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My Fellow-Traveller Maxim Gorky

Chapter VIII

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"Thank God!" I exclaimed. "Well, thanks for that, anyway!"

"Oh! no, you needn't say thank you. I am the one to say thank you. Were we not both cold when we were sitting round the fire? The overcoat was yours, but you didn't take it yourself. You dried it, and gave it to me. And took nothing for yourself. Thank you for that! You are a good fellow; I can see that. When we get to Tiflis, I will reward you. I shall take you to my father. I shall say to him: 'Here is a man whom you must feed and care for, while I deserve only to be kept in the stable with the mules.' You shall live with us, and be our gardener, and we will give you wine in plenty, and anything you like to eat. Ah! you will have a capital time! You will share my wine and food!"

He continued for some time, describing in detail the attractions of the new life he was going to arrange for me in his home in Tiflis.

And as he talked, I mused on the great unhappiness of men equipped with new morality and new aspirations--they tread the paths of life lonely and astray; and the fellow-travelers they meet on the way are aliens to them, unable to understand them. Life is a heavy burden for these lonely souls. Helplessly they drift hither and thither. They are like the good seed, wafted in the air, and dropping but rarely onto fruitful soil.

Daylight had broken. The sea far away shone with rosy gold.

"I am sleepy," said Shakro.

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We halted. He lay down in a trench, which the fierce gusts of wind had dug out in the dry sand, near the shore. He wrapped himself, head and all, in the overcoat, and was soon sound asleep. I sat beside him, gazing dreamily over the sea.

It was living its vast life, full of mighty movement.

The flocks of waves broke noisily on the shore and rippled over the sand, that faintly hissed as it soaked up the water. The foremost waves, crested with white foam, flung themselves with a loud boom on the shore, and retreated, driven back to meet the waves that were pushing forward to support them. Intermingling in the foam and spray, they rolled once more toward the shore, and beat upon it, struggling to enlarge the bounds of their realm. From the horizon to the shore, across the whole expanse of waters, these supple, mighty waves rose up, moving, ever moving, in a compact mass, bound together by the oneness of their aim.

The sun shone more and more brightly on the crests of the breakers, which, in the distance on the horizon, looked blood-red. Not a drop went astray in the titanic heavings of the watery mass, impelled, it seemed, by some conscious aim, which it would soon attain by its vast rhythmic blows. Enchanting was the bold beauty of the foremost waves, as they dashed stubbornly upon the silent shore, and fine it was to see the whole sea, calm and united, the mighty sea, pressing on and ever on. The sea glittered now with all the colors of the rainbow, and seemed to take a proud, conscious delight in its own power and beauty.

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Creatures That Once Were Men
Maxim Gorky

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