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War And Peace 624


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to kill the French, and asked if no French had strayed that way, the elder replied that some "more-orderers" had really been at their village, but that Tikhon Shcherbaty was the only man who dealt with such matters. Denisov had Tikhon called and, having praised him for his activity, said a few words in the elders presence about loyalty to the Tsar and the country and the hatred of the French that all sons of the fatherland should cherish. "We dont do the French any harm," said Tikhon, evidently frightened by Denisovs words. "We only fooled about with the lads for fun, you know! We killed a score or so of more-orderers, but we did no harm else..." Next day when Denisov had left Pokrovsk, having quite forgotten about this peasant, it was reported to him that Tikhon had attached himself to their party and asked to be allowed to remain with it. Denisov gave orders to let him do so. Tikhon, who at first did rough work, laying campfires, fetching water, flaying dead horses, and so on, soon showed a great liking and aptitude for partisan warfare. At night he would go out for booty and always brought back French clothing and weapons, and when told to would bring in French captives also. Denisov then relieved him from drudgery and began taking him with him when he went out on expeditions and had him enrolled among the Cossacks. Tikhon did not like riding, and always went on foot, never lagging behind the cavalry. He was armed with a musketoon (which he carried rather as a joke), a pike and an ax, which latter he used as a wolf uses its teeth, with equal case picking fleas out of its fur or crunching thick bones. Tikhon with equal accuracy would split logs with blows at arms length, or holding the head of the ax would cut thin little pegs or carve spoons. In Denisovs party he held a peculiar and exceptional position. When anything particularly difficult or nasty had to be done--to push a cart out of the mud with ones shoulders, pull a horse out of a swamp by its tail, skin it, slink in among the French, or walk more than thirty miles in a day--everybody pointed laughingly at Tikhon. "It wont hurt that devil--hes as strong as a horse!" they said of him. Once a Frenchman Tikhon was trying to capture fired a pistol at him and shot him in the fleshy part of the back. That wound (which Tikhon treated only with internal and external applications of vodka) was the subject of the liveliest jokes by the whole detachment--jokes in which Tikhon readily joined. "Hallo, mate! Never again? Gave you a twist?" the Cossacks would banter him. And Tikhon, purposely writhing and making faces, pretended to be angry and swore at the French with the funniest curses. The only effect of this incident on Tikhon was that after being wounded he seldom brought in prisoners. He was the bravest and most useful man in the party. No one found more opportunities for attacking, no one captured or killed more Frenchmen, and consequently he was made the buffoon of all the Cossacks and hussars and willingly accepted that role. Now he had been sent by Denisov overnight to Shamshevo to capture a "tongue." But whether because he had not been content to take only one Frenchman or because he had slept through the night, he had crept by day into some bushes right among the French and, as Denisov had witnessed from above, had been detected by them. CHAPTER VI After talking for some time with the esaul about next days attack, which now, seeing how near they were to the French, he seemed to have definitely decided on, Denisov turned his horse and rode back. "Now, my lad, well go and get dwy," he said to Petya. As they approached the watchhouse Denisov stopped, peering into the forest. Among the trees a man with long legs and long, swinging arms, wearing a short jacket, bast shoes, and a Kazan hat, was approaching with long, light steps. He had a musketoon over his shoulder and an ax stuck in his girdle. When he espied Denisov he hastily threw something into the bushes, removed his sodden hat by its floppy brim, and approached his commander. It was Tikhon. His wrinkled and pockmarked face and narrow little eyes beamed with self-satisfied merriment. He lifted his head high and gazed at Denisov as if repressing a laugh. "Well, where did you disappear to?" inquired Denisov. "Where did I disappear to? I went

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