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A handsome boy

Kind soul

This is a story that, for sure, can be retold with other actors and a different geography, familiar if not to everyone, then, perhaps, to a lot.

This is a story about mercy. The fabulous beginning: “Once upon a time there was a boy” is very suitable here. Because the boy really lived, but not very happily. His parents took care of him. But they almost never read to him, they didn’t tell him fairy tales, his mother never sang a lullaby. All I learned as a preschooler was TV.

But there was another life there. And he lived without friends. Taciturn by nature, so also the parents did not develop the sociability of their son. And they considered it the norm. What are the claims against them, the parents were sure, if they both work. Nothing fell from the sky on the family. There were no rich relatives who left an inheritance. So, we have to work ourselves so that there is always food in the house. And to have clothes. And on your day off, at least sleep it off. What kind of circus or zoo is there! And then, the entrance there is not free. It is better to buy something useful for this money.

It is not necessary to condemn such parents. They need to be sympathetic. They grew up like that, there was no other example before their eyes, well, they raise their son in the image and likeness. And the boy had a sensitive soul. Probably, everyone is born with such a soul. It’s only later that she gets stale if the adults around don’t mind, as his dad used to say. The first time he said that, when his son dragged a small kitten from the street, who had just opened his eyes. I wanted to tell you how I heard his plaintive crying in the bushes and couldn’t leave him alone. Although he was honestly looking for a mom cat or a dad cat in these bushes. But there were none. And the kitten stuck out a tiny tongue and seemed to be asking for water. Or maybe milk. When Dad opened the door, the boy immediately held out the kitten.

– This is just not enough! Dad said. – Take it back where you got it!

Dad called his wife. When she saw the kitten, she threw up her hands:

– Who allowed you to drag all sorts of half-dead and lousy kittens into the house? Take it immediately! To the spirit of it was not!

How to carry it? Where to? Into the bushes? But Mom had already pushed him out the door. He was coming down the stairs, hugging the kitten to him, and he could hear the heart beating. And cried.

A door opened on the ground floor. This is Varvara’s grandmother, who lived alone and rarely went outside because she was very old, heard him crying.

– Stasik, what happened?

He showed the kitten.

“Wait, I’ll get the glasses,” Grandma said.

She came back with glasses on her forehead. And she began to look at the kitten.

“Where are you taking him?” “What is it?” she asked. – He won’t survive alone.

– I wanted to leave him with us. But Mom and Dad don’t allow it. They told me to take it back to where I took it. And I found him in the bushes. He was crying, no one was there…

– Well, come on, come in, Stasik! – Grandmother Varvara called him.

That’s when Stasik saw for the first time how you can feed a little half-blind kitten. Grandma poured some milk into a glass and took a pipette. So little by little she gave the kitten milk. And he liked it! He ate everything.

“Stan,” said Grandma Varvara, “let him stay with me. I can’t leave it for good. Suddenly I’ll die. And I will help the kitten get stronger. And then, if none of the neighbors will take it for themselves, I will ask our janitor to give it to a cat shelter. Don’t cry, baby! I won’t hurt a kitten! Come check on him.

– Can I not tell Mom and dad that I didn’t throw the kitten away?

– That’s right, and don’t tell me. And I won’t betray you. You did well to save him. The kitten is not to blame for being an orphan…

Stasik slowly climbed the stairs home and wondered why he didn’t have such a grandmother Varvara. But he didn’t have any grandmother at all. Just Mom and Dad. And they kicked the kitten out…

In the morning, Stasik went to his grandmother. She greeted him with words:

– Everything is fine with your kitten. I slept all night. Didn’t meow. Only in the morning. He asked me for milk. I ate and went back to sleep.

“Can I see him?” Stasik asked.

– Of course! Here he is sleeping in a box. On my warm handkerchief to make it softer.

