Returning from the parade ground, Second Lieutenant Romashov thought: “Today I will not go: you can not bore people every day.” Every day he stayed at the Nikolaevs until midnight, but on the evening of the next day he again went to this cozy house.
“You came from the mistress of the letter,” Gainan, the Cheremis, sincerely attached to Romashov, reported. The letter was from Raisa Aleksandrovna Peterson, with whom they were dirty and boring (and for quite some time already) deceiving her husband. The sugary smell of her spirits and the vulgar, playful tone of the letter caused an unbearable disgust. After half an hour, embarrassed and annoyed at himself, he knocked at the Nikolayevs. Vladimir Yefimich was busy. For the past two years, he failed the examinations to the academy, and Alexandra Petrovna, Shurochka, did everything to ensure that the last chance (to be allowed only up to three times) was not lost. Helping her husband prepare, Shurochka learned the whole program (not only ballistics was given), Volodya moved very slowly.
With Romochka (she called Romashova), Shurochka began discussing a newspaper article about the recent fights in the army. She sees in them a harsh need for Russian conditions. Otherwise, a sharper like Archakovsky or a drunkard like Nazanskiy will not appear in the officer’s environment. Romashov did not agree to enroll Nazanskiy in this company, saying that not everyone has the ability to love, like talent. Once this man was rejected by Shurochka, and her husband hated the lieutenant.
This time Romashov stayed near Shurochka, until they began to talk that it was time to sleep.
At the nearest regimental ball Romashov had the courage to tell his mistress that it was all over. Petersson swore to take revenge. And soon Nikolaev began to receive anonymous letters with allusions to the special relationship of the lieutenant with his wife. However, detractors and enough besides her. Romashov did not allow the Unters to fight, and strongly objected to the “dentists” among the officers, and Captain Sliva promised that he would file a report to him if he let the soldiers be beaten.
Romashov was displeased with his superiors. In addition, it became worse with money, and the bartender did not even lend even cigarettes. The soul was bad because of a sense of boredom, meaningless service and loneliness.
At the end of April, Romashov
received a note from Alexandra Petrovna. She reminded them of their common day of name-day (the queen of Alexander and her faithful knight George). Having borrowed money from Lieutenant-Colonel Rafalsky, Romashov bought perfume and at five o’clock was already with the Nikolaevs. The picnic turned out to be noisy. Romashov was sitting next to Shurochka, almost did not listen to the rhetoric of Osadchy, toasts and the flat jokes of the officers, experiencing a strange state, like a dream. His hand sometimes touched Shurochkin’s hand, but neither he nor she looked at each other. Nikolaev, it seems, was unhappy. After the feast Romashov wandered into the grove. Behind him footsteps were heard. It was Shura. They sat down on the grass. “I’m in love with you today,” she confessed. Romochka dreamed of her, and she terribly wanted to see him. He began to kiss her dress: “Sasha… I love you…” She confessed, that she was worried about his closeness, but why he was so pathetic. They have common thoughts, desires, but she must abandon him. Shura got up: come on, we’ll be missed. On the way, she suddenly asked him not to visit them anymore: her husband was besieged with anonymous letters.
In mid-May, the review was held. The corps commander rode around the companies that had been lined up on the parade ground, looked at how they marched, how they executed rifle receptions and rebuilt to repel unexpected cavalry attacks – and was dissatisfied. Only the fifth company of Captain Stelkovsky, where they did not torment with footsteps and did not steal from the common boiler, deserved praise.
The most terrible thing happened during the ceremonial march. As early as the beginning of Romashov’s show, a kind of joyful wave seemed to seize him, he seemed to feel himself a part of some formidable force. And now, walking ahead of his half-heart, he felt himself a subject of general admiration. The screams from behind made him turn round and turn pale. The structure was mixed – and precisely because he, Second Lieutenant Romashov, ascending in dreams to the Heaven, all this time shifted from the center of the ranks to the right flank. Instead of enthusiasm, his share was a public shame. This was supplemented by an explanation with Nikolaev, who demanded to do everything to stop the flow of anonymous letters, and yet – not to visit them in the house.
Looking over the memory of what had happened, Romashov imperceptibly walked up to the railroad tracks and in the dark saw the soldier Khlebnikov, the subject of mockery and ridicule in the company. “You wanted to kill yourself?” – he asked Khlebnikov, and the soldier, choking with sobs, told that he was being beaten, laughing, the platoon extorted money, and where to get them. And his teaching is beyond his power: since childhood he has been suffering from a hernia.
Romashov suddenly felt his grief so trifling that he embraced Khlebnikov and began talking about the need to endure. From that time he understood: faceless companies and regiments consist of such people who are suffering from their grief and having their destiny Khlebnikovs.
Forced distance from the officer society allowed us to concentrate on our thoughts and find joy in the very process of the birth of thought. Romashov saw more and more clearly that there are only three worthy vocations: science, art and free physical labor.
At the end of May a soldier hanged himself in the company of Osadchy. After this incident, drastic drunkenness began. At first they drank in the meeting, then went to Shleiferesh. This is where the scandal broke out. Bek-Agamalov rushed with a sword at the present (“Everybody out of here!”), And then his anger turned to one of the ladies who called him a fool. Romashov intercepted the brush of his hand: “Beck, you do not hit a woman, you will be ashamed all your life.”
The gulp continued in the regiment. In the meeting, Romashov found Osadchy and Nikolayev. The latter pretended not to notice him. Around sang. When at last silence reigned, Osadchy suddenly tightened the memorial service for the suicide, alternating it with filthy curses. Romashov was seized with fury: “I will not allow it!” Silence! ” In response, for some reason, already Nikolaev, with a maligned face, shouted to him: “Shame the regiment yourself, you and the different Nazans!” “And what does Nazanskiy have to
do with this, or do you have reasons to be displeased with him?” Nikolaev swung, but Romashov managed to throw out the remains of beer in his face.
On the eve of the meeting of the officer’s court of honor Nikolayev asked the enemy not to mention the name of his wife and anonymous letters. As was to be expected, the court determined that the quarrel can not be ended by reconciliation.
Romashov spent most of the day before the fight at Nazanskiy, who urged him not to shoot. Life is a wonderful and unique phenomenon. Is he really so committed to the military class, does he really believe in the highest sense of the army order so that he is ready to put his very existence at stake?
In the evening Romashov found Shurochka at home. She began to say that she spent years to arrange her husband’s career. If Romochka refuses for the love of her from the fight, there will still be something dubious about it and Volodya will almost certainly not be allowed to take the exam. They must certainly be shot, but none of them should be wounded. My husband knows and agrees. Saying goodbye, she threw her arms round his neck: “We will not see each other again… So let us not be afraid of anything… Once… take our happiness…”
In an official report to the regimental commander, Captain Dietz reported details of the duel between Lieutenant Nikolayev and Second Lieutenant Romashov. When, on command, the adversaries went to meet each other, Lieutenant Nikolaev wounded the lieutenant in the right upper abdomen with a shot, and in seven minutes he died from internal hemorrhage. The report was accompanied by the testimony of a junior doctor, Mr. Znojko.