CHEERFUL MAN

The spy won across a bog, put on a Red Army soldier's uniform, and reached the road.

The girl plucked bluets in a rye field. She approached and asked him of a knife to trim her bouquet's stalks.

He gave her a knife, asked her of her name, and, knowing that people live cheerfully in the Soviet country, began laughing and singing merry songs.

Don't you know me?  the girl asked him with a surprise,  I am Marusya, Lieutenant Yegorov's daughter. And I'll take this bouquet to my daddy.

She carefully smoothed out the flowers, and tears flashed in her eyes.

The spy put the knife into a pocket and, not having spoken a word, went away.

At the cordon, Marusya said:

I have met a Red Army soldier. I told him my name, and he was strange enough to laugh and sing songs.

Then, the commander scowled, called for the sentry, and ordered to start in pursuit of that "cheerful" man.

The riders speeded away, while Marusya reached the steep bank and put her bouquet on the fresh grave of her father, killed in the frontier fire-fight only the day before.

According to the text "Marusya" by Arkady Gaidar, 1939

Igor Savchenko, December 2000, Minsk

Russian-English translation: Andrej Bursau