Piotr Karpenko

We stopped at the ruins of an old brick factory and there, having hurriedly made an improvised bed out of some of our clothes and laid Karpenko on it, we began to examine the wound. It appeared that only one leg had been grazed by shrapnel and not in a dangerous place.

As Karpenko was still unconscious and no one knew what to do, one of us ran off to find a friend of ours in the town, an assistant surgeon, who was also a member of the cathedral choir, while the others washed the wound and somehow or other bandaged it.
The assistant surgeon soon arrived in his buggy and we explained to him that the accident had occurred while we were collecting copper, not knowing that the firing would take place. Having examined the wound, he said that it was not dangerous and that the fainting was due to loss of blood. In fact, when he administered a whiff of smelling salts, the patient immediately came to himself.

We of course begged the assistant surgeon not to tell anyone how the accident had happened, since it would certainly get us into great trouble because of the strict orders against trespassing on the firing-range.

As soon as Karpenko came to, he looked round at everyone present; and when, resting his gaze on me longer than on the others, he smiled, something moved within me and I was overcome with remorse and pity. From that moment I began to feel towards him as towards a brother.

We carried the patient home, and explained to his family that, in crossing a ravine to go fishing, a boulder had become dislodged and had fallen and injured his leg.

His parents believed our tale, and I obtained their permission to spend every night at his bedside until his recovery. During those days while he was still weak and lay in bed, I took care of him like a kind­ hearted brother and, talking about one thing and another, our close friendship began.

As for the love of our ‘lady’ on whose account all this had occurred—in Karpenko as well as in me, this feeling had suddenly evaporated.