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War And Peace 140

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War And Peace

in my company, and so my conscience was at ease. I came forward...." (Berg stood up and showed how he presented himself, with his hand to his cap, and really it would have been difficult for a face to express greater respect and self-complacency than his did.) "Well, he stormed at me, as the saying is, stormed and stormed and stormed! It was not a matter of life but rather of death, as the saying is. Albanians! and devils! and To Siberia!" said Berg with a sagacious smile. "I knew I was in the right so I kept silent; was not that best, Count?... Hey, are you dumb? he shouted. Still I remained silent. And what do you think, Count? The next day it was not even mentioned in the Orders of the Day. Thats what keeping ones head means. Thats the way, Count," said Berg, lighting his pipe and emitting rings of smoke. "Yes, that was fine," said Rostov, smiling. But Boris noticed that he was preparing to make fun of Berg, and skillfully changed the subject. He asked him to tell them how and where he got his wound. This pleased Rostov and he began talking about it, and as he went on became more and more animated. He told them of his Schon Grabern affair, just as those who have taken part in a battle generally do describe it, that is, as they would like it to have been, as they have heard it described by others, and as sounds well, but not at all as it really was. Rostov was a truthful young man and would on no account have told a deliberate lie. He began his story meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. If he had told the truth to his hearers--who like himself had often heard stories of attacks and had formed a definite idea of what an attack was and were expecting to hear just such a story--they would either not have believed him or, still worse, would have thought that Rostov was himself to blame since what generally happens to the narrators of cavalry attacks had not happened to him. He could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened, it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it. His hearers expected a story of how beside himself and all aflame with excitement, he had flown like a storm at the square, cut his way in, slashed right and left, how his saber had tasted flesh and he had fallen exhausted, and so on. And so he told them all that. In the middle of his story, just as he was saying: "You cannot imagine what a strange frenzy one experiences during an attack," Prince Andrew, whom Boris was expecting, entered the room. Prince Andrew, who liked to help young men, was flattered by being asked for his assistance and being well disposed toward Boris, who had managed to please him the day before, he wished to do what the young man wanted. Having been sent with papers from Kutuzov to the Tsarevich, he looked in on Boris, hoping to find him alone. When he came in and saw an hussar of the line recounting his military exploits (Prince Andrew could not endure that sort of man), he gave Boris a pleasant smile, frowned as with half-closed eyes he looked at Rostov, bowed slightly and wearily, and sat down languidly on the sofa: he felt it unpleasant to have dropped in on bad company. Rostov flushed up on noticing this, but he did not care, this was a mere stranger. Glancing, however, at Boris, he saw that he too seemed ashamed of the hussar of the line. In spite of Prince Andrews disagreeable, ironical tone, in spite of the contempt with which Rostov, from his fighting army point of view, regarded all these little adjutants on the staff of whom the newcomer was evidently one, Rostov felt confused, blushed, and became silent. Boris inquired what news there might be on the staff, and what, without indiscretion, one might ask about our plans. "We shall probably advance," replied Bolkonski, evidently reluctant to say more in the presence of a

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