…As an adult, Stas did not forget his grandmother Varvara. She was the only one among all his acquaintances, the one who pitied animals, treated them as best she could, fed them. And she attached it to people, then to a shelter. But I didn’t kick her out on the street. And it was Grandmother Varvara who gave Stas the first lesson of mercy.

Stasik, going out into the yard and seeing the guys, approached them. He wanted to tell me about the kitten. About how the baby drank a drop of milk from a pipette, and then slept soundly. But just started talking, the guys said:

– Well, and play with all sorts of lichen kittens! You’re weird. Do you feel sorry for worms too? Maybe rats, too? And we’re playing a war game. And we don’t need such bunglers.

And they went to another yard. Stasik knew before that the guys didn’t want to be friends with him. And why? Maybe because Dad didn’t allow me to give a bike to other people’s children? Or because Stasik, when he saw a sparrow fall out of the nest, did not step on it, but carried it to the side to bury it? No, Stasik knew boys and girls. Only temporary. And to be friends for a long time, it did not work out – they lived far from Stasik’s house. To say that he was bored alone is not true. He became a book reader early on. And it turned out like this.

Somehow he was leaving the apartment at the same time with a neighbor. She was carrying two hefty stacks of books. And she told Stasik:

– That’s what your Internet is doing! The books were superfluous. I do not understand… But mine said to give it away or take it somewhere longer… And I’m carrying it!

Stasik then had, well, maybe a dozen books. They didn’t buy it for him because Mom said: “It’s expensive!”. And he didn’t have a computer. He didn’t expect to. So I plucked up the courage and asked:

– Can I have your books?

-Stasik, you can and you can again! Take it! And I don’t have to drag them anywhere…

So at one point Stasik became a book rich man. That’s when I read for the first time about Dr. Aibolit. The book was strange, it was not flipped through, but unfolded. And each new folding page with a drawing. Stas guessed that the book was for kids. But how interesting! Then I saw the book “White Fang”. He read it in two days – he couldn’t tear himself away. But I was afraid to read in front of my parents. They will also begin to scold that someone has brought discarded books into the house. Then I began to read everything. I stopped because I couldn’t read because of tears: it was a “White Bim Black Ear”.

Well, he shed tears! I recognized many people in the characters. Even your parents. It’s good that Thumbelina was next. He always liked swallows. So how could you not like this one? When Thumbelina cured her, the swallow took her far, far away. Where happiness is. But Stasik was not angry with the mole either. I regretted that I was blind. And then I read Kashtanka. But he wasn’t crying anymore. “I wonder,” thought Stasik, “how it was better for her: when she was a Kashtanka or an Aunt?”. I didn’t miss the “White Poodle” either. And what a clever and glorious Artemon was from “The Adventures of Pinocchio!” He was Malvina’s most devoted friend. And although Stas understood that the “Golden Key” was a fairy tale, he believed in Artemon’s intelligence and devotion once and for all. In short, Stas reread all the books that he got from a neighbor. And somehow I asked her:

– And who did you like books about animals? There are so many of them! And how interesting they are! That’s why it hurts me that everyone loved these books. They grew up on them. Tears were shed or rejoiced at a good end. And now they’re stuck in the computer, watching a movie. No, I’m not arguing – it’s an interesting film about Beethoven. And about Hachiko in general is amazing. But our books are no worse. Have you read about Bulka?

– We don’t have such a book.

– And you probably don’t have a computer. You can also read there. Go to the library and get Tolstoy. You’ll love it!

So unexpectedly for himself, Stas signed up for the district children’s library. But he didn’t want to admit to his parents – he doubted that they would like the fact that he would go for books. And if he loses it? Then you will have to pay either three times, or five times. And since he did not confess to his parents, and, accordingly, did not show either mom’s or dad’s passport, there was a reading room left. Well, that’s fine! An hour and a half a day later in the reading room, and the parents did not notice anything. But here you could read books on cynology. Stas didn’t even know that this was a whole science…

Now Stasik himself did not want to play with the guys – he had no time. However, I really wanted to tell someone about what I read. I managed to retell the “White Beam” to my grandmother Varvara. Three years ago, she gave away a strong and fluffy kitten, which Stas once found in the bushes. I gave it to the janitor to put in a shelter. And Stas knew that the cat would not be hungry there, that evil boys would not tie a tin can to his tail, they would not close it in the basement.

