The action takes place in the city on the Volga, at the end of the XIX beginning of the XX century.
Sixty years ago, on one of the barges, the wealthy merchant Zaev was served by the Ignat Gordeyev. Strong, handsome and intelligent, he was one of those people who do not think about the choice of means and do not know a law other than their desire. In forty years Ignat Gordeev himself was the owner of three steamships and a dozen barges. On the Volga, he was respected as a rich man, but gave him the nickname “Shaliy”, because his life did not flow in a direct line, and now and then rebellion boiled, rushing out of the rut. Ignat’s body seemed to have three souls. One of them, the most powerful, was greedy, and when Ignat obeyed her, he became a man gripped by an indomitable passion for work. But, giving a lot of chasing after the ruble, he was not petty, and sometimes he showed sincere indifference to his property. From time to time, usually in the spring, in him the second soul awoke the violent and lascivious soul of a beast that was irritated by hunger. It was like a volcano of mud boiling, he drank, debauched, soldered others and lived for weeks. Then suddenly he came home quiet and dumb as a sheep, listened to the reproaches of his wife and for several hours in a row stood on his knees before the images it took over him the power of the third soul. But in all three bands of Ignat’s life there was one passionate desire to have a son. His wife, a fat, fattened woman, gave him nine daughters in nine years, but all of them died in infancy. After every birth Ignat beat his wife with pleasure because she did not bear him a son. listened to the reproaches of his wife and for several hours in a row stood on his knees before the images it took over him the power of the third soul. But in all three bands of Ignat’s life there was one passionate desire to have a son. His wife, a fat, fattened woman, gave him nine daughters in nine years, but all of them died in infancy. After every birth Ignat beat his wife with pleasure because she did not bear him a son. listened to the reproaches of his wife and for several hours in a row stood on his knees before the images it took over him the power of the third soul. But in all three bands of Ignat’s life there was one passionate desire to have a son. His wife, a fat, fattened woman, gave him nine daughters in nine years, but all of them died in infancy. After every birth Ignat beat his wife with pleasure because she did not bear him a son.
Once, while on business in Samara, he received news of his wife’s death. Ignat commissioned her to bury her, Mayakin, then served a memorial service in the church and decided to get married as soon as possible. At that time he was forty years old. In all his powerful figure was a lot of healthy and rough beauty. Less than six months, as Ignat married Natalia Fominishna, the daughter of the Ural Cossack-Old Believer. He loved his tall, slender, beautiful wife and was proud of her, but soon began to watch her cautiously. Natalia was thoughtful and indifferent to everything, nothing interested this strange woman. She was always thoughtful and distant, as if she was looking for something in her life, but could not find it. Only kum Mayakin, clever and joker, sometimes caused her a pale smile.
When Natalia announced her pregnancy, Ignat began to follow his wife as if he were a small child. Natalia also made pregnancy even more focused and silent. She did not endure difficult births and died, giving birth to Ignat the long-awaited son. Ignat christened his son Thomas and gave it to the family of Godfather Mayakin, whom his wife also recently gave birth. Mayakin lived in a huge two-story house, the windows of which were obscured by mighty old lime trees, why in the rooms there was always a strict twilight. The family was pious, the smell of wax and incense filled the house, penitent sighs and prayer words rattled in the stuffy atmosphere, women’s figures in dark dresses moved silently through the rooms. The family of Yakov Tarasovich Mayakin consisted of himself, his wife Antonina Ivanovna, daughter and five relatives, the youngest of whom was thirty-four years old. Mayakin also had a son, Taras, but his name was not mentioned in the family of Yakov denied his son after he left for Moscow and married there against the will of his father. Yakov Mayakin was thin, brisk, with a fiery-red beard, who owned the cable factory and had a shop in the city. Among the merchants he enjoyed respect, the fame of a “brain” man and was very fond of reminding about the antiquity of his kind.
