Sevastopol : Chapter 04

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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.)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "...the dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence." (From : "A Letter to a Hindu: The Subjection of India- Its....)
• "It is necessary that men should understand things as they are, should call them by their right names, and should know that an army is an instrument for killing, and that the enrollment and management of an army -- the very things which Kings, Emperors, and Presidents occupy themselves with so self-confidently -- is a preparation for murder." (From : "'Thou Shalt Not Kill'," by Leo Tolstoy, August 8,....)

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Chapter 04

IV.

When later the staff-captain crossed the threshold of his quarters, entirely different thoughts entered his mind. He looked around his little chamber, with its uneven earth floor, and saw the windows all awry, pasted over with paper, his old bed, with a rug nailed over it, upon which was depicted a lady on horseback, and over which hung two Tula pistols, the dirty couch of a cadet who lived with him, and which was covered with a chintz coverlet; he saw his Nikita, who, with untidy, tallowed hair, rose from the floor, scratching his head; he saw his ancient cloak, his extra pair of boots, and a little bundle, from which peeped a bit of cheese and the neck of a porter bottle filled with vodka, which had been prepared for his use on the bastion, and all at once he remembered that he was obliged to go with his company that night to the fortifications.

“It is certainly foreordained that I am to be killed to-night,” thought the captain....[Pg 54] “I feel it. And the principal point is that I need not have gone, but that I offered myself. And the man who thrusts himself forward is always killed. And what's the matter with that accursed Nepshisetsky? It is quite possible that he is not sick at all; and they will kill another man for his sake, they will infallibly kill him. However, if they don't kill me, I shall be promoted probably. I saw how delighted the regimental commander was when I asked him to allow me to go, if Lieutenant Nepshisetsky was ill. If I don't turn out a major, then I shall certainly get the Vladímir cross. This is the thirteenth time that I have been to the bastion. Ah, the thirteenth is an unlucky number. They will surely kill me, I feel that I shall be killed; but some one had to go, it was impossible for the lieutenant of the corps to go. And, whatever happens, the honor of the regiment, the honor of the army, depends on it. It was my duty to go ... yes, my sacred duty. But I have a foreboding.”

The captain forgot that this was not the first time that a similar foreboding had assailed him, in a greater or less degree, when it had been necessary to go to the bastion, and he did not[Pg 55] know that every one who sets out on an affair experiences this foreboding with more or less force. Having calmed himself with this conception of duty, which was especially and strongly developed in the staff-captain, he seated himself at the table, and began to write a farewell letter to his father. Ten minutes later, having finished his letter, he rose from the table, his eyes wet with tears, and, mentally reciting all the prayers he knew, he set about dressing. His coarse, drunken servant indolently handed him his new coat (the old one, which the captain generally wore when going to the bastion, was not mended).

“Why is not my coat mended? You never do anything but sleep, you good-for-nothing!” said Mikhaïloff, angrily.

“Sleep!” grumbled Nikita. “You run like a dog all day long; perhaps you stop—but you must not sleep, even then!”

“You are drunk again, I see.”

“I didn't get drunk on your money, so you needn't scold.”

“Hold your tongue, blockhead!” shouted the captain, who was ready to strike the man. He had been absent-minded at first, but now he was,[Pg 56] at last, out of patience, and embittered by the rudeness of Nikita, whom he loved, even spoiled, and who had lived with him for twelve years.

“Blockhead? Blockhead?” repeated the servant. “Why do you call me a blockhead, sir? Is this a time for that sort of thing? It is not good to curse.”

Mikhaïloff recalled whither he was on the point of going, and felt ashamed of himself.

“You are enough to put a saint out of patience, Nikita,” he said, in a gentle voice. “Leave that letter to my father on the table, and don't touch it,” he added, turning red.

“Yes, sir,” said Nikita, melting under the influence of the wine which he had drunk, as he had said, “at his own expense,” and winking his eyes with a visible desire to weep.

But when the captain said: “Good-by, Nikita,” on the porch, Nikita suddenly broke down into repressed sobs, and ran to kiss his master's hand.... “Farewell, master!” he exclaimed, sobbing. The old sailor's wife, who was standing on the porch, could not, in her capacity of a woman, refrain from joining in this touching scene, so she began to wipe her eyes with her[Pg 57] dirty sleeve, and to say something about even gentlemen having their trials to bear, and that she, poor creature, had been left a widow. And she related for the hundredth time to drunken Nikita the story of her woes; how her husband had been killed in the first bombardment, and how her little house had been utterly ruined (the one in which she was now living did not belong to her), and so on. When his master had departed, Nikita lighted his pipe, requested the daughter of their landlord to go for some vodka, and very soon ceased to weep, but, on the contrary, got into a quarrel with the old woman about some small bucket, which, he declared, she had broken.

“But perhaps I shall only be wounded,” meditated the captain, as he marched through the twilight to the bastion with his company. “But where? How? Here or here?” he thought, indicating his belly and his breast.... “If it should be here (he thought of the upper portion of his leg), it might run round. Well, but if it were here, and by a splinter, that would finish me.”

The captain reached the fortifications safely[Pg 58] through the trenches, set his men to work, with the assistance of an officer of sappers, in the darkness, which was complete, and seated himself in a pit behind the breastworks. There was not much firing; only once in a while the lightning flashed from our batteries, then from his, and the brilliant fuse of a bomb traced an arc of flame against the dark, starry heavens. But all the bombs fell far in the rear and to the right of the rifle-pits in which the captain sat. He drank his vodka, ate his cheese, lit his cigarette, and, after saying his prayers, he tried to get a little sleep.

[Pg 59]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1887 :
Chapter 04 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 17:15:33 :
Chapter 04 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

May 28, 2017 15:35:44 :
Chapter 04 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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