Linor Goralik

© Linor Goralik, text, illustrations, 2015
© Simon Hollingsworth, translation from Russian, 2015

Note: this is Part 1 of 5 of the children's book Marting Doesn't Cry. Martin is a small elephant (no larger than a cat) - yet he's full of surprises which can surprise even himself. This highly educated, very eloquent fan of Scottish bagpipes, Russian art songs, jam-covered toast and human company lives with the rather strange Smith-Thompsons family (five kids and two absent parents). And while Martin is really easy to love, he can, obviously, drive anyone crazy - especially Dina, the girl with whom he fell in love at first sight and forever. First published in 2007, Martin Doesn't Cry was received very warmly by both the critics and the audience and won the Hidden Dream Award (премия "Заветная мечта") - one of the most prestigious Russian children’s literature awards. The second edition, published in 2015, was illustrated by the author herself (some pages from the illustrated edition are included below). Currently the book is looking for its international publisher. For any questions, please contact the author's agent Elena Yakovleva, yelena_nn (at)

Recorded as related by Martin Smith-Thompson, who wished this book to be dedicated in memory of Dina.


Chapter 1

“No,” said Ida.
“Yes,” said Mark.
“Oh, please,” said Jeremy and Lou.
“Children,” said Ida, “you want the death of me.”
“Don't worry, children,” said Mark, “Ida is only joking.”
“No,” said Jeremy and Lou, “we don't want the death of you; it's an elephant we want.”
“That’s just crazy,” said Ida
“It’s not a crazy, it’s an elephant,” said Mark.
“Oh, please,” said Jeremy and Lou.
“And I would really appreciate it as well,” said Martin.

And then everyone fell silent.

In fact at that time Martin was not called Martin at all. He was called Test-tube 7 (1). It was on that memorable day, when Test-tube 7 said “And I would really appreciate it as well,” that he almost lost his life, because Jeremy, who all this time had been holding the elephant in his arms, wrapped in a towel (a large white towel with green stars), dropped his burden onto the floor in astonishment and Test-tube 7 had lost consciousness there and then. Lou shrieked and Jeremy fell to his knees, to tend to the elephant. “Oh, no!” he said. “Oh, elephant, elephant, please wake up! Oh! Oh, please! Oh, what is going on? Do wake up!”

With that, Jeremy pulled at Test-tube 7's ears and tried for some reason to straighten out the elephant's trunk. Ida held her palm to her forehead and said “Oh, god!”, while Mark for some reason emptied what was left of her warm, sweet tea over the elephant. The elephant's eyes remained shut, but he was breathing and licking his lips.

For a moment everyone was silent and even Lou stopped shrieking. With his eyes still closed, Test-tube 7 said, “Thank you very much. That's really tasty. Sorry, but I don't feel quite myself.”

And then he was sick.


Two hours later, Jeremy and Lou were lying quietly in their beds with the lights out and torches hidden under their pillows, which they used on other nights to read secretly under the covers (if they had a paper book to read). They didn't argue in whispers, they didn't ask Ida to bring them hot cocoa to drink in bed and they never had thoughts of climbing onto the roof to “study the stars”. They were really, really, really, really, really well behaved, because they had been told,
“One wrong move and there'll be no elephants”.
And there were elephants and, oh, what elephants they were. Quietly sleeping in a cardboard box for a television, on a piece of woollen cloth that Mark had cut from an old overcoat, under a large, white towel with green stars, was Test-tube 7. Lou was listening to the elephant's warm breathing, while Jeremy was listening to what was being said on the other side of the wall, in Mark and Ida's room. It was hard to make everything out but Jeremy was able to get the gist of the conversation of his older brother and sister. It went something like this:

“Perhaps I would mumble-mumble-mumble, but this elephant could turn out to be contagious! Or even aggressive! Or blab mumble-mumble what about mum and dad!” (It was Ida speaking, of course.)
“And I just can't imagine that our parents would mumble-mumble-mumble us an elephant if he was mumble.” (That was Mark responding.)
“Oh, god, Mark. But you know that, let's be frank, mumble-mumble their minds!” (This, of course, was Ida, with her customary bluntness although here Jeremy was unclear about one thing.) “Sorry, Mark, but you and I are adults here, while our mum and dad, let's be frank, mumble-mumble-mumble childen!”
“Stop it, Ida” (this was Mark answering calmly). Even if we wanted to send mumble this elephant, we still don't know where and how. I for one mumble-mumble to sleep and advise you do the same.”
“We could, let's be honest, mumble-mumble him to that Dina,” said Ida. “She is also not really mumble mind,” said Ida.
“Mumble, Ida,” said Mark. “That's it, sleep.”

And they went their separate ways.

Jeremy bit the nail on his little finger, then screwed up the corner of the bedsheet and then got out of bed and went to the elephant in his box. Lou immediately jumped from his bed and also came to sit and look over where Test-tube 7 was sleeping.

