A. S. Makarenko Reference Archive

The Road to Life
Volume 1


One Sunday, Osadchy got drunk. He was brought to me for disturbing the peace in the dormitory. Osadchy slat in my room, emitting an uninterrupted flow of nonsensical drunken grievances. It was useless to argue with him. I left him there and told him to lie down and sleep it off. He meekly complied.

On entering the dormitory I caught a whiff of spirits. Many of the kids were obviously trying to keep out of my way. Not wishing to make a row by looking for the culprits, I merely said:

"Osadchy is not the only one who is drunk. A few others have had a drop."

Several days later there were again drunken members in the colony. Some of these kept out of my way, but others, on the contrary, came to me in a fit of drunken remorse, and, cheerfully garrulous, made me declarations of love.

They did not conceal the fact that they had been visiting in the farmstead.

In the evening, talks about the evils of drunkenness were held in the dormitory, the culprits vowed they would never drink again, and I pretended to be satisfied, not even punishing anyone. I had accumulated a small store of experience by now, and knew very well that, in the struggle against drunkenness, it was no good hitting out at the colonists--there were others who had to be dealt with.

And these others were not far to seek.

We were surrounded by an ocean of samogon [vodka made in illicit stills--Tr.]. Drunken individuals--employees and peasants--were frequently at the colony. I had just learned, moreover, that Golovan was in the habit of sending the boys out for drink. He did not even take the trouble to deny it.

"Well, and what if I did?"

Kalina Ivanovich, who never touched drink, bawled Golovan out:

"Don't you know what the Soviet government is, you parasite? Do you think the Soviet government exists for you to swill home-brew?"

Golovan moved awkwardly on his rickety creaking chair, and endeavoured to excuse himself.

"Well, what about it? Who doesn't drink? I ask you! Everyone has a still, and everyone drinks as much as he wants. Let the Soviet government stop drinking itself!"

"What Soviet government?"

"All of them! They drink in the town, and they drink in the villages."

"D'you know who sells samogon here?" I asked Sofron.

"How do I know? I never bought any myself. If you want any--you send someone. Why do you ask? Are you going to confiscate it?"

"What d'you think? Certainly I am!"

"Oho! Look what a lot the militia confiscated, and all no good!"

The next day I went to the town and obtained a mandate for a ruthless war against illicit stills anywhere on the territory covered by our Village Soviet.

That evening Kalina Ivanovich and I took council together. Kalina Ivanovich was sceptically inclined.

"Don't get mixed up in that dirty business," he advised me. "I tell you, they're all as thick as thieves--the chairman of the Village Soviet--you know, Grechany--is one of them. And look where you will in the homestead, they're almost all Grechanys! You know what those people are--they don't use horses for ploughing, they use oxen. Look here, now--they have Goncharovka like this----!" and Kalina Ivanovich held up a tightly clenched fist. "They've got it in their grip, the parasites, and there's not a thing you can do about it!"

"I don't understand you, Kalina Ivanovich. What's all this got to do with stills?"

"You're a funny guy, aren't you? And you an educated man! Don't you see they have all the power in their hands? Better not touch them, or they'll have your blood--you'll see if they don't!"

In the dormitory I said to the boys:

"I'm telling you, kids--I'm not going to have you drinking! And I'll crush that bunch of bootleggers in the farmsteads! Who wants to help?"

Most of them hesitated, but some fell my suggestion with enthusiasm.

"That's a great idea--a great idea!" said Karabanov, his black eyes blazing. "It's time somebody got after those kulaks!" I accepted the help of three of them--Zadorov, Volokhov, and Taranets.

Late on Saturday evening we drew up our strategic plans. By the light of my lamp we bent over the plan of the farmstead which I had made, Taranets thrusting his fingers into his mop of red hair, his freckled nose hovering over the paper.

"If we raid one hut, they'll have time to hide their stills in the others. Three isn't enough."

"Have they got stills in so many of the huts?"

"In almost every one! Moussi Grechany's, Andrei Karpovich's, Sergei Grechany, the chairman himself--they all brew! All the Verkhobas do it, and the women sell it in the town. We must have more of the fellows, or they'll beat us up, and that'll be an end of it."

Volokhov, who had been sitting yawning in the corner, suddenly spoke.

"Beat us up! Not they!" he said. "Take Kabanov and no one else, then no one will lay a finger on us. I know those kulaks. They're afraid of us chaps."

