A. S. Makarenko Reference Archive

The Road to Life
Volume 1



In the spring the question of horses had us almost stumped. Laddie and Bandit were simply no good any more, it was impossible to work with them. Every day, from the early morning, Kalina Ivanovich uttered counter-revolutionary speeches in the stable, reproaching the Soviet government with mismanagement and cruelty to animals.

"If you want to run a farm," he would say, "then you've got to provide horses, and not torment dumb animals. Theoretically that's a horse, of course, but actually it just falls down all the time, and it's pitiful to look at it, let alone make it work."

The attitude of Bratchenko was extremely simple. He loved horses simply because they were horses, and any extra work imposed upon his favourites infuriated and grieved him. By way of answer to all entreaties and reproaches he kept in reserve the unanswerable argument:

"Now would you like to draw a plough? I'd like to see the fuss you'd make...."

He interpreted Kalina Ivanovich's utterances as instructions not to let the horses do any work whatever. And he did not like to press him too far. In the new colony the stables had already been repaired, and two horses would have to he transferred to them in the early spring for ploughing and sowing. But there were no horses to transfer.

One day, while talking to Chernenko, I touched upon our difficulties--we could manage somehow or other with the implements we had, anyhow for this spring, but what are we to do for horses? Sixty desyatins, after all! And if we didn't plough and plant, wouldn't the villagers crow over us?

Chernenko thought for a moment, and suddenly leaped up joyfully.

"Half a mo! Haven't I got an Economic Department here? We don't require so many horses in the spring. I'll give you three, temporarily, we'll save on their feed, and you can return them in about six weeks. You can have a talk with our manager of supplies."

The supply manager of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection was a severe and practical individual. He demanded stiff payment for the hire of the horses--five poods of wheat for each month, and wheels for their gig.

"You have a wheelwright's shop, haven't you?" he said.

"Do you want to flay us alive? Do you know who we are?"

"I'm the supply manager, and not a dispenser of charities. And you should just see our horses! I wouldn't let you have them for anything in the world, myself--you'll ruin them, overwork them, I know you. It took me two years to find those horses. They're not just horses, they're simply beauties!"

But I was ready to promise him a hundred poods of wheat a month and wheels for all the carriages in town. We had to have the horses.

The supply manager made out an agreement in duplicate in which everything was set down most impressively, in detail:

"...hereinafter to be referred to as the Colony... the said wheels to be considered as handed over to the Economic Department of the Gubernia Workers' and Peasants' Inspection after their acceptance by a special commission, and the drawing up of a corresponding deed ... for every day beyond that fixed for the return of the horses, the Colony agrees to pay the Economic Department of the Gubernia WPI ten pounds of wheat per horse.... In the event of the Colony failing to fulfil the terms of this agreement, the Colony is to pay a forfeit amounting to five times the value of the losses entailed...."

The next day Kalina Ivanovich and Anton drove into the colony in great triumph. Our junior boys had been looking out for them since the morning; the whole colony, teachers included, was tense with expectation. Shelaputin and Toska were the luckiest of all--they met the procession on the highroad and immediately clambered up on to the horses. Kalina Ivanovich could neither smile nor speak, so completely was his whole being filled with importance and grandeur. Anton did not so much as turn his head in our direction--all living creatures except the three black horses tied to the tail of our cart had lost significance for him.

Kalina Ivanovich clambered out of the cart, shook the straw off his jacket and said to Anton:

"You look after them, settle them in properly. These are not ordinary horses--like Bandit."

Anton, throwing out abrupt orders to his assistants, thrust the former favourites into the furthest and least convenient stalls, threatening with the saddle girth any of the curious who happened to peep into the stable, and replied to Kalina Ivanovich in a voice of gruff familiarity:

"Get us some proper harness now, Kalina Ivanovich, this rubbish won't do!"

The horses were all black, tall and well-nourished. In the eyes of the boys their very names had a certain aristocratic flavour. They were called Lion, Falcon, and Mary.

Lion turned out a disappointment. He was a handsome stallion, but not adapted to farm work, tiring quickly, and short-winded. Falcon and Mary, however, were in every way suitable--strong, quiet, good-looking. It is true that Anton's dream that the horses would be trotters enabling us to eclipse all the town drivers with our turnout, was not fulfilled, but they were splendid at the plough and the seed-drill, and Kalina Ivanovich could only grunt out his satisfaction in his evening reports of the amount of land ploughed and sown. The only thing which caused him anxiety was the exalted position of the horses' owners.