In this family, Thomas Gordeyev lived for six years. Big-necked, broad-chested boy seemed older than his six years old and in height, and in a serious look of almond-shaped dark eyes. Thomas spent whole days playing with toys with Mayakin’s daughter Anya. With the girl Thomas lived amicably, and quarrels and fights strengthened the friendship of the children even more. The life of Thomas was monotonous, the only entertainment was reading the Bible in the evenings. Up to six years the boy did not hear a single tale. Soon Ignat summoned his sister Anfisa, and the boy was taken to his father’s house. Anfisa, a ridiculous, tall old woman with a long hooked nose and a large mouth without teeth, at first did not like the boy, but then he saw the tenderness and affection in her black eyes. This old woman brought Foma into a new world, which until now was unknown to him. Every night he fell asleep under the velvet sounds of Anfisa’s voice telling a fairy tale, the stock of which was inexhaustible. Father Foma was afraid, but he loved. Because of the tremendous growth and trumpet voice, Thomas considered his father a fabulous robber and was very proud of it.
When Foma went to the eighth year, Ignat instructed his sister to teach him to read and write. The boy mastered the alphabet very easily, and soon he read the Psalter. Foma’s life easily rolled forward. Being his teacher, my aunt was also a friend of his games. The sun gently and joyfully shone a decrepit, worn-out body, which retained the young soul, the old life, which, as far as strength and skill, adorned the children’s life. Sometimes Ignat came home in a drunken smoke, but Thomas was not afraid of him. And if Foma was not healthy, his father threw all his affairs and stayed home, annoying his sister with stupid questions.
Spring came and, fulfilling his promise, Ignat took his son with him to the steamer. A new life unfolded before Thomas. He spent whole days on the captain’s bridge next to his father, looked at the endless panorama of the banks, and it seemed to him that he was traveling along the silver path to those fairy-tale kingdoms where sorcerers and heroes live. But wonderful kingdoms did not appear. Past the cities, completely the same as the one in which Thomas lived. A real life opened before him, and Thomas was a little disappointed with her. He became rarer, not so stubbornly looking into the distance with a questioning gaze of black eyes. The steamer’s crew loved the boy, and he loved these glorious guys who were fussing with him when Ignat went to town on business.
Once in Astrakhan, when fuel was loaded onto the steamer, Foma heard the machinist berating Ignat for his greed. In the evening, Thomas asked his father if he really was greedy, and gave him the words of a machinist. In the morning the boy found out that a new driver was on the steamer. After that, Thomas felt that everyone was in the way, the sailors looked at him unkindly. The case with the machinist awakened in the boy the desire to understand which threads and springs control the actions of people.
If you see a strong, capable person, pity, help him. And if he is weak, do not care about him, pass by, tell his son Ignat, and then he told me about his youth, about people and their terrible strength and weakness.
In autumn, Thomas was sent to school. On the first day of school life, Thomas singled out two boys from among the boys, who seemed more interesting to him than others. Thick, red African Smolin was the son of a tanner, and the little, smart and smart Nikolai Ezhov is the son of a guard from the treasury chamber, a poor man. Yezhov was the first student in the class, he gave Foma and Smolin to write off his homework in exchange for food. Ignat did not see much use in teaching.
You have to learn from life itself, he said. The book is a thing of the dead. And life, a little you on it incorrectly stepped, a thousand voices yell at you, and even hit, knock you down.
On Sundays the guys gathered near Smolin, drove pigeons and raided other people’s gardens. In such raiding raids Thomas put his heart more than all other adventures and games, and behaved with courage and recklessness, which amazed and angry his comrades. The danger of being caught in the crime scene did not frighten, but excited him.
So, day after day slowly developed unfamiliar life of Thomas. Another quiet lake was the boy’s soul, and everything that concerned him disappeared, briefly disturbing the sleepy water. After spending five years in the district school, Foma graduated from four classes and left it with a brave, black-haired boy, with a swarthy face and large dark eyes, who looked thoughtfully and naively. Lyubov Mayakina was at that time studying in the fifth grade of a boarding school. When she saw Foma in the street, she nodded condescendingly to him. Lyuba was acquainted with some gymnasium students, and although Yezhov was between them, Thomas was not attracted to them, in their company he felt constrained. Nevertheless, he did not want to study.
I will be in my place without science, mocked Thomas. Empty hungry learn, I do not need.
Thomas began to learn the charm of loneliness and the sweet poison of dreams. Sitting somewhere in a corner, he conjured up images of fairy princesses before them, they appeared in the image of Lyuba and other acquaintances ladies. He wanted to cry, he was ashamed of tears, and still cried softly. Father patiently and cautiously introduced Thomas into the circle of trade affairs, took with him to the stock exchange, told about the characters of his companions. And yet, even at the age of nineteen there was something childish, naive in Foma, which distinguished him from his peers.
