In the guerrilla camp there was no special room for the prisoners, so the caught Styopka Tolkach was sitting in a well prepared pit. The arrested person recalled everything that had happened in the last days. From the very beginning of the service, Stepan was not completely trusted in the camp, and in this connection he had to carry the service only in the household-platoon. Unexpectedly proposed by the demolisher Maslakov, this task initially inspired the fighter. Despite his youth, Stepka had an enviable experience in subversive work and was able to carry out this task. In addition to him, three more people participated in the blasting: Maslakov, Britvin and Danila Shpak, who knew the surroundings perfectly. On instructions from the detachment it was necessary to burn a wooden bridge in
The guards on the bridge were not yet visible, but the guards could be put up at any moment. Disgraced, the former battalion commander Britvin and Danila Shpak refused to go, citing various excuses. Go along with the Maskakov had Stepka. After leaving the forest, the demolition men did not see anyone either on the road leading to the bridge or on it. Moving closer through the fog, a figure began to appear, but it was impossible to stop. They continued to move forward. Suddenly a shot rang out from the bridge. Stepan and Maslakov scattered on different sides of the embankment. Styopka continued to run along the embankment, not losing a rifle from one hand, and from another canister for arson. Gradually, the embankment became smaller and the figure of the man finally appeared on the bridge.
Stepan threw the canister on the bridge and shot practically without aiming. Sharply peremahnuv on the opposite side of the road, he saw lying Maslakov. It seemed to Stepan that the commander had died. There was no sound, and there was a rare silence. Having loaded Maslakov onto Step’s shoulders, he went back. He met Brithvin and Shpak only in the forest, although he hoped that they would come to a meeting to help the demolitions. Despaired of grief, Stepka wore a wounded buttercup almost weeping. Remaining near the canister can now certainly not help anything – for sure the Germans will significantly strengthen the protection and repeat the operation will be very difficult. Command took over Britvin, who immediately ordered Stepka to seek help. Very quickly in the forest, Stepka discovered a boy who passed his horse. He did not want to give the horse, he had to bring milk to the village in the morning,
Returning to the remaining in the forest Stepka and the boy learned the terrible news. By that time, Maslakov had already passed away. The boy stayed with the partisans until morning, although Britvyn did not like that Mitya was the son of a policeman. When the former battalion commander learned that in the morning he was to bring milk to the village just by that very bridge, he let the boy go. In the morning Mitya had to approach them with milk. At this time, Britvin sent Shpak back to the camp for explosives. Stepa realized that he had a plan. Shpak brought dynamite, though he was very wet and that in the morning it could be used Britvin ordered Stepka and Shpak to dry it directly over the fire.
The commander himself, meanwhile, was watching everything from the side and at a sufficiently large distance. When the explosives finally managed to dry all three were very happy, because it is much more serious than just a can of gasoline. And with the help of Mitya, it will be much easier to perform the task. Styopka began to argue with Britvin, saying that the deceased commander did not want to risk the local residents and therefore did not use explosives. “In the war, the one who raises the risk wins,” said the former battalion commander. Styopka thought that Britvin could know the war better than the dead Maslakov and did not continue to argue with the commander.
The morning came. As agreed, Mitya came to the partisans. The horse was already harnessed to the cart, in which milk cans were placed. Taking one of the drums, demolitionists drank milk from it, and inside put dynamite, bringing out the wick outside. The commander sent the steppe to the bridge. The wick completely burns in thirty or forty seconds, so it is necessary to set fire to about thirty meters. “On the bridge it will be necessary to throw off the can and let the horses go faster,” said Britvin to the boy. Stepka managed to approach the bridge very close. He waited a long time, but there was no one on the road.
At last Mitya appeared. In the wagon, apart from him, there was no one. When the cart was ten meters from the bridge, one of the guards stopped Mitya. Stepka was frightened, then he would see the explosives and shoot at him. The sound of the shot frightened the horse and he ran forward, but stopped as if stumbling. Two other policemen fled from the other side of the bridge and Stepan decided to fire at them, but there was a deafening explosion. Styopka rushed into the forest, and behind him the fragments of the bridge were burning, in the middle of which there was a huge break. Returning to the forest, Stepka saw joyful Britvin and Shpak, who admired the resulting explosion. It turned out that with a shot they wounded the horse when he was on the bridge. Then Stepka realized why the boy rushed to the bridge to the horse. “Bastard” – he shouted to his commander.
Britvin ordered the delivery of weapons and, waiting for the obedient execution of the order, went to Stepka. But this time instead of executing the order Stepan directed the submachine gun to Britvin and fired. Holding the belly, the commander fell. So partisan Stepka was in the pit. Now the trial awaits him. The prisoner visited Shpak and said that Britvin was alive and that he was waiting for an operation. He said that the commander did not get angry with Stepka, but asked only not to tell anyone the details of this sad story. Stepka is guilty and can not escape punishment, but first of all he will tell the whole truth, he will tell what happened to Mitya.