Sevastopol : Chapter 09

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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.)
• "People who take part in Government, or work under its direction, may deceive themselves or their sympathizers by making a show of struggling; but those against whom they struggle (the Government) know quite well, by the strength of the resistance experienced, that these people are not really pulling, but are only pretending to." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "There are people (we ourselves are such) who realize that our Government is very bad, and who struggle against it." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "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 09

IX.

On his way to the bastion, Kalugin met numerous wounded men; but, knowing from experience that such a spectacle has a bad effect on the spirits of a man on the verge of an action, he not only did not pause to interrogate them, but, on the contrary, he tried not to pay any heed to them. At the foot of the hill he encountered an orderly, who was galloping from the bastion at full speed.

“Zobkin! Zobkin! Stop a minute!”

“Well, what is it?”

“Where are you from?”

“From the lodgments.”

“Well, how are things there! Hot?”

“Ah, frightfully!”

And the orderly galloped on.

In fact, although there was not much firing from the rifles, the cannonade had begun with fresh vigor and greater heat than ever.

“Ah, that's bad!” thought Kalugin, experiencing[Pg 79] a rather unpleasant sensation, and there came to him also a presentiment, that is to say, a very usual thought—the thought of death.

But Kalugin was an egotist and gifted with nerves of steel; in a word, he was what is called brave. He did not yield to his first sensation, and began to arouse his courage; he recalled to mind a certain adjutant of Napoleon, who, after having given the command to advance, galloped up to Napoleon, his head all covered with blood.

“You are wounded?” said Napoleon to him. “I beg your pardon, Sire, I am dead,”—and the adjutant fell from his horse, and died on the spot.

This seemed very fine to him, and he fancied that he somewhat resembled this adjutant; then he gave his horse a blow with the whip; and assumed still more of that knowing Cossack bearing, glanced at his orderly, who was galloping behind him, standing upright in his stirrups, and thus in dashing style he reached the place where it was necessary to dismount. Here he found four soldiers, who were smoking their pipes as they sat on the stones.

[Pg 80]

“What are you doing here?” he shouted at them.

“We have been carrying a wounded man from the field, Your Honor, and have sat down to rest,” one of them replied, concealing his pipe behind his back, and pulling off his cap.

“Resting indeed! March off to your posts!”

And, in company with them, he walked up the hill through the trenches, encountering wounded men at every step.

On attaining the crest of the hill, he turned to the left, and, after taking a few steps, found himself quite alone. Splinters whizzed near him, and struck in the trenches. Another bomb rose in front of him, and seemed to be flying straight at him. All of a sudden he felt terrified; he ran off five paces at full speed, and lay down on the ground. But when the bomb burst, and at a distance from him, he grew dreadfully vexed at himself, and glanced about as he rose, to see whether any one had perceived him fall, but there was no one about.

When fear has once made its way into the mind, it does not speedily give way to another feeling. He, who had boasted that he would[Pg 81] never bend, hastened along the trench with accelerated speed, and almost on his hands and knees. “Ah! this is very bad!” he thought, as he stumbled. “I shall certainly be killed!” And, conscious of how difficult it was for him to breathe, and that the perspiration was breaking out all over his body, he was amazed at himself, but he no longer strove to conquer his feelings.

All at once steps became audible in advance of him. He quickly straightened himself up, raised his head, and, boldly clanking his sword, began to proceed at a slower pace than before. He did not know himself. When he joined the officer of sappers and the sailor who were coming to meet him, and the former called to him, “Lie down,” pointing to the bright speck of a bomb, which, growing ever brighter and brighter, swifter and swifter, as it approached, crashed down in the vicinity of the trench, he only bent his head a very little, involuntarily, under the influence of the terrified shout, and went his way.

“Whew! what a brave man!” ejaculated the sailor, who had calmly watched the exploding[Pg 82] bomb, and, with practiced glance, at once calculated that its splinters could not strike inside the trench; “he did not even wish to lie down.”

