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War And Peace 628

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room, and without greeting anyone went up to Denisov and began questioning him about the matter in hand. Denisov told him of the designs the large detachments had on the transport, of the message Petya had brought, and his own replies to both generals. Then he told him all he knew of the French detachment. "Thats so. But we must know what troops they are and their numbers," said Dolokhov. "It will be necessary to go there. We cant start the affair without knowing for certain how many there are. I like to work accurately. Here now--wouldnt one of these gentlemen like to ride over to the French camp with me? I have brought a spare uniform." "I, I... Ill go with you!" cried Petya. "Theres no need for you to go at all," said Denisov, addressing Dolokhov, "and as for him, I wont let him go on any account." "I like that!" exclaimed Petya. "Why shouldnt I go?" "Because its useless." "Well, you must excuse me, because... because... I shall go, and thats all. Youll take me, wont you?" he said, turning to Dolokhov. "Why not?" Dolokhov answered absently, scrutinizing the face of the French drummer boy. "Have you had that youngster with you long?" he asked Denisov. "He was taken today but he knows nothing. Im keeping him with me." "Yes, and where do you put the others?" inquired Dolokhov. "Where? I send them away and take a weceipt for them," shouted Denisov, suddenly flushing. "And I say boldly that I have not a single mans life on my conscience. Would it be difficult for you to send thirty or thwee hundwed men to town under escort, instead of staining--I speak bluntly--staining the honor of a soldier?" "That kind of amiable talk would be suitable from this young count of sixteen," said Dolokhov with cold irony, "but its time for you to drop it." "Why, Ive not said anything! I only say that Ill certainly go with you," said Petya shyly. "But for you and me, old fellow, its time to drop these amenities," continued Dolokhov, as if he found particular pleasure in speaking of this subject which irritated Denisov. "Now, why have you kept this lad?" he went on, swaying his head. "Because you are sorry for him! Dont we know those receipts of yours? You send a hundred men away, and thirty get there. The rest either starve or get killed. So isnt it all the same not to send them?" The esaul, screwing up his light-colored eyes, nodded approvingly. "Thats not the point. Im not going to discuss the matter. I do not wish to take it on my conscience. You say theyll die. All wight. Only not by my fault!" Dolokhov began laughing. "Who has told them not to capture me these twenty times over? But if they did catch me theyd string me up to an aspen tree, and with all your chivalry just the same." He paused. "However, we must get to work. Tell the Cossack to fetch my kit. I have two French uniforms in it. Well, are you coming with me?" he asked Petya. "I? Yes, yes, certainly!" cried Petya, blushing almost to tears and glancing at Denisov. While Dolokhov had been disputing with Denisov what should be done with prisoners, Petya had once more felt awkward and restless; but again he had no time to grasp fully what they were talking about. "If grown-up, distinguished men think so, it must be necessary and right," thought he. "But above all Denisov must not dare to imagine that Ill obey him and that he can order me about. I will certainly go to the French camp with Dolokhov. If he can, so can I!" And to all Denisovs persuasions, Petya replied that he too was accustomed to do everything accurately and not just anyhow, and that he never considered personal danger. "For youll admit that if we dont know for sure how many of them there are... hundreds of lives may depend on it, while there are only two of us. Besides, I want to go very much and certainly will go, so dont hinder me," said he. "It will only make things worse..." CHAPTER IX Having put on French greatcoats and shakos, Petya and Dolokhov rode to the clearing from which Denisov had reconnoitered the French camp, and emerging from the forest in pitch darkness they descended into the hollow. On reaching the bottom, Dolokhov told the Cossacks accompanying him to await him there and rode on at a quick trot along the road to the bridge. Petya, his heart in his mouth

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