Chapter 2

Giving no explanation to anybody, I ordered the crew to moor the motor boat not far from the place where a year ago I had had a meeting with the old men. I got to the village by a small motorboat. I gave orders to the captain of the motor boat to proceed with the commercial route further on up the river.

My hope was to find those old men with the help of local people, to see the Ringing Cedar with my own eyes and discuss the manner of its delivery to the motor ship. Having fastened my motorboat to a stone, I planned to walk to the nearest house. However, I noticed a lonely woman standing on a hillside and I made up my mind to talk to her.


The woman was wearing an old quilted jacket and a long skirt. High rubber galoshes were on her feet. They were the kind the great majority of the local population wear in the far Northern regions. She wore a shawl that covered her forehead and neck. It was difficult to tell her age.

I said “Hello”, and asked her about the two men I had met there the previous year.

“You were talking to my grandpa and great grandpa last year, Vladimir”, answered the woman.

I was astonished: her voice was young, her articulation was very distinct, she was on familiar terms with me, using “thou” instead of “you”. Moreover, she had called me by my name. I could not remember the names of the old men and the bottom line was that I was not sure whether I had ever heard their name or told them mine. I thought for a while and then concluded that evidently, I had told them my name if she knew it.


Therefore, I decided to follow her example and be on familiar terms with her too.

“And what is your name?”, I asked.

“Anastasia”, was the answer.

She stretched out her hand, the palm facing down, as if waiting for a kiss. This kind of gesture for a village woman dressed in a quilted jacket and galoshes, standing on a deserted bank and trying to behave as if she was a lady of society, made me laugh. I shook her hand but I did not kiss it.


Anastasia gave an embarrassed smile and suggested I go with her to the taiga where her family lived.

“Although, you know, it is necessary to walk for twenty five kilometers. Does that disturb you?”

“Well, sure it's pretty far away. Will you be able to show me the Ringing Cedar?”

“I shall”.

“Do you know everything about it? Will you tell me?”

“I'll tell you what I know”.

“Well, then let's go”.

While we were walking Anastasia told me that their family lived in the cedar forest for many generations.


According to her, her forefathers had been living there for thousands and thousands of years. They don't get in direct contact with the people of our civilization very often. These contacts take place far away from the places of their own dwelling but happen when they come to where larger settlements pretend to be hunters or residents of other villages.

Anastasia herself has visited two large cities: Tomsk and Moscow. She stayed there only for a day. She did not even spend a night there. The aim of the other trips was to see with her own eyes whether her visualizations about the way of life of modern city dwellers were correct. By selling berries and dry mushrooms she managed to get clothes and money for her trips.


One local woman gave Anastasia her own passport for this purpose.

She did not share her granddads' idea of giving the Ringing cedar to many people. When I asked her “Why?”, she said that its pieces could get to good as well as to bad people and, as she believed, the greater portion of it would get to negative persons.


She believes that finally it would bring more harm than good. The main thing to do, according to her, would be to help good people who are leading society towards the light, not into a dead end. If one were to try to help everybody, the imbalance between good and evil would remain the same or it could even get worse. After my meeting with the old men, I had managed to look through popular science literature and some historical and scientific works, which related the unusual properties of the cedar tree.


That was why I was trying to get to the root of the matter Anastasia was talking about. I wanted to learn more about the way of life of the people of the cedar forest. I was thinking it over again and again, then I tried to visualize it. I tried to compare them with the Lykovs, the family well known to many readers of Komsomolskaya pravda.


V. Peskova, a reporter on this newspaper published a series of articles under the headline: Taiga's Dead End.


It was about the family which lived for a long time in the taiga. My impression about the Likovs was that they knew how to live in peace with nature but they were absolutely ignorant in their knowledge and understanding of modern civilized life and it actually ruined them when they got in contact with it.

In this case the situation was quite different. Anastasia impressed me with her perfect knowledge of our civilized life and even more, with something else which was not quite clear to me yet! She was discussing with ease our urban life as if she knew it perfectly well.

We had walked deep into the forest for about five kilometers, when she suddenly took off her quilted jacket, shawl, long skirt and put it into a hollow tree and only a short light dress was left on her. I was astonished by what I saw. If I believed in miracles I would categorize it as a miraculous transformation, a kind of metamorphosis. I was facing a very young woman with long golden hair and a splendid shape. Her beauty was extraordinary.


