I realise that the moment has come in my tale when the whole interest of m_arrative centres in Markovitch. Markovitch is really the point of all m_tory as I have, throughout, subconsciously, recognised. The events of tha_onderful Tuesday when for a brief instant the sun of freedom really did see_o all of us to break through the clouds, that one day in all our lives whe_opes, dreams, Utopias, fairy tales seemed to be sober and realistic fact, those events might be seen through the eyes of any of us. Vera, Nina, Grogoff, Semyonov, Lawrence, Bohun and I, all shared in them and all had our sensation_nd experiences. But my own were drab and ordinary enough, and from the other_ had no account so full and personal and true as from Markovitch. He told m_ll about that great day afterwards, only a short time before that catastroph_hat overwhelmed us all, and in his account there was all the growin_uspicion and horror of disillusion that after-events fostered in him. But a_e told me, sitting through the purple hours of the night, watching the ligh_reak in ripples and circles of colour over the sea, he regained some of th_plendours of that great day, and before he had finished his tale he was righ_ack in that fantastic world that had burst at the touch like bubbles in th_un. I will give his account, as accurately as possible in his own words. _eldom interrupted him, and I think he soon forgot that I was there. He ha_ome to me that night in a panic, for reasons which will he given later and I, in trying to reassure him, had reminded him of that day, when the world wa_uddenly Utopia.
"That _did_ exist, that world," I said. "And once having existed it canno_ow be dead. Believe, believe that it will come back."
"Come back!" He shook his head. "Even if it is still there I cannot go back t_t. I will tell you, Ivan Andreievitch, what that day was… and why now I am s_itterly punished for having believed in it. Listen, what happened to me. I_ccurred, all of it, exactly as I tell you. You know that, just at that time, I had been worrying very much about Vera. The Revolution had come I suppos_ery suddenly to every one; but truly to myself, because I had been thinkin_f Vera, it was like a thunder-clap. It's always been my trouble, Iva_ndreievitch, that I can't think of more than one thing at once, and the worr_f it has been that in my life there has been almost invariably more than on_hing that I ought to think of…. I would think of my invention, you know, tha_ ought to get on with it a little faster. Because really—it was making a sor_f cloth out of bark that I was working at; as every day passed, I could se_ore and more clearly that there was a great deal in this particula_nvention, and that it only needed real application to bring it properl_orward. Only application as you know is my trouble. If I could only shut m_rain up…."
He told me then, I remember, a lot about his early childhood, and then th_truggle that he had had to see one thing at once, and not two or three thing_hat got in the way and hindered him from doing anything. He went on abou_era.
"You know that one night I had crept up into your room, and looked to se_hether there were possibly a letter there. That was a disgraceful thing t_o, wasn't it? But I felt then that I had to satisfy myself. I wonder whethe_ can make you understand. It wasn't jealousy exactly, because I had neve_elt that I had had any very strong right over Vera, considering the way tha_he had married me; but I don't think I ever loved her more than I did durin_hose weeks, and she was unattainable. I was lonely, Ivan Andreievitch, that'_he truth. Everything seemed to be slipping away from me, and in some wa_lexei Petrovitch Semyonov seemed to accentuate that. He was always remindin_e of one day or another when I had been happy with Vera long ago—some sill_ittle expedition we had taken—or he was doubtful about my experiments bein_ny good, or he would recall what I had felt about Russia at the beginning o_he war…. All in a very kindly way, mind you. He was more friendly than he ha_ver been, and seemed to be altogether softer-hearted. But he made me think _reat deal about Vera. He talked often so much. He thought that I ought t_ook after her more, and I explained that that wasn't my right.
"The truth is that ever since Nina's birthday-party I had been anxious. I kne_eally that everything was right. Vera is of course the soul of honour—bu_omething had occurred then which made me….
"Well, well, that doesn't matter now. The only point is that I was thinking o_era a great deal, and wondering how I could make her happy. She wasn't happy.
I don't know how it was, but during those weeks just before the Revolution w_ere none of us happy. We were all uneasy as though we expected something wer_oing to happen—and we were all suspicious….
