Anna karenina, p.223
Saying good-bye to the princess, Sergey Ivanovitch was joined byKatavasov; together they got into a carriage full to overflowing, andthe train started.
At Tsaritsino station the train was met by a chorus of young men singing"Hail to Thee!" Again the volunteers bowed and poked their heads out,but Sergey Ivanovitch paid no attention to them. He had had so much todo with the volunteers that the type was familiar to him and did notinterest him. Katavasov, whose scientific work had prevented his havinga chance of observing them hitherto, was very much interested in themand questioned Sergey Ivanovitch.
Sergey Ivanovitch advised him to go into the second-class and talk tothem himself. At the next station Katavasov acted on this suggestion.
At the first stop he moved into the second-class and made theacquaintance of the volunteers. They were sitting in a corner of thecarriage, talking loudly and obviously aware that the attention of thepassengers and Katavasov as he got in was concentrated upon them. Moreloudly than all talked the tall, hollow-chested young man. He wasunmistakably tipsy, and was relating some story that had occurred at hisschool. Facing him sat a middle-aged officer in the Austrian militaryjacket of the Guards uniform. He was listening with a smile to thehollow-chested youth, and occasionally pulling him up. The third, in anartillery uniform, was sitting on a box beside them. A fourth wasasleep.
Entering into conversation with the youth, Katavasov learned that he wasa wealthy Moscow merchant who had run through a large fortune before hewas two-and-twenty. Katavasov did not like him, because he was unmanlyand effeminate and sickly. He was obviously convinced, especially nowafter drinking, that he was performing a heroic action, and he braggedof it in the most unpleasant way.
The second, the retired officer, made an unpleasant impression too uponKatavasov. He was, it seemed, a man who had tried everything. He hadbeen on a railway, had been a land-steward, and had started factories,and he talked, quite without necessity, of all he had done, and usedlearned expressions quite inappropriately.
The third, the artilleryman, on the contrary, struck Katavasov veryfavorably. He was a quiet, modest fellow, unmistakably impressed by theknowledge of the officer and the heroic self-sacrifice of the merchantand saying nothing about himself. When Katavasov asked him what hadimpelled him to go to Servia, he answered modestly:
"Oh, well, everyone's going. The Servians want help, too. I'm sorry forthem."
"Yes, you artillerymen especially are scarce there," said Katavasov.
"Oh, I wasn't long in the artillery, maybe they'll put me into theinfantry or the cavalry."
"Into the infantry when they need artillery more than anything?" saidKatavasov, fancying from the artilleryman's apparent age that he musthave reached a fairly high grade.
"I wasn't long in the artillery; I'm a cadet retired," he said, and hebegan to explain how he had failed in his examination.
All of this together made a disagreeable impression on Katavasov, andwhen the volunteers got out at a station for a drink, Katavasov wouldhave liked to compare his unfavorable impression in conversation withsomeone. There was an old man in the carriage, wearing a militaryovercoat, who had been listening all the while to Katavasov'sconversation with the volunteers. When they were left alone, Katavasovaddressed him.
"What different positions they come from, all those fellows who aregoing off there," Katavasov said vaguely, not wishing to express his ownopinion, and at the same time anxious to find out the old man's views.
The old man was an officer who had served on two campaigns. He knew whatmakes a soldier, and judging by the appearance and the talk of thosepersons, by the swagger with which they had recourse to the bottle onthe journey, he considered them poor soldiers. Moreover, he lived in adistrict town, and he was longing to tell how one soldier hadvolunteered from his town, a drunkard and a thief whom no one wouldemploy as a laborer. But knowing by experience that in the presentcondition of the public temper it was dangerous to express an opinionopposed to the general one, and especially to criticize the volunteersunfavorably, he too watched Katavasov without committing himself.
"Well, men are wanted there," he said, laughing with his eyes. And theyfell to talking of the last war news, and each concealed from the otherhis perplexity as to the engagement expected next day, since the Turkshad been beaten, according to the latest news, at all points. And sothey parted, neither giving expression to his opinion.
Katavasov went back to his own carriage, and with reluctant hypocrisyreported to Sergey Ivanovitch his observations of the volunteers, fromwhich it would appear that they were capital fellows.
At a big station at a town the volunteers were again greeted with shoutsand singing, again men and women with collecting boxes appeared, andprovincial ladies brought bouquets to the volunteers and followed theminto the refreshment room; but all this was on a much smaller andfeebler scale than in Moscow.
Anna Karenina by graf Leo Tolstoy / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on116 votes