The characters in this sequence are colorful and "on the road vintage" which located Henryk's heart" at the time.Wandering the city expanded Henryk's horizons and to serve him in good stead gaining insight into the suffering of the children.
Muzzle on the Soul
There were few who knew that Henryk Goldszmit was leading a double life. The medical student lived dutifully at home with his widowed mother, but his other self, Janusz Korczak, the tortured writer, prowled through the roughest slums of the city alone or in the company of Ludwik Licinski, a friend from the Flying University.
Four years Henryk´s senior, Licinski, a poet and ethnographer, was always on the road, giving as his full address: Warsaw. Like other writers in the Young Poland movement-as this fin de siècle literary group was called-he delighted in attacking the materialism of the bourgeoisie, whom they looked on as philistines. Licinski would succumb at an early age to tuberculosis contracted during exile in Siberia, but at this time in his brief life, he was a good companion for Henryk, who "felt he was dying in his tiny apartment with his overprotective mother." At night they wandered the sandy banks ofthe Vistula River, celebrated the name days ofprostitutes, and got drunk on "stinking" vodka." He could play on those people´ s heartstrings in the most subtle way," Licinski recalled. "The murderer Lichtarz told him: "I would give my soul for you."
Zofia Nalkowska came along one night during her "last fling" before marriage to Leon Rygier. She drank vodka from the bottle, kissed the mistress of a laundry owner, and enjoyed flirting with Licinski, who was hopelessly in love with her. Henryk felt a sense of liberation in this rough quarter too-but of a different kind. His soul, which was "howling like a dog," was being unleashed.
"I dreamed I was a poodle," Janek (a diminutive of Janusz) begins the semi-autobiographical novel that Henryk was writing at this time. "My coat was shaved. I felt somewhat cold in that attire, but knowing my master was pleased with me, I wagged my tail merrily and gazed devotedly into his eyes. . . . I had no fleas, worries or responsibilities. However, I had to be obedient and faithful while demonstrating the intelligence that is expected of a poodle."
The poodle is undone when a passerby looks at him with pity instead of admiration, his eyes saying: "This dog has a muzzle on his soul." Totally demoralized, the poodle can neither eat nor sleep, and reaches a point of such disorientation that he bites his master's hand. He is about to be shot when the author wakes up from his dream.
The book, Child of the Drawing Room, is about awakening. Janek realizes he has slept through his life trying to conform to his parents´ idea of what he should be. Feeling suicidal, as if he has "lost his soul," he leaves home with a snarl at his mother and father: "Get off my back! Get off-or I´ll bite!"
He manages to sublet the tenth bed in a room already occupied by the families of a factory locksmith and horse-carriage driver, spends his last kopeck at a bar, panhandles on the street, and follows a prostitute home. But he has no interest in seducing her. "Tell me a story" he asks, as they lie together in bed. "You're boring," is her response. "I feel sorry for you," he says, hogging all the covers as he relates the plan that he and his friend Stash once had to rehabilitate prostitutes.