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War And Peace 183


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you think you may be killed, you are a fool and are lost for certain. But go with the firm intention of killing your man as quickly and surely as possible, and then all will be right, as our bear huntsman at Kostroma used to tell me. Everyone fears a bear, he says, but when you see one your fears all gone, and your only thought is not to let him get away! And thats how it is with me. A demain, mon cher."* *Till tomorrow, my dear fellow. Next day, at eight in the morning, Pierre and Nesvitski drove to the Sokolniki forest and found Dolokhov, Denisov, and Rostov already there. Pierre had the air of a man preoccupied with considerations which had no connection with the matter in hand. His haggard face was yellow. He had evidently not slept that night. He looked about distractedly and screwed up his eyes as if dazzled by the sun. He was entirely absorbed by two considerations: his wifes guilt, of which after his sleepless night he had not the slightest doubt, and the guiltlessness of Dolokhov, who had no reason to preserve the honor of a man who was nothing to him.... "I should perhaps have done the same thing in his place," thought Pierre. "Its even certain that I should have done the same, then why this duel, this murder? Either I shall kill him, or he will hit me in the head, or elbow, or knee. Cant I go away from here, run away, bury myself somewhere?" passed through his mind. But just at moments when such thoughts occurred to him, he would ask in a particularly calm and absent-minded way, which inspired the respect of the onlookers, "Will it be long? Are things ready?" When all was ready, the sabers stuck in the snow to mark the barriers, and the pistols loaded, Nesvitski went up to Pierre. "I should not be doing my duty, Count," he said in timid tones, "and should not justify your confidence and the honor you have done me in choosing me for your second, if at this grave, this very grave, moment I did not tell you the whole truth. I think there is no sufficient ground for this affair, or for blood to be shed over it.... You were not right, not quite in the right, you were impetuous..." "Oh yes, it is horribly stupid," said Pierre. "Then allow me to express your regrets, and I am sure your opponent will accept them," said Nesvitski (who like the others concerned in the affair, and like everyone in similar cases, did not yet believe that the affair had come to an actual duel). "You know, Count, it is much more honorable to admit ones mistake than to let matters become irreparable. There was no insult on either side. Allow me to convey...." "No! What is there to talk about?" said Pierre. "Its all the same.... Is everything ready?" he added. "Only tell me where to go and where to shoot," he said with an unnaturally gentle smile. He took the pistol in his hand and began asking about the working of the trigger, as he had not before held a pistol in his hand--a fact that he did not wish to confess. "Oh yes, like that, I know, I only forgot," said he. "No apologies, none whatever," said Dolokhov to Denisov (who on his side had been attempting a reconciliation), and he also went up to the appointed place. The spot chosen for the duel was some eighty paces from the road, where the sleighs had been left, in a small clearing in the pine forest covered with melting snow, the frost having begun to break up during the last few days. The antagonists stood forty paces apart at the farther edge of the clearing. The seconds, measuring the paces, left tracks in the deep wet snow between the place where they had been standing and Nesvitskis and Dolokhovs sabers, which were stuck into the ground ten paces apart to mark the barrier. It was thawing and misty; at forty paces distance nothing could be seen. For three minutes all had been ready, but they still delayed and all were silent. CHAPTER V "Well begin!" said Dolokhov. "All right," said Pierre, still smiling in the same way. A feeling of dread was in the air. It was evident that the affair so lightly begun could no longer be averted but was taking its course independently of mens will. Denisov first went to the barrier and announced: "As the advesawies have wefused a weconciliation,

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