As if he was waiting for something, like a veil before his eyes. His mother was walking along the ground in the same way, Ignat said contritely, and soon decided to try his son in business.
In the spring Ignat sent Foma with two barges of bread to the Kama. The barge was steered by the steamboat Prilezhny, commanded by Yefim Ilyich, a judicious and strict captain. After sailing in April, at the beginning of May the steamer had already arrived at its destination. The barges were opposite the village, early in the morning a noisy crowd of women and peasants came out to unload grain. Foma looked at the deck, covered with a briskly working crowd of people, and then the face of a woman with black eyes, affectionately and temptingly, smiled at him. His heart was beating fast. Being pure physically, he already knew from conversations, the secrets of the intimate relationship of a man to a woman, but he hoped that there was something more pure, less rude and offensive to a person. Now, admiring the black-eyed female worker, Foma sensed a gross attraction to her, it was embarrassing and scary.
Yefim noticed this and arranged for Foma to meet with the worker. A few days later a cart approached the shore and a black-eyed Pelageya with a trunk and some things on it. Yefim tried to protest, but Foma shouted at him, and the captain resigned himself was one of those people who like to feel the master over him. Soon the barge sailed to Perm. The passion that flared up in Thomas, burned out of him all that was awkward and filled his heart with young pride, the consciousness of his human personality. This fascination, however, did not divorce him from the case, it aroused in him with equal force the thirst for labor and love. Palageya treated him with the same force of feeling that the women of her years have been investing in her hobbies. She was truly unselfish.
Thomas was already thinking about marrying Pelageya, when he received a telegram from the godfather: “Immediately leave the passenger”. A few hours later the pale and sullen Thomas stood on the gallery of the steamship, departing from the pier, and looked into the face of his sweet, swam away from him into the distance. In his heart a corrosive sense of resentment arose. He was too spoiled for life to be easier to treat the first drop of poison in the newly minted cup.
Thomas was met by the agitated Mayakin and said that Ignat had died out of his mind. It turned out that Sofya Pavlovna Medynskaya, the wife of the rich architect, known for all her indefatigability in the arrangement of various charity schemes, persuaded Ignat to donate seventy-five thousand to a doss house and a folk library with a reading room. Sofya Pavlovna was considered the most beautiful woman in the city, but they spoke ill of her. Thomas did not see anything wrong with this donation. Arriving home, he found Medynskaya. In the front corner of the room, leaning against the table, sat a small woman with magnificent blond hair; On her pale face dark eyes, thin eyebrows and plump, red lips stood out sharply. When she walked silently past Foma, he saw that her eyes were dark blue, and her brows almost black.
Again the life of Thomas began to flow slowly and monotonously. Father began to treat him stricter. Foma himself felt in himself something special that distinguished him from his peers, but he could not understand what it was and was suspiciously watching himself. He had a lot of ambitious aspiration, but he lived alone and did not feel the need for friends. Thomas often recalled Palagea, and at first he was melancholy, but gradually her place in his dreams was taken up by a small, angelic Medynskaya. In her presence, Thomas felt awkward, huge, heavy, and this offended him. Medynskaya did not excite a sensual attraction in the boy, she was incomprehensible to him. At times he felt in himself a bottomless emptiness, which could not be filled with anything.
Meanwhile, Ignat became increasingly restless, grumbling, and increasingly complained of malaise.
Sterezhit me death somewhere nearby, he said sullenly, but submissively. And indeed she soon overturned his large, powerful body. Ignat died on Sunday morning, not having received absolution. His father’s death stunned Foma. A silence poured into his soul, heavy, motionless, absorbing all the sounds of life. He did not cry, did not miss, and did not think about anything; gloomy, pale, he listened attentively to this silence, which devastated his heart and, like a vice, squeezed his brain. The funeral was administered by Mayakin. At the commemoration of Thomas, with a resentment in his heart, he looked at the fat lips and jaws that chewed the delicious food, he wanted to drive out all these people who had recently aroused respect in him.
