recovered they leave us and rarely do we ever see them again.
As he left he said: "Pity it wasn't the left eye. How will I be able to shoot now?"
He still thinks of the front.

After his discharge from hospital Pavel lived for a time at the Buranovskys where Tonya was staying.
Pavel sought at once to draw Tonya into Komsomol activities. He began by inviting her to attend a meeting of the town's Komsomol. Tonya agreed to go, but when she emerged from her room where she had been dressing for the meeting Pavel bit his lip. She was very smartly attired, with a studied elegance which Pavel felt would be entirely out of place at a Komsomol gathering.
This was the cause of their first quarrel. When he asked her why she had dressed up like that she took offence.
"I don't see why I must look like everyone else. But if my clothes don't suit you, I can stay at home."
At the club Tonya's fine clothes were so conspicuous among all the faded tunics and shabby blouses that Pavel was deeply embarrassed. The young people treated her as an outsider, and Tonya, conscious of their disapproval, assumed a contemptuous, defiant air.
Pankratov, the secretary of the Komsomol organisation at the shipping wharves, a broad-shouldered docker in a coarse linen shirt, called Pavel aside, and indicating Tonya with his eyes,said with a scowl:

"Was it you who brought that doll here?"
"Yes," Pavel replied curtly.
"Mm," observed Pankratov. "She doesn't belong here by the looks of her. Too bourgeois by half.
How did she get in?"
Pavel's temples pounded.
"She is a friend of mine. I brought her here. Understand? She isn't hostile to us at all, even if she does think too much about clothes. You can't always judge people by the way they dress. I know as well as you do whom to bring here so you needn't be so officious, Comrade."
He wanted to say something sharp and insulting but realising that Pankratov was voicing the general opinion he checked himself, and that only increased his anger at Tonya.
"I told her what to expect! Why the devil must she put on such airs?"
That evening marked the beginning of the end of their friendship. With bitterness and dismay Pavel watched the break-up of a relationship that had seemed so enduring.
Several more days passed, and with every meeting, every conversation they drifted further and further apart. Tonya's cheap individualism became unbearable to Pavel.
Both realised that a break was inevitable.
Today they had met in the Kupechesky Gardens for the last time. The paths were strewn with decaying leaves. They stood by the balustrade at the top of the cliff and looked down at the grey waters of the Dnieper. From behind the towering hulk of the bridge a tug came crawling wearily down the river with two heavy barges in tow. The setting sun painted the Trukhanov Island with daubs of gold and set the windows of the houses on fire.
Tonya looked at the golden shafts of sunlight and said with deep sadness:
"Is our friendship going to fade like that dying sun?"
Pavel, who had been gazing at her face, knitted his brows sternly and answered in a low voice:
"Tonya, we have gone over this before. You know, of course, that I loved you, and even now my love might return, but for that you must be with us. I am not the Pavlusha I was before. And I would be a poor husband to you if you expect me to put you before the Party. For I shall always put the Party first, and you and my other............

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