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Russian River

ISSUE:  Summer 1932

A s we sailed east almost into the shadow of the Urals, the Revolution shrank smaller, farther, unreal away. Even in my sleep in Leningrad its beat, bursting the old world, was in my ears and I had waked each morning to its thunderous music. Now, while we stopped at village after village, there were whole hours when I forgot the Revolution, when I knew only Russia. For if the migrating muzhik was a sign of Russia’s deepest move—the proletari-anizing of the farm — as yet the hearts of these men and women knew no Revolution, despite the destiny of their bodies.

We stopped at villages in the Mari region and the Chuvash Republic: a Finnish folk, kin to Hun and Turk, stormed the lower deck. We came to the autonomous republic of the Tatars. Here the slant eyes of the Mongol plain beyond Siberia stared at me, as I wandered up the village street. The left bank had been growing steadily more arid and more flat. Now, it was steppe: the true half-desert sweep of Asia was upon us, was even leaping the Volga into Europe. On the right bank, the villages in their hilly contours had recalled hamlets of Hungary and Bohemia: true outposts of Central Europe despite the differing details of their broad crude izbas, and of their alien churches (the church of a Catholic village is harmonious with its houses). Now, the villages stood bleak and dry. The mellow wooden izba turned into gaunt stone. Camels were hitched to Russian carts. Women still wore felt boots like their Slav sisters; but they swathed black shawls about their bodies like their sisters of Islam, and their eyes slanted toward China.

Russia’s Volkerchaos! At Kazan, the Tatar capital, I plunged within it. Chaos is Russia’s body — a body that centuries have not aged, even as untilled soil does not age. And order out of chaos is Russia’s will—a will young as the Revolution, heroic and tragic as revolution. I met them both—body and will—at Kazan.

On the horizon is a tower that was once the mosque of the Khan Sunbeka; and is the Kremlin wall built by Ivan the Terrible when he captured Kazan and made it Christian. Long before the Tatars, the Bulgars were here; first they were pagan, then Islam won them. And although they have left no minarets like the Tatars, I felt them also—their southern sultriness meeting the Mongol calm and the Muscovite passion, in that thick fever of moods which is the air of Kazan.

Up and down the Volga for a thousand years, the races have swirled in battle as tortuous as the course of the great river. Turanian, Slav, Semite, Iranian, Mongol, Slav again. . . . They came down from the Baltic into Muscovy and into the Caspian: they came up from Persia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, into Muscovy, into the Baltic; they came from the Tatar east, they came from the west Danube. And always they came by the Volga: on the Volga they fought, advanced, retreated: on the Volga they lived. The Volgaland, which has seen a thousand invasions—where only yesterday the White Czecho-slovaks held Kazan and where Kolchak raged—is the symbol of Russia’s chaos. It has no boundaries, it is open to all four winds. Therefore it has remained a chaos. Its muzhiks rooted only as trees take root: in their humanity they are unorganized and chaotic. Its townfolk —Nizhni-Novgorod, Simbirsk, Samara, Saratov, Tsaritzin —settled only in terms of their dingy daily life: culturally, they remained unformed, remained in a stratified chaos of which their cities, disordered and set, are the symbol.

Every group of men, however vital, to become creative must be cross-fertilized by some outside group. There is no parthenogenesis in the biology of human culture. But none of the outside cultural forces which in the past swept the Russian plain was strong enough to bring this organic human order to the Slav’s slumberous chaos. Not Islam, whose fecundity waned as it spread north. Not Byzance, although it studded the Russian lands with cupolas, littered it with ikons, stifled it with priests. Not the Gothic that pressed in from Sweden with Rurik and from Germany with the Romanovs. Not the liberalism of France and England, despite Catherine and Peter. Now, the Communist Revolution has come in—intricate synthesis in its Russian form of all of these. It has something of Islam, something of the Greek Church, something of Gothic mysticism, of German romanticism, of the rationalism of France, of the mechanolatry of England. It is a world-force, the first to take root and form in Russia: the first that may spring — if the world-climate ripens for it—from Russian seed and soil into world-flower.

Of Russia’s past formlessness in culture, the Volga that winds from the Baltic to the Caspian, between two continents, is the perfect symbol. And it is the perfect scene (Lenin was born on the Volga) of the struggle of the inchoate land to grow culturally ordered. On the Volga rise heroic factories of the Five-year Plan—from Nizhni-Novgorod to Stalingrad. On the Volga I am watching the even more historic movement of the muzhik from his individualistic farm to the proletarian collective.

