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War And Peace 528


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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 servants quarters. 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. CHAPTER XXIII 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 arm. "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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