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War And Peace 580

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War And Peace

strong smell of perspiration which came from him every time he moved. This man was doing something to his legs in the darkness, and though Pierre could not see his face he felt that the man continually glanced at him. On growing used to the darkness Pierre saw that the man was taking off his leg bands, and the way he did it aroused Pierres interest. Having unwound the string that tied the band on one leg, he carefully coiled it up and immediately set to work on the other leg, glancing up at Pierre. While one hand hung up the first string the other was already unwinding the band on the second leg. In this way, having carefully removed the leg bands by deft circular motions of his arm following one another uninterruptedly, the man hung the leg bands up on some pegs fixed above his head. Then he took out a knife, cut something, closed the knife, placed it under the head of his bed, and, seating himself comfortably, clasped his arms round his lifted knees and fixed his eyes on Pierre. The latter was conscious of something pleasant, comforting, and well rounded in these deft movements, in the mans well-ordered arrangements in his corner, and even in his very smell, and he looked at the man without taking his eyes from him. "Youve seen a lot of trouble, sir, eh?" the little man suddenly said. And there was so much kindliness and simplicity in his singsong voice that Pierre tried to reply, but his jaw trembled and he felt tears rising to his eyes. The little fellow, giving Pierre no time to betray his confusion, instantly continued in the same pleasant tones: "Eh, lad, dont fret!" said he, in the tender singsong caressing voice old Russian peasant women employ. "Dont fret, friend--suffer an hour, live for an age! thats how it is, my dear fellow. And here we live, thank heaven, without offense. Among these folk, too, there are good men as well as bad," said he, and still speaking, he turned on his knees with a supple movement, got up, coughed, and went off to another part of the shed. "Eh, you rascal!" Pierre heard the same kind voice saying at the other end of the shed. "So youve come, you rascal? She remembers... Now, now, thatll do!" And the soldier, pushing away a little dog that was jumping up at him, returned to his place and sat down. In his hands he had something wrapped in a rag. "Here, eat a bit, sir," said he, resuming his former respectful tone as he unwrapped and offered Pierre some baked potatoes. "We had soup for dinner and the potatoes are grand!" Pierre had not eaten all day and the smell of the potatoes seemed extremely pleasant to him. He thanked the soldier and began to eat. "Well, are they all right?" said the soldier with a smile. "You should do like this." He took a potato, drew out his clasp knife, cut the potato into two equal halves on the palm of his hand, sprinkled some salt on it from the rag, and handed it to Pierre. "The potatoes are grand!" he said once more. "Eat some like that!" Pierre thought he had never eaten anything that tasted better. "Oh, Im all right," said he, "but why did they shoot those poor fellows? The last one was hardly twenty." "Tss, tt...!" said the little man. "Ah, what a sin... what a sin!" he added quickly, and as if his words were always waiting ready in his mouth and flew out involuntarily he went on: "How was it, sir, that you stayed in Moscow?" "I didnt think they would come so soon. I stayed accidentally," replied Pierre. "And how did they arrest you, dear lad? At your house?" "No, I went to look at the fire, and they arrested me there, and tried me as an incendiary." "Where theres law theres injustice," put in the little man. "And have you been here long?" Pierre asked as he munched the last of the potato. "I? It was last Sunday they took me, out of a hospital in Moscow." "Why, are you a soldier then?" "Yes, we are soldiers of the Apsheron regiment. I was dying of fever. We werent told anything. There were some twenty of us lying there. We had no idea, never guessed at all." "And do you feel sad here?" Pierre inquired. "How can one help it, lad? My name is Platon, and the surname is Karataev," he added, evidently wishing to make it easier for Pierre to address him.

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