Sevastopol : Chapter 05
(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 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....)
• "If, in former times, Governments were necessary to defend their people from other people's attacks, now, on the contrary, Governments artificially disturb the peace that exists between the nations, and provoke enmity among them." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
• "It usually happens that when an idea which has been useful and even necessary in the past becomes superfluous, that idea, after a more or less prolonged struggle, yields its place to a new idea which was till then an ideal, but which thus becomes a present idea." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
Prince Galtsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Neferdoff, and Praskukhin, whom no one had invited, to whom no one spoke, but who never left them, all went to drink tea with Adjutant Kalugin.
“Well, you did not finish telling me about Vaska Mendel,” said Kalugin, as he took off his cloak, seated himself by the window in a soft lounging-chair, and unbuttoned the collar of his fresh, stiffly starched cambric shirt: “How did he come to marry?”
“That's a joke, my dear fellow! There was a time, I assure you, when nothing else was talked of in Petersburg,” said Prince Galtsin, with a laugh, as he sprang up from the piano, and seated himself on the window beside Kalugin. “It is simply ludicrous, and I know all the details of the affair.”
And he began to relate—in a merry, and skilful manner—a love story, which we will omit,[Pg 60] because it possesses no interest for us. But it is worthy of note that not only Prince Galtsin, but all the gentlemen who had placed themselves here, one on the window-sill, another with his legs coiled up under him, a third at the piano, seemed totally different persons from what they were when on the boulevard; there was nothing of that absurd arrogance and haughtiness which they and their kind exhibit in public to the infantry officers; here they were among their own set and natural, especially Kalugin and Prince Galtsin, and were like very good, amiable, and merry children. The conversation turned on their companions in the service in Petersburg, and on their acquaintances.
“What of Maslovsky?”
“Which? the uhlan of the body-guard or of the horse-guard?”
“I know both of them. The one in the horse-guards was with me when he was a little boy, and had only just left school. What is the elder one? a captain of cavalry?”
“Oh, yes! long ago.”
“And is he still going about with his gypsy maid?”
“No, he has deserted her ...” and so forth, and so forth, in the same strain.
Then Prince Galtsin seated himself at the piano, and sang a gypsy song in magnificent style. Praskukhin began to sing second, although no one had asked him, and he did it so well that they requested him to accompany the prince again, which he gladly consented to do.
The servant came in with the tea, cream, and cracknels on a silver salver.
“Serve the prince,” said Kalugin.
“Really, it is strange to think,” said Galtsin, taking a glass, and walking to the window, “that we are in a beleaguered city; tea with cream, and such quarters as I should be only too happy to get in Petersburg.”
“Yes, if it were not for that,” said the old lieutenant-colonel, who was dissatisfied with everything, “this constant waiting for something would be simply unendurable ... and to see how men are killed, killed every day,—and there is no end to it, and under such circumstances it would not be comfortable to live in the mud.”
“And how about our infantry officers?” said[Pg 62] Kalugin. “They live in the bastions with the soldiers in the casemates and eat beet soup with the soldiers—how about them?”
“How about them? They don't change their linen for ten days at a time, and they are heroes—wonderful men.”
At this moment an officer of infantry entered the room.
“I ... I was ordered ... may I present myself to the gen ... to His Excellency from General N.?” he inquired, bowing with an air of embarrassment.
Kalugin rose, but, without returning the officer's salute, he asked him, with insulting courtesy and strained official smile, whether they[F] would not wait awhile; and, without inviting him to be seated or paying any further attention to him, he turned to Prince Galtsin and began to speak to him in French, so that the unhappy officer, who remained standing in the middle of the room, absolutely did not know what to do with himself.
“It is on very important business, sir,” said the officer, after a momentary pause.
“Ah! very well, then,” said Kalugin, putting on his cloak, and accompanying him to the door.
“Eh bien, messieurs, I think there will be hot work to-night,” said Kalugin in French, on his return from the general's.
“Hey? What? A sortie?” They all began to question him.
“I don't know yet—you will see for yourselves,” replied Kalugin, with a mysterious smile.
