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by Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Fadeev

1. MOROZKA. It is July. Commander Osip Abramovich Levinson tells an orderly named Morozka to take a packet to Shaldybin's squadron. Morozka nastily refuses. He always has to go on such missions. Besides, he notes with some vulgarity, he was getting ready to visit his wife at the field hospital where she works. Levinson says if Morozka doesn't want to go, he can turn in his rifle and go wherever he wants. Morozka reluctantly takes the packet, gets on his horse, Mishka, and rides off.

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Morozka is the son of a miner. He was working in the mines and drinking vodka by age 12. He had a typical rowdy youth. During a strike, he was jailed because it was hoped he'd give up the ringleaders--he didn't. During World War I, he served in the calvary and was wounded six times. Afterwards, he got married and in 1918 went to defend the young Soviet republic.

Morozka rides in the shadow of the majestic Sikhote-Alin Mountain Range. Approaching a hill, Morozka hears gunfire. He sees Shaldybin's detachment in rout, fleeing in panic. Some can be seen ripping off their red ribbons. One clumsy young fellow, with a bandaged head, named Pavel Mechik falls wounded. His comrades leave him. Morozka gallops through the gunfire, slings Mechik on the saddle of his horse, and gallops back toward Levinson's detachment.

2. MECHIK. From the first glance, Morozka didn't like Mechik--too clean and wet behind the ears. As Morozka and the other soldiers examine the unconscious Mechik's documents, they find a photo of a pretty young women with light curls.

Mechik is taken to a field hospital where his wounds are tended to by a doctor named Stashinsky and Varya the nurse, who's also Morozka's wife.


The Maximalists formed as the left wing of the Socialist Revolutionary (SR) Party. They insisted on the immediate establishment of socialist order both in the villages and in the cities, for the socialization not only of the land, but also of all factories and plants. In 1905 the SR leadership declared that the views of the Maximalists were inconsistent with the party line, and they were expelled. In October 1906, the Maximalists formed their own party. The Maximalists were certain that the victory of the revolution could be brought nearer only with the help of large-scale terrorist actions and expropriations. They supported the Bolsheviks until the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918.

Source: Partinform (
Three weeks ago Mechik left the city to join Shadybin's detachment with orders from the Maximalists. At first, the guards didn't believe him and roughed him up. But the commander stopped them and Mechik was admitted to the group. These soldiers were dirty and more vulgar than Mechik had imagined. They make fun of him for, among other things, his correct speech.

Mechik is drawn to Varya, who is tender and kind. He also makes friends with an old man named Pika, who tells him stories of his son, a White. One day Pika says that Varya is too loose. She's too kind and gives in to any man who asks. Mechik is offended by this.

Mechik shows his girlfriend's photo to Varya. As she is looking at it, she is startled by Morozka, who comes up behind her. She drops the photo and does not notice that she steps on it as she leaves with Morozka. Mechik picks up the photo and rips it to pieces.

3. SIXTH SENSE. Riding back, Morozka comes upon an untended melon patch, belonging to the village elder, Khoma Ryabets. Seeing no one around, Morozka starts stealing melons, but Ryabets then shows up, catching Morozka in the act. Morozka jumps on his horse and gallops off.

Nearby, Levinson is questioning a scout, who gives him information on the Japanese positions. The scout also says that after the defeat, Shaldyba retreated to a Korean village where he's eating chumiz and drinking a lot. Considering this and other reports, Levinson thinks that something is not quite right. He has a sixth sense about this type of thing. He decides that the Japanese will rout his detachment unless he does something first.

Ryabets and Levinson's assistant, a burly 19-year-old named Baklanov, come to Levinson to complain about Morozka's theft of the melons. Levinson says the matter will be decided at a meeting of the village council and the detachment. He then tells Ryabets and Baklanov to get together 10 poods
POOD = 16 kg or 38 pounds.
of rusks and to increase the ration of oats given to the horses--give them a full measure every day.

4. ALONE. Mechik feels insulted and overlooked by everyone. Once, Stashinsky actually begins a concerned, human conversation with him, and Mechik is touched. But when Mechik starts to talk about the Maximalists, Stashinsky suddenly becomes distant and wanders away. Mechik cries silently to himself and ignores everyone, pretending to be asleep. Varya senses that something is wrong and asks him how he feels. When Mechik says, "Bad", Varya bends down and kisses him on the lips.

5. MUZHIKS AND THE "COAL TRIBE". Muzhiks gather for the village council meeting. They complain, mostly about the lack of good sythes. One muzhik then says that the Japanese have occupied Sundug. Levinson takes this all in and decides that he'll have to send out more scouts and order Stanshinsky to evacuate the wounded. Some partisans arrive for the meeting as well as a group of coal miners led by Timofei Dubov.

As the matter of Morozka and the melons is discussed, the muzhiks can agree on very little other than the fact that the old ways of deciding these things are no good and that new methods must be found. Dubov denounces Morozka as bringing shame to the coal tribe. A soldier speaks up and is more forgiving. In the end, everyone is satisfied with Morozka's promise to never do it again. And if he does do it again, he says they can shoot him. Levinson then has the meeting ratify a motion saying that military personnel are not to just chase dogs in the street when off duty, but should help out around the village.