What do they eat here? In the tavern came, or what? Foma spoke loudly and angrily. Mayakin fussed, but he failed to make up for the offense. The guests began to disperse.
Life tugged at Foma from all sides, preventing him from concentrating on his thoughts. On the fortieth day after Ignat’s death, he attended the ceremony of laying the lodging house. On the eve of Medynskaya he informed him that he was elected to the construction supervision committee and to the honorary members of the society in which she presided. Thomas often visited her. There he met with the secretary of this society, Ukhtishchev. He spoke with a high tenor, and the whole full, small, round-faced and cheerful talker looked like a brand new bells. Foma listened to his chatter and felt miserable, stupid, ridiculous for everyone. And Mayakin was sitting next to the city’s head and was speaking to him briskly, playing with wrinkles.
Foma understood that among these gentlemen he had no place. He was sad and sad from the knowledge that he does not know how to speak as easily and as much as all these people. Lyuba Mayakina had laughed at him for this many times. Thomas did not like the godfather’s daughter, and after learning about Mayakin’s intention to marry them, he even avoided meeting her. Nevertheless, after the death of his father Thomas almost every day visited the Mayakins. Soon their relationship took the form of a somewhat strange friendship. Lyuba was one of the years with Thomas, but treated him as the eldest to the boy. Sometimes she was simple and somehow particularly friendly to him. But no matter how much time they spent on the conversation, she gave them only a feeling of displeasure with each other, as if the wall of misunderstanding had grown and shared them. Liuba often persuaded Thomas to continue teaching, read more, reproached him for his limitations.
I do not like this. Fudge, deception, Foma complained.
Luba was unhappy with her life. She was not allowed to study her father, believing that the destiny of a woman was marriage, and she did not have enough courage to run. Often she repeated that she lives in prison, that she dreams of equality and happiness for all people. Foma listened to her speeches, but did not understand, and this angered Lyuba. Godmother Mayakin inspired Foma quite different.
Every human case has two faces. The one in sight is a fake, the other hidden it is the present. He must be found in order to understand the meaning of the matter, he repeated. Speaking against the construction of a shelter, Mayakin said:
Now we have come up with the idea: to lock the beggars in houses so special and so that they would not walk through the streets, would...
These words of the godfather were stupefied by Thomas. He strengthened the ambivalent attitude towards Mayakin: listening to him with greedy curiosity, he felt that every meeting with the godfather increases in him an unfriendly, close to fear, feeling for the old man. Mayakin’s laughter, like the yelp of rusty loops, sometimes aroused physical disgust in Thomas. All this strengthened Foma’s confidence that the godfather firmly decided to marry him to Luba. Lyuba liked him and seemed dangerous, he guessed that she did not live, but she was waking in reality. The trick of Thomas at the commemoration of his father spread among the merchants and created him an unflattering reputation. Rich people seemed to him greedy to money, always ready to cheat each other. But Mayakin’s monotonous speeches soon reached their goal. Foma listened to them and understood the purpose of life: one must be better than others. The ambition awakened by the old man deeply penetrated his heart, but did not fill it, because Thomas’s attitude towards Medynskaya took on the character that was to be accepted. He was drawn to her, but with her he was timid, becoming clumsy and suffering from it. Foma was Medynskaya with adoration, he always lived the consciousness of her superiority over him. Medynskaya also played with a young man, like a cat with a mouse, and enjoyed it.
One day, Thomas and the godfather were returning from the dusk after inspecting the steamers. Mayakin told Foma what reputation Medynskaya had in the city.
You go to her and say bluntly: “I want to be your lover, I’m young, do not take a lot of money,” he instructed his godson. At these words Foma’s face stretched out, and there was a lot of heavy and bitter amazement in his pensive look.
Covered with dreary and vengeful malice, Thomas came to the city. Mayakin, throwing Medynskaya in the mud, made her accessible to her godson, and the idea of the woman’s accessibility increased her attraction to her. He went to Vera Pavlovna, intending to directly and simply tell her what he wanted from her.
What am I to you? she told him. You need a different girlfriend. I’m already an old woman. Do not listen to anyone but your heart. Live as it tells you.
Thomas went home and as if this woman was carrying her breast so brightly was her image. His house, six large rooms, was empty. Aunt Anfisa went to the monastery and, perhaps, will not return from there. I ought to marry, but I did not want to see any girlfriend as my wife.