Then Grandmother Varvara became seriously ill. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance. And they didn’t bring her back – she died. And other people began to live in her apartment. But Stasik did not come to them.

In the 7th grade, Stas was allowed to leave the yard. But the time of return was constant: no later than eight in the evening in winter and nine in summer. And he visited all the pet stores in the area, became his own in two dog kennels, he was also known in the veterinary clinic. Stas there willingly helped at receptions. Then his dream matured: to become a doctor Aibolit, an animal doctor. But he didn’t tell me about it at home. He received a beating from his parents not so long ago. This is because mom, returning from work, caught him doing something wild for her: Stas was saving a fly from a spider’s web. He himself was entwined in this web, but continued to carefully release the insect, which was doomed to buzz. He also sentenced:

– Well, be patient, Fly-Clatter! One wing is already at large. Now I’ll pull out the second one…

Mom, seeing this and hearing it, screamed to the whole yard:

– Stas! Are you normal? Are you all right in the head? Well, show me someone else who would save a fly? Go home and go to the bathroom! And wash everything you’re wearing. I won’t wash your clothes after a spider web and a fly!

It’s good that Stas managed to pull out the second wing of the fly. And she flew away. Otherwise, Mom could have swatted her. But Dad, when mom told me what she found her son doing, said:

– Be grateful that I didn’t see it! Is that what’s in your head? All the boys are like boys, and my doctor is every kind of creature. So study to be a zoo technician. Then we will have both meat and milk.

Stas understood about the milk: cows live to give milk. And where’s the meat from? I didn’t dare to ask. And later I figured it out myself. And since then I have not eaten cutlets. And he explained this by saying that he does not like spicy.

– Don’t make it up! Mom said. – Cutlets should be with garlic, onion and pepper. If you don’t want to, eat one side dish. Father will have more cutlets. And I don’t have time to cook for you separately.

Then they built a new circus in their city. Stas often began to come there after school. He was standing behind the fence and saw how the dog artists were walking. Basically, they were poodles. They behaved with each other like real friends. And the trainer was understood from the first word. It was obvious that they were well cared for. The poodles were clean and combed.

And once Yuri Kuklachev came. And he brought the “Cat Theater” with him. Cats also went out for a walk in the afternoon. And Stas saw one cat very similar to the kitten he brought to Grandma Varvara. The cats didn’t behave at all like the dogs that walked here an hour ago. They were not running around the enclosure, but walking. Indeed, the artists of the cat theater!

Stas began to read about the circus of animals. And I learned so much! Then his desire to be a veterinarian was shaken. And then he got carried away with parrots. In the pet store for six months in a beautiful and large cage lived a luxurious parrot Sasha. Probably many people would like to buy it. But Sasha was very expensive. And besides, Sasha lived quite well here. Not hungry, that’s for sure. Many buyers, coming here for cat or dog food, asked the seller if it was possible and what to treat Sasha. He allowed it. And Sasha also turned his nose, that is, his beak, around: he took something, and something did not. But they forgave him everything when he started reciting Pushkin. He started so softly: “Lukomorye has a green oak,” and then raised his voice and shouted “And their uncle is with them!”. It wasn’t the end. But Sasha always broke off the verse at this point. And Stas wanted to know so much, does he still know?

