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Flowers Gratitude

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The gratitude, that I was never able to express.

     I accepted as a mere "hello" any kind of the boon that fell to my lot.
The time has passed, and I began to accept the boon as a God's gift, but in both the cases I couldn't bring myself even to say "thanks".
     I am thankful to God or to my nature for that ease of mind with which I meet people, taking no notice of their negative traits and seeing only the very best things that nature has donated to a man. I am thankful to people and they do me a kindness.
I am thankful to my mother as she gave me my life, as she is always with me and continues to be my teacher.
     Every day I am thanking our Lord Almighty for His support and protection.
I am sincerely thankful to my Fate which made me live the way it has chosen for me; it was precisely my Fate that taught me to love and to protect every passing day.
     Yet, due to the presence of that unspoken gratitude there always was in my soul some kind of discomfort. I tied to soothe myself, saying that the time would come and I should be able to say: "THANK YOU!" to everybody who, without any request entered our life and rendered us help accepting no gratitude.
     That time has come and the opportunity with it, but my soul aches and suffers because often I am too late: somebody has left this world forever, and others are lost having gone away by their own much scattered ways.
     My consciousness treacherously makes me throw up the sieve in the process of sifting my memory. Like a gold-digger at the gold-fields I sift the sand of my memory hoping to find a gold nugget. I am sadly becoming aware that time has erased from my memory the vividness of sensations and perception. And when all the grain of sand has passed through the sieve I see several wonderful pieces of the precious metal.
      Yackov Mickhailovich Apter was one of the gifts the fate presented us with.
His life was not a path strewn with roses, it would rather kicked him than stroked. In the hard times of World War II he lost his parents and became an orphan. Due to the hardships of those days the orphanage for the evacuated children was deployed on the premises of a penitentiary institution for juvenile delinquents. It was there, where the four-year old boy learnt how to survive, how to fight and to protect himself.
     Yackov was a Jew, but unlike many of the people of his nationality he did not conceal that fact; just the contrary he was proud of it.
     And when he was our manager, everybody in our team, that consisted of 26 men and women, not just deeply respected him but loved him as one loves one' father or brother. We implicitly trusted our Yackov carried out his orders and took care of him. And what's more, we were proud of our corporate fraternity, as not just the work but our life in the whole went as easy as a breath under his exacting, wise and friendly gaze
     Yackov came to the aid when the Fate with sudden cruelty turned its back to Pyotr and me, perfidiously putting up yet more and more ordeals and making us spare no forces when overcoming them.
     A lot of people connect rendering assistance with granting financial help, but there exists such kind of help that no money could be comparable with it.
     Yackov realized quickly that the time would come and the main burden would be laid on my shoulders in our family. Without any warning, not even bothering to ask me about my intentions Yackov literally treated me as if I were a blind kitten. In order to make me thoroughly know the production process he pushed me as a dispatcher now to one shop, then to another. He taught me, he pulled out of me the capacities I myself was not aware of. On showing to me my abilities Yackov tried to develop them and after that he gladly presented me with what had inherently belonged to me.
     And when Yackov Mickhailovich became the general director of our group of enterprises and was elected to the Ukrainian Parliament; when he had organized and became the leader of the political party "Economic revival of the Crimea" and was working over his dissertation, even in this case he managed to find time and opportunity to take care of all of us and of our families.
     On the 18-th of November, 2002 nine years has passeed since the tragic death of our chief and dear friend, of that bright energetic and much-talented man with an ardent heart, open soul and the kindness of a child.
     Such was the nugget the Fate presented me with.
     Does he need now my words of thanks? He doesn't, for sure. But I must say them in order to damp down that harsh glow of reminiscences of our last meeting and of his last words said by the true Man and real He-man. I must say them in attempt to free myself of the incessant feeling of the loss. Lost time is never found again.
     Early in the morning of the 18-th of November 1993, Yackov M. Apter went for a ride in his "Mazda". He was expected to meet his voters in the town of Yalta, but the snowdrifts did not let him get through the mountain pass and he had to return to our enterprise. I wasn't reported that the "Mazda" had returned back. In such a weather there was a lot of problems not just on the roads but at the production shops also. So we had a very difficult working shift, a yet the thought if Yackov had managed the pass all the time worried my mind. Cause even the lorries had to turn back.
     And suddenly the door opened and Apter came rushing into my office. He liked to dumbfound me.