Volokhov took his part in the matter without enthusiasm. He still held himself aloof from me--he didn't like discipline, this kid! But he was deeply attached to Zadorov, and followed his lead without much bothering about principles.

Zadorov as usual smiled calmly and confidently. He had the gift of acting without wasting his energy, and without the loss of an ounce of his individuality. And now, as ever, I had confidence in no one so much as in Zadorov. I knew he was capable of any sacrifice which life might have in store for him, and would meet it as he met everything, without the loss of an ounce of his individuality And now he turned upon Taranets:

"Stop fidgeting, Fedor! Just tell us which hut we're to begin with, and where to go. And tomorrow we'll see. Volokhov's right, we must take Karabanov. He knows how to talk to those kulaks--he used to be one himself. And now let's go to bed, we've got to get up early tomorrow, before they're all drunk over there. Haven't we, Gritsko?"

"Um-h'm," slaid Volokhov, beaming.

We dispersed. Lydochka and Ekaterina Grigoryevna were strolling about the yard, and Lydochka called out to me:

"The kids say you're going to put the fear of God into the distillers. What put that into your head? Is that what you call pedagogical work? I call it a disgrace!"

"That's just what pedagogical work is," I replied. "Come along with us tomorrow!"

"D'you think I'm afraid? I'll be there! Just the same, it's not pedagogical work!"

"Will you really come?"

"That's what I said!"

Ekaterina Grigoryevna called me aside.

"What d'you want to take that child for?" she said.

"None of that!" called out Lydia Petrovna. "I'm going anyhow!"

And so our commission numbered five persons.

At seven a.m. we were knocking at the gate of Andrei Karpovich Grechany, our nearest neighbour. Our knock was the signal for an elaborate canine overture, which lasted five minutes.

The action itself, as was right and proper, only began after the overture. It began with the appearance upon the scene of Andrei Grechany, a little baldish man with a neatly clipped beard.

"What d'you want with us?" inquired Gaffer Andrei surily.

"You have an illicit still, we've come to destroy it," I told him. "I have a warrant from the Gubernia Militia."

"An illicit still!" repeated Gaffer Andrei in perturbed tones, letting his keen glance travel over our faces and the picturesque attire of our boys.

But at this point the canine orchestra crashed out fortissimo; Karabanov had edged his way behind the Gaffer to the black of the stage, after dealing a resounding blow with a stick, with which he had prudently provided himself, at a shaggy sandy dog, which followed up this opening with a deafening solo, at least two octaves higher than the usual canine range.

We dashed into the breach, scattering the dogs. Volokhov shouted at them in his powerful bass, and the dogs retreated far into the yard, underscoring further developments with the vague music of their aggrieved whinings. Karabanov was already inside the hut, and when we entered with the Gaffer, he triumphantly displayed what he had found--a still!

"There you are!"

Gaffer Andrei stamped about the hut, resplendent in a truly operatic-looking moleskin jacket.

"Did you brew yesterday?" asked Zadorov.

"Aye, we did," assented Gaffer Andrei, absent-mindedly fingering his beard, and glancing at Taranets, who was dragging out from under a bench in the near corner a gallon bottle of pinkish-violet nectar.

Gaffer Andrei suddenly flew into a rage and rushed at Taranets, considering, reasonably enough, that it would be easier to cope with him in the cluttered corner, with its jumble of benches, icons and table. And he did get hold of Taranets, who, however, calmly passed the bottle to Zadorov over the Gaffer's head, and all the Gaffer got for his pains was the maddeningly frank, winning smile of Taranets, and his mild: " 'smatter, Pop?"

"You ought to be ashamed!" cried Gaffer Andrei with warmth. "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, going about the huts, and plundering! Even bringing your wenches with you! When will the people get some peace? When will you get what's coming to you?"

"Why, you're quite a poet, Gaffer!" said Karabanov in lively mimicry.

Leaning on his stick, he fell into a pose of elegant courtesy before the Gaffer.

"Get out of my hut!" shouted Gaffer Andrei, and snatching up huge iron prongs from beside the stove, he dealt Volokhov a clumsy blow on the shoulder.

Volokhov laughed and replaced the prongs, drawing the Gaffer's attention to a new development.

"Just you look over there!" The Gaffer glanced around and saw Taranets, the guileless smile still on his face, clambering down from the top of the stove with another gallon bottle of samogon. Gaffer Andrei, his head hanging, subsided on to a bench with a gesture of despair.

Lydochka seated herself beside him, saying kindly:

"Andrei Karpovich! You know it's illegal to run ia still! Besides, corn is wasted on it, while all around people are going hungry!"

