Sevastopol : Chapter 03

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1888

People

(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From : "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)
• "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the laboring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." (From : "To the Czar and His Assistants," by Leo Tolstoy, ....)
• "You are surprised that soldiers are taught that it is right to kill people in certain cases and in war, while in the books admitted to be holy by those who so teach, there is nothing like such a permission..." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)

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Chapter 03

III.

He went, first of all, to the pavilion, near which were standing the musicians, for whom other soldiers of the same regiment were holding the notes, in the absence of stands, and about whom a ring of cadets, nurses, and children had formed, intent rather on seeing than on hearing. Around the pavilion stood, sat, or walked sailors, adjutants, and officers in white gloves. Along the grand avenue of the boulevard paced officers of every sort, and women of every description, rarely in bonnets, mostly with kerchiefs on their heads (some had neither bonnets nor kerchiefs), but no one was old, and it was worthy of note that all were gay young creatures. Beyond, in the shady and fragrant alleys of white acacia, isolated groups walked and sat.

No one was especially delighted to encounter Captain Mikhaïloff on the boulevard, with the exception, possibly, of the captain of his regiment, Obzhogoff, and Captain Suslikoff, who pressed his[Pg 46] hand warmly; but the former was dressed in camel's-hair trousers, no gloves, a threadbare coat, and his face was very red and covered with perspiration, and the second shouted so loudly and incoherently that it was mortifying to walk with them, particularly in the presence of the officers in white gloves (with one of whom, an adjutant, Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff exchanged bows; and he might have bowed to another staff-officer, since he had met him twice at the house of a mutual acquaintance). Besides, what pleasure was it to him to promenade with these two gentlemen, Obzhogoff and Suslikoff, when he had met them and shaken hands with them six times that day already? It was not for this that he had come.

He wanted to approach the adjutant with whom he had exchanged bows, and to enter into conversation with these officers, not for the sake of letting Captains Obzhogoff and Suslikoff and Lieutenant Pashtetzky see him talking with them, but simply because they were agreeable people, and, what was more, they knew the news, and would have told it.

But why is Captain Mikhaïloff afraid, and why cannot he make up his mind to approach them?[Pg 47] “What if they should, all at once, refuse to recognize me,” he thinks, “or, having bowed to me, what if they continue their conversation among themselves, as though I did not exist, or walk away from me entirely, and leave me standing there alone among the aristocrats.” The word aristocrats (in the sense of a higher, select circle, in any rank of life) has acquired for some time past with us, in Russia, a great popularity, and has penetrated into every locality and into every class of society whither vanity has penetrated—among merchants, among officials, writers, and officers, to Saratoff, to Mamaduish, to Vinnitz, everywhere where men exist.

To Captain Obzhogoff, Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff was an aristocrat. To Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff, Adjutant Kalugin was an aristocrat, because he was an adjutant, and was on such a footing with the other adjutants as to call them “thou”! To Adjutant Kalugin, Count Nordoff was an aristocrat, because he was an adjutant on the Emperor's staff.

Vanity! vanity! and vanity everywhere, even on the brink of the grave, and among men ready to die for the highest convictions. Vanity! It must[Pg 48] be that it is a characteristic trait, and a peculiar malady of our century. Why was nothing ever heard among the men of former days, of this passion, any more than of the small-pox or the cholera? Why did Homer and Shakespeare talk of love, of glory, of suffering, while the literature of our age is nothing but an endless narrative of snobs and vanity?

