Presents a summary of:
by Sergei Budantsev
CHAPTER ONE1. It is 1921. After five years in Persia, agronomist and entomologist Mikhail Mikhailovich Kreisler is returning to Baku on a cargo ship which was recently renamed in honor of one of the 26 Baku Comissars. With him is his wife, Tanya, and their young daughter, Marinochka. Also on board is an acquaintance, named Grigoryants, who is a commodities researcher and textile worker with some fine-looking luggage, which Tanya eyes enviously.
After disembarking, Kreisler and his family set out to find a hotel that Grigoryants recommended. However, it turns out to be a worker's dormitory which doesn't accept visitors. So, worried, the family wanders around the dusty, rubble-strewn city, noticing rats in every shop window.
Execution of the 26 Baku Comissars
In the summer of 1918, Mensheviks and right Social-Revolutionaries staged a counter-Revolutionary coup and seized power in Baku. They invited English forces into the city and arrested 26 leading members of the lawful Soviet of Peoples' Commissars, mainly Bolsheviks and a few left Social-Revolutionaries. Then, on 20 September 1918, on orders from the English, the Commissars were taken out to a remote location in the desert where they were shot and beheaded.
2. The Kreisler family finds a small room. For two weeks, using letters of introduction from Grigoryants and another friend, Kreisler frantically searches for employment, but finds none. Finally, Kreisler gets a double-appointment as director of a cotton-cleaning factory and as chief of the fight against locusts in the area. The pay is miserable and the job is in a remote area near the Persian border; but with money running out, Kreisler has no choice but to accept the jobs.
3. Locusts approach from Persia. They descend to breed among the reeds along the river not far from Cotton-Cleaning Factory No. 2. Hoards of birds arrive to feast on the insects. Wild pigs dig up the earth to get at the tasty bug eggs.
4. Kreisler bombards official ministries with his concerns about the locusts, but they ignore him. Even the local peasants seem unconcerned--after all, they reason, the harvest is already in, and they just do not comprehend what will happen then the locust eggs hatch.
Things are difficult for the Kreisler family. Tanya gets malaria, and Marinochka has a bout with scarlet fever. Rumors spread that Kreisler was a White officer who has come to this backwaters to hide from the Bolsheviks.
5. A comrade named Grigori Romanovich Ter-Pogosov shows up at Kreisler's office with an order for him to hand over the factory's sprinkler apparatus, which will be passed on to a commune for use in sewage treatment. Kreisler had intended to use the sprinklers to spray poison on the locusts; so he's angry and argues against the transfer. Ter-Pogosov says there are no poisons anyway and the Locust Organization has decided to burn the pests. Kreisler is offended that he learned of this plan in such an off-handed way. He tells Ter-Pogosov to wait while he contemplates whether or not to comply.
That evening, in true Soviet style, Kreisler calls a meeting of all the factory workers to discuss the situation. In the end, the majority agrees with the factory's chief engineer, Vilsky, who says they must obey orders from the center and hand over the apparatus.
CHAPTER TWO1. At the end of October, Marinochka dies from pneumonia. Tanya, herself battling with malaria, becomes depressed and hardly ever leaves the house.
As more and more reports of locust infestations in the region pour in, Kreisler finds some entomological journals in the attic and plunges into study. He continues writing his alarming reports to official agencies, but all he gets back are brochures, flyers, newsletters, etc. Ter-Pogosov becomes a bigwig in the Locust Organization, being sent on a mission to Moscow and then appointed Chief of Supply.
3. A frequent visitor to the Kreisler house is Onufri Ipatich Veremienko, who is helping with the anti-locust campaign. He is a bit of a boozer who seems to be enamoured of Tanya. Tanya tells him that she doesn't like drinkers, so he swears to go sober.
Veremienko goes to visit his brother in the village of Novaya Dikanka. He writes back that the river has overflowed its banks by the village and invites them--especially Tanya--to come and witness all the hubbub.
When they arrive at the village, Kreisler is overcome with memories of spring floods in Russia. He wants to say, "All the dust has been blown off my soul, " but he only smiles.
At the edge of the village, the water is encroaching on individual house gardens. Each muzhik works to protect only his garden, not his neighbor's. This angers Kreilser.
Veremienko bubbles with joy when he sees Kreisler and Tanya. He introduces them to his brother, Afanasy, who's also the village chairman.
Technicians, led by the old enginer Trayanov, devise a plan to combat the flooding by rechanneling the river into the course it followed ten years ago. Kreisler eagerly grabs a shovel and joins in the work. Tanya looks on angrily and jealously. Her husband never showed such dedication to her as he does to this work among the people. She goes to the Veremienko house to await Kreisler. There she meets Veremienko's stern and opinionated mother. The women quickly develop an antipathy toward one another.
