Red by Maksim Gorky
Not so long ago a man of about forty by the name of Vaska,
nicknamed Red, was employed in a house of prostitution in a city on the
Volga. He owed his nickname to the fact that he had bright red hair and
a heavy face the color of raw meat.
Thick-lipped, with big ears that struck out from his skull like
handles on a wash-basin, he struck people by the cruel expression of
his small colorless eyes. Sunk in fat, they shone like icicles, and in
spite of his well-filled, stocky frame, they always had a ravenously
hungry look. Short and thick-set, he wore a blue Cossack coat, wide
woolen trousers and brightly shined top-boots with fine creases. His
red hair grew in curls, and when he put on his smart cap, they showed
from under it and fringed the band, and then it seemed as though Red
were wearing a ruddy wreath.
He was called Red by his comrades; the girls called him the
Hangman, because he liked to torture them.
There were several institutions of higher learning in the city, and
many young people. For that reason, the houses of prostitution formed a
whole district--a long street and several alleys. Vaska was known in
all the houses. His name struck terror into the hearts of all the girls
and when they quarreled among themselves, or with the madam, she would
"Look out! Don't try my patience or I'll call Red!"
Sometimes this threat alone was sufficient to quiet the girls and
make them give up their demands, often quite just and reasonable ones,
as, for example, the demand for better food or for the right to leave
the house to take a walk. But if the threat was not enough to subdue
the girls, the proprietress called Vaska.
He would come walking with the slow gait of a man who is in no
hurry, lock himself up with the proprietress in her room, and there she
would name the girls who were to be punished.
He would listen to her complaint without a word, and simply say:
Then he would go to the girls. They blanched and quailed at the
sight of him. He saw this, and relished their fear. If the scene took
place in the kitchen, where the girls dined and took their tea, he
would stand for a long time at the door, looking at them, as silent and
motionless as a statue, and these moments were no less painful than the
tortures to which he subjected them.
After watching them for a while, he would say in an indifferent,
"Mashka, come here."
"Vasily Mironych!" the girl would sometimes say imploringly and
firmly. "Don't touch me! Don't touch me. If you do, I'll strangle
"Come here, you fool, I'll give you the rope." Vaska would say
indifferently, without even a sneer.
He always insisted that the culprits should come to him of their
"I'll call for help!I'll break the windows!" The girl, choking with
fear, would enumerate all the things she might do.
"Break the windows!I'll make you eat the glass," Vaska would say.
And in most cases the stubborn girl would give in and go over to
the Hangman. If she refused, Vaska would walk up to her, take her by
the hair and throw her to the floor. Her own friends--often those who
felt as she did--would tie her hands and feet, gag her, and right
there, on the kitchen floor and before their eyes, the culprit would be
flogged. If she was a spirited girl, capable of lodging a complaint,
she was flogged with a heavy leather strap, so as not to cut the skin,
and through a wet sheet, so as not to raise welts. Long thin bags
filled with sand and gravel were also used. A blow on the buttocks with
such a bag caused the victim a dull pain that lasted a long time.
The cruelty of the punishment depended, however, not so much upon
the culprit's character as upon the degree of her guilt and Red's
sympathy. Sometimes he flogged even daring girls mercilessly, without
taking any precautions. In the pocket of his trousers he always carried
a three-tailed whip with a short crop of oak polished by frequent use.
Into the leather of the tails were woven thin metal wires that formed a
tassel at the end. The first blow with such a whip cut through the skin
to the bone, and often, to increase the pain, a mustard plaster or rags
soaked in brine were applied to the sore back.
When he punished the girls Vaska never showed any emotion; he was
always equally taciturn and stolid, and his eyes never lost their
expression of ravenous hunger. Sometimes he screwed them up, which made
them look even sharper.
The methods of punishment were not confined to these. Vaska was
inexhaustibly fertile in inventing new ones, and indeed, he reached
creative heights in the refinements of the tortures he thought up.
Take, for example, the case of Vera Kopteva, a girl in one of the
establishments who fell under the suspicion of having stolen 5000
rubles from a guest. This guest, a Siberian merchant, informed the
police that he had been in Vera's room with her and another girl, Sara
Sherman. After about an hour, the latter went away, and he spent the
rest of the night with Vera and was in a drunken state when he left
The affair took its due course. The investigation dragged on and
on. Both defendants were detained in prison, tried, and, because of
insufficient evidence, acquitted.
When they returned to their employer after the trial, the two girls
were subjected to another investigation. The madam was certain that
they were guilty of the theft and wanted her share.
