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by Nikolai Nosov
Translated by Margaret Wettlin
Illustrated by Boris Kalaushin
Dunno never could do anything right. He never got beyond reading in syllables, and he could only write printed letters. Some people said his head was empty, but that was not true, because he could not have thought at all if it had been empty. To be sure, he did not think much, but he put his boots on his feet and not on his head, and it takes some thinking to do even that.
He was not a bad chap, all the same. He wanted to learn, but he did not want to work. He wanted to learn without trying, and of course not even the smartest of the Mites could do that.
The boy-Mites and girl-Mites dearly loved music, and Trills was a very good musician. He had all sorts of musical instruments and often played them.
People praised him very much for his playing. This made Dunno jealous, and one day he said to him:
"Teach me to play. I want to be a musician, too."
"Very well," said Trills. "What instrument do you want to play?"
"Which is the easiest?"
"Give it to me, and I'll try it."
Trills gave him a banjo. Dunno strummed on it a bit and then said: "It doesn't make enough noise. Give me something louder."
Trills gave him a fiddle. Dunno sawed away for a little while and then said: "Haven't you something louder?"
"I have a horn," said Trills.
"Let me try that."
Trills gave him a big brass horn. Dunno blew as hard as he could, and it let out a harsh blare.
"That's a good instrument," said Dunno. "It makes a lot of noise."
"Very well, learn to play the horn if you want to."
"Why should I learn?" said Dunno. "I know how without learning."
"No, you don't," said Trills.
"Yes, I do! Listen!" and he blew the horn with all his might.
"You're just blowing. You're not playing," said Trills.
"Not playing?" said Dunno sharply. "I'm playing very well. I'm making a lot of noise."
"You don't want to make noise, you want to make music."
"This is music."
"No, it isn't," said Trills. "I can see you have no ear for music."
"You haven't got an ear yourself," said Dunno angrily. "You're jealous, that's all. You're afraid somebody else'll get some of the praise you like so much."
"That's not true," said Trills. "Take the horn and play as much as you like, if you think you don't have to learn. We'll see how people will praise you!"
"That's just what I'll do," said Dunno.
And he took the horn and began to blow. Since he did not know how, the horn blared and coughed and wheezed. When Trills could stand it no longer, he put on his velvet jacket and the pink bow he wore instead of a necktie, and went to see a friend.
That evening, when everybody was at home, Dunno took out the horn and began to blow it again.
"What's that noise?" they cried.
"It's not a noise," said Dunno, it's me playing."
"Stop it this very minute," said Doono. "It gives me a headache."
"That's just because you aren't used to it. Once you get used to it, it won't give you a headache."
"But I don't want to get used to it."
But Dunno went on blowing.
Boom - boom - girrr - girrr - boom-boom!
"Stop it!" cried all the Mites. "Get out of here with that horrid horn of yours!"
"Where shall I go?"
"Go out into the fields and play there."
"No one will hear me out there."
"Must you have someone hear you?"
"Of course I must."
"Then go outdoors and play to the neighbours."
Dunno went out and began to blow his horn in front of the house next door. The neighbours came out and asked him not to make so much noise. He went to another house, but was sent away from there, too. When the same thing happened at a third house, he blew for all he was worth just for spite. This made all the people angry. They came rushing out of their houses and drove him away. It was all he could do to escape them with his horn.
And he has not played it since.
"Nobody appreciates my music," he said. "They haven't grown up to it yet. When they grow up to it they'll want to hear it, but it will be too late. I won't play for them."
Author: Nosov N.; illustrated by Kalaushin B.
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