     - I am already late, gal, - said he, - so call the driver, right now I am going to the airport, as I must be in Yalta by seventeen o'clock.
     - One can go mad, - I answered him, - why should you tease your fate? Well, you tried and were not able to manage the pass today, why not to put it off until tomorrow?
     - By no means, gal. I have promised to come today.
     Well in accordance with our customs I told Yackov to look at himself in the mirror and to spit over his left shoulder. Then I let him go, praying for Our Lord's blessing on him.
When waiting for his driver Apter cast a casual glance through the window. On noticing that there was no my car behind the window he said:
     - You are absolutely right, gal. Only an idiot will get behind the steering-wheel in such a weather.
     I admitted unexpectedly even for myself:
     - It is not because of the weather simply I am short of gasoline.
     Wonderingly Yackov stared at me and asked:
     - Why did you tell me nothing about it? You know, we support our disabled men and Pyotr is our man. Well, we shall settle this question on Friday, when I come back.
     And with these words he turned and went to the door. Feeling myself at least a hypocrite I uttered with difficulty: "Thank you". Yackov did not expect to hear these words. He stopped and then slowly came to me and stood leaning his elbows onto my stand. For some seconds he seemed concentrating on some point and after that he said:
     - Liudmila, the Nature created human beings for making good things. This property has any of us, but it isn't that everyone is always in a position to avail oneself of it. The routine of everyday life creates too many obstacles. When trying to help you and Pyotr I merely want to give myself a full swing in my attempts to fulfill my program of living. And as you and Pyotr are always so close at hand, it would have been a sin simply to pass by.
     Yackov's eyes got moist and he intently stared at me as if trying to understand if I got the meaning of his words. Then he waved his hand with ease, came once more to the mirror and throwing a glance at himself thrice spat over his shoulder. After that Yackov left my office, flinging as he went: "Liudmila, you are such a slowcoach!"
     I don't know what to say about my being a slowcoach. But such are the facts that when it came to unexpected heartfelt talks I am simply utterly at a loss. Well may be it happens so because I have a late ignition, so to say. In the evening I told Pyotr about my conversation with Yackov. We laughed and rejoiced a little, having no notion that Yackov had been already dead.
     In four hours after he had left my office Yackov Mickhailovich Apter was killed in a road accident on his way to Yalta. His death was a tragedy not only for those who were his friends and relatives, it was a great loss for everybody involved in the sphere of his vivid and creative activity. A month passed, and it became clear for us that our group of enterprises was falling into decay. And through all these nine years I have been tortured with the impossibility to explain to my friend and mentor that I have understood his wisdom, that I am thankful to him for everything he has succeeded to present me with.
     A human being always has a right to choose. It's only our parents that we can't choose, but all the rest is at our disposal. And nevertheless, it would have been on the verge of blasphemy to sit squatting and to separate the ones to whom you are going to say "thank you" from those who do not deserve it. I put aside the sieve of my memory where three more nuggets are left and look at my little sand hill. On trying to concentrate on my reminiscences I say thanks to my memory as it allows me to remember everybody who happened to be in touch with my fate. It makes me glad to see that my sand hill is as large as the Egypt pyramid. God Almighty! What kind of rapture moves into my soul, when it dawns on me that the Fate is not only taking away, that it brings us much more gifts, one has only to take notice and to accept them with dignity.
     I feel myself like embracing what as a matter of fact is immense and unbounded. I would like to look into the eyes of everybody whom I love and remember and to say to them: "Thank you for your coming into our life, thank you for your strength and noble attitude to us. I am thankful to you, because it was not that you just helped Pyotr to pull through, you made him feel needed".
     And these words "to pull through", they have not been written for the sake of pure witticism. When due to a serious illness a man gets in a state of physical immobility, he had better to die at once in our Ukrainian republic. The unhappy man almost immediately finds himself not just a member of the most unprotected social stratum but the very pariah of the society.
     And whatever you would try to pull through you would achieve nothing when being alone. Neither bread nor medicine or money itself, nothing will help you in such a situation. The only thing that can help, it is to know that you are needed, feel that you are participating in processes of life. The family alone is not sufficient in this case, one must have friends and the group of people that will help to proceed with work.
     Maybe someone will find my inference too cruel, but I know that there are people who know that I was too delicate when depicting the state of disabled and physically immobile persons in this State.