"Everything is fine," he would say, "only it's too bad to be mixed up with the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. They can do whatever they like. And where could one complain? To the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection?"

Life began to stir in the new colony. One of the houses was ready, and six colonists were in stalled in it. They lived there alone, without adult surveillance and with nobody to cook for them, providing themselves with what they could get from our storerooms and cooking their food to the best of their abilities on a small stove in the orchard. Their duties included the guarding of the orchard and the building work, duty at the Kolomak ferry, and work in the stables, in which two horses were kept, under the care of Oprishko, as Bratchenko's emissary. Anton himself decided to stay in the original colony, where there were more people, and where it was consequently livelier. He made daily visits of inspection to the new colony, visits which were feared not only by Oprishko and his assistants, but by all the colonists.

Terrific work was going on in the fields of the new colony. The sixty desyatins had all been sown, without, it is true, any particular agronomical skill, or correct planning of the fields, but nevertheless spring wheat, winter wheat, rye and oats were all sown. And a few desyatins were planted with potatoes and beets. Weeding and earthing were required here, and we had to make the most strenuous efforts to keep up with all this work. By now we had sixty colonists altogether.

There was a constant coming and going between the two colonies throughout the day, and far into the night: groups of boys were daily going out to work, other groups returning; our own carts went out with grain fodder, and provisions for the colonists; hired carts came from the village with building material, Kalina Ivanovich jolted in an ancient cabriolet he had wangled somewhere or other, Anton galloping by on Lion, sitting his horse with wonderful grace.

On Sundays almost the whole colony--teach- ers and all--went to bathe in the Kolomak, and the neighbouring youths and maidens, Komsomols from Pirogovka and Goncharovka, and the offspring of our kulak farmsteads, gradually got in the habit of gathering with us on the bank of that delightful stream. Our carpenters made a little jetty on the other side of the Kolomak, and we hoisted over it a flag bearing the letters "G.C." A green boat bearing a similar flag ferried all day between this jetty and our side of the river, with Mitka Zhevely and Vitka Bogoyavlensky plying the oars. Our girls, thoroughly alive to the importance of our position on the Kolomak, made sailor jumpers for Mitka and Vitka, using all sorts of remnants of girls' clothes; and many a little chap, both in our colony and for mile around, nourished in their bosoms a furious envy for these happiest of mortals. The banks of the Kolomak became our central club.

The colony itself was alive and resounding with the sustained intensity of work, the inevitable cares arising from this work, the arrival of village customers, Anton's grumblings, Kalina Ivanovich's harangues, the endless laughter and tricks of Karabanov, Zadorov and Belukhin, the mishaps of Soroka and Galatenko, the harp-like music of the pine trees, sunshine, and youth.

By now we had forgotten the very existence of dirt, lice and the itch.... The colony shone with cleanliness and brand-new patches, neatly added wherever there was a sign of weakness--in trousers, a fence, the wall of a shed, or the old porch. The same old camp beds still stood in the dormitories, but it was forbidden to sit on them during the day, unpainted-benches of pine wood being provided for that purpose. In the dining room similar unpainted tables were daily scraped with knives especially made in the smithy.

By this time, important changes had taken place in the smithy. Kalina Ivanovich's diabolical plan had been accomplished in its entirety, Golovan having been dismissed for drunkenness and counter-revolutionary conversation with customers. He had not even attempted to get the smithy equipment back, knowing the hopelessness of such an undertaking. On leaving, he only shook his head reproachfully and ironically, exclaiming:

"You're like all masters! Just because you're the masters, you think you have a right to rob a fellow!"

Belukhin was not to be confounded by such utterances; not for nothing had he read books, and lived in the world. He smiled cheerfully into Golovan's face, saying:

"What an ignorant citizen you are, Sofron! You've worked with us for more than a year, and still don't understand! Why, all this is the means of production!"

"That's just what I say!"

"--and the means of production, you see, according to science, belong to the proletariat. And there it is, the proletariat--d'you see?" And he pointed to the real, live representatives of the glorious, proletarian class--Zadorov, Vershnev, and Kuzma Leshy.

At the head of the smithy was put Semyon Bogdanenko, a hereditary blacksmith, from a family renowned of old in the engine shops of railway yards. Semyon maintained military discipline and cleanliness in the smithy; shoeing irons and hammers, great and small, looked out demurely each from its appointed place, the earthen floor was swept as in the hut of a notable housewife, not a particle of coal was to be seen on the top of the forge, and dealings with customers were brief and concise.

