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War And Peace 204

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War And Peace

looked at Bezukhov. The stern, shrewd, and penetrating expression of that look struck Pierre. He felt a wish to speak to the stranger, but by the time he had made up his mind to ask him a question about the roads, the traveler had closed his eyes. His shriveled old hands were folded and on the finger of one of them Pierre noticed a large cast iron ring with a seal representing a deaths head. The stranger sat without stirring, either resting or, as it seemed to Pierre, sunk in profound and calm meditation. His servant was also a yellow, wrinkled old man, without beard or mustache, evidently not because he was shaven but because they had never grown. This active old servant was unpacking the travelers canteen and preparing tea. He brought in a boiling samovar. When everything was ready, the stranger opened his eyes, moved to the table, filled a tumbler with tea for himself and one for the beardless old man to whom he passed it. Pierre began to feel a sense of uneasiness, and the need, even the inevitability, of entering into conversation with this stranger. The servant brought back his tumbler turned upside down,* with an unfinished bit of nibbled sugar, and asked if anything more would be wanted. *To indicate he did not want more tea. "No. Give me the book," said the stranger. The servant handed him a book which Pierre took to be a devotional work, and the traveler became absorbed in it. Pierre looked at him. All at once the stranger closed the book, putting in a marker, and again, leaning with his arms on the back of the sofa, sat in his former position with his eyes shut. Pierre looked at him and had not time to turn away when the old man, opening his eyes, fixed his steady and severe gaze straight on Pierres face. Pierre felt confused and wished to avoid that look, but the bright old eyes attracted him irresistibly. CHAPTER II "I have the pleasure of addressing Count Bezukhov, if I am not mistaken," said the stranger in a deliberate and loud voice. Pierre looked silently and inquiringly at him over his spectacles. "I have heard of you, my dear sir," continued the stranger, "and of your misfortune." He seemed to emphasize the last word, as if to say--"Yes, misfortune! Call it what you please, I know that what happened to you in Moscow was a misfortune."--"I regret it very much, my dear sir." Pierre flushed and, hurriedly putting his legs down from the bed, bent forward toward the old man with a forced and timid smile. "I have not referred to this out of curiosity, my dear sir, but for greater reasons." He paused, his gaze still on Pierre, and moved aside on the sofa by way of inviting the other to take a seat beside him. Pierre felt reluctant to enter into conversation with this old man, but, submitting to him involuntarily, came up and sat down beside him. "You are unhappy, my dear sir," the stranger continued. "You are young and I am old. I should like to help you as far as lies in my power." "Oh, yes!" said Pierre, with a forced smile. "I am very grateful to you. Where are you traveling from?" The strangers face was not genial, it was even cold and severe, but in spite of this, both the face and words of his new acquaintance were irresistibly attractive to Pierre. "But if for reason you dont feel inclined to talk to me," said the old man, "say so, my dear sir." And he suddenly smiled, in an unexpected and tenderly paternal way. "Oh no, not at all! On the contrary, I am very glad to make your acquaintance," said Pierre. And again, glancing at the strangers hands, he looked more closely at the ring, with its skull--a Masonic sign. "Allow me to ask," he said, "are you a Mason?" "Yes, I belong to the Brotherhood of the Freemasons," said the stranger, looking deeper and deeper into Pierres eyes. "And in their name and my own I hold out a brotherly hand to you." "I am afraid," said Pierre, smiling, and wavering between the confidence the personality of the Freemason inspired in him and his own habit of ridiculing the Masonic beliefs--"I am afraid I am very far from understanding--how am I to put it?--I am afraid my way of looking at the world is so opposed to yours that we shall not understand one another." "I know your outlook," said the Mason, "and the view of life you mention, and

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