"I only tell you this because then you will see why it was that the Revolutio_roke upon me with such surprise. I had been right inside myself, talking t_obody, wanting nobody to talk to me. I get like that sometimes, when word_eem to mean so much that it seems dangerous to throw them about…. And perhap_t is. But silence is dangerous too. Everything is dangerous if you ar_nlucky by nature….
"I had been indoors all that Monday working at my invention, and thinkin_bout Vera, wondering whether I'd speak to her, then afraid of my temper (_ave a bad temper), wanting to know what was the truth, thinking at one momen_hat if she cared for some one else that I'd go away…and then suddenly angr_nd jealous, wishing to challenge him, but I am a ludicrous figure t_hallenge any one, as I very well know. Semyonov had been to see me tha_orning, and he had just sat there without saying anything. I couldn't endur_hat very long, so I asked him what he came for and he said, 'Oh, nothing.' _elt as though he were spying and I became uneasy. Why should he come so ofte_ow? And I was beginning to think of him when he wasn't there. It was a_hough he thought he had a right over all of us, and that irritated me…. Well, that was Monday. They all came late in the afternoon and told me all the news.
They had been at the Astoria. The whole town seemed to be in revolt, so the_aid.
"But even then I didn't realise it. I was thinking of Vera just the same. _ooked at her all the evening just as Semyonov had looked at me. And didn'_ay anything…. I never wanted her so badly before. I made her sleep with m_ll that night. She hadn't done that for a long time, and I woke up early i_he morning to hear her crying softly to herself. She never used to cry. Sh_as so proud. I put my arms round her, and she stopped crying and lay quit_till. It wasn't fair what I did, but I felt as though Alexei Petrovitch ha_hallenged me to do it. He always hated Vera I knew. I got up very early an_ent to my wood. You can imagine I wasn't very happy….
"Then suddenly I thought I'd go out into the streets, and see what wa_appening. I couldn't believe really that there had been any change. So I wen_ut.
"Do you know of recent years I've walked out very seldom? What was it? A kin_f shyness. I knew when I was in my own house, and I knew whom I was with.
Then I was never a man who cared greatly about exercise, and there was no on_utside whom I wanted very much to see. So when I went out that morning it wa_s though I didn't know Petrograd at all, and had only just arrived there. _ent over the Ekateringofsky Bridge, through the Square, and to the left dow_he Sadovaya.
"Of course the first thing that I noticed was that there were no trams, an_hat there were multitudes of people walking along and that they were all poo_eople and all happy.' And I _was_ glad when I saw that. Of course I'm _ool, and life can't be as I want it, but that's always what I had though_ife ought to be—all the streets filled with poor people, all free and happy.
And here they were!… with the snow crisp under their feet, and the su_hining, and the air quite still, so that all the talk came up, and up int_he sky like a song. But of course they were bewildered as well as happy. The_idn't know where to go, they didn't know what to do—like birds let ou_uddenly from their cages. I didn't know myself. That's what sudden freedo_oes—takes your breath away so that you go staggering along, and get caugh_gain if you're not careful. No trams, no policemen, no carriages filled wit_roud people cursing you…. Oh, Ivan Andreievitch, I'd be proud myself if I ha_oney, and servants to put on my clothes, and new women every night, an_ifferent food every day…. I don't blame them—but suddenly proud people wer_one, and I was crying without knowing it—simply because that great crowd o_oor people went pushing along, all talking under the sunny sky as freely a_hey pleased.
"I began to look about me. I saw that there were papers posted on the walls.
They were those proclamations, you know, of Rodziancko's new government, saying that while everything was unsettled, Milyukoff, Rodziancko, and th_thers would take charge in order to keep order and discipline. It seemed t_e that there was little need to talk about discipline. Had beggars appeare_here in the road I believed that the crowd would have stripped off thei_lothes and given them, rather than that they should want.
"I stood by one proclamation and read it out to the little crowd. The_epeated the names to themselves, but they did not seem to care much. 'Th_zar's wicked they tell me,' said one man to me. 'And all our troubles com_rom him.'
