June 25, 1925 The narrator sails on an English ship to Hong Kong. On the map, this island resembles a cork that sits in the delta of the Pearl River, along which the gray patch of the Canton has spread. China is swept by the revolution: grandiose demonstrations are being prepared in Beijing and Shanghai, a massive record of volunteers is taking place in the southern provinces, in all the cities the British hastily take refuge in foreign concessions, the Cantonese army has received a large quantity of ammunition and food from Russia. We just hung a radiogram: a general strike was declared in Canton.
June 29. Stop in Saigon. The narrator will learn the latest news from Canton. People are full of enthusiasm: they are intoxicated by the very consciousness that with England it is possible
5’th of July. In Hong Kong, a general strike is declared. The main street of the city is silent and deserted. Chinese merchants escort the narrator with a heavy, hateful gaze. Meeting with a delegate from the Kuomintang. The bad news is that the Cantonese government still hesitates. Behind Borodin and Garyn are the police and trade unions, while Chen Dal has nothing but authority, in a country like China, this is a huge force. Garin is trying to break a decree on the closure of the Cantonese port for all ships that made a stop in Hong Kong.
The narrator travels to Canton with Klein, one of the officers of the propaganda commissariat. While the fatally tired German is dozing, the narrator looks through the memorandum of the Hong Kong Security Service, dedicated to his friend Pierre Garin, known here as Garin. Some information is accurate, others are wrong, but they all make the narrator remember the past. Pierre was born in 1894, the son of a Swiss and a Russian Jew. He is fluent in German, French, Russian and English. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology, where he received only the book worship of great personalities. Spun around in the circle of anarchists, although he deeply despised them for their desire to gain some “truth.” Because of the ridiculous bravado was involved in the case of illegal abortion: He was sentenced to six months probation – in the courtroom he experienced a humiliating sense of powerlessness and became even more convinced of the absurdity of the social order. In Zurich he got along with the Russian emigre revolutionaries, but did not take them seriously – it was easy to imagine his despair in 1917, when he realized that he had missed his chance. In Canton came a year later – and by no means in the direction of the International. One of his friends sent him a call. Saying goodbye to the narrator in Marseilles, Pierre said that he has only one goal – to achieve power in any form. In the government of Sun Yatsen, the commissariat of propaganda dragged on a miserable existence, but with the advent of Garin turned into a powerful weapon of the revolution. Cash was obtained through illegal expropriation from opium merchants, gambling and brothel keepers. Currently, the main task of Garin is to achieve the adoption of a decree that will destroy Hong Kong. The last lines of the memorandum are underlined in red pencil: Garin is seriously ill – he will soon have to leave the tropics. The narrator does not believe this.
Canton. A long-awaited meeting with a friend. Kind of Pierre is completely sick, but he says his health reluctantly: yes, the local climate kills him, but now it’s unthinkable to leave – first you need to break the back of Hong Kong. All of Garin’s thoughts are occupied by Chen We give. This gracious old man has an obsession, almost mania – he worships justice, as a deity, and considers it his duty to protect her. Unfortunately, Chen Dai is an untouchable figure. His life has become a legend, and the Chinese need to be treated with reverence. There remains only one hope – Chen Daya hates Gon.
Events develop quickly. The narrator is present when Chen Dai and Garin talk. The old man dismisses all the arguments about the revolutionary necessity: he does not want to see his compatriots turn into guinea pig guinea pigs – China is too great a country to be an arena for experiments.
The city is invaded by troops bribed by the British General Tan. Garin and Klein immediately collect the unemployed to build barricades. The commander of the cadet school, Chiang Kai-shek, manages to turn Tan’s soldiers into flight. The fat man Nikolayev, a former employee of the tsarist secret police, is engaged in the captivity.
Another murder of a Chinese banker, a supporter of the Kuomintang. Chen Dai demands the arrest of Gon. Garin is also alarmed by the willfulness of the terrorists – where it would be better to create a Cheka, but for now it will be necessary to wait. At night, Garina becomes ill, and he is taken to the hospital. The Canton government appoints Borodin the head of the land forces and aviation department – henceforth the whole army is in the hands of the International.
The news of the death of Chen Dai – the old man died from being stabbed in the chest. No one believes in suicide. In the commissariat of propaganda, posters are urgently prepared – they proclaim that all revered Chen Dai fell victim to the British imperialists. Garin is preparing a speech, which he is going to say at the funeral. Borodin gives the order to liquidate the accomplished Gon. Terrorists in response capture and kill four people – among them was Klein. Garina shakes at the sight of corpses. Hostages were tortured – you can not even close their eyes, because the eyelids are cut with a razor.
18 August. Garin on the verge of an important decision. He had a quarrel with Borodin – as the narrator believes, because of the execution of Gon. Pierre discovered too late that communism was a kind of Freemasonry: in the name of party discipline, Borodin would sacrifice any of his supporters. In fact, he does not need capable people-he prefers obedient ones, Nikolayev confidently informs the narrator that Garina should have left-and not only because of illness. His time has passed. Borodin is right: there is no place in communism for those who strive first of all to be themselves. The narrator is not sure of this: the Communists make the mistake of discarding the revolutionary conquerors who gave them China.
Before leaving, Garin learns that two agents of the propaganda commissariat with cyanide were detained near the army well. Nikolaev does not hurry to interrogate them – it seems that the death of ten thousand people is necessary for a revolution. Shooting one of the arrested, Garin seeks recognition from the second – indeed, the spies were three. Soon the courier brings a report that the third agent is arrested with eight hundred grams of cyanide. Water in the well will not be poisoned. Like seven years ago, the narrator says farewell to a friend. Both know the opinion of Dr. Mirov: Garin will not even get to Ceylon.