October 31, 2020

The Signal part 8

In two minutes` time No. 7 train was due. “Oh, Lord! Have pity on innocent souls!” In his mind Semyon saw the engine strike against the loosened rail with its left wheel, shiver, careen, tear up and splinter the sleepers and just there, there was a curve and the embankment seventy feet high, down which the engine would topple and the third-class carriages would be packed… little children… All sitting in the train now, never dreaming of danger. “Oh, Lord! Tell me what to do! … No, it is impossible to run to the hut and get back in time.”

Semyon did not run on to the hut, but turned back and ran faster than before. He was running almost mechanically, blindly; he did not know himself what was to happen. He ran as far as the rail which had been pulled up; his sticks were lying in a heap. He bent down, seized one without knowing why, and ran on farther. It seemed to him the train was already coming.

Strength was exhausted

He heard t

The Signal part 7

He got two kopeks apiece for them. On the day following the visit of the commission he left his wife at home to meet the six o`clock train, and Started off to the forest to cut some sticks. He went to the end of his section at this point the line made a sharp turn descended the embankment, and struck into the wood at the foot of the mountain. About half a verst away there was a big marsh, around which splendid reeds for his flute grew.

He cut a whole bundle of stalks and started back home. The sun was already dropping low, and in the dead stillness only the twittering of the birds was audible, and the crackle of the dead wood under his feet. As he walked along rapidly, he fancied he heard the clang of iron striking iron, and he redoubled his pace. There was no repair going on in his section.

Quietly to crawl

What did it mean? He emerged from the woods, the railway embankment stood high before him; on the top a man was squatting on the bed of the lin

The Signal part 6

“Head office? Ah, you are going to complain, I suppose. Give it up! Vasily Stepanych, forget it.”

“No, mate, I will not forget. It is too late. See! He struck me in the face, drew blood. So long as I live I will not forget. I will not leave it like this!”

Semyon took his hand. “Give it up, Stepanych. I am giving you good advice. You will not better things”

“Better things! I know myself I shan`t better things. You were right about Fate. It would be better for me not to do it, but one must stand up for the right.”

“But tell me, how did it happen?”

Government inquiry

“How? He examined everything, got down from the trolley, looked into the hut. I knew beforehand that he would be strict, and so I had put everything into proper order. He was just going when I made my complaint. He immediately cried out: `Here is a Government inquiry coming, and you make a complaint about a vegetable garden. Here are pr

The Signal part 5

Vasily kept silent for a while, pulling at his pipe, then added quietly: “A little more and I should have done for him.”

“You are hot-tempered.”

“No, I am not hot-tempered, but I tell the truth and think. Yes, he will still get a bloody nose from me. I will complain to the Chief. We will see then!” And Vasily did complain to the Chief.

Once the Chief came to inspect the line. Three days later important personages were coming from St. Petersburg and would pass over the line. They were conducting an inquiry, so that previous to their journey it was necessary to put everything in order. Ballast was laid down, the bed was leveled, the sleepers carefully examined, spikes driven in a bit, nuts screwed up, posts painted, and orders given for yellow sand to be sprinkled at the level crossings. The woman at the neighboring hut turned her old man out to weed.

Cleaned and polished

Semyon worked for a whole week. He put everyt

The Signal part 4

Semyon also got up. “Neighbor,” he called, “why do you lose your temper?” But his neighbor did not look round, and kept on his way.

Semyon gazed after him until he was lost to sight in the cutting at the turn. He went home and said to his wife: “Arina, our neighbor is a wicked person, not a man.”

However, they did not quarrel. They met again and discussed the same topics.

“Ah, friend, if it were not for men we should not be poking in these huts,” said Vasily, on one occasion.

“And what if we are poking in these huts? It`s not so bad. You can live in them.”

“Live in them, indeed! Bah, you!… You have lived long and learned little, looked at much and seen little. What sort of life is there for a poor man in a hut here or there? The cannibals are devouring you. They are sucking up all your life-blood, and when you become old, they will throw you out just as they do husks to feed the pigs on. What pay do you

The Signal part 3

Two months passed, and Semyon commenced to make the acquaintance of his neighbors, the track-walkers on either side of him. One was a very old man, whom the authorities were always meaning to relieve. He scarcely moved out of his hut. His wife used to do all his work. The other track-walker, nearer the station, was a young man, thin, but muscular. He and Semyon met for the first time on the line midway between the huts. Semyon took off his hat and bowed. “Good health to you, neighbor,” he said.