"'It doesn't matter,' said another. 'There'll be plenty of bread now.'
"And indeed what did names matter now? I couldn't believe my eyes or my ears, Ivan Andreievitch. It looked too much like Paradise and I'd been deceived s_ften. So I determined to be very cautious. 'You've been taken in, Nicola_eontievitch, many many times. Don't you believe this?' But I couldn't hel_eeling that if only this world would continue, if only the people coul_lways be free and happy and the sun could shine, perhaps the rest of th_orld would see its folly and the war would stop and never begin again. Thi_hought would grow in my mind as I walked, although I refused to encourage it.
"Motor lorries covered with soldiers came dashing down the street. Th_oldiers had their guns pointed, but the crowd cheered and cheered, wavin_ands and shouting. I shouted too. The tears were streaming down my face. _ouldn't help myself. I wanted to hold the sun and the snow and the people al_n my arms fixed so that it should never change, and the world should see ho_ood and innocent life could be.
"On every side people had asked what had really happened, and of course no on_new. But it did not matter. Every one was so simple. A soldier, standin_eside one of the placards was shouting: ' _Tovaristchi!_ What we must hav_s a splendid Republic and a good Czar to look after it.'
"And they all cheered him and laughed and sang. I turned up one of the sid_treets on to the Fontanka, and here I saw them emptying the rooms of one o_he police. That was amusing! I laugh still when I think of it. Sendin_verything out of the windows,—underclothes, ladies' bonnets, chairs, books, flower-pots, pictures, and then all the records, white and yellow and pin_aper, all fluttering in the sun like so many butterflies. The crowd wa_erfectly peaceful, in an excellent temper. Isn't that wonderful when yo_hink that for months those people had been starved and driven, waiting al_ight in the street for a piece of bread, and that now all discipline wa_emoved, no more policemen except those hiding for their lives in houses, an_et they did nothing, they touched no one's property, did no man any harm.
People say now that it was their apathy, that they were taken by surprise, that they were like animals who did not know where to go, but I tell you, Iva_ndreievitch, that it was not so. I tell you that it was because just for a_our the soul could come up from its dark waters and breathe the sun and th_ight and see that all was good. Oh, why cannot that day return? Why canno_hat day return?…"
He broke off and looked at me like a distracted child, his brows puckered, hi_ands beating the air. I did not say anything. I wanted him to forget that _as there.
He went on: "… I could not be there all day, I thought that I would go on t_he Duma. I flowed on with the crowd. We were a great river swinging withou_nowing why, in one direction and only interrupted, once and again, by th_otor lorries that rattled along, the soldiers shouting to us and waving thei_ifles, and we replying with cheers. I heard no firing that morning at all.
They said, in the crowd, that many thousands had been killed last night. I_eemed that on the roof of nearly every house in Petrograd there was _oliceman with a machine-gun. But we marched along, without fear, singing. An_ll the time the joy in my heart was rising, rising, and I was checking it, telling myself that in a moment I would be disappointed, that I would soon b_ricked as I had been so often tricked before. But I couldn't help my joy, which was stronger than myself….
"It must have been early afternoon, so long had I been on the road, when _ame at last to the Duma. You saw yourself, Ivan Andreievitch, that all tha_eek the crowd outside the Duma was truly a sea of people with the moto_orries that bristled with rifles for sea-monsters and the gun-carriages fo_hips. And such a babel! Every one talking at once and nobody listening to an_ne.
"I don't know now how I pushed through into the Court, but at last I wa_nside and found myself crushed up against the doors of the Palace by a mob o_oldiers and students. Here there was a kind of hush.
"When the door of the Palace opened there was a little sigh of interest.
At intervals armed guards marched up with some wretched pale dirty Gorodovoi whom they had taken prisoner—"
Nicholas Markovitch paused again and again. He had been looking out to the se_ver whose purple shadows the sky pale green and studded with silver star_eemed to wave magic shuttles of light, to and fro, backwards and forwards.
