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Title: Sevastopol
Author: Tolstoï, Lyof N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sevastopol" ***

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_COUNT TOLSTOÏ'S WORKS._


  ANNA KARÉNINA                     $1.75
  CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, AND YOUTH      1.50
  IVAN ILYITCH                       1.25
  MY RELIGION                        1.00
  MY CONFESSION                      1.00
  WHAT TO DO?                        1.25
  THE INVADERS                       1.25
  A RUSSIAN PROPRIETOR               1.50
  NAPOLEON'S RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN        1.00
  THE LONG EXILE                     1.25
  LIFE                               1.25
  SEVASTOPOL                         1.00
  THE COSSACKS                       1.00
  POWER AND LIBERTY                   .75
  WHAT MEN LIVE BY (BOOKLET)          .30
  THE TWO PILGRIMS (BOOKLET)          .30
  WHERE LOVE IS (BOOKLET)             .30


  THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.,
  PUBLISHERS,
  13 ASTOR PLACE, NEW YORK.



  SEVASTOPOL

  BY
  COUNT LYOF N. TOLSTOÏ



  _TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN_
  BY
  ISABEL F. HAPGOOD



  AUTHORIZED EDITION.



  NEW YORK
  THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.
  13 ASTOR PLACE



  COPYRIGHT, 1888, BY
  THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.



CONTENTS.


                                  PAGE
  SEVASTOPOL IN DECEMBER, 1854       5

  SEVASTOPOL IN MAY, 1855           37

  SEVASTOPOL IN AUGUST, 1855       123



SEVASTOPOL.



SEVASTOPOL IN DECEMBER, 1854.


The flush of morning has but just begun to tinge the sky above Sapun
Mountain; the dark blue surface of the sea has already cast aside the
shades of night and awaits the first ray to begin a play of merry
gleams; cold and mist are wafted from the bay; there is no snow—all is
black, but the morning frost pinches the face and crackles underfoot,
and the far-off, unceasing roar of the sea, broken now and then by the
thunder of the firing in Sevastopol, alone disturbs the calm of the
morning. It is dark on board the ships; it has just struck eight bells.

Toward the north the activity of the day begins gradually to replace
the nocturnal quiet; here the relief guard has passed clanking their
arms, there the doctor is already hastening to the hospital, further on
the soldier has crept out of his earth hut and is washing his sunburnt
face in ice-encrusted water, and, turning towards the crimsoning east,
crosses himself quickly as he prays to God; here a tall and heavy
camel-wagon has dragged creaking to the cemetery, to bury the bloody
dead, with whom it is laden nearly to the top. You go to the wharf—a
peculiar odor of coal, manure, dampness, and of beef strikes you;
thousands of objects of all sorts—wood, meat, gabions, flour, iron, and
so forth—lie in heaps about the wharf; soldiers of various regiments,
with knapsacks and muskets, without knapsacks and without muskets,
throng thither, smoke, quarrel, drag weights aboard the steamer which
lies smoking beside the quay; unattached two-oared boats, filled with
all sorts of people,—soldiers, sailors, merchants, women,—land at and
leave the wharf.

“To the Grafsky, Your Excellency? be so good.” Two or three retired
sailors rise in their boats and offer you their services.

You select the one who is nearest to you, you step over the
half-decomposed carcass of a brown horse, which lies there in the mud
beside the boat, and reach the stern. You quit the shore. All about
you is the sea, already glittering in the morning sun, in front of you
is an aged sailor, in a camel's-hair coat, and a young, white-headed
boy, who work zealously and in silence at the oars. You gaze at the
motley vastness of the vessels, scattered far and near over the bay,
and at the small black dots of boats moving about on the shining
azure expanse, and at the bright and beautiful buildings of the city,
tinted with the rosy rays of the morning sun, which are visible in one
direction, and at the foaming white line of the quay, and the sunken
ships from which black tips of masts rise sadly here and there, and
at the distant fleet of the enemy faintly visible as they rock on the
crystal horizon of the sea, and at the streaks of foam on which leap
salt bubbles beaten up by the oars; you listen to the monotonous sound
of voices which fly to you over the water, and the grand sounds of
firing, which, as it seems to you, is increasing in Sevastopol.

It cannot be that, at the thought that you too are in Sevastopol, a
certain feeling of manliness, of pride, has not penetrated your soul,
and that the blood has not begun to flow more swiftly through your
veins.

“Your Excellency! you are steering straight into the Kistentin,”[A]
says your old sailor to you as he turns round to make sure of the
direction which you are imparting to the boat, with the rudder to the
right.

[A] The vessel Constantine.

“And all the cannon are still on it,” remarks the white-headed boy,
casting a glance over the ship as we pass.

“Of course; it's new. Korniloff lived on board of it,” said the old
man, also glancing at the ship.

“See where it has burst!” says the boy, after a long silence, looking
at a white cloud of spreading smoke which has suddenly appeared high
over the South Bay, accompanied by the sharp report of an exploding
bomb.

“_He_ is firing to-day with his new battery,” adds the old man, calmly
spitting on his hands. “Now, give way, Mishka! we'll overtake the
barge.” And your boat moves forward more swiftly over the broad swells
of the bay, and you actually do overtake the heavy barge, upon which
some bags are piled, and which is rowed by awkward soldiers, and it
touches the Grafsky wharf amid a multitude of boats of every sort which
are landing.

Throngs of gray soldiers, black sailors, and women of various colors
move noisily along the shore. The women are selling rolls, Russian
peasants with samovárs are crying _hot sbiten_;[B] and here upon the
first steps are strewn rusted cannon-balls, bombs, grape-shot, and
cast-iron cannon of various calibers; a little further on is a large
square, upon which lie huge beams, gun-carriages, sleeping soldiers;
there stand horses, wagons, green guns, ammunition-chests, and stacks
of arms; soldiers, sailors, officers, women, children, and merchants
are moving about; carts are arriving with hay, bags, and casks; here
and there Cossacks make their way through, or officers on horseback,
or a general in a drosky. To the right, the street is hemmed in by a
barricade, in whose embrasures stand some small cannon, and beside
these sits a sailor smoking his pipe. On the left a handsome house
with Roman ciphers on the pediment, beneath which stand soldiers and
blood-stained litters—everywhere you behold the unpleasant signs of
a war encampment. Your first impression is inevitably of the most
disagreeable sort. The strange mixture of camp and town life, of a
beautiful city and a dirty bivouac, is not only not beautiful, but
seems repulsive disorder; it even seems to you that every one is
thoroughly frightened, and is fussing about without knowing what he
is doing. But look more closely at the faces of these people who are
moving about you, and you will gain an entirely different idea. Look at
this little soldier from the provinces, for example, who is leading a
troïka of brown horses to water, and is purring something to himself so
composedly that he evidently will not go astray in this motley crowd,
which does not exist for him; but he is fulfilling his duty, whatever
that may be,—watering the horses or carrying arms,—with just as much
composure, self-confidence, and equanimity as though it were taking
place in Tula or Saransk. You will read the same expression on the face
of this officer who passes by in immaculate white gloves, and in the
face of the sailor who is smoking as he sits on the barricade, and in
the faces of the working soldiers, waiting with their litters on the
steps of the former club, and in the face of yonder girl, who, fearing
to wet her pink gown, skips across the street on the little stones.

[B] A drink made of water, molasses, laurel-leaves or salvia, which is
drunk like tea, especially by the lower classes.

Yes! disenchantment certainly awaits you, if you are entering
Sevastopol for the first time. In vain will you seek, on even a
single countenance, for traces of anxiety, discomposure, or even of
enthusiasm, readiness for death, decision,—there is nothing of the
sort. You will see the tradespeople quietly engaged in the duties
of their callings, so that, possibly, you may reproach yourself for
superfluous raptures, you may entertain some doubt as to the justice
of the ideas regarding the heroism of the defenders of Sevastopol
which you have formed from stories, descriptions, and the sights
and sounds on the northern side. But, before you doubt, go upon the
bastions, observe the defenders of Sevastopol on the very scene of
the defence, or, better still, go straight across into that house,
which was formerly the Sevastopol Assembly House, and upon whose roof
stand soldiers with litters,—there you will behold the defenders
of Sevastopol, there you will behold frightful and sad, great and
laughable, but wonderful sights, which elevate the soul.

You enter the great Hall of Assembly. You have but just opened the door
when the sight and smell of forty or fifty seriously wounded men and
of those who have undergone amputation—some in hammocks, the majority
upon the floor—suddenly strike you. Trust not to the feeling which
detains you upon the threshold of the hall; be not ashamed of having
come to _look at_ the sufferers, be not ashamed to approach and address
them: the unfortunates like to see a sympathizing human face, they like
to tell of their sufferings and to hear words of love and interest. You
walk along between the beds and seek a face less stern and suffering,
which you decide to approach, with the object of conversing.

“Where are you wounded?” you inquire, timidly and with indecision, of
an old, gaunt soldier, who, seated in his hammock, is watching you with
a good-natured glance, and seems to invite you to approach him. I say
“you ask timidly,” because these sufferings inspire you, over and above
the feeling of profound sympathy, with a fear of offending and with a
lofty reverence for the man who has undergone them.

“In the leg,” replies the soldier; but, at the same time, you perceive,
by the folds of the coverlet, that he has lost his leg above the knee.
“God be thanked now,” he adds,—“I shall get my discharge.”

“Were you wounded long ago?”

“It was six weeks ago, Your Excellency.”

“Does it still pain you?”

“No, there's no pain now; only there's a sort of gnawing in my calf
when the weather is bad, but that's nothing.”

“How did you come to be wounded?”

“On the fifth bastion, during the first bombardment. I had just trained
a cannon, and was on the point of going away, so, to another embrasure
when _it_ struck me in the leg, just as if I had stepped into a hole
and had no leg.”

“Was it not painful at the first moment?”

“Not at all; only as though something boiling hot had struck my leg.”

“Well, and then?”

“And then—nothing; only the skin began to draw as though it had been
rubbed hard. The first thing of all, Your Excellency, _is not to think
at all_. If you don't think about a thing, it amounts to nothing. Men
suffer from thinking more than from anything else.”

At that moment, a woman in a gray striped dress and a black kerchief
bound about her head approaches you.

She joins in your conversation with the sailor, and begins to tell
about him, about his sufferings, his desperate condition for the space
of four weeks, and how, when he was wounded, he made the litter halt
that he might see the volley from our battery, how the grand-duke spoke
to him and gave him twenty-five rubles, and how he said to him that he
wanted to go back to the bastion to direct the younger men, even if he
could not work himself. As she says all this in a breath, the woman
glances now at you, now at the sailor, who has turned away as though
he did not hear her and plucks some lint from his pillow, and her eyes
sparkle with peculiar enthusiasm.

“This is my housewife, Your Excellency!” the sailor says to you, with
an expression which seems to say, “You must excuse her. Every one knows
it's a woman's way—she's talking nonsense.”

You begin to understand the defenders of Sevastopol. For some reason,
you feel ashamed of yourself in the presence of this man. You would
like to say a very great deal to him, in order to express to him your
sympathy and admiration; but you find no words, or you are dissatisfied
with those which come into your head,—and you do reverence in silence
before this taciturn, unconscious grandeur and firmness of soul, this
modesty in the face of his own merits.

“Well, God grant you a speedy recovery,” you say to him, and you halt
before another invalid, who is lying on the floor and appears to be
awaiting death in intolerable agony.

He is a blond man with pale, swollen face. He is lying on his back,
with his left arm thrown out, in a position which is expressive of
cruel suffering. His parched, open mouth with difficulty emits his
stertorous breathing; his blue, leaden eyes are rolled up, and from
beneath the wadded coverlet the remains of his right arm, enveloped
in bandages, protrude. The oppressive odor of a corpse strikes you
forcibly, and the consuming, internal fire which has penetrated every
limb of the sufferer seems to penetrate you also.

“Is he unconscious?” you inquire of the woman, who comes up to you and
gazes at you tenderly as at a relative.

“No, he can still hear, but he's very bad,” she adds, in a whisper. “I
gave him some tea to-day,—what if he is a stranger, one must still have
pity!—and he hardly tasted it.”

“How do you feel?” you ask him.

The wounded man turns his eyeballs at the sound of your voice, but he
neither sees nor understands you.

“There's a gnawing at my heart.”

A little further on, you see an old soldier changing his linen. His
face and body are of a sort of cinnamon-brown color, and gaunt as a
skeleton. He has no arm at all; it has been cut off at the shoulder. He
is sitting with a wide-awake air, he puts himself to rights; but you
see, by his dull, corpse-like gaze, his frightful gauntness, and the
wrinkles on his face, that he is a being who has suffered for the best
part of his life.

On the other side, you behold in a cot the pale, suffering, and
delicate face of a woman, upon whose cheek plays a feverish flush.

“That's our little sailor lass who was struck in the leg by a bomb on
the 5th,” your guide tells you. “She was carrying her husband's dinner
to him in the bastion.”

“Has it been amputated?”

“They cut it off above the knee.”

Now, if your nerves are strong, pass through the door on the left.
In yonder room they are applying bandages and performing operations.
There, you will see doctors with their arms blood-stained above the
elbow, and with pale, stern faces, busied about a cot, upon which, with
eyes widely opened, and uttering, as in delirium, incoherent, sometimes
simple and touching words, lies a wounded man under the influence of
chloroform. The doctors are busy with the repulsive but beneficent
work of amputation. You see the sharp, curved knife enter the healthy,
white body, you see the wounded man suddenly regain consciousness with
a piercing cry and curses, you see the army surgeon fling the amputated
arm into a corner, you see another wounded man, lying in a litter in
the same apartment, shrink convulsively and groan as he gazes at the
operation upon his comrade, not so much from physical pain as from the
moral torture of anticipation.—You behold the frightful, soul-stirring
scenes; you behold war, not from its conventional, beautiful, and
brilliant side, with music and drum-beat, with fluttering flags and
galloping generals, but you behold war in its real phase—in blood, in
suffering, in death.

On emerging from this house of pain, you will infallibly experience
a sensation of pleasure, you will inhale the fresh air more fully,
you will feel satisfaction in the consciousness of your health, but,
at the same time, you will draw from the sight of these sufferings a
consciousness of your nothingness, and you will go calmly and without
any indecision to the bastion.

“What do the death and sufferings of such an insignificant worm as I
signify in comparison with so many deaths and such great sufferings?”
But the sight of the clear sky, the brilliant sun, the fine city, the
open church, and the soldiers moving about in various directions soon
restores your mind to its normal condition of frivolity, petty cares,
and absorption in the present alone.

Perhaps you meet the funeral procession of some officer coming from the
church, with rose-colored coffin, and music and fluttering banners;
perhaps the sounds of firing reach your ear from the bastion, but this
does not lead you back to your former thoughts; the funeral seems to
you a very fine military spectacle, and you do not connect with this
spectacle, or with the sounds, any clear idea of suffering and death,
as you did at the point where the bandaging was going on.

Passing the barricade and the church, you come to the most lively part
of the city. On both sides hang the signs of shops and inns. Merchants,
women in bonnets and kerchiefs, dandified officers,—everything speaks
to you of the firmness of spirit, of the independence and the security
of the inhabitants.

Enter the inn on the right if you wish to hear the conversations of
sailors and officers; stories of the preceding night are sure to be in
progress there, and of Fenka, and the affair of the 24th, and of the
dearness and badness of cutlets, and of such and such a comrade who has
been killed.

“Devil take it, how bad things are with us to-day!” ejaculates the bass
voice of a beardless naval officer, with white brows and lashes, in a
green knitted sash.

“Where?” asks another.

“In the fourth bastion,” replies the young officer, and you are
certain to look at the white-lashed officer with great attention, and
even with some respect, at the words, “in the fourth bastion.” His
excessive ease of manner, the way he flourishes his hands, his loud
laugh, and his voice, which seems to you insolent, reveal to you that
peculiar boastful frame of mind which some very young men acquire
after danger; nevertheless, you think he is about to tell you how bad
the condition of things on the fourth bastion is because of the bombs
and balls. Nothing of the sort! things are bad because it is muddy.
“It's impossible to pass through the battery,” says he, pointing at
his boots, which are covered with mud above the calf. “And my best
gun-captain was killed to-day; he was struck plump in the forehead,”
says another. “Who's that? Mitiukhin?” “No!... What now, are they going
to give me any veal? the villains!” he adds to the servant of the inn.
“Not Mitiukhin, but Abrosimoff. Such a fine young fellow!—he was in the
sixth sally.”

At another corner of the table, over a dish of cutlets with peas, and
a bottle of sour Crimean wine called “Bordeaux,” sit two infantry
officers; one with a red collar, who is young and has two stars on his
coat, is telling the other, with a black collar and no stars, about the
affair at Alma. The former has already drunk a good deal, and it is
evident, from the breaks in his narrative, from his undecided glance
expressive of doubt as to whether he is believed, and chiefly from
the altogether too prominent part which he has played in it all, and
from the excessive horror of it all, that he is strongly disinclined
to bear strict witness to the truth. But these tales, which you will
hear for a long time to come in every corner of Russia, are nothing
to you; you prefer to go to the bastions, especially to the fourth,
of which you have heard so many and such diverse things. When any one
says that he has been in the fourth bastion, he says it with a peculiar
air of pride and satisfaction; when any one says, “I am going to the
fourth bastion,” either a little agitation or a very great indifference
is infallibly perceptible in him; when any one wants to jest about
another, he says, “You must be stationed in the fourth bastion;” when
you meet litters and inquire whence they come, the answer is generally,
“From the fourth bastion.” On the whole, two totally different opinions
exist with regard to this terrible bastion; one is held by those who
have never been in it, and who are convinced that the fourth bastion is
a regular grave for every one who enters it, and the other by those
who live in it, like the white-lashed midshipman, and who, when they
mention the fourth bastion, will tell you whether it is dry or muddy
there, whether it is warm or cold in the mud hut, and so forth.

During the half-hour which you have passed in the inn, the weather has
changed; a fog which before spread over the sea has collected into
damp, heavy, gray clouds, and has veiled the sun; a kind of melancholy,
frozen mist sprinkles from above, and wets the roofs, the sidewalks,
and the soldiers' overcoats.

Passing by yet another barricade, you emerge from the door at the right
and ascend the principal street. Behind this barricade, the houses are
unoccupied on both sides of the street, there are no signs, the doors
are covered with boards, the windows are broken in; here the corners
are broken away, there the roofs are pierced. The buildings seem to
be old, to have undergone every sort of vicissitude and deprivation
characteristic of veterans, and appear to gaze proudly and somewhat
scornfully upon you. You stumble over the cannon-balls which strew
the way, and into holes filled with water, which have been excavated
in the stony ground by the bombs. In the street you meet and overtake
bodies of soldiers, sharpshooters, officers; now and then you encounter
a woman or a child, but it is no longer a woman in a bonnet, but a
sailor's daughter in an old fur cloak and soldier's boots. As you
proceed along the street, and descend a small declivity, you observe
that there are no longer any houses about you, but only some strange
heaps of ruined stones, boards, clay, and beams; ahead of you, upon a
steep hill, you perceive a black, muddy expanse, intersected by canals,
and this that is in front is the fourth bastion. Here you meet still
fewer people, no women are visible, the soldiers walk briskly, you come
across drops of blood on the road, and you will certainly encounter
there four soldiers with a stretcher and upon the stretcher a pale
yellowish face and a blood-stained overcoat. If you inquire, “Where
is he wounded?” the bearers will say angrily, without turning towards
you, “In the leg or the arm,” if he is slightly wounded, or they will
preserve a gloomy silence if no head is visible on the stretcher and he
is already dead or badly hurt.

The shriek of a cannon-ball or a bomb close by surprises you
unpleasantly, as you ascend the hill. You understand all at once,
and quite differently from what you have before, the significance of
those sounds of shots which you heard in the city. A quietly cheerful
memory flashes suddenly before your fancy; your own personality begins
to occupy you more than your observations; your attention to all
that surrounds you diminishes, and a certain disagreeable feeling of
uncertainty suddenly overmasters you. In spite of this decidedly base
voice, which suddenly speaks within you, at the sight of danger, you
force it to be silent, especially when you glance at a soldier who
runs laughing past you at a trot, waving his hands, and slipping down
the hill in the mud, and you involuntarily expand your chest, throw up
your head a little higher, and climb the slippery, clayey hill. As soon
as you have reached the top, rifle-balls begin to whiz to the right
and left of you, and, possibly, you begin to reflect whether you will
not go into the trench which runs parallel with the road; but this
trench is full of such yellow, liquid, foul-smelling mud, more than
knee-deep, that you will infallibly choose the path on the hill, the
more so as you see that _every one uses the path_. After traversing a
couple of hundred paces, you emerge upon a muddy expanse, all ploughed
up, and surrounded on all sides by gabions, earthworks, platforms,
earth huts, upon which great cast-iron guns stand, and cannon-balls
lie in symmetrical heaps. All these seem to be heaped up without any
aim, connection, or order. Here in the battery sit a knot of sailors;
there in the middle of the square, half buried in mud, lies a broken
cannon; further on, a foot-soldier, with his gun, is marching through
the battery, and dragging his feet with difficulty through the sticky
soil. But everywhere, on all sides, in every spot, you see broken
dishes, unexploded bombs, cannon-balls, signs of encampment, all sunk
in the liquid, viscous mud. You seem to hear not far from you the thud
of a cannon-ball; on all sides, you seem to hear the varied sounds
of balls,—humming like bees, whistling sharply, or in a whine like a
cord—you hear the frightful roar of the fusillade, which seems to shake
you all through with some horrible fright.

“So this is it, the fourth bastion, this is it—that terrible, really
frightful place!” you think to yourself, and you experience a little
sensation of pride, and a very large sensation of suppressed terror.
But you are mistaken, this is not the fourth bastion. It is the
Yazonovsky redoubt—a place which is comparatively safe; and not at all
dreadful.

In order to reach the fourth bastion, you turn to the right, through
this narrow trench, through which the foot-soldier has gone. In this
trench you will perhaps meet stretchers again, sailors and soldiers
with shovels; you will see the superintendent of the mines, mud huts,
into which only two men can crawl by bending down, and there you will
see sharpshooters of the Black Sea battalions, who are changing their
shoes, eating, smoking their pipes, and living; and you will still see
everywhere that same stinking mud, traces of a camp, and cast-off iron
débris in every possible form. Proceeding yet three hundred paces,
you will emerge again upon a battery,—on an open space, all cut up
into holes and surrounded by gabions, covered with earth, cannon, and
earthworks. Here you will perhaps see five sailors playing cards under
the shelter of the breastworks, and a naval officer who, perceiving
that you are a new-comer, and curious, will with pleasure show his
household arrangements, and everything which may be of interest to you.

This officer rolls himself a cigarette of yellow paper, with so much
composure as he sits on a gun, walks so calmly from one embrasure
to another, converses with you so quietly, without the slightest
affectation, that, in spite of the bullets which hum above you
even more thickly than before, you become cool yourself, question
attentively, and listen to the officer's replies.

This officer will tell you, but only if you ask him, about the
bombardment on the 5th, he will tell you how only one gun in his
battery could be used, and out of all the gunners who served it only
eight remained, and how, nevertheless, on the next morning, the 6th, he
fired all the guns; he will tell you how a bomb fell upon a sailor's
earth hut on the 5th, and laid low eleven men; he will point out to
you, from the embrasures, the enemy's batteries and entrenchments,
which are not more than thirty or forty fathoms distant from this
point. I fear, however, that, under the influence of the whizzing
bullets, you may thrust yourself out of the embrasure in order to view
the enemy; you will see nothing, and, if you do see anything, you will
be very much surprised that that white stone wall, which is so near you
and from which white smoke rises in puffs,—that that white wall is the
enemy—_he_, as the soldiers and sailors say.