Vladimyr Koshin

     Pyotr had already had the testimonial of the first grade of his disablement and in accordance with our laws he was not to work any longer. However he proceeded with his work at our group of enterprises, as the workers and the management had decided that it was up to Pyotr himself to make the conclusion if he should retire or not. This conclusion was not slow in coming. Very soon Pyotr could not even to get to his car of "Zaporojets" not to mention walking to his office.
     He announced to his fellow-workers that he would leave the work beginning with the next day and invited them to a farewell party in the evening of this day. But nobody came to us in the evening. Both Pyotr and I did not practically say a word to each other at that time. Each of us thought about the life, which was to begin with the next morning, and we both knew that it had nothing good in store for us. Probably the same sad thoughts visit the elderly people when they are retiring on a pension. But in the case of the young man who was only 37 years old, of the young man, who knew perfectly well that within less than a year all his life would be confined by very small space, it was a tragedy.
     But on the next morning somebody rang our doorbell and Vladimir Koshin appeared at the threshold.
     He merrily winked at me and not taking off his coat looked into Pyotr's room and growled with the sham crudeness:
     - Are you going to lie in this bed for good? Get up it's time to go to work!
The insomnia tortured Pyotr all night long and he fell asleep just at dawn.
     - Volodya, what are you speaking of? My dear friend, I have no force any longer, I am over and done with.
     - I know nothing about it. You have ten minutes to get up and make yourself ready.
And with these words he took the keys of our garage and went away.
     I do not know why, but I was sure that it was not the night yet and that the time of our terrible "tomorrow" was still only to come. I quickly got Pyotr ready and sat close to him not saying a word.
     So we sat in silence anxiously listening to all the sounds and hoping to hear as soon as possible the sound of our dear "Zaporojets". At last we heard it: the roar of its engine tore the morning peace and it was the impression as if a herd of bulls were sent to the shambles. I did not believe my ears and rushed to the balcony.
     It would have been a pity if I did not tell you what I saw. My beloved "Zaporojets" balked with all its might and main; it jumped and jerked along the road belching and roaring all through neighbourhood. Like a wild mustang it tried to get free of Vladimir. I stood on the balcony looking at that picture with secret pleasure and satisfaction, as it was me alone whom my beloved machine obeyed to without murmur.
     Vladimir did not know that one had to step three times on the treadle before the brakes of our car began working. So when he professionally made the car stop by pressing its right wheels to the border stone beside the entrance of our house his face was both frightened and bewildered.
     On leaving the car Vladimir unsuccessfully tried to calm down. Leaning back on the car and laughing through tears he struck himself in the chest and said that he had never experienced anything of such a kind. On that I maliciously explained to him that he himself had got it coming.
     Though nervy this merriment was just what was necessary at that time. All of us realized that Vladimir had made the choice which was to be made by us, and had proposed his solution of the critical situation and that was a serious thing but not a job for one day
     As soon as he got acquainted with my means of transportation, all the assumed gayety of Vladimir disappeared and further development of the complex psychological situation went more or less smoothly.
     The too thickset men looked at each other, trying to find out by what means they would be able to deliver Pyotr to "Zaporojets".
     - Fellows, did you ever go to the kindergarten? - I asked them. - There is one way to do it, it is like in a game when you go for a ride on the back of your friend. Vladimir was quick to catch, he squatted before Pyotr letting at his disposal his own strong shoulders and neck. A long pause that followed this action erased the last vestige of jocosity. One could see the conflict taking place within Pyotr's soul: he couldn't let himself be carried in somebody's arms; and because of his emotional state he couldn't even raise his hands to say nothing of getting firm hold by the friend's shoulders.
     Were it not for Vladimir's insistent nature Pyotr would sure have given up this idea and stayed in. In this case our life would have gone along the very worst scenario.
But Vladimir wasn't going to spend time on blah of any kind. Taking Pyotr's arms he wound them around his own neck and said rather roughly:
     - You see, I am in a hurry, at seven o'clock the distaff will be waiting for my instructions and you are lingering here! - Then he added some more words, speaking more calmly and seriously. - Pete, to decide what you can and what you cannot it's not up to you any longer. You had better hold yourself and make it fast.
     And with these words he carefully heaved Pyotr on his shoulders and cautiously carried him to the car. In my emotional state I could only mumble some rambling threats:
     - God save you from dropping him down or I shall kill you! Just you get his arms or legs broken and I'II kill you! In the evening you are to hand him over to me safe and sound or I really shall turn you into shambles!