"You don't mind all these details, Ivan Andreievitch? I am trying to discover, for my own sake, all the details that led me to my final experience. I want t_race the chain link by link…nothing is unimportant…"
I assured him that I was absorbed by his story. And indeed I was. That little, uncouth, lost, and desolate man was the most genuine human being whom I ha_ver known. That quality, above all others, stood forth in him. He had hi_ecret as all men have their secret, the key to their pursuit of their ow_mmortality….But Markovitch's secret was a real one, something that he face_ith real bravery, real pride, and real dignity, and when he saw what th_ssue of his conduct must be he would, I knew, face it without flinching.
He went on, but looking at me now rather than the sea—looking at me with hi_rave, melancholy, angry eyes. "…After one of these convoys of prisoners th_oor remained for a moment open, and I seeing my chance slipped in after th_uards. Here I was then in the very heart of the Revolution; but still, yo_now, Ivan Andreievitch, I couldn't properly seize the fact, I couldn't gras_he truth that all this was really occurring and that it wasn't just a play, _retence, or a dream… yes, a dream… especially a dream… perhaps, after all, that was what it was. The Circular Hall was piled high with machine-guns, bag_f flour, and provisions of all kinds. There were some armed soldiers o_ourse and women, and beside the machine guns the floor was strewn wit_igarette ends and empty tins and papers and bags and cardboard boxes and eve_roken bottles. Dirt and Desolation! I remember that it was then when I looke_t that floor that the first little suspicion stole into my heart—not _uspicion so much as an uneasiness. I wanted at once myself to set to work t_lean up all the mess with my own hands.
"I didn't like to see it there, and no one caring whether it were there or no.
"In the Catherine Hall into which I peered there was a vast mob, and this hug_ass of men stirred and coiled and uncoiled like some huge ant-heap. Many o_hem, as I watched, suddenly turned into the outer hall. Men jumped on t_hairs and boxes and balustrades, and soon, all over the place there wer_peakers, some shouting, some shrieking, some with tears rolling down thei_heeks, some swearing, some whispering as though to themselves… and all th_egiments came pouring in from the station, tumbling in like puppies or babie_ith pieces of red cloth tied to their rifles, some singing, some laughing, some dumb with amazement… thicker and thicker and thicker… standing round th_peakers with their mouths open and their eyes wide, pushing and jostling, bu_ood-naturedly, like young dogs.
"Everywhere, you know, men were forming committees, committees for socia_ight, for a just Peace, for Women's Suffrage, for Finnish Independence, fo_iterature and the arts, for the better treatment of prostitutes, fo_ducation, for the just division of the land. I had crept into my corner, an_oon as the soldiers came thicker and thicker, the noise grew more and mor_eafening, the dust floated in hazy clouds. The men had their kettles and the_oiled tea, squatting down there, sometimes little processions pushed thei_ay through, soldiers shouting and laughing with some white-faced policeman i_heir midst. Once I saw an old man, his Shuba about his ears, stumbling wit_is eyes wide open, and staring as though he were sleep-walking. That wa_türmer being brought to judgement. Once I saw a man so terrified that h_ouldn't move, but must be prodded along by the rifles of the soldiers. Tha_as Pitirim….
"And the shouting and screaming rose and rose like a flood. Once Rodzianck_ame in and began shouting, ' _Tovaristchi! Tovaristchi!_ …' but his voic_oon gave away, and he went back into the Salle Catherine again. Th_ocialists had it their way. There were so many, and their voices were s_resh and the soldiers liked to listen to them. 'Land for everybody!' the_houted. 'And Bread and Peace! Hurrah! Hurrah!' cried the soldiers.
"'That's all very well,' said a huge man near me. 'But Nicholas is coming, an_o-morrow he will eat us all up!'
"But no one seemed to care. They were all mad, and I was mad too. It was th_runkenness of dust. It got in our heads and our brains. We all shouted. _egan to shout too, although I didn't know what it was that I was shouting.
"A grimy soldier caught me round the neck and kissed me. 'Land for everybody!'
he cried. 'Have some tea, _Tovaristch_!' and I shared his tea with him.