"This isn't a church--no bargaining!" they were told.

Semyon Bogdanenko could read and write, was clean-shaven, and never used bad language.

There was work and to spare in the smithy, both on our own and village inventory. At this time the other shops had almost stopped working, with the exception of the wheelwright's shed, in which Kozyr and two of the boys busied themselves, there being no falling-off in the demand for wheels.

The Economic Department of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection wanted special wheels, suitable for fitting with rubber tires, and Kozyr had never made such wheels. He was extremely taken aback by this freak of civilization, and every evening after work would grumble mournfully:

"We never had any rubber tires. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and his apostles went on foot ... and now people can't drive with iron rims...."

Kalina Ivanovich would expostulate severely with Kozyr:

"And what about the railway? And automobiles? What have you to say to that? What if your Lord Jesus did go on foot? He must have been ignorant, or just a countryman, like yourself. Perhaps he went on foot because he was a tramp, and if anyone had given him a lift in a car, maybe he would have had nothing against it. On foot! An old man like you ought to be ashamed to talk like that!"

Kozyr would smile timidly, whispering to himself distractedly:

"If I only could see a wheel with rubber tires, maybe, with the Lord's help, we could make them. We don't even know how many spokes they need!"

"Why don't you go to the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection and have a look? You could count them."

"God forbid--how's an old man like me to find the place?"

One day in the middle of July Chernenko took it into his head to give our lads a treat.

"I've been talking to someone," he said, "and some ballerinas are going to visit you--let the boys see them! You know, we've got some splendid ballerinas in our theatre. You can send for them one evening."

"That would be fine!" "Only, take care, they're dainty things--don't let your bandits frighten them. What will you fetch them in?"

"We have a carriage."

"I've seen it. It won't do. Just send horses, and let them use my carriage--they can be harnessed here, and sent for the ballerinas. And set a guard along the road, or someone might try and get hold of them--they're seductive creatures!"

The ballerinas arrived late one evening, trembling the whole way, to the amusement of Anton, who kept reassuring them:

"What are you afraid of?" he asked. "You have nothing to be stolen. It isn't winter--in the winter they'd take your coats off you."

Our guard, suddenly popping out of the woods, reduced the ballerinas to such a state that they had to be given heart-drops the moment they arrived at the colony.

They danced with extreme reluctance, and our kids took a violent dislike to them. One of them was quite young, and the possessor of a beautiful, expressive back, by means of which, throughout the evening, she showed her supercilious and fastidious indifference to the whole colony. Another, somewhat older, gazed at us with unconcealed terror. Anton was extremely irritated by this one.

"I ask you--was it worth driving two horses to town and back twice over? I can bring any amount of that sort from town on foot."

"Only yours wouldn't dance," laughed Zadorov.

"Oh, wouldn't they just!"

Ekaterina Grigoryevna took her place at the piano which had long ago been an ornament of our dormitories. She was not much of a performer, and her music was not adapted to ballet dancing, while the ballerinas were by no means tactful enough to disregard a mistake of two or three bars. They were exasperated by the outrageous mistakes and pauses. Besides, they were in a great hurry to get to some very interesting engagement that evening.

While the horses were being harnessed in front of the stables, in the light of lanterns and to the accompaniment of Anton's hissing profanities, the ballerinas were in a great state of anxiety--they were sure they would be late for their engagement. So great was their nervousness and their contempt for this colony in the wilds, for these silent boys, for the utterly alien surroundings, that they could not even speak, and could only moan softly and huddle up to one another. Soroka, seated on the coachman's box, was fussing about with the harness, and saying he would not drive. Anton, unchecked by the presence of guests, answered him: "Who do you think you are--a driver, or a ballerina? What are you dancing about on the box for? What d'you mean, you won't go? Get up there!"

At last Soroka gave a jerk to the reins. The ballerinas fell silent, regarding in mortal fear the gun slung over Soroka's shoulder. But the carriage really did make a start. And then, suddenly again a cry from Bratchenko:

"What have you done, you ass! Have you gone mad to harness the horses like that? Look where you've put Red, just look! Reharness them! Falcon must always be on your right--how many times have I told you?"

Soroka unhitched his gun with leisurely movements, and laid it across the feet of the ballerinas. Faint sounds of restrained sobbing issued from the carriage.

