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War And Peace 521

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War And Peace

Bazdeev. This is how it happened. When he woke up on the morning after his return to Moscow and his interview with Count Rostopchin, he could not for some time make out where he was and what was expected of him. When he was informed that among others awaiting him in his reception room there was a Frenchman who had brought a letter from his wife, the Countess Helene, he felt suddenly overcome by that sense of confusion and hopelessness to which he was apt to succumb. He felt that everything was now at an end, all was in confusion and crumbling to pieces, that nobody was right or wrong, the future held nothing, and there was no escape from this position. Smiling unnaturally and muttering to himself, he first sat down on the sofa in an attitude of despair, then rose, went to the door of the reception room and peeped through the crack, returned flourishing his arms, and took up a book. His major-domo came in a second time to say that the Frenchman who had brought the letter from the countess was very anxious to see him if only for a minute, and that someone from Bazdeevs widow had called to ask Pierre to take charge of her husbands books, as she herself was leaving for the country. "Oh, yes, in a minute; wait... or no! No, of course... go and say I will come directly," Pierre replied to the major-domo. But as soon as the man had left the room Pierre took up his hat which was lying on the table and went out of his study by the other door. There was no one in the passage. He went along the whole length of this passage to the stairs and, frowning and rubbing his forehead with both hands, went down as far as the first landing. The hall porter was standing at the front door. From the landing where Pierre stood there was a second staircase leading to the back entrance. He went down that staircase and out into the yard. No one had seen him. But there were some carriages waiting, and as soon as Pierre stepped out of the gate the coachmen and the yard porter noticed him and raised their caps to him. When he felt he was being looked at he behaved like an ostrich which hides its head in a bush in order not to be seen: he hung his head and quickening his pace went down the street. Of all the affairs awaiting Pierre that day the sorting of Joseph Bazdeevs books and papers appeared to him the most necessary. He hired the first cab he met and told the driver to go to the Patriarchs Ponds, where the widow Bazdeevs house was. Continually turning round to look at the rows of loaded carts that were making their way from all sides out of Moscow, and balancing his bulky body so as not to slip out of the ramshackle old vehicle, Pierre, experiencing the joyful feeling of a boy escaping from school, began to talk to his driver. The man told him that arms were being distributed today at the Kremlin and that tomorrow everyone would be sent out beyond the Three Hills gates and a great battle would be fought there. Having reached the Patriarchs Ponds Pierre found the Bazdeevs house, where he had not been for a long time past. He went up to the gate. Gerasim, that sallow beardless old man Pierre had seen at Torzhok five years before with Joseph Bazdeev, came out in answer to his knock. "At home?" asked Pierre. "Owing to the present state of things Sophia Danilovna has gone to the Torzhok estate with the children, your excellency." "I will come in all the same, I have to look through the books," said Pierre. "Be so good as to step in. Makar Alexeevich, the brother of my late master--may the kingdom of heaven be his--has remained here, but he is in a weak state as you know," said the old servant. Pierre knew that Makar Alexeevich was Joseph Bazdeevs half-insane brother and a hard drinker. "Yes, yes, I know. Let us go in..." said Pierre and entered the house. A tall, bald-headed old man with a red nose, wearing a dressing gown and with galoshes on his bare feet, stood in the anteroom. On seeing Pierre he muttered something angrily and went away along the passage. "He was a very clever man but has now grown quite feeble, as your honor sees," said Gerasim. "Will you step into the study?"

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