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War And Peace 416

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War And Peace

of police, was saying angrily: "Its no joke, you know! Its all very well if youre single. One man though undone is but one, as the proverb says, but with thirteen in your family and all the property... Theyve brought us to utter ruin! What sort of governors are they to do that? They ought to be hanged--the brigands!..." "Oh come, thats enough!" said the other. "What do I care? Let him hear! Were not dogs," said the ex-captain of police, and looking round he noticed Alpatych. "Oh, Yakov Alpatych! What have you come for?" "To see the Governor by his excellencys order," answered Alpatych, lifting his head and proudly thrusting his hand into the bosom of his coat as he always did when he mentioned the prince.... "He has ordered me to inquire into the position of affairs," he added. "Yes, go and find out!" shouted the angry gentleman. "Theyve brought things to such a pass that there are no carts or anything!... There it is again, do you hear?" said he, pointing in the direction whence came the sounds of firing. "Theyve brought us all to ruin... the brigands!" he repeated, and descended the porch steps. Alpatych swayed his head and went upstairs. In the waiting room were tradesmen, women, and officials, looking silently at one another. The door of the Governors room opened and they all rose and moved forward. An official ran out, said some words to a merchant, called a stout official with a cross hanging on his neck to follow him, and vanished again, evidently wishing to avoid the inquiring looks and questions addressed to him. Alpatych moved forward and next time the official came out addressed him, one hand placed in the breast of his buttoned coat, and handed him two letters. "To his Honor Baron Asch, from General-in-Chief Prince Bolkonski," he announced with such solemnity and significance that the official turned to him and took the letters. A few minutes later the Governor received Alpatych and hurriedly said to him: "Inform the prince and princess that I knew nothing: I acted on the highest instructions--here..." and he handed a paper to Alpatych. "Still, as the prince is unwell my advice is that they should go to Moscow. I am just starting myself. Inform them..." But the Governor did not finish: a dusty perspiring officer ran into the room and began to say something in French. The Governors face expressed terror. "Go," he said, nodding his head to Alpatych, and began questioning the officer. Eager, frightened, helpless glances were turned on Alpatych when he came out of the Governors room. Involuntarily listening now to the firing, which had drawn nearer and was increasing in strength, Alpatych hurried to his inn. The paper handed to him by the Governor said this: "I assure you that the town of Smolensk is not in the slightest danger as yet and it is unlikely that it will be threatened with any. I from the one side and Prince Bagration from the other are marching to unite our forces before Smolensk, which junction will be effected on the 22nd instant, and both armies with their united forces will defend our compatriots of the province entrusted to your care till our efforts shall have beaten back the enemies of our Fatherland, or till the last warrior in our valiant ranks has perished. From this you will see that you have a perfect right to reassure the inhabitants of Smolensk, for those defended by two such brave armies may feel assured of victory." (Instructions from Barclay de Tolly to Baron Asch, the civil governor of Smolensk, 1812.) People were anxiously roaming about the streets. Carts piled high with household utensils, chairs, and cupboards kept emerging from the gates of the yards and moving along the streets. Loaded carts stood at the house next to Ferapontovs and women were wailing and lamenting as they said good-by. A small watchdog ran round barking in front of the harnessed horses. Alpatych entered the innyard at a quicker pace than usual and went straight to the shed where his horses and trap were. The coachman was asleep. He woke him up, told him to harness, and went into the passage. From the hosts room came the sounds of a child crying, the despairing sobs of a woman, and the hoarse angry shouting of Ferapontov. The cook began running hither and thither in the passage like a frightened hen, just as Alpatych entered. "Hes done her to death. Killed the mistress!... Beat her... dragged her about so!..." "What for?" asked Alpatych. "She kept begging to go away. Shes a woman! Take

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