At dinner with the Veremienkos that night, a Comrade Effendiev gives Kreisler some useful information about locusts near Lake Bei in Persia. Making sure that Tanya sees it, Veremienko refuses strong drink.
CHAPTER THREE1. Veremienko arrives at the shop of the chemist Bukhbinder, who is in a back room drinking with Vilsky and the veterinarian Agafonov. Bukhbinder was known to have a weakness for young girls, and he usually took young Muslim girls as concubines. This year he was fortunate enough to find a 15-year-old orphan girl for himself.
Bukhbinder complains about the local natives, saying he's often thought he should mix strychnine in the various powders he prepares for them.
As they get drunk, Bukhbinder, who is Ter-Pogosov's brother-in-law, reveals a nefarious scheme to Veremienko. The sprinklers which Ter-Pogosov took from Kreisler's factory have proven unsuitable for the commune's needs. Bukhbinder and a certain Ivanov have already arranged to buy the sprinklers and sell them to Ter-Pogosov's Locust Organization for a 200% profit! And there's plenty more equipment to buy and resell. Bukhbinder wants Veremienko to join in the plot because he knows sprinklers as well as the area. Veremienko agrees, drunkenly dreaming of buying a happier life for himself and Tanya with his profits.
2. Kreisler, our riding on the steppe to scout out locust breeding spots, gets lost. He comes upon two border guards on horseback who tell him that he is close to the Persian border. The guards are out hunting for some bandit Tartars who made off with about 100 head of sheep. The guards--Russians--bemoan the lawlessness in the region and remark: "In this region we are the main cultural nation and we must establish order." And once order is established, the proletariat will know what to do with all the natural riches here.
The guards give Kreisler directions to the nearest shelter--engineer Trayanov's irrigation office. Kreilser continues on his way, passing through a snake-infested, burnt-out village before he finally reaches Trayanov's office in the pitch black of night.
3. While Kreisler hungrily wolfs down a lamb dinner, Trayanov tells him that most people have left the area during the Civil War. Armenians and Turks were killing each other, and both groups were killing Russians. Trayanov himself just barely escaped being killed, but his village, Giulistan, was burned down and is now one huge snake pit. Ever since, Trayanov has retired to his office here, which he has given a somewhat fortified look to, reminiscent of a Walter Scott novel. Kreisler spends the night on the sofa in the study.
Ivan Sergeevich Who?
Jog your memory.
Biography of Turgenev
In the morning, Trayanov surprises Kreisler with the question, "Who is this Ter-Pogosov?" Kreisler relates what he knows about him, mentioning, of course, the requisitioning of the sprinklers from his factory. Trayanov says that Ter-Pogosov has taken things from him, too. Not personally, but through his agent Veremienko. Trayanov expresses some suspicions about Veremienko, quoting Turgenev: "An exessively proper appearance. No doubt a swinidler." Kreisler, who had long ago forgotten that Turgenev existed, defends Veremienko as trustworthy, but Trayanov remains dubious.
Trayanov then shows Kreisler the lush gardens he keeps, including some pineapple trees which he is hoping to train to thrive in the local climate. Kreisler comments that the compound is not so much like a medieval castle as a monestary. Trayanov agrees, saying that for his work, it is best he live in solitude, despite Effendiev's arguements in favor of a collective. Further, Trayanov is childless, but his legacy is the work he's done to help make the area--rich in ancient culture--fertile. Everyone curses the region, Trayanov notes, as a desert wasteland, giving birth only to malaria. But, he says, give it water and it will bloom abundant.
4. While Kreisler was spending the night with Trayanov, Veremienko was with Tanya, declaring his love for her. Tanya bursts into tears, saying that she loves only her husband and she is offended by Veremienko's shameless remarks. Veremienko protests that his love for her is genuine. After more tears, Tanya says that she will give her soul to and be very generous in her thanks to any person who can take her and her husband out of this wasted, ruined land, and give them a peaceful, calm existence where they can grow old and raise children.
Veremienko quickly gets an idea, saying that he refused before, but now he'll do it.
CHAPTER FOUR1. For a month, Veremienko has been off in Baku on Locust Organization business. He receives a letter from Kreisler begging for news of any progress and telling him to stress the seriousness of the situation to the organization. Kreisler reads in the newspapers that specialists are gathering various apparatus and poisons and kerosene to burn out the locusts, but where is it all, Kreisler asks. And to make the situation worse, the region is filling up with hungry, desperate refugees.
