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.