It is even quite possible that the naval officer will want to discharge
a shot or two in your presence, out of vanity or simply for his own
pleasure. “Send the captain and his crew to the cannon;” and fourteen
sailors step up briskly and merrily to the gun and load it—one
thrusting his pipe into his pocket, another one chewing a biscuit,
still another clattering his heels on the platform.

Observe the faces, the bearing, the movements of these men. In every
wrinkle of that sunburned face, with its high cheek-bones, in every
muscle, in the breadth of those shoulders, in the stoutness of those
legs shod in huge boots, in every calm, firm, deliberate gesture,
these chief traits which constitute the power of Russia—simplicity
and straightforwardness—are visible; but here, on every face, it
seems to you that the danger, misery, and the sufferings of war
have, in addition to these principal characteristics, left traces of
consciousness of personal worth, emotion, and exalted thought.

All at once a frightful roar, which shakes not your organs of hearing
alone but your whole being, startles you so that you tremble all over.
Then you hear the distant shriek of the shot as it pursues its course,
and the dense smoke of the powder conceals from you the platform and
the black figures of the sailors who are moving about upon it. You
hear various remarks of the sailors in reference to this shot, and you
see their animation, and an exhibition of a feeling which you had not
expected to behold perhaps—a feeling of malice, of revenge against
the enemy, which lies hidden in the soul of each man. “It struck the
embrasure itself; it seems to have killed two men—see, they've carried
them off!” you hear in joyful exclamation. “And now they are angry;
they'll fire at us directly,” says some one; and, in fact, shortly
after you see a flash in front and smoke; the sentry, who is standing
on the breastwork, shouts “Can-non!” And then the ball shrieks past
you, strikes the earth, and scatters a shower of dirt and stones about
it.

This ball enrages the commander of the battery; he orders a second and
a third gun to be loaded, the enemy also begins to reply to us, and
you experience a sensation of interest, you hear and see interesting
things. Again the sentry shouts, “Can-non!” and you hear the same
report and blow, the same shower, or he shouts “Mortar!” and you hear
the monotonous, even rather pleasant whistle of the bomb, with which it
is difficult to connect the thought of horror; you hear this whistle
approaching you, and increasing in swiftness, then you see the black
sphere, the impact on the ground, the resounding explosion of the bomb
which can be felt. With the whistle and shriek, splinters fly again,
stones whiz through the air, and mud showers over you. At these sounds
you experience a strange feeling of enjoyment, and, at the same time,
of terror. At the moment when you know that the projectile is flying
towards you, it will infallibly occur to you that this shot will kill
you; but the feeling of self-love upholds you, and no one perceives
the knife which is cutting your heart. But when the shot has flown
past without touching you, you grow animated, and a certain cheerful,
inexpressibly pleasant feeling overpowers you, but only for a moment,
so that you discover a peculiar sort of charm in danger, in this game
of life and death, you want cannon-balls or bombs to strike nearer to
you.

But again the sentry has shouted in his loud, thick voice, “Mortar!”
again there is a shriek, and a bomb bursts, but with this noise comes
the groan of a man. You approach the wounded man, at the same moment
with the bearers; he has a strange, inhuman aspect, covered as he is
with blood and mud. A part of the sailor's breast has been torn away.
During the first moments, there is visible on his mud-stained face
only fear and a certain simulated, premature expression of suffering,
peculiar to men in that condition; but, at the same time, as the
stretcher is brought to him and he is laid upon it on his sound side,
you observe that this expression is replaced by an expression of a
sort of exaltation and lofty, inexpressible thought. His eyes shine
more brilliantly, his teeth are clenched, his head is held higher with
difficulty, and, as they lift him up, he stops the bearers and says
to his comrades, with difficulty and in a trembling voice: “Farewell,
brothers!” He tries to say something more, and it is plain that he
wants to say something touching, but he repeats once more: “Farewell,
brothers!”

At that moment, one of his fellow-sailors steps up to him, puts the cap
on the head which the wounded man holds towards him, and, waving his
hand indifferently, returns calmly to his gun. “That's the way with
seven or eight men every day,” says the naval officer to you, in reply
to the expression of horror which has appeared upon your countenance,
as he yawns and rolls a cigarette of yellow paper.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus you have seen the defenders of Sevastopol, on the very scene of
the defence, and you go back paying no attention, for some reason
or other, to the cannon-balls and bullets, which continue to shriek
the whole way until you reach the ruined theatre,—you proceed with
composure, and with your soul in a state of exaltation.

The principal and cheering conviction which you have brought away is
the conviction of the impossibility of the Russian people wavering
anywhere whatever—and this impossibility you have discerned not in the
multitude of traverses, breastworks, artfully interlaced trenches,
mines, and ordnance, piled one upon the other, of which you have
comprehended nothing; but you have discerned it in the eyes, the
speech, the manners, in what is called the spirit of the defenders
of Sevastopol. What they are doing they do so simply, with so little
effort and exertion, that you are convinced that they can do a hundred
times more—that they can do anything. You understand that the feeling
which makes them work is not a feeling of pettiness, ambition,
forgetfulness, which you have yourself experienced, but a different
sentiment, one more powerful, and one which has made of them men who
live with their ordinary composure under the fire of cannon, amid
hundreds of chances of death, instead of the one to which all men are
subject who live under these conditions amid incessant labor, poverty,
and dirt. Men will not accept these frightful conditions for the sake
of a cross or a title, nor because of threats; there must be another
lofty incentive as a cause, and this cause is the feeling which rarely
appears, of which a Russian is ashamed, that which lies at the bottom
of each man's soul—love for his country.

Only now have the tales of the early days of the siege of Sevastopol,
when there were no fortifications there, no army, no physical
possibility of holding it, and when at the same time there was not
the slightest doubt that it would not surrender to the enemy,—of the
days when that hero worthy of ancient Greece, Korniloff, said, as he
reviewed the army: “We will die, children, but we will not surrender
Sevastopol;” and our Russians, who are not fitted to be phrase-makers,
replied: “We will die! hurrah!”—only now have tales of that time ceased
to be for you the most beautiful historical legends, and have become
real facts and worthy of belief. You comprehend clearly, you figure
to yourself, those men whom you have just seen, as the very heroes of
those grievous times, who have not fallen, but have been raised by the
spirit, and have joyfully prepared for death, not for the sake of the
city, but of the country. This epos of Sevastopol, whose hero was the
Russian people, will leave mighty traces in Russia for a long time to
come.

Night is already falling. The sun has emerged from the gray clouds,
which cover the sky just before its setting, and has suddenly
illuminated with a crimson glow the purple vapors, the greenish sea
covered with ships and boats rocking on the regular swell, and the
white buildings of the city, and the people who are moving through its
streets. Sounds of some old waltz played by the regimental band on the
boulevard, and the sounds of firing from the bastions, which echo them
strangely, are borne across the water.



SEVASTOPOL IN MAY, 1855.


I.

Six months have already passed since the first cannon-ball whistled
from the bastions of Sevastopol, and ploughed the earth in the works
of the enemy, and since that day thousands of bombs, cannon-balls, and
rifle-balls have been flying incessantly from the bastions into the
trenches and from the trenches into the bastions, and the angel of
death has never ceased to hover over them.

Thousands of men have been disappointed in satisfying their ambition;
thousands have succeeded in satisfying theirs, in becoming swollen
with pride; thousands repose in the embrace of death. How many red
coffins and canvas canopies there have been! And still the same sounds
are echoed from the bastions, and still on clear evenings the French
peer from their camp, with involuntary tremor, at the yellow, furrowed
bastions of Sevastopol, at the black forms of our sailors moving about
upon them, and count the embrasures and the iron cannon which project
angrily from them; the under officer still gazes through his telescope,
from the heights of the telegraph station, at the dark figures of the
French at their batteries, at their tents, at the columns moving over
the green hill, and at the puffs of smoke which issue forth from the
trenches,—and a crowd of men, formed of divers races, still streams in
throngs from various quarters, with the same ardor as ever, and with
desires differing even more greatly than their races, towards this
fateful spot. And the question, unsolved by the diplomats, has still
not been solved by powder and blood.


II.

On the boulevard of the besieged city of Sevastopol, not far from the
pavilion, the regimental band was playing, and throngs of military
men and of women moved gayly through the streets. The brilliant sun
of spring had risen in the morning over the works of the English, had
passed over the bastions, then over the city, over the Nikolaevsky
barracks, and, illuminating all with equal cheer, had now sunk into
the blue and distant sea, which was lighted with a silvery gleam as it
heaved in peace.

A tall, rather bent infantry officer, who was drawing upon his hand a
glove which was presentable, if not entirely white, came out of one of
the small naval huts, built on the left side of the Morskaya[C] street,
and, staring thoughtfully at the ground, took his way up the slope to
the boulevard.

[C] Sea.

The expression of this officer's homely countenance did not indicate
any great mental capacity, but rather simplicity, judgment, honor, and
a tendency to solid worth. He was badly built, not graceful, and he
seemed to be constrained in his movements. He was dressed in a little
worn cap, a cloak of a rather peculiar shade of lilac, from beneath
whose edge the gold of a watch-chain was visible; in trousers with
straps, and brilliantly polished calfskin boots. He must have been
either a German—but his features clearly indicate his purely Russian
descent—or an adjutant, or a regimental quartermaster, only in that
case he would have had spurs, or an officer who had exchanged from the
cavalry for the period of the campaign, or possibly from the Guards. He
was, in fact, an officer who had exchanged from the cavalry, and as he
ascended the boulevard, at the present moment, he was meditating upon a
letter which he had just received from a former comrade, now a retired
land-owner in the Government of T., and his wife, pale, blue-eyed
Natasha, his great friend. He recalled one passage of the letter, in
which his comrade said:—

“When our _Invalid_[D] arrives, Pupka (this was the name by which the
retired uhlan called his wife) rushes headlong into the vestibule,
seizes the paper, and runs with it to the seat in the arbor, _in
the drawing-room_ (in which, if you remember, you and I passed such
delightful winter evenings when the regiment was stationed in our
town), and reads your heroic deeds with such ardor as it is impossible
for you to imagine. She often speaks of you. ‘There is Mikhaïloff,’ she
says, ‘he's such a _love of a man_. I am ready to kiss him when I see
him. He fights on the bastions, and he will surely receive the Cross of
St. George, and he will be talked about in the newspapers ...’ and so
on, and so on ... so that I am really beginning to be jealous of you.”

[D] Military Gazette.

In another place he writes: “The papers reach us frightfully late,
and, although there is plenty of news conveyed by word of mouth, not
all of it can be trusted. For instance, the _young ladies with the
music_, acquaintances of yours, were saying yesterday that Napoleon
was already captured by our Cossacks, and that he had been sent to
Petersburg; but you will comprehend how much I believe of this.
Moreover, a traveller from Petersburg told us (he has been sent on
special business by the minister, is a very agreeable person, and, now
that there is no one in town, he is more of a _resource_ to us than
you can well imagine ...) well, he declares it to be a fact that our
troops have taken Eupatoria, _so that the French have no communication
whatever with Balaklava_, and that in this engagement two hundred of
ours were killed, but that the French lost fifteen thousand. My wife
was in such raptures over this that she _caroused_ all night, and she
declares that her instinct tells her that you certainly took part in
that affair, and that you distinguished yourself.”

In spite of these words, and of the expressions which I have purposely
put in italics, and the whole tone of the letter, Staff-Captain
Mikhaïloff recalled, with inexpressibly sad delight, his pale friend
in the provinces, and how she had sat with him in the arbor in the
evening, and talked about sentiment, and he thought of his good
comrade, the uhlan, and of how the latter had grown angry and had lost
the game when they had played cards for kopek stakes in his study, and
how the wife had laughed at them ... he recalled the friendship of
these two people for himself (perhaps it seemed to him to lie chiefly
on the side of his pale feminine friend); all these faces with their
surroundings flitted before his mind's eye, in a wonderfully sweet,
cheerfully rosy light, and, smiling at his reminiscences, he placed his
hand on the pocket which contained the letter so dear to him.

From reminiscences Captain Mikhaïloff involuntarily proceeded to dreams
and hopes. “And what will be the joy and amazement of Natasha,” he
thought, as he paced along the narrow lane, “... when she suddenly
reads in the _Invalid_ a description of how I was the first to climb
upon the cannon, and that I have received the George! I shall certainly
be promoted to a full captaincy, by virtue of seniority. Then it is
quite possible that I may get the grade of major in the line, this
very year, because many of our brothers have already been killed, and
many more will be in this campaign. And after that there will be more
affairs on hand, and a regiment will be entrusted to me, since I am
an experienced man ... lieutenant-colonel ... the Order of St. Anna
on my neck ... colonel!...” and he was already a general, granting an
interview to Natasha, the widow of his comrade, who, according to his
dreams, would have died by that time, when the sounds of the music
on the boulevard penetrated more distinctly to his ears, the crowds
of people caught his eye, and he found himself on the boulevard, a
staff-captain of infantry as before.


III.

He went, first of all, to the pavilion, near which were standing the
musicians, for whom other soldiers of the same regiment were holding
the notes, in the absence of stands, and about whom a ring of cadets,
nurses, and children had formed, intent rather on seeing than on
hearing. Around the pavilion stood, sat, or walked sailors, adjutants,
and officers in white gloves. Along the grand avenue of the boulevard
paced officers of every sort, and women of every description, rarely in
bonnets, mostly with kerchiefs on their heads (some had neither bonnets
nor kerchiefs), but no one was old, and it was worthy of note that all
were gay young creatures. Beyond, in the shady and fragrant alleys of
white acacia, isolated groups walked and sat.

No one was especially delighted to encounter Captain Mikhaïloff on
the boulevard, with the exception, possibly, of the captain of his
regiment, Obzhogoff, and Captain Suslikoff, who pressed his hand
warmly; but the former was dressed in camel's-hair trousers, no
gloves, a threadbare coat, and his face was very red and covered with
perspiration, and the second shouted so loudly and incoherently that it
was mortifying to walk with them, particularly in the presence of the
officers in white gloves (with one of whom, an adjutant, Staff-Captain
Mikhaïloff exchanged bows; and he might have bowed to another
staff-officer, since he had met him twice at the house of a mutual
acquaintance). Besides, what pleasure was it to him to promenade with
these two gentlemen, Obzhogoff and Suslikoff, when he had met them and
shaken hands with them six times that day already? It was not for this
that he had come.

He wanted to approach the adjutant with whom he had exchanged bows, and
to enter into conversation with these officers, not for the sake of
letting Captains Obzhogoff and Suslikoff and Lieutenant Pashtetzky see
him talking with them, but simply because they were agreeable people,
and, what was more, they knew the news, and would have told it.

But why is Captain Mikhaïloff afraid, and why cannot he make up his
mind to approach them? “What if they should, all at once, refuse
to recognize me,” he thinks, “or, having bowed to me, what if they
continue their conversation among themselves, as though I did not
exist, or walk away from me entirely, and leave me standing there
alone among the _aristocrats_.” The word aristocrats (in the sense of
a higher, select circle, in any rank of life) has acquired for some
time past with us, in Russia, a great popularity, and has penetrated
into every locality and into every class of society whither vanity has
penetrated—among merchants, among officials, writers, and officers, to
Saratoff, to Mamaduish, to Vinnitz, everywhere where men exist.

To Captain Obzhogoff, Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff was an _aristocrat_. To
Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff, Adjutant Kalugin was an _aristocrat_, because
he was an adjutant, and was on such a footing with the other adjutants
as to call them “thou”! To Adjutant Kalugin, Count Nordoff was an
_aristocrat_, because he was an adjutant on the Emperor's staff.

Vanity! vanity! and vanity everywhere, even on the brink of the grave,
and among men ready to die for the highest convictions. Vanity! It
must be that it is a characteristic trait, and a peculiar malady of
our century. Why was nothing ever heard among the men of former days,
of this passion, any more than of the small-pox or the cholera? Why did
Homer and Shakespeare talk of love, of glory, of suffering, while the
literature of our age is nothing but an endless narrative of snobs and
vanity?

The staff-captain walked twice in indecision past the group of _his
aristocrats_, and the third time he exerted an effort over himself
and went up to them. This group consisted of four officers: Adjutant
Kalugin, an acquaintance of Mikhaïloff's, Adjutant Prince Galtsin,
who was something of an aristocrat even for Kalugin himself, Colonel
Neferdoff, one of the so-called _hundred and twenty-two_ men of the
world (who had entered the service for this campaign, from the retired
list), and Captain of Cavalry Praskukhin, also one of the hundred and
twenty-two. Luckily for Mikhaïloff, Kalugin was in a very fine humor
(the general had just been talking to him in a very confidential way,
and Prince Galtsin, who had just arrived from Petersburg, was stopping
with him); he did not consider it beneath his dignity to give his
hand to Captain Mikhaïloff, which Praskukhin, however, could not make
up his mind to do, though he had met Mikhaïloff very frequently on the
bastion, had drunk the latter's wine and vodka, and was even indebted
to him twenty rubles and a half at preference. As he did not yet know
Prince Galtsin very well, he did not wish to convict himself, in the
latter's presence, of an acquaintance with a simple staff-captain of
infantry. He bowed slightly to the latter.

“Well, Captain,” said Kalugin, “when are we to go to the bastion again?
Do you remember how we met each other on the Schvartz redoubt—it was
hot there, hey?”

“Yes, it was hot,” said Mikhaïloff, recalling how he had, that night,
as he was making his way along the trenches to the bastion, encountered
Kalugin, who was walking along like a hero, valiantly clanking his
sword. “I ought to have gone there to-morrow, according to present
arrangements; but we have a sick man,” pursued Mikhaïloff, “one
officer, as....”

He was about to relate how it was not his turn, but, as the commander
of the eighth company was ill, and the company had only a cornet
left, he had regarded it as his duty to offer himself in the place
of Lieutenant Nepshisetzky, and was, therefore, going to the bastion
to-day. But Kalugin did not hear him out.

“I have a feeling that something is going to happen within a few days,”
he said to Prince Galtsin.

“And won't there be something to-day?” asked Mikhaïloff, glancing first
at Kalugin, then at Galtsin.

No one made him any reply. Prince Galtsin merely frowned a little, sent
his eyes past the other's cap, and, after maintaining silence for a
moment, said:—

“That's a magnificent girl in the red kerchief. You don't know her, do
you, captain?”

“She lives near my quarters; she is the daughter of a sailor,” replied
the staff-captain.

“Come on; let's have a good look at her.”

And Prince Galtsin linked one arm in that of Kalugin, the other in that
of the staff-captain, being convinced in advance that he could afford
the latter no greater gratification, which was, in fact, quite true.

The staff-captain was superstitious, and considered it a great sin
to occupy himself with women before a battle; but on this occasion he
feigned to be a vicious man, which Prince Galtsin and Kalugin evidently
did not believe, and which greatly amazed the girl in the red kerchief,
who had more than once observed how the staff-captain blushed as he
passed her little window. Praskukhin walked behind, and kept touching
Prince Galtsin with his hand, and making various remarks in the French
tongue; but as a fourth person could not walk on the small path, he
was obliged to walk alone, and it was only on the second round that he
took the arm of the brave and well known naval officer _Servyagin_,
who had stepped up and spoken to him, and who was also desirous of
joining the circle of _aristocrats_. And the gallant and famous beau
joyfully thrust his honest and muscular hand through the elbow of a
man who was known to all, and even well known to Servyagin, as not
too nice. When Praskukhin, explaining to the prince his acquaintance
with _that sailor_, whispered to him that the latter was well known
for his bravery, Prince Galtsin, having been on the fourth bastion on
the previous evening, having seen a bomb burst twenty paces from him,
considering himself no less a hero than this gentleman, and thinking
that many a reputation is acquired undeservedly, paid no particular
attention to Servyagin.

It was so agreeable to Staff-Captain Mikhaïloff to walk about in this
company that he forgot the _dear_ letter from T——, and the gloomy
thoughts which had assailed him in connection with his impending
departure for the bastion. He remained with them until they began
to talk exclusively among themselves, avoiding his glances, thereby
giving him to understand that he might go, and finally deserted him
entirely. But the staff-captain was content, nevertheless, and as he
passed Yunker[E] Baron Pesth, who had been particularly haughty and
self-conceited since the preceding night, which was the first that he
had spent in the bomb-proof of the fifth bastion, and consequently
considered himself a hero, he was not in the least offended at the
presumptuous expression with which the yunker straightened himself up
and doffed his hat before him.

[E] A civilian, without military training, attached to a regiment as a
non-commissioned officer, who may eventually become a regular officer.


IV.

When later the staff-captain crossed the threshold of his quarters,
entirely different thoughts entered his mind. He looked around his
little chamber, with its uneven earth floor, and saw the windows all
awry, pasted over with paper, his old bed, with a rug nailed over
it, upon which was depicted a lady on horseback, and over which hung
two Tula pistols, the dirty couch of a cadet who lived with him, and
which was covered with a chintz coverlet; he saw his Nikita, who, with
untidy, tallowed hair, rose from the floor, scratching his head; he saw
his ancient cloak, his extra pair of boots, and a little bundle, from
which peeped a bit of cheese and the neck of a porter bottle filled
with vodka, which had been prepared for his use on the bastion, and all
at once he remembered that he was obliged to go with his company that
night to the fortifications.

“It is certainly foreordained that I am to be killed to-night,” thought
the captain.... “I feel it. And the principal point is that I need not
have gone, but that I offered myself. And the man who thrusts himself
forward is always killed. And what's the matter with that accursed
Nepshisetsky? It is quite possible that he is not sick at all; and they
will kill another man for his sake, they will infallibly kill him.
However, if they don't kill me, I shall be promoted probably. I saw how
delighted the regimental commander was when I asked him to allow me to
go, if Lieutenant Nepshisetsky was ill. If I don't turn out a major,
then I shall certainly get the Vladímir cross. This is the thirteenth
time that I have been to the bastion. Ah, the thirteenth is an unlucky
number. They will surely kill me, I feel that I shall be killed; but
some one had to go, it was impossible for the lieutenant of the corps
to go. And, whatever happens, the honor of the regiment, the honor of
the army, depends on it. It was my _duty_ to go ... yes, my sacred
duty. But I have a foreboding.”

The captain forgot that this was not the first time that a similar
foreboding had assailed him, in a greater or less degree, when it had
been necessary to go to the bastion, and he did not know that every
one who sets out on an affair experiences this foreboding with more or
less force. Having calmed himself with this conception of duty, which
was especially and strongly developed in the staff-captain, he seated
himself at the table, and began to write a farewell letter to his
father. Ten minutes later, having finished his letter, he rose from the
table, his eyes wet with tears, and, mentally reciting all the prayers
he knew, he set about dressing. His coarse, drunken servant indolently
handed him his new coat (the old one, which the captain generally wore
when going to the bastion, was not mended).

“Why is not my coat mended? You never do anything but sleep, you
good-for-nothing!” said Mikhaïloff, angrily.

“Sleep!” grumbled Nikita. “You run like a dog all day long; perhaps you
stop—but you must not sleep, even then!”

“You are drunk again, I see.”

“I didn't get drunk on your money, so you needn't scold.”

“Hold your tongue, blockhead!” shouted the captain, who was ready to
strike the man. He had been absent-minded at first, but now he was, at
last, out of patience, and embittered by the rudeness of Nikita, whom
he loved, even spoiled, and who had lived with him for twelve years.

“Blockhead? Blockhead?” repeated the servant. “Why do you call me a
blockhead, sir? Is this a time for that sort of thing? It is not good
to curse.”

Mikhaïloff recalled whither he was on the point of going, and felt
ashamed of himself.

“You are enough to put a saint out of patience, Nikita,” he said, in a
gentle voice. “Leave that letter to my father on the table, and don't
touch it,” he added, turning red.

“Yes, sir,” said Nikita, melting under the influence of the wine which
he had drunk, as he had said, “at his own expense,” and winking his
eyes with a visible desire to weep.

