Sevastopol : Chapter 13

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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.)
• "...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....)
• "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....)

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Chapter 13

XIII.

Mikhaïloff, on catching sight of the bomb, fell to the earth, and, like Praskukhin, he went over in thought and feeling an incredible amount in those two seconds while the bomb lay there unexploded. He prayed to God mentally, and kept repeating: “Thy will be done!”

“And why did I enter the military service?” he thought at the same time; “and why, again, did I exchange into the infantry, in order to take part in this campaign? Would it not have been better for me to remain in the regiment of Uhlans, in the town of T., and pass the time with my friend Natasha? And now this is what has come of it.”

And he began to count, “One, two, three, four,” guessing that if it burst on the even number, he would live, but if on the uneven number, then he should be killed. “All is over; killed,” he thought, when the bomb burst (he did not remember whether it was on the even or the uneven number), and he felt a blow, and a sharp pain in his[Pg 104] head. “Lord, forgive my sins,” he murmured, folding his hands, then rose, and fell back senseless.

His first sensation, when he came to himself, was the blood which was flowing from his nose, and a pain in his head, which had become much less powerful. “It is my soul departing,” he thought.—“What will it be like there? Lord, receive my soul in peace!—But one thing is strange,” he thought,—“and that is that, though dying, I can still hear so plainly the footsteps of the soldiers and the report of the shots.”

“Send some bearers ... hey there ... the captain is killed!” shouted a voice over his head, which he recognized as the voice of his drummer Ignatieff.

Some one grasped him by the shoulders. He made an effort to open his eyes, and saw overhead the dark blue heavens, the clusters of stars, and two bombs, which were flying over him, one after the other; he saw Ignatieff, the soldiers with the stretcher, the walls of the trench, and all at once he became convinced that he was not yet in the other world.

He had been slightly wounded in the head with a stone. His very first impression was one resembling[Pg 105] regret; he had so beautifully and so calmly prepared himself for transit yonder that a return to reality, with its bombs, its trenches, and its blood, produced a disagreeable effect on him; his second impression was an involuntary joy that he was alive, and the third a desire to leave the bastion as speedily as possible. The drummer bound up his commander's head with his handkerchief, and, taking him under the arm, he led him to the place where the bandaging was going on.

“But where am I going, and why?” thought the staff-captain, when he recovered his senses a little.—“It is my duty to remain with my men,—the more so as they will soon be out of range of the shots,” some voice whispered to him.

“Never mind, brother,” he said, pulling his arm away from the obliging drummer. “I will not go to the field-hospital; I will remain with my men.”

And he turned back.

“You had better have your wound properly attended to, Your Honor,” said Ignatieff.[Pg 106] “In the heat of the moment, it seems as if it were a trifle; but it will be the worse if not attended to. There is some inflammation rising there ... really, now, Your Honor.”

Mikhaïloff paused for a moment in indecision, and would have followed Ignatieff's advice, in all probability, had he not called to mind how many severely wounded men there must needs be at the field-hospital. “Perhaps the doctor will smile at my scratch,” thought the staff-captain, and he returned with decision to his men, wholly regardless of the drummer's admonitions.

“And where is Officer Praskukhin, who was walking with me?” he asked the lieutenant, who was leading the corps when they met.

“I don't know—killed, probably,” replied the lieutenant, reluctantly.

“How is it that you do not know whether he was killed or wounded? He was walking with us. And why have you not carried him with you?”

“How could it be done, brother, when the place was so hot for us!”

“Ah, how could you do such a thing, Mikhaïl Ivánowitch!” said Mikhaïloff, angrily.—“How could you abandon him if he was alive; and if he was dead, you should still have brought away his body.”

[Pg 107]

“How could he be alive when, as I tell you, I went up to him and saw!” returned the lieutenant.—“As you like, however! Only, his own men might carry him off. Here, you dogs! the cannonade has abated,” he added....

Mikhaïloff sat down, and clasped his head, which the motion caused to pain him terribly.

“Yes, I must go and get him, without fail; perhaps he is still alive,” said Mikhaïloff. “It is our duty, Mikhaïl Ivánowitch!”

Mikhaïl Ivánowitch made no reply.

“He did not take him at the time, and now the soldiers must be sent alone—and how can they be sent? their lives may be sacrificed in vain, under that hot fire,” thought Mikhaïloff.

“Children! we must go back—and get the officer who was wounded there in the ditch,” he said, in not too loud and commanding a tone, for he felt how unpleasant it would be to the soldiers to obey his order,—and, in fact, as he did not address any one in particular by name, no one set out to fulfill it.

[Pg 108]

“It is quite possible that he is already dead, and it is not worth while to subject the men to unnecessary danger; I alone am to blame for not having seen to it. I will go myself and learn whether he is alive. It is my duty,” said Mikhaïloff to himself.

“Mikhaïl Ivánowitch! Lead the men forward, and I will overtake you,” he said, and, pulling up his cloak with one hand, and with the other constantly touching the image of Saint Mitrofaniy, in which he cherished a special faith, he set off on a run along the trench.

Having convinced himself that Praskukhin was dead, he dragged himself back, panting, and supporting with his hand the loosened bandage and his head, which began to pain him severely. The battalion had already reached the foot of the hill, and a place almost out of range of shots, when Mikhaïloff overtook it. I say, almost out of range, because some stray bombs struck here and there.

“At all events, I must go to the hospital to-morrow, and put down my name,” thought the staff-captain, as the medical student assisting the doctors bound his wound.

[Pg 109]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1887 :
Chapter 13 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 17:30:37 :
Chapter 13 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

May 28, 2017 15:35:44 :
Chapter 13 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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