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War And Peace 636

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his pale emaciated face and a particularly happy light in his eyes, "you see, brother..." Pierre had long been familiar with that story. Karataev had told it to him alone some half-dozen times and always with a specially joyful emotion. But well as he knew it, Pierre now listened to that tale as to something new, and the quiet rapture Karataev evidently felt as he told it communicated itself also to Pierre. The story was of an old merchant who lived a good and God-fearing life with his family, and who went once to the Nizhni fair with a companion--a rich merchant. Having put up at an inn they both went to sleep, and next morning his companion was found robbed and with his throat cut. A bloodstained knife was found under the old merchants pillow. He was tried, knouted, and his nostrils having been torn off, "all in due form" as Karataev put it, he was sent to hard labor in Siberia. "And so, brother" (it was at this point that Pierre came up), "ten years or more passed by. The old man was living as a convict, submitting as he should and doing no wrong. Only he prayed to God for death. Well, one night the convicts were gathered just as we are, with the old man among them. And they began telling what each was suffering for, and how they had sinned against God. One told how he had taken a life, another had taken two, a third had set a house on fire, while another had simply been a vagrant and had done nothing. So they asked the old man: What are you being punished for, Daddy?--I, my dear brothers, said he, am being punished for my own and other mens sins. But I have not killed anyone or taken anything that was not mine, but have only helped my poorer brothers. I was a merchant, my dear brothers, and had much property. And he went on to tell them all about it in due order. I dont grieve for myself, he says, God, it seems, has chastened me. Only I am sorry for my old wife and the children, and the old man began to weep. Now it happened that in the group was the very man who had killed the other merchant. Where did it happen, Daddy? he said. When, and in what month? He asked all about it and his heart began to ache. So he comes up to the old man like this, and falls down at his feet! You are perishing because of me, Daddy, he says. Its quite true, lads, that this man, he says, is being tortured innocently and for nothing! I, he says, did that deed, and I put the knife under your head while you were asleep. Forgive me, Daddy, he says, for Christs sake!" Karataev paused, smiling joyously as he gazed into the fire, and he drew the logs together. "And the old man said, God will forgive you, we are all sinners in His sight. I suffer for my own sins, and he wept bitter tears. Well, and what do you think, dear friends?" Karataev continued, his face brightening more and more with a rapturous smile as if what he now had to tell contained the chief charm and the whole meaning of his story: "What do you think, dear fellows? That murderer confessed to the authorities. I have taken six lives, he says (he was a great sinner), but what I am most sorry for is this old man. Dont let him suffer because of me. So he confessed and it was all written down and the papers sent off in due form. The place was a long way off, and while they were judging, what with one thing and another, filling in the papers all in due form--the authorities I mean--time passed. The affair reached the Tsar. After a while the Tsars decree came: to set the merchant free and give him a compensation that had been awarded. The paper arrived and they began to look for the old man. Where is the old man who has been suffering innocently and in vain? A paper has come from the Tsar! so they began looking for him," here Karataevs lower jaw trembled, "but God had already forgiven him--he was dead! Thats how it was, dear fellows!" Karataev concluded and sat for a long time silent, gazing before him with a smile. And Pierres soul was dimly but joyfully filled not by the story itself but by its

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