But when the captain said: “Good-by, Nikita,” on the porch, Nikita
suddenly broke down into repressed sobs, and ran to kiss his master's
hand.... “Farewell, master!” he exclaimed, sobbing. The old sailor's
wife, who was standing on the porch, could not, in her capacity of a
woman, refrain from joining in this touching scene, so she began to
wipe her eyes with her dirty sleeve, and to say something about even
gentlemen having their trials to bear, and that she, poor creature, had
been left a widow. And she related for the hundredth time to drunken
Nikita the story of her woes; how her husband had been killed in the
first bombardment, and how her little house had been utterly ruined
(the one in which she was now living did not belong to her), and so on.
When his master had departed, Nikita lighted his pipe, requested the
daughter of their landlord to go for some vodka, and very soon ceased
to weep, but, on the contrary, got into a quarrel with the old woman
about some small bucket, which, he declared, she had broken.

“But perhaps I shall only be wounded,” meditated the captain, as he
marched through the twilight to the bastion with his company. “But
where? How? Here or here?” he thought, indicating his belly and his
breast.... “If it should be here (he thought of the upper portion of
his leg), it might run round. Well, but if it were here, and by a
splinter, that would finish me.”

The captain reached the fortifications safely through the trenches,
set his men to work, with the assistance of an officer of sappers, in
the darkness, which was complete, and seated himself in a pit behind
the breastworks. There was not much firing; only once in a while
the lightning flashed from our batteries, then from _his_, and the
brilliant fuse of a bomb traced an arc of flame against the dark,
starry heavens. But all the bombs fell far in the rear and to the right
of the rifle-pits in which the captain sat. He drank his vodka, ate his
cheese, lit his cigarette, and, after saying his prayers, he tried to
get a little sleep.


V.

Prince Galtsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Neferdoff, and Praskukhin, whom no
one had invited, to whom no one spoke, but who never left them, all
went to drink tea with Adjutant Kalugin.

“Well, you did not finish telling me about Vaska Mendel,” said
Kalugin, as he took off his cloak, seated himself by the window in a
soft lounging-chair, and unbuttoned the collar of his fresh, stiffly
starched cambric shirt: “How did he come to marry?”

“That's a joke, my dear fellow! There was a time, I assure you, when
nothing else was talked of in Petersburg,” said Prince Galtsin, with a
laugh, as he sprang up from the piano, and seated himself on the window
beside Kalugin. “It is simply ludicrous, and I know all the details of
the affair.”

And he began to relate—in a merry, and skilful manner—a love story,
which we will omit, because it possesses no interest for us. But it
is worthy of note that not only Prince Galtsin, but all the gentlemen
who had placed themselves here, one on the window-sill, another with
his legs coiled up under him, a third at the piano, seemed totally
different persons from what they were when on the boulevard; there was
nothing of that absurd arrogance and haughtiness which they and their
kind exhibit in public to the infantry officers; here they were among
their own set and natural, especially Kalugin and Prince Galtsin, and
were like very good, amiable, and merry children. The conversation
turned on their companions in the service in Petersburg, and on their
acquaintances.

“What of Maslovsky?”

“Which? the uhlan of the body-guard or of the horse-guard?”

“I know both of them. The one in the horse-guards was with me when he
was a little boy, and had only just left school. What is the elder one?
a captain of cavalry?”

“Oh, yes! long ago.”

“And is he still going about with his gypsy maid?”

“No, he has deserted her ...” and so forth, and so forth, in the same
strain.

Then Prince Galtsin seated himself at the piano, and sang a gypsy song
in magnificent style. Praskukhin began to sing second, although no
one had asked him, and he did it so well that they requested him to
accompany the prince again, which he gladly consented to do.

The servant came in with the tea, cream, and cracknels on a silver
salver.

“Serve the prince,” said Kalugin.

“Really, it is strange to think,” said Galtsin, taking a glass, and
walking to the window, “that we are in a beleaguered city; tea with
cream, and such quarters as I should be only too happy to get in
Petersburg.”

“Yes, if it were not for that,” said the old lieutenant-colonel, who
was dissatisfied with everything, “this constant waiting for something
would be simply unendurable ... and to see how men are killed, killed
every day,—and there is no end to it, and under such circumstances it
would not be comfortable to live in the mud.”

“And how about our infantry officers?” said Kalugin. “They live in the
bastions with the soldiers in the casemates and eat beet soup with the
soldiers—how about them?”

“How about them? They don't change their linen for ten days at a time,
and they are heroes—wonderful men.”

At this moment an officer of infantry entered the room.

“I ... I was ordered ... may I present myself to the gen ... to His
Excellency from General N.?” he inquired, bowing with an air of
embarrassment.

Kalugin rose, but, without returning the officer's salute, he asked
him, with insulting courtesy and strained official smile, whether
_they_[F] would not wait awhile; and, without inviting him to be seated
or paying any further attention to him, he turned to Prince Galtsin
and began to speak to him in French, so that the unhappy officer, who
remained standing in the middle of the room, absolutely did not know
what to do with himself.

[F] A polite way of referring to the general in the plural.

“It is on very important business, sir,” said the officer, after a
momentary pause.

“Ah! very well, then,” said Kalugin, putting on his cloak, and
accompanying him to the door.

“_Eh bien, messieurs_, I think there will be hot work to-night,” said
Kalugin in French, on his return from the general's.

“Hey? What? A sortie?” They all began to question him.

“I don't know yet—you will see for yourselves,” replied Kalugin, with a
mysterious smile.

“And my commander is on the bastion—of course, I shall have to go,”
said Praskukhin, buckling on his sword.

But no one answered him: he must know for himself whether he had to go
or not.

Praskukhin and Neferdoff went off, in order to betake themselves to
their posts. “Farewell, gentlemen!” “Au revoir, gentlemen! We shall
meet again to-night!” shouted Kalugin from the window when Praskukhin
and Neferdoff trotted down the street, bending over the bows of their
Cossack saddles. The trampling of their Cossack horses soon died away
in the dusky street.

“No, tell me, is something really going to take place to-night?” said
Galtsin, in French, as he leaned with Kalugin on the window-sill, and
gazed at the bombs which were flying over the bastions.

“I can tell you, you see ... you have been on the bastions, of course?”
(Galtsin made a sign of assent, although he had been only once to the
fourth bastion.) “Well, there was a trench opposite our lunette”,
and Kalugin, who was not a specialist, although he considered his
judgment on military affairs particularly accurate, began to explain
the position of our troops and of the enemy's works and the plan of the
proposed affair, mixing up the technical terms of fortifications a good
deal in the process.

“But they are beginning to hammer away at our casemates. Oho! was that
ours or _his_? there, it has burst,” they said, as they leaned on the
window-sill, gazing at the fiery line of the bomb, which exploded in
the air, at the lightning of the discharges, at the dark blue sky,
momentarily illuminated, and at the white smoke of the powder, and
listened to the sounds of the firing, which grew louder and louder.

“What a charming sight? is it not?” said Kalugin, in French, directing
the attention of his guest to the really beautiful spectacle. “Do you
know, you cannot distinguish the stars from the bombs at times.”

“Yes, I was just thinking that that was a star; but it darted down ...
there, it has burst now. And that big star yonder, what is it called?
It is just exactly like a bomb.”

“Do you know, I have grown so used to these bombs that I am convinced
that a starlight night in Russia will always seem to me to be all
bombs; one gets so accustomed to them.”

“But am not I to go on this sortie?” inquired Galtsin, after a
momentary silence.

“Enough of that, brother! Don't think of such a thing! I won't let you
go!” replied Kalugin. “Your turn will come, brother!”

“Seriously? So you think that it is not necessary to go? Hey?...”

At that moment, a frightful crash of rifles was heard in the direction
in which these gentlemen were looking, above the roar of the cannon,
and thousands of small fires, flaring up incessantly, without
intermission, flashed along the entire line.

“That's it, when the real work has begun!” said Kalugin.—“That is the
sound of the rifles, and I cannot hear it in cold blood; it takes a
sort of hold on your soul, you know. And there is the hurrah!” he
added, listening to the prolonged and distant roar of hundreds of
voices, “A-a-aa!” which reached him from the bastion.

“What is this hurrah, theirs or ours?”

“I don't know; but it has come to a hand-to-hand fight, for the firing
has ceased.”

At that moment, an officer followed by his Cossack galloped up to the
porch, and slipped down from his horse.

“Where from?”

“From the bastion. The general is wanted.”

“Let us go. Well, now, what is it?”

“They have attacked the lodgements ... have taken them ... the French
have brought up their heavy reserves ... they have attacked our forces
... there were only two battalions,” said the panting officer, who
was the same that had come in the evening, drawing his breath with
difficulty, but stepping to the door with perfect unconcern.

“Well, have they retreated?” inquired Galtsin.

“No,” answered the officer, angrily. “The battalion came up and beat
them back; but the commander of the regiment is killed, and many
officers, and I have been ordered to ask for re-enforcements....”

And with these words he and Kalugin went off to the general, whither we
will not follow them.

Five minutes later, Kalugin was mounted on the Cossack's horse (and
with that peculiar, _quasi_-Cossack seat, in which, as I have observed,
all adjutants find something especially captivating, for some reason
or other), and rode at a trot to the bastion, in order to give some
orders, and to await the news of the final result of the affair. And
Prince Galtsin, under the influence of that oppressive emotion which
the signs of a battle near at hand usually produce on a spectator who
takes no part in it, went out into the street, and began to pace up and
down there without any object.


VI.

The soldiers were bearing the wounded on stretchers, and supporting
them by their arms. It was completely dark in the streets; now and
then, a rare light flashed in the hospital or from the spot where
the officers were seated. The same thunder of cannon and exchange of
rifle-shots was borne from the bastions, and the same fires flashed
against the dark heavens. Now and then, you could hear the trampling
hoofs of an orderly's horse, the groan of a wounded man, the footsteps
and voices of the stretcher-bearers, or the conversation of some of the
frightened female inhabitants, who had come out on their porches to
view the cannonade.

Among the latter were our acquaintances Nikita, the old sailor's widow,
with whom he had already made his peace, and her ten-year-old daughter.
“Lord, Most Holy Mother of God!” whispered the old woman to herself
with a sigh, as she watched the bombs, which, like balls of fire,
sailed incessantly from one side to the other. “What a shame, what a
shame! I-i-hi-hi! It was not so in the first bombardment. See, there it
has burst, the cursed thing! right above our house in the suburbs.”

“No, it is farther off, in aunt Arinka's garden, that they all fall,”
said the little girl.

“And where, where is my master now!” said Nikita, with a drawl, for he
was still rather drunk. “Oh, how I love that master of mine!—I don't
know myself!—I love him so that if, which God forbid, they should
kill him in this sinful fight, then, if you will believe it, aunty, I
don't know myself what I might do to myself in that case—by Heavens, I
don't! He is such a master that words will not do him justice! Would
I exchange him for one of those who play cards? That is simply—whew!
that's all there is to say!” concluded Nikita, pointing at the lighted
window of his master's room, in which, as the staff-captain was
absent, Yunker Zhvadchevsky had invited his friends to a carouse, on
the occasion of his receiving the cross: Sub-Lieutenant Ugrovitch and
Sub-Lieutenant Nepshisetsky, who was ill with a cold in the head.

“Those little stars! They dart through the sky like stars, like stars!”
said the little girl, breaking the silence which succeeded Nikita's
words. “There, there! another has dropped! Why do they do it, mamma?”

“They will ruin our little cabin entirely,” said the old woman,
sighing, and not replying to her little daughter's question.

“And when uncle and I went there to-day, mamma,” continued the little
girl, in a shrill voice, “there was such a big cannon-ball lying in the
room, near the cupboard; it had broken through the wall and into the
room ... and it is so big that you couldn't lift it.”

“Those who had husbands and money have gone away,” said the old woman,
“and now they have ruined my last little house. See, see how they are
firing, the wretches. Lord, Lord!”

“And as soon as we came out, a bomb flew at us, and burst and scattered
the earth about, and a piece of the shell came near striking uncle and
me.”


VII.

Prince Galtsin met more and more wounded men, in stretchers and on
foot, supporting each other, and talking loudly.

“When they rushed up, brothers,” said one tall soldier, who had two
guns on his shoulder, in a bass voice, “when they rushed up and
shouted, ‘Allah, Allah!’[G] they pressed each other on. You kill one,
and another takes his place—you can do nothing. You never saw such
numbers as there were of them....”

[G] A The Russian soldiers, who had been fighting the Turks, were so
accustomed to this cry of the enemy that they always declared that the
French also cried “Allah.”—AUTHOR'S NOTE.

But at this point in his story Galtsin interrupted him.

“You come from the bastion?”

“Just so, Your Honor!”

“Well, what has been going on there? Tell me.”

“Why, what has been going on? They attacked in force, Your Honor;
they climbed over the wall, and that's the end of it. They conquered
completely, Your Honor.”

“How conquered? You repulsed them, surely?”

“How could we repulse them, when he came up with his whole force? They
killed all our men, and there was no help given us.”

The soldier was mistaken, for the trenches were behind our forces; but
this is a peculiar thing, which any one may observe: a soldier who has
been wounded in an engagement always thinks that the day has been lost,
and that the encounter has been a frightfully bloody one.

“Then, what did they mean by telling me that you had repulsed them?”
said Galtsin, with irritation. “Perhaps the enemy was repulsed after
you left? Is it long since you came away?”

“I have this instant come from there, Your Honor,” replied the soldier.
“It is hardly possible. The trenches remained in his hands ... he won a
complete victory.”

“Well, and are you not ashamed to have surrendered the trenches? This
is horrible!” said Galtsin, angered by such indifference.

“What, when he was there in force?” growled the soldier.

“And, Your Honor,” said a soldier on a stretcher, who had just come up
with them, “how could we help surrendering, when nearly all of us had
been killed? If we had been in force, we would only have surrendered
with our lives. But what was there to do? I ran one man through, and
then I was struck.... O-oh! softly, brothers! steady, brothers! go more
steadily!... O-oh!” groaned the wounded man.

“There really seem to be a great many extra men coming this way,” said
Galtsin, again stopping the tall soldier with the two rifles. “Why are
you walking off? Hey there, halt!”

The soldier halted, and removed his cap with his left hand.

“Where are you going, and why?” he shouted at him sternly. “He ...”

But, approaching the soldier very closely at that moment, he perceived
that the latter's right arm was bandaged, and covered with blood far
above the elbow.

“I am wounded, Your Honor!”

“Wounded? how?”

“It must have been a bullet, here!” said the soldier, pointing at his
arm, “but I cannot tell yet. My head has been broken by something,”
and, bending over, he showed the hair upon the back of it all clotted
together with blood.

“And whose gun is that second one you have?”

“A choice French one, Your Honor! I captured it. And I should not have
come away if it had not been to accompany this soldier; he might fall
down,” he added, pointing at the soldier, who was walking a little in
front, leaning upon his gun, and dragging his left foot heavily after
him.

Prince Galtsin all at once became frightfully ashamed of his unjust
suspicions. He felt that he was growing crimson, and turned away,
without questioning the wounded men further, and, without looking after
them, he went to the place where the injured men were being cared for.

Having forced his way with difficulty to the porch, through the wounded
men who had come on foot, and the stretcher-bearers, who were entering
with the wounded and emerging with the dead, Galtsin entered the first
room, glanced round, and involuntarily turned back, and immediately ran
into the street. It was too terrible.


VIII.

The vast, dark, lofty hall, lighted only by the four or five candles,
which the doctors were carrying about to inspect the wounded, was
literally full. The stretcher-bearers brought in the wounded, ranged
them one beside another on the floor, which was already so crowded that
the unfortunate wretches hustled each other and sprinkled each other
with their blood, and then went forth for more. The pools of blood
which were visible on the unoccupied places, the hot breaths of several
hundred men, and the steam which rose from those who were toiling
with the stretchers produced a peculiar, thick, heavy, offensive
atmosphere, in which the candles burned dimly in the different parts
of the room. The dull murmur of diverse groans, sighs, death-rattles,
broken now and again by a shriek, was borne throughout the apartment.
Sisters of charity, with tranquil faces, and with an expression not of
empty, feminine, tearfully sickly compassion, but of active, practical
sympathy, flitted hither and thither among the blood-stained cloaks and
shirts, stepping over the wounded, with medicine, water, bandages, lint.

Doctors, with their sleeves rolled up, knelt beside the wounded, beside
whom the assistant surgeons held the candles, inspecting, feeling, and
probing the wounds, in spite of the terrible groans and entreaties of
the sufferers. One of the doctors was seated at a small table by the
door, and, at the moment when Galtsin entered the room, he was just
writing down “No. 532.”

“Iván Bogaeff, common soldier, third company of the S—— regiment,
_fractura femoris complicata_!” called another from the extremity of
the hall, as he felt of the crushed leg.... “Turn him over.”

“O-oi, my fathers, good fathers!” shrieked the soldier, beseeching them
not to touch him.

“_Perforatio capitis._”

“Semyon Neferdoff, lieutenant-colonel of the N—— regiment of infantry.
Have a little patience, colonel: you can only be attended to this way;
I will let you alone,” said a third, picking away at the head of the
unfortunate colonel, with some sort of a hook.

“Ai! stop! Oi! for God's sake, quick, quick, for the sake a-a-a-a!...”

“_Perforatio pectoris_ ... Sevastyan Sereda, common soldier ... of what
regiment? however, you need not write that: _moritur_. Carry him away,”
said the doctor, abandoning the soldier, who was rolling his eyes, and
already emitting the death-rattle.

Forty stretcher-bearers stood at the door, awaiting the task of
transporting to the hospital the men who had been attended to, and the
dead to the chapel, and gazed at this picture in silence, only uttering
a heavy sigh from time to time....


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 lodgements.”

“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 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.

“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
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 bomb, and, with practised 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 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 moustache 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, “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 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, “please to go to the first
lodgement 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 lodgement on a run.

The firing was growing more infrequent.


X.

“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.

“Exactly so.”

“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, 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 lodgements. 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 lodgements 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 lodgements, 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 lodgements, began to fire faster and faster. Our
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. “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 lodgements had been
captured and occupied by our forces.

After receiving a full account of the engagement, Kalugin and Pesth
went out of the casemates.


XI.

“There is blood on your cloak; have you been having a hand-to-hand
fight?” Kalugin asked him.

“Oh, 'tis frightful! Just imagine....”

And Pesth began to relate how he had led his company, how the commander
of the company had been killed, how he had spitted a Frenchman, and
how, if it had not been for him, the battle would have been lost.

The foundations for this tale, that the company commander had been
killed, and that Pesth had killed a Frenchman, were correct; but, in
giving the details, the yunker had invented facts and bragged.

He bragged involuntarily, because, during the whole engagement, he had
been in a kind of mist, and had forgotten himself to such a degree that
everything which happened seemed to him to have happened somewhere,
sometime, and with some one, and very naturally he had endeavored
to bring out these details in a light which should be favorable to
himself. But what had happened in reality was this:—

The battalion to which the yunker had been ordered for the sortie had
stood under fire for two hours, near a wall; then the commander of
the battalion said something, the company commanders made a move, the
battalion got under way, issued forth from behind the breastworks,
marched forward a hundred paces, and came to a halt in columns. Pesth
had been ordered to take his stand on the right flank of the second
company.

The yunker stood his ground, absolutely without knowing where he was,
or why he was there, and, with restrained breath, and with a cold chill
running down his spine, he had stared stupidly straight ahead into the
dark beyond, in the expectation of something terrible. But, since there
was no firing in progress, he did not feel so much terrified as he did
queer and strange at finding himself outside the fortress, in the open
plain. Again the battalion commander ahead said something. Again the
officers had conversed in whispers, as they communicated the orders,
and the black wall of the first company suddenly disappeared. They had
been ordered to lie down. The second company lay down also, and Pesth,
in the act, pricked his hand on something sharp. The only man who did
not lie down was the commander of the second company. His short form,
with the naked sword which he was flourishing, talking incessantly the
while, moved about in front of the troop.

“Children! my lads! ... look at me! Don't fire at them, but at them
with your bayonets, the dogs! When I shout, Hurrah! follow me close ...
the chief thing is to be as close together as possible ... let us show
what we are made of! Do not let us cover ourselves with shame—shall we,
hey, my children? For our father the Tsar!”

“What is our company commander's surname?” Pesth inquired of a yunker,
who was lying beside him. “What a brave fellow he is!”

“Yes, he's always that way in a fight ...” answered the yunker. “His
name is Lisinkovsky.”

At that moment, a flame flashed up in front of the company. There
was a crash, which deafened them all, stones and splinters flew high
in the air (fifty seconds, at least, later a stone fell from above
and crushed the foot of a soldier). This was a bomb from an elevated
platform, and the fact that it fell in the midst of the company proved
that the French had caught sight of the column.

“So they are sending bombs!... Just let us get at you, and you shall
feel the bayonet of a three-sided Russian, curse you!” shouted the
commander of the company, in so loud a tone that the battalion
commander was forced to order him to be quiet and not to make so much
noise.

After this the first company rose to their feet, and after it the
second. They were ordered to fix bayonets, and the battalion advanced.
Pesth was so terrified that he absolutely could not recollect whether
they advanced far, or whither, or who did what. He walked like a
drunken man. But all at once millions of fires flashed from all sides,
there was a whistling and a crashing. He shrieked and ran, because
they were all shrieking and running. Then he stumbled and fell upon
something. It was the company commander (who had been wounded at the
head of his men and who, taking the yunker for a Frenchman, seized him
by the leg). Then when he had freed his leg, and risen to his feet,
some man ran against his back in the dark and almost knocked him down
again; another man shouted, “Run him through! what are you staring at!”

Then he seized a gun, and ran the bayonet into something soft. “Ah,
Dieu!” exclaimed some one in a terribly piercing voice, and then only
did Pesth discover that he had transfixed a Frenchman. The cold sweat
started out all over his body. He shook as though in a fever, and flung
away the gun. But this lasted only a moment; it immediately occurred
to him that he was a hero. He seized the gun again, and, shouting
“Hurrah!” with the crowd, he rushed away from the dead Frenchman. After
having traversed about twenty paces, he came to the trench. There he
found our men and the company commander.

“I have run one man through!” he said to the commander.

“You're a brave fellow, Baron.”


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 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 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 fuse 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 fuse 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 fuse of the bomb, which was twisting about at a distance of an
arshin from him.

A cold horror, which excluded every other 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 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 centre 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; 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.


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 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 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. “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.”

“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 fulfil it.

“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.


XIV.

Hundreds of bodies, freshly smeared with blood, of men who two hours
previous had been filled with divers lofty or petty hopes and desires,
now lay, with stiffened limbs, in the dewy, flowery valley which
separated the bastion from the trench, and on the level floor of the
chapel for the dead in Sevastopol; hundreds of men crawled, twisted,
and groaned, with curses and prayers on their parched lips, some amid
the corpses in the flower-strewn vale, others on stretchers, on cots,
and on the blood-stained floor of the hospital.

And still, as on the days preceding, the dawn glowed, over Sapun
Mountain, the twinkling stars paled, the white mist spread abroad
from the dark sounding sea, the red glow illuminated the east, long
crimson cloudlets darted across the blue horizon; and still, as on days
preceding, the powerful, all-beautiful sun rose up, giving promise of
joy, love, and happiness to all who dwell in the world.


XV.

On the following day, the band of the chasseurs was playing again on
the boulevard, and again officers, cadets, soldiers, and young women
were promenading in festive guise about the pavilion and through the
low-hanging alleys of fragrant white acacias in bloom.

Kalugin, Prince Galtsin, and some colonel or other were walking
arm-in-arm near the pavilion, and discussing the engagement of the day
before. As always happens in such cases, the chief governing thread
of the conversation was not the engagement itself, but the part which
those who were narrating the story of the affair took in it.

Their faces and the sound of their voices had a serious, almost
melancholy expression, as though the loss of the preceding day had
touched and saddened them deeply; but, to tell the truth, as none of
them had lost any one very near to him, this expression of sorrow was
an official expression, which they merely felt it to be their duty to
exhibit.