“Hey!” said Jeremy in a whisper. The elephant was breathing evenly and did not respond.
“Hey-y-y!” Jeremy repeated and pulled Test-tube 7 gently by the trunk.
“Good morning,” the elephant replied sleepily.
“No, it's not the morning yet,” said Jeremy. “Carry on sleeping. I just wanted to tell you that you're no longer called Test-tube 7. Your name is now Martin. Do you hear?”
“Martin,” said the elephant. “Ma-a-artin. That is such a sweet name.” And he fell straight back to sleep.
“You never asked me,” said Lou in an offended tone.

Chapter 2

Martin, who was previously called Test-tube 7, was sitting on a stool, spreading jam on his toast with the end of his trunk. Jeremy was drinking his coffee in short gulps, while Lou was standing by the window, looking at the neighbour's cat. Their older brother and sister, Ida and Mark, were getting ready to rush to work. Mark was an artist and was dressing windows in a large store, while Ida was a speech therapist, teaching children to pronounce words correctly. It was probably for this reason that Mark was always prepared to take on any assignment, although he was a full 25 years old, while Ida, who had just turned 23, always demanded that those around her clearly expressed their thoughts. Whenever Jeremy and Lou tried to tell fibs, Ida would say, “I hear no metal in your voice!” and the younger brothers would be in no doubt that their number was up.

Ida, Mark, Jeremy and Lou did have a mum and dad, but the children only saw them very seldom; their mum and dad lived and worked in India, at a cloning laboratory (2). They were scientists and really loved their work. It sometimes seemed to Ida, Mark, Jeremy and Lou that their mum and dad loved their work just too much. Mum and dad would send the children emails and funny e-cards. Jeremy and Lou would take it in turns to write to their parents every day, Mark, when he had the time and Ida, who was well disciplined, would write every night before turning in (3). She was a very responsible and disciplined young woman, which is why, when she entered the room and saw Martin spreading jam on his toast, dipping his trunk in the jar, she was aghast.
“Oh, god! Martin! Use your knife!”

Martin was ashamed of himself, licked the end of his trunk, used it to pick up his knife, while muttering, “Sorry, Ida!” Jeremy winked at the elephant and Lou, having managed to climb up and kneel on the window sill, screamed out:
“There she is! There she is!” And he whistled loudly. “There she is! There...! There she is!”

The elder of the two brothers, the nine-year-old Lou, was already battling with the neighbour's cat Alice, while the younger, six-year-old Jeremy, as he himself put it, “made it his responsibility to resolve this conflict”. Jeremy was much like Ida: strict, serious and reserved. The elder brother almost always listened to the younger unless, of course, they were in school and no one could see them. In front of others, Lou called Jeremy a “little maggot” and a “crawler”, to which Jeremy would simply roll his eyes and say, “How monstrously infantile!”

At that moment Lou could not launch anything at the hidden cat Alice, so Jeremy happily continued drinking his coffee and reading the newspaper. Martin jumped from his stool, climbed into Ida's chair and started eating toast and reading the newspaper from the other side. Some time went by with them munching in silence. Jeremy and Lou were not supposed to be going anywhere because during the holidays no one was supposed to go anywhere. The New Year was still all fresh and clean and even the remains of the chocolate pie had not even managed to dull over in the fridge. The younger brothers enjoyed the prospect of the adults now running off, leaving the house at their full disposal for the entire day. Ida and Mark were happy to leave Lou with Jeremy on their own, the moment the latter had turned four.

Jeremy was deep in the newspaper, the front door slammed, having let Ida and Mark out, and Lou jumped from the window sill and rushed straight for the telephone. Before Jeremy, with a shriek, had grabbed his older brother by the trouser leg to stop him, Lou had managed to dial the number and scream into the handset,
“The cat's dead and its tail's fallen off!” The cat's dead and its tail's fallen off! The cat's dead and it's tail...”

At last, Jeremy got to the telephone and broke the connection, but Lou was already chuckling and jumping about, fist-pumping the air in a victory dance. From the window of the house opposite there came a ringing, girl's voice. This voice conveyed a terrible sense of outrage (well, if someone suddenly told you your cat had died and that its tailed had fallen off to boot, you would probably be outraged, too). Jeremy could hear the words:
“Loupie-poopie! Loupie-poopie, what a clown! Loupie-poopie, what a clown! Stay at home, and calm it down!!!”

Lou snorted with delight, while Jeremy sighed heavily. Martin found his gaze being diverted from one brother to the next and, in his interest, he forgot to close his mouth, dripping jam from his toast onto the tablecloth. Jeremy said, “Oh, god!” in a copy of Ida's voice, and shuffled down. He already knew what would happen next. And, indeed, not a minute later, the bell at the door tinkled. Displaying an air of someone worn-out and tired of the monstrous infantilism of those around him, Jeremy began unlocking the door, while the giggling Lou remained upstairs, hiding behind the banisters. Martin, too, then joined Lou on the stairs, leaving his stool and his toast to view the unexpected guest at the House with the Single Column.