2. As Veremienko perceives it, Ter-Pogosov smells like a sweating horse; Mukhanov, the Technical Director of the antilocust effort, smells like elixir and ammonium; Aleksandr Filipovich Velichko, the Chairman of the Locust Organization, smells like fresh printers ink. Velichko prizes proper outward appearance and procedure. Between him and Mukhanov, the meetings of the Locust Organization took on a certain dignity, a resemblance to government work.
Veremienko mentions Kreisler's concerns, but he is put off with bureaucratic procedure. Mukhanov makes an elegant closing speech, dismissing the concerns of Kreisler and other regional representatives, saying that an anti-locust expedition will set out for the affected regions in three days. He gives the impression that the organization is working firmly, at a steady, precise pace. Only one local representative is unimpressed, denoucing the committee as a millionaires's club.
Ter-Pogosov is all for removing the obstreporous Kreisler from his job, but is prevailed upon not to push for this in the name of retaining stability.
Velichko is very satisfied with the work of the organization, saying that their impeccable work will serve as an example throughout the country. Ter-Pogosov dismisses Velichko as an incompetent chatterbox and says that Velichko's fate hangs by a thread.
Veremienko goes to the workshop where the burners for the expedition are being "simplified" according to Mukhanov's directions (replacing valuable copper and iron with tin). It turns out that Veremienko and the head of the workshop, Fyodor Arnoldovich Gurievsky, are complicit in this as well as in Ter-Pogosov and Mukhanov's plan to load the expedition ship with barrels of sand instead of the expensive poisons for which the government has paid.
3. Ter-Pogosov shows up at the workshop. Gurievsky demands that he receive his payment now. Ter-Pogosov basically tells him to shut up. He also boasts that only he--Ter Pogosov--is in a position to protect everyone and that without him, all of them would be lost.
4. Mukhanov hosts a lavish party, with plenty to eat and drink. More than once, while passing a tub of caviar, Mukhanov notes that his great-grandfather was friends with Pushkin. Velichko opines on the difficulties of combining good manners and refinement with proletarian simplicity. He finds his current assignment boring and would much rather be engaged in education or cultural work. However, he notes sadly, the Party considers such worth beneath him.
and Serving Tips
Velichko gives a pompous toast, wishing luck and success to the upcoming anti-locust expedition. More champagne is poured and Ter-Pogosov gives an answering toast, swearing to fulfill their duty, just as the guardsmen swore to Napoleon. Velichko dryly responds that he is not a Bonapartist, then leaves to deal with some supposedly urgent government matters.
The party gets louder and rife with sexual depravity. Mukhanov and Ter-Pogosov adjourn to private rooms with various young women. Veremienko is quite impressed with this sophisticated type of party, filled with lust and NEP-era excesses. Comparing it with the drunken get-togethers at Bukhbinder's, Veremienko considers this party the height of refinement.
The entire party decides to go on a boat ride. Once they get at sea, Evgeniya Valeryanova, Mukhanov's wife, tosses her silk scarf into the water and declares that Veremienko will retrieve it as a demonstration of masculine nobility, strength, and innocence. Obeidiantly, Veremienko leaps into the water, fully clothed. The others grow worried as Veremienko is submerged for a very long time. Finally, he surfaces, holding aloft the scarf.
Back on board, Veremienko boasts to the ladies that he is ready and able to fetch anything else they might care to toss overboard. And, in triumph, he embraces Evgeniya around the waist.
Ter-Pogosov thinks to himself, "He swims well. We might be able to use that."
1. Mukhanov and Veremienko check out the barge they've hired to transport their equipment down to the locust-infested areas. The craft seems ricketey,. Mukhanov is worried that the Bolsheviks would prosecute them for negligence should the boat sink. Veremienko, quoting Kreisler, reminds him that any delay itself could be reason to indict them.
Our conversations have long ago lost the charm of legality.
Mukhanov then launches into a diatribe against women and love. Women are greedy, fickle, and cruel, he says. And men often fool themselves--they leave one woman and fall in love with another simply because she is not like the first. But then, the memory of the insult suffered at the hands of the first woman gnaws away at him, and soon he abandons his new love and runs back to the first. Mukhanov laughs at Vereimenko who has joined in this whole business for the sake of a woman. Once Veremienko wins Tanya, Mukhanov warns, he will learn a bitter lesson.