Tatar Kazan is the Volga’s heart. As I stand on its first street where it meets the river that joins it to all the Union, I have within my eyes the crude drama of Russia’s revolutionary will from confusion into order. The street is unpaved and the mud is thick. But there is a track: here a string of freight-cars, there a tiny trolley that will carry us (if it does not break down) to Kazan centre. The houses, wood and brick, are a disjointed gallery of booths, co-operatives, longshoremen’s quarters, soviet offices. They face every way in the mud; behind them is swamp and all about them a huge human swarming.

Here are huge Tatars with Mongol eyes and Russian beards, wearing the turban of Islam. Jews, reeking with prayer, who have lost their trade and whose children have disowned them. Communist youth with pale faces and ruthless lips, making plans en place for the reorganization of the harbor. Women mechanics in black uniforms, who have left their children in the state school twenty versts up the river and visit them every sixth day—the Russian “Sunday.” A gang of convicts, double-file, in dirty yellow, move down the street to their barracks. They have been laying tracks. No guard walks with them. Many of them are lads who once roamed the countryside in packs, slashing and stealing—the dreaded bezprizornii, waifs of Revolution. Communism has reclaimed them, and set them at work on their honor. They pass a single file of workers waiting in line at a co-operative for bread. They pass a crowd circled about a gipsy—a huge black fellow with flaming mustachios who at the instant is swallowing a sword. They move slower, so as to see the curved blade sink into the man’s throat and be drawn out, clean and bloodless. They swing along past a wide wood structure on whose porch a score of children play with blocks and dolls. Many of these are almost too large to be called children: all of them play dully and look with idiot eyes at their white-aproned nurses.

The convicts at last reach a pier where a throng of muzhiks with bundles on their backs are trying to clamber over a Ford that blocks the gangway to the boat. The car is jammed, the score of sailors helplessly shove at it. But the muzhiks do not realize that the boat cannot leave until the car is on board: they fight with the sailors, they swarm over the Ford, fouling its upholstery, scratching its varnish. A mass of timber is strewn disordered in the mud. It has come from the Siberian forests, and is destined for the Soviet House that rises, half-finished (its lower floor in use, its upper ones still skeletal) across the street from the boat. A man in puttees and a black blouse sights the gang of convicts from his office window, rushes out, and speaks to the first pair. A few words are exchanged; then the thirty boys in prison yellow fall to and pile the lumber in neat rows before the unfinished building. The black-bloused man has not waited to supervise them; he has left for his dinner. No one thanks the convicts; they fall in line and proceed to their own meal.

Across the river lies a cloud steel-black with storm, and huge on the horizon. The sun, long hidden, suddenly burns through it. The cloud is gashed with blood. A day half iron and half flame pours upon Kazan. Russia’s chaos and Russia’s will for order take on the day’s colors.


The boat was getting to be more and more crowded. It was a graceful vessel, once the pride of the Tsar’s river service. Its long hull had the trim lines in which even the heaviest barge we passed was not wholly lacking. The saloon and music rooms were fitted in summery birch with cool panels and high ceilings. On the central hall, a number of cabins opened; this was the “soft” part of the steamer and was filled by army officers, skilled mechanics, GPU men and a miscellany of women with their children. The “hard” passengers soon overflowed the under decks, the hold, all available dark corners. Muzhik women began to camp on the companion-way; when I went down to the galley to get hot water, I had to step with care across the children. From the companion-way they spread to the main hall, to the upper deck, to the music room. Outside my cabin, a quiet mother disposed her three babies in a rug: I felt ashamed of my bed, as I heard them breathe and stir at night. The whole ship was soon overwhelmed by the “hard” travelling peasants. We rode low and slow in the yellow water, losing time as we proceeded.

The Raskolnikov was becoming an epitome of the Union.