"Then through the dust and noise I suddenly saw Boris Grogoff! That was a_stonishing thing. You see I had dissociated all this from my private life. _ad even, during these last hours, forgotten Vera, perhaps for the very firs_oment since I met her. She had seemed to have no share in this,—and the_uddenly the figure of Boris showed me that one's private life is always wit_ne, that it is a secret city in which one must always live, and whose gate_ne will never pass through, whatever may be going on in the world outside.
But Grogoff! What a change! You know, I had always patronised him, Iva_ndreievitch. It had seemed to me that he was only a boy with a boy's crud_deas. You know his fresh face with the way that he used to push back his hai_rom his forehead, and shout his ideas. He never considered any one'_eelings. He was a complete egoist, and a man, it seemed to me, of n_mportance. But now! He stood on a bench and had around him a large crowd o_oldiers. He was shouting in just his old way that he used in the Englis_rospect, but he seemed to have grown in the meantime, into a man. He did no_eem afraid any more. I saw that he had power over the men to whom he wa_peaking…. I couldn't hear what he said, but through the dust and heat h_eemed to grow and grow until it was only him whom I saw there.
"'He will carry off Nina' was my next thought—ludicrous there at such a time, in such a crowd, but it is exactly like that that life shifts and shifts unti_t has formed a pattern. I was frightened by Grogoff. I could not believe tha_he new freedom, the new Russia, the new world would be made by such men. H_aved his arms, he pushed back his hair, the men shouted. Grogoff wa_riumphant: 'The New World… _Novaya Jezn, Novaya Jezn_!' (New Life!) I hear_im shout.
"The sun before it set flooded the hall with light. What a scene through th_ust! The red flags, the women and the soldiers and the shouting!
"I was suddenly dismayed. 'How can order come out of this?' I thought. 'The_re all mad…. Terrible things are going to happen.' I was dirty and tired an_xhausted. I fought my way through the mob, found the door. For a moment _ooked back, to that sea of men lit by the last light of the sun. Then _ushed out, was thrown, it seemed to me, from man to man, and was at last i_he air…. Quiet, fires burning in the courtyard, a sky of the palest blue, _ew stars, and the people singing the 'Marseillaise.'
"It was like drinking great draughts of cold water after an intolerabl_hirst….
"…Hasn't Tchekov said somewhere that Russians have nostalgia but n_atriotism? That was never true of me—can't remember how young I was when _emember my father talking to me about the idea of Russia. I've told you tha_e was by any kind of standard a bad man. He had, I think, no redeeming point_t all—but he had, all the same, that sense of Russia. I don't suppose that h_ut it to any practical use, or that he even tried to teach it to his pupils, but it would suddenly seize him and he would let himself go, and for an hou_e would be a fine master—of words. And what Russian is ever more than that a_he end?
"He spoke to me and gave me a picture of a world inside a world, and thi_nside world was complete in itself. It had everything in it—beauty, wealth, force, power; it could be anything, it could do anything. But it was held b_n evil enchantment as though a wicked magician had it in thrall, an_verything slept as in Tchaikowsky's Ballet. But one day, he told me, th_rince would come and kill the Enchanter, and this great world would come int_ts own. I remember that I was so excited that I couldn't bear to wait, bu_rayed that I might be allowed to go out and find the Enchanter… but my fathe_aughed and said that there were no Enchanter now, and then I cried. All th_ame I never lost my hope. I talked to people about Russia, but it was neve_ussia itself they seemed to care for—it was women or drink or perhaps freedo_nd socialism, or perhaps some part of Russia, Siberia, or the Caucasus—but m_orld they none of them believed in. It didn't exist they said. It was simpl_y imagination that had painted it, and they laughed at me and said it wa_eld together by the lashes of the knout, and when those went Russia would g_oo. As I grew up some of them thought that I was revolutionary, and the_ried to make me join their clubs and societies. But those were no use to me.
They couldn't give me what I wanted. They wanted to destroy, to assassinat_ome one, or to blow up a building. They had no thought beyond destruction, and that to me seemed only the first step. And they never think of Russia, ou_evolutionaries. You will have noticed that yourself, Ivan Andreievitch.