2. The expedition sets off on the freighter Izmail Tagiev, which is towing a barge loaded with barrels of sand and various metal junk instead of the poisons and machinery paid for by the state. Fearing that Ter-Pogosov intends to cheat him out of his share, Veremienko threatens to reveal the plot right here and now unless Ter-Pogosov immediately pays him 3,000 rubles in gold, dollars, or pounds. The two men engage in a fierce cursing and shouting match. Finally, beset by seasickness, Ter-Pogosov pays Veremienko only on the the condition that Veremienko board the barge and make sure that Petryakov, the barge captain, keeps his promise to sink the barge and all the evidence on board.
3. Reaching the mouth of the river, the Izmail Tagiev stops to await a tug and pilot to help negotiate the treacherous entrance. Dark approaches and Ter-Pogosov puts pressure on the captain to enter the river before nightfall. The captain caves in and the ship gets underway. On the barge, Veremienko watches as Petryakov steers the barge right on some rocks.
CHAPTER SIX1. Kreisler and Effendiev are busy visiting all the villages, lecturing about the dangers of the imminent locust attack and doing the best they can to prepare the people. But without poisons or equipment from the Locust Organization, there is little that they can do.
One day, Effendiev shows up with Chikhotin, a self-taught proletarian scientist who has an idea on how to fight the locusts. Before getting down to business, Chikhotin asks Kreisler if he underpriced himself, requesting 500 gold rubles for his ideas. Kreisler has no opinion on the subject.
I'm not some disinterested maniac. Ideas cost money. We are machines, expensive machines for the production of ideas.
Chikhotin gives Kreisler a copy the journal Zakavkazskii Proletariat, which includes his article. His idea, Chikhotin says, is short and simple, like all great ideas. He also cautions Kreisler not to be afraid of a little fresh air in scientific thought.
Kreisler reads the article which describes Chikhotin's idea of dealing with a field infested with flying locusts. He proposes hanging burning rags from a wire, then moving the wire across the file. The locusts, fearing the fire, will simply fly away.
The same journal also contains an article by a respected Turkmenistan entomologist who says it is useless to fight against flying locust and that they must be attacked when they are larvae or maggots.
Kreisler tells Effendiev that Chikhotin is either a charlatan or a madman. Effendiev says that Kreisler should not be so hasty in his condemnations. Intellectuals like Kreisler, Effendiev says, too often are prisoners of their own haughtiness and fear new ideas, fresh air.
Kreisler, Effendiev, and scout named Chepurnov ride out to the Karasun River. There they find that the locust eggs are hatching. Millions of larvae have emerged and are devouring the sedge plants. A gigantic, undulating, living bridge of the creatures extends from one bank of the river to the other. Entire "islands" of the pests break off and continue floating downstream.
As they return to the factory, the come upon a crowd of ragged refugees from the Povolzha region. Effendiev tells them to come to the factory to look for work, but Kreisler only reacts wtih irritation. Effendiev tells Kreisler that he, too, was once like these refugees--poor and searching for food. He would have become a bandit or a thief, but he was saved by the light of Communism.
The next night there is a meeting at which Chikhotin expounds his new great idea. Since the locusts are crossing the river, he proposes stretching a line of kerosene barrels across the river. There will be small holes in the barrels, so kerosene will leak out onto the surface of the water. When the locusts come in contact with the kerosene, their breathing will stop and they will die.
Chepurnov says that's the most ridiculous idea he's ever heard. With the locusts floating off in every direction, they could easily avoid the kerosene. And besides, even if the idea did work, what about the millions of locusts being born on this side of the river? They have no need to cross the water. Kreisler supports Chepurnov. Effendiev places Chikhotin under arrest--mainly for Chikhotin's own safetly. If he goes to other regions expounding this idea, he's likely to get himself killed.
2. & 3. Effendiev remembers how his blood boiled with excitement in the early days of the Revolution. His baptism in battle came when we was under the command of Petrov, one of the 26 Baku Commissars. The excitement and seriousness of the current battle against the locusts reminds Effendiev of those heady early days.
Effendiev and Kreisler anxiously await word from the Locust Organization. They are very low on supplies, particularly food. Effendiev says that if they run out of provisions, they'll just have to seize food from the kulaks.
They receive a telegram from Veremienko, sent just before the expedition was set to sail. Veremienko writes that the barge is full of insecticides and tells Kreisler to hold back the advance of the locusts by any means necessary. Kreisler explodes in anger at this idiotic advice.
They calculate that the expedition won't reach them for a week. Till then, Kreisler orders daily rations cut from one and a half pounds of bread a day, to a mere one-half pound.
More bad news comes in: In some regions, the locusts have already left the river and entered the fields.
