the Ringing cedars of Russia
Vladimir Megre English translation by John Woodsworth

Book 2. Ringing cedars of Russia (1997)

The Ringing Cedars of Russia


I decided to go back to my apartment. Moscow was already feeling the touch of spring. All that remained in the kitchen was half a bottle of sunflower-seed oil and some sugar. I needed to replenish my larder and decided to sell my winter shapka,  which was made of mink. It was a real mink hat, not imitation, and cost a great deal.

Of course, the winter weather was almost over now, but I thought I might get at least something for it, so I headed for one of Moscow’s many outdoor markets. I went up to various merchants selling fruit and other goods. They looked at the shapka, but were in no hurry to buy it. I had already decided to lower the price when two men approached me. They turned the shapka over in their hands, feeling the fur.

“I need to try it on. Go see if you can borrow a mirror somewhere,” one of them said to his companion and suggested I follow him off to one side.

We reached a secluded spot at the end of a row of stalls and stopped to wait for his companion with the mirror. We didn’t have to wait long. He crept up stealthily from behind, and the blow on the back of my head first caused me to see stars, then my whole vision went blurry. I managed to grab hold of a fence to stop myself from falling to the ground, but when I came to, my ‘buyers’ were nowhere to be seen. The shapka,

too, was gone. Only a couple of women were there, making sympathetic oohs and ahs.

‘Are you okay? Awful bastards, those. Here’s a crate — you can sit down for a bit.”

I stayed standing against the fence for a while longer and then slowly made my way out of the market area. A spring drizzle was falling. I was about to cross a street and stopped on the kerb to look both ways. There was a painful ringing in my head. I wasn’t watching, and a passing car sprayed me with water from a puddle, thoroughly wetting my trousers and windbreaker flaps.

I was trying to figure out what to do next when a truck whizzed by, covering me with more spray from the same puddle, and this time the spray flew right into my face. I stepped back from the kerb and took refuge from the rain under the awning of one of the commercial kiosks, and tried to think my next plan of action.

There was no way, I realised, I could get into a metro sta-tion looking like this. It was three stops to my apartment. Sure I could walk it, but the way I looked I still might get picked up by the police, thinking I was a drunk, or a tramp, or just a suspicious person. Then you stand there, trying to explain and justify yourself while they investigate your case. What could I tell them anyway? Who am I now?

And then I saw this man.

He was shuffling slowly along the sidewalk, carrying two cases of empty bottles. He looked like one of those tramps or boozers who often circulate among kiosks that sell spirits on tap. Our eyes met. He stopped, put down his cases on the sidewalk and struck up a conversation with me.

“What are you standing there looking at? This is my terri-tory On your way!” he said quietly, though not without an air of authority.

Not wanting to argue with him or cross him — indeed, not

having the strength to do so, I replied:

“I don’t need your territory I’ll just gather myself together and leave.”

But he continued:

‘And where will you go?”

“None of your business where I’m going. I’ll just leave. That’s it.”

‘And will you make it?”

“I’ll make it, if I’m not interfered with. Leave me alone!” “The way you look you won’t either stand very long or walk very far.”

“What’s that to you?”

“You haven’t got a home to go to?”


‘A novice, eh? Okay, wait here a moment.”

He picked up his cases and walked off. He came back a moment later with a wrapped parcel and again started speaking to me.

“Follow me.”

“Where are we going?”

“To a place where you can rest for a couple of hours, or maybe ’til morning. You can get yourself dried out. Then you can proceed on your way”

Following after him, I asked:

“Is your apartment close by?”

Without turning his head he responded:

“You couldn’t get to my ‘apartment’ if you walked your whole life long. I don’t have any apartment. I have my ‘de-ployment quarters’.”

We walked up to a door leading to the basement of a multistorey block of flats. He told me to stand over to one side while he looked around, waiting until none of the tenants were to be seen, then stuck something that looked like a key in the lock and opened the door.

It was warmer in the basement than on the street. Heat came from hot-water pipes which had been deliberately stripped of their insulation, probably by tramps. On the floor in one corner stood a pile of rags, illuminated by a dim light filtering in through a dust-covered basement window. But we went on past them into a far corner which stood empty He unwrapped the parcel and brought out a bottle of mineral water and uncapped it. Taking a swallow of water in his mouth, he sprayed it all around, as though from an atomiser. “That’s to keep the dust down!” he explained.