On the contrary, Kalugin and the colonel were ready to see an
engagement of the same sort every day, provided that they might receive
a gold sword or the rank of major-general—notwithstanding the fact that
they were very fine fellows.

I like it when any warrior who destroys millions to gratify his
ambition is called a monster. Only question any Lieutenant Petrushkoff,
and Sub-Lieutenant Antonoff, and so on, on their word of honor, and
every one of them is a petty Napoleon, a petty monster, and ready to
bring on a battle on the instant, to murder a hundred men, merely for
the sake of receiving an extra cross or an increase of a third in his
pay.

“No, excuse me,” said the colonel; “it began first on the left flank.
_I was there myself._”

“Possibly,” answered Kalugin. “_I was farther on the right; I went
there twice. Once I was in search of the general, and the second time I
went merely to inspect the lodgements. It was a hot place._”

“Yes, of course, Kalugin knows,” said Prince Galtsin to the colonel.
“You know that V. told me to-day that you were a brave fellow....”

“But the losses, the losses were terrible,” said the colonel. “_I lost
four hundred men from my regiment. It's a wonder that I escaped from
there alive._”

At this moment, the figure of Mikhaïloff, with his head bandaged,
appeared at the other extremity of the boulevard, coming to meet these
gentlemen.

“What, are you wounded, captain?” said Kalugin.

“Yes, slightly, with a stone,” replied Mikhaïloff.

“Has the flag been lowered yet?”[H] inquired Prince Galtsin, gazing
over the staff-captain's cap, and addressing himself to no one in
particular.

[H] This sentence is in French.

“Non, pas encore,” answered Mikhaïloff, who wished to show that he
understood and spoke French.

“Is the truce still in force?” said Galtsin, addressing him courteously
in Russian, and thereby intimating—so it seemed to the captain—It
must be difficult for you to speak French, so why is it not better to
talk in your own tongue simply?... And with this the adjutants left
him. The staff-captain again felt lonely, as on the preceding evening,
and, exchanging salutes with various gentlemen,—some he did not care,
and others he did not dare, to join,—he seated himself near Kazarsky's
monument, and lighted a cigarette.

Baron Pesth also had come to the boulevard. He had been telling how he
had gone over to arrange the truce, and had conversed with the French
officers, and he declared that one had said to him, “If daylight had
held off another half-hour, these ambushes would have been retaken;”
and that he had replied, “Sir, I refrain from saying no, in order not
to give you the lie,” and how well he had said it, and so on.

But, in reality, although he had had a hand in the truce, he had not
dared to say anything very particular there, although he had been very
desirous of talking with the French (for it is awfully jolly to talk
with Frenchmen). Yunker Baron Pesth had marched up and down the line
for a long time, incessantly inquiring of the Frenchmen who were near
him: “To what regiment do you belong?” They answered him; and that was
the end of it.

When he walked too far along the line, the French sentry, not
suspecting that this soldier understood French, cursed him. “He
has come to spy out our works, the cursed ...” said he; and, in
consequence, Yunker Baron Pesth, taking no further interest in the
truce, went home, and thought out on the way thither those French
phrases, which he had now repeated. Captain Zoboff was also on the
boulevard, talking loudly, and Captain Obzhogoff, in a very dishevelled
condition, and an artillery captain, who courted no one, and was happy
in the love of the yunkers, and all the faces which had been there on
the day before, and all still actuated by the same motives. No one was
missing except Praskukhin, Neferdoff, and some others, whom hardly any
one remembered or thought of now, though their bodies were not yet
washed, laid out, and interred in the earth.


XVI.

White flags had been hung out from our bastion, and from the trenches
of the French, and in the blooming valley between them lay disfigured
corpses, shoeless, in garments of gray or blue, which laborers were
engaged in carrying off and heaping upon carts. The odor of the dead
bodies filled the air. Throngs of people had poured out of Sevastopol,
and from the French camp, to gaze upon this spectacle, and they pressed
one after the other with eager and benevolent curiosity.

Listen to what these people are saying.

Here, in a group of Russians and French who have come together, is a
young officer, who speaks French badly, but well enough to make himself
understood, examining a cartridge-box of the guards.

“And what is this bird here for?” says he.

“Because it is a cartridge-box belonging to a regiment of the guards,
Monsieur, and bears the Imperial eagle.”

“And do you belong to the guard?”

“Pardon, Monsieur, I belong to the sixth regiment of the line.”

“And this—bought where?” asks the officer, pointing to a cigar-holder
of yellow wood, in which the Frenchman was smoking his cigarette.

“At Balaklava, Monsieur. It is very plain, of palm-wood.”

“Pretty!” says the officer, guided in his conversation not so much by
his own wishes as by the words which he knows.

“If you will have the kindness to keep it as a souvenir of this
meeting, you will confer an obligation on me.”

And the polite Frenchman blows out the cigarette, and hands the holder
over to the officer with a little bow. The officer gives him his, and
all the members of the group, Frenchmen as well as Russians, appear
very much pleased and smile.

Then a bold infantryman, in a pink shirt, with his cloak thrown over
his shoulders, accompanied by two other soldiers, who, with their
hands behind their backs, were standing behind him, with merry, curious
countenances, stepped up to a Frenchman, and requested a light for his
pipe. The Frenchman brightened his fire, stirred up his short pipe, and
shook out a light for the Russian.

“Tobacco good!” said the soldier in the pink shirt; and the spectators
smile.

“Yes, good tobacco, Turkish tobacco,” says the Frenchman. “And your
tobacco—Russian?—good?”

“Russian, good,” says the soldier in the pink shirt: whereupon
those present shake with laughter. “The French not good—_bon jour,
Monsieur_,” says the soldier in the pink shirt, letting fly his entire
charge of knowledge in the language at once, as he laughs and taps the
Frenchman on the stomach. The French join in the laugh.

“They are not handsome, these beasts of Russians,” says a zouave, amid
the crowd of Frenchmen.

“What are they laughing about?” says another black-complexioned one,
with an Italian accent, approaching our men.

“Caftan good,” says the audacious soldier, staring at the zouave's
embroidered coat-skirts, and then there is another laugh.

“Don't leave your lines; back to your places, _sacré nom_!” shouts a
French corporal, and the soldiers disperse with evident reluctance.

In the meantime, our young cavalry officer is making the tour of the
French officers. The conversation turns on some Count Sazonoff, “with
whom I was very well acquainted, Monsieur,” says a French officer, with
one epaulet—“he is one of those real Russian counts, of whom we are so
fond.”

“There is a Sazonoff with whom I am acquainted,” said the cavalry
officer, “but he is not a count, so far as I know, at least; a little
dark-complexioned man, of about your age.”

“Exactly, Monsieur, that is the man. Oh, how I should like to see that
dear count! If you see him, pray, present my compliments to him—Captain
Latour,” says he, bowing.

“Isn't this a terrible business that we are conducting here? It was
hot work last night, wasn't it?” says the cavalry officer, wishing to
continue the conversation, and pointing to the dead bodies.

“Oh, frightful, Monsieur! But what brave fellows your soldiers are—what
brave fellows! It is a pleasure to fight with such valiant fellows.”

“It must be admitted that your men do not hang back, either,” says the
cavalry-man, with a bow, and the conviction that he is very amiable.

But enough of this.

Let us rather observe this lad of ten, clad in an ancient cap, his
father's probably, shoes worn on bare feet, and nankeen breeches, held
up by a single suspender, who had climbed over the wall at the very
beginning of the truce, and has been roaming about the ravine, staring
with dull curiosity at the French, and at the bodies which are lying
on the earth, and plucking the blue wild-flowers with which the valley
is studded. On his way home with a large bouquet, he held his nose
because of the odor which the wind wafted to him, and paused beside
a pile of corpses, which had been carried off the field, and stared
long at one terrible headless body, which chanced to be the nearest to
him. After standing there for a long while, he stepped up closer, and
touched with his foot the stiffened arm of the corpse which protruded.
The arm swayed a little. He touched it again, and with more vigor.
The arm swung back, and then fell into place again. And at once the
boy uttered a shriek, hid his face in the flowers, and ran off to the
fortifications as fast as he could go.

Yes, white flags are hung out from the bastion and the trenches, the
flowery vale is filled with dead bodies, the splendid sun sinks into
the blue sea, and the blue sea undulates and glitters in the golden
rays of the sun. Thousands of people congregate, gaze, talk, and smile
at each other. And why do not Christian people, who profess the one
great law of love and self-sacrifice, when they behold what they have
wrought, fall in repentance upon their knees before Him who, when he
gave them life, implanted in the soul of each of them, together with a
fear of death, a love of the good and the beautiful, and, with tears
of joy and happiness, embrace each other like brothers? No! But it
is a comfort to think that it was not we who began this war, that we
are only defending our own country, our father-land. The white flags
have been hauled in, and again the weapons of death and suffering are
shrieking; again innocent blood is shed, and groans and curses are
audible.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have now said all that I wish to say at this time. But a heavy
thought overmasters me. Perhaps it should not have been said;
perhaps what I have said belongs to one of those evil truths which,
unconsciously concealed in the soul of each man, should not be uttered,
lest they become pernicious, as a cask of wine should not be shaken,
lest it be thereby spoiled.

Where is the expression of evil which should be avoided? Where is the
expression of good which should be imitated in this sketch? Who is the
villain, who the hero? All are good, and all are evil.

Neither Kalugin, with his brilliant bravery—_bravoure de
gentilhomme_—and his vanity, the instigator of all his deeds; nor
Praskukhin, the empty-headed, harmless man, though he fell in battle
for the faith, the throne, and his native land; nor Mikhaïloff,
with his shyness; nor Pesth, a child with no firm convictions or
principles, can be either the heroes or the villains of the tale.

The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the strength of my soul, whom
I have tried to set forth in all his beauty, and who has always been,
is, and always will be most beautiful, is—the truth.



SEVASTOPOL IN AUGUST, 1855.


I.

At the end of August, along the rocky highway to Sevastopol, between
Duvanka and Bakhtchisaraï, through the thick, hot dust, at a foot-pace,
drove an officer's light cart, that peculiar _telyezhka_, not now to
be met with, which stands about half-way between a Jewish _britchka_,
a Russian travelling-carriage, and a basket-wagon. In the front of
the wagon, holding the reins, squatted the servant, clad in a nankeen
coat and an officer's cap, which had become quite limp; seated behind,
on bundles and packages covered with a military coat, was an infantry
officer, in a summer cloak.

As well as could be judged from his sitting position, the officer was
not tall in stature, but extremely thick, and that not so much from
shoulder to shoulder as from chest to back; he was broad and thick,
and his neck and the base of the head were excessively developed and
swollen. His waist, so called, a receding strip in the centre of the
body, did not exist in his case; but neither had he any belly; on
the contrary, he was rather thin than otherwise, particularly in the
face, which was overspread with an unhealthy yellowish sunburn. His
face would have been handsome had it not been for a certain bloated
appearance, and the soft, yet not elderly, heavy wrinkles that flowed
together and enlarged his features, imparting to the whole countenance
a general expression of coarseness and of lack of freshness. His eyes
were small, brown, extremely searching, even bold; his moustache was
very thick, but the ends were kept constantly short by his habit of
gnawing them; and his chin, and his cheek-bones in particular were
covered with a remarkably strong, thick, and black beard, of two days'
growth.

The officer had been wounded on the 10th of May, by a splinter, in the
head, on which he still wore a bandage, and, having now felt perfectly
well for the last week, he had come out of the Simferopol Hospital, to
rejoin his regiment, which was stationed somewhere in the direction
from which shots could be heard; but whether that was in Sevastopol
itself, on the northern defences, or at Inkermann, he had not so far
succeeded in ascertaining with much accuracy from any one.

Shots were still audible near at hand, especially at intervals, when
the hills did not interfere, or when borne on the wind with great
distinctness and frequency, and apparently near at hand. Then it seemed
as though some explosion shook the air, and caused an involuntary
shudder. Then, one after the other, followed less resounding reports in
quick succession, like a drum-beat, interrupted at times by a startling
roar. Then, everything mingled in a sort of reverberating crash,
resembling peals of thunder, when a thunder-storm is in full force, and
the rain has just begun to pour down in floods, every one said; and it
could be heard that the bombardment was progressing frightfully.

The officer kept urging on his servant, and seemed desirous of
arriving as speedily as possible. They were met by a long train of the
Russian-peasant type, which had carried provisions into Sevastopol, and
was now returning with sick and wounded soldiers in gray coats, sailors
in black paletots, volunteers in red fezes, and bearded militia-men.
The officer's light cart had to halt in the thick, immovable cloud of
dust raised by the carts, and the officer, blinking and frowning with
the dust that stuffed his eyes and ears, gazed at the faces of the sick
and wounded as they passed.

“Ah, there's a sick soldier from our company,” said the servant,
turning to his master, and pointing to the wagon which was just on a
line with them, full of wounded, at the moment.

On the cart, towards the front, a bearded Russian, in a lamb's-wool
cap, was seated sidewise, and, holding the stock of his whip under
his elbow, was tying on the lash. Behind him in the cart, about five
soldiers, in different positions, were shaking about. One, though pale
and thin, with his arm in a bandage, and his cloak thrown on over his
shirt, was sitting up bravely in the middle of the cart, and tried
to touch his cap on seeing the officer, but immediately afterwards
(recollecting, probably, that he was wounded) he pretended that he only
wanted to scratch his head. Another, beside him, was lying flat on the
bottom of the wagon; all that was visible was two hands, as they clung
to the rails of the wagon, and his knees uplifted limp as mops, as they
swayed about in various directions. A third, with a swollen face and a
bandaged head, on which was placed his soldier's cap, sat on one side,
with his legs dangling over the wheel, and, with his elbows resting on
his knees, seemed immersed in thought. It was to him that the passing
officer addressed himself.

“Dolzhnikoff!” he exclaimed.

“Here,” replied the soldier, opening his eyes, and pulling off his cap,
in such a thick and halting bass voice that it seemed as though twenty
soldiers had uttered an exclamation at one and the same time.

“When were you wounded, brother?”

The leaden and swimming eyes of the soldier grew animated; he evidently
recognized his officer.

“I wish Your Honor health!” he began again, in the same abrupt bass as
before.

“Where is the regiment stationed now?”

“It was stationed in Sevastopol, but they were to move on Wednesday,
Your Honor.”

“Where to?”

“I don't know; it must have been to the Sivernaya, Your Honor! To-day,
Your Honor,” he added, in a drawling voice, as he put on his cap,
“they have begun to fire clear across, mostly with bombs, that even go
as far as the bay; they are fighting horribly to-day, so that—”

It was impossible to hear what the soldier said further; but it was
evident, from the expression of his countenance and from his attitude,
that he was uttering discouraging remarks, with the touch of malice of
a man who is suffering.

The travelling officer, Lieutenant Kozeltzoff, was no common officer.
He was not one of those that live so and so and do thus and so because
others live and do thus; he did whatever he pleased, and others did the
same, and were convinced that it was well. He was rather richly endowed
by nature with small gifts: he sang well, played on the guitar, talked
very cleverly, and wrote very easily, particularly official documents,
in which he had practised his hand in his capacity of adjutant of the
battalion; but the most noticeable trait in his character was his
egotistical energy, which, although chiefly founded on this array of
petty talents, constituted in itself a sharp and striking trait. His
egotism was of the sort that is most frequently found developed in
masculine and especially in military circles, and which had become a
part of his life to such a degree that he understood no other choice
than to domineer or to humiliate himself; and his egotism was the
mainspring even of his private impulses; he liked to usurp the first
place over people with whom he put himself on a level.

“Well! it's absurd of me to listen to what a Moskva[I] chatters!”
muttered the lieutenant, experiencing a certain weight of apathy in
his heart, and a dimness of thought, which the sight of the transport
full of wounded and the words of the soldier, whose significance was
emphasized and confirmed by the sounds of the bombardment, had left
with him. “_That Moskva is ridiculous!_ Drive on, Nikolaeff! go ahead!
Are you asleep?” he added, rather fretfully, to the servant, as he
re-arranged the skirts of his coat.

[I] In many regiments the officers call a soldier, half in scorn, half
caressingly, _Moskva_ (Moscovite), or _prisyaga_ (an oath).

The reins were tightened, Nikolaeff clacked his lips, and the wagon
moved on at a trot.

“We will only halt a minute for food, and will proceed at once, this
very day,” said the officer.


II.

As he entered the street of the ruined remains of the stone wall,
forming the Tatar houses of Duvanka, Lieutenant Kozeltzoff was stopped
by a transport of bombs and grape-shot, which were on their way to
Sevastopol, and had accumulated on the road. Two infantry soldiers
were seated in the dust, on the stones of a ruined garden-wall by the
roadside, devouring a watermelon and bread.

“Have you come far, fellow-countryman?” said one of them, as he chewed
his bread, to the soldier, with a small knapsack on his back, who had
halted near them.

“I have come from my government to join my regiment,” replied the
soldier, turning his eyes away from the watermelon, and readjusting the
sack on his back. “There we were, two weeks ago, at work on the hay,
a whole troop of us; but now they have drafted all of us, and we don't
know where our regiment is at the present time. They say that our men
went on the Korabelnaya last week. Have you heard anything, gentlemen?”

“It's stationed in the town, brother,” said the second, an old soldier
of the reserves, digging away with his clasp-knife at the white, unripe
melon. “We have just come from there, this afternoon. It's terrible, my
brother!”

“How so, gentlemen?”

“Don't you hear how they are firing all around to-day, so that there
is not a whole spot anywhere? It is impossible to say how many of our
brethren have been killed.” And the speaker waved his hand and adjusted
his cap.

The passing soldier shook his head thoughtfully, gave a clack with his
tongue, then pulled his pipe from his boot-leg, and, without filling
it, stirred up the half-burned tobacco, lit a bit of tinder from the
soldier who was smoking, and raised his cap.

“There is no one like God, gentlemen! Good-bye,” said he, and, with a
shake of the sack on his back, he went his way.

“Hey, there! you'd better wait,” said the man who was digging out the
watermelon, with an air of conviction.

“It makes no difference!” muttered the traveller, threading his way
among the wheels of the assembled transports.


III.

The posting-station was full of people when Kozeltzoff drove up to it.
The first person whom he encountered, on the porch itself, was a thin
and very young man, the superintendent, who continued his altercation
with two officers, who had followed him out.

“It's not three days only, but ten that you will have to wait. Even
generals wait, my good sirs!” said the superintendent, with a desire to
administer a prick to the travellers; “and I am not going to harness up
for you.”

“Then don't give anybody horses, if there are none! But why furnish
them to some lackey or other with baggage?” shouted the elder of the
two officers, with a glass of tea in his hand, and plainly avoiding the
use of pronouns,[J] but giving it to be understood that he might very
easily address the superintendent as “_thou_.”

[J] This effect cannot be reproduced in English.

“Judge for yourself, now, Mr. Superintendent,” said the younger
officer, with some hesitation. “We don't want to go for our own
pleasure. We must certainly be needed, since we have been called for.
And I certainly shall report to the general. But this, of course,—you
know that you are not paying proper respect to the military profession.”

“You are always spoiling things,” the elder man interrupted, with
vexation. “You only hinder me; you must know how to talk to them. Here,
now, he has lost his respect. Horses this very instant, I say!”

“I should be glad to give them to you, _bátiushka_,[K] but where am I
to get them?”

[K] “My good sir,” a familiarly respectful mode of address.

After a brief silence, the superintendent began to grow irritated, and
to talk, flourishing his hands the while.

“I understand, _bátiushka_. And I know all about it myself. But what
are you going to do? Only give me”—here a ray of hope gleamed across
the faces of the officers—“only give me a chance to live until the end
of the month, and you won't see me here any longer. I'd rather go on
the Malakhoff tower, by Heavens! than stay here. Let them do what they
please about it! There's not a single sound team in the station this
day, and the horses haven't seen a wisp of hay these three days.” And
the superintendent disappeared behind the gate.

Kozeltzoff entered the room in company with the officers.

“Well,” said the elder officer, quite calmly, to the younger one,
although but a second before he had appeared to be greatly irritated,
“we have been travelling these three weeks, and we will wait a little
longer. There's no harm done. We shall get there at last.”

The dirty, smoky apartment was so filled with officers and trunks that
it was with difficulty that Kozeltzoff found a place near the window,
where he seated himself; he began to roll himself a cigarette, as he
glanced at the faces and lent an ear to the conversations.

To the right of the door, near a crippled and greasy table, upon which
stood two samovárs, whose copper had turned green in spots, here and
there, and where sugar was portioned out in various papers, sat the
principal group. A young officer, without moustache, in a new, short,
wadded summer coat, was pouring water into the teapot.

Four such young officers were there, in different corners of the room.
One of them had placed a cloak under his head, and was fast asleep on
the sofa. Another, standing by the table, was cutting up some roast
mutton for an officer without an arm, who was seated at the table.

Two officers, one in an adjutant's cloak, the other in an infantry
cloak, a thin one however, and with a satchel strapped over his
shoulder, were sitting near the oven bench, and it was evident, from
the very way in which they stared at the rest, and from the manner in
which the one with the satchel smoked his cigar, that they were not
line officers on duty at the front, and that they were delighted at it.

Not that there was any scorn apparent in their manner, but there was a
certain self-satisfied tranquillity, founded partly on money and partly
on their close intimacy with generals, a certain consciousness of
superiority which even extended to a desire to hide it.

A thick-lipped young doctor and an officer of artillery, with a German
cast of countenance, were seated almost on the feet of the young
officer who was sleeping on the sofa, and counting over their money.

There were four officers' servants, some dozing and others busy with
the trunks and packages near the door.

Among all these faces, Kozeltzoff did not find a single familiar
one; but he began to listen with curiosity to the conversation. The
young officers, who, as he decided from their looks alone, had but
just come out of the military academy, pleased him, and, what was the
principal point, they reminded him that his brother had also come from
the academy, and should have joined recently one of the batteries of
Sevastopol.

But the officer with the satchel, whose face he had seen before
somewhere, seemed bold and repulsive to him. He even left the window,
and, going to the stove-bench, seated himself on it, with the thought
that he would put the fellow down if he took it into his head to say
anything. In general, purely as a brave “line” officer, he did not like
“the staff,” such as he had recognized these two officers to be at the
first glance.


IV.

“But this is dreadfully annoying,” said one of the young officers, “to
be so near, and yet not be able to get there. Perhaps there will be an
action this very day, and we shall not be there.”

In the sharp voice and the mottled freshness of the color that swept
across the youthful face of this officer as he spoke there was apparent
the sweet young timidity of the man who is constantly afraid lest his
every word shall not turn out exactly right.

The one-armed officer glanced at him with a smile.

“You will get there soon enough, I assure you,” he said.

The young officer looked with respect at the haggard face of the
armless officer, so unexpectedly illuminated by a smile, held his peace
for a while, and busied himself once more with his tea. In fact, the
one-armed officer's face, his attitude, and, most of all, the empty
sleeve of his coat, expressed much of that tranquil indifference that
may be explained in this way—that he looked upon every conversation and
every occurrence as though saying, “That is all very fine; I know all
about that, and I can do a little of that myself, if I only choose.”

“What is our decision to be?” said the young officer again to his
companion in the short coat. “Shall we pass the night here, or shall we
proceed with our own horses?”

His comrade declined to proceed.

“Just imagine, captain,” said the one who was pouring the tea, turning
to the one-armed man, and picking up the knife that the latter had
dropped, “they told us that horses were frightfully dear in Sevastopol,
so we bought a horse in partnership at Simferopol.”

“They made you pay pretty high for it, I fancy.”

“Really, I do not know, captain; we paid ninety rubles for it and the
team. Is that very dear?” he added, turning to all the company, and to
Kozeltzoff, who was staring at him.

“It was not dear, if the horse is young,” said Kozeltzoff.

