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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 16
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War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 16 Post by :JasonD Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2405

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 16 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 16

In April the troops were enlivened by news of the Emperor's arrival,
but Rostov had no chance of being present at the review he held at
Bartenstein, as the Pavlograds were at the outposts far beyond that
place.

They were bivouacking. Denisov and Rostov were living in an earth
hut, dug out for them by the soldiers and roofed with branches and
turf. The hut was made in the following manner, which had then come
into vogue. A trench was dug three and a half feet wide, four feet
eight inches deep, and eight feet long. At one end of the trench,
steps were cut out and these formed the entrance and vestibule. The
trench itself was the room, in which the lucky ones, such as the
squadron commander, had a board, lying on piles at the end opposite
the entrance, to serve as a table. On each side of the trench, the
earth was cut out to a breadth of about two and a half feet, and
this did duty for bedsteads and couches. The roof was so constructed
that one could stand up in the middle of the trench and could even sit
up on the beds if one drew close to the table. Denisov, who was living
luxuriously because the soldiers of his squadron liked him, had also a
board in the roof at the farther end, with a piece of (broken but
mended) glass in it for a window. When it was very cold, embers from
the soldiers' campfire were placed on a bent sheet of iron on the
steps in the "reception room"- as Denisov called that part of the hut-
and it was then so warm that the officers, of whom there were always
some with Denisov and Rostov, sat in their shirt sleeves.

In April, Rostov was on orderly duty. One morning, between seven and
eight, returning after a sleepless night, he sent for embers,
changed his rain-soaked underclothes, said his prayers, drank tea, got
warm, then tidied up the things on the table and in his own corner,
and, his face glowing from exposure to the wind and with nothing on
but his shirt, lay down on his back, putting his arms under his
head. He was pleasantly considering the probability of being
promoted in a few days for his last reconnoitering expedition, and was
awaiting Denisov, who had gone out somewhere and with whom he wanted a
talk.

Suddenly he heard Denisov shouting in a vibrating voice behind the
hut, evidently much excited. Rostov moved to the window to see whom he
was speaking to, and saw the quartermaster, Topcheenko.

"I ordered you not to let them that Mashka woot stuff!" Denisov
was shouting. "And I saw with my own eyes how Lazarchuk bwought some
fwom the fields."

"I have given the order again and again, your honor, but they
don't obey," answered the quartermaster.

Rostov lay down again on his bed and thought complacently: "Let
him fuss and bustle now, my job's done and I'm lying down- capitally!"
He could hear that Lavrushka- that sly, bold orderly of Denisov's- was
talking, as well as the quartermaster. Lavrushka was saying
something about loaded wagons, biscuits, and oxen he had seen when
he had gone out for provisions.

Then Denisov's voice was heard shouting farther and farther away.
"Saddle! Second platoon!"

"Where are they off to now?" thought Rostov.

Five minutes later, Denisov came into the hut, climbed with muddy
boots on the bed, lit his pipe, furiously scattered his things
about, took his leaded whip, buckled on his saber, and went out again.
In answer to Rostov's inquiry where he was going, he answered
vaguely and crossly that he had some business.

"Let God and our gweat monarch judge me afterwards!" said Denisov
going out, and Rostov heard the hoofs of several horses splashing
through the mud. He did not even trouble to find out where Denisov had
gone. Having got warm in his corner, he fell asleep and did not
leave the hut till toward evening. Denisov had not yet returned. The
weather had cleared up, and near the next hut two officers and a cadet
were playing svayka, laughing as they threw their missiles which
buried themselves in the soft mud. Rostov joined them. In the middle
of the game, the officers saw some wagons approaching with fifteen
hussars on their skinny horses behind them. The wagons escorted by the
hussars drew up to the picket ropes and a crowd of hussars
surrounded them.

"There now, Denisov has been worrying," said Rostov, "and here are
the provisions."

"So they are!" said the officers. "Won't the soldiers be glad!"

A little behind the hussars came Denisov, accompanied by two
infantry officers with whom he was talking.

Rostov went to meet them.

"I warn you, Captain," one of the officers, a short thin man,
evidently very angry, was saying.

"Haven't I told you I won't give them up?" replied Denisov.

"You will answer for it, Captain. It is mutiny- seizing the
transport of one's own army. Our men have had nothing to eat for two
days."

"And mine have had nothing for two weeks," said Denisov.

"It is robbery! You'll answer for it, sir!" said the infantry
officer, raising his voice.

"Now, what are you pestewing me for?" cried Denisov, suddenly losing
his temper. "I shall answer for it and not you, and you'd better not
buzz about here till you get hurt. Be off! Go!" he shouted at the
officers.

"Very well, then!" shouted the little officer, undaunted and not
riding away. "If you are determined to rob, I'll..."

"Go to the devil! quick ma'ch, while you're safe and sound!" and
Denisov turned his horse on the officer.

"Very well, very well!" muttered the officer, threateningly, and
turning his horse he trotted away, jolting in his saddle.

"A dog astwide a fence! A weal dog astwide a fence!" shouted Denisov
after him (the most insulting expression a cavalryman can address to a
mounted infantryman) and riding up to Rostov, he burst out laughing.

"I've taken twansports from the infantwy by force!" he said.
"After all, can't let our men starve."

The wagons that had reached the hussars had been consigned to an
infantry regiment, but learning from Lavrushka that the transport
was unescorted, Denisov with his hussars had seized it by force. The
soldiers had biscuits dealt out to them freely, and they even shared
them with the other squadrons.