Sara succeeded in proving that she had had nothing to do with the
theft. Then the madam began to work on Vera Kopteva. She locked her in
a bath-house and kept her on a diet of salty caviar, but in spite of
this, the girl would not confess where she had hidden the money. It
became necessary to resort to Vaska's help.
He was promised a hundred rubles if he discovered the whereabouts
of the money.
And so, one night, the devil appeared to Vera, as she lay crouched
in the bath-house, tormented by thirst, darkness, and dread. From his
black shaggy hide came a smell of phosphorus and a glowing bluish
smoke. Two fiery sparks took the place of eyes. He stood before the
girl and asked in a terrifying voice:
"Where's the money?"
She lost her mind from terror.
This happened in winter. Next morning, barefoot, and dressed in
nothing but her chemise, she was taken through the deep snow from the
bath-house to the house. She was laughing gently and saying happily:
"Tomorrow I shall go to mass with Mamma again, I shall go to mass
When Sara Sherman saw her in this state, she said before everybody
in quiet bewilderment:
"But I was the one who stole the money."
It is hard to say whether the girls hated or feared Vaska more.
They all made up to him, trying to curry favor with him. Everyone
eagerly sought the honor of being his mistress. At the same time they
egged on their pimps, the guests, and the bouncers whom they knew to
beat Red up. But he was enormously strong, and never got drunk, so that
it was hard to get the better of him. More than once arsenic was placed
in his food, his tea, and his beer, and on one occasion to some effect,
but he recovered. In some way he always got wind of every move against
him. But apparently his realization of what he was risking by living
among countless enemies neither increased nor diminished his cold
cruelty toward the girls. With his usual stolidity he would say:
"I know that you'd tear me to pieces with your teeth if you got the
chance.But there's no use your getting worked up about it. Nothing will
happen to me."
And shoving out his thick lips, he would snort into their faces.
This was his way of laughing at them.
His companions were policemen, other bouncers, and detectives, of
whom there are always many in houses of prostitution. But he had no
friends among them, and there was not one of his acquaintances whom he
wished to see more frequently than the rest. He treated all alike with
complete indifference. He drank beer with them and talked of the
scandals that occurred every night in the district. He never left the
house of his employer unless he was called away on business, that is,
to administer a beating, or, as they said, to put the fear of God into
The house in which he was employed was one of the establishments of
the middling sort. The admission charge was three rubles, and the
charge for the night, five. The proprietress, Fekla Yermolayevna, a
stout woman of about fifty, was stupid and malicious, feared Vaska,
prized him highly, and paid him fifteen rubles a month, in addition to
his keep. He had a small, coffin-like room in the attic. Because of
Vaska, perfect order prevailed among her girls. There were eleven of
them and they were all as meek as sheep.
When she was in a good humor, and talking to a guest whom she knew,
she often bragged of her girls as one brags about pigs and cows.
"My goods are first class," she would say, smiling with pride and
satisfaction. "The girls are all fresh and sound. The oldest is
twenty-six. Of course, she's not a girl you can have an interesting
talk with, but what a body! Just take a look at her, sir--a marvel, not
a girl! Ksyushka, come here."
Ksyushka would come up, waddling like a duck. The guest would
examine her more or less carefully and always be satisfied with her
She was a girl of medium height, plump, and as firm as though she
had been hammered out of one piece. She had an ample, high bosom, a
round face, and a little mouth with thick bright red lips. Her eyes,
which were expressionless and irresponsive, resembled the beady eyes of
a doll, and her pug nose and the bangs over her eyebrows, by adding to
her resemblance to a doll, quenched in the least exacting guest the
desire for any conversation with her on any subject. Usually they
simply said to her:
And she would go, with her heavy swaying gait, smiling
meaninglessly and rolling her eyes from right to left. She had been
taught this by the madam. It was known as "luring the guest." Her eyes
had gotten so accustomed to this movement that she began to "lure the
guest" from the very moment when, gaudily dressed, she entered the
still empty parlor in the evening, and her eyes continued to roll from
side to side all the time she was there, whether alone, with other
girls, or with a guest.
She had another strange habit: winding her long braid, the color of
fresh bast, around her neck, she would let the end of it fall on her
bosom, and hold on to it with her left hand all the while, as though
carrying a noose around her neck.
