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War And Peace 556


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show him the way!" she cried to the maid, angrily opening her mouth and still farther exposing her long teeth. "Show me the way, show me, I... Ill do it," gasped Pierre rapidly. The dirty maidservant stepped from behind the trunk, put up her plait, sighed, and went on her short, bare feet along the path. Pierre felt as if he had come back to life after a heavy swoon. He held his head higher, his eyes shone with the light of life, and with swift steps he followed the maid, overtook her, and came out on the Povarskoy. The whole street was full of clouds of black smoke. Tongues of flame here and there broke through that cloud. A great number of people crowded in front of the conflagration. In the middle of the street stood a French general saying something to those around him. Pierre, accompanied by the maid, was advancing to the spot where the general stood, but the French soldiers stopped him. "On ne passe pas!"* cried a voice. *"You cant pass!" "This way, uncle," cried the girl. "Well pass through the side street, by the Nikulins!" Pierre turned back, giving a spring now and then to keep up with her. She ran across the street, turned down a side street to the left, and, passing three houses, turned into a yard on the right. "Its here, close by," said she and, running across the yard, opened a gate in a wooden fence and, stopping, pointed out to him a small wooden wing of the house, which was burning brightly and fiercely. One of its sides had fallen in, another was on fire, and bright flames issued from the openings of the windows and from under the roof. As Pierre passed through the fence gate, he was enveloped by hot air and involuntarily stopped. "Which is it? Which is your house?" he asked. "Ooh!" wailed the girl, pointing to the wing. "Thats it, that was our lodging. Youve burned to death, our treasure, Katie, my precious little missy! Ooh!" lamented Aniska, who at the sight of the fire felt that she too must give expression to her feelings. Pierre rushed to the wing, but the heat was so great that he involuntarily passed round in a curve and came upon the large house that was as yet burning only at one end, just below the roof, and around which swarmed a crowd of Frenchmen. At first Pierre did not realize what these men, who were dragging something out, were about; but seeing before him a Frenchman hitting a peasant with a blunt saber and trying to take from him a fox-fur coat, he vaguely understood that looting was going on there, but he had no time to dwell on that idea. The sounds of crackling and the din of falling walls and ceilings, the whistle and hiss of the flames, the excited shouts of the people, and the sight of the swaying smoke, now gathering into thick black clouds and now soaring up with glittering sparks, with here and there dense sheaves of flame (now red and now like golden fish scales creeping along the walls), and the heat and smoke and rapidity of motion, produced on Pierre the usual animating effects of a conflagration. It had a peculiarly strong effect on him because at the sight of the fire he felt himself suddenly freed from the ideas that had weighed him down. He felt young, bright, adroit, and resolute. He ran round to the other side of the lodge and was about to dash into that part of it which was still standing, when just above his head he heard several voices shouting and then a cracking sound and the ring of something heavy falling close beside him. Pierre looked up and saw at a window of the large house some Frenchmen who had just thrown out the drawer of a chest, filled with metal articles. Other French soldiers standing below went up to the drawer. "What does this fellow want?" shouted one of them referring to Pierre. "Theres a child in that house. Havent you seen a child?" cried Pierre. "Whats he talking about? Get along!" said several voices, and one of the soldiers, evidently afraid that Pierre might want to take from them some of the plate and bronzes that were in the drawer, moved threateningly toward him. "A child?" shouted a Frenchman from above. "I did hear something squealing in the garden. Perhaps its his brat that the fellow is looking for. After all, one must be human, you know...." "Where is it?

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