6. LEVINSON. Levinson's detachment had been at rest for more than a month. It had become large, unwieldy and the troops slept too much, even on guard duty. Given the conflicting reports coming in, Levinson was unsure of what to do next. But he never let this uncertainty show outwardly. Indeed, everyone thought he was supremely confident, wise and all-knowing. Baklanov admired him so much he tried to copy him, even in dress.

In August, Levinson receives news of a terrible defeat near the village of Izvestkovaya and of the Japanese advance. Levinson gets a note from his wife as well as an official dispatch, containing orders to preserve an effective and well-disciplined fighting unit.

Levinson orders Baklanov and the quartermaster to get ready for a withdrawal at any moment. The quartermaster says he's ready to move out immediately, but then gives numerous reasons why he's not ready. Levinson firmly insists that his orders be carried out.

That evening, Levinson meets with the platoon commanders. Dubov is ready to support Levinson. Kubrak, the oldest, most experienced and most unintelligent commander, opposes a pullout. Metelitsa hotly defends Levinson and proposes his own plan of retreat. During the heated arguments, Levinson quietly and cleverly substitutes his own plan--more simple and cautious--for that of Metelitsa. Levinson does it so cleverly, however, that everyone votes on it as if it were Metelitsa's plan and everyone is satisfied. They will withdraw to the village of Shibishi on the upper Irokhezdi River.

Levinson writes to Stashinsky, telling him of the planned withdrawal, but ordering the field hospital to remain in place until further orders.

Later that night, Levinson reads a letter from his wife. There is no good news. She still can't find work and has sold everything. She's living only thanks to the Workers Red Cross. The children have anemia and scurvy. He writes a tender reply, then goes to the stables, where the orderly on duty is sleeping. Levinson quietly saddles a horse, hides the cap of the sleeping orderly, and rides off.

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I said scrambled, not fried.
Japanese Intervention
in the Soviet Far East

In a field, Levinson comes upon a patrol accompanied by dispatch riders from Osokin. They report that the Japanese are in Maryanovka. After a fierce battle, Osokin has withdrawn to Krylovka and plans to move to the Korean villages. The Reds lost 40 men, more than they lost all summer. Levinson goes to Krylovka to see for himself. Osokin's platoon is falling apart at the seams; many are drunk; one soldier just sits on the road firing shot after shot blindly into the dark. Levinson decides his retreat must begin on the next night.

7. ENEMIES. Only three patients remained at the field hospital--Mechik, Pika, and Florov, a partisan with a grave stomach wound. Mechik is recovering. He no longer wears a bandage on his head but has a scar near his temple making him look serious and older. He is saddened by the idea that he will soon have to leave. Varya gives him a kiss on the forehead and tells him to visit her often, that Morozka and Varya understand each other's "wanderings", and that Mechik should never give in to anyone--not to himself, not to others. Mechik is shy, and maybe this is why Varya likes him.

Mechik decides that he will remake himself into a stronger person. He imagines himself returning to the city, with Varya by his side.

Morozka arrives, deliverying Levin's message to Stashinsky. Morozka then takes Varya off into the forest to fulfill her wifely duties. Mechik jealously watches them leave. Morozka knows that Varya has always been unfaithful--since the very first day of their marriage. He was indifferent to this fact and himself had affairs. But the idea of Mechik--a snot-nosed mama's boy--being Varya's lover insulted him. Morozka and Varya argue over this. Morozka announces that he doesn't want any of the Barin's (i.e., Master's - Landowner's) leftovers and marches back to the field hospital. Morozka subjects Mechik to a ferocious verbal assault, then gets on his horse and gallops off furiously, forgetting to wait for Stashinsky's reply to Levinson.

8. FIRST STEP. As Morozka rides through the forest, he calms down. He realizes now that he is not as indifferent to Varya as he thought. He also knows that he will never return to her; that part of his life has ended and a new period begun.

Morozka comes upon a patrol who tell him that deserters are spreading rumors that the Japanese are coming. However scouts can find no evidence of this. Nonetheless, the peasants are panicking, pushing and shoving to get on the ferry to take them across the river. Morozka goes to the ferry crossing. He resists the impulse to scare the peasants even more and, instead, calms everyone down, assuring them that there are no Japanese anywhere. The peasants treat him with respect and he enjoys this.

Back at camp, Morozka asks Levinson to transfer him to active combat duty. Morozka says he'll be Levinson's eternal friend if he grants the request, which Levinson does. Morozka happily joins Dubov's platoon of miners.

Have we proved to be worthy partisans? Today, no. We were running around like undisciplined little girls! And if the Japanese had really been attacking? They would have choked us like chickens! Shame!
In the middle of the night, shots are heard from across the river. Orders come to gather immediately in the village square. Dubov has a hard time rounding up all his men, because half of them are off in various huts with various women. When they finally get to the gathering point, they are surprised to see a line of carts loaded and ready for evacuation. It turns out that the shots were not made by the Japanese, but by some partisans on Levinson's orders--it was a drill to see how the platoons would react, how ready the men were. The results were a disaster. Baklanov curses Dubov and his men for their tardiness. Dubov steams, mainly because he knows the criticism is valid. Another platoon commander, Kubrak, is drunk. Levinson chastises the men then announces that they are all moving out, withdrawing temporarily. He orders Dubov's platoon to accompany the carts.

