Saying good-bye to the princess, Sergey Ivanovitch was joined by
Katavasov; together they got into a carriage full to overflowing,
and the 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 to do with the volunteers that the type was
familiar to him and did not interest him. Katavasov, whose
scientific work had prevented his having a chance of observing
them hitherto, was very much interested in them and questioned
Sergey Ivanovitch advised him to go into the second-class and
talk to them himself. At the next station Katavasov acted on
At the first stop he moved into the second-class and made the
acquaintance of the volunteers. They were sitting in a corner of
the carriage, talking loudly and obviously aware that the
attention of the passengers and Katavasov as he got in was
concentrated upon them. More loudly than all talked the tall,
hollow-chested young man. He was unmistakably tipsy, and was
relating some story that had occurred at his school. Facing him
sat a middle-aged officer in the Austrian military jacket of the
Guards uniform. He was listening with a smile to the hollow-
chested youth, and occasionally pulling him up. The third, in an
artillery uniform, was sitting on a box beside them. A fourth
Entering into conversation with the youth, Katavasov learned that
he was a wealthy Moscow merchant who had run through a large
fortune before he was two-and-twenty. Katavasov did not like
him, because he was unmanly and effeminate and sickly. He was
obviously convinced, especially now after drinking, that he was
performing a heroic action, and he bragged of it in the most
The second, the retired officer, made an unpleasant impression
too upon Katavasov. He was, it seemed, a man who had tried
everything. He had been on a railway, had been a land-steward,
and had started factories, and he talked, quite without
necessity, of all he had done, and used learned expressions quite
The third, the artilleryman, on the contrary, struck Katavasov
very favorably. He was a quiet, modest fellow, unmistakably
impressed by the knowledge of the officer and the heroic
self-sacrifice of the merchant and saying nothing about himself.
When Katavasov asked him what had impelled him to go to Servia,
he answered modestly:
"Oh, well, everyone's going. The Servians want help, too. I'm
sorry for them."
"Yes, you artillerymen especially are scarce there," said
"Oh, I wasn't long in the artillery, maybe they'll put me into
the infantry or the cavalry."
"Into the infantry when they need artillery more than anything?"
said Katavasov, fancying from the artilleryman's apparent age
that he must have reached a fairly high grade.
"I wasn't long in the artillery; I'm a cadet retired," he said,
and he began to explain how he had failed in his examination.
All of this together made a disagreeable impression on Katavasov,
and when the volunteers got out at a station for a drink,
Katavasov would have liked to compare his unfavorable impression
in conversation with someone. There was an old man in the
carriage, wearing a military overcoat, who had been listening all
the while to Katavasov's conversation with the volunteers. When
they were left alone, Katavasov addressed him.
"What different positions they come from, all those fellows who
are going off there," Katavasov said vaguely, not wishing to
express his own opinion, 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 what makes a soldier, and judging by the appearance and the
talk of those persons, by the swagger with which they had
recourse to the bottle on the journey, he considered them poor
soldiers. Moreover, he lived in a district town, and he was
longing to tell how one soldier had volunteered from his town, a
drunkard and a thief whom no one would employ as a laborer. But
knowing by experience that in the present condition of the public
temper it was dangerous to express an opinion opposed to the
general one, and especially to criticize the volunteers
unfavorably, he too watched Katavasov without committing himself.
"Well, men are wanted there," he said, laughing with his eyes.
And they fell to talking of the last war news, and each concealed
from the other his perplexity as to the engagement expected next
day, since the Turks had been beaten, according to the latest
news, at all points. And so they parted, neither giving
expression to his opinion.
Katavasov went back to his own carriage, and with reluctant
hypocrisy reported to Sergey Ivanovitch his observations of the
volunteers, from which it would appear that they were capital
At a big station at a town the volunteers were again greeted with
shouts and singing, again men and women with collecting boxes
appeared, and provincial ladies brought bouquets to the
volunteers and followed them into the refreshment room; but all
this was on a much smaller and feebler scale than in Moscow.