The next day the regimental commander sent for Denisov, and
holding his fingers spread out before his eyes said:

"This is how I look at this affair: I know nothing about it and
won't begin proceedings, but I advise you to ride over to the staff
and settle the business there in the commissariat department and if
possible sign a receipt for such and such stores received. If not,
as the demand was booked against an infantry regiment, there will be a
row and the affair may end badly."

From the regimental commander's, Denisov rode straight to the
staff with a sincere desire to act on this advice. In the evening he
came back to his dugout in a state such as Rostov had never yet seen
him in. Denisov could not speak and gasped for breath. When Rostov
asked what was the matter, he only uttered some incoherent oaths and
threats in a hoarse, feeble voice.

Alarmed at Denisov's condition, Rostov suggested that he should
undress, drink some water, and send for the doctor.

"Twy me for wobbewy... oh! Some more water... Let them twy me, but
I'll always thwash scoundwels... and I'll tell the Empewo'...
Ice..." he muttered.

The regimental doctor, when he came, said it was absolutely
necessary to bleed Denisov. A deep saucer of black blood was taken
from his hairy arm and only then was he able to relate what had
happened to him.

"I get there," began Denisov. "'Now then, where's your chief's
quarters?' They were pointed out. 'Please to wait.' 'I've widden
twenty miles and have duties to attend to and no time to wait.
Announce me.' Vewy well, so out comes their head chief- also took it
into his head to lecture me: 'It's wobbewy!'- 'Wobbewy,' I say, 'is
not done by man who seizes pwovisions to feed his soldiers, but by him
who takes them to fill his own pockets!' 'Will you please be
silent?' 'Vewy good!' Then he says: 'Go and give a weceipt to the
commissioner, but your affair will be passed on to headquarters.' I go
to the commissioner. I enter, and at the table... who do you think?
No, but wait a bit!... Who is it that's starving us?" shouted Denisov,
hitting the table with the fist of his newly bled arm so violently
that the table nearly broke down and the tumblers on it jumped
about. "Telyanin! 'What? So it's you who's starving us to death! Is
it? Take this and this!' and I hit him so pat, stwaight on his
snout... 'Ah, what a... what...!' and I sta'ted fwashing him...
Well, I've had a bit of fun I can tell you!" cried Denisov, gleeful
and yet angry, his showing under his black mustache. "I'd have
killed him if they hadn't taken him away!"

"But what are you shouting for? Calm yourself," said Rostov. "You've
set your arm bleeding afresh. Wait, we must tie it up again."

Denisov was bandaged up again and put to bed. Next day he woke
calm and cheerful.

But at noon the adjutant of the regiment came into Rostov's and
Denisov's dugout with a grave and serious face and regretfully
showed them a paper addressed to Major Denisov from the regimental
commander in which inquiries were made about yesterday's occurrence.
The adjutant told them that the affair was likely to take a very bad
turn: that a court-martial had been appointed, and that in view of the
severity with which marauding and insubordination were now regarded,
degradation to the ranks would be the best that could be hoped for.

The case, as represented by the offended parties, was that, after
seizing the transports, Major Denisov, being drunk, went to the
chief quartermaster and without any provocation called him a thief,
threatened to strike him, and on being led out had rushed into the
office and given two officials a thrashing, and dislocated the arm
of one of them.

In answer to Rostov's renewed questions, Denisov said, laughing,
that he thought he remembered that some other fellow had got mixed
up in it, but that it was all nonsense and rubbish, and he did not
in the least fear any kind of trial, and that if those scoundrels
dared attack him he would give them an answer that they would not
easily forget.

Denisov spoke contemptuously of the whole matter, but Rostov knew
him too well not to detect that (while hiding it from others) at heart
he feared a court-martial and was worried over the affair, which was
evidently taking a bad turn. Every day, letters of inquiry and notices
from the court arrived, and on the first of May, Denisov was ordered
to hand the squadron over to the next in seniority and appear before
the staff of his division to explain his violence at the
commissariat office. On the previous day Platov reconnoitered with two
Cossack regiments and two squadrons of hussars. Denisov, as was his
wont, rode out in front of the outposts, parading his courage. A
bullet fired by a French sharpshooter hit him in the fleshy part of
his leg. Perhaps at another time Denisov would not have left the
regiment for so slight a wound, but now he took advantage of it to
excuse himself from appearing at the staff and went into hospital.

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In June the battle of Friedland was fought, in which thePavlograds did not take part, and after that an armistice wasproclaimed. Rostov, who felt his friend's absence very much, having nonews of him since he left and feeling very anxious about his wound andthe progress of his affairs, took advantage of the armistice to getleave to visit Denisov in hospital.The hospital was in a small Prussian town that had been twicedevastated by Russian and French troops. Because it was summer, whenit is so beautiful out in the fields, the little town presented aparticularly dismal appearance with its broken roofs and fences,
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When returning from his leave, Rostov felt, for the first time,how close was the bond that united him to Denisov and and the wholeregiment.On approaching it, Rostov felt as he had done when approaching hishome in Moscow. When he saw the first hussar with the unbuttoneduniform of his regiment, when he recognized red-haired Dementyev andsaw the picket ropes of the roan horses, when Lavrushka gleefullyshouted to his master, "The count has come!" and Denisov, who had beenasleep on his bed, ran all disheveled out of the mud hut to embracehim, and the officers collected round to greet the new arrival, Rostovexperienced
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