“Really! but they told us that it was dear. Only, she limps a little,
but that will pass off. They told us that she was very strong.”

“What academy are you from?” asked Kozeltzoff, who wished to inquire
for his brother.

“We are just from the academy of the nobility; there are six of us, and
we are on our way to Sevastopol at our own desire,” said the talkative
young officer. “But we do not know where our battery is; some say that
it is in Sevastopol, others that it is at Odessa.”

“Was it not possible to find out at Simferopol?” asked Kozeltzoff.

“They do not know there. Just imagine, one of our comrades went to
the headquarters there, and they were impertinent to him. You can
imagine how disagreeable that was! Would you like to have me make you
a cigarette,” he said at that moment to the one-armed officer, who was
just pulling out his cigarette-machine.

He waited on the latter with a sort of servile enthusiasm.

“And are you from Sevastopol also?” he went on. “Oh, good Heavens,
how wonderful that is! How much we did think of you, and of all our
heroes, in Petersburg,” he said, turning to Kozeltzoff with respect and
good-natured flattery.

“And now, perhaps, you may have to go back?” inquired the lieutenant.

“That is just what we are afraid of. You can imagine that, after having
bought the horse, and provided ourselves with all the necessaries,—a
coffee-pot with a spirit-lamp, and other indispensable trifles,—we
have no money left,” he said, in a low voice, as he glanced at his
companions; “so that, if we do have to go back, we don't know what is
to be done.”

“Have you received no money for travelling expenses?” inquired
Kozeltzoff.

“No,” replied he, in a whisper; “they only promised to give it to us
here.”

“Have you the certificate?”

“I know that—the principal thing—is the certificate; but a senator in
Moscow,—he's my uncle,—when I was at his house, said that they would
give it to us here; otherwise, he would have given me some himself. So
they will give it to us here?”

“Most certainly they will.”

“I too think that they will,” he said, in a tone which showed
that, after having made the same identical inquiry in thirty
posting-stations, and having everywhere received different answers, he
no longer believed any one implicitly.


V.

“Who ordered beet-soup?” called out the slatternly mistress of the
house, a fat woman of forty, as she entered the room with a bowl of
soup.

The conversation ceased at once, and all who were in the room fixed
their eyes on the woman.

“Ah, it was Kozeltzoff who ordered it,” said the young officer. “He
must be waked. Get up for your dinner,” he said, approaching the
sleeper on the sofa, and jogging his elbow.

A young lad of seventeen, with merry black eyes and red cheeks, sprang
energetically from the sofa, and stood in the middle of the room,
rubbing his eyes.

“Ah, excuse me, please,” he said to the doctor, whom he had touched in
rising.

Lieutenant Kozeltzoff recognized his brother immediately, and stepped
up to him.

“Don't you know me?” he said with a smile.

“A-a-a-!” exclaimed the younger brother; “this is astonishing!” And he
began to kiss his brother.

They kissed twice, but stopped at the third repetition as though the
thought had occurred to both of them:—

“Why is it necessary to do it exactly three times?”

“Well, how delighted I am!” said the elder, looking at his brother.
“Let us go out on the porch; we can have a talk.”

“Come, come, I don't want any soup. You eat it, Federsohn!” he said to
his comrade.

“But you wanted something to eat.”

“I don't want anything.”

When they emerged on the porch, the younger kept asking his brother:
“Well, how are you; tell me all about it.” And still he kept on saying
how glad he was to see him, but he told nothing himself.

When five minutes had elapsed, during which time they had succeeded in
becoming somewhat silent, the elder brother inquired why the younger
had not gone into the guards, as they had all expected him to do.

He wanted to get to Sevastopol as speedily as possible, he said; for
if things turned out favorably there, he could get advancement more
rapidly there than in the guards. There it takes ten years to reach
the grade of colonel, while here Todleben had risen in two years from
lieutenant-colonel to general. Well, and if one did get killed, there
was nothing to be done.

“What a fellow you are!” said his brother, smiling.

“But the principal thing, do you know, brother,” said the younger,
smiling and blushing as though he were preparing to say something
very disgraceful, “all this is nonsense, and the principal reason why
I asked it was that I was ashamed to live in Petersburg when men are
dying for their country here. Yes, and I wanted to be with you,” he
added, with still greater shamefacedness.

“How absurd you are!” said the elder brother, pulling out his
cigarette-machine, and not even glancing at him. “It's a pity, though,
that we can't be together.”

“Now, honestly, is it so terrible in the bastions?” inquired the
younger man, abruptly.

“It is terrible at first, but you get used to it afterwards. It's
nothing. You will see for yourself.”

“And tell me still another thing. What do you think?—will Sevastopol be
taken? I think that it will not.”

“God knows!”

“But one thing is annoying. Just imagine what bad luck! A whole bundle
was stolen from us on the road, and it had my shako in it, so that
now I am in a dreadful predicament; and I don't know how I am to show
myself.”

The younger Kozeltzoff, Vladímir, greatly resembled his brother
Mikháïl, but he resembled him as a budding rose-bush resembles one
that is out of flower. His hair was chestnut also, but it was thick
and lay in curls on his temples. On the soft white back of his neck
there was a blond lock; a sign of good luck, so the nurses say. The
full-blooded crimson of youth did not stand fixed on the soft, white
hue of his face, but flashed up and betrayed all the movements of his
mind. He had the same eyes as his brother, but they were more widely
opened, and clearer, which appeared the more peculiar because they were
veiled frequently by a slight moisture. A golden down was sprouting
on his cheeks, and over his ruddy lips, which were often folded into
a shy smile, displaying teeth of dazzling whiteness. He was a well
formed and broad-shouldered fellow, in unbuttoned coat, from beneath
which was visible a red shirt with collar turned back. As he stood
before his brother, leaning his elbows on the railing of the porch,
with cigarette in hand and innocent joy in his face and gesture, he was
so agreeable and comely a youth that any one would have gazed at him
with delight. He was extremely pleased with his brother, he looked at
him with respect and pride, fancying him his hero; but in some ways, so
far as judgments on worldly culture, ability to talk French, behavior
in the society of distinguished people, dancing, and so on, he was
somewhat ashamed of him, looked down on him, and even cherished a hope
of improving him if such a thing were possible.

All his impressions, so far, were from Petersburg, at the house of
a lady who was fond of good-looking young fellows, and who had had
him spend his holidays with her, and from Moscow, at the house of a
senator, where he had once danced at a great ball.


VI.

Having nearly talked their fill and having arrived at the feeling that
you frequently experience, that there is little in common between you,
though you love one another, the brothers were silent for a few moments.

“Pick up your things and we will set out at once,” said the elder.

The younger suddenly blushed, stammered, and became confused.

“Are we to go straight to Sevastopol?” he inquired, after a momentary
pause.

“Why, yes. You can't have many things, and we can manage to carry them,
I think.”

“Very good! we will start at once,” said the younger, with a sigh, and
he went inside.

But he paused in the vestibule without opening the door, dropped his
head gloomily, and began to reflect.

“Straight to Sevastopol, on the instant, within range of the
bombs—frightful! It's no matter, however; it must have come sometime.
Now, at all events, with my brother—”

The fact was that it was only now, at the thought that, once seated
in the cart, he should enter Sevastopol without dismounting from it,
and that no chance occurrence could any longer detain him, that the
danger which he was seeking clearly presented itself to him, and he was
troubled at the very thought of its nearness. He managed to control
himself in some way, and entered the room; but a quarter of an hour
elapsed, and still he had not rejoined his brother, so that the latter
opened the door at last, in order to call him. The younger Kozeltzoff,
in the attitude of a naughty school-boy, was saying something to an
officer named P. When his brother opened the door, he became utterly
confused.

“Immediately. I'll come out in a minute!” he cried, waving his hand at
his brother. “Wait for me there, please.”

A moment later he emerged, in fact, and approached his brother, with a
deep sigh.

“Just imagine! I cannot go with you, brother,” he said.

“What? What nonsense is this?”

“I will tell you the whole truth, Misha! Not one of us has any money,
and we are all in debt to that staff-captain whom you saw there. It is
horribly mortifying!”

The elder brother frowned, and did not break the silence for a long
while.

“Do you owe much?” he asked, glancing askance at his brother.

“A great deal—no, not a great deal; but I am dreadfully ashamed of it.
He has paid for me for three stages, and all his sugar is gone, so that
I do not know—yes, and we played at preference. I am a little in his
debt there, too.”

“This is bad, Volodya! Now, what would you have done if you had not met
me?” said the elder, sternly, without looking at his brother.

“Why, I was thinking, brother, that I should get that travelling-money
at Sevastopol, and that I would give him that. Surely, that can be
done; and it will be better for me to go with him to-morrow.”

The elder brother pulled out his purse, and, with fingers that shook a
little, he took out two ten-ruble notes and one for three rubles.

“This is all the money I have,” said he. “How much do you owe?”

Kozeltzoff did not speak the exact truth when he said that this was all
the money he had. He had, besides, four gold pieces sewn into his cuff,
in case of an emergency; but he had taken a vow not to touch them.

It appeared that Kozeltzoff, what with preference and sugar, was in
debt to the amount of eight rubles only. The elder brother gave him
this sum, merely remarking that one should not play preference when one
had no money.

“What did you play for?”

The younger brother answered not a word. His brother's question seemed
to him to cast a reflection on his honor. Vexation at himself, a shame
at his conduct, which could give rise to such a suspicion, and the
insult from his brother, of whom he was so fond, produced upon his
sensitive nature so deeply painful an impression that he made no reply.
Sensible that he was not in a condition to restrain the sobs which rose
in his throat, he took the money without glancing at it, and went back
to his comrades.


VII.

Nikolaeff, who had fortified himself at Duvanka, with two jugs of
vodka, purchased from a soldier who was peddling it on the bridge, gave
the reins a jerk, and the team jolted away over the stony road, shaded
here and there, which led along the Belbek to Sevastopol; but the
brothers, whose legs jostled each other, maintained a stubborn silence,
although they were thinking of each other every instant.

“Why did he insult me?” thought the younger. “Could he not have held
his tongue about that? It is exactly as though he thought that I was a
thief; yes, and now he is angry, apparently, so that we have quarrelled
for good. And how splendid it would have been for us to be together in
Sevastopol. Two brothers, on friendly terms, both fighting the foe!
one of them, the elder, though not very cultivated, yet a valiant
warrior, and the other younger, but a brave fellow too. In a week's
time I would have showed them that I am not such a youngster after all!
I shall cease to blush, there will be manliness in my countenance,
and, though my moustache is not very large now, it would grow to a
good size by that time;” and he felt of the down which was making its
appearance round the edges of his mouth. “Perhaps we shall arrive
to-day, and get directly into the conflict, my brother and I. He must
be obstinate and very brave, one of those who do not say much, but act
better than others. I should like to know,” he continued, “whether he
is squeezing me against the side of the wagon on purpose or not. He
probably is conscious that I feel awkward, and he is pretending not
to notice me. We shall arrive to-day,” he went on with his argument,
pressing close to the side of the wagon, and fearing to move lest his
brother should observe that he was uncomfortable, “and, all at once,
we shall go straight to the bastion. We shall both go together, I with
my equipments, and my brother with his company. All of a sudden, the
French throw themselves on us. I begin to fire, and fire on them. I
kill a terrible number; but they still continue to run straight at me.
Now, it is impossible to fire any longer, and there is no hope for me;
all at once my brother rushes out in front with his sword, and I grasp
my gun, and we rush on with the soldiers. The French throw themselves
on my brother. I hasten up; I kill one Frenchman, then another, and
I save my brother. I am wounded in one arm; I seize my gun with the
other, and continue my flight; but my brother is slain by my side by
the bullets. I halt for a moment, and gaze at him so sorrowfully; then
I straighten myself up and shout: ‘Follow me! We will avenge him! I
loved my brother more than any one in the world,’ I shall say, ‘and I
have lost him. Let us avenge him! Let us annihilate the foe, or let us
all die together there!’ All shout, and fling themselves after me. Then
the whole French army makes a sortie, including even Pelissier himself.
We all fight; but, at last, I am wounded a second, a third time, and I
fall, nearly dead. Then, all rush up to me. Gortchakoff comes up and
asks what I would like. I say that I want nothing—except that I may
be laid beside my brother; that I wish to die with him. They carry
me, and lay me down by the side of my brother's bloody corpse. Then I
shall raise myself, and merely say: ‘Yes, you did not understand how
to value two men who really loved their father-land; now they have both
fallen,—and may God forgive you!’ and I shall die.

Who knows in what measure these dreams will be realized?

“Have you ever been in a hand to hand fight?” he suddenly inquired of
his brother, quite forgetting that he had not meant to speak to him.

“No, not once,” answered the elder. “Our regiment has lost two thousand
men, all on the works; and I, also, was wounded there. War is not
carried on in the least as you fancy, Volodya.”

The word “Volodya” touched the younger brother. He wanted to come to an
explanation with his brother, who had not the least idea that he had
offended Volodya.

“You are not angry with me, Misha?” he said, after a momentary silence.

“What about?”

“No, because—because we had such a—nothing.”

“Not in the least,” replied the elder, turning to him, and slapping him
on the leg.

“Then forgive me, Misha, if I have wounded you.”

And the younger brother turned aside, in order to hide the tears that
suddenly started to his eyes.


VIII.

“Is this Sevastopol already?” asked the younger brother, as they
ascended the hill.

And before them appeared the bay, with its masts of ships, its
shipping, and the sea, with the hostile fleet, in the distance; the
white batteries on the shore, the barracks, the aqueducts, the docks
and the buildings of the town, and the white and lilac clouds of smoke
rising incessantly over the yellow hills, which surrounded the town and
stood out against the blue sky, in the rosy rays of the sun, which was
reflected by the waves, and sinking towards the horizon of the shadowy
sea.

Volodya, without a shudder, gazed upon this terrible place of which
he had thought so much; on the contrary, he did so with an æsthetic
enjoyment, and a heroic sense of self-satisfaction at the idea that
here he was—he would be there in another half-hour, that he would
behold that really charmingly original spectacle—and he stared with
concentrated attention from that moment until they arrived at the north
fortification, at the baggage-train of his brother's regiment, where
they were to ascertain with certainty the situations of the regiment
and the battery.

The officer in charge of the train lived near the so-called new town
(huts built of boards by the sailors' families), in a tent, connecting
with a tolerably large shed, constructed out of green oak-boughs, that
were not yet entirely withered.

The brothers found the officer seated before a greasy table, upon which
stood a glass of cold tea, a tray with vodka, crumbs of dry sturgeon
roe, and bread, clad only in a shirt of a dirty yellow hue, and engaged
in counting a huge pile of bank-bills on a large abacus.

But before describing the personality of the officer, and his
conversation, it is indispensable that we should inspect with more
attention the interior of his shed, and become a little acquainted, at
least, with his mode of life and his occupations. The new shed, like
those built for generals and regimental commanders, was large, closely
wattled, and comfortably arranged, with little tables and benches, made
of turf. The sides and roof were hung with three rugs, to keep the
leaves from showering down, and, though extremely ugly, they were new,
and certainly costly.

Upon the iron bed, which stood beneath the principal rug, with a young
amazon depicted on it, lay a plush coverlet, of a brilliant crimson,
a torn and dirty pillow, and a raccoon cloak. On the table stood a
mirror, in a silver frame, a silver brush, frightfully dirty, a broken
horn comb, full of greasy hair, a silver candlestick, a bottle of
liqueur, with a huge gold and red label, a gold watch, with a portrait
of Peter I., two gold pens, a small box, containing pills of some sort,
a crust of bread, and some old, castaway cards, and there were bottles,
both full and empty, under the bed.

This officer had charge of the commissariat of the regiment and the
fodder of the horses. With him lived his great friend, the commissioner
who had charge of the operations.

At the moment when the brothers entered, the latter was asleep in
the booth, and the commissary officer was making up his accounts of
the government money, in anticipation of the end of the month. The
commissary officer had a very comely and warlike exterior. His stature
was tall, his moustache huge, and he possessed a respectable amount
of plumpness. The only disagreeable points about him were a certain
perspiration and puffiness of the whole face, which almost concealed
his small gray eyes (as though he was filled up with porter), and an
excessive lack of cleanliness, from his thin, greasy hair to his big,
bare feet, thrust into some sort of ermine slippers.

“Money, money!” said Kozeltzoff number one, entering the shed, and
fixing his eyes, with involuntary greed, upon the pile of bank-notes.
“You might lend me half of that, Vasíly Mikhaïlitch!”

The commissary officer cringed at the sight of his visitors, and,
sweeping up his money, he bowed to them without rising.

“Oh, if it only belonged to me! It's government money, my dear fellow.
And who is this you have with you?” said he, thrusting the money into a
coffer which stood beside him, and staring at Volodya.

“This is my brother, who has just come from the military academy. We
have both come to learn from you where our regiment is stationed.”

“Sit down, gentlemen,” said the officer, rising, and going into the
shed, without paying any heed to his guests. “Won't you have something
to drink? Some porter, for instance?” said he.

“Don't put yourself out, Vasíly Mikhaïlitch.”

Volodya was impressed by the size of the commissary officer, by his
carelessness of manner, and by the respect with which his brother
addressed him.

“It must be that this is one of their very fine officers, whom every
one respects. Really, he is simple, but hospitable and brave,” he
thought, seating himself in a timid and modest manner on the sofa.

“Where is our regiment stationed, then?” called out his elder brother
into the board hut.

“What?”

He repeated his query.

“Zeifer has been here to-day. He told me that they had removed to the
fifth bastion.”

“Is that true?”

“If I say so, it must be true; but the deuce only knows anyway! He
would think nothing of telling a lie. Won't you have some porter?” said
the commissary officer, still from the tent.

“I will if you please,” said Kozeltzoff.

“And will you have a drink, Osip Ignatievitch?” went on the voice in
the tent, apparently addressing the sleeping commissioner. “You have
slept enough; it's five o'clock.”

“Why do you worry me? I am not asleep,” answered a shrill, languid
little voice.

“Come, get up! we find it stupid without you.”

And the commissary officer came out to his guests.

“Fetch some Simferopol porter!” he shouted.

A servant entered the booth, with a haughty expression of countenance,
as it seemed to Volodya, and, having jostled Volodya, he drew forth the
porter from beneath the bench.

The bottle of porter was soon emptied, and the conversation had
proceeded in the same style for rather a long time when the flap of
the tent flew open and out stepped a short, fresh-colored man, in a
blue dressing-gown with tassels, in a cap with a red rim and a cockade.
At the moment of his appearance, he was smoothing his small black
moustache, and, with his gaze fixed on the rugs, he replied to the
greetings of the officer with a barely perceptible movement of the
shoulders.

“I will drink a small glassful too!” said he, seating himself by the
table. “What is this, have you come from Petersburg, young man?” he
said, turning courteously to Volodya.

“Yes, sir, I am on my way to Sevastopol.”

“Did you make the application yourself?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What queer tastes you have, gentlemen! I do not understand it!”
continued the commissioner. “It strikes me that I should be ready just
now to travel on foot to Petersburg, if I could get away. By Heavens, I
am tired of this cursed life!”

“What is there about it that does not suit you?” said the elder
Kozeltzoff, turning to him. “You're the very last person to complain of
life here!”

The commissioner cast a look upon him, and then turned away.

“This danger, these privations, it is impossible to get anything
here,” he continued, addressing Volodya. “And why you should take
such a freak, gentlemen, I really cannot understand. If there were any
advantages to be derived from it, but there is nothing of the sort. It
would be a nice thing, now, wouldn't it, if you, at your age, were to
be left a cripple for life!”

“Some need the money, and some serve for honor's sake!” said the elder
Kozeltzoff, in a tone of vexation, joining the discussion once more.

“What's the good of honor, when there's nothing to eat!” said the
commissioner with a scornful laugh, turning to the commissary, who also
laughed at this. “Give us something from ‘Lucia’; we will listen,” he
said, pointing to the music-box. “I love it.”

“Well, is that Vasíly Mikhaïlitch a fine man?” Volodya asked his
brother when they emerged, at dusk, from the booth, and pursued their
way to Sevastopol.

“Not at all; but such a niggard that it is a perfect terror! And I
can't bear the sight of that commissioner, and I shall give him a
thrashing one of these days.”


IX.

Volodya was not precisely out of sorts when, nearly at nightfall,
they reached the great bridge over the bay, but he felt a certain
heaviness at his heart. All that he had heard and seen was so little
in consonance with the impressions which had recently passed away; the
huge, light examination hall, with its polished floor, the kind and
merry voices and laughter of his comrades, the new uniform, his beloved
tsar, whom he had been accustomed to see for the last seven years, and
who, when he took leave of them, had called them his children, with
tears in his eyes,—and everything that he had seen so little resembled
his very beautiful, rainbow-hued, magnificent dreams.

“Well, here we are at last!” said the elder brother, when they arrived
at the Mikhaïlovsky battery, and dismounted from their cart. “If
they let us pass the bridge, we will go directly to the Nikolaevsky
barracks. You stay there until morning, and I will go to the regiment
and find out where your battery is stationed, and to-morrow I will come
for you.”

“But why? It would be better if we both went together,” said Volodya;
“I will go to the bastion with you. It won't make any difference; I
shall have to get used to it. If you go, then I can too.”

“Better not go.”

“No, if you please; I do know, at least, that....”

“My advice is, not to go; but if you choose....”

The sky was clear and dark; the stars, and the fires of the bombs
in incessant movement and discharges, were gleaming brilliantly
through the gloom. The large white building of the battery, and the
beginning of the bridge stood out in the darkness. Literally, every
second several discharges of artillery and explosions, following each
other in quick succession or occurring simultaneously, shook the air
with increasing thunder and distinctness. Through this roar, and as
though repeating it, the melancholy dash of the waves was audible. A
faint breeze was drawing in from the sea, and the air was heavy with
moisture. The brothers stepped upon the bridge. A soldier struck his
gun awkwardly against his arm, and shouted:—

“Who goes there?”

“A soldier.”

“The orders are not to let any one pass!”

“What of that! We have business! We must pass!”

“Ask the officer.”

The officer, who was drowsing as he sat on an anchor, rose up and gave
the order to let them pass.

“You can go that way, but not this. Where are you driving to, all in a
heap!” he cried to the transport wagons piled high with gabions, which
had clustered about the entrance.

As they descended to the first pontoon, the brothers encountered
soldiers who were coming thence, and talking loudly.

“If he has received his ammunition money, then he has squared his
accounts in full—that's what it is!”

“Eh, brothers!” said another voice, “when you get over on the
Severnaya you will see the world, by heavens! The air is entirely
different.”

“You may say more!” said the first speaker. “A cursed shell flew in
there the other day, and it tore the legs off of two sailors, so
that....”

The brothers traversed the first pontoon, while waiting for the wagon,
and halted on the second, which was already flooded with water in
parts. The breeze, which had seemed weak inland, was very powerful
here, and came in gusts; the bridge swayed to and fro, and the waves,
beating noisily against the beams, and tearing at the cables and
anchors, flooded the planks. At the right the gloomily hostile sea
roared and darkled, as it lay separated by an interminable level black
line from the starry horizon, which was light gray in its gleam; lights
flashed afar on the enemy's fleet; on the left towered the black
masts of one of our vessels, and the waves could be heard as they
beat against her hull; a steamer was visible, as it moved noisily and
swiftly from the Severnaya.

The flash of a bomb, as it burst near it, illuminated for a moment
the lofty heaps of gabions on the deck, two men who were standing
on it, and the white foam and the spurts of greenish waves, as the
steamer ploughed through them. On the edge of the bridge, with his
legs dangling in the water, sat a man in his shirt-sleeves, who
was repairing something connected with the bridge. In front, over
Sevastopol, floated the same fires, and the terrible sounds grew louder
and louder. A wave rolled in from the sea, flowed over the right side
of the bridge, and wet Volodya's feet; two soldiers passed them,
dragging their feet through the water. Something suddenly burst with a
crash and lighted up the bridge ahead of them, the wagon driving over
it, and a man on horseback. The splinters fell into the waves with a
hiss, and sent up the water in splashes.

