Yama: the pit eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 474 pages of information about Yama.

Platonov remembered well his first experiences of last year.  What swearing—­virulent, mocking, coarse—­poured down upon him when for the third or fourth time he had been gaping and had slowed up the passing:  two watermelons, not thrown in time, had smashed against the pavement with a succulent crunch, while the completely lost Platonov dropped the one which he was holding in his hands as well.  The first time they treated him gently; on the second day, however, for every mistake they began to deduct from him five kopecks per watermelon out of the common share.  The following time when this happened, they threatened to throw him out of the party at once, without any reckoning.  Platonov even now still remembered how a sudden fury seized him:  “Ah, so?  The devil take you!” he had thought.  “And yet you want me to be chary of your watermelons?  So then, here you are, here you are! ...”  This flare-up helped him as though instantaneously.  He carelessly caught the watermelons, just as carelessly threw them over, and to his amazement suddenly felt that precisely just now he had gotten into the real swing of the work with all his muscles, sight, and breathing; and understood, that the most important thing was not to think at all of the watermelons representing some value, and that then everything went well.  When he, finally, had fully mastered this art, it served him for a long time as a pleasant and entertaining athletic game of its own kind.  But that, too, passed away.  He reached, in, the end, the stage where he felt himself a will-less, mechanical wheel in a general machine consisting of five men and an endless chain of flying watermelons.

Now he was number two.  Bending downward rhythmically, he, without looking, received with both hands the cold, springy, heavy watermelon; swung it to the right; and, also almost without looking, or looking only out of the corner of his eye, tossed it downward, and immediately once again bent down for the next watermelon.  And his ear seized at this time how smack-smack ...smack-smack...the caught watermelons slapped in the hands; and immediately bent downwards and again threw, letting the air out of himself noisily—­ghe...ghe...

The present work was very profitable; their gang, consisting of forty men, had taken on the work, thanks to the great rush, not by the day but by the amount of work done, by the waggon load.  Zavorotny, the head—­an enormous, mighty Poltavian—­had succeeded with extreme deftness in getting around the owner; a young man, and, to boot, in all probability not very experienced as yet.  The owner, it is true, came to his senses later and wanted to change the stipulations; but experienced melon growers dissuaded him from it in time:  “Drop it.  They’ll kill you,” they told him simply and firmly.  And so, through this very stroke of good luck every member of the gang was now earning up to four roubles a day.  They all worked with unusual ardour, even with some sort of vehemence; and if it had been possible to measure with some apparatus the labour of each one of them, then, in all probability, the number of units of energy created would have equalled the work of a large Voronezhian train horse.

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Yama: the pit from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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