At my back Karabanov was saying:

"So they have turned on the waterworks!" I was afraid they wouldn't! Nice work, lads!"

Five minutes later the carriage made a fresh start. We raised our hands to the peaks of our caps with the utmost reserve, and without the faintest hope of receiving any response. The rubber tires had begun to bounce over the stones, when a clumsy shape, waving its arms and shouting, flew past us in pursuit of the carriage.

"Stop Stop, for Christ's sake! Do stop, dear friends!"

Soroka pulled at the reins in perplexity; one of the ballerinas was thrown out of her seat.

"Oh, I almost forgot, may the Lord forgive me! Just let me count the spokes!"

Kozyr bent over a wheel, the sound of sobbing from the carriage grew louder, and a pleasant contralto was added to it:

"No, now!" it admonished.

Karabanov pushed Kozyr away from the wheel.

"You, Pop, go to--"

Unable to contain himself, Karabanov plunged, snorting, behind a tree. I could not bear it any longer.

"Go on, Soroka!" I cried. "Enough of this dawdling! "What d'you think you're here for?"

Soroka dealt Falcon a flick with a wide sweep of the whip. The boys gave way to unrestrained laughter, Karabanov groaning beneath a bush, even Anton laughing.

"Wouldn't it be a joke if they were stopped by bandits? Then they really would be late for their engagement!"

Kozyr stood about in the crowd looking perplexed, quite unable to understand what could have happened to prevent him from counting the spokes.

We had so much to think about that we did not notice that six weeks had elapsed. The supply manager of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection came punctual to the moment.

"Well, what about our horses?"

They're all alive."

"When are you going to send them back?"

Anton turned pale.

"What d'you mean 'send them back'? And who's going to do the work?"

"Contract, comrades," said the manager of supplies in his dry voice. "Contract. And when can we have the wheat?"

"The wheat? First it must be harvested and threshed. The wheat is still in the fields."

"And the wheels?"

"Well, you see, our wheelwright didn't count the spokes--he doesn't know how many spokes go to a wheel. And the dimensions...."

The manager of supplies considered himself a great man in the colony. Supply manager to the Workers' and Peasants Inspection, you know!

"You'll have to pay forfeits under the contract. According to the terms of the contract. From today, you know, ten pounds a day, ten pounds of wheat. Take it or leave it."

The supply manager took his departure. Bratchenko, following his droshky with angry eyes, said 'briefly: "The swine!"

We were greatly upset. We needed the horses desperately, but we couldn't give him our whole harvest!

Kalina Ivanovich grumbled:

"I'm not going to give them any wheat, the parasites! Fifteen poods a month and now another ten pounds a day! They write everything by theory there, but we have to work for our bread. And then give up our bread to them, and give them back the horses! Get it where you can, but don't think I'm going to give you any wheat."

The boys were up in arms against the contract.

"Rather than give them up our wheat, let it dry on the stalks! Let them harvest the wheat, and leave us the horses!"

Bratchenko settled the question in a spirit of compromise.

"You can give up the wheat, and the rye, and the potatoes,but you can say what you like--they won't get the horses."

July came. The boys were mowing the grass, and Kalina Ivanovich was not easy in his mind.

"The boys mow badly, they don't know how. And this is only the hay, how it'll be when it comes to the rye, I don't know. There are seven desyatins of rye, eight of wheat, and then there's the spring corn and oats. What's to be done? We shall have to buy a reaper."

"How can we, Kalina Ivanovich? Where are we to find the money for a harvester?" "Well then--a reaper. They used to cost n hundred and fifty rubles, or two hundred."

In the evening he brought me a handful of grain:

"Look, we shall have to reap--in two days, not a minute later!"

Preparations were made to reap with scythes. It was decided to celebrate the harvest, to celebrate the festival of the first sheaf. On the warm sands of our colony the rye ripened early, and this was convenient for the organization of a holiday, for which we prepared as for a great festival. Many guests nere invited, a splendid dinner was prepared, a beautiful and significant ritual was thought out for the solemn commencement of our harvest. But the field was already adorned witharches and flags, new costumes had been made for the boys, and Kalina Ivanovich still seemed deeply perturbed.

"The harvest is ruined by the time it's reaped, the grain will have begun to scatter. We've been working for the crows."