"It's only shirkers who go hungry. Anyone who works won't come to want."

"And do you work, Gaffer?" asked Taranets from the stove, in his gay, ringing voice. "Isn't it Stepan Nechiporenko who works?"


"Yes, Stepan! You turned him out, you wouldn't pay him, you didn't give him his clothes, and now he's trying to get into the colony."

With a gay click of his tongue it the Gaffer, Taranets leaped from the stove.

"What are we to do with all this?" asked Zadorov.

"Break it all up outside!"

"The still, too?"

"The still, too!"

The Gaffer did not come out to the place of execution--he remained in the hut to listen to the succession of economic, psychological, and social arguments, so brilliantly propounded by Lydia Petrovna. The sole representatives of the proprietors in the yard were the dogs, squatting indignantly on their haunches at a safe distance, and it was only when we went out into the street that some of them uttered a belated, impotent protest.

Zadorov was thoughtful enough to call Lydochka out of the hut:

"Come along with us, or Gaffer Andrei'll make sausage meat of you!"

Lydochka came running out, elated by her chat with Gaffer Andrei.

"He took it all in!" she exclaimed. "He agrees it's a crime to run a still."

The boys replied with guffaws of laughter.

"He agrees, does he?" Karabanov asked, looking at Lydochka from between half-closed lids: "That's great! If you'd stayed beside him a little longer, perhaps he would have broken up the still himself! What d'you think?"

"Be thankful his old woman wasn't at home, said Taranets. "She's gone to church--to Goncharovka. But you'll have to have a talk with the Verkhola dame."

Luka Semyonovich Verkhola was continually at the colony on various errands, and we sometimes turned to him when in need--borrowing now a horse collar, now a cart, and now a barrel. Luka Semyonovich was a gifted diplomat, garrulous, accommodating, ubiquitous. He was very good-looking and kept his wavy red beard scrupulously clean and trimmed. He had three sons, of whom the eldest, Ivan, was famous ten kilometres around for his performance on the three- tiered Viennese accordion, and for the stunning caps he affected.

Luka Semyonovich gave us a cordial reception.

"Ah! my good neighbours!" he cried. "Welcome! Welcome! I've heard, I've heard! You're after the 'samovars'! That's fine! That's fine! Sit down! Sit on the bench, young man! Well, how goes it? Have you found masons for Trepke? If not, I shall be in Brigadirovka tomorrow, and I could bring you some. And what masons...! Why don't you sit down, young man? I haven't got any still--not I! I don't go in for that sort of thing. It's not allowed! What an idea! Since the Soviet government forbids it, I understand one can't do it! Don't be afraid, old woman--they're welcome guests!"

A bowl full to the brim with smetana, [thick, sour cream--Tr.] and a dish heaped with cheesecakes made their appearance on the table. Without servility or undue deference, Luka Semyonovich invited us to partake of these dainties. He had a friendly, frank bass, and the manners of a worthy squire. I could see how our boys' hearts weakened at the sight of the cream--Volokhov and Taranets could not take their eyes off the lavish display. Zadorov stood in the doorway, blushing, smiling, fully aware that an impossible situation had been created. Karabanov sat next to me, and found a moment to whisper in my ear: "Oh, the son-of-a-bitch! Well, it can't be helped, you know! I'll have to take some--God knows I will! I can't help myself--God knows I can't!"

Luka Semyonovich pulled up a chair for Zadorov.

"Eat up, dear neighbours! Eat up! I could get you some drink, but the errand you are on...."

Zadorov seated himself opposite me, lowered his eyes, and stuffed half a cheesecake into his mouth, smearing his chin with the thick cream. Taranets was adorned from ear to ear with moustaches of cream; Volokhov bolted cake after cake without turning a hair.

"Bring some more cakes," said Luka Semyonovich to his wife. "Give us a tune, Ivan!"

"Service is going on in the church," objected his wife.

"That doesn't matter!" said Luka Semyonovich. "For our dear guests we can make an exception!"

The silent, sleek Ivan played "In the Moonlight." Karabanov almost fell under the table with laughing.

"Fine guests we are!" After the repast, the conversation was opened. Luka Semyonovich supported with great enthusiasm our plans regarding the Trepke estate, and was ready to come to our aid with all his practical resources.