9. MECHIK IN THE DETACHMENT. Mechik is recovering well and begins to walk around. Both he and Varya desire each other, but both are afraid to say anything or take a decisive step. The time comes for Mechik to rejoin the detachment, and he sets off with Pika. Varya runs after him and gives him a tobacco pouch, just like the girls at the mine do with their sweethearts. Embarrassed in front of Pika, Mechik kisses her lightly on the lips and leaves. Varya throws herself on the ground and cries.

When they meet up with the detachment, Levinson recognizes and warmly greets Pika, who introduces Mechik. Levinson gives Mechik a rifle and asks him to hit a target. Mechik hits the mark, which pleases Levinson; he's somewhat disappointed, however, when Mechik admits he doesn't know much about horses. Mechik and Pika are assigned to Kubrak's platoon. As his mount, Mechik is given Ziuchika, a tired old plough-horse. Mechik takes this as a personal insult. How can he be the confident brave partisan he's become with such a worthless old horse? What's more, the horse has foot-and-mouth disease. To treat it, Mechik is told to wipe chicken dung on the bit before harnessing the horse.

Mechik decides to go to Levinson and demand a decent horse. He sees a soldier and asks the way to headquarters. It turns out that the soldier is Morozka. Once again, Mechik feels alone and surrounded by hostility. Mechik finds Levinson sitting around a campfire with the troops, telling bawdy stories. Mechik secretly wants to take part, although he considers himself above such vulgarity. Feeling that everyone is looking at him with unfriendly eyes, Mechik departs, without speaking to Levinson.

Mechik takes absolutely no care of his horse. It becomes mangy and eats only thanks to the generosity of other partisans. Mechik gets a reputation as an arrogant idler. He strikes up an acquaintance with the cynical Chizh. Chizh says that Levinson isn't educated, but just cunning. He mocks the "strategic considerations" which led Levinson to order the withdrawal instead of a direct attack on the enemy. Chizh teaches Mechik how to avoid kitchen duty, etc. Mechik becomes increasingly alienated from normal life in the detachment, missing out on its true dynamism and significance. As a result, all his dreams of a bold new life fade away.

10. THE BEGINNING OF THE ROUT. Levinson orders Dubov to lead a raid on a train. The attack is successful and the raiders return with loads of clothing, food, and ammunition.

The Japanese begin a methodical march up along the Irokhezda River. Scouts bring Levinson conflicting, unreliable reports, so he orders Baklanov to go see for himself. Levinson also decides to give Mechik a chance by sending him along with Baklanov. Mechik is glad for the assignment, figuring that it gives him a chance to rehabilitate his wretched reputation in one fell swoop. Despite Chizh's opinion, Mechik finds Baklanov friendly, capable and in all ways admirable. Baklanov shows Mechik how to saddle his horse properly. Baklanov is impressed when he learns that Mechik graduated from a gymnasium. Baklanov wishes that he also had a proper education. Nonetheless, he frowns on Mechik's former association with the Maximalists, calling them blatherskites.

Mechik felt the wild joy of deliverance. The Japanese soldier he shot was contorting in the hot dust, suffering his final death agonies.
About a verst from the village of Solomonaya, they get off their horses and continue on foot. From a peasant, they learn that there were about five Japanese scouts in Solomonaya in the morning, but now he doesn't know. Baklanov and Mechik continue on into the village. They are surprised by four Japanese soldiers marching up a lane. Baklanov quickly shoots two of the Japanese, but then his gun jams. A third Japanese soldier runs away, but the fourth starts to take aim at our heroes. Mechik, however, with a surprising new-found strength, takes out his gun and shoots this fourth soldier repeatedly. Baklanov and Mechik jump into a near-by cart and gallop quickly away. In the center of the village, no less than five Japanese buglers sound an alarm. Baklanov praises Mechik for his quick action in shooting the Japanese.

Outside the village, Baklanov climbs a tree to do some proper scouting and get a more exact view of the enemy and to see with his own eyes that the main forces are in fact here. A half hour later, 20 Japanese cavalry troops emerge from the village, followed by rows and rows of infantrymen. Baklanov and Mechik gallop back to report to Levinson.

They arrive at the encampment at night. The guards are strengthened and Mechik gets some sleep, dreaming first of the injured Florov, then of Varya.

When Mechik awakens in the morning, soldiers are running around frantically asking, "Where?!" The enemy is attacking. Kurbak gets the men in proper formation then orders them to fire. Mechik still doesn't see the Japanese but fires randomly nonetheless. (Half the men in the platoon can't see the enemy but are too embarrassed to admit it.)

More partisans show up with Baklanov and Metelitsa. Baklanov says they just have to hold off the Japanese for a little while longer. The next time the order is given to fire, Mechik sees the Japanese moving between the bushes. Mechik then sees Pika, lying face-down in the dirt and blindly firing shot after shot into a tree right in front of him. He doesn't even stop when Kubrak shouts at him then kicks him a few times.