Chapter 3

Dina, the girl who lived across the road from the House with the Single Column, had a cat called Alice (4). The cat was given the name Alice by Dina's sister Lori; it was she who brought the fluffy little kitten for Dina's sixth birthday. The kitten was almost pink in colour and then it turned into a huge ginger cat and Lou simply hated the animal. Every time Lou saw Alice, he would whistle after her, or throw something not too heavy in her direction, or, if unable to whistle or throw anything at the cat, he would simply make a face at her (although he understood that it is altogether silly to make faces at a cat, as, to be honest, cats couldn't care less about our ugly faces). In response to us sticking out our ears and tongues (as f a r as possible) and skewing our eyes, as Lou knew only too well from experience, cats simply look at us with inimitable pity. It sometimes seemed to Lou that if Alice the cat could talk (like Martin the little elephant who, incidentally, was no bigger than Alice, the enormous cat), she would simply ask in a quiet voice,
“Are you quite alright?”

But the cat only looked at Lou, with his protruding ears and tongue behind the closed windows with an evident gaze of total pity, while Lou felt quite ashamed of himself, resulting in him getting only madder at Alice.

And so when Lou was unable to tease Alice with any effect, he resorted to that oh-so-strictly forbidden and yet ever-so tempting step of calling Dina and shouting down the phone,
“The cat's dead and its tail's fallen off!”
“The cat's dead and its tail's fallen off!”
“The cat's dead and its tail's fallen off!”

And then Dina would get mad and rush across the road to give Lou a piece of her mind. This time she also came rushing through the door and cried out,
“Lou's a rotten pig!
Lou's a rotten pig!
Lou's a rotten pig!”

Usually Dina would think up some inventive, out-of-the-ordinary insult to shout, such as:
Option 1: “Loupie-poopie, what a clown! Stay at home, and calm it down!”
Option 2: “There he is, that silly Lou, put his foot in doggy-do!”
Option 3: “Lou the pipsqueak, Lou the dummy, he's got sawdust in his tummy!”

Today, however, she could think of nothing clever so, bursting into the House with the Single Column, Dina simply cried out,
“Lou's a rotten pig! Lou's a rotten pig! Lou's a rotten pig!”

Then Lou only chortled even louder and Dina rushed up the stairs to give that rotten pig what for. Dina, Jeremy and Lou were actually as thick as thieves and they were forever quarrelling terribly. How the sparks would fly, so they hated each other sometimes. A couple of times Mark and Ida even had to break up fights, although the rest of the time Dina and Lou and, of course, Jeremy were really very good children. One could even call them mild-mannered. Jeremy, in fact, saw himself as a pacifist.

It was about a year before that Dina and her parents had moved in opposite the House with the Single Column (where Jeremy, Mark, Ida, Lou and now Martin the little, talking elephant lived). From then on not a day passed without Jeremy and Lou climbing through the kitchen window (5) to go and see Dina or without Dina popping over to see them. These three had a whole host of little secrets, some ten big secrets and even one Really Terrible Secret (6). This time, though, Dina charged up the stairs, set on giving Lou a real shiner, her tousled red hair charging behind her like a fiery cloud and her trousers ruffling like a dozen angry hedgehogs.

To be honest, Lou was genuinely scared; he even thought about making a run for it and locking himself away from Dina in the bedroom. But totally unexpectedly for him, he stumbled over something grey and soft. Lou crashed to the floor, but the onrushing Dina just stopped and did not say a word; from downstairs, Jeremy, who had not heard the battle roars, raised his head and was as if struck dumb.

“What is that?” Dina asked quietly.
“It's an elephant,” said Lou from the floor.
“Oh, god,” said Dina.
“Wow,” said Jeremy.
“Hello,” said Martin.
“Oh, god,” said Dina.
“He's a talking elephant,” said Lou.
“His name is Martin,” said Jeremy.
“I can't believe it,” said Dina.
“It seems I am in love,” said Martin.

Chapter 4

Elephants can fall in love. Martin, who was previously known as Test-Tube 7, was not your ordinary elephant: Mark, Ida, Jeremy and Lou's mum and dad had cloned him in a laboratory in far-away India. Therefore, no one really knew what Martin could do that regular elephants could not and what Martin couldn't do that regular elephants could. For example, Martin was a talking and even a reading elephant; he could eat with a knife and fork, he was polite and attentive in conversation and he never blew his nose in the carpet, although the temptation was considerable. Usually elephants are not able to do anything like this. However, Martin didn't know how to eat cane and he didn't know how to spray himself with water from his trunk like regular elephants do when they wash. Martin had to be washed in a hot bath and with nothing other than coconut bubbles. Jeremy often suspected that the bathing wasn't really about Martin not being able to wash himself, but it was nice bathing Martin; he would beat up steam with his trunk like people use birch twigs in a steam bath and he would make big soap bubbles for Jeremy and Lou, which would float to the ceiling and burst with coconut splashes. Jeremy and Lou used a child's bath to wash Martin, a bath that had been used to wash them when they had been little. This was because Martin, although an adult elephant, was really very small himself. At least he had been up till now.