Stas also got acquainted with the bluebirds. The last winter was very harsh. And how did he not guess that these birds were starving and freezing without food? And when I was returning from school one day, I saw my grandfather and grandson. The boy was about six years old. But he had already saved the birds. Together with my grandfather. He was attaching a plastic flask with a hole cut out on a tree. When I attached it, I planted my grandson. And he began to put pieces of bacon in the hole. How the titmice found out about it, for Stas remained a mystery. But three tits immediately flew in, dived their heads into the hole, fished out a piece of fat and sat down next to a branch. Then we dived again for more…

Stas then asked this grandfather what else can be given to blue tits. And Grandpa replied:

– I don’t know for sure. I do it the way my grandfather did. He fed the tits every winter. And they probably chirped at the sight of him for that… So it’s better not to take risks – feed lard. Just so that there is not a lot of salt on it.

Stas came home, found an empty plastic bottle, made a hole in the middle of it and went to look for a rope or wire. I didn’t find any wire. I risked cutting off the tail from the clothesline on the balcony. Then I took another chance: I opened the refrigerator and took out a piece of bacon.

– Well, if Mom notices, I’ll get the first number. Although… Mom knows that I don’t eat lard.

And cut off a piece. Then he divided it into small strips and hid it together with the feeding bottle and rope in a backpack. Mom didn’t notice the missing piece of bacon. She noticed something else: she went to the balcony to hang kitchen towels and found that there was almost no end of the rope. And he was needed: when there was a lot of laundry, mom added this piece of rope, tying it perpendicular to another row of clothesline. Mom always noticed everything. And now I came out and went straight to Stas:

– Why do you need a rope? Stas did not expect such a quick exposure. I didn’t want to lie. And I was afraid to tell the truth: then Mom would find out about the fat. And yet I had to lie. On the move, he came up with the idea that he cut a piece of rope to take a no-man’s dog to a shelter. Mom seemed to believe it. But she said it anyway:

– And no one else could take it away?

Stas said nothing. It would be morning sooner. He will leave the house right after his parents. And before the lessons begin, he will have time to attach a feeder at the opposite end of the park. And there the school is just around the corner.

But he did not expect that two classmates would find him doing this. They also went to school through the park. And they saw what Stas was doing. The girls exchanged conspiratorial glances, grabbed Stas’s backpack, which he had left under a tree, and ran away. He didn’t immediately, but he saw it. But I couldn’t stop attaching the feeder: most of the work was done. Having attached it, I went to school without a backpack.

When I entered the classroom, I realized that I was about to receive a portion of evil jokes. And he was right. Classmates surrounded him, and it began:

– The bird’s friend has appeared!

– Do you feed them to roast them later?

– Why are you doing this, Stas? These tits then shit everywhere. I got my new sneakers dirty because of them!

The teacher who entered the classroom stopped this farce. She demanded to be told what the fuss was about. The very girls who stole Stas’ backpack took it upon themselves to explain. From their story it turned out that Stas breaks branches, fixing the feeder. And then, when it’s hot, the trees don’t give shade. And it is still unknown what he was going to put in the feeder. And if something is harmful to the squirrels that also live here? It’s a pity that Stas had such a teacher. She listened only to the girls, but did not listen to Stas. She was impressed by the branches that Stas, according to the girls, broke. And she called his parents to school.

It was the parents’ first call. But Stas guessed what was waiting for him at home. Now he will be forbidden to go out on the street. Straight home from school. And how long he will be punished, the father will think and say. But it was already clear to Stas that tomorrow the bluebirds would not find a single piece of fat in the feeder. They will come again and again. Hungry and cold. And spring is not coming soon. There are no larvae and insects yet and will not be for a long time. And Stas imagined how these birds were slowly dying. And decided to rebel. He took out his piggy bank, shook out all the change and in the morning bought lard with all the money in the store. I also asked him to cut it into small pieces. The saleswoman looked at him in surprise. And he didn’t lie here. He said it was for the blue tits. Into the feeder. She smiled:

– And when I was at school, I fed the bluebirds in winter. Did you probably get the money for lard out of the piggy bank? Got everything out?

And then Stas did not lie: – Yes, every penny.