Then he slightly moved a divider standing in the corner to one side. From the narrow space between the divider and the wall he took out two sheets of plywood covered with plastic, along with several pieces of plastic-covered cardboard. He used them to lay out two makeshift bunks on the floor. Taking an old food tin from the corner, he lit the candle it was holding. The lid of the tin was not completely detached; it was clean and bent slightly upward in a semicircle to serve as a reflector. This primitive device illuminated the edges of the bunks and the half-metre of space between them. Here he spread out a sheet of newspaper, on which he started laying the contents of the parcel — cheese, bread and two packages of kefir.  Neatly slicing the cheese, he issued an invitation:

“What are you standing there for? Come on, sit down. Take off your jacket, hang it over the pipe. When it dries out, well clean it. I’ve got a brush. Tour trousers will dry out without taking them off. Try not to wrinkle them.”

Then he brought out two drams  of vodka, and we sat down to eat. In contrast to the dirty basement floor all around us, the corner my companion had managed to set up for himself had an air of cleanliness and coziness.

After we clinked glasses, he introduced himself:

“Call me Ivan. Nobody here bothers with patronymics.” The way he improvised the bunks and set out the food on the newspaper, despite the dirty floor, created a clean and cozy atmosphere in his basement corner.

“I don’t suppose you have anything softer to lie on?” I asked after supper.

“You can’t even keep rags down here — they only get dirty, and then they start to smell... I’ve got neighbours over in that corner. Two of them... they show up from time to time. They’ve made one hell of a dirty mess.”

We got involved in conversation. I started answering his questions, and in doing so I ended up inadvertently telling him about my meeting with Anastasia — her lifestyle and her abilities — about her ray, her dreams and aspirations.

He was the first person I had talked with about Anastasia! I myself don’t know why I told him about all her eccentrici-ties, about her dream and how I promised to help her. I had indeed tried to set up a fellowship of pure-minded entrepre-neurs, but had made a major mistake. I should have written a book first.

“Now I’ll set about writing one and try to get it published,” I affirmed. ‘Anastasia said the book would be needed first.” ‘Are you really confident you can write it and get it published without any funds?”

“I don’t know whether I’m confident or not. But I shall certainly work in that direction.”

“That means you have a goal, and you’re going to go for it?”

“I’m going to try.”

‘And you’re sure you’ll make it?”

“I’m going to try.”

“Yeah, a book. You’ll be needing a good artist to do the cover. Someone who can do it with heart. In line with the meaning of the book, with the goal. And where’re you going to find an artist if you haven’t got any money?”

“I’ll have to do without an artist. Without a fancy cover.” “You should do it up brown, with a cover that really fits in with the book. If I had good paper, brushes and paints, I’d help you. Only those things cost a lot now”

“You mean to say you’re an artist? Professional?”

“I’m an officer. But I’ve loved drawing and painting since childhood. I joined various art groups. Whenever I could steal some time, I’d paint pictures and give them to friends.” “Well, why did you go and become an officer if you still wanted to paint all these years?”

“My great-grandfather was an officer, my grandfather and my father too. I loved and respected my father. I knew — I felt — what he wanted me to be. So I tried to be that. And I made it all the way to colonel.”

“Where did you serve?”

“Mainly in the KGB. That’s where I resigned from.” “Through attrition or were you forced out?”

“It was my decision. Just couldn’t take it any more.” “What couldn’t you take?”

“You know the popular song: Oh officers, officers, your heart is under fire.’4

A0h officers, officers, your heart is underfire (in Russian: Ofitsery, ofitsery, vashe serdtse podpritselom) — from an extremely popular song written by singer- songwriter Oleg Gazmanov (1951-) in 1994, which stayed several years at the top of the charts. The song extols the virtue of soldiers defending their country, and takes note of the challenges faced by Russian officers in a postcommunist era.

“They tried to kill you? They made an attempt on your life? Did they shoot at you, maybe to settle some kind of score?” “Officers often get shot at. It’s an age-old story, officers meeting up with bullets. Going to the defence of those behind them. Going along, not suspecting their own hearts were under fire, not suspecting the fatal shot to come from behind. An accurate shot. An exploding bullet. And straight to the heart.”

“How so?”

“Remember the pre-perestroika times? The celebrations — First of May, Seventh of November?5 Huge columns of peo-ple crying “Hurrah!”, “Glory to...!”, “Long live...!” Me and the other officers, not just those from the KGB, were proud of the fact that we were the defenders of our people. We were protecting them. For most officers, this was their whole rea-son for living.