     Vladimir's question gagged the waterfall of my threats.
     - You had better tell me what have you done to the fulcrum of the steering gear?
     - And what can happen to it? - such was my answer. - It's okay now. I have inserted a wooden chip into the clamp, it holds fast.
     Suddenly Vladimir stopped as if he were stumbling and turned to me. Four eyes of the two engineers were scrutinizing me.
     When it dawned on them that I was not joking at all, they unanimously whispered with fear, asking if I really was so silly as to have inserted a wooden chip into the fulcrum clamp?
     - Boys, there is nothing to be worried of, - I tried to calm down them, - the chip is of teak wood, it will not crush.
     Vladimir seemed to have already no force to laugh till he cries and yet he managed it once more.
     - Pete, - he asked through tears, - how are you? Are you alive?
     - Yes, my dear friend, I am for the time being.
     And with this the two friends left the house and I ran after them in order to show them the place I had inserted the chip in and to prove that it was quite safe in handling.
Vladimir with care lowered Pyotr onto the seat beside the driver's and told me to open the hood of the luggage compartment. One can hardly describe the picture that appeared before Vladimir's eyes. An accumulator with the discharge capacity 132 ampere-hour occupied the most part of the boot. And among the sundries always filling such boots there was my wooden chip that proudly stuck up from the clearance in the clamp.
     Vladimir sensibly decided not to scare Pyotr and at the same time he couldn't help laughing. At last he waved his hand, closed the hood and sat beside his friend, capable to ask him only one question:
     - Did you take this accumulator out of the tank?
     - Volodia, but what place did she put this chip in? - For God's sake, spare my soul, Pete, or we shall never be able to get to the place. She put it to where it is needed. When we come to the plant I shall show you and you'll say: "I'll be damned!"
     In such a merry mood the two friends and hefty fellows, with whose presence my baby-car looked even smaller, started the engine and in no haste went to our plant.
     And having sent our children off to the school I went to my bed and quietly fell asleep knowing perfectly well that both my Pyotr and my "Zaporojets" are in attentive and reliable hands. I felt as if I were unloading the bricks during the whole night.
     At that time I wasn't aware that Pyotr's fellow-workers had had a mechanical loader prepared for him at the entrance of the shop. I wasn't aware that his office had been decorated anew and was within a week connected to all the systems of communication, so that Pyotr's life would be more interesting and full.
     Where can I find any proper words of gratitude since within four years Vladimir Koshin day after day was regularly taking Pyotr to work in the morning and delivering him home in the evening? And rather often they passed by our home, going sometimes on busyness trip, sometimes to their men's entertainments.
     Vladimir and his family were not just our friends; they have become a part of our family. And whatever the fate has in store for us we do not lose each other, we are together

Vladimir Shoomack

    Birds of a feather flock together and when it comes to the hunting, it is such a strong passion that even the threat of divorce won't be of any help in this case.
One can see a hunter from a long distance. When a man has nearly lost his footings and when a rucksack and a double barreled gun with the barrels down are dangling on his shoulders, there is no doubt: it is a hunter. And besides if he has a hunting-dog that, deadly tired though it is, is pulling with its end of the lead its master home, no woman in the world should marry such a man.
     Cause this man is not merely a hunter he is the confirmed one. The passion of these fellows is bordering upon madness and whatever obstacles you would try to invent, all the same you will have to surrender and to put up with the life of the hunter's wife. No kind of reformation will improve those fellows and even the most candid of them will think up a lot of loop-holes and will run away to their hunting.
     And having got into the reanimation ward, being within a hairbreadth of death the confirmed hunter even there will count on his fingers how many days or months are left till the hunting season and if he has enough time to get out of the ward.
     Such is the treasure the fate has endowed me with. I meekly accepted Pyotr's way of life, realizing quite well that any argumentation would yield nothing, that it would be better to give in.
     On one Sunday evening in winter Pyotr happened to be five hours late from hunting.      The day was declining and the weather was wonderfully fine. The fluffy flakes of snow were dancing in the air, they lingered on the branches of trees and fell on the ground.
     The Gods seldom treat citizens of Kerch to such fairytale. The fact is that the two seas govern the weather in our region, and the snow here is either quickly washed away by the rain or swept away by the wind.
     My two-year-old son Vassilyok was not sleeping, he sat by the window and watched with joy the flight of the snow-flakes.
     I said:
     - Sonny, there are no things worse than to wait for somebody and to catch up with somebody. So let us go and meet daddy.
