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by Nikolai Nosov
Translated by Margaret Wettlin
Illustrated by Boris Kalaushin
Bendum and his helper Twistum were very good tinkers. They looked exactly alike, except that Bendum was the least bit taller and Twistum was the least bit shorter.
Both of them wore leather jackets, and in their pockets they always carried files, wrenches, screwdrivers, and other tools. If the pockets hadn't been made of leather they would have been torn off long ago. Their caps were also made of leather and they had goggles on them. Bendum and Twistum pulled down the goggles when they were working to keep the dust and dirt out of their eyes.
All day long Bendum and Twistum sat in their shop repairing frying-pans, saucepans, tea-kettles, oil stoves, and mincing machines, and when they had nothing to repair they would make tricycles and push-cycles for the boy-Mites.
One day, without saying a word to anybody, Bendum and Twistum shut themselves up in their shop and began to make something. For a whole month they hammered and sawed and filed and soldered without showing anybody what they were working on, and when the month was up it turned out they had made a motor car.
This motor car ran on a mixture of soda-water and syrup. In the middle of the car was a seat for the driver, and in front of this seat was the soda-water tank. The soda-water ran out of the tank into a pipe leading to a brass cylinder with a piston in it. Under the pressure of the soda-water the piston went up and down, up and down, and made the wheels go round. Above the driver's seat was another tank with syrup in it that ran down through a pipe and greased the engine.
Soda-water cars of this sort were very popular among the Mites. But the car that Bendum and Twistum made had one very important improvement: there was a little rubber tube hanging out of the soda-water tank so that the driver could take a sip whenever he wanted it without stopping the car.
Swifty learned to drive the car, and if anyone asked him for a ride, he never refused.
Treacly-Sweeter asked more often than anyone else because he knew he could drink as much soda-water as he liked in the car.
Dunno also enjoyed a ride. But Dunno wanted to learn to drive himself, and one day he said to Swifty:
"Let me steer."
"You don't know how," said Swifty. "This is a motor car and you've got to know how to handle it."
"What's there to know?" Dunno said. "I've seen what you do—just pull levers and turn the wheel. It's very simple."
"It looks simple, but it's really very hard. You'll kill yourself and smash the car."
"All right, Swifty," said Dunno sulkily, "the next time you ask me for something I won't give it to you either."
One day when Swifty was out Dunno saw the car standing in the yard. He climbed into it and began pulling levers and pressing pedals. At first nothing happened, but all of a sudden the car gave a sputter and began to move. Some Mites who were looking out of the window saw this and ran out of the house.
"What are you doing?" they cried. "You'll run into something!"
"No. I won't." said Dunno, but at that very moment he ran into the dog-kennel and smashed it to bits. Fortunately Dot was not inside, or he would have been smashed too.
"Just look what you've done!" cried Doono. "Stop the car this very minute!"
Dunno was frightened. He wanted to stop the car, but he didn't know how. He pulled this lever and that, but instead of stopping, the car went faster than ever. There was a summer-house standing in the yard. Bang! Crash! The summer-house lay in ruins.
Boards came falling about Dunno's ears. One of them struck him on the back, another on the head. He kept turning the steering-wheel back and forth.
"Open the gates or I'll smash everything!" he called out as the car raced round the yard.
The Mites opened the gates and Dunno drove the car into the street. There was such a commotion that all the townsfolk came running out of their houses.
"Out of the way!" shouted Dunno as the car tore along.
Doono, Bendum, P'raps, Dr. Pillman, and some other Mites ran after it but they couldn't catch up. Dunno went tearing about the town, unable to stop the car.
At last it headed for the river and tumbled headlong down the steep bank. Dunno fell out and lay unconscious on the river-bank. The car sank to the bottom of the river.
Doono, Bendum, P'raps, and Dr. Pillman carried Dunno home. They thought he was done for, but as soon as they laid him on the bed he opened his eyes.
"Am I still alive?" he groaned as he looked about him.
"You are," said Dr. Pillman, "but please lie still, I must look you over."
He undressed Dunno and examined him.
"Strange as it may seem, not a bone is broken," he said when he had finished. "But you have a few splinters in you."
"A board caught me on the back," explained Dunno.
"I'll have to take the splinters out," said Dr. Pillman, shaking his head.
"Will it hurt?" asked the frightened Dunno.
"Not at all. Here, I'll take the biggest one out first."
"Ouch!" cried Dunno.
"Why, did it hurt?" asked Dr. Pillman in surprise. "Of course it did!"
"Well, you'll have to grin and bear it. It doesn't really hurt."
"It does so! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"
"Anyone would think I was cutting your throat, the way you shout! What are you shouting for?"
"It hurts! You said it wouldn't, but it does!"
"Don't make so much noise. There's only one splinter left."
"Leave it there. I don't mind having one splinter in me."
"I can't. It'll fester."
"That's all. I'll just paint it with iodine and everything's over."
"Will the iodine hurt?"
"Oh, no. Iodine doesn't hurt. Lie still."
"Come, now! If you're so fond of riding in cars, you've got to take the consequences."
"Oh, oh! It stings!"
"It won't last long. Now I must take your temperature."
"Oh, don't! Please don't!"
"It doesn't hurt to have your temperature taken."
"You always say it doesn't hurt, but it always does."
"Silly! Haven't I ever taken your temperature before?"
"No, you haven't."
"Well, now you'll see it really doesn't hurt," said the doctor, and he went to get the thermometer.
As soon as he was gone Dunno jumped out of bed, the window, and ran off to Gunky's. When Dr. Pillman came back with the thermometer, Dunno was gone.
"A fine patient!" muttered the doctor. "Here I am doing my best to make him well and instead of thanking me, he jumps out of the window and runs away! He ought to be ashamed of himself!"
Author: Nosov N.; illustrated by Kalaushin B.
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