– Well, don’t worry! Come back tomorrow, too. I’ll pay for the bacon. And thank you! It is difficult for the birds that have not flown to the south in winter. And you’re good!

So Stas had fat in his backpack again. But this time, in order not to meet his liar classmates again, he went to school first. And I checked my backpack several times to see if the fat was still there. It was where Stas had put it back in the store. Then, before the last lesson, he approached the teacher and said that he had a very bad headache. He was sent to the infirmary. And there, Stas didn’t even believe it, there was a real temperature on the thermometer that the school nurse gave him. And Stas was sent home. They also told me to call an ambulance or, at the very least, a doctor at home tomorrow. The main thing is that he goes home, and on the way he will feed the tits.

Stas immediately told his mother that he had been released from school – he had a fever. Mom was worried. She loved her son. Only within some limits. Her parents have never hugged or kissed her, and she is also with her son. Moreover, he’s not a girl. What kind of tenderness can there be! Mom herself has never had whiskers and tailed. Well, why should my son? From them only worms and fleas. But now she’s not thinking about it – Stas is sick. Rub it properly, tea with raspberries, socks with mustard – this will help. And tomorrow he will take his temperature. If he is in the morning, he will call a doctor. And if not, let him skip school for one day, and then study. Stas had to not feed the blue tits for one day. He didn’t leave the house.

And the next day Stas was lucky: on the way to school he met the same grandfather and grandson. And I told them that I also hung up the feeder. At the other end. But it does not work to feed every day: parents believe that this is pampering. Grandfather chuckled, but didn’t say anything about it. But he asked where exactly Stas hung the feeder. And Stas showed it.

“Don’t worry about it,” Grandfather said. – We will put your tits on the allowance, too.

…That’s how Stas would have lived, from time to time deceiving his parents in order to help someone from homeless animals and birds. But the unexpected happened: the crow mixed up all the cards. An ordinary city crow. Black. Loud. Much larger and bluebirds, and swallows, and sparrows, and even pigeons. And it was like this.

Stas was walking home. Still the same park. And he looked around him and under his feet: this habit helped Stas to find those who were in trouble. As he walked, he noticed a crow in the grass a little further down the path. She somehow sat askew and looked with her beady eyes. And she didn’t croak. But she didn’t fly away either.

– Are you that brave? Aren’t you afraid of me? Stas bent over the crow.

And either it seemed to him, or indeed there were tears in the crow’s eyes.

– What are you doing? – Stas stretched out his hand to the crow.

The crow neither ran away nor flew away. She flapped only one wing. And the second one was broken or broken.

– You’ll be lost here! Stas said to the crow. – Just get caught by a dog or a cat, and that’s it! You can’t fly away or escape! Let me help you!

And then Stas realized that the bird had heard him. She didn’t flutter when he picked her up. Exhausted, she pressed herself sideways to Stas with a healthy wing and fell silent. Promise – promised to help, but Stas didn’t know how. He turned around and went to the veterinary clinic. There they conjured over the crow, put something like a tire on the broken wing and said:

– We can’t keep her. We don’t have a single cell. And she, flightless and non-fleeing, really needs care. It is necessary to feed and water. In a word, we must take care. So, boy, take her to your house and take care of her. Crow’s injury is serious. But not fatal. Can you handle it?

Stas nodded his head. And I did it, rather, automatically. Later, on the way home, I realized: there is no certainty that he will be allowed to keep the bird until it recovers. But there was nowhere to retreat. And he brought the crow home. He gave me water and threw crumbs. The crow did not eat. She drank and became quiet. She must have fallen asleep. The pain wasn’t like that anymore. It became easier with the tire. And then my parents came home from work. And it started!

– Who didn’t you pick up, – Mom said angrily. – But it’s necessary to think of bringing a crow into the house! It’s not a bird. He is a robber and a glutton. Yes, she will turn the whole apartment upside down!

Stas tried to explain that the crow had a broken wing. She can’t survive without protection.