Now, though, Jeremy and Lou looked in horror at the elephant, who was now bigger than an average-sized dog, a spaniel for example. When Martin had rushed to take a look at the unexpected visitor, he had stood between the balusters to look down. Now Martin was twice the size and the two balusters on either side of him creaked and snapped. And then everyone loudly exclaimed,


“Martin,” said Jeremy, “what the heck?”
“It's not a heck,” said Martin, “It's me. I'm in love.”
“Stop it,” said Jeremy. “Answer me right now: why are you so ENORMOUS?”
“You must be crazy, Jem,” said Dina. “It's some dwarf elephant.”
“Just hold on a sec,” said Jeremy. “Well, Martin?”
“I'm all flustered,” said Martin.
“Imagine how flustered I am!” said Jeremy. “So, you're growing, is that it?”
“I don't know,” said Martin. “It's hard to say.”

He looked at Dina, his gaze misted over and, suddenly, Martin grew ten centimetres taller. Another two balusters cracked and with it the handrail.

“I think I'll move back,” said Martin, slowly removing himself from the balusters and keeping his eyes fixed on Dina. Now he took up almost the entire landing and Lou had to shuffle right to the edge of the top step.
“OH, GOD,” said Dina.
“I'm all flustered,” said Martin. “I musn't get flustered. The doctors warned me. But I'm so flustered. So really, really flustered.” And with that Martin grew in size once more and Lou had to jump a couple of steps down.

Dina moved back, her back now firmly against the wall.

“What do you mean, musn't?!” cried Jeremy. “You musn't?! What, and I can?! You'll drive me to a heart attack, you will!”
“I'm sorry, Jeremy,” said Martin. “Don't shout at me, because I am all flustered as it is and when I'm flustered, I get bigger. They warned me about that.”
“To what size?” asked Lou.
“No one knows,” said Martin.
“So what was it that got you all flustered?” asked Lou.
“I'm in love,” said Martin and his gaze misted over again, but here the children all shouted in unison,
“Hey! Hey! Hey!”
And Jeremy said,
“The ceiling here is two metres forty. Let's get him out into the yard smartish. We'll think about what to do then.”

Chapter 5

Once Dina, Jeremy and Lou had managed to push Martin, now the size of a hefty great armchair, through the doorway, it turned out that it was a really lovely day outside. That meant that at any moment any of the neighbours could appear in the yard at any moment.
“What do we have to do to get you to shrink?” asked Jeremy. “Tell us now, while there's no one around.”
“I don't know,” said Martin. “The process could be irreversible. Love is a terrible thing. My heart is pounding like a pump. Dina, I love you.”
“Oh, god,” said Dina.
“Say: 'What a lovely surprise!' to me,” Martin requested. And here Lou let out a screech, as Martin had suddenly got bigger still and had crushed his foot.
“Say it this instant, Dina,” ordered Jeremy. “Or we'll all go crazy here.”
“What a lovely surprise,” said Dina.
“It doesn't sound very sincere,” said Martin with reproach. “Aren't you ashamed? I'm serious, you know.”
“Shrink, this instant,” ordered Jeremy.
“I can't,” said Martin, “I don't know how. No one has ever looked into this problem. From a research point of view, I mean. It was thought to be a slight side effect.”
“Oh, god,” said Jeremy.
“Forgive me,” said Martin.
“I think I'll run off,” said Dina.
“No, please,” said Martin “Oh, what a nightmare.” And he grew to the size of a wardrobe.

As already mentioned, elephants can fall in love. It's in their genes. They fall in love once and forever. And for elephants “forever” lasts about three hundred years. And for about three hundred years, once he has fallen in love, an elephant will never have eyes for anyone else. So Martin had a good sense of what three hundred years of lonely torment would be after Dina had run off and he became all of a fluster and became seriously larger. It was then that Jeremy realised that decisive action had to be taken.

“Right,” said Jeremy. “Dina, go home right now. Martin, don't roll your eyes, she'll be back. Just not right now. Right now we have a problem.”
“Will you be back?” Martin asked Dina.
“Yes, I will,” said Dina, “unless I wake up from this awful dream. This is crazy. An ELEPHANT has fallen in love with me.”
“Do come back,” said Martin. “My love for you is never-ending (7). Elephants have a really long 'never-ending'. So you can count on me.”
“For sure,” said Dina and, with that, she disappeared.

Martin sighed.

