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War And Peace 417

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War And Peace

me away, says she, dont let me perish with my little children! Folks, she says, are all gone, so why, she says, dont we go? And he began beating and pulling her about so!" At these words Alpatych nodded as if in approval, and not wishing to hear more went to the door of the room opposite the innkeepers, where he had left his purchases. "You brute, you murderer!" screamed a thin, pale woman who, with a baby in her arms and her kerchief torn from her head, burst through the door at that moment and down the steps into the yard. Ferapontov came out after her, but on seeing Alpatych adjusted his waistcoat, smoothed his hair, yawned, and followed Alpatych into the opposite room. "Going already?" said he. Alpatych, without answering or looking at his host, sorted his packages and asked how much he owed. "Well reckon up! Well, have you been to the Governors?" asked Ferapontov. "What has been decided?" Alpatych replied that the Governor had not told him anything definite. "With our business, how can we get away?" said Ferapontov. "Wed have to pay seven rubles a cartload to Dorogobuzh and I tell them theyre not Christians to ask it! Selivanov, now, did a good stroke last Thursday--sold flour to the army at nine rubles a sack. Will you have some tea?" he added. While the horses were being harnessed Alpatych and Ferapontov over their tea talked of the price of corn, the crops, and the good weather for harvesting. "Well, it seems to be getting quieter," remarked Ferapontov, finishing his third cup of tea and getting up. "Ours must have got the best of it. The orders were not to let them in. So were in force, it seems.... They say the other day Matthew Ivanych Platov drove them into the river Marina and drowned some eighteen thousand in one day." Alpatych collected his parcels, handed them to the coachman who had come in, and settled up with the innkeeper. The noise of wheels, hoofs, and bells was heard from the gateway as a little trap passed out. It was by now late in the afternoon. Half the street was in shadow, the other half brightly lit by the sun. Alpatych looked out of the window and went to the door. Suddenly the strange sound of a far-off whistling and thud was heard, followed by a boom of cannon blending into a dull roar that set the windows rattling. He went out into the street: two men were running past toward the bridge. From different sides came whistling sounds and the thud of cannon balls and bursting shells falling on the town. But these sounds were hardly heard in comparison with the noise of the firing outside the town and attracted little attention from the inhabitants. The town was being bombarded by a hundred and thirty guns which Napoleon had ordered up after four oclock. The people did not at once realize the meaning of this bombardment. At first the noise of the falling bombs and shells only aroused curiosity. Ferapontovs wife, who till then had not ceased wailing under the shed, became quiet and with the baby in her arms went to the gate, listening to the sounds and looking in silence at the people. The cook and a shop assistant came to the gate. With lively curiosity everyone tried to get a glimpse of the projectiles as they flew over their heads. Several people came round the corner talking eagerly. "What force!" remarked one. "Knocked the roof and ceiling all to splinters!" "Routed up the earth like a pig," said another. "Thats grand, it bucks one up!" laughed the first. "Lucky you jumped aside, or it would have wiped you out!" Others joined those men and stopped and told how cannon balls had fallen on a house close to them. Meanwhile still more projectiles, now with the swift sinister whistle of a cannon ball, now with the agreeable intermittent whistle of a shell, flew over peoples heads incessantly, but not one fell close by, they all flew over. Alpatych was getting into his trap. The innkeeper stood at the gate. "What are you staring at?" he shouted to the cook, who in her red skirt, with sleeves rolled up, swinging her bare elbows, had stepped to the corner to listen to what was being said. "What marvels!" she exclaimed, but hearing her masters voice she turned back, pulling down her tucked-up skirt. Once more something whistled, but this time quite close, swooping downwards like a little bird; a flame flashed in the middle of the street, something exploded, and the street

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