“Then came perestroika, and glasnost.6 Other shouts began to be heard. And it turned out that we, the KGB officers, were bastards, executioners. We were defending the wrong people and the wrong things. The ones that earlier marched in Soviet columns under red banners had gone over to march '’First of May, Seventh of November — two of the biggest Soviet holidays: i May: International Workers’ Solidarity Day, a communist version of Labour Day, originally commemorating the Chicago General Strike of 1886; first celebrated in Russia (St. Petersburg) in 1891. 7 November: the date of the Bolshevik Revolution. Parades on these days featured huge banners with communist slogans such as “Glory to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union!” and ‘Long live the brotherhood of nations of the USSR!”; these slogans would be shouted out on cue by the parading masses of workers and soldiers.

6glasnost — literally, ‘openness’, ‘transparency’, meaning greater freedom of speech and especially greater availability of information on socially important matters, access to which had previously been reserved for the ruling elite. This and perestroika (‘restructuring’) became universal buzzwords to describe Gorbachev’s liberal policies.

in other columns under different banners, and we got left to take the blame.

“I had a wife, nine years younger than me, a real beauty I loved her. Still do. She was so proud of me. We had a son, an only child. He came along... rather late, how shall I say it? Now he’s seventeen. In the beginning he too was proud of me, he respected me.

“Then, after this whole business started, my wife became very quiet. She wouldn’t look me in the eye. She began to be ashamed of me. I handed in my resignation and took a job as a security guard at a commercial bank. I hid my KGB uniform where nobody would find it. But there were unasked questions still hanging in the air over my wife and son. You can’t answer questions which haven’t been asked. They saw the answers in the papers and on TV screens. Turned out, we officers were involved in nothing but our dachas — and, of course, oppression.”

“But,” I interjected, “they showed on TV some pretty fancy dachas of the military elite — and they showed the real thing, not just faked pictures.”

“Yeah, they showed the real thing, not just faked pictures. Only those dachas were sleazy chicken-houses compared to what many of those who accused their owners have themselves today Look at you — you had a whole ship at your disposal. That’s a lot bigger than a general’s dacha. And don’t forget, that general was once a cadet, he dug trenches. Then he became a lieutenant, got shifted about from barracks to barracks. And naturally he wanted to have a house and a dacha for his family, just like everyone else. And who knows how many times he had to jump out of his warm bed in the middle of the night in that same dacha, to go out on an emergency mission.

“Officers used to be respected in Russia. They were rewarded with an estate. Now it’s been decided that a simple dacha with 1500 square metres of land is too much for a general!”

“Everybody lived differently before,” I observed.

“Differently... Yes, everybody... But you can’t tell me it wasn’t the officers who were singled out for blame ahead of everyone else.

“It was the officers who demonstrated on the Senate Square.    They were thinking of the people. These officers were later sent either to the scaffold or to the mines in Sibe-ria. Nobody stood up to defend them.

“Later Russian officers fought for the Tsar and the Father- land in the trenches against the Germans. And back home ‘revolutionary patriots’ were already getting bullets ready for their hearts more terrible than the leaden ones. White Guards* Monsters — that was what they called the officers returning from the war — officers who were simply trying to maintain order. There was chaos all around, everything was falling apart. All our former values, both material and spiritual, were being either torched or trampled upon. It was so hard for them, those White Guard officers. So they put on clean underwear under their uniforms  and went on a psychological attack. You know what’s meant by ‘psychological attack’?”

“It’s when you try to scare the hell out of your opponent. I’ve seen it in films. In Chapaev,  for example, the White

Guard officers are advancing in formation, and they get strafed by machine-gun fire. Some fall, but the others close ranks and keep advancing.”

“Yeah, that’s it. They fall and still keep advancing. But the thing is that they weren’t really ‘attacking’ to begin with.” “How so? What was the point of advancing then?”

“In military practice the whole reason for, the goal of any attack is either the capture or the physical annihilation of the enemy — preferably with the least possible loss in the ranks of the attackers. To keep advancing against strafing from machine-guns concealed in trenches — that was only done when there was another goal set, either consciously or subconsciously.”

“What goal?”

“Maybe, and this goes against the logic of the art of war, it was to demonstrate something to the enemy even at the cost of one’s own life — to make the soldiers firing the guns and killing the advancing marchers stop and think, to realise something and not fire at others.”

