Journalist Shtamm, whose "Letters from the Provinces" were signed "Etal," among other pseudonyms, had decided to set out--on the heels of his letters--for Moscow.
Shtamm believed in his elbows and in the ability of Etal to swap drops of ink for rubles, but the question of living space worried him. He knew that on the metropolitan chessboard, squares had not been set aside for all of the chessmen. People who had been to Moscow scared you; the buildings are all packed to the rafters. You have to camp in vestibules, on backstairs, on boulevard benches, in asphalt cauldrons, and in dustbins.
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