A week passed after talking with Medynskaya. Day and night her image was in front of Thomas, causing a nagging feeling in her heart. Work and longing did not stop him from thinking about life. He began to listen sensitively to everything people said about life, and felt that their complaints aroused distrust in him. Silently, he looked narrowly at everyone with a suspicious glance, and a thin wrinkle cut his forehead. One day Mayakin sent Foma on business to Anania Savich Shchurov, a large timber merchant. Terrible rumors circulated about this tall old man with a long gray beard. It was said that he sheltered himself in a convict’s bathhouse, who worked for him false money, and then killed him and burned him with a bath. Foma also knew that Shchurov had outlived his two wives, then beat off his wife from his son, and when his daughter-in-law, a mistress died, took a dumb girl-beggar to her house and she gave him a dead child. Going to Shchurov,
Shchurov had a bad opinion about Mayakin, called him a cursed farmazonom.
In your years, Ignat was as clear as glass, Shurov told Foma. And look at you do not see what you? And you yourself, boy, do not know this, that’s why you will be lost.
In the evening of the same day, Thomas went to the club and met Ukhtishchev there. From him, Thomas learned that Sofya Pavlovna was leaving the country tomorrow for the whole summer. A fat and mustached man intervened in their conversation and spoke ill of Medynskaya, calling it a cocotte. Foma quietly snarled, grabbed the curly hair of a mustached man and began to carry him around the floor, experiencing a burning pleasure. At that moment he was experiencing a sense of liberation from the boring heaviness that had long ago held him back. Thomas was raped by this man, who turned out to be the son-in-law of the vice-governor. Foma, however, did not frighten it. Everything that Thomas did this evening, aroused in Ukhtishchev great interest in him. He decided to shake, entertain the guy and lead him to his familiar young ladies.
On the third day after the scene in the club, Foma found himself seven versts from the city, on the forest quay of the merchant Zvantsev in the company of this merchant’s son, Ukhtishchev, a gentleman in whiskers and four ladies. Dame Thomas was a slender, dark-skinned brunette with wavy hair named Alexander. Foma had been smoking with them for three days, and still could not stop. About his disgrace written in the newspaper. Yakov Mayakin scolded him with his last words, but he could not stop. Love listened to her father in silence. Becoming older, she changed her attitude towards the old man. Luba saw his loneliness and her feelings for her father became warmer. About the writers Mayakin said to Lyuba:
Russia is embarrassed, and there is nothing staunch in it, everything is shaken! People are given a lot of freedom to be smart, but nothing is allowed, from which people do not live, but rot and stink. The girl was silent, deafened by the speeches of her father, unable to object, to get rid of them. She felt that he was turning her away from what she thought was so simple and bright.
On the same morning Yefim, the captain of the Yermak, came to Mayakin. He said that drunk Foma had ordered him to be tied up, he himself took control of the barge and broke it. After that, Yefim asked to release him, saying that he can not live without a master.
Foma remembered what he had experienced in recent months, and it seemed to him that he was carrying a troubled, hot stream somewhere. Amidst the hustle and bustle of booze, Sasha alone was always calm and steady. Foma was attracted by some mystery hidden in this woman, and at the same time he felt that he did not love her, she did not need him. Parting with Thomas, Sasha said to him:
You have a difficult character. Boring. Exactly you were born from two fathers.
Thomas watched the barge being pulled out of the river, and thought: “Where is my place, where is my business?”. He saw himself as superfluous among the confident people who were ready to raise for him several tens of thousands of poods from the bottom of the river. Thomas felt a strange excitement: he passionately wanted to join this work. Suddenly he jumped to the collar, pale with excitement. For the first time in his life he felt such a spiritualizing feeling, he got drunk from him and poured out his joy in loud, jubilant cries in harmony with the workers. But after a while this joy was gone, leaving a void behind itself.
The next morning, Thomas and Sasha stood on the ladder of a steamboat approaching the wharf at the mouth. At the side of the pier they were met by Yakov Mayakin. Sasha sent Sasha to the city, Thomas went to the hotel to the godfather.
Give me full will, or take my whole business into your own hands. Everything, up to the ruble!