“So, in that case their death would be something like Jesus Christ’s death on the cross?”

“Something like that. We still manage to remember Christ, somehow. The young cadets and generals who advanced against their attackers, we’ve forgotten. Maybe even now their souls, dressed in clean underwear under their officers’ uniforms, are standing in front of the bullets we’re firing, and pleading with us, calling on us, to stop and think.”

“Why would they be calling to us? When they were being fired on, we weren’t even born.”

“No, we weren’t. But bullets are still flying around today. New bullets. Who, if not us, is doing the firing?”

“Indeed. Bullets are still flying around today And just why have they been flying around all these years? Why did you leave home?”

“I couldn’t stand the way he stared at me.”

“The way who stared at you?”

“We were watching TV one night. My wife was in the kitchen, and my son and I were watching together. Then one of those political programmes came on, they started talking about the KGB. You know, a real smear campaign. I deliberately picked up a newspaper and made it look like I was reading, as though I wasn’t interested in what they were saying. I was hoping my son would switch to another pro-gramme. He’s never been interested in politics. He likes music.

“But he didn’t change the channel. I rustled my paper, stealing glances at him out of the corner of my eye. And I saw him sitting in the chair, his hands gripping the arms of the chair so tight they turned white. He didn’t move a muscle. I realised he wasn’t going to change the channel. I held on as long as I could, hiding behind the paper. Then I couldn’t take it any more. I smashed the paper into a ball and threw it to one side, got up sharply and yelled: Are you going to turn the damn thing off? Are you?'

“My son also got up. But he didn’t go over to the TV He stood opposite me, stared me in the eye and said nothing. The TV programme was still going. But my son just kept on staring at me.

“Later that night I wrote them a note. I said I was going away for awhile — had no choice. And then I left for good.”

“Why for good?”


For a long time neither of us uttered a word. I tried to make myself a bit more comfortable on the bunk so I could drift off. But then the colonel started talking again.

“So, you tell me Anastasia said she’d bring people through ‘the dark forces’ window of time’? She’d bring them through, and that’s it?!”

“Yeah, that’s what she said. And she herself believes that she can make it happen.”

cAh, she should have a hand-picked regiment. I’d become a soldier again to serve in that regiment.”

“What’s this about a regiment?” I retorted. “You didn’t get it. She rejects the use of force. She wants to persuade people by some other means. She’s trying to do that with her Ray.” “I think, or rather I feel, that she’s going to do it. There’s a lot of people that will want to be warmed by her Ray But not many of them will understand that they themselves will have to put in something from their own brain-power. Anastasia needs help. She’s all alone. She hasn’t got even a single pla-toon at her command. So, you see, she’s recruited you, she’s commissioned you — and here you are lying in a basement like a tramp. And you call yourself entrepreneur after that?” “Well, you KGB-er, you’re lying here, too.”

“Okay, go to sleep, soldier.”

“It’s rather cold in your ‘barracks’.”

“Well, that’s the way it is, isn’t it? Curl up into a ball, con-serve your heat.”

Then he got up and took out from behind the divider yet another plastic bag. He got something out of it to cover me with. In the dim light of the candle I could see shining right under my nose three stars on the epaulet of a greatcoat. It was warm under the coat, and I fell asleep.

I was half asleep when I heard the tramps come in and head for their rag corner. They demanded the colonel hand them over a bottle for my overnight stay He promised to set-tle it in the morning, but they insisted, threateningly, that he better pay up now, or else. The colonel then moved his bunk, placing it between me and the newcomer tramps, declaring: “Tou touch him only over my dead body!” And he lay down on his bunk, shielding me from the new arrivals. Then everything went quiet again. I felt warm and peaceful.

I was awakened by the colonel’s shaking my shoulder.

“Get up. Turn out! We gotta get outa here.”

The first rays of dawn were barely beginning to show themselves through the dim basement window I sat up on my bunk. Not only did I have a splitting headache but I found I had trouble breathing.

“It’s still early. The dawn hasn’t even broken,” I observed.

“Alittle longer and it’ll be too late. They’ve lit some cottonwool with powder. It’s an old trick. A little longer and we’ll be suffocated.”