Only a few steps remained to be taken, across an open space, before Kalugin would reach the casemate of the commander of the bastion, when he was again attacked by dimness of vision and that stupid sensation of fear; his heart began to beat more violently, the blood rushed to his head, and he was obliged to exert an effort over himself in order to reach the casemate.

“Why are you so out of breath?” inquired the general, when Kalugin had communicated to him his orders.

“I have been walking very fast, Your Excellency!”

“Will you not take a glass of wine?”

Kalugin drank the wine, and lighted a cigarette. The engagement had already come to an end; only the heavy cannonade continued, going on from both sides.

In the casemate sat General N., the commander of the bastion, and six other officers, among whom was Praskukhin, discussing various details of the[Pg 83] conflict. Seated in this comfortable apartment, with blue hangings, with a sofa, a bed, a table, covered with papers, a wall clock, and the holy pictures, before which burned a lamp, and gazing upon these signs of habitation, and at the arshin-thick (twenty-eight inches) beams which formed the ceiling, and listening to the shots, which were deadened by the casemate, Kalugin positively could not understand how he had twice permitted himself to be overcome with such unpardonable weakness. He was angry with himself, and he longed for danger, in order that he might subject himself to another trial.

“I am glad that you are here, captain,” he said to a naval officer, in the cloak of staff-officer, with a large mustache and the cross of St. George, who entered the casemate at that moment, and asked the general to give him some men, that he might repair the two embrasures on his battery, which had been demolished. “The general ordered me to inquire,” continued Kalugin, when the commander of the battery ceased to address the general,[Pg 84] “whether your guns can fire grape-shot into the trenches.”

“Only one of my guns will do that,” replied the captain, gruffly.

“Let us go and see, all the same.”

The captain frowned, and grunted angrily:—

“I have already passed the whole night there, and I came here to try and get a little rest,” said he. “Cannot you go alone? My assistant, Lieutenant Kartz, is there, and he will show you everything.”

The captain had now been for six months in command of this, one of the most dangerous of the batteries—and even when there were no casemates he had lived, without relief, in the bastion and among the sailors, from the beginning of the siege, and he bore a reputation among them for bravery. Therefore his refusal particularly struck and amazed Kalugin. “That's what reputation is worth!” he thought.

“Well, then, I will go alone, if you will permit it,” he said, in a somewhat bantering tone to the captain, who, however, paid not the slightest heed to his words.

But Kalugin did not reflect that he had passed, in all, at different times, perhaps fifty hours on the bastion, while the captain had lived there for six[Pg 85] months. Kalugin was actuated, moreover, by vanity, by a desire to shine, by the hope of reward, of reputation, and by the charm of risk; but the captain had already gone through all that: he had been vain at first, he had displayed valor, he had risked his life, he had hoped for fame and guerdon, and had even obtained them, but these actuating motives had already lost their power over him, and he regarded the matter in another light; he fulfilled his duty with punctuality, but understanding quite well how small were the chances for his life which were left him, after a six-months residence in the bastion, he no longer risked these casualties, except in case of stern necessity, so that the young lieutenant, who had entered the battery only a week previous, and who was now showing it to Kalugin, in company with whom he took turns in leaning out of the embrasure, or climbing out on the ramparts, seemed ten times as brave as the captain.

After inspecting the battery, Kalugin returned to the casemate, and ran against the general in the dark, as the latter was ascending to the watch-tower with his staff-officers.

“Captain Praskukhin!” said the general,[Pg 86] “please to go to the first lodgment and say to the second battery of the M—— regiment, which is at work there, that they are to abandon their work, to evacuate the place without making any noise, and to join their regiment, which is standing at the foot of the hill in reserve.... Do you understand? Lead them to their regiment yourself.”

“Yes, sir.”

And Praskukhin set out for the lodgment on a run.

The firing was growing more infrequent.

[Pg 87]

From : Anarchy Archives

Chronology

November 30, 1887 :
Chapter 09 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 17:29:18 :
Chapter 09 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

May 28, 2017 15:35:44 :
Chapter 09 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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