The partisans then begin a withdrawal. Although it seems disorderly at first, it soon becomes apparant that it was all planned by Levinson. Durning the battle, Morozka goes flying by on his horse, serving as a messenger between the platoons.

11. SUFFERING. Levinson notices the unhealthy state of Mechik's horse. Angry, he gives Mechik a dressing down and orders him to ride with the pack horses until his own horse is healthy again.

The detachment moves along the Ulakhinsky tributaries in its search for food. They often engage the enemy in battle. Levinson knew that his troops were motivated not only by the desire for self-preservation but also by some higher instict for which they would suffer anything, even death. Levinson was always among the troops, personally leading them into battle and eating from the same pot. Also, he was perhaps the only one who still remembered how to laugh.

The troops would throw explosives into the river to stun fish. Then they usually sent the old and weak Lavrusha into the cold water to retrieve the fish. Seeing this injustice, Levinson tells one of Lavrusha's tormentors to go into the river instead. The fellow haughtily refuses. Levinson shouts sternly and threatens the fellow with a pistol. The fellow backs down and goes for the fish. After this, the troops all looked on Levinson with increased respect and fear, but not with sympathy.

Traitor !
They call me Baldilocks.
Kolchak And
The Russian Civil War

The Japanese and Kolchak forces put a price on Levinson's head: 500 rubles, dead or alive.

To feed the troops, Levinson freely requisitions food from the peasants. But even Morozka knows this is vastly different than stealing melons from Rybtsev's field.

In one village, Levinson finds an old Korean with a 10-pood pig. The Korean begs Levinson not to kill the pig and even kisses Levinson's boots. Levinson is moved by the entreaties, but nonetheless he has the pig slaughtered. Mechik thinks Levinson's behavior was too cruel. But Mechik eats the meat, too, because he is hungry.

The partisans come to the field hospital. Varya seeks out Mechik, but, out of a sense of tact, she does not openly rush to him.

Strolling in the forest, Mechik comes upon Levinson and Stashinsky, talking privately. Levinson says that the field hospital must be withdrawn immediately to the north, to the Tudo-Vaksaya Valley. Stashinsky reminds Levinson about Florov, who is too ill to be moved. Knowing that Florov's condition is hopeless, they decide that they must end his suffering now. Horrified, Mechik follows Stashinsky and sees him preparing the poison. Mechik bursts in, demanding that Stashinsky stop. Stashinsky snarls at Mechik, who flees like a frightened rabbit. Stashinsky brings the "bromide" to Florov, who immediately understands what's going on. He asks Stashinsky to give a message to his son if they ever pass his home town. Florov then downs the poison.

Mechik, still running through the woods, stumbles upon Varya and starts shouting about Florov's poisoning. Varya tries to quiet him, but he pulls away. Chizh bursts out of the bushes, and Varya runs off. Chizh asks Mechik, "She didn't give in to you? Maybe I'll be luckier," and he dashes off after Varya.

12. ROADS. Morozka is certain that the only difference between himself and people like Mechik is that those educated types can hide and decorate their real feelings behind fancy words. Morozka thinks that Varya prefers Mechik because of this verbal elequence, which she mistakes for a reflection of some unique, admirable internal quality. That night, Morozka has difficulty sleeping, imagining that every rustling sound is Varya and Mechik sneaking around in the shadows.

In the morning, they bury Florov. They also discover that Pika has gone missing, having abandonded his horse. No one particularly cares about Pika's disappearance and there is no search for him. Only Mechik has a slight twinge of regret.

The orderly Efimka notices that Morozka and Varya are not spending any time together, so he asks Morozka about this. Morozka acts dismissively, saying that he's thrown her over, given her up. Morozka looks at Levinson--who seems so healthy, calm and carefree--and compares that to his own bitter, worrisome fate. Morozka does not suspect that Levinson has a pain in his side and feels the weight of Florov's death.

Morozka decides that his whole life has been nothing but a deception; no joys, only dark prison labor which no one values. He sees no good in the future either. He might well soon die of a bullet and no one will care. He feels that all his life he has tried to get on the straight, bright, and true path like Levinson, Baklanov, and Dubov; but, Morozka thinks, someone was always getting in his way and, out of meanness, stopping him. Always someone like Mechik.

While Morozka is watering his horse after lunch, a fellow comes up to him and taunts him about Varya and Mechik. Morozka gets angry and gives the fellow a kick in the backside. They brawl, but are separated by the sapper Goncharenko, who treats Morozka sympathetically. Morozka and Goncharenko then become friendly.

Varya, marching at the end of the column, feels herself insulted by Mechik's recent behavior--running away from her. Thus insulted, she has no intention of going to Mechik and he--upset by Florov's death and Pika's disappearance--is in no mood to talk to anyone. Chizh follows Varya, plying her with indecent proposals. She ignores him. That evening, after rest and a meal, Varya feels better and forgets her bitterness. She is ready to forget and forgive everything if only Mechik would ride with her, stay with her, sleep with her.

Mechik and Chizh share a meal at a separate campfire. Varya, seeking out Mechik, finds them. She sits down and tries to engage Mechik in conversation. Still consumed with his own gloomy thoughts, Mechik merely shrugs. Chizh, however, fusses effusively over her. Insulted anew by Mechik's behavior, Varya gets up and leaves. Chizh chases after her. He grabs her and pulls her into the bushes. Varya resists and threatens to scream. But then she decides it doesn't matter, and surrenders to his embraces.