The decrease in food rations causes great grumbling and dissatisfaction among the workers and the growing crowd of refugees. Kreisler promises to make things right once the expedition arrives with its supplies.
4. Kreisler, Effendiev, and others work feverishly at the river, digging pits, lighting fires, in an attempt to deflect at least one advancing column of the writhing locust larvae away from the fields. But all their efforts are useless. Kriesler bitterly notes that people in charge think that mankind can accomplish anything; but here their battle with the locusts shows the opposite--mankind is helpless in the face of nature.
Kreisler brings a bucket full of the squirming second-stage and third-stage larvae back to the factory and tosses them on the ground for the chickens to eat. Dirty, pale, and wan, he then gets on a horse and tells Tanya he has to leave for Asad-Abad. The locust expedition has finally arrived, but they couldn't take the train in because of...locusts. It seems a huge, seething column of the larvae was moving through the desert and they completely covered the railroad tracks. The train came and started squishing their putrid little bodies, but there were so many of them that the tracks became slippery. The train could get no traction and was in danger of derailment, so it had to turn back. And Kreisler tells Tanya the chief piece of bad news: the barge sank along with most of the supplies, poisons, equipment, etc.
As Kreisler leaves, Tanya again feels lonely and insulted and longs desperately to be somewhere else.
CHAPTER SEVEN1. At the train station in Asad-Abad, Kreisler meets Mukhanov, whom he knew in childhood. Mukhanov seems unnaturally effusive and friendly in greeting. He says the barge sank because it was old and hadn't been repaired since 1914. Also, the captain had old maps. Nevertheless, the captain has been arrested and probably will be shot. All they have now are a few sprinklers and chemicals that were on the ship itself. Ter-Pogosov has already sailed back to Baku and perhaps he'll be able to send more supplies.
2. Kreisler brings Mukhanov and Veremienko back to the factory. More guests arrive: Engineer Trayanov with film director Osip Aleksandrovich Brodin, his wife Malvina Moiseevna, and assistant Slava. They have come to film the locusts.
That evening over tea, Kreisler says that he was drawn back to Russia, to this godforsaken place, back-breaking work and grinding poverty out of a profound desire to participate--to live and work.
Mukhanov opines that all Soviet citizens are boiling over with ideas and are ready to engage in the most bizarre excesses in defense of these ideas. But in the end, he says, all Soviets really want is to turn into an America or Europe.
The intellectual, the philistine, the worker--every Soviet citizen has ideas, is boiling over with ideas. For those ideas, they are ready to go through fire, stand up against the wall, or be sent into exile. In this, we surpass the West with its pragmatism and petty deeds....And in the end, what do we want? We only want to--at a murderously slow, yet organic, pace--turn into an America or Europe.
At the end of the evening, Kreisler escorts Malvina back to the Vilskys', where she is staying. He is gone for an hour, and Tanya begins to get jealous.
3. Kreisler takes Tanya out to watch the battle against the locusts. At the sides of a field, an army of women are pounding the ground to kill the wiggling larvae.
Tanya struggles to control her disgust as she and Kreisler wade ankle-deep through the undulating sea of larvae. They reach the main area of operation. Ditches are being dug, locusts tossed in and burned. Trayanov complains about the burners, saying that some of them begin leaking as soon as kerosene is poured into them.
Brodin films as a muzhik, with a burner strapped to his back, sprays flames onto a pit of locusts. Suddenly, the burner explodes. The muzhik is burned alive, turned into a living tower of flames. Kreisler, Trayanov, and Slava run to help. Tanya faints.
4. Engineer Trayanov condemns Mukhanov's burners, saying there are shabby and were never tested. Mukhanov defends himself, saying that, in Turkmenestan there were similar accidents with German burners. Effendiev threatens to shoot everyone involved.
CHAPTER EIGHT1. Trayanov tells Kreisler that he's checked out some of the equipment sent along on the Locust Expedition. It is the same apparatus that Ter-Pogosov requisitioned from his office some months back. However, somehow, the apparatus first of all wound up in private hands and was sold to the Locust Organization at auction. Trayanov suspects that some criminal business is involved.
The locusts, now in the fifth stage of development, begin crawling into the factory courtyard and up the factory wall. Tanya finds them in the house, crawling over the furniture, oozing in through every crack. In the kitchen, the cook tries smashing them, burning them in the oven, and dousing them with boiling water--all to no effect.
2. Vilsky and Veremienko are drinking at Bukhbinder's. Ter-Pogosov comes in and tells Bukhbinder that the jig is up. Gurievsky has been arrested and is starting to talk. There is already and order out for Mukhanov's arrest. Things are falling apart, and it's every man for himself. Ter-Pogosov says they have to try to get across the border into Persia tonight. He advises Bukhbinder to bring nothing but money.
