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Chapter 10

  • 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-
  • occupation.
  • "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.
  • He sighed.
  • "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.