Every class was here of this new world aiming toward class-lessness: the new aristocrat, a young Communist laborer travelling “soft” on a vacation to Astrakhan and points south; the new bourzhui, a Soviet inspector bound for Saratov; the soldier, the mechanic, the proletarianized peasant, the unregenerate muzhik. Even the Russian navy was represented, by a pilot from the Baltic—a young blonde husky with thick lips and stony eyes. He carried his own eggs, meat, caviar, and vodka. His rosy cheeks grew flushed, and remained so. At first he sat at table with a man whom I spotted as GPU, a stout fellow with clever sensitive eyes and a weak mouth. Then a woman joined them. She gave her little girl into the care of Hyena (who had so much to do that one more task was nothing), and herself to the delight of being courted. She was a heavy woman whose full rondures bespoke a feline nature. She was dressed in a long black skirt, for she had learned that skirts were lengthening in Paris. Her jacket was too small for her bosom and without relation to her skirt. She had small soft hands and large feet. She laughed and drank with her two men all day, and worked assiduously on the problem of whom she should sleep with at night. Abruptly, she chose the GPU man, — perhaps symbolically, since the GPU is indeed more powerful than all the other forces of the Union. Any woman of her type, in Europe, would have deferred her choice, or at least kept it secret until the end of the journey. But flirtatiousness and the deliberate sexual game are rare in Russia. These two men wanted her body, and her body wanted a man. She made her choice as honestly and swiftly as she could. The disdained pilot exhausted his vodka. His dull eyes glowered with angry fire, as he rolled up and down the deck, hunting another woman.

Then the ship’s food gave out. Hyena, moist and weary but still smiling, told us that there was plenty of water for our tea; and we could get caviar and apples. Also, there was kasha—a delicious buckwheat gruel, but without butter or milk to soften it, and plenty of coarse black bread. My stomach is more conservative than either my mind or my emotions. It refused persistently to digest that bread, despite my fruitful analogues between its flavor and the flavor of Russian life. I settled down to a regime of caviar and tea; and I did not like it.

Caviar for breakfast is not so good; and caviar that has grown warm and rancid is a nuisance. We had to pay for all our food, of course; and the price of those half-rotten sturgeon eggs on the Volga was even more exorbitant than of the same dainty, properly iced, at the Crillon. Yet I saved money—in the long run. For I am sick of caviar; I shall never buy caviar again.

One evening, after we had left Samara, a crowd of us were in the music room. The GPU man shouted revolutionary songs, while his lady at the piano turned her lush body toward him. A huge man with the head of a horse sang old folk songs. I had talked with him, and noted in him the typical Russian peasant paradox of intellectual dullness and exquisite finesse. Where could not this sensibility of nerves lead his coarse body? To what vistas could it not incite his mind? He had become a city man, a Communist metal worker. And he sang the plaints of his muzhik forebears in a voice warm, clear, gentle as twilight on the summer steppe. The music of the Revolution, I learned, was the old folk music. Only its pace had been quickened, its contours hardened and crowded to sharper intervals, its rhythms edged from curve to angle.

Here was the deepest proof—music and folk dance do not lie—that the Communist Revolution is Russian. A natural process is crystallizing the chaos of the land into a world of time and factories and factory farms. Yet deep in the song which the Red Army shouts as it inarches through the industrial city is the voice of the muzhik. Uttering the new song is the old tongue; thinking it, is the ancestral muzhik head.

A feeling of strangeness gradually won me, and I went out on deck. The night was humid. The shore was a darker black within the darkness. On shore was a light, and it was not moving! Yet our engine throbbed at its customary pace. What could that mean? I leaned overboard. The shore light was not moving, because we were not moving. The racing engine told the story: we were grounded!

I returned to the music room and whispered my news to the GPU man. He smiled at me. Every Russian in that room had known for a couple of hours what I had just discovered.

“What are we going to do?” I asked the navy pilot.

The folly of my question made him forget his troubles.

“What indeed?” he laughed. “We will drink vodka, we will go to bed, we will even go to sleep—since we must go to bed alone! We will awake.”

The entire ship was aware we were grounded. Ordy I, the American, was in the least concerned. After all, to be stuck in the Volga sands is important only for him who lives by the watch, who wants regular meals at regular hours—important only for us barbarians of the machine. I felt acutely the limitations of my western training. Here we are grounded. Some time or another, a boat will come along and push us free. There is at least a month before the Volga freezes. Meanwhile, a pause has come upon us: a warm pause in which women and men come close, singing, drinking, sleeping. Only I am moved—by a habit—to leap from this pause, to deny its richness.