The neighbor glanced askance at him. “How do you do?” he replied ; then turned around and made off.

Later the wives met. Semyon`s wife passed the time of day with her neighbor, but neither did she say much.

On one occasion Semyon said to her: “Young woman, your husband is not very talkative.”

The woman said nothing at first, then replied: “But what is there for him to talk about? Every one has his own business. Go your way, and God be wi

The Signal part 2

“You are Ivanov?” he said.

“Yes, your Excellency.”

“How do you come to be here?”

Semyon told him all.

“Where are you off to?”

“I cannot tell you, sir.”

“Idiot! What do you mean by `cannot tell you`?”

“I mean what I say, your Excellency. There is nowhere for me to go to. I must hunt for work, sir.”

The station-master looked at him, thought a bit, and said: “See here, friend, stay here a while at the station. You are married, I think. Where is your wife?”

“Yes, your Excellency, I am married. My wife is at Kursk, in service with a merchant.”

“Well, write to your wife to come here. I will give you a free pass for her. There is a position as track-walker open. I will speak to the Chief on your behalf.”

Swept the platform

“I shall be very grateful to you, your Excellency,” replied Semyon.
He stayed at the station, hel

The Signal part 1

Vsevolod Garshin (1855-1888)

Garshin was all his life subject to melancholia. His work, consisting of only a score of stories, was influenced by his condition, and by his experiences in the Servian and Turkish wars. In 1888, sick with physical and mental torture, he killed himself. Garshin`s stark realism has that pitifully beautiful quality which makes his stories endure. They are pessimistic but never morbid.

The Signal

Semyon Ivanov was a track-walker. His hut was ten versts away from a railroad station in one direction and twelve versts away in the other. About four versts away there was a cotton mill that had opened the year before, and its tall chimney rose up darkly from behind the forest. The only dwellings around were the distant huts of the other track-walkers.
Semyon Ivanov`s health had been completely shattered. Nine years before he had served right through the war as servant to an officer. The sun had roasted him, the cold froze

Supply and Demand part 8

The dust weighed before you, and taken at sixteen dollars the ounco the highest price on the Gaudymala coast.`

“Then the crowd disperses all of a sudden, and I don`t know what`l up. Mac and me packs away the hand-mirrors and jewelry they had handed back to us, and we had the mules back to the corral they had set apart for our garage.

“While we was there we hear great noises of shouting, and down across the plaza runs Patrick Shane, hotfoot, with his clothes ripped half off, and scratches on his face like a cat had fought him hard for every one of its lives.

`“They`re looting the treasury, W. D.,` he sings out. `They`re going to kill me and you, too. Unlimber a couple of mules at once. W`ll have to make a get-away in a couple of minutes.`

“`They`ve found out,` says I, `the truth about the law of supply and demand.`

`“It`s the women, mostly,` says the King. `And they used to admire me so

Supply and Demand part 7

`“I`ll tell you what you are,` says I. `You`re a plain, contemptible miser. You preach supply and you forget demand. Now, supply,` I goes on, `is never anything but supply. On the contrary,` says I, `demand is a much broader sylogism and assertion. Demand includes the rights of our women and children, and charity and friendship, and even a little begging on the street corners. They`ve both got to harmonize equally. And I`ve got a few things up my commercial sleeve yet,` says I, `that may jostle your preconceived ideas of politics and economy.`


“The next morning I had McClintock bring up another mule-load of goods to the plaza and open it up. The people gathered around the same as before.

“I got out the finest line of necklaces, bracelets, hair-combs, and earrings that I carried, and had the women put `em on. And then I played trumps.

“Out of my last pack I opened up a half gross of hand-mirro

Supply and Demand part 6

“`Tell `em, says I to McClintock, `it ain`t money I want tell `em I`ll take gold-dust. Tell `em I`ll allow `em sixteen dollars an ounce for it in trade. That`s what I`m out for the dust.`

“Mac interprets, and you`d have thought a squadron of cops had charged the crowd to disperse it. Every uncl`s nephew and aunt`s niece of `em faded away inside of two minutes.