But in the sheds the boys nere sharpening their scythes, and making rakes to fix on them, consoling Kalina Ivanovich:

"Nothing will be lost, Kalina Ivanovich--we'll do it no worse than the real muzhiks do."

Eight reapers were appointed.

On the very day of the celebrations Anton waked me in the early morning.

"Some old mnan has brought us a harvester."

"A harvester!"

"A sort of machine. A great big one with sails--a harvester. He wants to know if we'll buy it."

"Tell him to go away. How can we pay for it? You know yourself how things are."

"He says we can have it in exchange. He wants to exchange it for a horse."

I dressed and went to the stables. In the middle of the yard stood a harvesting machine, still fairly new, obviously specially repainted for sale. It nas surrounded by a crowd of our boys, and there was Kalina Ivanovich glancing fiercely now at the harvester, now at its owner, now at me.

"Has he come to make fun of us? Who brought him here?"

The owner was unharnessing his horses. He was a respectable-looking individual with a venerable grey beard.

"Why do you want to sell it?" inquired Burun.

The owner looked up.

I've got to marry off my son. And I have a harvester, another one. One is enough for us, but I've got to give my son a horse."

Karabanov whispered into my ear

: "He's lying I know him...."

"Aren't you from Storozhevoye?" he asked, turning to the old man.

"That's right--from Storozhevoye. And who may you be? Aren't you Semyon Karaban? Panas' son?"

"Of course I am" replied Semyon joyfully.

"Then you must be Omelchenko! I suppose you're afraid they'll confiscate it? Isn't that it?"

"They might confiscate it, for one thing, and then I'm marrying off my son...."

"I thought your son was with the atamans."

"Oh, no God forbid!"

Semyon took upon himself the conduct of the whole operation. He talked long with the owner, standing close to the horses' heads; the two nodded to one another, pounding one another on back and shoulder. Semyon bore himself like a real farmer, and it was obvious that Omelchenko regarded him as a knowledgeable person.

Half an hour later Semyon held a secret consultation on Kalina Ivanovich's doorstep. This meeting was attended by myself, Kalina Ivanovich, Karabanov, Burun, Zadorov, Bratchenko, and two or three more of the older boys. The rest stood round the harvester, silently marvelling that there were people on the earth who possessed such a model of mechanical perfection.

Semyon esplained that the old man wanted a horse for his harvester, that there was going to be a stocktaking of machinery in Storozhevoye and that the owner of the harvester was afraid it would be confiscated without reimbursement, whereas a horse would not be confiscated, for he was marrying off his son.

"It may or may not he true," said Zadorov. "It's not our business, but we must have the harvester. We could take it out into the fields today."

"But what horse would you give away?" asked Anton. "Laddie and Bandit are no good. Would you give Red away?"

"And why not Red?" said Zadorov. "After all, it's a harvester!"

"Red? Why you..."

Karabanov interrupted the hotheaded Anton.

"Of course we can't give Red away," he agreed. "He's the only real horse in the colony. Why Red? Let's give him Lion! He's a splendid-looking horse and still fit for stud."

Semyon looked slyly at Kalina Ivanovich.

Kalina Ivanovich did not even reply to Semyon. Knocking out his pipe against the doorstep, he got on to his feet saying: "I have no time for such nonsense."

And turned back to his room.

Semyon winked at his departing back, whispering:

"Really, Anton Semyonovich, let's! It'll all come right in the end. And we shall have a harvester."

"They'll jail us."

"Who? You? Not on your life! A harvester is worth more than a horse. Let the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection take the harvester instead of Lion. What difference does it make to them? No loss, and we shall be reap in our grain. Lion's no good anyhow."

Zadorov laughed infectiously.

"What a story! After all, why not?"

Burun said nothing, merely smiling and jerking the ear of rye betwecn his teeth up and down. Anton laughed with sparkling eyes.

"That would be a joke," he said, "for the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection to harness a harvester to it phaeton, instead of Lion."

The boys looked at me with glowing eyes.

"Say yes, Anton Semyonovich, do say yes! What's the harm? Even if they jail you, it won't be for more than a week!" Burun became serious at last, and said:

"There's no getting round it--we shall have to give the stallion away. If we don't, everyone will call us fools. The WPI, too!"

I looked at Burun and said simply:

"You are right! Go and fetch the stallion, Anton."

They all rushed headlong for the stable.