3. As she gets ready for bed, Tanya hears voices outside. She goes into the courtyard and sees a group of peasants, including Stepan Marakushev, the father of the muzhik killed in the burner accident. He is grumbling angrily about the bosses, who permit themselves to learn at the expense of his son's life.
4. Veremienko tells the whole sordid tale of his involvement in the swindle to Kreisler, who, of course, condemns him. Veremienko tells Kreisler to stop being so sanctimonious and holier-than-thou. Tanya, who has been eavesdropping, rushes into the room and kisses Veremienko's hands gratefully.
5. In the morning, with the locusts hopping all over the house, Kreisler has a scene with Tanya. How can she love such a scoundrel as Veremienko, he wants to know. Tanya defends Veremienko, saying that he risked everything--his dignity, honor, and life--for love.
Veremienko unexpectedly arrived to announce that Mukhanov and the others have fled. And, what's more, they have stolen all of Veremienko's money, which he had hidden in his mattress.
CHAPTER NINE1. The hungry and bedraggled refugees and workers, hearing rumors about what has happened, gather in an angry mob around the factory. They throw stones at Effendiev, Kreisler, and others, who depart in a car to search for the criminals.
2. Trayanov's beard flaps in the wind as the car races along. They arrive at Bukhbinder's pharmacy, but the scoundrels are gone. Vilsky comes up to Kreisler and confesses that he helped Ter-Pogosov and the others. But now he repents his crimes and will turn over his ill-gotten money. He tells our heroes that Ter-Pogosov, Mukhanov, and Bukhbinder are headed in the direction of Trayanov's irrigation station as they hightail it to the border. Effendiev calls the border police to alert them. They pile into the car again and speed off to continue the chase.
3. Ter-Pogosov, Bukhbinder, Mukhanov, and Mukanov's wife are hurrying across the dusty landscape toward the Persian border. They are being led by a smuggler named Hussein. Suddenly they see the Ford carrying Kreisler and the others approaching from one direction. From the other directions, border guards are coming. Bukhbinker panics and tries to gallop off on his own. He is shot. The others are placed under arrest.
4. Veremienko comes to see Tanya. She immediately tells him that he should flee. He says there is no use in escaping alone. Further, he says, he wasn't trying to win her with money. He only wanted to make her life easier.
5. Veremienko is submissive as he is arrested and led away. He passes Kreisler and comments, "This is the measure of human happiness."
Kreisler hurries home and finds Tanya packing a bag. She plans to follow Veremienko to prison and do what she can for him. Kreisler suddenly hardens and hopes that they shoot Veremienko. He angrily shouts at Tanya, calling her repulsive and telling her to get out.
6. An intense thunder storm erupts. Kreisler comes upon Malvina Brodin, who is terrified of thunder and lighting. She fearfully grabs hold of Kreisler. With a brazenness that surprises even himself, Kreisler takes advantage of the situation and takes Malvina to bed as the rain pours down.
The storm did not bother the locusts, who were beginning to grow their wings. Brodin sets up his camera, hoping to catch the moment when the horde of locusts take flight. In the meantime, two large masses of locusts from the river area, already mature, fly over the factory toward Persia.
That night, an alarm is raised. Arson! Marakushev, the father of the worker who had been killed by the explosion of the faulty burner, was caught trying to set fire to a storehouse. He is stopped before any real damage can be done. They also find a leaflet he had written, in which he urged burning all the unscrupulous bosses.
CHAPTER TEN1. Tanya moves to Baku, where Veremienko is being held. She takes a room in the run-down mansion of two sisters, Rimma and Inna Blazhko. They are lazy and exploit Rimma's 19-year-old daughter, Simochka. They fear the approach of every young male, terrfied that one of them will eventually wisk away Simochka, their unpaid laborer. The sisters' brother, Andrei, works at the courthouse and helps Tanya in small ways.
Kreisler occassionally sends Tanya money and notes. He writes that he understands she wanted a home and that he was not able to give that to her. He thinks that if their daughter had not died, they would have stayed together.
Tanya uses some of the money to send Veremienko caviar, candy, and other treats. He smuggles out childish, grateful letters to her, pledging his heart and soul to her. But he is weary and hopes for a quick end to his ordeal.
2. & 3. Tanya is troubled with dreams. Rimma and Inna interpret the dreams, saying that Tanya wants to have a baby.
