I am not exaggerating when I say that I felt no remorse and no fear. I was a Cossack. As with my companions, so with me it was a blind instinct to follow men to war. And beside that, to me - caught up in all this violence and carried helplessly along - here was an adventure, the sort of adventure I had dreamed about.
There is scarcely a town or school in Russia from which boys have not run away to the war. Hundreds of girls have gone off in boys' clothes and tried to pass themselves off as boys and enlist as volunteers, and several have got through, since the medical examination is only a negligible formality required in one place, forgotten in another; the Russians are so fit as a whole. So among the wounded in the battle of the Nieman was a broad-shouldered, vigorous girl from Zlato-Ust, only sixteen years old, and nobody had dreamed that she was other than the man whom she was passing herself off. But not only boys and girls of sixteen and seventeen, but children of eleven and twelve have contrived to have a hand either in the fighting or in the nursing.