She could say of herself that her name was Aksinya Kalugina, that
she hailed from the province of Ryazan, that she had once "sinned" with
Fedka, had given birth to a child, and had come to the city with the
family of an excise official, where she was employed as wet nurse, but
that when her child died she had lost her position and then she had
been "engaged" to work in the house. She had been there for four years.
"Like it here?" she would be asked.
"It's all right. I have enough to eat, I get shoes and clothes.Only
you have no peace here.And Vaska, too.He beats you, the fiend."
"But then it's gay here?"
"Where?" she would answer, and turning her head, would examine the
parlor, as though wishing to see where the gaiety was.
Around her there were drunkenness and noise, and everything--from
the madam and the other girls to the cracks in the ceiling--was
familiar to her.
She spoke in a thick bass voice and laughed only when she was
tickled--she laughed loudly like a husky peasant and shook with
laughter. The stupidest and healthiest of the girls, she was less
unhappy than the others, for she was closer to the animal.
Of course, it was especially the girls in the house where Vaska was
employed as a bouncer who had accumulated fear of and hatred towards
him. When they were drunk, the girls did not hide their feelings, and
complained of Vaska openly to the guests, but since the guests came
there not to protect them, their complaints had neither meaning nor
results. When they took the form of hysterical screams and weeping, and
Vaska heard it, his flaming head showed itself in the doorway of the
parlor and he would say in his indifferent wooden voice:
"Hey, you, don't act like a fool."
"Hangman! Monster!" the girl would scream. "How do you dare
disfigure me? Look, mister, see what he did to my back with a whip!"
And the girl would try to tear off her bodice.
Vaska would go over to her, take her by the hand, and without
changing his voice, which was particularly horrible, would expostulate
"Don't make a noise! Hush! What are you gabbing about? You're
drunk. Look out!"
This was almost always sufficient, and very rarely did Vaska have
to take a girl out of the parlor.
Never did any of the girls hear from Vaska a single kind word,
although many of them were his concubines. He took them without ado. If
any of them caught his fancy, he would say to her:
"I'll stay with you tonight."
Then he would keep on going to her for some time, and break with
her without a word.
"What a devil!" the girls said of him. "He's made of wood!"
In the establishment where he worked he lived with almost every
girl in turn, including Aksinya. And it was while he was living with
her that on one occasion he gave her a cruel flogging.
As she was healthy and lazy, she liked to sleep very much, and she
often fell asleep in the parlor, in spite of the noise that filled it.
Seated somewhere in a corner, she would suddenly cease to "lure the
guest" with her stupid eyes. They would become fixed upon some object,
then her eyelids would slowly droop and cover her eyes, and her lower
lip would hang down, baring large white teeth. Comfortable snores would
be heard, sending the other girls and the guests into peals of
laughter, but the laughter would not wake Aksinya.
This happened frequently. Her mistress scolded her severely and
slapped her face, but this did not frighten off sleep: she would cry a
little afterwards, and fall asleep again.
Finally Red took matters in hand.
One night, when the girl fell asleep sitting on a divan next to a
drunken guest, who was also dozing, Vaska went over to her, and taking
her by the hand without a word, led her away with him.
"Are you really going to thrash me?" Aksinya asked him.
"I have to" said Vaska.
When they came to the kitchen, he told her to undress.
"At least don't hurt me badly," the woman begged him.
"Go on, go on."
She stripped to her chemise.
"Take it off!" Vaska ordered.
"What a rowdy you are!" the girl sighed, and took off her chemise.
Vaska struck her over the shoulders with a strap.
"Into the court-yard with you!"
"What are you saying? It's winter.I'll be cold."
He pushed her out of the kitchen door, led her through the entry,
switching her with the strap, and in the court-yard he ordered her to
lie down on a heap of snow.
"Vaskahow can you?"
"Go on, go on!"
And pushing her face into the snow, he forced her head down into
it, so that her cries should not be heard, and for a long time he
struck her with the strap, repeating these words:
"Don't sleep, don't sleep, don't sleep."
When he let her go, she sobbed to him through her tears:
"Wait, Vaska! Your time will come.You will cry too! There is a God,
"Go on talking," he said calmly. "You fall asleep in the parlor
once more! Then I'll take you out into the yard, give you a whipping
and pour water over you."
Life has its wisdom, its name is accident. Sometimes it rewards us,
but more often it takes revenge on us, and just as the sun endows each
object with a shadow, so the wisdom of life prepares retribution for
man's every act. This is true, this is inevitable, and we must all know
and remember it.
The day of retribution arrived for Vaska too.