13. THE BURDEN. On the fifth day of the march, Morozka says that he doesn't like muzhiks--they're too stingy and cunning. Goncharenko says that if you scratch any one of them--Morozka, Goncharenko, Dubov--you'll find a muzhik underneath, only perhaps without bast slippers. Morozka and Dubov reject this idea, feeling somewhat insulted. Goncharenko, however, points out that at the mines, many of the workers are there only half the year and return to work the land the rest of the time. Also at the mines, the women are always working in garden plots raising vegetables. And in all of Russia how many big cities are there? Only a few, and in between is thousands and thousands of versts of village life. Surely, Goncharenko points out, this all shows a muzhik influence.

Morozka is impressed by Goncharenko's honesty and directness. He doesn't waste time on pointless talk and is always ready for work. Under this influence, Morozka starts to feel that he himself (Morozka) is also a worthy partisan. He starts taking pride in how he cares for his horse and weapon and shows bravery in battle.

The column is marching towards the Tudo-Vakskaya Valley, rich in grain and horses. Levinson orders the column to halt and camp for the night in the forest. He sends Metelnitsa forward to scout out the route for possible enemy troops. Kubrak is against this idea and says they should press on. Levinson sternly rebukes him and orders him to set up guards.

The constant pain in Levinson's side was getting worse. He knew that only weeks of rest and good food would cure it. But knowing that it would be a long time before he would enjoy such luxuries, Levinson trains himself to live with the pain.

At night, Levinson gets up and goes to check the guards. As he approaches the rear of the column, Mechik, who is on guard duty, shouts out, "Who goes there?!" Levinson hears the bolt on Mechik's rifle scrape and jam as Mechik fumbles to load it. "You need to oil it more," Levinson advises, identifying himself.

Mechik had been standing on duty for 30 minutes, and all the time he was consumed by one idea: He must get out of the detachment. Life in the city, which previously he thought joyless and boring, now seemed happy and carefree.

Levinson comments that he hopes his messenger to the city got through. Mechik hurriedly suggests that Levinson can send another messenger--for example, Mechik--to the city. After all, Mechik knows the city and used to deliver secret messages. It was messages for the Maximalists, it's true, but at that time Mechik thought it was all the same for whom he worked. "And now?" asks Levinson. "Now I don't know what to think," Mechik admits.

Unable to restrain himself, Mechik explains his true feelings to Levinson: that he's a lousy partisan, that no one likes him or needs him; that everyone treats him with mockery and coarseness; that all anyone cares about here is being strong and pounding their own chests boastfully. Mechik feels that if this partisans found themselves among Kolchak's forces, they would be as cruel and merciless in supporting Kolchak's cause. This offends Levinson, who tries to prove it's not so. Mechik, feeling that the most important thing is the insult he feels, doesn't listen.

As long as millions of people in our country still exist in povery and filth, as long as they still plow with primitive wooden plows and believe in a cruel, stupid God, then such weak-willed, lazy people, such useless good-for-nothings, will go on being born in it.
Levinson then sternly tells Mechik that he only has himself to blame for his problems and that if he ran off, he'd only get himself killed. The main thing, Levinson says, is that Mechik should not think that his comrades are worse than himself. Levinson reminds Mechik to fix his rifle, then says that tomorrow he'll give Mechik Nivka, Pika's old horse, and set Ziuchikha back to work as a pack animal. As he walks away, Levinson thinks what a muddled, spineless, and lazy fellow Mechik is.

Levinson wonders if he was ever like Mechik. He recalls an old family photo with him, as a child, staring intently off into the distance where he was told a little birdie would appear. The birdie never did appear and he almost cried with disappointment. And he suffered so many more disappointments before finally learning that there aren't any beautiful birdies. No longer would he believe such false fables. His motto became: "See everything as it is in order to change what is and bring closer the birth of what must be."

14. METELITSA ON RECONNAISSANCE. That night in the forest, while on his reconnaissance mission, Metelitsa neet an orphan boy, who is cooking potatoes at a camp fire. The boy's mother had been raped, and both parents killed by Cossacks six months ago. The boy says that that are Cossacks in the nearby village. Metelitsa leaves his horse with the boy and creeps into the village. He sneaks up to a window on the priest's house, where the priest is playing cards with Cossacks. Unfortunately, the Cossacks were talking about the most banal things, mainly about the card game. Metelitsa starts to creep away, but is spotted by a Cossack, who raises an alarm. Metelitsa runs into the bushes, and the Cossacks give chase, opening fire on him. Metelitsa returns fire, felling one of the enemy. The Cossacks finally catch Metelitsa and beat him senseless.


"Levinson divided his military career into two periods....In the first period, when he, having no military training at all, not even knowing how to shoot, was forced to command masses of people, he felt that he was in fact not commanding, but that events developed independent of him and his will. It wasn't because he didn't properly discharge his duty; no, he gave his every effort to the job. And it wan't because he thought that a single individual could not possibly influence events involving masses of people; no, he considered such a view a weak manifestation of people's duplicity, disguising their own weakness, that is, the lack of will to take action. But it was because in this first, short period of his military activity, almost all of his inner strength was required to overcome and hide from others the fear for his own life that he involuntarily felt in battle.