One night, Simochka is working late, washing dishes. Tanya can't fall asleep. She invites Simochka to her bedroom to talk. Simochka complains that her mother and aunt are selling off the jewelry that was supposed to be part of her dowery. Tanya remembers her youth, growing up as the youngest and most exploited in an impoverished family. To escape, she signed up as a nurse on the Persian front. There, despite the threat of malaria and cholera, she felt free for the first time in her life. Simochka says that she sees her salvation in marriage...just like Tanya did. She already has a boyfriend, who, it turns out, is Slava, movie director Brodin's assistant.
Feeling weak and pale, Tanya admits that she is pregnant and Kreisler is the father. However, she will never return to Kreisler. She will either raise the child on her own or get an abortion. Simochka finds this attitude heartless. She wishes that she were pregnant. Because that is the only way her mother will give her permission to marry Slava.
Tanya tells the whole story of her involvement with Kreisler and Veremienko. When asked if she loves Veremienko, Tanya only says that she cannot kill the man who sacrificed everything for her.
Tanya lets Simochka read the letter from Kreisler. Simochka can't believe that Tanya would abandoned such a good man, who forgives everything, is worried and concerned about her. Tanya reacts with anger and anguish and spends the whole night crying.
4. Two days later, Tanya sees Kreisler at the courthouse. He was being interviewed by the investigator. Kreilser told the investigator that Veremienko was a good, but uneven worker--energetic and lazy at the same time. Tanya says Veremienko did it all for her and that she must do everything to save him, even lie. Kreisler tells her that in many of the villages which have been destroyed by the locusts, the people are saying that execution is too good a punishment for Veremienko. Tanya doesn't care what's happened elsewhere or what other people think.
That night, Kreisler is visted by Marya Ivanovna, Vilsky's wife. She says that Vilsky is just small potatoes and they should just go after the ringleaders, not Vilsky. In lowered tones, she also implies that the law says that those in authority--that is, Kreisler himself--can be held responsible for not taking preventative action in time.
Marya also says that Tanya does not love Veremienko. She's just chasing after some dream of her own--a dream of selfless sacrifice for love. Marya reveals that she herself had a long-lasting affair with Veremienko.
Later, Simochka and Slava come to visit Kreisler in his hotel room. They show him a pair of emerald earrings--the same earrings Kreisler bought for Tanya five years ago in Teheran. She loved those earrings and called them her talisman. Simochka and Slava tell Kreisler that Tanya has asked them to sell the earrings for 50 gold rubles, an impossibly high sum.
But more importantly, Simochka says that Tanya is pregnant and is planning to have an abortion. Simochka wants Kreisler to know this because he is the father and Simochka feels he should do something about it. At first, Kreisler is offended by the interference of these young people. But then he understands that they are sincerely trying to help. He thanks them and buys the earrings.
5. In the morning, Slava calls to say that Tanya plans to go to the clinic that evening at 6 P.M. Kreisler, worn out, goes to bed and sleeps all day, missing several appointments.
At six o'clock, Tanya walks up to the clinic entrance door. She has a foreboding that she will never leave this place. She rings the bell and is filled with excuses to leave--she forgot to change her underwear, she didn't wash herself enough. She is on the verge of fleeing when the door opens and she is beckoned inside.
The doctor tells Tanya than an abortion is easy and safe. Nonetheless, he advises against it. It empties one spiritually and kills the very meaning of love. He damns the Bolsheviks for their propaganda of abortion. He examines Tanya and says that she can wait two weeks before doing the abortion, and he suggests that she spend the time thinking about it.
Tanya leaves the clinic, feeling a bit giddy. She is not even surprised to see Kreisler standing outside. Seeing Tanya's somewhat giddy state, Kreisler assumes that Tanya must have realized she was making a mistake. Being discreet, he asks why she was at the clinic, is she ill? No, she is completely healthy, she answers. She lets Kreisler escort her home and she even takes his hand when bidding him good-bye.
CHAPTER ELEVEN1. & 2. The trial begins. The first day, which takes place under the glare of bright lights and the gaze of Brodin's movie camera, is taken up by the reading of the detailed indictments against each of the accused.
On the second day, Veremienko completely admits his guilt. In a quite monotone he recites an obviously memorized speech detailing his crimes. He holds back nothing, revealing every sordid detail. He tells of the phony accounts, of filling sacks with sand instead of poisons, of replacing brass on the burners with iron and tin, and of the fact that none of the burners was ever tested. He even tells of the constant boozing and womanizing. Tanya feels that she herself is sitting on the bench with the accused and that Veremienko's every utterance betrays her, covers her with mud. She finds his honesty insulting. She is surprised that she deigned to kiss the hand of a man who committed such dirty deeds. Feeling sick, she rushes out of the courtroom, passing people who are talking about the trial.