That night a great peace fell upon the boat. We were lifted out of time; we were poised sweetly in an essential moment that was neither space nor time. As on the pier of Nizhni-Novgorod with the waiting muzhiks, I tasted the substance of a people. Men and women sat motionless on deck, children slumbered, couples moved close together in the shadows, song drifted down the river, and the mild waves resounded music. Slowly, sweetly, fertilely, we swung in the equipoise of life . . . together. And I knew in that moment the essential health of what was happening in Russia. A fresh spirit was born, and was whole. Time might twist it, inadequate ideas might destroy it, the outer world might choke it. Now, this life is healthy, as a babe is healthy.

In the dawn two tug boats reached us from Samara. Silently, they nosed into our flank and pushed us to deep water.

It occurred to me that I had never seen the Captain. Surely the boat—even in the proletarian dictatorship—must have a captain! In the pilot room, there were always a couple of sailors in blouses, smoking, chatting, perhaps occasionally steering. Were they and Hyena—who was maitre d’hotel, cabin and dining steward, purser, nurse—the ship’s whole crew? Carol said:

“I’ve found the Captain’s wife, so there must be a Captain.”

She was a little woman with motherly eyes. I had noticed her as she spoke soothingly to the peasants, or held a babe. Always, when I passed her, she had smiled at me. Now, I realized it had been the smile of a hostess at a party rather too large for personal introductions (which are not “done” anyhow in the Soviet Union). She smiled still more broadly at Carol’s question.

“Oh, yes,” she said, “there is a Captain.”

“Is he on board?”

“Oh, yes, he is on board. You have probably seen him. He does not wear his uniform. You see, the ship is very crowded, and the food is very scarce. The Captain is afraid —if he wore his uniform—the peasants might find him and throw him into the water.”


Had I stayed in Russia long enough I should have learned the language as a child learns its mother tongue: directly by ear without benefit of the reading eye. I could already understand many spoken words with the atmospheric aid of the speaker’s mood and inflection. But my poor tongue could not repeat these words. I was like a babe apprehending dimly a fragment of what is said and not yet ready to speak. Synchronously, I was like a boy of six just learning his letters. Every printed sign I automatically spelled to myself and then spoke aloud—eagerly awaiting Carol’s approval of my pronunciation. On the river, my one chance to spell was given by the boats that constantly passed us; every boat had its name in decorative letters on the box of its side wheel or under its stern. We were approaching Saratov. A rakish steamer swept up the river. It was painted white, with red-shuttered cabins and brass rails, and a smartly tilted stack. I found:

“Zh-o-n R-i-d,” I spelled aloud. “What does that mean, Carol?” “John Reed,” she said.

We are ready to land, having paid and embraced Hyena. A “hard” traveller, who is landing also and who has bunked in the dining saloon, stands at our side, our bags and blankets strapped to his giant shoulders. He is a proletarianized muzhik, bound for a factory in Saratov. He nods when Carol names John Reed. He knows him. I also knew him. And I see him again, the year 1917, the place New York. He is a big boy, although he would be dwarfed beside this peasant. His cheeks are bland, his eyes have an almost girlish candor which the mouth belies, thin and resolute. There has been a meeting in the Bronx against President Wilson’s draft law. Emma Goldman has spoken. We pour into the street, singing the International. The police advance on us, and we scatter like sheep, our song shredding and fading. Jack stands with me under the Third Avenue “L.” He is furious and contemptuous.

“They’re afraid of the policemen’s club,” he says. “Some day they’ll get hit in spite of themselves. Then they’ll learn it don’t hurt so much. Then we’ll be ready for the Revolution.” Troubadour Jack Reed, seeking his distant princess the world over—Mexico, Serbia, Russia: his loved lady Revolution. I had a feeling half of contempt for Jack in 1917. We had argued, and I did not admire his logic. He had sent stories to the magazine I edited, and I did not too greatly admire his stories. I loved the playboy, the troubadour. Reed seemed to me a seeker of romance: he seemed to me unreal, both in his values and his methods. But he had gone to Russia, worked with Lenin, helped in the October Revolution. Was that real? He had died for the Revolution. His tomb stood under the Kremlin wall in Moscow. Yes: he had been real enough in 1917. Quite as real as the philosophic radical who argued with him. He had been so real that he is a legend and a hero six thousand miles from his home. So real that Russian boats are called for him; that muzhiks nod at his name. So real that he has become a symbol. To the Soviet Union he is the symbol of American good will—the real America of brotherhood beneath the dismal claque of Business, And who shall say this America is not real? To me also Jack Reed at last is real, because to me also he is a symbol. Through him, I poignantly know that this Russian scene is bound to my own life. I am at home in Russia, as much at home as I was in 1917 under the Bronx “L.” Russia has become a theatre of the spirit: a place where human will, human values, are incarnate. It no longer seems strange that an illiterate peasant on the Volga in 1932 should know John Reed of Harvard, Like Reed himself, Russia with its chaos and its tragic search for human wholeness is a symbol. A symbol in flesh and blood, a symbol so profound that all the vast Russian lands from Minsk to the Pacific are insignificant within it. It is a symbol so immediate to my modern mind that in this town on the Volga, where I and my blood have never been, I feel at home.