Nothing so small and trivial as Russia! It must be the whole world or nothin_t all. Democracy… Freedom… the Brotherhood of Man! Oh, the terrible harm tha_ords have done to Russia! Had the Russians of the last fifty years been bor_ithout the gift of speech we would be now the greatest people on the earth!
"But I loved Russia from end to end. The farthest villages in Siberia, th_emotest hut beyond Archangel, from the shops in the Sadovaya to the Lavra a_ieff, from the little villages on the bank of the Volga to the woods roun_arnopol—all, all one country, one people, one world within a world. The ol_an to whom I was secretary discovered this secret hope of mine. I talked on_ight when I was drunk and told him everything. I mentioned even the Enchante_nd the Sleeping Beauty! How he laughed at me! He would never leave me alone.
'Nicolai Leontievitch believes in Holy Russia!' he would say. 'Not so muc_oly, you understand, as Bewitched. A Fairy Garden, ladies, with a sleepin_eauty in the middle of it. Dear me, Nicolai Leontievitch, no wonder you ar_eart-free!'
"How I hated him and his yellow face and his ugly stomach! I would hav_tamped on it with delight. But that made me shy. I was afraid to speak of i_o any one, and I kept to myself. Then Vera came and she didn't laugh at me.
The two ideas grew together in my head. Vera and Russia! The two things in m_ife by which I stood—because man must have something in life round which h_ay nestle as a cat curls up by the fire.
"But even Vera did not seem to care for Russia as Russia. 'What can Siberia be to me?' she would say. 'Why, Nicholas, it is no more than China.'
"But it was more than China; when I looked at it on the map I recognised it a_hough it were my own country. Then the war came and I thought the desire o_y heart was fulfilled. At last men talked about Russia as though she trul_xisted. For a moment all Russia was united, all classes, rich and poor, hig_nd low. Men were patriotic together as though one heart beat through all th_and. But only for a moment. Divisions came, and quickly things were wors_han before. There came Tannenburg and afterwards Warsaw.
"All was lost…. Russia was betrayed, and I was a sentimental fool. You kno_ourself how cynical even the most sentimental Russians are—that is because i_ou stick to facts you know where you are, but ideas are always betraying you.
Life simply isn't long enough to test them, that's all, and man is certainl_ot a patient animal.
"At first I watched the war going from bad to worse, and then I shut myself i_nd refused to look any longer. I thought only of Vera and my work. I woul_ake a great discovery and be rich, and then Vera at last would love me.
Idiot! As though I had not known that Vera would not love for that kind o_eason…. I determined that I would think no more of Russia, that I would be _an of no country. Then during those last weeks before the Revolution I bega_o be suspicious of Vera and to watch her. I did things of which I wa_shamed, and then I despised myself for being ashamed.
"I am a man, I can do what I wish. Even though I am imprisoned I am free…. _m my own master. But all the same, to be a spy is a mean thing, Iva_ndreievitch. You Englishmen, although you are stupid, you are not mean. I_as that day when your young friend, Bohun, found me looking in your room fo_etters, that in spite of myself I was ashamed.
"He looked at me in a sort of way as though, down to his very soul he wa_stonished at what I had done. Well, why should I mind that he should b_stonished? He was very young and all wrong in his ideas of life. Nevertheles_hat look of his influenced me. I thought about it afterwards. Then cam_lexei Petrovitch. I've told you already. He was always hinting at something.
He was always there as though he were waiting for something to happen. H_inted things about Vera. It's strange, Ivan Andreievitch, but there was a da_ust a week before the Revolution, when I was very nearly jumping up an_triking him. Just to get rid of him so that he shouldn't be watching me….Wh_ven when I wasn't there he….
"But what's that got to do with my walk? Nothing perhaps. All the same, it wa_ll these little things that made me, when I walked out of the Duma tha_vening so queer. You see I'd been getting desperate. All that I had left wa_eing taken from me, and then suddenly this Revolution had come and given m_ack Russia again. I forgot Alexei Petrovitch and your Englishman Lawrence an_he failure of my work—I remembered, once again, just as I had those firs_ays of the war, Vera and Russia.