"Don't you stick here in the woods!" he advised. "You get over there as quick as you can! The eye of the master is needed. And take over the mill--mind you, take over the mill! That Board they'ye got--it can't run a business like that! The peasants complain--how they complain! They need cake flour for Easter, for pies, and they've been going there day after day for a month, trying to get it. The peasant must have pies, and how can you make pies when you haven't got the chief thing--cake flour?"

"We're not strong enough to tackle the mill, yet," I said.

"What d'you mean 'not strong enough'? You can get help. You know how the people round here respect you! Everyone says--'there's a fine fellow'!"

Just as this affecting climax was reached Taranets appeared in the doorway, and the hut echoed to the shrieks of the terrified housewife. In Taranets' hands was a part of a fine still--its most vital part--the coil. None of us had noticed Taranets slip away.

"I found it in the attic," said Taranets. "The stuff's there, too. It's still warm."

Luka Semyonovich gathered his beard into his fist, and looked solemn for the fraction of a second. But he brightened up immediately, approached Taranets, and stood in front of him with a smile on his face. Then, scratching behind his ear and winking at me, he said:

"That young man will go far! Well, since that's the way things are, I haven't a word to say. I'm not even offended. The law's the law! You'll be destroying it, I suppose! Well, then, you, Ivan--help them!"

But Verkholikha did not share her sage husband's respect for law and order. Tearing the coil out of Taranets' hands, she shrieked:

"Who's going to let you break it up? Who's going to let you? All you can do is to break a thing! Just try and make one! You lousy bums! Get out, before I break your skulls for you!" Verkholikha's harangue went on and on. Lydochka, up till now standing quietly in the corner, attempted to embark upon a calm discussion of the evils of home-brewed spirit. But Verkholikha was the possessor of a splendid pair of lungs. The bottles of home-brew were broken, Karabanov, in the middle of the yard, was finishing off the still with an iron bar, Luka Semyonovich was bidding us a gracious farewell, pressing us to come again and assuring us he was not in the least offended, Zadorov had shaken hands with Ivan, Ivan was grinding out a tune on his accordion, but Verkholikha went on shouting and bawling, finding ever new adjectives for the description of our conduct, and the outlining of our lamentable future. In the neighbouring yards the women folk stood stock-still, dogs barked and whined, tugging at the chains sliding along overhead wires strung across the yard, and the men, at work in the stables, shook their heads in consternation.

We rushed out into the street, Karabanov falling helplessly against a wattle fence.

"I shall die! My God, I shall die! Dear guests --oh, oh! Rot your guts with your smetana! Is your belly aching, Volokhov?"

That same day we destroyed six stills. Ourselves we suffered no casualties. It was only as we were leaving the last hut that we encountered Sergei Petrovich Grechany, the chairman of the Village Soviet. The chairman was like a Cossack chief, with his black, sleeked hair and waxed and curled moustache. Though quite young, he was the most successful farmer in the district, and was considered an extremely able man. He shouted to us from a little way off: "Hi, there! Stop a minute!"

We stood still.

"Good day to you! he cried. "The greetings of the season! May I ask what warrant you have for this violent interference--breaking up people's stills and all that! What right have you to go on like this?"

He gave an extra twist to his moustache, and looked searchingly at our unofficial countenances.

In silence I handed him my warrant for "violent interference." He turned it over and over in his hands, and gave it back to me in obvious displeasure.

"It's a permit, all right, but the people are annoyed. If just any colony can go on like this, who can tell what the consequences may be for the Soviet government? I myself keep trying to put an end to bootlegging."

"And yet you have a still yourself!" said Taranets quietly, his penetrating glance travelling impudently over the chairman's face.

The chairman cast a ferocious look at the ragged Taranets.

"You mind your own business!" he said. "Who do you think you are? From the colony? We'll carry this business to the highest authorities and then we'll see if a set of felons are to be allowed to insult local authorities with impunity!"

We parted--he in his direction, we in ours.

Our expedition had produced a good impression. The next day Zadorov said to our clients, grouped about the smithy:

"Next Sunday we'll do 'better--the whole colony--fifty of us--will come."

The villagers wagged their beards and hastened to agree:

"It's right, of course! Corn does go on it, and since it's prohibited, then it's right to put a stop to it."

There was no more drunkenness in the colony, but a new trouble arose--gambling We began to observe that some of the boys took no bread with their dinner, and that cleaning out the rooms or some other of the less pleasant duties were being done by the wrong persons.

"Why are you doing the room today, and not Ivanov?" "He asked me to do it for him!"

"He asked me to do it for him!"

