A BEAST OR A HUMAN BEING?
We proceeded on our way to Anastasia's house. Her clothes were left
in a tree trunk as well as her galoshes. Only a short light dress
was left on. She offered her help carrying my bag. Being bare
footed, she was walking with an extraordinary ease and graciousness
taking the lead, swinging my bag with such ease as if it were empty.
We were talking all the way. It was fun to talk to her on different
subjects. Sometimes Anastasia spun around while walking, then she
would turn and walk backwards facing me. Being very much involved in
our discussions, she did not watch her steps; it was unbelievable,
but she never stumbled. She never pricked her bare feet from a knot
of a dry twig. Sometimes she touched or gave a quick stroke to a
leaf or a shrub twig.
Now and then she bent down picked some blade
of grass and ate it.
“Just like the young of a wild animal”, I
thought to myself.
When she came across some berries, she offered
them to me, I snacked together with her. Her body did not show any
particular muscular system.
Generally speaking, she was of medium build, neither skinny, nor
stout. Her body was well nourished, resilient and very beautiful.
Though I could tell that she was rather strong and her reactions
were good too. When I stumbled, stretching my arms forward, she
turned around with lightning speed, stretched her unoccupied arm and
I fell down. My chest was right on her palm with widely spread
fingers, so I did not even touch the ground with my hands.
doing it, she did not even interrupt herself from telling me
something. When she helped me back on my feet, we moved on as if
nothing had happened. At that time a thought crossed my mind about a
gas pistol, which I had in my bag-While talking we had already
covered a pretty good distance. Suddenly Anastasia stopped, put my
bag under a tree and announced with joy,
“Here we are! We are home”.
I looked around. It was not a big well shaped clearing. There were
flowers amidst majestic cedar trees but no hint of any
constructions, I could not see even a shelter of branches.
“Well, and where is your house? Where can we sleep, eat, get
protection from rain?..”. I tried to clarify the situation.
“This is my home. Everything is available here”.
I was seized by a
vague feeling of uneasiness.
“Where is it all? Will you give me a kettle, at least, to boil some
water over a campfire and an axe?”
“Sorry, there is no kettle and there is no axe. We would manage
better without starting a campfire...”. She replied.
“What do you mean? How do you like that? She does not even have a
kettle! I have run out of bottled water and you know it perfectly
well. Do you remember, when I had finished my snack, I threw away
the empty bottle? Now I have just two sips of cognac left. It will
take a day to get to a river or the nearest settlement. I am awfully
tired and thirsty. Well, can you tell me, where do you get drinking
On watching me getting nervous Anastasia got anxious too.
me by my hand, pulling me across the clearing into the forest and
tried to calm me down by saying,
“Calm down, just don't worry,
Vladimir! Please, don't get upset. I shall take care of everything.
I'll do everything. You will have a rest, a nice sleep, you will not
be cold. Do you want to drink? It is all right. There is no problem
at all, I'll take care of it”.
Ten or fifteen meters away from the
clearing, behind the shrubs, right before my eyes I could see a
small lake. Anastasia quickly scooped some water with her cupped
hands and brought it to my lips.
“Here is water. Please, drink it”,
“What's the matter with you? Are you crazy? How is it possible to
drink unboiled water from a forest puddle? Did you not see that I
was drinking Borjomi, bottled mineral water? On our motorboat we use
only filtered river water then we chlorinate and oxygenize it not
only for drinking but for washing purposes too”.
“It is not a puddle, first of all. This is clean and alive water. It
is not the half dead one which you use. You can drink it. Look”.
moved her hands to her mouth and drank some water from it. And I
don't know how the phrase had escaped my lips:
“Anastasia, you are
“But why 'a beast'? Because my bed is not like yours? Because I
don't have a car and all the kinds of equipment that you use?”
“Because you live in the forest like a beast, you have nothing but
yet you seem to be happy”.
“Yes, I enjoy living here”.
“You see, you are not denying it”.
I tried to behave reasonably.
“Do you believe that the main distinction of a man from anything
living on the Earth is the availability for him of artificially made
articles?”, She asked.
“Yes, I do believe that. To be more precise, that is the civilized
mode of life”.
“Do you consider your way of life more civilized? Oh,
of course, you do! You do believe it. But I am not a beast. I am a
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