However, he soon got used to the situation and reached the point where fear for his own life stopped hindering his ordering around the lives of others. And in this second period he found the ability to direct events. He was most successful in this when he was able to clearly and correctly feel out the real direction of events and the relationship of forces and people in them."
15. THREE DEATHS. The next morning, Metelitsa is brought before the Cossack commander, who demands to know who he is and where he's from. Metelitsa remains silent. The villagers are then herded into the church square and Metelitsa paraded in front of them. The Cossack commander demands to know if anyone can identify Metelitsa. No one does. Then, a man in a waistcoat emerges from the crowd, dragging the orphan boy with him. The man found the boy with Metelitsa's horse and now demands that the boy identify Metelitsa as the owner of the horse and reveal all he knows. The frightened boy says nothing. Metelitsa makes a break for it, knocking over the commander. The Cossasks pursue. Metelitsa jumps on one and starts to strangle him. But the Cossack manages to pull out his pistol and shoots Metelitsa several times. A half hour later, the Cossacks, in full battle gear, ride out of the village, following the same road Metelitsa followed the previous night.

Baklanov asks Levinson for permission to ride forward and look for any signs of Metelitsa. He doesn't go very far when he sees 50 Cossacks on horses, about half a verst away. Baklanov hurries back to Levinson with the news. Levinson orders everyone to spread out in a line and hide in the bushes. Levinson feels himself overcome with agitation, but everyone else sees in him confident movements and all believe in their hearts that Levinson has thought out an exactly correct plan of action.

As the Cossacks draw near, Levinson orders the partisans to open fire. The Cossacks turn and flee, and the partisans pursue. Mechik rides on with the group, just following the rider in front of him. That rider's horse is shot out from underneath him, however, and Mechik finds himself in the front rank. All of the other riders veer off to the left, but Mechik, not understanding what's going on, rides straight ahead and right into a thicket, where his face is lashed and scratched with branches. Realizing his mistake, Mechik turns and heads back. As he comes to the road, he sees Morozka sitting mournfully on the ground next to Mishka, his horse, which is dead. After a few minutes, Morozka gets up, removes the saddle--with broken saddle girth--from Mishka and starts trudging off in the direction of the other partisans. Mechik offers to carry the saddle, or to let Morozka take his horse and Mechik will walk. Morozka says nothing and keeps walking.

When Mechik catches up with the other partisans at the village, he sees the bodies of dead Cossacks lying about. The other partisans look askance at him, wondering where he was while they were engaged in battle. They ask him if he was out looking for mushrooms.

The priest and the fellow in the waistcoat who had dragged the orphan boy in front of the Cossacks are brought before Levinson. He orders that the fellow be shot and that the priest be let go. When the fellow is shot, Mechik falls into dispair and wallows in self-pity. "When will this all end?!" He thinks, "They killed him, and they'll kill me sooner or later." Mechik considers himself already dead, believing that he will never again see those dear to him or that beautiful girl whose portrait he ripped up.

And they walked drunkenly along the street, joking, stumbling, scaring the dogs, cursing to the highest heavens themselves, their family and friends, and this uncertain, harsh world.
Feeling sorry for himself as he wanders around, Mechik comes upon Morozka and a bunch of drunken comrades. Morozka is playing the accordian and singing. When he sees Mechik, Morozka says, with sarcasm, "Ah, my dear friend. Don't be afraid, we won't beat you....Ah, to hell with you. We're all gonna die." The comrades try to force Mechik to drink. He refuses, saying he doesn't drink. Morozka roars, and Mechik agrees to drink "just a little". The comrades take Mechik by the arm and they all wander around together.

16. SWAMP. When Varya gets to the village, she sees that all the partisans have been barracked in the various huts in a very disorganized way. On the way, Varya had seen Morozka's dead horse. No one could tell her anything definite about Morozka's fate--some said he was dead, others that he was merely wounded. She meets Dubov and his men and is happy to see them--they remind her of a happier, younger time. They finally are able to tell her that Morozka is alive and show her his new horse, which is named Judas.

Varya goes to sleep thinking of Moroka. She suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night wondering where Morozka is and fearing that she has been left all alone. She goes off to look for Morozka. She finds a lost puppy and carries it inside her coat to keep it warm.

After about an hour, Varya literally stumbles upon the drunken and moaning Morozka, who is lying on the ground. She says she'll go wake up people in the nearby hut so they can help carry him inside. Morozka is adamant against this idea. Goncharenko is in that hut and Morozka is ashamed of what he would think if he saw Morozka in such a state.

Varya pulls Morozka up to his feet and helps him back to Dubov's hut. There she says, "Good-bye", but Morozka embraces her and wants to kiss her. The only other time that Morozka kissed her was on their wedding day when he was very drunk and the wedding guests were all shouting for him to do so. They go to bed together and after Morozka has satisfied himself, he goes to sleep. Varya sadly feels that now everything will go back to the way it was before, the same old drudgery, and she thinks how joyless it all is.