“Ah, Mikhaïlo Semyónitch!” said the rider, stopping, reining in his
horse in front of the elder Kozeltzoff, “have you fully recovered
already?”

“As you see. Whither is God taking you?”

“To the Severnaya, for cartridges; I am on my way to the adjutant of
the regiment ... we expect an assault to-morrow, at any hour.”

“And where is Martzoff?”

“He lost a leg yesterday; he was in the town, asleep in his room....
Perhaps you know it?”

“The regiment is in the fifth bastion, isn't it?”

“Yes; it has taken the place of the M—— regiment. Go to the
field-hospital; some of our men are there, and they will show you the
way.”

“Well, and are my quarters on the Morskaya still intact?”

“Why, my good fellow, they were smashed to bits long ago by the bombs.
You will not recognize Sevastopol now; there's not a single woman there
now, nor any inns nor music; the last establishment took its departure
yesterday. It has become horribly dismal there now.... Farewell!”

And the officer rode on his way at a trot.

All at once, Volodya became terribly frightened; it seemed to him
as though a cannon-ball or a splinter of bomb would fly in their
direction, and strike him directly on the head. This damp darkness,
all these sounds, especially the angry splashing of the waves, seemed
to be saying to him that he ought not to go any farther, that nothing
good awaited him yonder, that he would never again set foot on the
ground upon this side of the bay, that he must turn about at once, and
flee somewhere or other, as far as possible from this terrible haunt
of death. “But perhaps it is too late now, everything is settled,”
thought he, trembling partly at this thought and partly because the
water had soaked through his boots and wet his feet.

Volodya heaved a deep sigh, and went a little apart from his brother.

“Lord, will they kill me—me in particular? Lord, have mercy on me!”
said he, in a whisper, and he crossed himself.

“Come, Volodya, let us go on!” said the elder brother, when their
little cart had driven upon the bridge. “Did you see that bomb?”

On the bridge, the brothers met wagons filled with the wounded, with
gabions, and one loaded with furniture, which was driven by a woman. On
the further side no one detained them.

Clinging instinctively to the walls of the Nikolaevsky battery, the
brothers listened in silence to the noise of the bombs, exploding
overhead, and to the roar of the fragments, showering down from above,
and came to that spot in the battery where the image was. There they
learned that the fifth light battery, to which Volodya had been
assigned, was stationed on the Korabelnaya, and they decided that he
should go, in spite of the danger, and pass the night with the elder
in the fifth bastion, and that he should from there join his battery
the next day. They turned into the corridor, stepping over the legs
of the sleeping soldiers, who were lying all along the walls of the
battery, and at last they arrived at the place where the wounded were
attended to.


X.

As they entered the first room, surrounded with cots on which lay the
wounded, and permeated with that frightful and disgusting hospital
odor, they met two Sisters of Mercy, who were coming to meet them.

One woman, of fifty, with black eyes, and a stern expression of
countenance, was carrying bandages and lint, and was giving strict
orders to a young fellow, an assistant surgeon, who was following her;
the other, a very pretty girl of twenty, with a pale and delicate
little fair face, gazed in an amiably helpless way from beneath her
white cap, held her hands in the pockets of her apron, as she walked
beside the elder woman, and seemed to be afraid to quit her side.

Kozeltzoff addressed to them the question whether they knew where
Martzoff was—the man whose leg had been torn off on the day before.

“He belonged to the P—— regiment, did he not?” inquired the elder. “Is
he a relative of yours?”

“No, a comrade.”

“Show them the way,” said she, in French, to the young sister. “Here,
this way,” and she approached a wounded man, in company with the
assistant.

“Come along; what are you staring at?” said Kozeltzoff to Volodya,
who, with uplifted eyebrows and somewhat suffering expression of
countenance, could not tear himself away, but continued to stare at the
wounded. “Come, let us go.”

Volodya went off with his brother, still continuing to gaze about him,
however, and repeating unconsciously:—

“Ah, my God! Ah, my God!”

“He has probably not been here long?” inquired the sister of
Kozeltzoff, pointing at Volodya, who, groaning and sighing, followed
them through the corridor.

“He has but just arrived.”

The pretty little sister glanced at Volodya, and suddenly burst out
crying. “My God! my God! when will there be an end to all this?”
she said, with the accents of despair. They entered the officer's
hut. Martzoff was lying on his back, with his muscular arms, bare
to the elbow, thrown over his head, and with the expression on his
yellow face of a man who is clenching his teeth in order to keep from
shrieking with pain. His whole leg, in its stocking, was thrust outside
the coverlet, and it could be seen how he was twitching his toes
convulsively inside it.

“Well, how goes it, how do you feel?” asked the sister, raising his
bald head with her slender, delicate fingers, on one of which Volodya
noticed a gold ring, and arranging his pillow. “Here are some of your
comrades come to inquire after you.”

“Badly, of course,” he answered, angrily. “Let me alone! it's all
right,”—the toes in his stocking moved more rapidly than ever.
“How do you do? What is your name? Excuse me,” he said, turning to
Kozeltzoff.... “Ah, yes, I beg your pardon! one forgets everything
here,” he said, when the latter had mentioned his name. “You and
I lived together,” he added, without the slightest expression of
pleasure, glancing interrogatively at Volodya.

“This is my brother, who has just arrived from Petersburg to-day.”

“Hm! Here I have finished my service,” he said, with a frown. “Ah, how
painful it is!... The best thing would be a speedy end.”

He drew up his leg, and covered his face with his hands, continuing to
move his toes with redoubled swiftness.

“You must leave him,” said the sister, in a whisper, while the tears
stood in her eyes; “he is in a very bad state.”

The brothers had already decided on the north side to go to the fifth
bastion; but, on emerging from the Nikolaevsky battery, they seemed
to have come to a tacit understanding not to subject themselves
to unnecessary danger, and, without discussing the subject, they
determined to go their ways separately.

“Only, how are you to find your way, Volodya?” said the elder.
“However, Nikolaeff will conduct you to the Korabelnaya, and I will go
my way alone, and will be with you to-morrow.”

Nothing more was said at this last leave-taking between the brothers.


XI.

The thunder of the cannon continued with the same power as before, but
Yekaterinskaya street, along which Volodya walked, followed by the
taciturn Nikolaeff, was quiet and deserted. All that he could see,
through the thick darkness, was the wide street with the white walls of
large houses, battered in many places, and the stone sidewalk beneath
his feet; now and then, he met soldiers and officers. As he passed
along the left side of the street, near the Admiralty building, he
perceived, by the light of a bright fire burning behind the wall, the
acacias planted along the sidewalk, with green guards beneath, and the
wretchedly dusty leaves of these acacias.

He could plainly hear his own steps and those of Nikolaeff, who
followed him, breathing heavily. He thought of nothing; the pretty
little Sister of Mercy, Martzoff's leg with the toes twitching in its
stocking, the bombs, the darkness, and divers pictures of death floated
hazily through his mind. All his young and sensitive soul shrank
together, and was borne down by his consciousness of loneliness, and
the indifference of every one to his fate in the midst of danger.

“They will kill me, I shall be tortured, I shall suffer, and no one
will weep.” And all this, instead of the hero's life, filled with
energy and sympathy, of which he had cherished such glorious dreams.
The bombs burst and shrieked nearer and ever nearer. Nikolaeff sighed
more frequently, without breaking the silence. On crossing the bridge
leading to the Korabelnaya, he saw something fly screaming into the
bay, not far from him, which lighted up the lilac waves for an instant
with a crimson glow, then disappeared, and threw on high a cloud of
foam.

“See there, it was not put out!” said Nikolaeff, hoarsely.

“Yes,” answered Volodya, involuntarily, and quite unexpectedly to
himself, in a thin, piping voice.

They encountered litters with wounded men, then more regimental
transports with gabions; they met a regiment on Korabelnaya street;
men on horseback passed them. One of them was an officer, with his
Cossack. He was riding at a trot, but, on catching sight of Volodya, he
reined in his horse near him, looked into his face, turned and rode on,
giving the horse a blow of his whip.

“Alone, alone; it is nothing to any one whether I am in existence or
not,” thought the lad, and he felt seriously inclined to cry.

After ascending the hill, past a high white wall, he entered a street
of small ruined houses, incessantly illuminated by bombs. A drunken and
dishevelled woman, who was coming out of a small door in company with a
sailor, ran against him.

“If he were only a fine man,” she grumbled,—“Pardon, Your Honor the
officer.”

The poor boy's heart sank lower and lower, and more and more frequently
flashed the lightnings against the dark horizon, and the bombs
screamed and burst about him with ever increasing frequency. Nikolaeff
sighed, and all at once he began to speak, in what seemed to Volodya a
frightened and constrained tone.

“What haste we made to get here from home. It was nothing but
travelling. A pretty place to be in a hurry to get to!”

“What was to be done, if my brother was well again,” replied Volodya,
in hope that he might banish by conversation the frightful feeling that
was taking possession of him.

“Well, what sort of health is it when he is thoroughly ill! Those who
are really well had better stay in the hospital at such a time. A
vast deal of joy there is about it, isn't there? You will have a leg
or an arm torn off, and that's all you will get! It's not far removed
from a downright sin! And here in the town it's not at all like the
bastion, and that is a perfect terror. You go and you say your prayers
the whole way. Eh, you beast, there you go whizzing past!” he added,
directing his attention to the sound of a splinter of shell whizzing
by near them. “Now, here,” Nikolaeff went on, “I was ordered to show
Your Honor the way. My business, of course, is to do as I am bid; but
the cart has been abandoned to some wretch of a soldier, and the bundle
is undone.... Go on and on; but if any of the property disappears,
Nikolaeff will have to answer for it.”

After proceeding a few steps further, they came out on a square.
Nikolaeff held his peace, but sighed.

“Yonder is your artillery, Your Honor!” he suddenly said. “Ask the
sentinel; he will show you.”

And Volodya, after he had taken a few steps more, ceased to hear the
sound of Nikolaeff's sighs behind him.

All at once, he felt himself entirely and finally alone. This
consciousness of solitude in danger, before death, as it seemed to him,
lay upon his heart like a terribly cold and heavy stone.

He halted in the middle of the square, glanced about him, to see
whether he could catch sight of any one, grasped his head, and uttered
his thought aloud in his terror:—“Lord! Can it be that I am a coward,
a vile, disgusting, worthless coward ... can it be that I so lately
dreamed of dying with joy for my father-land, my tsar? No, I am a
wretched, an unfortunate, a wretched being!” And Volodya, with a
genuine sentiment of despair and disenchantment with himself, inquired
of the sentinel for the house of the commander of the battery, and set
out in the direction indicated.


XII.

The residence of the commander of the battery, which the sentinel had
pointed out to him, was a small, two-story house, with an entrance
on the court-yard. In one of the windows, which was pasted over with
paper, burned the feeble flame of a candle. A servant was seated on
the porch, smoking his pipe; he went in and announced Volodya to the
commander, and then led him in. In the room, between the two windows,
and beneath a shattered mirror, stood a table, heaped with official
documents, several chairs, and an iron bedstead, with a clean pallet,
and a small bed-rug by its side.

Near the door stood a handsome man, with a large moustache,—a sergeant,
in sabre and cloak, on the latter of which hung a cross and a Hungarian
medal. Back and forth in the middle of the room paced a short
staff-officer of forty, with swollen cheeks bound up, and dressed in a
thin old coat.

“I have the honor to report myself, Cornet Kozeltzoff, 2d, ordered to
the fifth light battery,” said Volodya, uttering the phrase which he
had learned by heart, as he entered the room.

The commander of the battery responded dryly to his greeting, and,
without offering his hand, invited him to be seated.

Volodya dropped timidly into a chair, beside the writing-table, and
began to twist in his fingers the scissors, which his hand happened
to light upon. The commander of the battery put his hands behind his
back, and, dropping his head, pursued his walk up and down the room, in
silence, only bestowing an occasional glance at the hands which were
twirling the scissors, with the aspect of a man who is trying to recall
something.

The battery commander was a rather stout man, with a large bald spot
on the crown of his head, a thick moustache, which drooped straight
down and concealed his mouth, and pleasant brown eyes. His hands were
handsome, clean, and plump; his feet small and well turned, and they
stepped out in a confident and rather dandified manner, proving that
the commander was not a timid man.

“Yes,” he said, coming to a halt in front of the sergeant; “a measure
must be added to the grain to-morrow, or our horses will be getting
thin. What do you think?”

“Of course, it is possible to do so, Your Excellency! Oats are very
cheap just now,” replied the sergeant, twitching his fingers, which
he held on the seams of his trousers, but which evidently liked to
assist in the conversation. “Our forage-master, Franchuk, sent me a
note yesterday, from the transports, Your Excellency, saying that we
should certainly be obliged to purchase oats; they say they are cheap.
Therefore, what are your orders?”

“To buy, of course. He has money, surely.” And the commander resumed
his tramp through the room. “And where are your things?” he suddenly
inquired of Volodya, as he paused in front of him.

Poor Volodya was so overwhelmed by the thought that he was a coward,
that he espied scorn for himself in every glance, in every word, as
though they had been addressed to a pitiable poltroon. It seemed to him
that the commander of the battery had already divined his secret, and
was making sport of him. He answered, with embarrassment, that his
effects were on the Grafskaya, and that his brother had promised to
send them to him on the morrow.

But the lieutenant-colonel was not listening to him, and, turning to
the sergeant, he inquired:—

“Where are we to put the ensign?”

“The ensign, sir?” said the sergeant, throwing Volodya into still
greater confusion by the fleeting glance which he cast upon him, and
which seemed to say, “What sort of an ensign is this?”—“He can be
quartered downstairs, with the staff-captain, Your Excellency,” he
continued, after a little reflection. “The captain is at the bastion
just now, and his cot is empty.”

“Will that not suit you, temporarily?” said the commander.—“I think you
must be tired, but we will lodge you better to-morrow.”

Volodya rose and bowed.

“Will you not have some tea?” said the commander, when he had already
reached the door. “The samovár can be brought in.”

Volodya saluted and left the room. The lieutenant-colonel's servant
conducted him downstairs, and led him into a bare, dirty chamber, in
which various sorts of rubbish were lying about, and where there was
an iron bedstead without either sheets or coverlet. A man in a red
shirt was fast asleep on the bed, covered over with a thick cloak.

Volodya took him for a soldier.

“Piotr Nikolaïtch!” said the servant, touching the sleeper on the
shoulder. “The ensign is to sleep here.... This is our yunker,” he
added, turning to the ensign.

“Ah, don't trouble him, please,” said Volodya; but the yunker, a tall,
stout, young man, with a handsome but very stupid face, rose from the
bed, threw on his cloak, and, evidently not having had a good sleep,
left the room.

“No matter; I'll lie down in the yard,” he growled out.


XIII.

Left alone with his own thoughts, Volodya's first sensation was a fear
of the incoherent, forlorn state of his own soul. He wanted to go to
sleep, and forget all his surroundings, and himself most of all. He
extinguished the candle, lay down on the bed, and, taking off his coat,
he wrapped his head up in it, in order to relieve his terror of the
darkness, with which he had been afflicted since his childhood. But all
at once the thought occurred to him that a bomb might come and crush
in the roof and kill him. He began to listen attentively; directly
overhead, he heard the footsteps of the battery commander.

“Anyway, if it does come,” he thought, “it will kill any one who is
upstairs first, and then me; at all events, I shall not be the only
one.”

This thought calmed him somewhat.

“Well, and what if Sevastopol should be taken unexpectedly, in the
night, and the French make their way hither? What am I to defend myself
with?”

He rose once more, and began to pace the room. His terror of the actual
danger outweighed his secret fear of the darkness. There was nothing
heavy in the room except the samovár and a saddle. “I am a scoundrel, a
coward, a miserable coward!” the thought suddenly occurred to him, and
again he experienced that oppressive sensation of scorn and disgust,
even for himself. Again he threw himself on the bed, and tried not to
think.

Then the impressions of the day involuntarily penetrated his
imagination, in consequence of the unceasing sounds, which made the
glass in the solitary window rattle, and again the thought of danger
recurred to him: now he saw visions of wounded men and blood, now
of bombs and splinters, flying into the room, then of the pretty
little Sister of Mercy, who was applying a bandage to him, a dying
man, and weeping over him, then of his mother, accompanying him to
the provincial town, and praying, amid burning tears, before the
wonder-working images, and once more sleep appeared an impossibility to
him.

But suddenly the thought of Almighty God, who can do all things, and
who hears every supplication, came clearly into his mind. He knelt
down, crossed himself, and folded his hands as he had been taught to do
in his childhood, when he prayed. This gesture, all at once, brought
back to him a consoling feeling, which he had long since forgotten.

“If I must die, if I must cease to exist, ‘thy will be done, Lord,’”
he thought; “let it be quickly; but if bravery is needed, and the
firmness which I do not possess, give them to me; deliver me from shame
and disgrace, which I cannot bear, but teach me what to do in order to
fulfil thy will.”

His childish, frightened, narrow soul was suddenly encouraged; it
cleared up, and caught sight of broad, brilliant, and new horizons.
During the brief period while this feeling lasted, he felt and thought
many other things, and soon fell asleep quietly and unconcernedly, to
the continuous sounds of the roar of the bombardment and the rattling
of the window-panes.

Great Lord! thou alone hast heard, and thou alone knowest those ardent,
despairing prayers of ignorance, of troubled repentance, those
petitions for the healing of the body and the enlightenment of the
mind, which have ascended to thee from that terrible precinct of death,
from the general who, a moment before, was thinking of his cross of the
George on his neck, and conscious in his terror of thy near presence,
to the simple soldier writhing on the bare earth of the Nikolaevsky
battery, and beseeching thee to bestow upon him there the reward,
unconsciously presaged, for all his sufferings.


XIV.

The elder Kozeltzoff, meeting on the street a soldier belonging to his
regiment, betook himself at once, in company with the man, to the fifth
bastion.

“Keep under the wall, Your Honor,” said the soldier.

“What for?”

“It's dangerous, Your Honor; there's one passing over,” said the
soldier, listening to the sound of a screaming cannon-ball, which
struck the dry road, on the other side of the street.

Kozeltzoff, paying no heed to the soldier, walked bravely along the
middle of the street.

These were the same streets, the same fires, even more frequent now,
the sounds, the groans, the encounters with the wounded, and the same
batteries, breastworks, and trenches, which had been there in the
spring, when he was last in Sevastopol; but, for some reason, all this
was now more melancholy, and, at the same time, more energetic, the
apertures in the houses were larger, there were no longer any lights in
the windows, with the exception of the Kushtchin house (the hospital),
not a woman was to be met with, the earlier tone of custom and freedom
from care no longer rested over all, but, instead, a certain impress of
heavy expectation, of weariness and earnestness.

But here is the last trench already, and here is the voice of a soldier
of the P—— regiment, who has recognized the former commander of his
company, and here stands the third battalion in the gloom, clinging
close to the wall, and lighted up now and then, for a moment, by the
discharges, and a sound of subdued conversation, and the rattling of
guns.

“Where is the commander of the regiment?” inquired Kozeltzoff.

“In the bomb-proofs with the sailors, Your Honor,” replied the soldier,
ready to be of service. “I will show you the way, if you like.”

From trench to trench the soldier led Kozeltzoff, to the small ditch in
the trench. In the ditch sat a sailor, smoking his pipe; behind him a
door was visible, through whose cracks shone a light.

“Can I enter?”

“I will announce you at once,” and the sailor went in through the door.

Two voices became audible on the other side of the door.

“If Prussia continues to observe neutrality,” said one voice, “then
Austria also....”

“What difference does Austria make,” said the second, “when the Slavic
lands ... well, ask him to come in.”

Kozeltzoff had never been in this casemate. He was struck by its
elegance. The floor was of polished wood, screens shielded the door.
Two bedsteads stood against the wall, in one corner stood a large
ikon of the mother of God, in a gilt frame, and before her burned a
rose-colored lamp.

On one of the beds, a naval officer, fully dressed, was sleeping. On
the other, by a table upon which stood two bottles of wine, partly
empty, sat the men who were talking—the new regimental commander and
his adjutant.

Although Kozeltzoff was far from being a coward, and was certainly
not guilty of any wrongdoing so far as his superior officers were
concerned, nor towards the regimental commander, yet he felt timid
before the colonel, who had been his comrade not long before, so
proudly did this colonel rise and listen to him.

“It is strange,” thought Kozeltzoff, as he surveyed his commander, “it
is only seven weeks since he took the regiment, and how visible already
is his power as regimental commander, in everything about him—in his
dress, his bearing, his look. Is it so very long,” thought he, “since
this Batrishtcheff used to carouse with us, and he wore a cheap cotton
shirt, and ate by himself, never inviting any one to his quarters, his
eternal meat-balls and curd-patties? But now! and that expression of
cold pride in his eyes, which says to you, ‘Though I am your comrade,
because I am a regimental commander of the new school, yet, believe me,
I am well aware that you would give half your life merely for the sake
of being in my place!’”

“You have been a long time in recovering,” said the colonel to
Kozeltzoff, coldly, with a stare.

“I was ill, colonel! The wound has not closed well even now.”

“Then there was no use in your coming,” said the colonel, casting
an incredulous glance at the captain's stout figure. “You are,
nevertheless, in a condition to fulfil your duty?”

“Certainly I am, sir.”

“Well I'm very glad of that, sir. You will take the ninth company from
Ensign Zaitzoff—the one you had before; you will receive your orders
immediately.”

“I obey, sir.”

“Take care to send me the regimental adjutant when you arrive,” said
the regimental commander, giving him to understand, by a slight nod,
that his audience was at an end.

On emerging from the casemate, Kozeltzoff muttered something several
times, and shrugged his shoulders, as though pained, embarrassed,
or vexed at something, and vexed, not at the regimental commander
(there was no cause for that), but at himself, and he appeared to be
dissatisfied with himself and with everything about him.


XV.

Before going to his officers, Kozeltzoff went to greet his company, and
to see where it was stationed.

The breastwork of gabions, the shapes of the trenches, the cannons
which he passed, even the fragments of shot, bombs, over which he
stumbled in his path—all this, incessantly illuminated by the light
of the firing, was well known to him, all this had engraved itself
in vivid colors on his memory, three months before, during the two
weeks which he had spent in this very bastion, without once leaving
it. Although there was much that was terrible in these reminiscences,
a certain charm of past things was mingled with it, and he recognized
the familiar places and objects with pleasure, as though the two weeks
spent there had been agreeable ones. The company was stationed along
the defensive wall toward the sixth bastion.

Kozeltzoff entered the long casemate, utterly unprotected at the
entrance side, in which they had told him that the ninth company
was stationed. There was, literally, no room to set his foot in the
casemate, so filled was it, from the very entrance, with soldiers. On
one side burned a crooked tallow candle, which a recumbent soldier
was holding to illuminate the book which another one was spelling
out slowly. Around the candle, in the reeking half-light, heads were
visible, eagerly raised in strained attention to the reader. The little
book in question was a primer. As Kozeltzoff entered the casemate, he
heard the following:

“Pray-er af-ter lear-ning. I thank Thee, Crea-tor ...”

“Snuff that candle!” said a voice. “That's a splendid book.” “My ...
God ...” went on the reader.

When Kozeltzoff asked for the sergeant, the reader stopped, the
soldiers began to move about, coughed, and blew their noses, as they
always do after enforced silence. The sergeant rose near the group
about the reader, buttoning up his coat as he did so, and stepping over
and on the feet of those who had no room to withdraw them, and came
forward to his officer.

“How are you, brother? Do all these belong to our company?”

“I wish you health! Welcome on your return, Your Honor!” replied the
sergeant, with a cheerful and friendly look at Kozeltzoff. “Has Your
Honor recovered your health? Well, God be praised. It has been very
dull for us without you.”

