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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 17
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War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 17 Post by :missopie Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2178

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 17 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 17

In June the battle of Friedland was fought, in which the
Pavlograds did not take part, and after that an armistice was
proclaimed. Rostov, who felt his friend's absence very much, having no
news of him since he left and feeling very anxious about his wound and
the progress of his affairs, took advantage of the armistice to get
leave to visit Denisov in hospital.

The hospital was in a small Prussian town that had been twice
devastated by Russian and French troops. Because it was summer, when
it is so beautiful out in the fields, the little town presented a
particularly dismal appearance with its broken roofs and fences, its
foul streets, tattered inhabitants, and the sick and drunken
soldiers wandering about.

The hospital was in a brick building with some of the window
frames and panes broken and a courtyard surrounded by the remains of a
wooden fence that had been pulled to pieces. Several bandaged
soldiers, with pale swollen faces, were sitting or walking about in
the sunshine in the yard.

Directly Rostov entered the door he was enveloped by a smell of
putrefaction and hospital air. On the stairs he met a Russian army
doctor smoking a cigar. The doctor was followed by a Russian
assistant.

"I can't tear myself to pieces," the doctor was saying. "Come to
Makar Alexeevich in the evening. I shall be there."

The assistant asked some further questions.

"Oh, do the best you can! Isn't it all the same?" The doctor noticed
Rostov coming upstairs.

"What do you want, sir?" said the doctor. "What do you want? The
bullets having spared you, do you want to try typhus? This is a
pesthouse, sir."

"How so?" asked Rostov.

"Typhus, sir. It's death to go in. Only we two, Makeev and I" (he
pointed to the assistant), "keep on here. Some five of us doctors have
died in this place.... When a new one comes he is done for in a week,"
said the doctor with evident satisfaction. "Prussian doctors have been
invited here, but our allies don't like it at all."

Rostov explained that he wanted to see Major Denisov of the hussars,
who was wounded.

"I don't know. I can't tell you, sir. Only think! I am alone in
charge of three hospitals with more than four hundred patients! It's
well that the charitable Prussian ladies send us two pounds of
coffee and some lint each month or we should be lost!" he laughed.
"Four hundred, sir, and they're always sending me fresh ones. There
are four hundred? Eh?" he asked, turning to the assistant.

The assistant looked fagged out. He was evidently vexed and
impatient for the talkative doctor to go.

"Major Denisov," Rostov said again. "He was wounded at Molliten."

"Dead, I fancy. Eh, Makeev?" queried the doctor, in a tone of
indifference.

The assistant, however, did not confirm the doctor's words.

"Is he tall and with reddish hair?" asked the doctor.

Rostov described Denisov's appearance.

"There was one like that," said the doctor, as if pleased. "That one
is dead, I fancy. However, I'll look up our list. We had a list.
Have you got it, Makeev?"

"Makar Alexeevich has the list," answered the assistant. "But if
you'll step into the officers' wards you'll see for yourself," he
added, turning to Rostov.

"Ah, you'd better not go, sir," said the doctor, "or you may have to
stay here yourself."

But Rostov bowed himself away from the doctor and asked the
assistant to show him the way.

"Only don't blame me!" the doctor shouted up after him.

Rostov and the assistant went into the dark corridor. The smell
was so strong there that Rostov held his nose and had to pause and
collect his strength before he could go on. A door opened to the
right, and an emaciated sallow man on crutches, barefoot and in
underclothing, limped out and, leaning against the doorpost, looked
with glittering envious eyes at those who were passing. Glancing in at
the door, Rostov saw that the sick and wounded were lying on the floor
on straw and overcoats.

"May I go in and look?"

"What is there to see?" said the assistant.

But, just because the assistant evidently did not want him to go in,
Rostov entered the soldiers' ward. The foul air, to which he had
already begun to get used in the corridor, was still stronger here. It
was a little different, more pungent, and one felt that this was where
it originated.

In the long room, brightly lit up by the sun through the large
windows, the sick and wounded lay in two rows with their heads to
the walls, and leaving a passage in the middle. Most of them were
unconscious and paid no attention to the newcomers. Those who were
conscious raised themselves or lifted their thin yellow faces, and all
looked intently at Rostov with the same expression of hope, of relief,
reproach, and envy of another's health. Rostov went to the middle of
the room and looking through the open doors into the two adjoining
rooms saw the same thing there. He stood still, looking silently
around. He had not at all expected such a sight. Just before him,
almost across the middle of the passage on the bare floor, lay a
sick man, probably a Cossack to judge by the cut of his hair. The
man lay on his back, his huge arms and legs outstretched. His face was
purple, his eyes were rolled back so that only the whites were seen,
and on his bare legs and arms which were still red, the veins stood
out like cords. He was knocking the back of his head against the
floor, hoarsely uttering some word which he kept repeating. Rostov
listened and made out the word. It was "drink, drink, a drink!" Rostov
glanced round, looking for someone who would put this man back in
his place and bring him water.

"Who looks after the sick here?" he asked the assistant.

Just then a commissariat soldier, a hospital orderly, came in from
the next room, marching stiffly, and drew up in front of Rostov.

"Good day, your honor!" he shouted, rolling his eyes at Rostov and
evidently mistaking him for one of the hospital authorities.

"Get him to his place and give him some water," said Rostov,
pointing to the Cossack.

"Yes, your honor," the soldier replied complacently, and rolling his
eyes more than ever he drew himself up still straighter, but did not
move.

"No, it's impossible to do anything here," thought Rostov,
lowering his eyes, and he was going out, but became aware of an
intense look fixed on him on his right, and he turned. Close to the
corner, on an overcoat, sat an old, unshaven, gray-bearded soldier
as thin as a skeleton, with a stern sallow face and eyes intently
fixed on Rostov. The man's neighbor on one side whispered something to
him, pointing at Rostov, who noticed that the old man wanted to
speak to him. He drew nearer and saw that the old man had only one leg
bent under him, the other had been amputated above the knee. His
neighbor on the other side, who lay motionless some distance from
him with his head thrown back, was a young soldier with a snub nose.
His pale waxen face was still freckled and his eyes were rolled
back. Rostov looked at the young soldier and a cold chill ran down his
back.

"Why, this one seems..." he began, turning to the assistant.

"And how we've been begging, your honor," said the old soldier,
his jaw quivering. "He's been dead since morning. After all we're men,
not dogs."

"I'll send someone at once. He shall be taken away- taken away at
once," said the assistant hurriedly. "Let us go, your honor."

"Yes, yes, let us go," said Rostov hastily, and lowering his eyes
and shrinking, he tried to pass unnoticed between the rows of
reproachful envious eyes that were fixed upon him, and went out of the
room.

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Going along the corridor, the assistant led Rostov to theofficers' wards, consisting of three rooms, the doors of which stoodopen. There were beds in these rooms and the sick and wounded officerswere lying or sitting on them. Some were walking about the rooms inhospital dressing gowns. The first person Rostov met in theofficers' ward was a thin little man with one arm, who was walkingabout the first room in a nightcap and hospital dressing gown, witha pipe between his teeth. Rostov looked at him, trying to rememberwhere he had seen him before."See where we've met again!" said the little man. "Tushin,
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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 atBartenstein, as the Pavlograds were at the outposts far beyond thatplace.They were bivouacking. Denisov and Rostov were living in an earthhut, dug out for them by the soldiers and roofed with branches andturf. The hut was made in the following manner, which had then comeinto vogue. A trench was dug three and a half feet wide, four feeteight inches deep, and eight feet long. At one end of the trench,steps were cut out and these formed the
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