I remember very little of my return to my island that night. The world wa_orribly dark and cold, the red moon had gone, and a machine-gun pursued m_ll the way home like a barking dog. I crossed the bridge frankly with nerve_o harassed, with so many private anxieties and so much public apprehension,
with so overpowering a suspicion that every shadow held a rifle that my hear_eapt in my breast, and I was suddenly sick with fear when some one steppe_cross the road and put his hand on my arm. You see I have nothing much t_oast about myself. My relief was only slightly modified when I saw that i_as the Rat. The Rat had changed! He stood, as though on purpose under th_ery faint grey light of the lamp at the end of the bridge, and seen thus, h_id in truth seem like an apparition. He was excited of course, but there wa_ore in his face than that. The real truth about him was, that he was fille_ith some determination, some purpose. He was like a child who is playing a_eing a burglar, his face had exactly that absorption, that obsessing pre-
"I've been waiting for you, Barin," he said in his hoarse musical voice.
"What is it?" I asked.
"This is where I live," he said, and he showed me a very dirty piece of paper.
"I think you ought to know."
"Why?" I asked him.
" _Kto snaiet_? (who knows?) The Czar's gone and we are all free men…."
I felt oddly that suddenly now he knew himself my master. That was now in hi_oice.
"What are you going to do with your freedom?" I asked.
"I shall have my duties now," he said. "I'm not a free man at all. I obe_rders for the first time. The people are going to rule. I am the people."
He paused. Then he went on very seriously. "That is why, Barin, I give yo_hat paper. I have friendly feelings towards you. I don't know what it is, bu_ am your brother. They may come and want to rob your house. Show them tha_aper."
"Thank you very much," I said. "But I'm not afraid. There's nothing I min_hem stealing. All the same I'm very grateful."
He went on very seriously.
"There'll be no Czar now and no police. We will stop the war and all be rich."
He sighed. "But I don't know that it will bring happiness." He suddenly seeme_o me forlorn and desolate and lonely, like a lost dog. I knew quite well tha_ery soon, perhaps directly he had left me, he would plunder and murder an_ob again.
But that night, the two of us alone on the island and everything so still,
waiting for great events, I felt close to him and protective.
"Don't get knocked on the head, Rat," I said, "during one of your raids.
Death is easily come by just now. Look after yourself."
He shrugged his shoulders. " _Shto boodet, boodet_ (what will be, will be).
_Neechevo_ (it's of no importance)." He had vanished into the shadows.