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Creatures That Once Were Men Maxim Gorky

Part I

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The imagination of this man was powerful and inexhaustible; he could go on relating and composing all day, from morning to night, without once repeating what he had said before. In his expression you sometimes saw the poet gone astray, sometimes the romancer, and he always succeeded in making his tales realistic by the effective and powerful words in which he told them.

There was also a foolish young man called Kuvalda Meteor. One night he came to sleep in the dosshouse, and had remained ever since among these men, much to their astonishment. At first they did not take much notice of him. In the daytime, like all the others, he went away to find something to eat, but at nights he always loitered around this friendly company till at last the Captain took notice of him.

"Boy! What business have you here on this earth?"

The boy answered boldly and stoutly:

"I am a barefooted tramp. . . ."

The Captain looked critically at him. This youngster had long hair and a weak face, with prominent cheekbones and a turned-up nose. He was dressed in a blue blouse without a waistband, and on his head he wore the remains of a straw hat, while his feet were bare.

"You are a fool!" decided Aristid Kuvalda. "what are you knocking about here for? You are of absolutely no use to us . . . Do you drink vodki? . . . No? . . . Well, then, can you steal?" Again, "No." "Go away, learn, and come back again when you know something, and are a man. . . ."

The youngster smiled. "No. I shall live with you."


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"Just because. . . ."

"Oh, you . . . Meteor!" said the Captain.

"I will break his teeth for him," said Martyanoff.

"And why?" asked the youngster.

"Just because. . . ."

"And I will take a stone and hit you on the head," the young man answered respectfully.

Martyanoff would have broken his bones, had not Kuvalda interrupted with: "Leave him alone. . .Is this a home to you or even to us? You have no sufficient reason to break his teeth for him. You have no better reason than he for living with us."

"Well, then, Devil take him! . . . We all live in the world without sufficient reason . . . We live, and why? Because! He also because . . . let him alone. . . ."

"But it is better for you, young man, to go away from us," the teacher advised him, looking him up and down with his sad eyes. He made no answer, but remained. And they soon became accustomed to his presence, and ceased to take any notice of him. But he lived among them, and observed everything.

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Creatures That Once Were Men
Maxim Gorky

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