     So I put my son into the toboggan and we leisurely went to the small square, which would serve as a meeting place for our hunters.
     The sane and sensible people were leaving cinemas after the last house of the day, groups of youngsters went for a stroll after dancing and solely Vassilyok and I were waiting for our hunter. Suddenly there appeared a lorry with a tarpaulin cover, it stopped on the square and it became clear for us that it was the automobile with the hunters we have been waiting for.
     Joking and laughing the hunters speedily got out of the lorry. They helped each other to get down and they bade farewell with such passion as if they were departing forever. I saw my husband in this mob. As I demanded the strict maintenance of our home discipline I proudly thought that Pyotr would be afraid to come to us in fear to get it hot. But though he had got drunk up to his ears he approached us with a wide and bold smile. It appeared that the lorry had got stuck in the snow and all the way home the fellows had to warm up themselves with booze. Was there any sense to scold him?
     I made Pyotr sit down into the toboggan and hung on him up his rucksack. After that I crammed in my son between Pyotr's knees and told him to hold the bandolier. All I had to do now, it was to sling Pyotr's shot-gun over my shoulder and to get my men home not letting my peaceful state of mind leave me.
     The snow went on falling and that was pacifying too. In spite of the late hour the people were not in a hurry to get home. I with pleasure carried home all my belongings and my treasure was trying to sing an old romance: "Don't go away, stay with me".
When passing a bus stop I felt myself the object of public attention. Turning back I saw a large cluster of men who watched in bewilderment our pageant.
     And suddenly somebody cried out:
     - Liudmila, what place are you going from?
     - Oh but I am carrying my Pete after his hunting! - I said it quite matter-of-factly.
     A second had not yet passed and everybody at the bus stop burst out laughing. Having not seen the reason for that laughter I turned to look at my men. Nobody was lost both my husband and my son were sitting in the toboggan and smiling happily. What was there to laugh at?
     But then it dawned on me that I had had on an elegant white fur-coat made of llama fur, and a refined hat that lacked only a veil; that a little muff had nestled to my breast and a shot-gun slung over my shoulder. And after I fancied myself having been dressed in all this and pulling the toboggan with my people, I burst out laughing and could not stop until I began to hiccough. With this laughter went away the last traces of my anger.
     On the next day having returned home from his work my treasure asked me, if it was really so that I had carried him home in the toboggan.
     - No, it wasn't, - I answered him, - I had carried you in my arms.
     - And was it true that I had sung some romance?
     - No, my dear, you yelled on the top of your voice as if you had gone crazy.
It seemed that when at work Pyotr had been given a more picturesque version of our night trip.
     - Forgive me, Mother, I do not remember anything. And I know no romances, - Ryotr confessed.
     - Pete, dear, after the fifth little wine-glass I myself begin speaking English. So calm down, everything was all right.
     I loved Pyotr and that was why I accepted his way of life without any objection and was not sorry for that afterwards. I have understood that a true hunter is the man, who both earns the living and protects home, the man whose soul will never grow old; it is such a man who will always be a romantic. There exists an opinion that in our practical world there is no place left for romantics but that is not true. Einstein would have never been the great Einstein had not he been a romantic in his heart.
      The confirmed hunters form that strong and amicable fraternity of romantics which is reliable and always ready to offer a helping hand. The members of this fraternity have sensing souls, and they at a glance understand each other
     Pyotr's case serves as a convincing confirmation of this statement. The time came when he could not even dream of hunting. The illness deprived of strength his legs but Pyotr's arms were still strong.
     August was drawing near and a hunting season with it. I daresay the opening day for a hunter is perhaps more important than the wedding day of his own son. And really only those poor fellows who were lying in a reanimation ward could miss this jubilant day.
Pyotr realized quite well that for him the hunting was over. But the nearer was the opening day, the more anxious became Pyotr. Our children and I were trying not to take notice of his strain and not to touch the topic of hunting.
     Several days before the opening day individual hunters as well as the whole groups of them began to ring up to Pyotr and to invite him to open the hunting season together with them. Pyotr had no forces to explain to them the real state of things, he tried to come back with a joke saying that it was me to blame for everything as if it were me alone who did not let him to go to the hunt.
     In order to persuade me Pyotr's buddies began to persecute me by day and night until I couldn't stand it any more.
