Hadji Murad, by Leo Tolstoy

Chapter VII

The wounded Avdeev was taken to the hospital — a small wooden building roofed with boards at the entrance of the fort — and was placed on one of the empty beds in the common ward. There were four patients in the ward: one ill with typhus and in high fever; another, pale, with dark shadows under his eyes, who had ague, was just expecting attack and yawned continually; and two more who had been wounded in a raid three weeks before: one in the hand — he was up — and the other in the shoulder. The latter was sitting on a bed. All of them except the typhus patient surrounded and questioned the newcomer and those who had brought him.

“Sometimes they fire as if they were spilling peas over you, and nothing happens . . . and this time only about five shots were fired,” related one of the bearers.

“Each man get what fate sends!”

“Oh!” groaned Avdeev loudly, trying to master his pain when they began to place him on the bed; but he stopped groaning when he was on it, and only frowned and moved his feet continually. He held his hands over his wound and looked fixedly before him.

The doctor came, and gave orders to turn the wounded man over to see whether the bullet had passed out behind.

“What’s this?” the doctor asked, pointing to the large white scars that crossed one another on the patient’s back and loins.

“That was done long ago, your honor!” replied Avdeev with a groan.

They were scars left by the flogging Avdeev had received for the money he drank.

Avdeev was again turned over, and the doctor probed in his stomach for a long time and found the bullet, but failed to extract it. He put a dressing on the wound, and having stuck plaster over it went away. During the whole time the doctor was probing and bandaging the wound Avdeev lay with clenched teeth and closed eyes, but when the doctor had gone he opened them and looked around as though amazed. His eyes were turned on the other patients and on the surgeon’s orderly, though he seemed to see not them but something else that surprised him.

His friends Panov and Serogin came in, but Avdeev continued to lie in the same position looking before him with surprise. It was long before he recognized his comrades, though his eyes gazed straight at them.

“I say, Peter, have you no message to send home?” said Panov.

Avdeev did not answer, though he was looking Panov in the face.

“I say, haven’t you any orders to send home?” again repeated Panov, touching Avdeev’s cold, large-boned hand.

Avdeev seemed to come to.

“Ah! . . . Panov!”

“Yes, I’m here. . . . I’ve come! Have you nothing for home? Serogin would write a letter.”

“Serogin . . . “ said Avdeev moving his eyes with difficulty towards Serogin, “will you write? . . . Well then, wrote so: ‘Your son,’ say ‘Peter, has given orders that you should live long. He envied his brother’ . . . I told you about that today . . . ‘and now he is himself glad. Don’t worry him. . . . Let him live. God grant it him. I am glad!’ Write that.”

Having said this he was silent for some time with his eyes fixed on Panov.

“And did you find your pipe?” he suddenly asked.

Panov did not reply.

“Your pipe . . . your pipe! I mean, have you found it?” Avdeev repeated.

“It was in my gag.”

“That’s right! . . . Well, and now give me a candle to hold . . . I am going to die,” said Avdeev.

Just then Poltoratsky came in to inquire after his soldier.

“How goes it, my lad! Badly?” said he.

Avdeev closed his eyes and shook his head negatively. His broad-cheeked face was pale and stern. He did not reply, but again said to Panov:

“Bring a candle. . . . I am going to die.”

A wax taper was placed in his hand but his fingers would not bend, so it was placed between them and held up for him.

Poltoratsky went away, and five minutes later the orderly put his ear to Avdeev’s heart and said that all was over.

Avdeev’s death was described in the following manner in the report sent to Tiflis:

“23rd Nov. — Two companies of the Kurin regiment advanced from the fort on a wood-felling expedition. At mid-day a considerable number of mountaineers suddenly attacked the wood- fellers. The sharpshooters began to retreat, but the 2nd Company charged with the bayonet and overthrew the mountaineers. In this affair two privates were slightly wounded and one killed. The mountaineers lost about a hundred men killed and wounded.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tolstoy/leo/t65h/chapter7.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04