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War And Peace 46


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he had been leaning, and--with an air which intimated that he knew what he was about and if others did not understand him it was so much the worse for them--did not go up to the dying man, but passed by him, joined the eldest princess, and moved with her to the side of the room where stood the high bedstead with its silken hangings. On leaving the bed both Prince Vasili and the princess passed out by a back door, but returned to their places one after the other before the service was concluded. Pierre paid no more attention to this occurrence than to the rest of what went on, having made up his mind once for all that what he saw happening around him that evening was in some way essential. The chanting of the service ceased, and the voice of the priest was heard respectfully congratulating the dying man on having received the sacrament. The dying man lay as lifeless and immovable as before. Around him everyone began to stir: steps were audible and whispers, among which Anna Mikhaylovnas was the most distinct. Pierre heard her say: "Certainly he must be moved onto the bed; here it will be impossible..." The sick man was so surrounded by doctors, princesses, and servants that Pierre could no longer see the reddish-yellow face with its gray mane--which, though he saw other faces as well, he had not lost sight of for a single moment during the whole service. He judged by the cautious movements of those who crowded round the invalid chair that they had lifted the dying man and were moving him. "Catch hold of my arm or youll drop him!" he heard one of the servants say in a frightened whisper. "Catch hold from underneath. Here!" exclaimed different voices; and the heavy breathing of the bearers and the shuffling of their feet grew more hurried, as if the weight they were carrying were too much for them. As the bearers, among whom was Anna Mikhaylovna, passed the young man he caught a momentary glimpse between their heads and backs of the dying mans high, stout, uncovered chest and powerful shoulders, raised by those who were holding him under the armpits, and of his gray, curly, leonine head. This head, with its remarkably broad brow and cheekbones, its handsome, sensual mouth, and its cold, majestic expression, was not disfigured by the approach of death. It was the same as Pierre remembered it three months before, when the count had sent him to Petersburg. But now this head was swaying helplessly with the uneven movements of the bearers, and the cold listless gaze fixed itself upon nothing. After a few minutes bustle beside the high bedstead, those who had carried the sick man dispersed. Anna Mikhaylovna touched Pierres hand and said, "Come." Pierre went with her to the bed on which the sick man had been laid in a stately pose in keeping with the ceremony just completed. He lay with his head propped high on the pillows. His hands were symmetrically placed on the green silk quilt, the palms downward. When Pierre came up the count was gazing straight at him, but with a look the significance of which could not be understood by mortal man. Either this look meant nothing but that as long as one has eyes they must look somewhere, or it meant too much. Pierre hesitated, not knowing what to do, and glanced inquiringly at his guide. Anna Mikhaylovna made a hurried sign with her eyes, glancing at the sick mans hand and moving her lips as if to send it a kiss. Pierre, carefully stretching his neck so as not to touch the quilt, followed her suggestion and pressed his lips to the large boned, fleshy hand. Neither the hand nor a single muscle of the counts face stirred. Once more Pierre looked questioningly at Anna Mikhaylovna to see what he was to do next. Anna Mikhaylovna with her eyes indicated a chair that stood beside the bed. Pierre obediently sat down, his eyes asking if he were doing right. Anna Mikhaylovna nodded approvingly. Again Pierre fell into the naively symmetrical pose of an Egyptian statue, evidently distressed that his stout and clumsy body took up so much room and doing his utmost to look as small as possible. He looked at the count, who still gazed at the spot where Pierres face had been before he sat down. Anna Mikhaylovna indicated by her attitude her consciousness of the pathetic importance of these last moments of meeting between the father and son. This

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