He went to the window and started working the window- frame loose with an iron bar. The tramps had locked the door from the outside. Taking out the frame, he broke the glass and crawled through the aperture. The basement window opened into a concrete well, covered with a grating. The colonel began fiddling with the grating, trying to dislodge it, but somehow it wasn’t working.

I stayed leaning against a wall. My head was spinning. The colonel stuck his head back through the window opening and ordered:

“Squat down. Less smoke near the floor. Try not to move. Breathe in less air.”

He forced the grating out with his shoulders. He moved it off and helped me clamber out.

We sat on the cement kerb outside the basement window, silently filling our lungs with the pre-dawn air of an awakening city The spinning in my head gradually lessened. The air started feeling cold. Each of us sat there, thinking his own thoughts.

Then I said:

“Your neighbours aren’t very friendly. They’re the ones in charge here?”

“Everyone’s in charge of himself. They got their own busi-ness. They bring in a new homeless person, and make him pay for staying overnight. If he refuses to pay, they slip something into his drink or suffocate him in his sleep, like they tried to do to us, and then they take whatever they like from him — if he’s got anything worth taking, that is.”

‘And you’re telling me that you, a KGB-er, are indifferent to it all? You could earn yourself some pretty points by giv-ing chaps like that the once-over. Or were you just a pencil- pusher, sitting in an office all day? Adaybe you didn’t know how to work the street?”

“I worked in an office and I worked outside the office. I knew what to do. But to know the moves — that’s not the same as applying them. A criminal, an enemy — that’s one thing. But here we’re dealing with human beings. I might calculate wrong, use too much deadly force.”

“You call those human beings? While you’re rationalising away, they’re out there robbing people blind. They’re even ready to commit murder!”

“Yeah, they’re ready to commit murder. But you won’t stop them by physical means.”

“You sit there philosophising, but we almost died. We barely managed to escape, others might not be so lucky”

“Yeah, others might not be so lucky...”

“There, you see? Then how come you’re philosophising and not acting?”

“I can’t use violence on people. You see what I mean, I could calculate wrong... You may as well get going to your own ‘deployment quarters’. It’s dawn already”

I got up, shook his hand, and left.

I had gone but a few steps when he called after me:

“Wait! Come back here a moment.”

I approached the homeless colonel sitting on the concrete kerb. He was just sitting there, his head lowered, not saying a word.

“Hey, why did you call me?”

After a moment’s pause he spoke:

“So, you think you’ll make it okay?”

“I think I can. It’s not far. Three metro stops, that’s all. I’ll make it.”

“I meant, d’you think you’ll reach your goal? Are you sure? Writing a book, getting it published?”

“I’ll give it a try First I’ll try writing.”

“So, Anastasia said it should work out for you?”

“That’s what she said.”

“Then why didn’t you do that right off?”

“The other seemed more important.”

“So, that means you’re not good at following orders prop-erly?”

“Anastasia didn’t order me, she asked me.”

“She asked you... So, she worked out the tactics and strategy herself. And you thought you’d do it your way, and you just loused things up.”

“That’s how it turned out.”

“That’s how it turned out... You gotta pay closer attention to your orders. Here, take this.”

He held out something wrapped in a small plastic package. I unwrapped it and saw, through the clear plastic, a golden wedding band and a silver cross on a little chain.

‘A dealer will give you half-price for these. Let him have them for half-price. Maybe it’ll help see you through. If you’ve got nowhere to stay, come back here. I’ll take care of them.”

“What are you talking about? I can’t take these!”

“Don’t rationalise. It’s time for you to go. So go. Look to it! Just go!”

“I’m telling you, I can’t take them.”

I tried to give him back the ring and the little cross, but I was met by an authoritative and, at the same time, pleading stare.

‘About— face! Forward— march!” he commanded in a whisper that was restrained, yet brooked no contradiction. A moment later came another plea:

“Just be sure you make it.”

Arriving at my flat, I felt like going to sleep and even got to the point of lying down. But I couldn’t get the homeless colonel out of my head.

I got dressed in some clean clothes and went to see him. Along the way I thought: Maybe he’ll agree to move in with me. He’s adaptable to anything. He’s practical and he’s neat. Besides, he’s an artist. Maybe he’ll do a picture for the book’s cover. And it’ll be easier to find some rent money if we’re together. I had no money for the next month’s rent.

As I approached the basement window we had climbed out of earlier that morning, I saw a group of people — tenants from the building, a police car and an ambulance.

