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War And Peace 441

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War And Peace

it. Without considering what he would do he moved unconciously with quick, resolute steps toward the crowd. And the nearer he drew to it the more Alpatych felt that this unreasonable action might produce good results. The peasants in the crowd were similarly impressed when they saw Rostovs rapid, firm steps and resolute, frowning face. After the hussars had come to the village and Rostov had gone to see the princess, a certain confusion and dissension had arisen among the crowd. Some of the peasants said that these new arrivals were Russians and might take it amiss that the mistress was being detained. Dron was of this opinion, but as soon as he expressed it Karp and others attacked their ex-Elder. "How many years have you been fattening on the commune?" Karp shouted at him. "Its all one to you! Youll dig up your pot of money and take it away with you.... What does it matter to you whether our homes are ruined or not?" "Weve been told to keep order, and that no one is to leave their homes or take away a single grain, and thats all about it!" cried another. "It was your sons turn to be conscripted, but no fear! You begrudged your lump of a son," a little old man suddenly began attacking Dron--"and so they took my Vanka to be shaved for a soldier! But we all have to die." "To be sure, we all have to die. Im not against the commune," said Dron. "Thats it--not against it! Youve filled your belly...." The two tall peasants had their say. As soon as Rostov, followed by Ilyin, Lavrushka, and Alpatych, came up to the crowd, Karp, thrusting his fingers into his belt and smiling a little, walked to the front. Dron on the contrary retired to the rear and the crowd drew closer together. "Who is your Elder here? Hey?" shouted Rostov, coming up to the crowd with quick steps. "The Elder? What do you want with him?..." asked Karp. But before the words were well out of his mouth, his cap flew off and a fierce blow jerked his head to one side. "Caps off, traitors!" shouted Rostov in a wrathful voice. "Wheres the Elder?" he cried furiously. "The Elder.... He wants the Elder!... Dron Zakharych, you!" meek and flustered voices here and there were heard calling and caps began to come off their heads. "We dont riot, were following the orders," declared Karp, and at that moment several voices began speaking together. "Its as the old men have decided--theres too many of you giving orders." "Arguing? Mutiny!... Brigands! Traitors!" cried Rostov unmeaningly in a voice not his own, gripping Karp by the collar. "Bind him, bind him!" he shouted, though there was no one to bind him but Lavrushka and Alpatych. Lavrushka, however, ran up to Karp and seized him by the arms from behind. "Shall I call up our men from beyond the hill?" he called out. Alpatych turned to the peasants and ordered two of them by name to come and bind Karp. The men obediently came out of the crowd and began taking off their belts. "Wheres the Elder?" demanded Rostov in a loud voice. With a pale and frowning face Dron stepped out of the crowd. "Are you the Elder? Bind him, Lavrushka!" shouted Rostov, as if that order, too, could not possibly meet with any opposition. And in fact two more peasants began binding Dron, who took off his own belt and handed it to them, as if to aid them. "And you all listen to me!" said Rostov to the peasants. "Be off to your houses at once, and dont let one of your voices be heard!" "Why, weve not done any harm! We did it just out of foolishness. Its all nonsense... I said then that it was not in order," voices were heard bickering with one another. "There! What did I say?" said Alpatych, coming into his own again. "Its wrong, lads!" "All our stupidity, Yakov Alpatych," came the answers, and the crowd began at once to disperse through the village. The two bound men were led off to the masters house. The two drunken peasants followed them. "Aye, when I look at you!..." said one of them to Karp. "How can one talk to the masters like that? What were you thinking of, you fool?" added the other--"A real fool!" Two hours later the carts were standing in the courtyard of the Bogucharovo house. The peasants were briskly carrying out the proprietors goods and packing them on the carts, and Dron, liberated at Princess Marys wish from the cupboard

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