The owner of the harvester was pleased with Lion. Kalina Ivanovich pulled at my sleeve and whispered:

"Are you mad? Are you tired of life, or what? To hell with the colony, and the rye! Why should you risk your neck?"

"Stop that, Kalina! What the hell! We'll have a harvester."

An hour later the old man left, taking Lion. And two hours after that, Chernenko, arriving at the colony for our holiday, saw the harvester in the yard.

"Oh, you fine fellows! Wherever did you get that beauty?"

The boys fell suddenly silent, with the silence that precedes a storm. I regarded Chernenko with a sinking heart, and replied:

"Quite by chance."

Anton clapped his hands and leaped up and down.

"Right or wrong, Comrade Chernenko, but the harvester's ours. Would you like to do a little work today?"

"On the harvester?"

"That's right!"

"All right, it'll bring back the old days. Come on, then! Let's try it!"

Chernenko and the boys busied themselves with the harvester right up to the time for the celebrations, oiling, polishing, adjusting, testing.

The moment the opening ceremonies were over, Chernenko climbed up on the harvester, and clattered over the field. Karabanov, almost choking with laughter, cried out at the top of his voice:

"Oh, oh! There goes the true master!

The supply manager of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection walked about the field, asking everyone he met: "How is it Lion isn't anywhere to be seen? Where's Lion?"

Anton pointed with his whip to the east.

"Lion's in the new colony. We'll be reaping there tomorrow, let him have a rest!" Tables were set out in the woods. The boys sealed Chernenko at the festive board, plied him with pie and borshch, and held him in talk.

"That was a good idea of yours, to get a harvester," he said.

"It was, wasn't it?"

"Very good, very good!"

"Which is better, Comrade Chernenko, a horse or a harvester?" asked Bratchenko, his eyes blazing.

"Well, that depends.... It depends what kind of a horse...."

"Let's say a horse like Lion!"

The WPI manager of supplies put down his spoon, his very ears twitching in alarm. Karahanov suddenly burst out laughing and hid his head beneath the table. Following his lead all the other lads started shaking in paroxysms of laughter. The supply manager leaped up and looked round wildly at the trees, as if seeking for help. And Chernenko was completely mystified. "Why--is there anything wrong with Lion?"

"We exchanged Lion for a harvester, we exchanged him today," I said, without the slightest inclination to laugh.

The supply manager collapsed on to the bench, and Chernenko stared open-mouthed. Everyone fell silent.

"Exchanged him for a harvester!" muttered Chernenko, glancing at the supply manager.

The affronted supply manager rose in his seat.

"It's nothing but schoolboy impertinence!" he exclaimed. "Hooliganism, obstinacy. ..."

Suddenly Chernenko broke into a joyful smile.

"Oh, sons-of-bitches! Did you really? What shall we do with a harvester?"

"Well, we have our contract--five times the amount of losses," cut in the supply manager harshly.

"None of that!" said Chernenko with distaste. "You couldn't do a thing like that!"

"I couldn't?"

"That's just it, you couldn't, and therefore shut up! And they could! They've got to reap, and they know their grain is worth more than your 'five times,' you see! And it's fine, too, that they're not afraid of you and me. In a word, we're going to present them with the harvester today."

stiable. Working havoc with the festive tables and the soul of the supply manager of the WPI, the boys tossed Chernenko skywards. When the latter, shaking himself and laughing, at last stood on his own feet, Anton came to him, saying:

"And what about Mary and Falcon?"

"Well, what about them?"

"Must we give them back?"

Anton inclined his head in the direction of the supply manager.

"Of course you must!"

"I'm not going to," said Anton.

"Yes you are--you've got the harvester," said Chernenko angrily.

But Anton, too, could be angry.

"Take your harvester!" he cried. "To hell with your harvester! Can we harness Karabano to it?" Anton retired to the stable.

"Why, the son-of-a-bitch" exclaimed Chernenko in perplexity. Around, all was silence. Chernenko glanced at the manager of supplies.

"You and I have got ourselves into a mess," he said. "You'll have to sell the horses to them on some sort of an instalment plan, the devils! Fine boys, even if they are bandits! Come on, let's find that raging devil of ours!"

Anton was lying on a heap of hay in the stable.

"All right, Anton," said Chernenko, "I've sold vou the horses."

Anton raised his head.

"Not too dear?"

"You'll pay somehow or other."

"That's something like" said Anton. "You're a clever guy!"

"I think so, too," smiled Chernenko.

"Cleverer than your supply manager."