     - Fellows, - I said, - what are you speaking of? He can not even walk to say nothing of hunting. Do not torment Pyotr, leave him at peace and give him time to get accustomed to his state!
     Naturally Pyotr's buddies had no notion that for Pyotr even a month was a large and taking away forces stretch of time; that within the eight months that had passed since his last hunting season there was a lot of alterations in his health and all of them were not to the best. We never made it known that Pyotr was seriously ill we were only saying that something wrong was with his legs.
     The fellows were dumbfounded with this news. Vladimir Shoomack looked intently at me and by expression of his eyes I could see that some ideas were generating in his head.
     I told him:
     -Volodia, take it easy, there is no any other alternative, I myself am racking my brains with it,
     - I know nothing about getting accustomed, - Vladimir answered me, - but by the evening Kyrreyev ought to be in full readiness. We shall hunt at sunset and at dawn with passing the night outdoors.
     - With great pleasure!
     That was my reply to this unexpected friendly proposal. The life, the interesting and full-fledged life was still going on in spite of all the circumstances.
When my work was over and I came home I found Pyotr out. The shot-gun the rucksack and all the other his hunting utensils were absent too. The children and I were happy that Pyotr went to hunt; so we make up a kind of convivial supper before our TV-set. And later our happiness received an unexpected additional development.
     At three o'clock in the morning somebody rang at our door. I opened the door. The hunters that worked at the road transport firm were standing on the threshold.
     Trying to speak in as low voice as possible the fellows intended to squeeze into Pyotr's room. I myself still not quite awake looked at this picture with inner complacency.
     - Boys, -I said at last, - don't waste your time or you will be late for the hunt at dawn.      Your friend has already had the sunset hunt and soon he will begin his morning session.
     In the whole the boys seemed not especially surprised. They unanimously said good bye to me and hurried one after another to meet coming morning and to open their hunting season. And the age of this boys was close to fifty years and even more
One can hardly describe that miraculous metamorphosis that takes place in their souls with beginning of every hunting season. Children's pranks and raptures of the youth were awakening in the souls of these "boys" and on rushing recklessly to that hunt of theirs they forgot about the lumbago, the hypertension and all the rest illnesses that plague them the whole year round. The "boys" are eager to feel their unity with the nature, to meet their friends to experience new adventures. Having returned home they bring with themselves their rapture and all the kinds of cock and bull stories about their adventures and victories.
     Even if a hunter returns home "empty", i.e. with no game at all, all the same, he brings home his rapture and joy. Those were the blessed experiences, still donated to my Pyotr for several following hunting seasons.
     I never argued with his friends, their merry state of mind infected me and I only threatened repeating incoherently:
     - God save you from dropping him down or I shall kill you! If he gets wet and catches chill, I shall kill you once again. And if, God save us, you somehow lose my Kyrreyev, then I shall kill you for sure.
     My threats seemed more pleasant for them than my words of thanks. What could I do if in this case the expression "Thank you" would have looked miserable and irrelevant.
There exist no words to express my gratitude to the fellows that did not leave Pyotr alone face to face with his misfortune. The game did not matter in this case, each of us knew that when being with his friends Pyotr might not feel a disabled man.
     Whatever was the weather I gladly let Pyotr go to hunting. I knew that time would come and the hunt forever would not be his lot any longer.
     I happened to see and to experience much during these hunting seasons, every of which was an epic, and I hardly could be surprised with anything. Yet one case had astounded me.
     When Pyotr's friends were about to hunt in the swamps they decided to take him with them. Everything was more or less settled and clear, when they took Pyotr to hunt from a boat or a motorboat in the lagoon and when they were hunting in the field or in the forest. But I failed to fancy how they would hunt in swamps when Pyotr was with them.
     - My dear friends, - I asked them, - would you mind explaining to silly me in what way Pyotr will be moving, sitting and hunting in the rush? He can easily bog in the mire or get lost in the rush. Or, and that is worse, some trigger-happy shooter will get him by evil chance.
     Vladimir Shoomack looked at me with his smiling and sly eyes and said.
     - Do not worry, Mom, everything is taken care of.
     I took in at a glance Vladimir, whose height was close to two meters, and my Pyotr, who was just a bit lower, and waved my hand, saying:
     - Do whatever you find necessary. You are clever fellows, so it's up to you to decide.
And just in several years I happened to find out in what way this heroes had managed that hunt in the swamps.
     The driver of our messenger car, a silent sexagenarian Vassily, who never speaks more than two words running, but who gets utterly talkative as soon as he begins his narration about his army service or about his hunt, told me this story.
