Sevastopol : Chapter 24

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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, ....)
• "It is necessary that men should understand things as they are, should call them by their right names, and should know that an army is an instrument for killing, and that the enrollment and management of an army -- the very things which Kings, Emperors, and Presidents occupy themselves with so self-confidently -- is a preparation for murder." (From : "'Thou Shalt Not Kill'," by Leo Tolstoy, August 8,....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)

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Chapter 24

XXIV.

The elder Kozeltzoff, who had succeeded in winning back his money and losing it all again that night, including even the gold pieces which were sewed into his cuffs, had fallen, just before daybreak, into a heavy, unhealthy, but profound slumber, in the fortified barracks of the fifth battalion, when the fateful cry, repeated by various voices, rang out:—

“The alarm!”

“Why are you sleeping, Mikhaïl Semyónitch! There's an assault!” a voice shouted to him.

“That is probably some school-boy,” he said, opening his eyes, but putting no faith in it.

But all at once he caught sight of an officer running aimlessly from one corner to the other, with such a pale face that he understood it all. The thought that he might be taken for a coward, who did not wish to go out to his company at a critical moment, struck him with terrible force. He ran to his corps at the top of his speed. Firing[Pg 248] had ceased from the heavy guns; but the crash of musketry was at its height. The bullets whistled, not singly like rifle-balls, but in swarms, like a flock of birds in autumn, flying past overhead. The entire spot on which his battalion had stood the night before was veiled in smoke, and the shouts and cries of the enemy were audible. Soldiers, both wounded and unwounded, met him in throngs. After running thirty paces further, he caught sight of his company, which was hugging the wall.

“They have captured Schwartz,” said a young officer. “All is lost!”

“Nonsense!” said he, angrily, grasping his blunt little iron sword, and he began to shout:—

“Forward, children! Hurrah!”

His voice was strong and ringing; it roused even Kozeltzoff himself. He ran forward along the traverse; fifty soldiers rushed after him, shouting as they went. From the traverse he ran out upon an open square. The bullets fell literally like hail. Two struck him,—but where, and what they did, whether they bruised or wounded him, he had not the time to decide.

In front, he could already see blue uniforms and[Pg 249] red trousers, and could hear shouts which were not Russian; one Frenchman was standing on the breastworks, waving his cap, and shouting something. Kozeltzoff was convinced that he was about to be killed; this gave him courage.

He ran on and on. Some soldiers overtook him; other soldiers appeared at one side, also running. The blue uniforms remained at the same distance from him, fleeing back from him to their own trenches; but beneath his feet were the dead and wounded. When he had run to the outermost ditch, everything became confused before Kozeltzoff's eyes, and he was conscious of a pain in the breast.

Half an hour later, he was lying on a stretcher, near the Nikolaevsky barracks, and knew that he was wounded, though he felt hardly any pain; all he wanted was something cooling to drink, and to be allowed to lie still in peace.

A plump little doctor, with black side-whiskers, approached him, and unbuttoned his coat. Kozeltzoff stared over his chin at what the doctor was doing to his wound, and at the doctor's face, but he felt no pain. The doctor covered his wound with his shirt, wiped his fingers on the skirts of[Pg 250] his coat, and, without a word or glance at the wounded man, went off to some one else.

Kozeltzoff's eyes mechanically took note of what was going on before him, and, recalling the fact that he had been in the fifth bastion, he thought, with an extraordinary feeling of self-satisfaction, that he had fulfilled his duty well, and that, for the first time in all his service, he had behaved as handsomely as it was possible for any one, and had nothing with which to reproach himself. The doctor, after bandaging the other officer's wound, pointed to Kozeltzoff, and said something to a priest, with a huge reddish beard, and a cross, who was standing near by.

“What! am I dying?” Kozeltzoff asked the priest, when the latter approached him.

The priest, without making any reply, recited a prayer and handed the cross to the wounded man.

Death had no terrors for Kozeltzoff. He grasped the cross with his weak hands, pressed it to his lips, and burst into tears.

“Well, were the French repulsed?” he inquired of the priest, in firm tones.

“The victory has remained with us at every point,” replied the priest, in order to comfort the[Pg 251] wounded man, concealing from him the fact that the French standard had already been unfurled on the Malakoff mound.

“Thank God!” said the wounded man, without feeling the tears which were trickling down his cheeks.

The thought of his brother occurred to his mind for a single instant. “May God grant him the same good-fortune,” he said to himself.

[Pg 252]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1887 :
Chapter 24 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 17:35:14 :
Chapter 24 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

May 28, 2017 15:35:45 :
Chapter 24 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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