Every enterprise--even the best ones--have such traitors. We have to guard against them.
3. For two days, Tanya stays in her room. Slava comes to bring news of the trial. Mukhanov broke into hysterics. After practially every question, Mukhanov asked for a short recess to consider his answer. During the break he would consult with Ter-Pogosov and return with a firm answer. It turned out, however, that he was testifying while drunk. The lemonade bottle he was sharing with Ter-Pogosov was actually filled with spirits.
Slava, who has been reading Dostoevsky recently, considers Tanya equal in spiritual qualities to Nastassiya Filipovna. He informs Tanya that Kreisler will be testifying on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Tanya awakens and feels the need to start putting her life in order. She goes to apply for a job as a nurse. Then, without even realizing it, she returns to the courtroom.
CHAPTER TWELVE1. Kreisler is quiestioned for a long time. He becomes tired and his answers confused. He is asked why he acceeded to Ter-Pogosov's obviously illegal order to turn over the sprinklers. Kreisler says it's difficult to explain. The prosecutor asserts that it is clear that Kreisler, by his inaction, violated several articles of the criminal code. Kreisler should be placed under arrest, he says, because basically, Kreisler is a White officer. Tanya leaps up and shouts out, "That's slander!" The chairman rings his little bell, and Kreisler is arrested.
As Kreisler sits on the bench with the other accused, he sees Tanya and brightens up.
During a break, Tanya, hoping to see Kreisler, rushes down some stairs. She falls and sprains an ankle. A doctor tells her not to walk for a week.
Marya Ivanovna helps Tanya home. Tanya admits that she was wrong to leave Kreisler. It was caprice and stubbornness on her part. She asks Marya Ivanovna to pass a message to Kreisler, telling him how dear he is to her and how much she is worried about him. She promises not to abandon him. Her feeling for him is like an incurable disease.
2. Back in court, Effendiev testifies in support of Kreisler, saying that he did everything possible to fight the locusts. If Kreisler is guilty, says Effendiev, then he himself is also guilty. The prosecutor would have liked to arrest Effendiev, but it's hard to move against someone like Effendiev who has been awarded the Order of the Red Banner and a pistol from Trotsky himself in recognition of military service.
ORDER OF THE RED BANNER
Instituted on 16 Sept 1918. Awarded to military personnel for: Outstanding combat leadership of military units desplaying special bravery and courage; and for being victorious over the enemy despite heavy losses or unfortunate circumstances, or for inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.
Current value on the open market: $20-$40
Kreisler sends a note back to Tanya, asking her for forgiveness, too.
The trial enters the final phase. The prosecutor asks that Kreisler receive a severe reprimand. For Veremienko, he demands the death penalty.
3. The verdicts are announced. Kreisler is acquitted, absolved of any and all guilt, as is the captain of the barge. Vilsky gets a year, as does Mukhanov's wife. Velichko gets two year; Petryakov, 3 years; and Bukhbinder and Gurievsky each get 10 years. Veremienko, Ter-Pogosov, and Mukhanov are to be shot.
A wild commotion breaks out in the courtroom, with Mukhanov kicking and screaming as he is dragged away.
4. The Republic Central Executive Committee reduces Veremienko's sentence to ten years. Kreisler and Tanya are reconciled. Kreisler quits his job at the factory and accepts work in Baku as the Department of Plant Protection--administrative and lab work mainly.
Housing is difficult to find, so they decide to stay at the Blazhkos. Tanya is happy when Kreisler returns to her the emerald earrings, her talisman.
At work, Kreisler does research on locusts and plans to write some papers on the subject.
Tanya walks home with Kreisler from the lab one day. The wind reminds them of that day not so long ago when they returned from Persia. They agree that the past is of no significance now. Tanya smiles with a new life for the second half of the century growing healthy in her womb.
Biography of Sergei Budantsev
Budantsev, Sergei Fedorovich. Born 28 November 1896, Old Style (10 December, New Style). He was the 11th son of an estate manager in Ryazan. After graduating from a private gymnasium in Ryazan in 1915, he enrolled in the historical-philological faculty of Moscow University. He fell in with a group of writers and artists including the likes of Khlebnikov, Aseev, Vera Ilina, N. Chernishev and E. Lisitsky. Upon reading Mayakovsky's Cloud in Trousers, Budantsev reports that he suddenly ceased being an epigone of Symbolism and turned into a propagandist for Mayakovsky.. . . .(...Continued...)