“Lou,” said Jeremy, “bring the keys from the garage. They're hanging by the door.”
“He won't fit in the garage,” said Lou, glancing at Martin with a look of doubt.
“I'm not fat at all,” said Martin nervously and drew in his tummy.
“He'll fit, as long as he doesn't get flustered,” said Jeremy.
“I can't help getting flustered,” said Martin. “The object of my love has disappeared into the dark of night and I am tormented by foreboding.”
“It's four o'clock in the afternoon,” said Jeremy. “Stop that right now.”
“I will breathe holotropically to calm myself,” promised Martin.
“Be my guest,” said Jeremy. “Only don't go sucking up all the rags in the garage, like a vacuum cleaner, ok?”
“This is no joking matter,” said Martin in an offended tone.
“Sorry,” said Jeremy and he and Lou led Martin to the garage.

Martin did fit, but it was perfectly clear that another couple of instances getting flustered and there would be no pulling him out of there.

Chapter 6

If anyone had thought to take a look into the garage after Jeremy and Lou had hidden Martin there, they would have concluded they had lost their mind: in the garage of this regular town house stood a small elephant (small, from the standpoint of those who were unfamiliar with Martin's normal size), with two boys, one eight and the other six, each singing, telling horror stories, shouting loudly and even attempting to elicit lamenting sounds from two mouth organs.

Lou and Jeremy were ready to drop from exhaustion.
“I can't go on,” said Jeremy. “That damn elephant won't shrink for anything.”
“I'm dead on my feet,” said Lou.

Martin looked guiltily at the brothers.

“But you really got me scared with that story about the...(8) I swear. My knees were knocking and my heart was rocking. You have such a talent with the horror stories,” he said.
“It'd be better if your knees were shrinking and not knocking,” said Lou.
“Oh come on,” said Jeremy. “It's not his fault.”
“And I was really touched by that song about...”
“Don't make excuses, Martin,” said Jeremy. “It will work itself out, you'll see.”
“I'm all flustered because...” began Martin and his gaze misted over.
“No! No! No!” cried Jeremy and Lou, and Martin hurriedly continued:
“I'm not flustered! “I'm really not! It's just am concerned that I've put you in such an awkward position.”

Lou looked at the large white towel with the green stars. Before it had sat on Martin's back like a horse blanket, but now Martin used it to cover his head like a small headscarf. The towel struck Lou as being really very small.

“That's enough,” said Martin. “That's enough for today. Please. I am worn out being forever and I have to work out a plan for caring for the woman of my dreams. Do you know what flowers she likes? Sweets? Toys? Works of literature? And, most important, does she like big men?”
“Oh, god,” said Jeremy.
“She hates roses,” said Lou. “And chocolate makes her come out in a rash. So does anything sugary for that matter.”
“That's wonderful,” said Martin.
“Why?” asked Jeremy.
“I don't know,” said Martin. “I find her weaknesses so charming.”
“She wants a scooter,” said Lou. “And she can read Winnie the Pooh in two voices, although I have to say, her Piglet voice is by far the best. Only don't tell her that, or you might be in for it. Oh, and I don't know about big men, but once she gave this 13-year-old a good going-over and he was three times our size. And that kid was a right moron. And you are definitely not a moron.”
“Lou,” said Jeremy, “don't go getting his hopes up.”
“Some support would be nice,” said Martin nervously.
“I could drop right here and fall straight asleep,” said Lou.

Then the brothers shut the garage door, not without a little difficulty, and trudged off home.


The morning sky had barely emerged above the little House with the Single Column, where Mark, Ida, Jeremy and Lou lived. The dew had only just fallen and pigeons on the balcony rails shuddered in their sleep. Dawn crept slowly to the town, dropping off from time to time along the way. Jeremy opened his eyes and it was a while before he realised what had woken him. The alarm clock was silent, Lou was snoring lightly, with his face buried in the pillow and his left leg tucked beneath him, and no sound was coming from Mark and Ida's room. And yet something was not quite right. Finally Jeremy realised: above the house, drifting in through the windows was a low, droning noise. It stopped and then started again, then stopped again, and it appeared to Jeremy that this drone was trying to become a melody.

And it was then that Jeremy realised what the droning noise was. As he was, in his pyjamas, he rushed from his bed, sliding his feet into his slippers as he went and charged down the stairs. He flung open the door into the yard, took a look over to the garage, popped straight back in and slammed the door shut. Jeremy stood there for a few seconds, with his mouth wide open and his eyes wider still, trying to digest what he had just seen. Then Jeremy filled his lungs with air and...
“Maaaark! Idaaaaa!”

Chapter 7

When Martin was flustered he began to grow and since he had met Dina, getting flustered was all that he seemed to do. He was flustered because he couldn't make the right first impression on Dina. He was flustered because he wouldn't be able make the right second impression on Dina. He was flustered because he couldn’t find anything in common with Dina. He was flustered drawing up a plan for the next day. He was flustered because he wouldn't get a good night's sleep before this important day. He was flustered because he would have bags under his eyes from lack of sleep (9). He was flustered like anyone in love gets flustered, be they people or elephants.