“And my commander is on the bastion—of course, I shall have to go,” said Praskukhin, buckling on his sword.
But no one answered him: he must know for himself whether he had to go or not.
Praskukhin and Neferdoff went off, in order to betake themselves to their posts. “Farewell, gentlemen!” “Au revoir, gentlemen! We shall meet again to-night!” shouted Kalugin from the window when Praskukhin and Neferdoff trotted down the street, bending over the bows of their Cossack saddles. The trampling of their Cossack horses soon died away in the dusky street.
“No, tell me, is something really going to take place to-night?” said Galtsin, in French, as he leaned with Kalugin on the window-sill, and gazed[Pg 64] at the bombs which were flying over the bastions.
“I can tell you, you see ... you have been on the bastions, of course?” (Galtsin made a sign of assent, although he had been only once to the fourth bastion.) “Well, there was a trench opposite our lunette”, and Kalugin, who was not a specialist, although he considered his judgment on military affairs particularly accurate, began to explain the position of our troops and of the enemy's works and the plan of the proposed affair, mixing up the technical terms of fortifications a good deal in the process.
“But they are beginning to hammer away at our casemates. Oho! was that ours or his? there, it has burst,” they said, as they leaned on the window-sill, gazing at the fiery line of the bomb, which exploded in the air, at the lightning of the discharges, at the dark blue sky, momentarily illuminated, and at the white smoke of the powder, and listened to the sounds of the firing, which grew louder and louder.
“What a charming sight? is it not?” said Kalugin, in French, directing the attention of his guest to the really beautiful spectacle.[Pg 65] “Do you know, you cannot distinguish the stars from the bombs at times.”
“Yes, I was just thinking that that was a star; but it darted down ... there, it has burst now. And that big star yonder, what is it called? It is just exactly like a bomb.”
“Do you know, I have grown so used to these bombs that I am convinced that a starlight night in Russia will always seem to me to be all bombs; one gets so accustomed to them.”
“But am not I to go on this sortie?” inquired Galtsin, after a momentary silence.
“Enough of that, brother! Don't think of such a thing! I won't let you go!” replied Kalugin. “Your turn will come, brother!”
“Seriously? So you think that it is not necessary to go? Hey?...”
At that moment, a frightful crash of rifles was heard in the direction in which these gentlemen were looking, above the roar of the cannon, and thousands of small fires, flaring up incessantly, without intermission, flashed along the entire line.
“That's it, when the real work has begun!” said Kalugin.—“That is the sound of the rifles, and I cannot hear it in cold blood; it takes a sort[Pg 66] of hold on your soul, you know. And there is the hurrah!” he added, listening to the prolonged and distant roar of hundreds of voices, “A-a-aa!” which reached him from the bastion.
“What is this hurrah, theirs or ours?”
“I don't know; but it has come to a hand-to-hand fight, for the firing has ceased.”
At that moment, an officer followed by his Cossack galloped up to the porch, and slipped down from his horse.
“From the bastion. The general is wanted.”
“Let us go. Well, now, what is it?”
“They have attacked the lodgements ... have taken them ... the French have brought up their heavy reserves ... they have attacked our forces ... there were only two battalions,” said the panting officer, who was the same that had come in the evening, drawing his breath with difficulty, but stepping to the door with perfect unconcern.
“Well, have they retreated?” inquired Galtsin.
“No,” answered the officer, angrily.[Pg 67] “The battalion came up and beat them back; but the commander of the regiment is killed, and many officers, and I have been ordered to ask for re-enforcements....”
And with these words he and Kalugin went off to the general, whither we will not follow them.
Five minutes later, Kalugin was mounted on the Cossack's horse (and with that peculiar, quasi-Cossack seat, in which, as I have observed, all adjutants find something especially captivating, for some reason or other), and rode at a trot to the bastion, in order to give some orders, and to await the news of the final result of the affair. And Prince Galtsin, under the influence of that oppressive emotion which the signs of a battle near at hand usually produce on a spectator who takes no part in it, went out into the street, and began to pace up and down there without any object.
From : Gutenberg.org
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