Sevastopol : Chapter 10
(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.)
• "...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, ....)
• "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....)
• "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....)
“Is this the second battalion of the M—— regiment?” asked Praskukhin, hastening up to the spot, and running against the soldiers who were carrying earth in sacks.
“Where is the commander?”
Mikhaïloff, supposing that the inquiry was for the commander of the corps, crawled out of his pit, and, taking Praskukhin for the colonel, he stepped up to him with his hand at his visor.
“The general has given orders ... that you ... are to be so good as to go ... as quickly as possible ... and, in particular, as quietly as possible, to the rear ... not to the rear exactly, but to the reserve,” said Praskukhin, glancing askance at the enemy's fires.
On recognizing Praskukhin and discovering the state of things, Mikhaïloff dropped his hand, gave his orders, and the battalion started into motion,[Pg 88] gathered up their guns, put on their cloaks, and set out.
No one who has not experienced it can imagine the delight which a man feels when he takes his departure, after a three-hours bombardment, from such a dangerous post as the lodgments. Several times in the course of those three hours, Mikhaïloff had, not without reason, considered his end as inevitable, and had grown accustomed to the conviction that he should infallibly be killed, and that he no longer belonged to this world. In spite of this, however, he had great difficulty in keeping his feet from running away with him when he issued from the lodgments at the head of his corps, in company with Praskukhin.
“Au revoir,” said the major, the commander of another battalion, who was to remain in the lodgments, and with whom he had shared his cheese, as they sat in the pit behind the breastworks—“a pleasant journey to you.”
“Thanks, I hope you will have good luck after we have gone. The firing seems to be holding up.”
But no sooner had he said this than the enemy, who must have observed the movement in the lodgments, began to fire faster and faster. Our[Pg 89] guns began to reply to him, and again a heavy cannonade began. The stars were gleaming high, but not brilliantly in the sky. The night was dark—you could hardly see your hand before you; only the flashes of the discharges and the explosions of the bombs illuminated objects for a moment. The soldiers marched on rapidly, in silence, involuntarily treading close on each other's heels; all that was audible through the incessant firing was the measured sound of their footsteps on the dry road, the noise of their bayonets as they came in contact, or the sigh and prayer of some young soldier, “Lord, Lord! what is this!” Now and then the groan of a wounded man arose, and the shout, “Stretcher!” (In the company commanded by Mikhaïloff, twenty-six men were killed in one night, by the fire of the artillery alone.) The lightning flashed against the distant horizon, the sentry in the bastion shouted, “Can-non!” and the ball, shrieking over the heads of the corps, tore up the earth, and sent the stones flying.
“Deuce take it! how slowly they march,” thought Praskukhin, glancing back continually, as he walked beside Mikhaïloff.[Pg 90] “Really, it will be better for me to run on in front; I have already given the order.... But no, it might be said later on that I was a coward. What will be will be; I will march with them.”
“Now, why is he walking behind me?” thought Mikhaïloff, on his side. “So far as I have observed, he always brings ill-luck. There it comes, flying straight for us, apparently.”
After traversing several hundred paces, they encountered Kalugin, who was going to the casemates, clanking his sword boldly as he walked, in order to learn, by the general's command, how the work was progressing there. But on meeting Mikhaïloff, it occurred to him that, instead of going thither, under that terrible fire, which he was not ordered to do, he could make minute inquiries of the officer who had been there. And, in fact, Mikhaïloff furnished him with a detailed account of the work. After walking a short distance with them, Kalugin turned into the trench, which led to the casemate.
“Well, what news is there?” inquired the officer, who was seated alone at the table, and eating his supper.
“Well, nothing, apparently, except that there will not be any further conflict.”
“How so? On the contrary, the general has but just gone up to the top of the works. A regiment has already arrived. Yes, there it is ... do you hear? The firing has begun again. Don't go. Why should you?” added the officer, perceiving the movement made by Kalugin.
“But I must be there without fail, in the present instance,” thought Kalugin, “but I have already subjected myself to a good deal of danger to-day; the firing is terrible.”
“Well, after all, I had better wait for him here,” he said.
In fact, the general returned, twenty minutes later, accompanied by the officers, who had been with him; among their number was the yunker, Baron Pesth, but Praskukhin was not with them. The lodgments had been captured and occupied by our forces.
After receiving a full account of the engagement, Kalugin and Pesth went out of the casemates.
From : Gutenberg.org
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