And so, over that night Martin had grown and grown and grown. In his regular state Martin was about the size of a cat but this morning, Mark, Ida, Jeremy and Lou, dressed in coats over pyjamas and in boots without socks, ran around the garage and tried to imagine how it was they would get Martin out of there: so tall had he grown overnight, that he would no longer fit through the garage door. The Smith-Thompsons gave Martin advice, tried rubbing door-hinge oil on his sides, suggested he wrapped himself tightly in cling film and even thought about tying a string to his trunk and pulling him from the garage.

In the end everyone had to admit defeat. Feeling terribly awkward and awfully guilty, the dead-tired Martin tried all he could not to get flustered. He even offered to toot everyone there a jolly song. And he even starting tooting it as well.
“Oh, god,” said Ida.
“That's it,” said Mark, “we're calling the fire brigade. Let them take the roof off.”


An hour later, four fire engines and a crane surrounded the House with the Single Column where Mark, Ida, Jeremy and Lou lived (whose mum and dad worked in a cloning laboratory in far-away India and unfortunately could not see what was going on (10)). The firemen removed the roof, while the workmen with the crane fed a lifting harness under Martin's tummy. They planned to lift Martin through the space where the roof had been and set him down in front of the garage.
“I'll get a skin irritation from that harness,” said Martin. “I am not at all flustered about that, don't worry, but it would be good if someone would run to the chemist and pick up three or four kilogrammes of baby cream. I don't want to add physical suffering to my spiritual pains.
“Lou, please,” said Martin.
“Forty tubes,” said Jeremy.
“Make it sixty,” said Ida.
“Isn't that a bit much?” asked Jeremy.
“I'll drown myself in the rest,” said Ida.

Chapter 8

At ten o'clock in the morning, the street on which the House with the Single Column stood was closed off. Everyone who did not have to be in an office, shop or bank on that day had their heads out of windows, hung from balconies or huddled together against the walls of the houses on the street and watched with delight what was happening on the road. They whistled, shouted greetings and waved their arms, hats, umbrellas and rolled-up newspapers. Along the street walked Martin.

Martin was trying really hard not to get flustered because when he got flustered, he grew, while in the laboratory in far-away India, where they had created Martin and where they had named him Test-Tube 7, no one had asked about what needed to be done to get him to shrink back again. And so, under no circumstances was Martin to get flustered, although the temptation was very great indeed, as Martin was on his way to win the heart of the woman he had loved his entire life. Her name was Dina and she was seven years old. She lived near to Jeremy and Lou and went to the same school as they did. From that very moment when Martin had met Dina, getting flustered was all that he had done. And now he was the size of a real elephant. In other words, he was the size of a small house. And he was walking to the school. He was accompanied by four fire engines and a crane.

To ensure he did not get flustered, Martin spent the entire time thinking about white mice. From his early childhood, white mice had had a calming effect on him. There were a great many of them in the laboratory and all of them very sprightly. Usually elephants are scared of mice, but this is because from a great height, they can never get a really good look at them. In his normal condition, Martin was a really small elephant and so he knew that white mice were really rather delightful creatures. That is why, on his way to see Dina, Martin was now thinking about white mice. He held an enormous bouquet of daisies in his trunk and on his head were two tins of select herring (“These won't give her a rash, that's for sure,” said Jeremy. “She'll have a nervous breakdown instead.”
“It’d be a totally normal reaction for a girl in love,” said Martin and asked the woman in the shop to tie a wide, gold ribbon around the herring).
That night he had written a “a wonderful serenade, a little in the style of Medtner, only quite charming” and he planned to perform it in front of the classroom window, where Dina was at that moment being taught to multiply eleven by thirteen. Serenades are usually performed under and not in front of a window, but Martin was very big and the school was only a two-storey building.

When a small boy burst into the classroom where Jeremy was studying and shouted, “An elephant! An elephant! There's an elephant in the school yard!!!” the quick-witted Jeremy measured up the situation and rushed to the window. Indeed, there stood Martin right in the middle of the school yard. Next to him was Lou, who had already managed to run out while Mark and Ida were climbing out of the fire engine that was parked close by. Martin was trying his best not to crush any of the children, running out into the yard and continued, in a somewhat embarrassed manner, to repeat,

“Dear ladies and gentlemen, please, not under my feet, just not under my feet, especially my back feet; I really have no sense of where they are beneath me. I am more or less all right with my front feet, but not my back feet. My heart is sinking all the way down, all the way to the heels. Young man, do you know a divine woman who goes by the name Dina? She studies here in Class 1. Young lady, for heaven's sake, don't hang on my trunk and, by the way, would you help me find a wonderful woman called Dina, who...”