Work done "by request" became an everyday phenomenon, and definite groups of such "petitioners" were formed. The number of boys not eating, but giving up their portions to their comrades, began to increase.

There can be no greater misfortune in a juvenile colony than gambling. The ordinary fare no longer suffices a gambler, who finds himself compelled to look for extra funds, the only means for which is theft. I lost no time in rushing to the attack against this foe.

Ovcharenko, a jolly, active lad, who had settled down with us nicely, suddenly ran away. My inquiries into the reasons for this were unavailing. The next day I came face to face with him in the town, in the thick of the street market, but plead with him as I might, he refused to return to the colony. He spoke to me in a way which betrayed his extreme embarrassment.

Gambling debts were regarded among our charges as debts of honour. A failure to pay such a debt entailed not merely a beating up or other form of violence, but public scorn.

On my returning to the settlement I questioned the boys in the evening.

"Why did Ovcharenko run away?"

"How do we know?" "You know very well!"


That same night, calling Kalina Ivanovich to my assistance, I carried out a thorough search. The results astounded me: under pillows, in trunks, in boxes, in the very pockets of some of the boys, were found enormous quantities of sugar. Richest of all was Burun--in the trunk which with my permission he had made himself in the carpentry shop, over thirty pounds were found. But most interesting of all was what we found in the possession of Mityagin. Under his pillow, concealed in an old sheepskin cap, was fifty rubles in copper and silver coin.

Burun admitted frankly, with a look of extreme dejection:

"I won it at cards."

"From the other boys?"


Mityagin replied to all inquiries:

"I won't tell you!"

The biggest stores of sugar and various other articles, such as blouses, kerchiefs and handbags, were found in the room occupied by our three girl members--Olya, Raissa and Marusya. The girls refused to say to whom the things belonged. Olya and Marusya wept, but Raissa held her peace.

There were three girls at the colony. They had all been sent by the Commission for stealing from apartments. One of them--Olya Voronova--was (probably accidentally) involved in an ugly business, no rare occurrence in the lives of juvenile servants. Marusya Levchenko and Raissa Sokolova were extremely brazen and wanton, swearing and drinking with the boys, and taking part in the card playing, which usually went on in the girls' room. Marusya was, moreover, excruciatingly hysterical; she frequently insulted the other two, even beating them up, and was always quarrelling with the boys for the most absurd reasons, considering herself a "lost being," and replying to all admonitions with the monotonous phrase:

"What's the good? I'm done for, anyhow!"

Raissa, plump, slovenly, lazy, was a giggler, but far from stupid, and, comparatively speaking, not without education. She had once upon a time been to high school, and our women teachers wanted her to try and prepare for the Rabfak. [Workers faculty--Tr. Her father had been a shoemaker in our town, but two years previously was stabbed to death in a drunken brawl; her mother drank and begged. Raissa assured us these were not her real parents, that she had been left on the Sokolov's doorstep as an infant, but the boys declared she was making this up.

"Soon she'll tell you her father was a prince." Raissa and Marusya maintained a certain independence towards the boys, among whom they enjoyed a measure of respect, as experienced "moils." It was on this account that they were entrusted with the important details of the dark machinations of Mityagin and others.

With the arrival of Mityagin, the gangster element in the colony increased both as to quantity and quality.

Mityagin was a practised thief, ingenious, daring and successful. And with all this he was exceedingly attractive. He was seventeen years old, or maybe a little older.

He bore on his countenance a "distinguishing mark" in the form of bushy, flaxen eyebrows. As he said himself this "distinguishing mark" frequently spoiled the success of his undertakings. It never entered into his head that he could go in for anything but stealing. On the very evening of his arrival at the colony, he spoke to me in the most frank and friendly manner.

"The chaps speak well of you, Anton Semyonovich."

"Well, what about it?"

"That's fine! If the chaps like you it's easier for them." "So you'll have to like me, too?"

"Oh, no! I shan't be long in the colony."

"Why not?"

"Why should I? I shall always be a thief."

"You can get out of the habit."

"I know, but I don't consider it worth while."

"You're just putting on airs, Mityagin!"

"No, I'm not! Stealing is fun! You only have to know how--and you mustn't rob just anyone! There's some swine who simply ask for it, and there are some people you mustn't rob."

"You're right there," I said. "But it's the one who steals, not the one who's robbed, who is the real sufferer."

"How d'you mean 'sufferer'?"

"I'll tell you! You get used to stealing and unused to work. You find everything easy, you get used to drinking, and there you are--nothing but a bum. Then you get into prison, and after prison somewhere else...."

