S.S. Koteliansky - Goussiev (Chap. 1) lyrics

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S.S. Koteliansky - Goussiev (Chap. 1) lyrics

IT was already dark and would soon be night. Goussiev, a private on long leave, raised himself a little in his hammock and said in a whisper: "Can you hear me, Pavel Ivanich? A soldier at Souchan told me that their boat ran into an enormous fish and knocked a hole in her bottom." The man of condition unknown whom he addressed, and whom everybody in the hospital-ship called Pavel Ivanich, was silent, as if he had not heard. And once more there was silence.... The wind whistled through the rigging, the screw buzzed, the waves came washing, the hammocks squeaked, but to all these sounds their ears were long since accustomed and it seemed as though everything were wrapped in sleep and silence. It was very oppressive. The three patients—two soldiers and a sailor—who had played cards all day were now asleep and tossing to and fro. The vessel began to shake. The hammock under Goussiev slowly heaved up and down, as though it were breathing—one, two, three.... Something crashed on the floor and began to tinkle: the jug must have fallen down. "The wind has broken loose...." said Goussiev, listening attentively. This time Pavel Ivanich coughed and answered irritably: "You spoke just now of a ship colliding with a large fish, and now you talk of the wind breaking loose.... Is the wind a dog to break loose?" "That's what people say." "Then people are as ignorant as you.... But what do they not say? You should keep a head on your shoulders and think. Silly idiot!" Pavel Ivanich was subject to seasickness. When the ship rolled he would get very cross, and the least trifle would upset him, though Goussiev could never see anything to be cross about. What was there unusual in his story about the fish or in his saying that the wind had broken loose? Suppose the fish were as big as a mountain and its back were as hard as a sturgeon's, and suppose that at the end of the wood there were huge stone walls with the snarling winds chained up to them.... If they do not break loose, why then do they rage over the sea as though they were possessed, and rush about like dogs? If they are not chained, what happens to them when it is calm? Goussiev thought for a long time of a fish as big as a mountain, and of thick rusty chains; then he got tired of that and began to think of his native place whither he was returning after five years' service in the Far East. He saw with his mind's eye the great pond covered with snow.... On one side of the pond was a brick-built pottery, with a tall chimney belching clouds of black smoke, and on the other side was the village.... From the yard of the fifth house from the corner came his brother Alency in a sledge; behind him sat his little son Vanka in large felt boots, and his daughter Akulka, also in felt boots. Alency is tipsy, Vanka laughs, and Akulka's face is hidden—she is well wrapped up. "The children will catch cold ..." thought Goussiev. "God grant them," he whispered, "a pure right mind that they may honour their parents and be better than their father and mother...." "The boots want soling," cried the sick sailor in a deep voice. "Aye, aye." The thread of Goussiev's thoughts was broken, and instead of the pond, suddenly—without rhyme or reason—he saw a large bull's head without eyes, and the horse and sledge did not move on, but went round and round in a black mist. But still he was glad he had seen his dear ones. He gasped for joy, and his limbs tingled and his fingers throbbed. "God suffered me to see them!" he muttered, and opened his eyes and looked round in the darkness for water. He drank, then lay down again, and once more the sledge skimmed along, and he saw the bull's head without eyes, black smoke, clouds of it. And so on till dawn.