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War And Peace 386


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case at Thermopylae. So why should he have made such a sacrifice? And why expose his own children in the battle? I would not have taken my brother Petya there, or even Ilyin, whos a stranger to me but a nice lad, but would have tried to put them somewhere under cover," Nicholas continued to think, as he listened to Zdrzhinski. But he did not express his thoughts, for in such matters, too, he had gained experience. He knew that this tale redounded to the glory of our arms and so one had to pretend not to doubt it. And he acted accordingly. "I cant stand this any more," said Ilyin, noticing that Rostov did not relish Zdrzhinskis conversation. "My stockings and shirt... and the water is running on my seat! Ill go and look for shelter. The rain seems less heavy." Ilyin went out and Zdrzhinski rode away. Five minutes later Ilyin, splashing through the mud, came running back to the shanty. "Hurrah! Rostov, come quick! Ive found it! About two hundred yards away theres a tavern where ours have already gathered. We can at least get dry there, and Mary Hendrikhovnas there." Mary Hendrikhovna was the wife of the regimental doctor, a pretty young German woman he had married in Poland. The doctor, whether from lack of means or because he did not like to part from his young wife in the early days of their marriage, took her about with him wherever the hussar regiment went and his jealousy had become a standing joke among the hussar officers. Rostov threw his cloak over his shoulders, shouted to Lavrushka to follow with the things, and--now slipping in the mud, now splashing right through it--set off with Ilyin in the lessening rain and the darkness that was occasionally rent by distant lightning. "Rostov, where are you?" "Here. What lightning!" they called to one another. CHAPTER XIII In the tavern, before which stood the doctors covered cart, there were already some five officers. Mary Hendrikhovna, a plump little blonde German, in a dressing jacket and nightcap, was sitting on a broad bench in the front corner. Her husband, the doctor, lay asleep behind her. Rostov and Ilyin, on entering the room, were welcomed with merry shouts and laughter. "Dear me, how jolly we are!" said Rostov laughing. "And why do you stand there gaping?" "What swells they are! Why, the water streams from them! Dont make our drawing room so wet." "Dont mess Mary Hendrikhovnas dress!" cried other voices. Rostov and Ilyin hastened to find a corner where they could change into dry clothes without offending Mary Hendrikhovnas modesty. They were going into a tiny recess behind a partition to change, but found it completely filled by three officers who sat playing cards by the light of a solitary candle on an empty box, and these officers would on no account yield their position. Mary Hendrikhovna obliged them with the loan of a petticoat to be used as a curtain, and behind that screen Rostov and Ilyin, helped by Lavrushka who had brought their kits, changed their wet things for dry ones. A fire was made up in the dilapidated brick stove. A board was found, fixed on two saddles and covered with a horsecloth, a small samovar was produced and a cellaret and half a bottle of rum, and having asked Mary Hendrikhovna to preside, they all crowded round her. One offered her a clean handkerchief to wipe her charming hands, another spread a jacket under her little feet to keep them from the damp, another hung his coat over the window to keep out the draft, and yet another waved the flies off her husbands face, lest he should wake up. "Leave him alone," said Mary Hendrikhovna, smiling timidly and happily. "He is sleeping well as it is, after a sleepless night." "Oh, no, Mary Hendrikhovna," replied the officer, "one must look after the doctor. Perhaps hell take pity on me someday, when it comes to cutting off a leg or an arm for me." There were only three tumblers, the water was so muddy that one could not make out whether the tea was strong or weak, and the samovar held only six tumblers of water, but this made it all the pleasanter to take turns in order of seniority to receive ones tumbler from Mary Hendrikhovnas plump little hands with their short and not overclean nails. All the officers appeared to be, and really were, in love with her that evening. Even those playing cards behind the partition soon left their game and came over to the samovar, yielding

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