It was immediately apparent that Kozeltzoff was beloved in the company.

In the depths of the casemate, voices could be heard. Their old
commander, who had been wounded, Mikhaïl Semyónitch Kozeltzoff,
had arrived, and so forth; some even approached, and the drummer
congratulated him.

“How are you, Obantchuk?” said Kozeltzoff. “Are you all right?
Good-day, children!” he said, raising his voice.

“We wish you health!” sounded through the casemate.

“How are you getting on, children?”

“Badly, Your Honor. The French are getting the better of us.—Fighting
from behind the fortifications is bad work, and that's all there is
about it! and they won't come out into the open field.”

“Perhaps luck is with me, and God will grant that they shall come out
into the field, children!” said Kozeltzoff. “It won't be the first time
that you and I have taken a hand together: we'll beat them again.”

“We'll be glad to try it, Your Honor!” exclaimed several voices.

“And how about them—are they really bold?”

“Frightfully bold!” said the drummer, not loudly, but so that his words
were audible, turning to another soldier, as though justifying before
him the words of the commander, and persuading him that there was
nothing boastful or improbable in these words.

From the soldiers, Kozeltzoff proceeded to the defensive barracks and
his brother officers.


XVI.

In the large room of the barracks there was a great number of men;
naval, artillery, and infantry officers. Some were sleeping, others
were conversing, seated on the shot-chests and gun-carriages of the
cannons of the fortifications; others still, who formed a very numerous
and noisy group behind the arch, were seated upon two felt rugs, which
had been spread on the floor, and were drinking porter and playing
cards.

“Ah! Kozeltzoff, Kozeltzoff! Capital! it's a good thing that he has
come! He's a brave fellow!... How's your wound?” rang out from various
quarters. Here also it was evident that they loved him and were
rejoiced at his coming.

After shaking hands with his friends, Kozeltzoff joined the noisy
group of officers engaged in playing cards. There were some of his
acquaintances among them. A slender, handsome, dark-complexioned man,
with a long, sharp nose and a huge moustache, which began on his
cheeks, was dealing the cards with his thin, white, taper fingers,
on one of which there was a heavy gold seal ring. He was dealing
straight on, and carelessly, being evidently excited by something,—and
merely desirous of making a show of heedlessness. On his right, and
beside him, lay a gray-haired major, supporting himself on his elbow,
and playing for half a ruble with affected coolness, and settling up
immediately. On his left squatted an officer with a red, perspiring
face, who was laughing and jesting in a constrained way. When his
cards won, he moved one hand about incessantly in his empty trousers
pocket. He was playing high, and evidently no longer for ready money,
which displeased the handsome, dark-complexioned man. A thin and pallid
officer with a bald head, and a huge nose and mouth, was walking about
the room, holding a large package of bank-notes in his hand, staking
ready money on the bank, and winning.

Kozeltzoff took a drink of vodka, and sat down by the players.

“Take a hand, Mikhaïl Semyónitch!” said the dealer to him; “you have
brought lots of money, I suppose.”

“Where should I get any money! On the contrary, I got rid of the last I
had in town.”

“The idea! Some one certainly must have fleeced you in Simpferopol.”

“I really have but very little,” said Kozeltzoff, but he was evidently
desirous that they should not believe him; then he unbuttoned his coat,
and took the old cards in his hand.

“I don't care if I do try; there's no knowing what the Evil One will
do! queer things do come about at times. But I must have a drink, to
get up my courage.”

And within a very short space of time he had drunk another glass of
vodka and several of porter, and had lost his last three rubles.

A hundred and fifty rubles were written down against the little,
perspiring officer.

“No, he will not bring them,” said he, carelessly, drawing a fresh card.

“Try to send it,” said the dealer to him, pausing a moment in his
occupation of laying out the cards, and glancing at him.

“Permit me to send it to-morrow,” repeated the perspiring officer,
rising, and moving his hand about vigorously in his empty pocket.

“Hm!” growled the dealer, and, throwing the cards angrily to the right
and left, he completed the deal. “But this won't do,” said he, when he
had dealt the cards. “I'm going to stop. It won't do, Zakhár Ivánitch,”
he added, “we have been playing for ready money and not on credit.”

“What, do you doubt me? That's strange, truly!”

“From whom is one to get anything?” muttered the major, who had won
about eight rubles. “I have lost over twenty rubles, but when I have
won—I get nothing.”

“How am I to pay,” said the dealer, “when there is no money on the
table?”

“I won't listen to you!” shouted the major, jumping up, “I am playing
with you, but not with him.”

All at once the perspiring officer flew into a rage.

“I tell you that I will pay to-morrow; how dare you say such
impertinent things to me?”

“I shall say what I please! This is not the way to do—that's the
truth!” shouted the major.

“That will do, Feódor Feodoritch!” all chimed in, holding back the
major.

But let us draw a veil over this scene. To-morrow, to-day, it may be,
each one of these men will go cheerfully and proudly to meet his death,
and he will die with firmness and composure; but the one consolation of
life in these conditions, which terrify even the coldest imagination in
the absence of all that is human, and the hopelessness of any escape
from them, the one consolation is forgetfulness, the annihilation
of consciousness. At the bottom of the soul of each lies that noble
spark, which makes of him a hero; but this spark wearies of burning
clearly—when the fateful moment comes it flashes up into a flame, and
illuminates great deeds.


XVII.

On the following day, the bombardment proceeded with the same vigor.
At eleven o'clock in the morning, Volodya Kozeltzoff was seated in
a circle of battery officers, and, having already succeeded to some
extent in habituating himself to them, he was surveying the new faces,
taking observations, making inquiries, and telling stories.

The discreet conversation of the artillery officers, which made some
pretensions to learning, pleased him and inspired him with respect.
Volodya's shy, innocent, and handsome appearance disposed the officers
in his favor.

The eldest officer in the battery, the captain, a short,
sandy-complexioned man, with his hair arranged in a topknot, and smooth
on the temples, educated in the old traditions of the artillery, a
squire of dames, and a would-be learned man, questioned Volodya as to
his acquirements in artillery and new inventions, jested caressingly
over his youth and his pretty little face, and treated him, in
general, as a father treats a son, which was extremely agreeable to
Volodya.

Sub-Lieutenant Dyadenko, a young officer, who talked with a Little
Russian accent, had a tattered cloak and dishevelled hair, although
he talked very loudly, and constantly seized opportunities to dispute
acrimoniously over some topic, and was very abrupt in his movements,
pleased Volodya, who, beneath this rough exterior, could not help
detecting in him a very fine and extremely good man. Dyadenko was
incessantly offering his services to Volodya, and pointing out to him
that not one of the guns in Sevastopol was properly placed, according
to rule.

Lieutenant Tchernovitzky, with his brows elevated on high, though he
was more courteous than any of the rest, and dressed in a coat that
was tolerably clean, but not new, and carefully patched, and though
he displayed a gold watch-chain on a satin waistcoat, did not please
Volodya. He kept inquiring what the Emperor and the minister of war
were doing, and related to him, with unnatural triumph, the deeds of
valor which had been performed in Sevastopol, complained of the small
number of true patriots, and displayed a great deal of learning, and
sense, and noble feeling in general; but, for some reason, all this
seemed unpleasant and unnatural to Volodya. The principal thing which
he noticed was that the other officers hardly spoke to Tchernovitzky.

Yunker Vlang, whom he had waked up on the preceding evening, was also
there. He said nothing, but, seated modestly in a corner, laughed when
anything amusing occurred, refreshed their memories when they forgot
anything, handed the vodka, and made cigarettes for all the officers.
Whether it was the modest, courteous manners of Volodya, who treated
him exactly as he did the officers, and did not torment him as though
he were a little boy, or his agreeable personal appearance which
captivated Vlang_a_, as the soldiers called him, declining his name,
for some reason or other, in the feminine gender, at all events, he
never took his big, kind eyes from the face of the new officer. He
divined and anticipated all his wishes, and remained uninterruptedly in
a sort of lover-like ecstasy, which, of course, the officers perceived,
and made fun of.

Before dinner, the staff-captain was relieved from the battery, and
joined their company. Staff-Captain Kraut was a light-complexioned,
handsome, dashing officer, with a heavy, reddish moustache, and
side-whiskers; he spoke Russian capitally, but too elegantly and
correctly for a Russian. In the service and in his life, he had been
the same as in his language; he served very well, was a capital
comrade, and the most faithful of men in money matters; but simply
as a man something was lacking in him, precisely because everything
about him was so excellent. Like all Russian-Germans, by a strange
contradiction with the ideal German, he was “praktisch” to the highest
degree.

“Here he is, our hero makes his appearance!” said the captain, as
Kraut, flourishing his arms and jingling his spurs, entered the room.
“Which will you have, Friedrich Krestyanitch, tea or vodka?”

“I have already ordered my tea to be served,” he answered, “but I may
take a little drop of vodka also, for the refreshing of the soul.
Very glad to make your acquaintance; I beg that you will love us, and
lend us your favor,” he said to Volodya, who rose and bowed to him.
“Staff-Captain Kraut.... The gun-sergeant on the bastion informed me
that you arrived last night.”

“Much obliged for your bed; I passed the night in it.”

“I hope you found it comfortable? One of the legs is broken; but no one
can stand on ceremony—in time of siege—you must prop it up.”

“Well, now, did you have a fortunate time on your watch?” asked
Dyadenko.

“Yes, all right; only Skvortzoff was hit, and we mended one of the
gun-carriages last night. The cheek was smashed to atoms.”

He rose from his seat, and began to walk up and down; it was plain that
he was wholly under the influence of that agreeable sensation which a
man experiences who has just escaped a danger.

“Well, Dmitri Gavrilitch,” he said, tapping the captain on the knee,
“how are you getting on, my dear fellow? How about your promotion?—no
word yet?”

“Nothing yet.”

“No, and there will be nothing,” interpolated Dyadenko: “I proved that
to you before.”

“Why won't there?”

“Because the story was not properly written down.”

“Oh, you quarrelsome fellow, you quarrelsome fellow!” said Kraut,
smiling gayly; “a regular obstinate Little Russian! Now, just to
provoke you, he'll turn out your lieutenant.”

“No, he won't.”

“Vlang! fetch me my pipe, and fill it,” said he, turning to the yunker,
who at once hastened up obligingly with the pipe.

Kraut made them all lively; he told about the bombardment, he inquired
what had been going on in his absence, and entered into conversation
with every one.


XVIII.

“Well, how are things? Have you already got settled among us?” Kraut
asked Volodya.... “Excuse me, what is your name and patronymic? that's
the custom with us in the artillery, you know. Have you got hold of a
saddle-horse?”

“No,” said Volodya; “I do not know what to do. I told the captain that
I had no horse, and no money, either, until I get some for forage and
travelling expenses. I want to ask the battery commander for a horse in
the meantime, but I am afraid that he will refuse me.”

“Apollon Sergiéitch, do you mean?” he produced with his lips a sound
indicative of the strongest doubt, and glanced at the captain; “not
likely.”

“What's that? If he does refuse, there'll be no harm done,” said the
captain. “There are horses, to tell the truth, which are not needed,
but still one might try; I will inquire to-day.”

“What! Don't you know him?” Dyadenko interpolated. “He might refuse
anything, but there is no reason for refusing this. Do you want to bet
on it?...”

“Well, of course, everybody knows already that you always contradict.”

“I contradict because I know. He is niggardly about other things, but
he will give the horse because it is no advantage to him to refuse.”

“No advantage, indeed, when it costs him eight rubles here for oats!”
said Kraut. “Is there no advantage in not keeping an extra horse?”

“Ask Skvoretz yourself, Vladímir Semyónitch!” said Vlang, returning
with Kraut's pipe. “It's a capital horse.”

“The one you tumbled into the ditch with, on the festival of the forty
martyrs, in March? Hey! Vlang?” remarked the staff-captain.

“No, and why should you say that it costs eight rubles for oats,”
pursued Dyadenko, “when his own inquiries show him that it is ten and a
half; of course, he has no object in it.”

“Just as though he would have nothing left! So when you get to be
battery commander, you won't let any horses go into the town?”

“When I get to be battery commander, my dear fellow, my horses will get
four measures of oats to eat, and I shall not accumulate an income,
never fear!”

“If we live, we shall see,” said the staff-captain; “and you will act
just so, and so will he when he commands a battery,” he added, pointing
at Volodya.

“Why do you think, Friedrich Krestyanitch, that he would turn it to his
profit?” broke in Tchernovitzky. “Perhaps he has property of his own;
then why should he turn it to profit?”

“No, sir, I ... excuse me, captain,” said Volodya, reddening up to his
ears, “that strikes me as insulting.”

“Oh ho, ho! What a madcap he is!” said Kraut.

“That has nothing to do with it; I only think that if the money were
not mine, I should not take it.”

“Now, I'll tell you something right here, young man,” began the
staff-captain in a more serious tone, “you are to understand that when
you command a battery, if you manage things well, that's sufficient;
the commander of a battery does not meddle with provisioning the
soldiers; that is the way it has been from time immemorial in the
artillery. If you are a bad manager, you will have nothing left. Now,
these are the expenditures in conformity with your position: for
shoeing your horse,—one (he closed one finger); for the apothecary,—two
(he closed another finger); for office work,—three (he shut a
third); for extra horses, which cost five hundred rubles, my dear
fellow,—that's four; you must change the soldiers' collars, you will
use a great deal of coal, you must keep open table for your officers.
If you are a battery-commander, you must live decently; you need a
carriage, and a fur coat, and this thing and that thing, and a dozen
more ... but what's the use of enumerating them all!”

“But this is the principal thing, Vladímir Semyónitch,” interpolated
the captain, who had held his peace all this time; “imagine yourself to
be a man who, like myself, for instance, has served twenty years, first
for two hundred, then for three hundred rubles pay; why should he not
be given at least a bit of bread, against his old age?”

“Eh! yes, there you have it!” spoke up the staff-captain again, “don't
be in a hurry to pronounce judgment, but live on and serve your time.”

Volodya was horribly ashamed and sorry for having spoken so
thoughtlessly, and he muttered something and continued to listen in
silence, when Dyadenko undertook, with the greatest zeal, to dispute it
and to prove the contrary.

The dispute was interrupted by the arrival of the colonel's servant,
who summoned them to dinner.

“Tell Apollon Sergiéitch that he must give us some wine to-day,” said
Tchernovitzky, to the captain, as he buttoned up his uniform.—“Why is
he so stingy with it? He will be killed, and no one will get the good
of it.”

“Tell him yourself.”

“Not a bit of it. You are my superior officer. Rank must be regarded in
all things.”


XIX.

The table had been moved out from the wall, and spread with a soiled
table-cloth, in the same room in which Volodya had presented himself to
the colonel on the preceding evening. The battery commander now offered
him his hand, and questioned him about Petersburg and his journey.

“Well, gentlemen, I beg the favor of a glass with any of you who drink
vodka. The ensigns do not drink,” he added, with a smile.

On the whole, the battery commander did not appear nearly so stern
to-day as he had on the preceding evening; on the contrary, he had the
appearance of a kindly, hospitable host, and an elder comrade among the
officers. But, in spite of this, all the officers, from the old captain
down to Ensign Dyadenko, by their very manner of speaking and looking
the commander straight in the eye, as they approached, one after the
other, to drink their vodka, exhibited great respect for him.

The dinner consisted of a large wooden bowl of cabbage-soup, in
which floated fat chunks of beef, and a huge quantity of pepper and
laurel-leaves, mustard, and Polish meat-balls in a cabbage leaf,
turnover patties of chopped meat and dough, and with butter, which
was not perfectly fresh. There were no napkins, the spoons were of
pewter and wood, there were only two glasses, and on the table stood
a decanter of water with a broken neck; but the dinner was not dull;
conversation never halted.

At first, their talk turned on the battle of Inkerman, in which the
battery had taken part, as to the causes of failure, of which each one
gave his own impressions and ideas, and held his tongue as soon as
the battery commander himself began to speak; then the conversation
naturally changed to the insufficiency of calibre of the light guns,
and upon the new lightened cannons, in which connection Volodya had an
opportunity to display his knowledge of artillery.

But their talk did not dwell upon the present terrible position of
Sevastopol, as though each of them had meditated too much on that
subject to allude to it again. In the same way, to Volodya's great
amazement and disappointment, not a word was said about the duties
of the service which he was to fulfil, just as though he had come to
Sevastopol merely for the purpose of telling about the new cannon and
dining with the commander of the battery.

While they were at dinner, a bomb fell not far from the house in which
they were seated. The walls and the floor trembled, as though in an
earthquake, and the window was obscured with the smoke of the powder.

“You did not see anything of this sort in Petersburg, I fancy; but
these surprises often take place here,” said the battery commander.

“Look out, Vlang, and see where it burst.”

Vlang looked, and reported that it had burst on the square, and then
there was nothing more said about the bomb.

Just before the end of the dinner, an old man, the clerk of the
battery, entered the room, with three sealed envelopes, and handed them
to the commander.

“This is very important; a messenger has this moment brought these from
the chief of the artillery.”

All the officers gazed, with impatient curiosity, at the commander's
practised fingers as they broke the seal of the envelope and drew forth
the _very important_ paper. “What can it be?” each one asked himself.

It might be that they were to march out of Sevastopol for a rest, it
might be an order for the whole battery to betake themselves to the
bastions.

“Again!” said the commander, flinging the paper angrily on the table.

“What's it about, Apollon Sergiéitch?” inquired the eldest officer.

“An officer and crew are required for a mortar battery over yonder,
and I have only four officers, and there is not a full gun-crew in
the line,” growled the commander: “and here more are demanded of me.
But some one must go, gentlemen,” he said, after a brief pause: “the
order requires him to be at the barrier at seven o'clock.... Send the
sergeant! Who is to go, gentlemen? decide,” he repeated.

“Well, here's one who has never been yet,” said Tchernovitzky, pointing
to Volodya. The commander of the battery made no reply.

“Yes, I should like to go,” said Volodya, as he felt the cold sweat
start out on his back and neck.

“No; why should you? There's no occasion!” broke in the captain. “Of
course, no one will refuse, but neither is it proper to ask any one;
but if Apollon Sergiéitch will permit us, we will draw lots, as we did
once before.”

All agreed to this. Kraut cut some paper into bits, folded them up, and
dropped them into a cap. The captain jested, and even plucked up the
audacity, on this occasion, to ask the colonel for wine, to keep up
their courage, he said. Dyadenko sat in gloomy silence, Volodya smiled
at something or other, Tchernovitzky declared that it would infallibly
fall to him, Kraut was perfectly composed.

Volodya was allowed to draw first; he took one slip, which was rather
long, but it immediately occurred to him to change it; he took another,
which was smaller and thinner, unfolded it, and read on it, “I go.”

“It has fallen to me,” he said, with a sigh.

“Well, God be with you. You will get your baptism of fire at once,”
said the commander of the battery, gazing at the perturbed countenance
of the ensign with a kindly smile; “but you must get there as speedily
as possible. And, to make it more cheerful for you, Vlang shall go with
you as gun-sergeant.”


XX.

Vlang was exceedingly well pleased with the duty assigned to him, and
ran hastily to make his preparations, and, when he was dressed, he went
to the assistance of Volodya, and tried to persuade the latter to take
his cot and fur coat with him, and some old “Annals of the Country,”
and a spirit-lamp coffee-pot, and other useless things. The captain
advised Volodya to read up his “Manual,”[L] first, about mortar-firing,
and immediately to copy the tables out of it.

[L] “Manual for Artillery Officers,” by Bezak.

Volodya set about this at once, and, to his amazement and delight, he
perceived that, though he was still somewhat troubled with a sensation
of fear of danger, and still more lest he should turn out a coward, yet
it was far from being to that degree to which it had affected him on
the preceding evening. The reason for this lay partly in the daylight
and in active occupation, and partly, principally, also, in the fact
that fear and all powerful emotions cannot long continue with the same
intensity. In a word, he had already succeeded in recovering from his
terror.

At seven o'clock, just as the sun had begun to hide itself behind the
Nikolaevsky barracks, the sergeant came to him, and announced that the
men were ready and waiting for him.

“I have given the list to Vlang_a_. You will please to ask him for it,
Your Honor!” said he.

Twenty artillery-men, with side-arms, but without loading-tools, were
standing at the corner of the house. Volodya and the yunker stepped up
to them.

“Shall I make them a little speech, or shall I simply say, ‘Good day,
children!’ or shall I say nothing at all?” thought he. “And why should
I not say, ‘Good day, children!’ Why, I ought to say that much!” And he
shouted boldly, in his ringing voice:—

“Good day, children!”

The soldiers responded cheerfully. The fresh, young voice sounded
pleasant in the ears of all. Volodya marched vigorously at their head,
in front of the soldiers, and, although his heart beat as if he had run
several versts at the top of his speed, his step was light and his
countenance cheerful.

On arriving at the Malakoff mound, and climbing the slope, he
perceived that Vlang, who had not lagged a single pace behind him,
and who had appeared such a valiant fellow at home in the house, kept
constantly swerving to one side, and ducking his head, as though all
the cannon-balls and bombs, which whizzed by very frequently in that
locality, were flying straight at him. Some of the soldiers did the
same, and the faces of the majority of them betrayed, if not fear, at
least anxiety. This circumstance put the finishing touch to Volodya's
composure and encouraged him finally.

“So here I am also on the Malakoff mound, which I imagined to be a
thousand times more terrible! And I can walk along without ducking my
head before the bombs, and am far less terrified than the rest! So I
am not a coward, after all?” he thought with delight, and even with a
somewhat enthusiastic self-sufficiency.

But this feeling was soon shaken by a spectacle upon which he stumbled
in the twilight, on the Kornilovsky battery, in his search for the
commander of the bastion. Four sailors standing near the breastworks
were holding the bloody body of a man, without shoes or coat, by its
arms and legs, and staggering as they tried to fling it over the
ramparts.

(On the second day of the bombardment, it had been found impossible,
in some localities, to carry off the corpses from the bastions, and so
they were flung into the trench, in order that they might not impede
action in the batteries.)

Volodya stood petrified for a moment, as he saw the corpse waver on
the summit of the breastworks, and then roll down into the ditch;
but, luckily for him, the commander of the bastion met him there,
communicated his orders, and furnished him with a guide to the battery
and to the bomb-proofs designated for his service. We will not
enumerate the remaining dangers and disenchantments which our hero
underwent that evening: how, instead of the firing, such as he had seen
on the Volkoff field, according to the rules of accuracy and precision,
which he had expected to find here, he found two cracked mortars, one
of which had been crushed by a cannon-ball in the muzzle, while the
other stood upon the splinters of a ruined platform; how he could not
obtain any workmen until the following morning in order to repair the
platform; how not a single charge was of the weight prescribed in the
“Manual;” how two soldiers of his command were wounded, and how he was
twenty times within a hair's-breadth of death.

Fortunately, there had been assigned for his assistant a gun-captain
of gigantic size, a sailor, who had served on the mortars since the
beginning of the siege, and who convinced him of the practicability of
using them, conducted him all over the bastion, with a lantern, during
the night, exactly as though it had been his own kitchen-garden, and
who promised to put everything in proper shape on the morrow.

The bomb-proof to which his guide conducted him was excavated in the
rocky soil, and consisted of a long hole, two cubic fathoms in extent,
covered with oaken planks an arshin in thickness. Here he took up his
post, with all his soldiers. Vlang was the first, when he caught sight
of the little door, twenty-eight inches high, of the bomb-proof, to
rush headlong into it, in front of them all, and, after nearly cracking
his skull on the stone floor, he huddled down in a corner, from which
he did not again emerge.

And Volodya, when all the soldiers had placed themselves along the wall
on the floor, and some had lighted their pipes, set up his bed in one
corner, lighted a candle, and lay upon his cot, smoking a cigarette.