– The defender was found, – the pope intervened. – There are wild animals. But there are also robber birds. This one is just like that. Although with a sick wing. In short, take her away faster!

– You can’t leave her! – Stas was ready to cry. – Let her stay with us! The wing will heal, and I’ll let her out.

– Stas, that’s enough! Tired of it! If you’re not turning a house into a kennel, then you’re turning it into a crow settlement. Take it away, I told you. Leave her, if you feel so sorry for this crow, somewhere in the entrance! – mom was already screaming.

– Then I ‘ll be at the entrance ! – Stas himself did not expect that he would say this.

He did not expect such a response from his parents either:

– Don’t threaten me! If a crow is dearer to you than your parents, then live to your health in the entrance! Dad said.

Stas took a crow and a saucer of water and went out. He, however, still hoped that his parents would immediately return him – the first time they sent him to live in the entrance. But the parents kept the stamp – no one left his apartment until late in the evening. And Stas was sitting with the crow on the steps. But he didn’t leave her. I was afraid that I would have to sit like this all night. But what does the crow have to do with it? And the parents trembled. Here it is worth saying once again that they loved their son. But still a strange love. As in the old joke: loved here, but not here. To take care – they took care. But only within the limits that were considered necessary. And this hobby of the son was not considered necessary. But they did not expect such a turn. And they threw out the white flag – they surrendered.

They called their son home, allowing the crow to stay in the apartment until he recovers. They had to endure for a long time – two whole months. But there was no talk that it was time for the crow to go out. They remembered how her son protected her. And the day came when Stas went to the vet. He examined the wing of the bird, praised first Stas, and then the bird:

– You looked after her well, boy! And you, the crow, probably obeyed him. Look how she got better! And feathers at least for the exhibition. Your ward is healthy. Where will you release it? In the park?

Stas thought about it and decided that it would be better to let him out of his window. If something is wrong, it will be easier for the crow to return.

– Well, it makes sense! – said the vet.

Stas came home. And I didn’t know whether to wait for my parents to release the crow in front of them, or to please them that the crow had flown away. I decided to wait anyway.

But neither mom nor dad wanted to see the crow leave their apartment, flying out of the window. In the morning, just in case, Stas poured food on the windowsill. And before he could move away, a crow flew in and began pecking at him. At the same time, she also looked at Stas. Now every morning, as scheduled, the crow flew here for breakfast. I recognized the window unmistakably. When mom changed the curtains, Stas doubted whether the crow would find the window? And she found it right away.

And then one deep night, when both Stas and his parents were asleep, there was a knock at the window. Persistent and incessant. Then, instead of knocking, there was a loud annoying cawing. It was impossible not to hear him. Everyone in the apartment heard it. And when we woke up, it seemed that a strange smell was coming from the kitchen…

Dad jumped up and rushed to the kitchen. There was a fire burning there. The curtain was on fire, napkins on the windowsill, where mom usually left them, and the tablecloth began to burn. As it turned out later, the fire was caused by faulty wiring. Dad and Stas managed to put it out, who boldly rushed to help. When the firefighters arrived, there was no work for them anymore…

– Thank you, crow! – mom said, opening the window of Stas’ room.

But the crow has already flown away. She saved them, Stas and his parents. And maybe not only them – the fire, if they hadn’t woken up, could have defected to other apartments.

… Now, instead of Stas, mom can pour food on the windowsill for the crow, or dad can do it. And they can also, by opening the window when the crow is having breakfast, invite her to visit. And she accepted the invitation several times, making a couple of laps around the apartment. And without destroying anything at the same time. Now, in general, Stas’s parents do not object to animals, which he still does not leave in trouble.

And on Stas’ birthday he was given a dwarf poodle. Stas couldn’t believe his eyes. But it really was. And in general, his parents have become warmer, or something. Kinder to animals. And still, on occasion, they tell how they were saved by a crow. And mom now often says that all living things have the right to life.

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