This burst out unexpectedly for Thomas, he suddenly realized that he could have become a completely free person. Until this moment, he was entangled in something, and now the bonds themselves fell from him so easily and simply. A troubling and joyful hope broke out in his chest. But Mayakin refused and threatened that he would put him in a madhouse. Thomas knew that his godfather would not regret it. The self-confidence of Yakov Tarasovich blew up Foma, he spoke, clenched his teeth:
What should I boast about? Where is your son? Your daughter, what is it? Tell me why you live? Who will remember you?
Having said that he was bored with his whole fortune, Thomas left. Yakov Mayakin was left alone, and the wrinkles on his cheeks shook with alarming trembling.
After this quarrel Thomas went wild with anger, full of vengeful feelings towards the people who surrounded him. Of course there were women. He laughed at them, but never raised his hand to them. Sasha left from Foma, entered the maintenance for the son of a vodka breeder. Thomas was very happy about this: she was bored with him, and her cold indifference frightened him. So Foma lived, cherishing a vague hope to go somewhere to the edge of life, out of this mess, and look around. At night, closing his eyes, he imagined a huge, dark crowd of people crowded somewhere in the basin, full of dusty fog. This crowd in confusion circled in one place, noise and howl are heard, people creep, crushing each other like blind people. Above their heads, like bats, money rushes. This picture strengthened in the head of Thomas, each time becoming more colorful. He wanted to stop this senseless fuss, to direct all people in one direction, and not against each other, but he did not have the right words. There was a growing desire for freedom, but he could not break free from the bonds of his wealth.
Mayakin acted so that Foma felt the burden of his duties every day, but Foma felt that he was not a gentleman in his business, but only a small part of it. This irritated him and further repelled him from the old man. Thomas increasingly wanted to break out of the matter, at least at the cost of his death. Soon he learned that the godfather had let out a rumor that Thomas was out of his mind and that he would have to establish guardianship over him. Thomas accepted this and continued his drunken life, and the godfather watched him vigilantly.
After a quarrel with Foma, Mayakin realized that he did not have an heir, and instructed his daughter to write a letter to Taras Mayakin, to call him home. Lubu Yakov Tarasovich decided to marry Afrikaan Smolin, who studied abroad and recently returned to his native city to start his own business. Lately, more and more often came to mind the idea of marriage, she did not see any other way out of her loneliness. The desire to learn it has long been experienced, from the books she read, she remained a muddy residue, from which developed the desire for personal independence. She felt that life was bypassing her.
And Thomas was always kidding and kolobrodil. He woke up in a small room with two windows and saw a little black man who was sitting at a table and scratching a pen on paper. In the man Thomas recognized his schoolmate Nikolai Yezhov. After the gymnasium, Yezhov graduated from the university, but he did not achieve much by becoming a feuilletonist in a local newspaper. In his failures, he blamed not himself, but the people, whose kindness he enjoyed. He said that there is no man on earth who is worse than the one who gives alms, there is no man more unhappy than he who accepts it. In Thomas Yezhov felt “great impudence of the heart.” Yezhov’s speeches enriched the language of Thomas, but poorly illuminated the darkness of his soul.
Mayakin’s decision to marry his daughter was hard, and he brought Smolin to dinner to introduce his daughter. Lyuba’s dreams of a man-friend, an educated man, were strangled in her by the unyielding will of his father, and now she is getting married because it’s time. Lyuba wrote a long letter to her brother, in which she begged him to return. Taras replied dryly and briefly that he would soon be on business on the Volga and would not fail to go to his father. This business coldness upset Lyuba, but the old man liked him. Lyuba thought of her brother as an ascetic who, at the cost of a youth ruined in exile, gained the right to trial life and people.
Smolin little changed the same redhead, all in freckles, only the mustache grew long and magnificent, but the eyes became as if more. Lyube liked his manners and appearance, his education, and in the room it became lighter from this. The shy hope for happiness grew brighter in the girl’s heart.
