Arkady gaidar and his books


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Airmen all and pilots! Bombers all and fighters!

Now you've taken off for far away.

When will you come back to me?

I cannot tell when it will be

Onlycome back! Any timeon any day. . . .

Good luck, wherever you may be,

On the ground, above the sea

Or flying far aloft through foreign skies

Where'er you roam

May your two wings bravely bear

Their red stars so bright and dear

And may they bear you back to me,

Back home!
"There," she said. "But it's all about flyers. I don't know any good songs about tankmen."

"It doesn't matter," George said. "See if you can't say something nice to me—and forget about the songs."

Plunged in thought, seeking the right good word, Olga gazed quietly and intently into his grey, no longer laughing eyes.

Jenny, Timur and Tanya were in the garden.

"Listen," suggested Jenny. "George is leaving. Let's get the whole company to see him off. Let's send out the No. 1 general rally signal. Won't it cause a commotion though!"

"No, better not," Timur said.

"Why not?"

"Better not. We didn't see anyone else off like that."

"Oh, all right, if we oughtn't to, we won't," agreed Jenny. "You sit here while I go and get a drink."

When she left Tanya burst out laughing.

"What's the matter?" asked Timur.

Tanya laughed all the louder. "There's a clever girl for you! She's a sly one, our Jenny! I’ll go and get a drink,' she say!"

" 'Ten-shun!" Jenny's voice rang out triumphantly from the loft. "Here goes No. 1 general rally signal!"

"She's mad!" Timur sprang up. "That'll fetch up a hundred chaps! What are you doing?!"

But the heavy wheel had already creaked and turned, the ropes had jerked and pulled: "three-stop, three-stop, stop!" And under the roofs of sheds, in attics and in chicken coops the signal buzzers, bottles, tin cans and rattles rang, banged and clattered.

If not a hundred, at least fifty youngsters came charging into the garden in response to the familiar signal.

"Olga!" Jenny flew up onto the porch. "We're going to see George off too! There's a lot of us. Take a look."

"Oho!" exclaimed George in surprise. "You've got a big company there. Big enough to be loaded onto a train and sent off to the front."

"Can't be done," Jenny sighed, repeating Timur's words. "All the officers and other bosses have strict orders to kick out all the kids. It's a shame! I could fit in somewhere too—take part in a battle, in an attack. Machine-guns forward! Number one!..."

"Number one braggart in the world!" Olga teased. She fixed the strap of the accordion over her shoulder and said:

"Well, if we're going to see him off, let's do it properly, music and all!"

They trooped out into the road. Olga played her accordion, and an orchestra of bottles, tin cans, glass jars and sticks stepped out in front and struck up a lively accompaniment.

They tramped down the green streets, their ranks growing as they marched along. At first people could not understand what all the noise and the singing was about. But as soon as they were told they smiled, and called out to wish George good luck.

As they approached the platform an army train swept by.

The first carriages were full of soldiers. The crowd waved and called out to them. Then came flat-cars with a whole forest of green-shafted army carts. Then horseboxes. The horses tossed their heads and chewed hay. They, also, were greeted with "hurrahs". Finally came a flatcar bearing a large, angular object covered over with grey tarpaulin. Standing by it and swaying with the motion of the train was a sentry.

The troop train disappeared and a passenger train pulled in. Timur said good-bye to his uncle.

Olga went up to George.

"Well, good-bye!" she said. "Will it be for long?"

He shook his head and gripped her hand.

"I don't know. Let's hope not!"

The whistle blew. The orchestra blared. The train pulled out.

Olga stood lost in thought.

In Jenny's eyes there shone a great happiness, though she did not know why.

Timur was upset, but he tried to mask his emotions.

"Well," he said in a voice not quite his own, "now I'm on my own, too." And, bracing his shoulders, he added, "However, Mother will be coming tomorrow."

And what about "And this?" She

"What about me?" Jenny shouted, them?" She pointed to his comrades, pointed to his red star.

"Don't worry!" Olga said to Timur, shaking herself out of her reverie. "You've always thought about others, and they'll do the same to you."

Timur raised his head.

Grand, straightforward lad that he was, he answered exactly as might have been expected.

He swept his eyes over his comrades, smiled, and said:

"I see everybody feels fine. Then I feel fine too!"

1940




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