Guards posted in the distance fire three signal shots--the enemy attacks! Morozka stumbles out of bed to get his horse. He remembers with shame his behavior the previous day. His drunkenness, the bawdy songs and---worst of all--he was walking around with Mechik, swearing eternal friendship and asking Mechik's forgiveness. What would Levinson think? Or Goncharenko?

When Morozka gets to the barn, most of the other partisans have already saddled their horses. Morozka's saddle girth is broken and he begs Dubov for a spare one. Dubov reacts angrily, shouting, "Where were you yesterday?" Dubov throws the saddle girth at Morozka with all his might, hitting Morozka in the back. Morozka knows he deserves it. The bullets whizzing around and the fate awaiting him outside seem to Morozka deserved punishment for his whole life.

Bombs start falling in the village; fires start burning. Baklanov is ordered to hold off the enemy until Levinson can gather up the rest of the detachment. The enemy troops start pouring into the village from the left flank. Baklanov does the best his can, losing about ten men, then rejoining Levinson. The whole detachment gallops off into the forest, the enemy in hot pursuit. Stashinsky is shot and dragged behind his horse before finally falling to the ground. The partisans ride around him, not wishing to trample on his body.

The dejected, subdued mass of men, who only moments before were throwing up their hands in despair and crying, were transformed into superhuman, rapid, obedient, and feverish activity....Tearing off their coats, they worked; and through their torn pants and shirts flashed their straining, sweating bodies, scratched and bleeding. They lost all sense of time, space, their own bodies, shame, pain and fatigue. With their caps they scooped up swamp water, stinking of frog eggs, and greedily gulped it down, like wounded animals.
Suddenly, the detachment comes to a halt--a swamp blocks their way! The partisans are filled with anguish and anger. Who's to blame for this predicament? Levinson, of course! But Levinson quicklky appears in the midst, giving orders. They are to cut brushwood and lay a road across the swamp. Baklanov along with Dubov's platoon are to hold off the enemy. Everyone else feverishly cuts wood to lay the road. Bullets fly about. Varya bandages the wouded. Dubov and half of his platoon are killed. Horses, frenzied with terror, rear up; some of the fall into the quagmire and whine piteously for aide. At last, the road is finished and the partisans hurry across. Mechik's horse falls from the road and has to be pulled out with great effort and a torrent of cursing. The last across the road are Levinson and the sapper Goncharenko. Goncharenko had laid a dynamite charge and blows up the brushwood road before the enemy can cross.

Only then do the partisans realize that it is morning. They throw down the burning torches which for some reason they were still carrying. They look at their torn, bleeding hands and their exhausted, steaming horses. And they marvel at what they accomplished that night.

17. THE NINETEEN. Thirteen versts ahead, on the Tudo-Vaku road, Cossacks have been waiting in ambush since the previous night. Levinson, almost completely overcome with exhaustion, trudges on with his severely depleted troops. He feels that he can no longer do anything to help his men, but that the partisans just didn't know it yet and were just following him like a herd accustomed to following its leader. Levinson struggles to concentrate on what he must do: get to the Tudo-Vakskaya Valley. With difficulty he remembers that he must send scouts forward, and orders Baklanov to do so. Baklanov sends Mechik and Morozka. Levinson vaugely feels that sending Mechik is wrong, but he can't remember why, so he says nothing.

As he moves along the road, Mechik dozes, not paying attention and letting his horse walk, not move at a trot as he was ordered. Suddenly, Cossacks appear in front of him and, in a hoarse whisper, order him to dismount. Mechik submissively gets down, then dashes off into the bushes, with Cossacks pusuing him. Morozka, further back along the road, was also very tired and not paying much attention. He was mainly thinking about that golden, fertile promised land where he will be able to eat and lie down for a long, deep sleep. When the Cossacks appear in front of Morozka, the first thing he realizes is that that bastard Mechik has run away. Morozka does not mind the idea of dying, but he realizes he will never see that sunlit village of his dreams. Thinking of the partisans behind him, Morozka quickly pulls out his revolver and fires three warning shots in the air, before the Cossacks shoot and kill him.

Fighting his weariness, Levinson is startled by the warning shots and at first incredulous. Then he pulls out his sabre and tells Baklanov, "Let's break through!" Levinson gallops foward. He glances back and sees that all the troops are following him, fire in their eyes. This is Levinson's last coherent thought, as he is suddenly hit with an explosion.

Mechik keeps running through the forest until the shooting stops and he realizes that no one is following him any more. He leans on a bush, startling and scaring away a chipmunk. In anguish, Mechik rolls on the ground and moans, "What have I done?" The more horrible his flight seems to him, the more praiseworthy and pure his behavior before this act becomes in his mind. He hates his loathsome, perfidious act not so much because dozens of men died because of it, but because it contradicts his noble and pure life before. He pulls out his revolver and gazes at it, but knows he will not kill himself because, more than anything, he loves himself. He recalls his whole difficult life since leaving the town. He thinks that he just can't endure such a base, inhuman life anymore. He feels happy that he is now free to go wherever he wants to. He will return to the city, where no one knows what he has done. He throws away his revolver, washes himself in a spring, and sets off, not caring if he meets Whites or not.

