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On A Raft Maxim Gorky

Chapter II

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"What do you mean?" said Marka, looking at him fearfully, as he stood there grim, strong and cold.

"Nothing! If he were to die! That's all. If he were to die --what a good thing it would be! Everything would be straight then! I would give all my land to your family, to make them shut their mouths; and we two might go to Siberia, or somewhere far away. They would ask, 'Who is she?' 'My wife! Do you understand?'

"We could get some sort of paper or document. We could open a shop somewhere in a village, and live. And we could expiate our sin before God. We could help other people to live, and they would help us to appease our consciences. Isn't that so, Marsha?"

"Yes," said she, with a deep sigh, closing her eyes as if in thought.

They remained silent for a while; the water murmured.

"He is sickly. He will, perhaps, die soon," said Silan after a time.

"Please God it may be soon!" said Marka, as if in prayer, and making the sign of the cross.

The rays of the spring sun broke through the clouds, and touched the water with rainbow and golden tints. At the breath of the wind all nature thrilled, quickened, and smiled. The blue sky between the clouds smiled back at the sun-warmed waters. The raft, moving on, left the clouds astern.

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Gathering in a thick and heavy mass, they hung motionless, and dreaming over the bright river, as if seeking a way to escape from the ardent spring sun, which, rich in color and in joy, seemed the enemy of these symbols of winter tempests.

Ahead, the sky grew clearer and brighter, and the morning sun, powerless to warm, but dazzling bright as it glitters in early spring, rose stately and beautiful from the purple-gold waves of the river, and mounted higher and ever higher into the blue limpid sky. On the right showed the brown, high banks of the river, surmounted by green woods; on the left emerald green fields glittered with dew diamonds. In the air, floated the smell of the earth, of fresh springing grass, blended with the aromatic scent of a fir wood.

Sergei and Mitia stood as if rooted to their oars, but the expression on their faces could not be distinguished by those on the forward part of the raft.

Silan glanced at Marka.

She was cold. She leaned forward on her pole in a doubled-up attitude. She was looking ahead with dreaming eyes; and a mysterious, charming smile prayed on her lips--such a smile as makes even an ugly woman charming and desirable.

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Creatures That Once Were Men
Maxim Gorky

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