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War And Peace 605


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Monsieur Kiril, you have only to say a word to the captain, you know. He is a man who never forgets anything. Speak to the captain when he makes his round, he will do anything for you." (The captain of whom the corporal spoke often had long chats with Pierre and showed him all sorts of favors.) "You see, St. Thomas, he said to me the other day. Monsieur Kiril is a man of education, who speaks French. He is a Russian seigneur who has had misfortunes, but he is a man. He knows whats what.... If he wants anything and asks me, he wont get a refusal. When one has studied, you see, one likes education and well-bred people. It is for your sake I mention it, Monsieur Kiril. The other day if it had not been for you that affair would have ended ill." And after chatting a while longer, the corporal went away. (The affair he had alluded to had happened a few days before--a fight between the prisoners and the French soldiers, in which Pierre had succeeded in pacifying his comrades.) Some of the prisoners who had heard Pierre talking to the corporal immediately asked what the Frenchman had said. While Pierre was repeating what he had been told about the army leaving Moscow, a thin, sallow, tattered French soldier came up to the door of the shed. Rapidly and timidly raising his fingers to his forehead by way of greeting, he asked Pierre whether the soldier Platoche to whom he had given a shirt to sew was in that shed. A week before the French had had boot leather and linen issued to them, which they had given out to the prisoners to make up into boots and shirts for them. "Ready, ready, dear fellow!" said Karataev, coming out with a neatly folded shirt. Karataev, on account of the warm weather and for convenience at work, was wearing only trousers and a tattered shirt as black as soot. His hair was bound round, workman fashion, with a wisp of lime-tree bast, and his round face seemed rounder and pleasanter than ever. "A promise is own brother to performance! I said Friday and here it is, ready," said Platon, smiling and unfolding the shirt he had sewn. The Frenchman glanced around uneasily and then, as if overcoming his hesitation, rapidly threw off his uniform and put on the shirt. He had a long, greasy, flowered silk waistcoat next to his sallow, thin bare body, but no shirt. He was evidently afraid the prisoners looking on would laugh at him, and thrust his head into the shirt hurriedly. None of the prisoners said a word. "See, it fits well!" Platon kept repeating, pulling the shirt straight. The Frenchman, having pushed his head and hands through, without raising his eyes, looked down at the shirt and examined the seams. "You see, dear man, this is not a sewing shop, and I had no proper tools; and, as they say, one needs a tool even to kill a louse," said Platon with one of his round smiles, obviously pleased with his work. "Its good, quite good, thank you," said the Frenchman, in French, "but there must be some linen left over. "It will fit better still when it sets to your body," said Karataev, still admiring his handiwork. "Youll be nice and comfortable...." "Thanks, thanks, old fellow.... But the bits left over?" said the Frenchman again and smiled. He took out an assignation ruble note and gave it to Karataev. "But give me the pieces that are over." Pierre saw that Platon did not want to understand what the Frenchman was saying, and he looked on without interfering. Karataev thanked the Frenchman for the money and went on admiring his own work. The Frenchman insisted on having the pieces returned that were left over and asked Pierre to translate what he said. "What does he want the bits for?" said Karataev. "Theyd make fine leg bands for us. Well, never mind." And Karataev, with a suddenly changed and saddened expression, took a small bundle of scraps from inside his shirt and gave it to the Frenchman without looking at him. "Oh dear!" muttered Karataev and went away. The Frenchman looked at the linen, considered for a moment, then looked inquiringly at Pierre and, as if Pierres look had told him something, suddenly blushed and shouted in a squeaky voice: "Platoche! Eh, Platoche! Keep them yourself!" And handing back the odd bits he turned and went out. "There, look at that," said Karataev, swaying his head. "People said they were not Christians,

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