My Fellow-Traveller

by Maxim Gorky

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Chapter III

Soon we had left Perekop behind us. We were approaching the Crimean mountains. For the last two days we bad seen them against the horizon. The mountains were pale blue, and looked like soft heaps of billowy clouds. I admired them in the distance, and I dreamed of the southern shore of the Crimea. The prince hummed his Georgian songs and was gloomy. We had spent all our money, and there was no chance of earning anything in these parts.

We bent our steps toward Feodosia, where a new harbor was in course of construction. The prince said that he would work, too, and that when we had earned enough money we would take a boat together to Batoum.

In Batoum, he said, he had many friends, and with their assistance he could easily get me a situation—as a house-porter or a watchman. He clapped me patronizingly on the back, and remarked, indulgently, with a peculiar click of his tongue:

"I'll arrange it for you! You shall have such a life tse', tse'! You will have plenty of wine, there will be as much mutton as you can eat. You can marry a fat Georgian girl; tse', tse', tse'! She will cook you Georgian dishes; give you children—many, many children! tse', tse', tse'!"

This constant repetition of "tse', tse', tse'!" surprised me at first; then it began to irritate me, and, at last, it reduced me to a melancholy frenzy. In Russia we use this sound to call pigs, but in the Caucasus it seems to be an expression of delight and of regret, of pleasure and of sadness.

Shakro's smart suit already began to look shabby; his elegant boots had split in many places. His cane and hat had been sold in Kherson. To replace the hat he had bought an old uniform cap of a railway clerk. When he put this cap on for the first time, he cocked it on one side of his head, and asked: "Does it suit me? Do I look nice?"


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