But at that moment, running from the now almost deserted school building, Dina emerged. With her appearance, Martin frantically tried to think of white mice but still got the sense of having grown at least by another twenty or so centimetres.
“Ouch!” said everyone.
“Dina, it's you,” said Martin. “Dina, I really need to talk with you. Sorry for the breeze: that's me, breathing. What I mean is, I am always breathing, sometimes holotropically, but now I am breathing a lot, there's nothing I can do about it. Dina, I really need to talk with you. It would be good to talk privately only, in our current predicament, this is clearly not possible. Perhaps, then, we could at least talk face to face. Please, Dina.”

Dina had first met Martin just a day before, when she had rushed over to the House with the Single Column to repay Lou's “good deed” with one of her own. Martin then was merely the size of a cat but, in her presence he had become all flustered and grew to the size of a small wardrobe. Dina had never been the cowardly type and had one even given a boy twice her size a good thumping, but nevertheless, Martin gave her a bit of a fright. However, Martin was now bigger than any wardrobe; he was a huge, huge, huge elephant, and yet Dina was now totally unafraid of him. Carefully shifting from one foot to the other, with his tail tied with a smart bow from the white towel with the green stars, with a bunch of daisies in his trunk and two tins of herring on his head, Martin looked so touching and piteous, that Dina wanted there and then to stroke him on the head. Of course, though, this would be wholly inappropriate, not to mention impossible. Dina looked around for something to help her climb up and speak with Martin eye to eye. The fire chief from one of the fire engines that had accompanied Martin to the school suggested that Dina should stand in the small cradle, secured to the end of the extending fire ladder, and be raised to the required height.

And so up went Dina.

Standing in the cradle, she looked into one of Martin's enormous, nervous eyes. She was reflected in his eye almost from head to toe, together with the fire cradle.
“I think I'm going crazy,” said Dina.
“With joy? Really, Dina? Tell me it’s with joy,” asked Martin.
“With a sense of oddity,” said Dina.
“A complex emotion,” said Martin. “It's good you don't grow from a sense of oddity. But I would still love you, come what may. Even if you were huge and covered in a rash.”
“But I don't have a rash,” said Dina.
“And you never will,” said Martin. “I won't allow it. I will be your knight and battle elephant, Dina. These flowers and herring are for you; I would give you my heart, but I fear it would be too big and heavy for you to carry. Dina, will you marry me?”

Everyone gasped.

“This is nuts,” said Dina.
“Please be a little more sensitive,” said Martin. “After all, I am proposing to you. Be mine forever. I mean it. I have not long left to live, two hundred and ninety years or so, and I want to spend them with you. Say you agree. I can play on the bagpipes (11). I'll never let you down.”
“Dear Martin,” said Dina, “I really do like you.”
“I sense there's a catch,” said Martin.
“No, I mean it,” said Dina. “Really and truly. Now I am being, you know, really sincere with you. But I cannot marry you.”
“You don't love me,” said Martin.
“I love you a lot,” said Dina. “It's just that...”
“Oh, god,” said Martin, and grew some more. Now he was once more looking down on Dina from on high.
“'s just that I am a little girl,” said Dina courageously. Her heart was breaking with pity for Martin.
“I understand,” said Martin, “and I am a huge elephant. Beauty and the Beast. We have been forged by an archetype.”
“It's nothing to do with any type,” said Dina. “It's just that I am a little girl and I cannot get married to anyone. To get married I have to become a grown-up lady. But I want to be a little girl. For another ten years or so, anyway.”
“For me ten years is nothing,” said Martin. “Tell me, and I will wait for you.”
“Please don't, Martin, please!” said Dina. “When someone waits for you to grow up, there is no joy in being a little girl. And you'll grow up from yearning, that's for sure.”
“An adult's wisdom beneath a child's rash-covered skin,” said Martin. “I am totally smitten. Dina, you are my idol.”

And then Dina saw a huge tear rolling down Martin's trunk.
Martin was crying.
From below someone said,
“The poor thing!”
Dina herself had a lump in her throat. And then she stood on her tiptoes, stretched out a hand as high as she could reach and stroked Martin on the head.

The elephant's tears fell and fell and Dina stroked Martin on the head more and more when she suddenly realised that she was about to fall from the fire cradle. She had not even realised that she had been kneeling, to reach the warm top of Martin's grey head, which was moving downwards.

“He's shrinking!” shouted Lou, who was standing closest to Martin. “Martin, when you cry, you shrink!”
“I'm not crying any more,” said Martin. “I am trying to remember this moment of priceless tenderness for the next two hundred and ninety years.”
“And yet you are still shrinking,” said Jeremy. “Dina, stroke him again!”

The fireman on the engine pulled the lever and the cradle carrying Dina moved lower and Dina stroked Martin on the head again. Martin slowly became noticeably smaller. Now he was only a little taller than the fire engine.
“Wow!” said everyone.