One evening when the half-dressed girls were having their supper
before going into the parlor, one of them, Lida Chernogorova, a
spirited and malicious girl with chestnut hair, looked out of the
window and declared:
Several girls swore unhappily.
"Look!" Lida shouted. "He'sdrunk! He's with a policeman.Look!"
All dashed to the window.
"He's being taken out of the droshkyhe can't walk.Girls!" Lida
shouted with joy. "He must have had an accident!"
The kitchen resounded with oaths and malicious laughter--the joyous
laughter of revenge. The girls, pushing each other, dashed into the
entry to meet the fallen enemy.
There they saw Vaska supported by the policeman and the driver. His
face was gray, and there were large beads of perspiration on his
forehead, and he was dragging his left leg.
"Vasily Mironych! What's the matter with you?" cried the
Vaska wagged his head helplessly and replied in a hoarse voice:
"He fell off a trolley" explained the policeman. "He fell off, and
his leg was caught under the wheel! Crackand there you are!"
The girls held their peace, but their eyes burned like live coal.
They took Vaska upstairs to his room, put him to bed and sent for a
doctor. The girls, standing beside the bed, exchanged glances, but did
not say a word.
"Get out!" Vaska said to them.
No one budged.
"Ah! You're glad!"
"We won't cry," replied Lida with a smirk.
"Mistress, chase them out of here.What have theycome for?"
"Afraid?" asked Lida, bending over him.
"Go, girls, go downstairs" the madam ordered.
They went. But as they were leaving, each one of them looked at him
ominously, and Lida muttered under her breath:
"We'll come back!"
As for Aksinya, she threatened him with her fist, shouting at him:
"Oo, you devil! So you're crippled? Serves you right."
Such daring astounded the girls very much.
Downstairs they were seized with an ecstasy of malice, a vengeful
ecstasy, the sharp sweetness of which they had never before
experienced. Mad with joy, they jeered at Vaska, scaring the
proprietress by their violent mood and even infecting her with it to a
She too was glad to see Red punished by fate. She too resented him,
for he treated her not as an employer, but as though she were the
subordinate and he the superior. But she knew that without him she
could not keep the girls in hand, and she expressed her real feeling
about Vaska cautiously.
The doctor came, bandaged up the patient, prescribed medicines, and
went away, telling the proprietress that it would be better to send
Vaska to a hospital.
"Well, girls, shall we pay a visit to our darling patient?" cried
Lida in a dare-devil tone.
And they all dashed upstairs with laughter and shrieks.
Vaska lay with closed eyes. Without opening them, he said:
"You have come back."
"Aren't we sorry for you, Vasily Mironych!"
"Don't we just love you!"
"Remember how you?"
They spoke quietly but impressively, and standing around his bed
they looked at his gray face with malicious and joyful eyes. He too
looked at them, and never before had his eyes expressed so much
unsatisfied, insatiable hunger, the incomprehensible hunger which
always burned in them.
"Girlslook out! I'll get up."
"And, maybe, please God, you won't get up" Lida interrupted him.
Vaska compressed his lips tightly and held his peace.
"Which little leg hurts you, darling?" asked one girl tenderly,
bending over him. Her face was pale and her teeth showed. "Is it this
And seizing Vaska by his injured leg, she pulled it hard towards
Vaska gritted his teeth and howled. His left arm, too, was hurt, he
swung his right, and wishing to strike the girl, slapped his own
A roar of laughter resounded about him.
"Huzzies!" he shouted, rolling his eyes frightfully. "Look out,
I'll murder you!"
But they danced around his bed, they pinched him, pulled him by the
hair, spat in his face, pulled his injured leg. Their eyes burned, they
laughed, they swore, they howled like dogs. Their mockery was taking on
an indescribably hideous and cynical character. They were drunk with
revenge, they reached a state of frenzy.
All in white, half-dressed, heated by the jostling, they were
Vaska roared, waving his right arm; the proprietress, at the door,
was screaming in a dreadful voice:
"Enough! Give it up.I'll call the police! You'll kill him.Oh, dear,
But they did not listen to her. He had been tormenting them for
years, they had minutes in which to retaliate, and they were in haste.
Suddenly the noise and howling of the orgy was pierced by a thick
"Girls! Enough.Girls, have pity.He too ishe toofeels pain! My
dears, for Christ's sakemy dears."
This voice acted like a cold shower on the girls; frightened, they
left Vaska hastily.
It was Aksinya who had spoken; she stood at the window all atremble
and she bowed low to them, now pressing her hands against her stomach,
now stretching them out absurdly in front of her.