Saratov made me think of Chekhov. The town is stagnant. When there is wind only the dust blows, and when there is rain there is only the mud. The wide residential streets are sodden and sad. Behind their wood fences, the houses rot with shutters drawn. But if you come close, you will find doors gently carved, windows with fair tooling, in the rank weed of the garden a lyric fountain. Saratov is like an ancient cherry orchard whose moldering trees still glow with blossoms.

Chekhov is an alien artist in the Soviet Union. His souls floundering in the social swamps of the late Tsars have been swept away by the revolutionary current; and in the main streets of Saratov, the Leninskaya and the Nikolskaya, I feel the pulsant rising of a life that will destroy Chekhovian Saratov—and all the similar towns phosphorescently decaying in Russia.

As we approached the station, the pulse beat higher. The life of the Union flows through arteries of railroads. The station throbbed with human charge. And the train for Moscow stood gorged with travellers, both hard and soft. Not a place for us. We rushed to the GPU. The young officer—hard mouth, cropped hair, a Jesuit’s brow and gentle eyes—bent his long head over our passports. He smoked a few American cigarettes, and then he scribbled for us the magic bumaga—the slip of paper that does miracles in Russia. In this case, when we presented it to the notchalnik stanzi it created two berths for us, in a soft compartment.

Two young women shared our compartment with us. Before I came to Russia, the expectation of this kind of freedom had sent my mind on wild imaginings. But the reality of Russia is so intense that almost immediately it conquers the old habits of thought: conventions of the West in the new light become fantastic. There is nothing naturally strange, for a man, in sleeping with women, in a tightly shut compartment. And when he does it, it is not strange. The women lie in their berths with their bodies covered; and so does he. If he wants to look at them, there is nothing to stop him. The night has dignity, reserve, and a subtle tenderness of feeling as between comrades. Sexual passion, in the human culture toward which Russia aspires, does not depend on accident . . . because it is never suppressed. If a man and a woman want each other, they do not wait for a fortuity so absurd as a night on a train to bring them close. If desire does not deeply move them, the fact of their sleeping together on a train will mean nothing.

One girl was an engineer stationed in a cotton mill at Shakmatova. Three days before, the factory Soviet had granted her a vacation. “It’s the first I’ve had in three years.” And she was going to spend it in Moscow. “I’m not going to think about spindles for three whole weeks,” she said. “In the mornings, I’m going to the Lenin Institute. I want to know how he lived all the years before the Revolution. Afternoons, I shall play tennis—if it isn’t too cold.”

She was not pretty; her nose and her features were too large and her eyes were too small, and her skin was coarse. But her body was alive in the drab clothes.

“Do you know with whom you are going to play tennis?”

“Yes, I know,” she replied softly.

The second girl was radiant and tall. Her hempen braids coiled above a brow delicate as a child’s; but her mouth was ripe and strong. In a cream-colored smock, worn and outgrown, her breasts stood forth with candor, and her throat throbbed as she breathed. She was going to Moscow as a delegate of the Komsomol—the Youth’s Communist Party. She worked in a grain elevator in Saratov, earning sixty roubles a month; and her name was Natacha.

I asked the older girl if she was a Party member. When she answered No, Natacha looked at her with eyes deliberately forbearing, as if to say: “I am making an effort to be tolerant, not to judge, not to seem superior.” It was plain that Natacha was a Communist fanatic.

An army man was smoking in the corridor outside our open door. Seeing three young women with one old man, he came in and sat down. He had a small close-shaven head and piercing eyes. The muscles of his torso bulged rhythmically in his drab uniform. He was aware of the girls, but he spoke only to me. He listened to Carol, who served as my interpreter, impatiently as if she barred his immediate contact with this American whom he was eager to question.