The staff-captain walked twice in indecision past the group of his aristocrats, and the third time he exerted an effort over himself and went up to them. This group consisted of four officers: Adjutant Kalugin, an acquaintance of Mikhaïloff's, Adjutant Prince Galtsin, who was something of an aristocrat even for Kalugin himself, Colonel Neferdoff, one of the so-called hundred and twenty-two men of the world (who had entered the service for this campaign, from the retired list), and Captain of Cavalry Praskukhin, also one of the hundred and twenty-two. Luckily for Mikhaïloff, Kalugin was in a very fine humor (the general had just been talking to him in a very confidential way, and Prince Galtsin, who had just arrived from Petersburg, was stopping with him); he did not consider it beneath his dignity to give his[Pg 49] hand to Captain Mikhaïloff, which Praskukhin, however, could not make up his mind to do, though he had met Mikhaïloff very frequently on the bastion, had drunk the latter's wine and vodka, and was even indebted to him twenty rubles and a half at preference. As he did not yet know Prince Galtsin very well, he did not wish to convict himself, in the latter's presence, of an acquaintance with a simple staff-captain of infantry. He bowed slightly to the latter.

“Well, Captain,” said Kalugin, “when are we to go to the bastion again? Do you remember how we met each other on the Schvartz redoubt—it was hot there, hey?”

“Yes, it was hot,” said Mikhaïloff, recalling how he had, that night, as he was making his way along the trenches to the bastion, encountered Kalugin, who was walking along like a hero, valiantly clanking his sword. “I ought to have gone there to-morrow, according to present arrangements; but we have a sick man,” pursued Mikhaïloff, “one officer, as....”

He was about to relate how it was not his turn, but, as the commander of the eighth company was ill, and the company had only a cornet left, he had[Pg 50] regarded it as his duty to offer himself in the place of Lieutenant Nepshisetzky, and was, therefore, going to the bastion to-day. But Kalugin did not hear him out.

“I have a feeling that something is going to happen within a few days,” he said to Prince Galtsin.

“And won't there be something to-day?” asked Mikhaïloff, glancing first at Kalugin, then at Galtsin.

No one made him any reply. Prince Galtsin merely frowned a little, sent his eyes past the other's cap, and, after maintaining silence for a moment, said:—

“That's a magnificent girl in the red kerchief. You don't know her, do you, captain?”

“She lives near my quarters; she is the daughter of a sailor,” replied the staff-captain.

“Come on; let's have a good look at her.”

And Prince Galtsin linked one arm in that of Kalugin, the other in that of the staff-captain, being convinced in advance that he could afford the latter no greater gratification, which was, in fact, quite true.

The staff-captain was superstitious, and considered[Pg 51] it a great sin to occupy himself with women before a battle; but on this occasion he feigned to be a vicious man, which Prince Galtsin and Kalugin evidently did not believe, and which greatly amazed the girl in the red kerchief, who had more than once observed how the staff-captain blushed as he passed her little window. Praskukhin walked behind, and kept touching Prince Galtsin with his hand, and making various remarks in the French tongue; but as a fourth person could not walk on the small path, he was obliged to walk alone, and it was only on the second round that he took the arm of the brave and well known naval officer Servyagin, who had stepped up and spoken to him, and who was also desirous of joining the circle of aristocrats. And the gallant and famous beau joyfully thrust his honest and muscular hand through the elbow of a man who was known to all, and even well known to Servyagin, as not too nice. When Praskukhin, explaining to the prince his acquaintance with that sailor, whispered to him that the latter was well known for his bravery, Prince Galtsin, having been on the fourth bastion on the previous evening, having seen a bomb burst twenty paces from him, considering[Pg 52] himself no less a hero than this gentleman, and thinking that many a reputation is acquired undeservedly, paid no particular attention to Servyagin.

It was so agreeable to Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff to walk about in this company that he forgot the dear letter from T——, and the gloomy thoughts which had assailed him in connection with his impending departure for the bastion. He remained with them until they began to talk exclusively among themselves, avoiding his glances, thereby giving him to understand that he might go, and finally deserted him entirely. But the staff-captain was content, nevertheless, and as he passed Yunker[E] Baron Pesth, who had been particularly haughty and self-conceited since the preceding night, which was the first that he had spent in the bomb-proof of the fifth bastion, and consequently considered himself a hero, he was not in the least offended at the presumptuous expression with which the yunker straightened himself up and doffed his hat before him.

[Pg 53]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1887 :
Chapter 03 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 17:15:04 :
Chapter 03 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 20, 2019 09:29:32 :
Chapter 03 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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