The homeless colonel was lying on the ground, his eyes closed and a smile on his face. His face and body were splat-tered with wet dirt. One dead hand was clenched around a piece of red brick. A broken wooden crate stood against the wall.

A court medical assessor was writing something down on a notepad. He was standing beside the corpse of another man, dressed in shabby, rumpled clothing, with a disfigured face.

In the little crowd that had gathered, no doubt comprised of the building’s tenants, one woman was rattling on excitedly:

“...I was walkin’ me dog an’ I saw him, the one smilin’, perched on the crate, his face to the wall, an’ the three of ’em — tramps, by the look of it — two men an’ a woman with ’em — comes at him from behind. The man gives the crate a kick an’ he falls off the crate to the ground. They starts kickin’ him, cursin’ all the while, they did. I yells at ’em. They stops kickin’ him. Old ‘Smiley’ here, he gets up, see. He has a pretty hard time gettin’ up too. An’ he tells

’em to sod off an’ not show their faces around here again. They starts cursin’ again, an’ then they comes at him full force. As they gets closer, he gives a straight chop with the back of his hand right to the throat of the bloke what kicked the crate. It’s not that he’s wavin’ his arms about or anythin’, he just lands the other bloke a chop so’s he doubles up an’ can’t breathe. I yells at ’em again an’ two of’em runs straight off, see. First the woman, then the man after her. ‘Smiley”s now clutchin’ at his heart. He oughtta sit down or lie down straight off, if it’s his heart what’s givin’ out, but no, he goes back to his crate. Moves ever so slowly, he does. Puts his crate back against the wall. Then he gets back up on it. I can see he’s in a really bad way. He starts failin’. An’ he slides down, still drawin’ on the wall with that red brick of his, an’ keeps on drawin’ ’til he lands himself on the ground. An’ he’s lyin’ there face up, right against the wall. I runs over, looks, an’he ain’t breathin’. Not breathin’. But he’s smilinT

“Why did he climb up on the crate?” I asked the woman.

“Yeah, why did he climb up if his heart were givin’ out?” echoed a voice from the crowd.

“He wanted to keep on drawin’. And when those three blokes came at him from behind, he was drawin\ that’s what he was doin’... That’s prob’ly why he didn’t see ’em cornin’. I’d been walkin’ me dog for a long time, an’ there he is, stan- din’ on his crate an’ drawin... He didn’t turn ’round, not even once... You can see what he drew — up there, on the wall!” And the woman pointed to the building.

On the grey brick wall of the building could be seen the circular outline of the Sun, and in the middle of it a cedar branch and, around the perimeter of the Sun-circle, some letters printed rather unevenly

I went closer to the wall and read: RINGING CEDARS OF RUSSIA. Apart from that, there were rays emanating from the Sun. There were only three of them. The homeless

colonel didn’t manage to draw any more. Two of the rays were short and straight, while the third was wavy and fading away, and extended right down to the base of the wall, where the dead homeless colonel was lying on the ground, smiling.

I looked at the smiling face smeared with dirt and thought to myself: Maybe in the last moments of his life Anastasia managed to touch him with her Ray, and warm him up. At least warm his soul up a little and carry it off to a bright infinity

I watched as the corpses were loaded into the ambulance. ‘My’ colonel was thrown carelessly in the process, his head striking the floor of the ambulance. I couldn’t take it. I tore off my jacket, ran over to the ambulance and started demanding they put my jacket under his head. One of the orderlies swore at me, but the other took the jacket without a word and placed it under the colonel’s greying head. The vehicles drove off. Everything was empty, just as if nothing had happened.

I stood there a while, looking at the drawing and inscription illuminated by the morning sun. My thoughts began getting all mixed up. I had to do something, at least something for him, for this KGB-er, a Russian officer who had perished on this spot! But what? What, indeed?

Then it came to me: I’m going to put your drawing my dear officer, on the cover of my book. The book I most definitely will write. Even though I don’t yet know how to write, I’ll still write one, and not just one. And on all of them I’ll put your drawing — it’ll be my emblem. And in the book I’ll tell all Russians:

“My fellow Russians, don’t shoot at the hearts of your of-ficers with invisible exploding bullets, bullets of cruelty and heartlessness.

“Don’t shoot from behind at any soldiers — be they White or Red, or even blue or green, ensigns or generals. The bullets you fire at them from behind are more terrible than the leaden ones. My fellow Russians, do not shoot at your officers!”



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