Levinson's semi-conscious state lasted for no more than a minute. When he comes to, he is surprised to see that he is still on his horse, only he isn't holding his sabre anymore. Bullets are still flying around, only they are coming from behind now, so the worst is over. Two other riders pull even with Levinson--Goncharenko and Varya. Levinson turns around to look at the detachment, but there is no detachment--only a few riders with Kubrak struggling to keep up. The road is littered with the bodies of dead men and horses.

As they round a bend in the road, the shooting subsides. Including Levinson, there are nineteen partisans left. Varya clutches the neck of her horse and sobs. Baklanov is dead. Levinson looks frail and much older, but he makes no attempt to hide it. He cries.

They continue through the forest and shortly thereafter arrive at a beautiful expanse of light blue sky and harvested fields, golden grain and peasants happily working on a threshing ground.

With eyes that were still wet with tears, Levinson gazed at the expanse of sky and earth that promised both food and rest, gazed at the unfamiliar people on the threshing ground whom he would soon have to make just as near and dear to him as the eighteen men riding silently behind him--and he ceased to weep. After all, he had to go on living and doing his duty.

Fadeev, Alexander Alexandrovich. Born, 1901 in Krimy on Volga, east of Tver. Father was a village teacher, his mother was a doctor's assistant. Family moved to Vilnius, Ufa, then to the Far East region of Ussuri in 1908. He went to the village school in Sarovka, near Iman close to the Manchurian border. In 1912 the family moved to Chuguevka, further south in the same region. In autumn of 1912 he entered the Commercial Academy in Vladivostok. In 1918, during the Japanese occupation of the region, he joined the Communist Party and became active in the Bolshevik underground. In the spring of 1919, he left the academy without taking his final exams and joined the partisans east of Vladivostok. He saw action at Khabarovsk and Spassk and was wounded. He then joined the Red Army. In spring 1921, he went to Moscow as a delegate to the 10th All-Russian Party Congress. Later, he took part in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion and was again wounded. He was demobilized and entered the Academy of Mines in Moscow. But in 1924 he left the Academy and went south to Kradnodar and Rostov-on-Don for Party and journalistic work, mainly for the Rostov paper Soviet South. He also helped establish the literary journal Lava. In 1926 he returned to Moscow and continued his political work for the Writers' Association. In 1937 he visited Spain during the Civil War. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), he wrote reports and sketches from the front for Pravda and Izvestiya. At the end of the war he resumed political activities, visiting Britain in 1947, Iceland and Poland in 1949, and Czechoslovakia and Austria in 1951. He won two Orders of Lenin, was one of the leaders of RAPP (Russian Association of Proletarian Writers), and served on the editorial boards of several literary journals. In 1934 he was elected to the Presidium of the Union of Soviet Writers, and was General Secretary of the organization from 1946 to 1954. In 1939 he became a member of the Party's Central Committee.

His first published work, Against the Current appeared in Molodaya Gvardiya in 1923. In 1934 this piece was revised and renamed The Birth of the Amgunsky Regiment. It is a story of partisans and Red Army troops in the Far East in 1920. The Flood (1924) is set in the taiga between the February and October Revolutions of 1917. The Rout (1927) is based on the author's own experiences with partisans in 1919 when they were forced to retreat deep into the taiga. He authored a manifesto piece, The Highway of Proletarian Literature in 1928. Parts of his second novel, The Last of the Udege, an attempt at a broad treatment of the Civil War in the Far East, appeared between 1929 and 1940, but it was never completed. The tale Earthquake appeared in 1939 and his war sketches, Leningrad During the Siege came out in 1944. His third novel, The Young Guard (1945) was based on the heroic exploits of young Communist underground workers in the Donbass town of Krasnodon during the Nazi occupation. Another novel, Black Mettallurgy, intended to show the triumphs of socialist labor, also never reached completion.

In his last years he suffered from kidney disorder, neuritis, alcoholism, and depression. During a period of sobriety in May 1956, he committed suicide. His bitter suicide note, clearly revealing his disallusionment with the Party and Stalin, was "arrested" by the KGB at the time of his death and was not released until 34 years later, in the era of perestroika and glasnost. In the note, he wrote:

It is impossible for me to live any further since the art to which I have given my life has been destroyed by the self-confident, ignorant leadership of the Party and can no longer be corrected. The best cadres of literature--in number far more than the tsarist satraps could even dream--have been physically exterminated or have died with the criminal connivance of those in power.
Literature, the highest fruit of the new order, has been debased, persecuted, and destroyed. The complacency of the nouveau riche to the great teachings of Lenin--even while they swear allegiance to these teachings--has led to my complete distrust of them. From them we can expect worse than from Stalin--he at least was educated, these new ones are ignoramuses.

My life as a writer loses all meaning. I leave this life with great joy, seeing it as a deliverance from a foul existence, where meanness, lies, and slander rain down on you. My last hope was to tell all this to the people who lead the government, but in the course of three years, despite my requests, they have not been able to receive me.

I ask to be buried next to my mother.
References: Charon's Chronicles--Fadeev
Luker, Nicholas. "From Furmanov to Sholokhov", Ardis 1988.

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