She was an exceptional model. It was hard to imagine anybody who could possibly compete with her among the winners of the most prestigious beauty contests. Also, as it was revealed later on, her intellect was extremely sharp, too.


Absolutely everything was appealing about her and she was full of charm.

“Are you tired?”, she said, “Do you want to have a rest?”

We sat down right on the grass and I had an opportunity to examine her face closer: no cosmetics at all, very regular features, well treated, perfect skin. These had nothing in common with the skin of common people of the Siberian remote places. She had large, kind gray eyes and smiling lips. Though she was wearing a light short dress, it looked rather like a night-dress.

There was the impression that she did not feel cold and it was not higher than 12-15 degrees Celsius. I decided to have a snack and took a sandwich and a flat bottle of cognac out of my bag. I offered a drink to Anastasia but she refused it. While I was enjoying my meal she stretched out on the grass as if exposing herself to the caressing sun rays. These being reflected from her turned up palms, were illuminating golden light. She was almost half naked. That woman was delightful!

I examined her thinking to myself:

“Well, why do women through out history always try to strip themselves without limitations. They show their legs, then breasts, then all of them together using low cut and mini dresses? Do they try their best to attract everybody's attention? 'Hello! Look at me! Look how wonderful I am, how open and accessible'


What else can a man do? If he resists the temptation of the flesh it appears that he is holding a woman in low esteem. If he is attracted to her it appears that he is breaking the law given by God”.

I asked her how she was not afraid to be alone in the forest.

“I have nothing to be afraid of here”, was the answer.

“I wonder, how would you defend yourself if you happen to come across two or three men, let's say geologists or hunters?”, I asked.

She did not say a word, just smiled back.

I thought to myself,

“How could this young beauty, with extraordinary seductive abilities not feel scared of anything or anybody?”

Then, you would never imagine what happened next! Even the memory of it brings back uncomfortable feelings. I put my arms around her shoulders and pulled her to me gently, giving her a hug. She did not resist much though one could feel that her resilient body was very strong. I did nothing else.


The last thing I remember, before losing consciousness, were her words:

“Don't do it, calm down”.

And yet before I did it, I remember perfectly well that I was terror-stricken. It was an unrealized fear, the kind one can experience in childhood when home alone and everything scares you.

When I regained my consciousness, she was in front of me standing on her knees. Her hand was on my chest and with another one she was waving to somebody, who was somewhere above, as if expressing a negative answer. Who surrounded us invisibly? She was trying to show someone that nothing wrong had happened to her.


Anastasia looked into my eyes.

“Calm down, everything is over already”.

“But what was it?”, I asked.

“Harmony's unreceptiveness of your attitude regarding me, I mean the desire which came to you for me. Later on you will make it out yourself”.


“What does it have to do with some kind of harmony? It was you who started to resist”.

“That's right, me too. I did not welcome it It was not pleasant for me”.

I sat down, pulled my bag closer to me.

“Unbelievable! Look at her! 'She did not welcome it Unpleasant...' Ha! You, women, the only thing you are all after is to seduce a man. You show your legs, expose your breasts, walk on spiked heels, though they are uncomfortable but still you wear them. You twist all of your private parts and as soon as it comes too close to the point... You start to talk like this: 'Ah! I don't need it, I am not that kind of woman. What do you take me for?' Hypocrites! That's what you are! Now, look at yourself why have you taken your upper clothes off? It is not hot at all. Then you stretched yourself, got quiet and even more, you were smiling that way...”.

“First of all I am not comfortable wearing any kind of clothes. I put it on only when I come out of the forest to meet people, just to look like everybody. And I laid down in the sun to rest not to disturb you while you were enjoying your meal”, she said.

“Oh, yeah! You did not want to disturb me... But you did disturb me!”

“Of course, any woman would like to attract a man's attention, but not only to her legs and breasts. It is desirable that the right one, who is the only one in the world for her, could see much more than her physical body and would not pass her by”.

“But right now, right here nobody was passing by! Or what is that 'much more' that one has to sec if right in the foreground the legs are sticking out? Somehow you women are illogical!”

“Yes, you are right, to my great regret, it comes out exactly as you say... Shall we go, Vladimir? Have you finished your meal? Have you had a rest?”

A thought crossed my mind,

“Should I go further on with such kind of a lady philosopher?”

Though I said,

“All right, let's go”.

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