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War And Peace 527

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War And Peace

tradesman and the officer. The officer pounced on the soldiers who were in the shops, but at that moment fearful screams reached them from the huge crowd on the Moskva bridge and the officer ran out into the square. "What is it? What is it?" he asked, but his comrade was already galloping off past Vasili the Beatified in the direction from which the screams came. The officer mounted his horse and rode after him. When he reached the bridge he saw two unlimbered guns, the infantry crossing the bridge, several overturned carts, and frightened and laughing faces among the troops. Beside the cannon a cart was standing to which two horses were harnessed. Four borzois with collars were pressing close to the wheels. The cart was loaded high, and at the very top, beside a childs chair with its legs in the air, sat a peasant woman uttering piercing and desperate shrieks. He was told by his fellow officers that the screams of the crowd and the shrieks of the woman were due to the fact that General Ermolov, coming up to the crowd and learning that soldiers were dispersing among the shops while crowds of civilians blocked the bridge, had ordered two guns to be unlimbered and made a show of firing at the bridge. The crowd, crushing one another, upsetting carts, and shouting and squeezing desperately, had cleared off the bridge and the troops were now moving forward. CHAPTER XXII Meanwhile, the city itself was deserted. There was hardly anyone in the streets. The gates and shops were all closed, only here and there round the taverns solitary shouts or drunken songs could be heard. Nobody drove through the streets and footsteps were rarely heard. The Povarskaya was quite still and deserted. The huge courtyard of the Rostovs house was littered with wisps of hay and with dung from the horses, and not a soul was to be seen there. In the great drawing room of the house, which had been left with all it contained, were two people. They were the yard porter Ignat, and the page boy Mishka, Vasilichs grandson who had stayed in Moscow with his grandfather. Mishka had opened the clavichord and was strumming on it with one finger. The yard porter, his arms akimbo, stood smiling with satisfaction before the large mirror. "Isnt it fine, eh, Uncle Ignat?" said the boy, suddenly beginning to strike the keyboard with both hands. "Only fancy!" answered Ignat, surprised at the broadening grin on his face in the mirror. "Impudence! Impudence!" they heard behind them the voice of Mavra Kuzminichna who had entered silently. "How hes grinning, the fat mug! Is that what youre here for? Nothings cleared away down there and Vasilich is worn out. Just you wait a bit!" Ignat left off smiling, adjusted his belt, and went out of the room with meekly downcast eyes. "Aunt, I did it gently," said the boy. "Ill give you something gently, you monkey you!" cried Mavra Kuzminichna, raising her arm threateningly. "Go and get the samovar to boil for your grandfather." Mavra Kuzminichna flicked the dust off the clavichord and closed it, and with a deep sigh left the drawing room and locked its main door. Going out into the yard she paused to consider where she should go next--to drink tea in the servants wing with Vasilich, or into the storeroom to put away what still lay about. She heard the sound of quick footsteps in the quiet street. Someone stopped at the gate, and the latch rattled as someone tried to open it. Mavra Kuzminichna went to the gate. "Who do you want?" "The count--Count Ilya Andreevich Rostov." "And who are you?" "An officer, I have to see him," came the reply in a pleasant, well-bred Russian voice. Mavra Kuzminichna opened the gate and an officer of eighteen, with the round face of a Rostov, entered the yard. "They have gone away, sir. Went away yesterday at vespertime," said Mavra Kuzminichna cordially. The young officer standing in the gateway, as if hesitating whether to enter or not, clicked his tongue. "Ah, how annoying!" he muttered. "I should have come yesterday.... Ah, what a pity." Meanwhile, Mavra Kuzminichna was attentively and sympathetically examining the familiar Rostov features of the young mans face, his tattered coat and trodden-down boots. "What did you want to see the count for?" she asked. "Oh well... it cant be helped!" said he in a tone of vexation and placed his hand on the gate as if to leave. He again paused in indecision. "You see," he suddenly said, "I am a kinsman of the counts and he has been

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