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А / Александр Степанович Грин /
Alexander Grin. The seeker of adventure

Alexander Grin. The seeker of adventure
(translated by Barry Scherr)
Origin: "Искатели приключений"
Alexander Grin, "The Seeker of Adventure, Selected Stories",
М., Прогресс, 1978, 484 с.
OCR: Ivi ---------------------------------------------------------------

...Denn eben wo Begriffe
Da stellt ein Wort zur rechten
Zeit sich ein.

The traveller Ammon Root returned to his native land after an absence of several years. He stayed with Tonar, an old friend of his, who was the director of a joint-stock company and a person with a shady past-but also a fanatic for decorum and probity. On the very day of his arrival Ammon quarrelled with Tonar over a newspaper editorial, called his friend a minion of the minister, and stepped outside for a walk.
Ammon Root was one of those people who are more serious than they appear at first glance. His travels were not mentioned by the newspapers, nor did they cause a single map to make the slightest change in its depiction of the continents, but they were still absolutely necessary for him. "To live means to travel," he would say to those people who were attached to life just on the side of it that is most warm and steamy, like a hot pie. Ammon's eyes-two eternally greedy abysses-ransacked heaven and earth in their search for new spoils; abysses-everything he saw plunged headlong into them and was packed away once and for all in the fearful crush at the bottom of his memory, to be kept for his own use. In contrast to tourists Ammon saw far more than the museums and churches where the viewers, pretending to be experts, seek ethereal beauty in poorly-executed paintings.
Out of curiosity Ammon Root stopped in at a cafeteria that served vegetarian food. About a hundred people were sitting in the large rooms, which smelled of varnish, paint, freshly-dried wall-paper, and some other particularly abstinent odour. Ammon noticed the absence of any old people. An extraordinary silence, which was out of keeping with even the concept of food, inspired the appetite of anyone coming in to be prayerfully delicate and bodiless, like the very idea of herbivority. The pious but ruddy faces of the health fanatics cast indifferent glances at Ammon. He sat down. The dinner, served to him with a ceremonial and somewhat accentuated solemnity, consisted of a repulsive gruel called "Hercules", fried potatoes, cucumbers, and some insipid cabbage. Ammon poked around with his fork in this gastronomical paltriness, ate a piece of bread and a cucumber, and drank a glass of water; then he snapped open his cigarette case, but he remembered that smoking was prohibited and looked around gloomily. At the tables mouths were chewing sedately and delicately in a death-like silence. Ammon was hungry and sensed opposition welling up within him.

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