Sevastopol : Chapter 12

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1888

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(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....)
• "...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 12

XII.

“But, do you know, Praskukhin has been killed,” said Pesth, accompanying Kalugin, on the way back.

“It cannot be!”

“But it can. I saw him myself.”

“Farewell; I am in a hurry.”

“I am well content,” thought Kalugin, as he returned home; “I have had luck for the first time when on duty. That was a capital engagement, and I am alive and whole. There will be some fine presentations, and I shall certainly get a golden sword. And I deserve it too.”

After reporting to the general all that was necessary, he went to his room, in which sat Prince Galtsin, who had returned long before, and who was reading a book, which he had found on Kalugin's table, while waiting for him.

It was with a wonderful sense of enjoyment that Kalugin found himself at home again, out of all danger, and, having donned his night-shirt and[Pg 98] lain down on the sofa, he began to relate to Galtsin the particulars of the affair, communicating them, naturally, from a point of view which made it appear that he, Kalugin, was a very active and valiant officer, to which, in my opinion, it was superfluous to refer, seeing that every one knew it and that no one had any right to doubt it, with the exception, perhaps, of the deceased Captain Praskukhin, who, in spite of the fact that he had considered it a piece of happiness to walk arm in arm with Kalugin, had told a friend, only the evening before, in private, that Kalugin was a very fine man, but that, between you and me, he was terribly averse to going to the bastions.

No sooner had Praskukhin, who had been walking beside Mikhaïloff, taken leave of Kalugin, and, betaking himself to a safer place, had begun to recover his spirits somewhat, than he caught sight of a flash of lightning behind him flaring up vividly, heard the shout of the sentinel, “Mortar!” and the words of the soldiers who were marching behind, “It's flying straight at the bastion!”

Mikhaïloff glanced round. The brilliant point[Pg 99] of the bomb seemed to be suspended directly over his head in such a position that it was absolutely impossible to determine its course. But this lasted only for a second. The bomb came faster and faster, nearer and nearer, the sparks of the fuze were already visible, and the fateful whistle was audible, and it descended straight in the middle of the battalion.

“Lie down!” shouted a voice.

Mikhaïloff and Praskukhin threw themselves on the ground. Praskukhin shut his eyes, and only heard the bomb crash against the hard earth somewhere in the vicinity. A second passed, which seemed an hour—and the bomb had not burst. Praskukhin was alarmed; had he felt cowardly for nothing? Perhaps the bomb had fallen at a distance, and it merely seemed to him that the fuze was hissing near him. He opened his eyes, and saw with satisfaction that Mikhaïloff was lying motionless on the earth, at his very feet. But then his eyes encountered for a moment the glowing fuze of the bomb, which was twisting about at a distance of an arshin from him.

A cold horror, which excluded every other[Pg 100] thought and feeling, took possession of his whole being. He covered his face with his hands.

Another second passed—a second in which a whole world of thoughts, feelings, hopes, and memories flashed through his mind.

“Which will be killed, Mikhaïloff or I? Or both together? And if it is I, where will it strike? If in the head, then all is over with me; but if in the leg, they will cut it off, and I shall ask them to be sure to give me chloroform,—and I may still remain among the living. But perhaps no one but Mikhaïloff will be killed; then I will relate how we were walking along together, and how he was killed and his blood spurted over me. No, it is nearer to me ... it will kill me!”

Then he remembered the twenty rubles which he owed Mikhaïloff, and recalled another debt in Petersburg, which ought to have been paid long ago; the gypsy air which he had sung the previous evening recurred to him. The woman whom he loved appeared to his imagination in a cap with lilac ribbons, a man who had insulted him five years before, and whom he had not paid off for his insult, came to his mind, though inextricably interwoven with these and with a thousand other[Pg 101] memories the feeling of the moment—the fear of death—never deserted him for an instant.

“But perhaps it will not burst,” he thought, and, with the decision of despair, he tried to open his eyes. But at that instant, through the crevice of his eyelids, his eyes were smitten with a red fire, and something struck him in the center of the breast, with a frightful crash; he ran off, he knew not whither, stumbled over his sword, which had got between his legs, and fell over on his side.

“Thank God! I am only bruised,” was his first thought, and he tried to touch his breast with his hands; but his arms seemed fettered, and pincers were pressing his head. The soldiers flitted before his eyes, and he unconsciously counted them: “One, two, three soldiers; and there is an officer, wrapped up in his cloak,” he thought. Then a flash passed before his eyes, and he thought that something had been fired off; was it the mortars, or the cannon? It must have been the cannon. And there was still another shot; and there were more soldiers; five, six, seven soldiers were passing by him. Then suddenly he felt afraid that they would crush him. He wanted to shout to them that he was bruised;[Pg 102] but his mouth was so dry that his tongue clove to his palate and he was tortured by a frightful thirst.

He felt that he was wet about the breast: this sensation of dampness reminded him of water, and he even wanted to drink this, whatever it was. “I must have brought the blood when I fell,” he thought, and, beginning to give way more and more to terror, lest the soldiers who passed should crush him, he collected all his strength, and tried to cry: “Take me with you!” but, instead of this, he groaned so terribly that it frightened him to hear himself. Then more red fires flashed in his eyes—and it seemed to him as though the soldiers were laying stones upon him; the fires danced more and more rarely, the stones which they piled on him oppressed him more and more.

He exerted all his strength, in order to cast off the stones; he stretched himself out, and no longer saw or heard or thought or felt anything. He had been killed on the spot by a splinter of shell, in the middle of the breast.

[Pg 103]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1887 :
Chapter 12 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 17:30:22 :
Chapter 12 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

May 28, 2017 15:35:44 :
Chapter 12 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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