Shots were incessantly heard, over the bomb-proof, but they were not
very loud, with the exception of those from one cannon, which stood
close by and shook the bomb-proof with its thunder. In the bomb-proof
itself all was still; the soldiers, who were a little shy, as yet, of
the new officer, only exchanged a few words, now and then, as they
requested each other to move out of the way or to furnish a light for a
pipe. A rat scratched somewhere among the stones, or Vlang, who had not
yet recovered himself, and who still gazed wildly about him, uttered a
sudden vigorous sigh.

Volodya, as he lay on his bed, in his quiet corner, surrounded by
the men, and illuminated only by a single candle, experienced that
sensation of well-being which he had known as a child, when, in the
course of a game of hide-and-seek, he used to crawl into a cupboard or
under his mother's skirts, and listen, not daring to draw his breath,
and afraid of the dark, and yet conscious of enjoying himself. He felt
a little oppressed, but cheerful.


XXI.

After the lapse of about ten minutes, the soldiers began to change
about and to converse together. The most important personages among
them—the two gun-sergeants—placed themselves nearest the officer's
light and bed;—one was old and gray-haired, with every possible medal
and cross except the George;—the other was young, a militia-man, who
smoked cigarettes, which he was rolling. The drummer, as usual, assumed
the duty of waiting on the officer. The bombardiers and cavalrymen
sat next, and then farther away, in the shadow of the entrance,
the _underlings_ took up their post. They too began to talk among
themselves. It was caused by the hasty entrance of a man into the
casemate.

“How now, brother! couldn't you stay in the street? Didn't the girls
sing merrily?” said a voice.

“They sing such marvellous songs as were never heard in the village,”
said the man who had fled into the casemate, with a laugh.

“But Vasin does not love bombs—ah, no, he does not love them!” said one
from the aristocratic corner.

“The idea! It's quite another matter when it's necessary,” drawled the
voice of Vasin, who made all the others keep silent when he spoke:
“since the 24th, the firing has been going on desperately; and what is
there wrong about it? You'll get killed for nothing, and your superiors
won't so much as say ‘Thank you!’ for it.”

At these words of Vasin, all burst into a laugh.

“There's Melnikoff, that fellow who will sit outside the door,” said
some one.

“Well, send him here, that Melnikoff,” added the old gunner; “they will
kill him, for a fact, and that to no purpose.”

“Who is this Melnikoff?” asked Volodya.

“Why, Your Honor, he's a stupid soldier of ours. He doesn't seem to be
afraid of anything, and now he keeps walking about outside. Please to
take a look at him; he looks like a bear.”

“He knows a spell,” said the slow voice of Vasin, from the corner.

Melnikoff entered the bomb-proof. He was fat (which is extremely rare
among soldiers), and a sandy-complexioned, handsome man, with a huge,
bulging forehead and prominent, light blue eyes.

“Are you afraid of the bombs?” Volodya asked him.

“What is there about the bombs to be afraid of!” replied Melnikoff,
shrugging his shoulders and scratching his head, “I know that I shall
not be killed by a bomb.”

“So you would like to go on living here?”

“Why, of course, I would. It's jolly here!” he said, with a sudden
outburst of laughter.

“Oh, then you must be detailed for the sortie! I'll tell the general
so, if you like?” said Volodya, although he was not acquainted with a
single general there.

“Why shouldn't I like! I do!”

And Melnikoff disappeared behind the others.

“Let's have a game of _noski_,[M] children! Who has cards?” rang out
his brisk voice.

[M] A game in which the loser is rapped on the nose with the cards.

And, in fact, it was not long before a game was started in the back
corner, and blows on the nose, laughter, and calling of trumps were
heard.

Volodya drank some tea from the samovár, which the drummer served for
him, treated the gunners, jested, chatted with them, being desirous of
winning popularity, and felt very well content with the respect which
was shown him. The soldiers, too, perceiving that the gentleman put on
no airs, began to talk together.

One declared that the siege of Sevastopol would soon come to an end,
because a trustworthy man from the fleet had said that the emperor's
brother Constantine was coming to our relief with the 'Merican fleet,
and there would soon be an agreement that there should be no firing
for two weeks, and that a rest should be allowed, and if any one did
fire a shot, every discharge would have to be paid for at the rate of
seventy-five kopeks each.

Vasin, who, as Volodya had already noticed, was a little fellow, with
large, kindly eyes, and side-whiskers, related, amid a general silence
at first, and afterwards amid general laughter, how, when he had gone
home on leave, they had been glad at first to see him, but afterwards
his father had begun to send him off to work, and the lieutenant of
the foresters' corps sent his drozhki for his wife.

All this amused Volodya greatly. He not only did not experience the
least fear or inconvenience from the closeness and heavy air in the
bomb-proof, but he felt in a remarkably cheerful and agreeable frame of
mind.

Many of the soldiers were already snoring. Vlang had also stretched
himself out on the floor, and the old gun-sergeant, having spread out
his cloak, was crossing himself and muttering his prayers, preparatory
to sleep, when Volodya took a fancy to step out of the bomb-proof, and
see what was going on outside.

“Take your legs out of the way!” cried one soldier to another, as soon
as he rose, and the legs were pressed aside to make way for him.

Vlang, who appeared to be asleep, suddenly raised his head, and seized
Volodya by the skirt of his coat.

“Come, don't go! how can you!” he began, in a tearfully imploring
tone. “You don't know about things yet; they are firing at us out
there all the time; it is better here.”

But, in spite of Vlang's entreaties, Volodya made his way out of the
bomb-proof, and seated himself on the threshold, where Melnikoff was
already sitting.

The air was pure and fresh, particularly after the bomb-proof—the night
was clear and still. Through the roar of the discharges could be heard
the sounds of cart-wheels, bringing gabions, and the voices of the men
who were at work on the magazine. Above their heads was the lofty,
starry sky, across which flashed the fiery streaks caused by the bombs;
an arshin away, on the left, a tiny opening led to another bomb-proof,
through which the feet and backs of the soldiers who lived there were
visible, and through which their voices were audible; in front, the
elevation produced by the powder-vault could be seen, and athwart it
flitted the bent figures of men, and upon it, at the very summit, amid
the bullets and the bombs which whistled past the spot incessantly,
stood a tall form in a black paletot, with his hands in his pockets,
and feet treading down the earth, which other men were fetching in
sacks. Often a bomb would fly over, and burst close to the cave. The
soldiers engaged in bringing the earth bent over and ran aside; but
the black figure never moved; went on quietly stamping down the dirt
with his feet, and remained on the spot in the same attitude as before.

“Who is that black man?” inquired Volodya of Melnikoff.

“I don't know; I will go and see.”

“Don't go! it is not necessary.”

But Melnikoff, without heeding him, walked up to the black figure, and
stood beside him for a tolerably long time, as calm and immovable as
the man himself.

“That is the man who has charge of the magazine, Your Honor!” he said,
on his return. “It has been pierced by a bomb, so the infantry-men are
fetching more earth.”

Now and then, a bomb seemed to fly straight at the door of the
bomb-proof. On such occasions, Volodya shrank into the corner, and then
peered forth again, gazing upwards, to see whether another was not
coming from some direction. Although Vlang, from the interior of the
bomb-proof, repeatedly besought Volodya to come back, the latter sat on
the threshold for three hours, and experienced a sort of satisfaction
in thus tempting fate and in watching the flight of the bombs. Towards
the end of the evening, he had learned from what point most of the
firing proceeded, and where the shots struck.


XXII.

On the following day, the 27th, after a ten-hours sleep, Volodya, fresh
and active, stepped out on the threshold of the casement; Vlang also
started to crawl out with him, but, at the first sound of a bullet, he
flung himself backwards through the opening of the bomb-proof, bumping
his head as he did so, amid the general merriment of the soldiers,
the majority of whom had also come out into the open air. Vlang, the
old gun-sergeant, and a few others were the only ones who rarely went
out into the trenches; it was impossible to restrain the rest; they
all scattered about in the fresh morning air, escaping from the fetid
air of the bomb-proof, and, in spite of the fact that the bombardment
was as vigorous as on the preceding evening, they disposed themselves
around the door, and some even on the breastworks. Melnikoff had been
strolling about among the batteries since daybreak, and staring up with
perfect coolness.

Near the entrance sat two old soldiers and one young, curly-haired
fellow, a Jew, who had been detailed from the infantry. This soldier
picked up one of the bullets which were lying about, and, having
smoothed it against a stone with a potsherd, with his knife he carved
from it a cross, after the style of the order of St. George; the others
looked on at his work as they talked. The cross really turned out to be
quite handsome.

“Now, if we stay here much longer,” said one of them, “then, when peace
is made, the time of service will be up for all of us.”

“Nothing of the sort; I have at least four years service yet before my
time is up, and I have been in Sevastopol these five months.”

“It is not counted towards the discharge, do you understand,” said
another.

At that moment, a cannon-ball shrieked over the heads of the speakers,
and struck only an arshin away from Melnikoff, who was approaching them
from the trenches.

“That came near killing Melnikoff,” said one man.

“I shall not be killed,” said Melnikoff.

“Here's the cross for you, for your bravery,” said the young soldier,
who had made the cross, handing it to Melnikoff.

“No, brother, a month here counts for a year, of course—that was the
order,” the conversation continued.

“Think what you please, but when peace is declared, there will be an
imperial review at Orshava, and if we don't get our discharge, we shall
be allowed to go on indefinite leave.”

At that moment, a shrieking little bullet flew past the speakers'
heads, and struck a stone.

“You'll get a full discharge before evening—see if you don't,” said one
of the soldiers.

They all laughed.

Not only before evening, but before the expiration of two hours, two of
them received their full discharge, and five were wounded; but the rest
jested on as before.

By morning, the two mortars had actually been brought into such a
condition that it was possible to fire them. At ten o'clock, in
accordance with the orders which he had received from the commander of
the bastion, Volodya called out his command, and marched to the battery
with it.

In the men, as soon as they proceeded to action, there was not a drop
of that sentiment of fear perceptible which had been expressed on the
preceding evening. Vlang alone could not control himself; he dodged and
ducked just as before, and Vasin lost some of his composure, and fussed
and fidgeted and changed his place incessantly.

But Volodya was in an extraordinary state of enthusiasm; the thought of
danger did not even occur to him. Delight that he was fulfilling his
duty, that he was not only not a coward, but even a valiant fellow, the
feeling that he was in command, and the presence of twenty men, who,
as he was aware, were surveying him with curiosity, made a thoroughly
brave man of him. He was even vain of his valor, put on airs before
his soldiers, climbed up on the banquette, and unbuttoned his coat
expressly that he might render himself the more distinctly visible.

The commander of the bastion, who was going the rounds of his
establishment as he expressed it, at the moment, accustomed as he had
become during his eight-months experience to all sorts of bravery,
could not refrain from admiring this handsome lad, in the unbuttoned
coat, beneath which a red shirt was visible, encircling his soft white
neck, with his animated face and eyes, as he clapped his hands and
shouted: “First! Second!” and ran gayly along the ramparts, in order to
see where his bomb would fall.

At half-past eleven the firing ceased on both sides, and at precisely
twelve o'clock the storming of the Malakoff mound, of the second,
third, and fifth bastions began.


XXIII.

On this side of the bay, between Inkerman and the northern
fortifications, on the telegraph hill, about midday, stood two naval
men; one was an officer, who was engaged in observing Sevastopol
through a telescope, and the other had just arrived at the
signal-station with his orderly.

The sun stood high and brilliant above the bay, and played with the
ships which floated upon it, and with the moving sails and boats, with
a warm and cheerful glow. The light breeze hardly moved the leaves of
the dry oak-shrubs which stood about the signal-pole, puffed out the
sails of the boats, and ruffled the waves.

Sevastopol, with her unfinished church, her columns, her line of
shore, her boulevard showing green against the hill, and her elegant
library building, with her tiny azure inlets, filled with masts, with
the picturesque arches of her aqueducts, and the clouds of blue smoke,
lighted up now and then by red flashes of flame from the firing; the
same beautiful, proud, festive Sevastopol, hemmed in on one side by
yellow, smoke-crowned hills, on the other by the bright blue sea, which
glittered in the sun, was visible the same as ever, on the other side
of the bay.

Over the horizon-line of the sea, along which floated a long wreath of
black smoke from some steamer, crept long white clouds, portending a
gale. Along the entire line of the fortifications, especially over the
hills on the left, rose columns of thick, dense, white smoke; suddenly,
abruptly, and incessantly illuminated by flashes, lightnings, which
shone even amid the light of high noon, and which constantly increased
in volume, assuming divers forms, as they swept upwards, and tinged
the heavens. These puffs of smoke flashing now here, now there, took
their birth on the hills, in the batteries of the enemy, in the city,
and high against the sky. The sound of the discharges never ceased, but
shook the air with their mingled roar.

At twelve o'clock, the puffs of smoke began to occur less and less
frequently, and the atmosphere quivered less with the roar.

“But the second bastion is no longer replying at all,” said the officer
of hussars, who sat there on horseback; “it is utterly destroyed!
Horrible!”

“Yes, and the Malakoff only sends one shot to their three,” replied the
officer who was looking through his glass. “It enrages me to have them
silent. They are firing straight on the Kornilovsky battery, and it is
not answering at all.”

“But you see that they always cease the bombardment at twelve o'clock,
just as I said. It is the same to-day. Let us go and get some breakfast
... they are already waiting for us ... there's nothing to see.”

“Stop, don't interfere,” said the officer with the glass, gazing at
Sevastopol with peculiar eagerness.

“What's going on there? What is it?”

“There is a movement in the trenches, and heavy columns are marching.”

“Yes, that is evident,” said the other. “The columns are under way. We
must give the signal.”

“See, see! They have emerged from the trenches.”

In truth, it was visible to the naked eye that dark masses were moving
down the hill, across the narrow valley, from the French batteries to
the bastions. In front of these specks, dark streaks were visible,
which were already close to our lines. White puffs of smoke of
discharges burst out at various points on the bastions, as though the
firing were running along the line.

The breeze bore to them the sounds of musketry-shots, exchanged
briskly, like rain upon the window-pane. The black streaks moved on,
nearer and nearer, into the very smoke. The sounds of firing grew
louder and louder, and mingled in a lengthened, resounding roar.

The smoke, rising more and more frequently, spread rapidly along the
line, flowed together in one lilac-hued cloud, which dispersed and
joined again, and through which, here and there, flitted flames and
black points—and all sounds were commingled in one reverberating crash.

“An assault,” said the officer, with a pale face, as he handed the
glass to the naval officer.

Orderlies galloped along the road, officers on horseback, the
commander-in-chief in a calash, and his suite passed by. Profound
emotion and expectation were visible on all countenances.

“It cannot be that they have taken it!” said the mounted officer.

“By Heavens, there's the standard! Look, look!” said the other, sighing
and abandoning the glass. “The French standard on the Malakoff!”

“It cannot be!”


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 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 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 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 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.


XXV.

But the same fate did not await Volodya. He was listening to a tale
which Vasin was in the act of relating to him, when there was a
cry,—“The French are coming!” The blood fled for a moment to Volodya's
heart, and he felt his cheeks turn cold and pale. For one second he
remained motionless, but, on glancing about him, he perceived that
the soldiers were buttoning up their coats with tolerable equanimity,
and crawling out, one after the other. One even, probably Melnikoff,
remarked, in a jesting way:—

“Go out and offer them the bread and salt of hospitality, children!”

Volodya, in company with Vlang, who never separated from him by so much
as a step, crawled out of the bomb-proof, and ran to the battery.

There was no artillery firing whatever in progress on either side. It
was not so much the sight of the soldiers' composure which aroused
his courage as the pitiful and undisguised cowardice of Vlang. “Is
it possible for me to be like him?” he said to himself, and he ran
on gayly up to the breastworks, near which his mortars stood. It was
clearly apparent to him that the French were making straight for him
through an open space, and that masses of them, with their bayonets
glittering in the sun, were moving in the nearest trenches.

One, a short, broad-shouldered fellow, in zouave uniform, and armed
with a sword, ran on in front and leaped the ditch.

“Fire grape-shot!” shouted Volodya, hastening from the banquette;
but the soldiers had already made their preparations without waiting
for his orders, and the metallic sound of the grape-shot which they
discharged shrieked over his head, first from one and then from the
other mortar.

“First! second!” commanded Volodya, running from one mortar to the
other, and utterly oblivious of danger.

On one side, and near at hand, the crash of musketry from our men under
shelter, and anxious cries, were heard.

All at once a startling cry of despair, repeated by several voices, was
heard on the left: “They are surrounding us! They are surrounding us!”

Volodya looked round at this shout. Twenty Frenchmen made their
appearance in the rear. One of them, a handsome man with a black beard,
was in front of all; but, after running up to within ten paces of the
battery, he halted, and fired straight at Volodya, and then ran towards
him once more.

For a second, Volodya stood as though turned to stone, and did not
believe his eyes. When he recovered himself and glanced about him,
there were blue uniforms in front of him on the ramparts; two Frenchmen
were even spiking a cannon not ten paces distant from him.

There was no one near him, with the exception of Melnikoff, who had
been killed by a bullet beside him, and Vlang, who, with a handspike
clutched in his hand, had rushed forwards, with an expression of wrath
on his face, and with eyes lowered.

“Follow me, Vladímir Semyónitch! Follow me!” shouted the desperate
voice of Vlang, as he brandished his handspike over the French, who
were pouring in from the rear. The yunker's ferocious countenance
startled them. He struck the one who was in advance, on the head; the
others involuntarily paused, and Vlang continued to glare about him,
and to shout in despairing accents: “Follow me, Vladímir Semyónitch!
Why do you stand there? Run!” and ran towards the trenches in which lay
our infantry, firing at the French. After leaping into the trench, he
came out again to see what his adored ensign was doing. Something in a
coat was lying prostrate where Volodya had been standing, and the whole
place was filled with Frenchmen, who were firing at our men.


XXVI.

Vlang found his battery on the second line of defence. Out of the
twenty soldiers who had been in the mortar battery, only eight survived.

At nine o'clock in the evening, Vlang set out with the battery on a
steamer loaded down with soldiers, cannon, horses, and wounded men, for
Severnaya.

There was no firing anywhere. The stars shone brilliantly in the
sky, as on the preceding night; but a strong wind tossed the sea. On
the first and second bastions, lightnings flashed along the earth;
explosions rent the atmosphere, and illuminated strange black objects
in their vicinity, and the stones which flew through the air.

Something was burning near the docks, and the red glare was reflected
in the water. The bridge, covered with people, was lighted up by the
fire from the Nikolaevsky battery. A vast flame seemed to hang over the
water, from the distant promontory of the Alexandrovsky battery, and
illuminated the clouds of smoke beneath, as it rose above them; and
the same tranquil, insolent, distant lights as on the preceding evening
gleamed over the sea, from the hostile fleet.

The fresh breeze raised billows in the bay. By the red light of the
conflagrations, the masts of our sunken ships, which were settling
deeper and deeper into the water, were visible. Not a sound of
conversation was heard on deck; there was nothing but the regular swish
of the parted waves, and the steam, the neighing and pawing of the
horses, the words of command from the captain, and the groans of the
wounded. Vlang, who had had nothing to eat all day, drew a bit of bread
from his pocket, and began to chew it; but all at once he recalled
Volodya, and burst into such loud weeping that the soldiers who were
near him heard it.

“See how our Vlang_a_[N] is eating his bread and crying too,” said
Vasin.

[N] The feminine form, as previously referred to.

“Wonderful!” said another.

“And see, they have fired our barracks,” he continued, with a sigh.
“And how many of our brothers perished there; and the French got it for
nothing!”

“At all events, we have got out of it alive—thank God for that!” said
Vasin.

“But it's provoking, all the same!”

“What is there provoking about it? Do you suppose they are enjoying
themselves there? Not exactly! You wait, our men will take it away from
them again. And however many of our brethren perish, as God is holy, if
the emperor commands, they will win it back. Can ours leave it to them
thus? Never! There you have the bare walls; but they have destroyed all
the breastworks. Even if they have planted their standard on the hill,
they won't be able to make their way into the town.”

“Just wait, we'll have a hearty reckoning with you yet, only give us
time,” he concluded, addressing himself to the French.

“Of course we will!” said another, with conviction.

Along the whole line of bastions of Sevastopol, which had for so many
months seethed with remarkably vigorous life, which had for so many
months seen dying heroes relieved one after another by death, and which
had for so many months awakened the terror, the hatred, and finally
the admiration of the enemy,—on the bastions of Sevastopol, there was
no longer a single man. All was dead, wild, horrible,—but not silent.

Destruction was still in progress. On the earth, furrowed and strewn
with the recent explosions, lay bent gun-carriages, crushing down the
bodies of Russians and of the foe; heavy iron cannons silenced forever,
bombs and cannon-balls hurled with horrible force into pits, and
half-buried in the soil, then more corpses, pits, splinters of beams,
bomb-proofs, and still more silent bodies in gray and blue coats. All
these were still frequently shaken and lighted up by the crimson glow
of the explosions, which continued to shock the air.

The foe perceived that something incomprehensible was going on in that
menacing Sevastopol. Those explosions and the death-like silence on
the bastions made them shudder; but they dared not yet believe, being
still under the influence of the calm and forcible resistance of the
day, that their invincible enemy had disappeared, and they awaited
motionless and in silence the end of that gloomy night.

The army of Sevastopol, like the gloomy, surging sea, quivering
throughout its entire mass, wavering, ploughing across the bay, on
the bridge, and at the north fortifications, moved slowly through the
impenetrable darkness of the night; away from the place where it had
left so many of its brave brethren, from the place all steeped in its
blood, from the place which it had defended for eleven months against
a foe twice as powerful as itself, and which it was now ordered to
abandon without a battle.

The first impression produced on every Russian by this command was
inconceivably sad. The second feeling was a fear of pursuit. The men
felt that they were defenceless as soon as they abandoned the places on
which they were accustomed to fight, and they huddled together uneasily
in the dark, at the entrance to the bridge, which was swaying about in
the heavy breeze.

The infantry pressed forward, with a clash of bayonets, and a
thronging of regiments, equipages, and arms; cavalry officers made
their way about with orders, the inhabitants and the military servants
accompanying the baggage wept and besought to be permitted to cross,
while the artillery, in haste to get off, forced their way to the bay
with a thunder of wheels.

In spite of the diversions created by the varied and anxious demands
on their attention, the instinct of self-preservation and the desire
to escape as speedily as possible from that dread place of death were
present in every soul. This instinct existed also in a soldier mortally
wounded, who lay among the five hundred other wounded, upon the stone
pavement of the Pavlovsky quay, and prayed God to send death; and in
the militia-man, who with his last remaining strength pressed into
the compact throng, in order to make way for a general who rode by,
and in the general in charge of the transportation, who was engaged
in restraining the haste of the soldiers, and in the sailor, who had
become entangled in the moving battalion, and who, crushed by the
surging throng, had lost his breath, and in the wounded officer, who
was being borne along in a litter by four soldiers, who, stopped by the
crowd, had placed him on the ground by the Nikolaevsky battery, and in
the artillery-man, who had served his gun for sixteen years, and who,
at his superior's command, to him incomprehensible, to throw overboard
the guns, had, with the aid of his comrades, sent them over the steep
bank into the bay; and in the men of the fleet, who had just closed the
port-holes of the ships, and had rowed lustily away in their boats.
On stepping upon the further end of the bridge, nearly every soldier
pulled off his cap and crossed himself.

But behind this instinct there was another, oppressive and far deeper,
existing along with it; this was a feeling which resembled repentance,
shame, and hatred. Almost every soldier, as he gazed on abandoned
Sevastopol, from the northern shore, sighed with inexpressible
bitterness of heart, and menaced the foe.



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       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:


What appeared to be clear typographical errors were corrected; any
other mistakes or inconsistencies were retained.

All quotation marks have been retained as they appear in the original
publication.

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Text enclosed by equals is bold (=bold=).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

The formatting on the publisher's _publications' list_ was very
inconsistent, it was made consistent whenever possible.





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