The author remembers one “monstrous act” committed in the days of childhood. “Nobody knows about this deed, and the wild act for children is unheard of: at the base of a large yellow rock, on the seashore, near Sevastopol, in a deserted place, I buried in the sand, I buried one Englishman and one Frenchman…” Such recognition can frighten the reader. But as the story is read, it becomes clear what the author meant.
He talks about his childhood. His parents lived in Sevastopol. And he did not understand how one could choose such an uninteresting place as Sevastopol, because there are the Philippine Islands, the southern coast of Africa, the border cities of Mexico, the huge prairies of North America, the Cape of Good Hope, the Orange River, the Amazon,
The boy was not against trade. But he believed that trade should be completely different things. “I allowed trade in cochinea, ivory, traded for knick-knacks among the natives, golden sand, cinnamon crust, precious rosewood, sugar cane… I recognized even such a dangerous occupation as the trade in black wood (Negro traders call it Negroes.) But soap But the candles, but the sawn sugar! “
The boy was burdened with the prose of life. And so he often went to the sea shore and dreamed. In dreams, he saw himself as a pirate or a traveler. The author was very fond of reading Louis Busse-nara and Mine Reed. And so thoughts about sea wanderings, about unseen treasures, about battles excited him. And the ordinary, simple life seemed boring, gray, uninteresting.
One day my father gladly informed the boy that a real menagerie was coming to town. The boy was delighted. But, of course, he did not show his mind. The father said that there are lions, tigers, boas, crocodiles in the zoo. There was also an Indian shooter and a Negro. Learning this news, the boy was very happy. He went to the menagerie with a sinking heart.
The boy was made a heavy impression by an Indian, an archer from the bow of Vapiti. He was wearing an Indian national costume, he was decorated with fur and feathers. But there were no human scalps on it, nor was there a necklace from the teeth of a gray bear. The Indian fired a bow from a target. This seemed to the boy to be wrong. After all, in the auditorium sat pale-faced enemies of the Indian. Logically, he had to shoot them. The boy was indignant that the Indian does not do this. It seemed to him that the Indian had forgotten his ancestors, that he was just a coward.
The boy did not like the performance of the boa, which the girl put on her neck. In his opinion, the boa constrictor should not have tolerated this, he had to strangle the girl. The lion’s performance also disappointed the boy. After all, the terrible king of beasts could break the tamer, but he did not.
Becoming an adult, the author recalled his then-impressions and understood that he reasoned, based on the idea that everyone has his own destiny. “Everyone must do his job: the Indian to take off the scalp, the Negro have the travelers who came to him in the paws, and the lion to tear apart that one, the other and the third, because the reader must understand: everyone must drink,” he said. Subsequently, the author wondered what he wanted to see at the zoo. “A pair of lions escaping from the cage and eating up in the corner of the gallery that had not managed to escape the sailor?” The Indian, who carefully removed the scalps from the first row of distraught spectators? The Negro who had laid a fire out of the broken boards of the elephant fence and roasted Slutsker, a flour merchant at that fire? ” Probably, it would be such a sight to the boy.
When the boy and his father looked at the performance and went home, the father happily reported that in the evening he had invited the hostess of the menagerie, the Indian and the Negro to his house. And the evening of the boy suffered another disappointment. The Indian Wapiti and Negro Bacheliko were dressed in jackets that did not go at all to them. There was a feast of the Passover, and the Negro, and the Indian, along with the owner of the zoo, Christo with their father and mother. It seemed to the boy monstrous that a Negro-cannibal was being christened, and also that a red-skinned Indian was christened. After all, they should not have done this. The boy was disappointed that they ate the cakes and dyed eggs. Then they drank some liquor. The father of the boy began to sing the Ukrainian song “They see vitry, they stir up riot…”, and the Indian sings to him. The Negro began to dance with his aunt polka-mazurka.
The next morning the boy sadly went to the beach. He looked through his favorite books Bussenar for the last time. Now he could not read about adventures. He now perceived the Negroes and Indians as their guests of yesterday, quite ordinary people. The boy was very upset. He said: “Farewell, my childhood, my sweet, amazingly interesting childhood…” After that, the boy dug in the sand under the rock pit, put in it all the volumes of the Frenchman Bussenard and the Englishman Captain Mine Reed. After that he fell asleep to this grave. He no longer thought of pirates, travels and adventures. The boy grew up, began to perceive life differently.
Children look at the world with different eyes. Unlike adults, they are burdened by a boring, monotonous life, attracting all the bright, unusual. The main character of Averchenko’s story is not an exception. He dreamed of unprecedented adventures. In the books he liked to read, the Indians and Negroes were warlike, fearless people. And he was really disappointed when he saw ordinary people, not at all similar to those who were described in the book. The boy had to accept this reality and grow up. After all, we become adults not because of the number of years lived, but because of the experience gained, which helps to better understand life and surrounding people.