Vaska lay motionless. The shirt on his chest was torn, and this
broad chest, with its thick red wool, was heaving rapidly as though
something were beating in it, madly trying to escape from it. There was
a rattle in his throat, and his eyes were closed.
Massed together, so that they seemed to form one large body, the
girls stood at the door silent, listening to Aksinya's muffled mumbling
and Vaska's rattling. Lida, standing in front of them all, was quickly
wiping from her right hand the red hairs that stuck to her fingers.
"Andsuppose he dies?" someone whispered. And there was silence
One after another, trying not to make any noise, the girls were
cautiously leaving Vaska's room, and when they had all left, there were
many rags and tatters on the floor.
Only Aksinya remained there.
Sighing heavily, she went over to Vaska and in her usual deep voice
"What shall I do for you now?"
He opened his eyes, looked at her, but made no answer.
"You may talk now.Should I clean up?I'll clean up.And maybe you
want a drink of water? I'll give you a drink."
Vaska silently shook his head and moved his lips. But he did not
say a word.
"So that's how it is--you can't even speak!" Aksinya said, winding
her braid around her neck. "We were pretty nasty to you, all right.Does
it hurt, Vaska, eh? Be patient, you'll get over itit's only at first
that it hurts.I know."
A muscle twitched in Vaska's face, he said hoarsely:
And the expression of unappeased hunger disappeared from his eyes.
Aksinya remained upstairs with Vaska, coming down only to eat, to
have tea, or to fetch something for the patient. The other girls did
not talk to her, asked her no questions, nor did the proprietress
prevent her from nursing the sick man, and in the evening she did not
call her out to the guests. Generally Aksinya sat at the window in
Vaska's room and looked out at the snow-covered roofs, the trees white
with hoarfrost, the smoke which rose in opal clouds to the sky. When
she was tired of looking out, she fell asleep right there in the chair,
with her elbows on the table. At night she slept on the floor, near
There was almost no talk between them. Vaska would ask for water or
something else, she would bring it to him, look at him, sigh, and go
over to the window.
Thus four days passed. The proprietress was trying her best to
place Vaska in a hospital, but for the time being there was no bed for
One evening when the shadows had already crowded into Vaska's room,
he lifted his head and asked:
"Aksinya, are you there, eh?"
She was dozing off, but his question woke her.
"Where should I be?" she replied.
She went over to the bed and halted, as usual weaving her braid
around her neck and holding on to the end of it.
"What do you want?"
"Take a chair, sit down here."
With a sigh she went over to the window to get the chair, brought
it over to the bed, and sat down.
"Nothing, I.Sit down here awhile."
On the wall hung Vaska's big silver watch, ticking away rapidly. A
sleigh drove by in the street, and one could hear the crunching of the
runners. Downstairs the girls were laughing, and one of them was
singing in a high-pitched voice:
"A hungry student had my heart."
"Aksinya!" said Vaska.
"See herelet's live together."
"Don't we now?" the girl answered lazily.
"No, wait, let's do it properly."
"All right," she agreed.
He grew silent again, and lay for a long time with closed eyes.
"Yeswe'll go away from hereand start over again."
"Where will we go?" asked Aksinya.
"Some place.I'll sue the trolley company for my injury.They've got
to pay, it's the law. Besides, I have money of my own, about six
"How much?" asked Aksinya.
"About six hundred rubles."
"You don't say!" said the girl, and yawned.
"Yeswith that money alone you can open a house of your ownand if I
make the company cough up some money tooWe'll go to Simbirsk, or
Samaraand there we'll open a place.It will be the best house in the
city.We'll get the best girls.We'll charge five rubles admission."
"How you talk!" Aksinya smiled "Why not? That's how it will be."
"That's how it will beif you like, we'll get married."
"Wha-at?!" Aksinya exclaimed, blinking stupidly.
"We'll get married," Vaska repeated, with some agitation.
"You and I?"
Aksinya laughed aloud. Swinging back and forth on her chair, she
held her sides, now uttering a thick low laugh, now squeaking, which
sounded quite unnatural from her.
"What's the matter with you?" asked Vaska, and again the hungry
look came into his eyes. She kept on guffawing. "What's the matter?" he
Finally, somehow, through her squeaks and her laughter, she managed
"It's about the wedding. Is that for the likes of us? I haven't
been inside a church for three years, maybe more. What a funny fellow
you are! Me, your wife.Do you expect me to give you children too? Ha!