"As if there aren't human beings in prison! Lots of people are worse off 'outside' than they are in prison. You never can tell!"

"Have you ever heard of the October Revolution?"

"OF course I have! I was with the Red Guard."

"Very well, then! Now there's going to be a better life for the people than in prison."

"That remains to be seen," said Mityagin thoughtfully. "There's a hell of a lot of lousy bums still going about. They'll get their own way, one way or another. Look at the bunch round the colony! Oho!"

When I broke up the colony's gambling organization, Mityagin refused to say where the money in his cap came from.

"Did you steal it?"

He smiled: "What a funny chap you are, Anton Semyonovich!" he said. "Naturally I didn't buy it! There's plenty of suckers left in the world. All this money was brought by suckers to one place, and handed over, with bowing and scraping, to fat-bellied rogues. So why should I be sqeamish? I might just as well take it myself! All right--I took it! The trouble is, there's nowhere to hide anything in your colony! I never thought you'd search the place..."

"Very well! I shall take this money for the colony. We'll take a deposition here and now, and debit ourselves with it.

Just now we won't speak about you."

I spoke to the boys about the thefts.

"I flatly forbid gambling. You're not going to play cards any more. Playing cards means robbing your comrades."

"Let them not play, then!"

"They play because they are fools. Lots of the members of our colony are going hungry, not eating sugar and bread. Ovcharenko left the colony all because of this gambling, and now he's roving about the thieves market, crying."

"Yes--that was a bad business with Ovcharenko," said Mityagin.

"it seems," I continued, "that there's no one in the colony to protect a weaker comrade. So I shall have to do it myself. I won't have boys going hungry and ruining their health just because they get a rotten deal. I won't have it! Choose for yourselves! Don't suppose I enjoy having to search your dormitories! But after I saw Ovcharenko in the town--crying and going to his ruin--I decided I wouldn't stand on ceremony with you. If you like, let's come to an agreement that there shall be no more gambling. Can you give your word of honour? Only I'm afraid your word of honour isn't worth much. Burun gave his word...."

Burun pushed forward.

"It's not true, Anton Semyonovich!" he cried. "You ought to be ashamed to tell lies! If you're going to tell lies, then we--I never said a word about cards!"

"Sorry! You're quite right. It was my fault for not taking your promise not to play cards at the same time. And samogon, too..."

"I don't drink samogon."

"All right! That'll do! What about it, now?"

Karabanov moved slowly to the front. Irresistibly vivid and elegant, he was, as usual, posing just a little. In the steppe he had imbibed some of the massive strength of the steppe bullock, a strength rendered still more effective by his manner of holding it in check.

"Fellows! It's as clear as daylight! We can't go on robbing our comrades at cards. Whether you get sore with me, or not, I'm coming out against gambling! So now you know: I won't peach about anything else, but about gambling, I will! Or I'll punish anyone I catch playing cards, myself. I saw Ovcharenko go. It was like sending a chap to his grave. And Ovcharenko, you know, has no gift for stealing. It was Burun and Raissa who cleaned him out. Let them go and look for him is what I say! And don't let them come back until they've found him!"

Burun agreed heartily, but added: "What the hell do I want Raissa for? I'll find him myself."

The kids began talking all together. Everyone was pleased with the agreement arrived at. Burun confiscated all cards and threw them with his own hands into the pail. Kalina Ivanovich cheer fully gathered up the hoards of sugar. "Thanks, kids!" he said. "That's a great economy."

Mityagin saw me out of the dormitory.

"Am I to quit?" he asked.

"You can stay a bit longer," I said wearily.

"I shall go on stealing just the same."

"All right--to hell with you! Steal, then! It's your look-out!"

Startled, he left me.

The next morning, Burun set off for town, to look for Ovcharenko. The boys tagged after him, dragging Raissa with them. Karabanov clapped Burun on the shoulder, bawling all over the colony:

"The age of chivalry is not dead in the Ukraine!"

Zadorov, grinning, stuck his head out of the smithy. He turned to m, in his usual easy, confidential way, exclaiming:

"Lousy bums--but they're a swell lot, really."

"And who d'you think you are?" asked Karabanov fiercely.

"Former hereditary bum, and now Alexander Zadorov, blacksmith to the Maxim Gorky Labour Colony!" he said, drawing himself up to attention.

"At ease!" said Karabanov, strutting past the smithy.

In the evening Burun brought back Ovcharenko, famished, but deeply content.