"There, in the clear evening air, I forgot all the talk there had been insid_he Duma, the mess and the noise and the dust. I was suddenly happy again, an_xcited, and hopeful…. The Enchanter had come after all, and Russia was t_wake.
"Ah, what a wonderful evening that was! You know that there have bee_imes—very, very rare occasions in one's life—when places that one knows well, streets and houses so common and customary as to be like one's very skin—ar_uddenly for a wonderful half-hour places of magic, the trees are gold, th_ouses silver, the bricks jewelled, the pavement of amber. Or simply perhap_hey are different, a new country of new colour and mystery… when one is jus_n love or has won some prize, or finished at last some difficult work.
Petrograd was like that to me that night; I swear to you, Ivan Andreievitch, _id not know where I was. I seem now on looking back to have been in place_hat night, magical places, that by the morning had flown away. I could no_ell you where I went. I know that I must have walked for miles. I walked wit_ great many people who were all my brothers. I had drunk nothing, not eve_ater, and yet the effect on me was exactly as though I were drunk, drunk wit_appiness, Ivan Andreievitch, and with the possibility of all the things tha_ight now be.
"We, many of us, marched along, singing the 'Marseillaise' I suppose. Ther_as firing I think in some of the streets, because I can remember now o_ooking back that once or twice I heard a machine-gun quite close to me an_idn't care at all, and even laughed…. Not that I've ever cared for that.
Bullets aren't the sort of things that frighten me. There are othe_errors….All the same it was curious that we should all march along as thoug_here were no danger and the peace of the world had come. There were wome_ith us—quite a number of them I think—and, I believe, some children. _emember that some of the way I carried a child, fast asleep in my arms. Ho_udicrous it would be now if I, of all men in the world, carried a baby dow_he Nevski! But it was quite natural that night. The town seemed to me blazin_ith light. Of course that it cannot have been; there can have only been th_tars and some bonfires. And perhaps we stopped at the police-courts whic_ere crackling away. I don't remember that, but I know that somewhere ther_ere clouds of golden sparks opening into the sky and mingling with th_tars—a wonderful sight, flocks of golden birds and behind them a roar o_ound like a torrent of water… I know that, most of the night, I had one ma_specially for my companion. I can see him quite clearly now, although, whether it is all my imagination or not I can't say. Certainly I've never see_im since and never will again. He was a peasant, a bigly made man, ver_eatly and decently dressed in a workman's blouse and black trousers. He had _ong black beard and was grave and serious, speaking very little but watchin_verything. Kindly, our best type of peasant—perhaps the type that will on_ay give Russia her real freedom… one day… a thousand years from now….
"I don't know why it is that I can still see him so clearly, because I ca_emember no one else of that night, and even this fellow may have been m_magination. But I think that, as we walked along, I talked to him abou_ussia and how the whole land now from Archangel to Vladivostock might be fre_nd be one great country of peace and plenty, first in all the world.
"It seemed to me that every one was singing, men and women and children….
"We must, at last, have parted from most of the company. I had come with m_riend into the quieter streets of the city. Then it was that I suddenly smel_he sea. You must have noticed how Petrograd is mixed up with the sea, ho_uddenly, where you never would expect it, you see the masts of ships al_lustered together against the sky. I smelt the sea, the wind blew fresh an_trong and there we were on the banks of the Neva. Everywhere there wa_erfect silence. The Neva lay, tranquil, bound under its ice. The black hulk_f the ships lay against the white shadows like sleeping animals. The curve o_he sky, with its multitude of stars, was infinite.
"My friend embraced me and left me and I stayed alone, so happy, so sure o_he peace of the world that I did what I had not done for years, sent up _rayer of gratitude to God. Then with my head on my hands, looking down at th_asts of the ships, feeling Petrograd behind me with its lights as though i_ere the City of God, I burst into tears—tears of happiness and joy and humbl_ratitude…. I have no memory of anything further."