“At the royal palace that night me and the King talked it over.

“ `They`ve got the dust hid out somewhere,` says I, `or they wouldn`t have been so sensitive about it.`

“ `They haven`t,` says Shane.` What`s this gag you`ve got about gold? You been reading Edward Allen Poe? They ain`t got any gold.`

“`They put it in quills,` says I, `and then they empty it in jars, and then into sacks of twenty-five pounds each. I got it straight.`

“`W. D.,` says Shane, laughing and chewing his cigar,

Supply and Demand part 5

“`I conquered `em, spectacularly,` goes on King Shane, `and then I’ went at `em with economical politics, law, sleight-of-hand, and a kind of New England ethics and parsimony. Every Sunday, or as near as I can guess at it, I preach to `em in the council-house (I`m the council) on the law of supply and demand. I praise supply and knock demand. I use the same text every time. You wouldn`t think, W. D.,` says Shane, `that I had poetry in me, would you?`

“`Well,` says I, `I wouldn`t know whether to call it poetry or not.` “`Tennyson,` says Shane, `furnishes the poetic gospel I preach. I always considered him the boss poet. Her`s the way the text goes:

“For, not to admire, if a man could learn it, were more

Than to walk all day like a Sultan of old in a garden of spice.”

“`You see, I teach `em to cut out demand that supply is the main thing. I teach `em not to desire anything beyond t

Supply and Demand part 4

“He leads me into the biggest house, and sets the chairs and a kind of a drink the color of milk. It was the finest room I ever saw. The stone walls was hung all over with silk shawls, and there was red and yellow rugs on the floor, and jars of red pottery and Angora goat skins, and enough bamboo furniture to misfurnish half a dozen seaside cottages.

`“In the first place,` says the man, `you want to know who I am. I`m sole lessee and proprietor of this tribe of Indians. They call me the
Grand Yacuma, which is to say King or Main Finger of the bunch. I`ve got more power here than a chargd d`affaires, a charge of dynamite, and a charge account at Tiffany`s combined. In fact, I`m the Big Stick, with as many extra knots on it as there is on the record run of the Lusitania. Oh, I read the papers now and then,` says he. `Now, let`s hear your entitlements,` he goes on, `and the meeting will be open.`

“`Well,` says I, `I am kno

Supply and Demand part 3

“After this man and me got through our conversation, which left him dry of information, I shook hands with him and told him I was sorry I couldn`t believe him. And a month afterward I landed on the coast of this Gaudymala with $1,300 that I had been saving up for five years. I thought I knew what Indians liked, and I fixed myself accordingly.

I loaded down four pack-mules with red woolen blankets, wrought-iron pails, jeweled side combs for the ladies, glass necklaces, and safety-razors. I hired a black mozo, who was supposed to be a mule- driver and an interpreter too. It turned out that he could interpret mules all right, but he drove the English language much too hard. His name sounded like a Yale key when you push it in wrong side up, but I called him McClintock, which was close to the noise.

One afternoon

“Well, this gold village was forty miles up in the mountains, and it took us nine days to find it. But one afternoon McClintock led the ot

Supply and Demand part 2

“I heard it from a king,” said Finch “the white king of a tribe of Indians in South America.”

I was interested but not surprised. The big city is like a mother`s knrr to many who have strayed far and found the roads rough beneath their uncertain feet. At dusk they come home and sit upon the door-step. I know a piano player in a cheap cafe who has shot lions in Africa, a bellboy who fought in the British army against the Zulus, an express-driver whose left arm had been cracked like a lobster`s claw for a stew-pot of Patagonian cannibals when the boat of his rescuers hove in sight. So a hat-cleaner who had been a friend of a king did not oppress me.
“A new band?” asked Finch, with his dry, barren smile.

“Yes,” said I, “and half an inch wider.” I had had a new band five days before.

Every pocket

“I meets a man one night,” said Finch, beginning his story “a man brown as snuff, with money in every pocket, eating