Having learned from Yezhov what events are taking place in the house of the godfather, Thomas decided to visit him and witnessed the meeting of his father and prodigal son. Taras was a short, thin man, like a father. It turned out that Taras was not in penal servitude. He spent about nine months in a Moscow prison, then was exiled to Siberia for a settlement and lived for six years in the Lena mountain district. Then he started his own business, married the daughter of the owner of the gold mines, became a widower, his children also died. Yakov Tarasovich was unusually proud of his son. Now he saw the heir in it. Lyuba did not take her eyes from her brother. Foma did not want to go to the table, where three happy people are sitting, he understood that he did not have a place there. Going out into the street, he felt resentment on the Mayakins: after all, they were the only people close to him.
In the evening, Thomas again went to Mayakin. Godfather was not at home, Lyuba and his brother were drinking tea. Thomas also sat down at the table. Taras did not like him. This man bowed before the British and believed that only they have a true love for work. Foma said that the work is not all for the man, but then he saw that his thoughts were not interesting for Taras. Thomas became bored with this indifferent person. He wanted to tell Liubov something offensive about her brother, but he did not find the words and left the house.
The next morning, Yakov Mayakin and Thomas attended the solemn dinner at the merchant Kononov, who that day consecrated a new steamboat. The guests were about thirty people, all respectable people, the color of the local merchants. Foma did not find himself a comrade among them, and kept aloof, sullen and pale. He did not give rest to the idea of why the godfather was so tender with him today, and why persuaded him to come here. Among these people there was almost no one about which Thomas would not have known anything criminal. Many of them were at enmity with each other, but now they merged into one dense mass, and this repelled Foma and aroused in him timidity in front of them.
During dinner, Yakov Tarasovich was asked to make a speech. With his usual boastful self-confidence Mayakin began to talk about the fact that the merchant class is the keeper of culture and the bulwark of the Russian people. Thomas could not bear it. His teeth were bared, he silently looked around the merchants with burning eyes. At the sight of his wolfish wicked face, the merchantman froze for a second. Thomas looked with unutterable hatred at the faces of the listeners and exclaimed:
You did not make a life in prison. You did not order the chains for a man forged. It’s stuffy, crowded, there’s nowhere to turn a living soul. Do you understand that only by patience of human beings are you alive?
The merchant began to disperse one by one by steamer. This even more irritated Thomas: he would like to chain them to the place with his own words and could not find such words in himself. And then Gordeyev began to remember everything he knew about these criminal people, not missing a single one. Foma spoke and saw that his words worked well on these people. Addressing all at once, Foma understood that his words did not touch them as deeply as he would like. But as soon as he spoke about each separately, his attitude towards his words changed dramatically. He was joyfully growling, seeing how his speeches worked, how these people writhed and rushed under the blows of his words. Thomas felt like a fabulous hero, beating monsters.
A crowd gathered around Yakov Tarasovich Mayakin and listened to his quiet speech, with anger and with an affirmative nod. Foma burst into loud laughter, raising his head high. At that moment, several people rushed to Foma, squeezed him with their bodies, tightly tied their arms and legs and dragged them to the side. Above him stood a crowd of people and told him angry and insulting things, but their words did not hurt his heart. In the depths of his soul grew a great bitter feeling. When Thomas was untied, he looked at everyone and said with a pitiful smile:
Foma became lower and thinner. Mayakin spoke quietly with the merchants about custody. Foma felt crushed by this dark mass of strong people. He did not understand now what he had done to these people and what he had done and even felt something like a shame for himself before himself. In my chest, some kind of dust showered my heart. The merchants looked at his tormented, wet face from tears and silently walked away. And so Thomas remained alone with his hands tied behind his back at the table, where everything was overturned and destroyed.
Three years passed. Yakov Tarasovich Mayakin died after a brief but very agonizing agony, leaving his fortune to his son, daughter and brother-in-law, Afanasy Smolin. Yezhov for something sent from the city soon after the incident on the boat. A large trading house “Taras Mayakin and Afrik Smolin” appeared in the city. About Foma there was nothing to be heard. It was said that after leaving the hospital Mayakin sent him for the Urals to his mother’s relatives.
Recently, Thomas appeared in the city. Almost always drinking, he appears somber, then smiling with a pathetic and sad smile blessed. He lives at the godfather in the courtyard, in the outbuilding. The merchants and townspeople who know him often laugh at him. Foma very rarely approaches the caller, he avoids people and does not like to talk with them. But if he comes up, they say to him:
Well, about the light-over, say the word, ah, the prophet.