Lou tried stroking Martin's leg, but the elephant didn't change his size. Then Dina stroked him on the head again and he shrank some more. Dina continued stroking Martin on the head and he sighed submissively and shrank some more. When he had shrunk to about the size of a cat, Dina could get down from the fire cradle and crouched down beside him, while the entire school, Lou, Jeremy, Ida, Mark, their neighbours, the firemen, the police, the dogs and basically everyone else in the little town where the Smith-Thompsons lived, all stood round and watched Martin and Dina. Then Martin said quietly,
“I am so tired.”

The big white towel with the green stars had long fallen from Martin's tail and lay on the ground nearby. Dina picked it up, untied the knot, shook it out carefully, wrapped the elephant in the towel and they went home, following Mark, Ida, Jeremy and Lou to the House with the Single Column, where Martin spent his nights sleeping in a cardboard box for a television, lined with a piece of woollen cloth to keep him cosy and warm.

Chapter 9

Martin lay on the warm woollen cloth in the cardboard box for a television. His eyes were all stuck together from all the worries and the long night before where he had had no sleep, yet he was completely calm because Dina was sitting on the floor next to his box. The room was lit by only one little night light. Dina had promised to stay with Martin until he fell asleep.

“Dina, you're my friend, right? You're not angry with me?” asked Martin.
“Oh yes,” said Dina, “I’m your friend, of course.”
“Thank you,” said Martin.
“Don't mention it,” said Dina. “And you're not angry with me? You're my friend too, right?”
“No,” said Martin. “No, Dina, I am not your friend. I am your knight and battle elephant. Can I be your knight and battle elephant?”
“I would like that very much,” said Dina.
“I can play on the bagpipes, as I have mentioned once already today,” said Martin. “And that is a big thing. A battle elephant, playing on the bagpipes, sends terror into the heart of the enemy, sending them running for the hills.”
“I feel truly protected,” said Dina. “Only, please don't go getting that flustered again, dear Martin, okay?”
“I promise,” said Martin. “Not for another two hundred and ninety years, I hope. Give or take a day. But that will be an entirely different story and then I may. But sometimes I will get just a little flustered, Dina. To ensure you come to stroke me on the head. Not too often, don't worry. Is that all right?” asked Martin.
“Of course it is,” said Dina.



(1) The question is why “7” and not “4” or “12”. The author makes no promises but perhaps, sooner or later, the answer to this question will nevertheless become known.

(2) Since Martin had appeared at the House with the Single Column, Mark called what his parents did “clowning”.

(3) Of course, Ida still has this somewhat unusual correspondence, but she continues to stubbornly refuse to show it to anyone, unless, that is, it could shed light on certain important and mysterious circumstances. All we know about this correspondence at the moment is that mum and dad for some reason called the pretty much adult Ida their “little kitten”, while they called Mark a “little piglet”.

(4) As such, the author has some idea about why Dina’s cat turned out to be called Alice, but very often the author’s ideas are WRONG.

(5) There was only one way into Dina’s house and that was through the kitchen window. The window was used by Dina, her mum, her dad and her grandmother, and all their guests. But that is another story.

(6) And genuinely terrible it is, too. In other words, a secret that if Jeremy, Lou or Dina blabbed it to anyone at all then, as it is customary to report in the intelligent magazines, heads would fly all over the town. However, they have (still) not blabbed to anyone.

(7) Generally speaking, elephants live to about seventy. However, as we will learn pretty soon, Martin in this sense is no ordinary elephant. In this sense and, in many other senses too, it must be said.

(8) This is about one amazing, incredible, yet completely true story about what once took place in the Smith-Thompson family. The author promises to ask permission to share this story, but makes no promises.

(9) It is not known if elephants get bags under their eyes (even if they are sleep-deprived elephants in love), but, as we know, Martin was not your average elephant.

(10) In fact the Smith-Thompsons’ mum and dad knew far more about what was going on in the House with the Single Column than their children believed.

(11) The tale of how Martin learned to play the bagpipes (and why he played what he played on the bagpipes), is worthy of a separate story altogether.

Note: this is Part 1 of 5 of the children's book Marting Doesn't Cry. Martin is a small elephant (no larger than a cat) - yet he's full of surprises which can surprise even himself. This highly educated, very eloquent fan of Scottish bagpipes, Russian art songs, jam-covered toast and human company lives with the rather strange Smith-Thompsons family (five kids and two absent parents). And while Martin is really easy to love, he can, obviously, drive anyone crazy - especially Dina, the girl with whom he fell in love at first sight and forever. First published in 2007, Martin Doesn't Cry was received very warmly by both the critics and the audience and won the Hidden Dream Award (премия "Заветная мечта") - one of the most prestigious Russian children’s literature awards. The second edition, published in 2015, was illustrated by the author herself (some pages from the illustrated edition are included below). Currently the book is looking for its international publisher. For any questions, please contact the author's agent Elena Yakovleva, yelena_nn (at)