Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
very kind to me. As you see" (he glanced with an amused air
and good-natured smile at his coat and boots) "my things are worn
out and I have no money, so I was going to ask the count..."
Mavra Kuzminichna did not let him finish.
"Just wait a minute, sir. One little moment," said she.
And as soon as the officer let go of the gate handle she turned and,
hurrying away on her old legs, went through the back yard to the
While Mavra Kuzminichna was running to her room the officer walked
about the yard gazing at his worn-out boots with lowered head and a
faint smile on his lips. "What a pity Ive missed Uncle! What a nice
old woman! Where has she run off to? And how am I to find the
nearest way to overtake my regiment, which must by now be getting near
the Rogozhski gate?" thought he. Just then Mavra Kuzminichna
appeared from behind the corner of the house with a frightened yet
resolute look, carrying a rolled-up check kerchief in her hand.
While still a few steps from the officer she unfolded the kerchief and
took out of it a white twenty-five-ruble assignat and hastily handed
it to him.
"If his excellency had been at home, as a kinsman he would of
course... but as it is..."
Mavra Kuzminichna grew abashed and confused. The officer did not
decline, but took the note quietly and thanked her.
"If the count had been at home..." Mavra Kuzminichna went on
apologetically. "Christ be with you, sir! May God preserve you!"
said she, bowing as she saw him out.
Swaying his head and smiling as if amused at himself, the officer
ran almost at a trot through the deserted streets toward the Yauza
bridge to overtake his regiment.
But Mavra Kuzminichna stood at the closed gate for some time with
moist eyes, pensively swaying her head and feeling an unexpected
flow of motherly tenderness and pity for the unknown young officer.
From an unfinished house on the Varvarka, the ground floor of
which was a dramshop, came drunken shouts and songs. On benches
round the tables in a dirty little room sat some ten factory hands.
Tipsy and perspiring, with dim eyes and wide-open mouths, they were
all laboriously singing some song or other. They were singing
discordantly, arduously, and with great effort, evidently not
because they wished to sing, but because they wanted to show they were
drunk and on a spree. One, a tall, fair-haired lad in a clean blue
coat, was standing over the others. His face with its fine straight
nose would have been handsome had it not been for his thin,
compressed, twitching lips and dull, gloomy, fixed eyes. Evidently
possessed by some idea, he stood over those who were singing, and
solemnly and jerkily flourished above their heads his white arm with
the sleeve turned up to the elbow, trying unnaturally to spread out
his dirty fingers. The sleeve of his coat kept slipping down and he
always carefully rolled it up again with his left hand, as if it
were most important that the sinewy white arm he was flourishing
should be bare. In the midst of the song cries were heard, and
fighting and blows in the passage and porch. The tall lad waved his
"Stop it!" he exclaimed peremptorily. "Theres a fight, lads!"
And, still rolling up his sleeve, he went out to the porch.
The factory hands followed him. These men, who under the
leadership of the tall lad were drinking in the dramshop that morning,
had brought the publican some skins from the factory and for this
had had drink served them. The blacksmiths from a neighboring
smithy, hearing the sounds of revelry in the tavern and supposing it
to have been broken into, wished to force their way in too and a fight
in the porch had resulted.
The publican was fighting one of the smiths at the door, and when
the workmen came out the smith, wrenching himself free from the tavern
keeper, fell face downward on the pavement.
Another smith tried to enter the doorway, pressing against the
publican with his chest.
The lad with the turned-up sleeve gave the smith a blow in the
face and cried wildly: "Theyre fighting us, lads!"
At that moment the first smith got up and, scratching his bruised
face to make it bleed, shouted in a tearful voice: "Police! Murder!...
Theyve killed a man, lads!"
"Oh, gracious me, a man beaten to death--killed!..." screamed a
woman coming out of a gate close
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