The idea of children threw her into a fresh spasm of hearty
laughter. Vaska looked at her in silence.
"And do you think I'll go anywhere with you? What an idea! You'll
take me somewhere and do me in. Everybody knows how you torture
"Oh, keep still," said Vaska softly.
But she kept on talking to him about his cruelty, recalling various
"Keep still," he begged her. And when she did not obey him, he
shouted hoarsely: "Keep still, I say!"
That evening they said nothing more to each other. At night Vaska
was delirious; a rattling, a howling, came from his broad chest. He
gritted his teeth and waved his right arm in the air, sometimes
striking his chest with it.
Aksinya woke up, stood beside the bed and looked into his face
fearfully for a long time. Then she waked him.
"What's the matter with you? Was the house-sprite choking you, or
"Nothing, I was dreaming" Vaska said weakly. "Give me some water."
When he had had a drink he wagged his head and declared:
"No, I'm not going to open a house. I'd rather have a shop.That's
better. I won't want a house."
"A shop" said Aksinya pensively. "Yes, a shopthat's a good thing."
"Will you come with me? Will you?" Vaska asked with quiet urgency.
"Do you really mean it?" Aksinya exclaimed, moving away from the
"Aksinya Semyonovna," said Vaska respectfully, in a ringing voice,
lifting his head from the pillow, "I swear by"
He waved his hand in the air and fell silent.
"I'll go nowhere with you," said Aksinya with a resolute shake of
the head, after waiting a moment for him to finish, "nowhere!"
"If I want you to, you will," said Vaska quietly.
"I won't go anywhere!"
"But that's not what I mean.But if I wanted you to, you'd go."
"What the devil!" Vaska cried in irritation. "Here you're fussing
over me, doing things for me, so why won't you"
"That's different," Aksinya explained. "But as for living with you,
no! I'm afraid of you. You're an evil man."
"Oh, youWhat do you know about it?" Vaska exclaimed venomously. "
'Evil man!' You're a fool. 'Evil man,' you think, and that's all there
is to it. Maybe you think it's easy to do evil."
He broke off, and was silent for a while, rubbing his chest with
his sound hand. Then, quietly, with anguish in his voice and fear in
his eyes, he spoke again.
"You're laying it on thick. 'Evil,' well, is that the whole story?
A-agh! What did they ask of me? Won't you come with me, Aksinya
"Don't say another word about it! I won't," Aksinya asserted
stubbornly, and moved away from him with a look of suspicion.
Their talk ceased again. The moon was looking into the room and by
its light Vaska's face looked gray. For a long time he lay silent, now
opening his eyes, now closing them. Downstairs there was dancing,
Soon Aksinya began to snore lustily. Vaska heaved a deep sigh.
Two more days passed, and the proprietress found a bed for Vaska in
The ambulance, with a doctor's assistant and a hospital attendant,
arrived to fetch him. They helped him carefully downstairs into the
kitchen, and there he saw all the girls crowded in the doorway.
His face was convulsed, but he said nothing. They stared at him
earnestly and grimly, but it was impossible to tell from their glances
what they were thinking at the sight of Vaska. Aksinya and the madam
were helping him into his coat, and everyone in the kitchen preserved a
heavy, sullen silence.
"Good-by," Vaska said suddenly, lowering his head without looking
at the girls. "Good-by!"
Some of them nodded to him silently, but he did not see it. Lida
"Good-by, Vasily Mironovych."
The doctor's assistant and the hospital attendant, placing their
hands under his arm-pits, raised him from the bench and led him to the
door. But he turned to the girls again:
"Good-by. It's true, I was"
Two or three more voices replied:
"What's the use?" He shook his head, and on his face appeared an
expression quite alien to him. "Forgive me.For Christ's sakethose
"They're taking him! They'll take my darling away!" suddenly
Aksinya shrieked savagely, falling onto the bench.
Vaska started and lifted his head. His eyes blazed frightfully. He
stood listening eagerly to her howls, and with trembling lips he said
"What a fool! What a crazy thing!"
"Come on, come on," the doctor's assistant hurried him, frowning.
"Good-by, Aksinya, see that you come to the hospital," Vaska said
But Aksinya kept on howling:
"Who-oo-o will co-omfort me-ee-ee?"
The girls surrounded her and looked stolidly at her face and the
tears streaming from her eyes.
Lida, bending over her, soothed her sternly:
"What are you howling about, Ksyushka? He's not dead! You can go to
see him.You can go to him tomorrow."