     So, one day when he was hunting in the rush Vassily had set afloat his wooden snide ducks that were to attract the live ones and dosed a bit awaiting the dawn. He woke up with a start because some hefty fellow was moving right in his direction. Moving aside the reeds that fellow pulled after him an inflatable boat and there was another hefty fellow who sat in the boat and held two shot-guns. Vassily decided at first that he had dreamt the picture. Than he realized that he wasn't sleeping that all that was simply a kind of senile hallucination and that meant only one thing, that he was getting too old.
     But the fellow, who was pulling the boat, calmed down Vassily.
     - Don't be scared, old boy, - said he. - It is just a new style of hunting.
     - And why the second feller has the two guns and is sitting in the boat? - Vassily asked.
     - But he shoots best and as to the boat, to move in this way is more convenient and we can have bigger game.
     As almost all the hunters Vassily was an excellent story-teller, and being warmed up by the sincere attention of the listeners and by the wish to make his own deeds more vivid, that time he was at his best. The group of drivers that had gathered around him was laughing most heartily. By God this narration was worth publishing.
     The drivers were laughing, but I was not at ease at all. Now I knew, who were the heroes of this story, I was clear for me, that Vladimir Shoomack had thought up this trick with the boat so that my Pyotr could have one more opportunity to hunt. It is difficult to imagine how much forces one must spend pulling rubber boat through the rush. And just a confirmed hunter is given the capacity to appreciate the kind of stamina one must have in order to give up the sure shoot to his friend when the game is flying up right over one's head. Vladimir knew that Pyotr had no time left for hunting, but he himself was strong and healthy and all his hunts still are waiting for him.
     And what impressed me most of all was the fact that Vladimir was simply a worker without any high brow aspirations and pretensions to have them. He looked a silent man lacking amiability and not quick to make friends. And all the more it is wonderful, how much kindness, moral strength and generosity were given to this fellow.
     It may be that only his wife, his modest and always amicable Tanya knows best of all what she loves her husband for.
     Ten years have already passed since the days of that wonderful hunting season. And every time I come across this man I would like to tell him not mere words of gratitude but to express my deep respect for his moral force for his kindness and genuine nobility that is always in great demand. But during our chance and short meetings all that I manage to tell him are the next words:
     - You have only one week to visit Pyotr. If you do not come, I shall kill you!
And as it was ten years the looks of Vladimir's eyes once again became softer and they begin to radiate joy.
     But sure thing, Mom, - our friend is promising, - I am sure to come.
But he seldom visits our home. Every of us is over head and ears in his own troubles and misfortunes... .
     So, dear girls, if you see before you a fellow which has nearly lost his footings and has a rucksack and a shotgun dangling on his shoulders be sure: it is a hunter. And what's more, if this fellow has a hunting dog that, tired though it is, is pulling with it's end of the lead it's master home, marry this fellow and you will make no mistakes.
     Of course your future life will not seem to you a paradise, but may be it is even for the best. Because the life in the paradise is too boring and dangerous thing.

Vladimir Gubarev

    It was not difficult for me to tell a story about two first Vladimirs, but when it comes to Vladimir Gubarev, no short story comes out well, one must write a novel. I do not remember when and how he came into our life, it seems to me that was always with us. The Nature lavishly endowed this handsome man with brains, with an intrepid and generous soul and with deep understanding of people. All this noble traits of character were in full present in our friend. If there still exists some notion about the image of the Russian warrior - that is how our Vladimir looks like. If the famous Russian Levsha, the man who shod the flea, is really living, once again it is our Vladimir. I daresay that it was he, who has given me the opportunity to realize that everything one has to be in contact with must belong to Art, even when it comes to one's own destiny.
     The fate is ruthless practically to any of us today. Vladimir went to Siberia neither in a search of silver mists nor for the sake of romanticism; no he went there in his search of work. Soon the time came and his family joined him there. When I come to think that now they are far away in Siberia, that I can't any longer drop in at their place and share with them my joy and my sorrow, bitter sadness envelopes my soul. When their summer vacation is over, every time I see my friends to the railway station an involuntary alarm squeezes my heart: may it be so that it is our last meeting? We are too far from each other, the fate has scattered us too far away, on such a distance one can't hold out one's hand or offer a shoulder. We love and remember them and it is the only thing that brings us some consolation… .

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