What was my work in the U. S. A.? How much did I earn? What was I doing in the Soviet Union? What was I going to say when I got home? How did the western countries feel about the Union? Was there danger of war? And when I answered: Yes, of course, there was danger of war on the U. S. S. R., I found in his soldier eyes the same pain, the same dark flush of terror and of pity which every Russian had revealed to me when the prospect of having to give up the Soviet peace and the Plan, in order to fight, was put before him. . . . Was I a Communist? No. But I believed in the universal need of social revolution? What, then, was I ?

I tried to explain my reasons, ideological and technical, for not joining any party. He shook his head.

“If you believe in the Revolution, you must be a Communist,” he said. “Here in Russia it would not be necessary. We have started on our way, and the non-Communists must be with us. But in the Capitalist countries, either you are for the Revolution or you are against it. Which means: either you are a Communist or a bourgeois. If you think you have ideological reasons for not joining the Party, that means that you have bourgeois ideals. Communism has the truth: in history, in art, in science. It has the method for abolishing the classes, and for directing man’s future. If you don’t accept these truths, you are against the future: you are bound by the bourgeois past. And that means you must be liquidated, like the past.” Here the good soldier drew his hand across his throat, in order to show what must happen to my head.

I tried to explain to him that the method of creating the Revolutionary future might be different in my country— since our past was different.

“There is nothing Russian about Communist truths. Russia no longer exists. Stalin is not a Russian, Marx was not a Russian, nor is Litvinov a Russian. Communism will unlock the brotherhood of man with the same key in China, in Africa, and in America. The truth is the truth. . . .”

As he sat there smoking, warmly aware of the three women, talking only to me, I knew that I had before me a happy man. He had found the Truth, and there was room in it for all his life—feeling and action. Like millions of others, this soldier had been born in Russia’s formless plain, whence in Tsarist days his human need of order could find two escapes: the animal sleep of herd-life and sense-indulgence or the unearthly order of the Saints. But now he had a truth that kept him close to earth and that deployed all his dreams; that made him wholly human and that moved him to merge his will in an ideal beyond the person. A happy man.

At the next stop I rushed out with a hundred other passengers to the station faucet of kipyetok — boiling water. As the train lurched on into the Russian night we made tea and broke bread and ate sausage. The open window let in clouds of dust, so we shut it tight. The compartment was dirty with scraps of food, spilled water, moist soot: clothing and bags lay indiscriminate on the floor and bench of our compartment, and the air was thick with cigarettes. The soldier kept on talking. Now Natacha joined with contributions of her own.

The conductress called for our tickets and remained to listen. She was a short woman in a dark gray jumper that came down to her knees. Her bandy legs were cased in cotton stockings, but her bare arms were finely molded. She leaned on the door sill, and drank in the truths of the soldier and of Natacha — her truths also, and more glorious and sustaining every blessed time she heard them. Suddenly she remembered her duties. She shoved us all into the corridor, and prepared to spread sheet and blanket on each of the four berths. We drew into a station where there was a half hour’s stop. Carol, the girl engineer, and the soldier went out to buy cakes. The conductress completed her task, and left Natacha and me alone in the compartment.

Unlike the girl engineer, Natacha knew no word of any language except Russian. Neither she nor I could place the common barrier of words against the radiance of her beauty full upon me. There was nothing to do but sit on the bed and look at her and receive the gaze of her candid eyes on mine. I knew I could not touch her. Her physical fairness was no wine in a glass, to sip or to drain. Her beauty was herself. Her unquestioning faith in the Communist religion, her womanhood which also she unquestioningly accepted, were integral of her beauty. Had we sat together all that night, I should have wanted not to touch her. To have caressed Natacha must have been to take all of her: not alone the fragrant body and the heart with its clear-singing need of a mate to cleave by her and give her children, but as well the mind with its convictions. Her tender form was but the outward chalice of the stern Communist flower.

We sat and smiled into each other’s eyes. And I knew that she knew what I was feeling. And I knew that she knew the poignance of my being in her world, and what I should carry away with me. My being deep in Russia on this train that was bearing us to Moscow, was alive with fragrance like the body of this girl. My presence here, and her own, we possessed together.

Carol and the engineer returned. The train plunged into the night that lay between us and Moscow. Carol and the engineer were to have the lower berths. Natacha and I clambered into the two upper ones. I put out the light.


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