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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 18
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War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 18 Post by :clagg Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1816

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 18 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 18

Going along the corridor, the assistant led Rostov to the
officers' wards, consisting of three rooms, the doors of which stood
open. There were beds in these rooms and the sick and wounded officers
were lying or sitting on them. Some were walking about the rooms in
hospital dressing gowns. The first person Rostov met in the
officers' ward was a thin little man with one arm, who was walking
about the first room in a nightcap and hospital dressing gown, with
a pipe between his teeth. Rostov looked at him, trying to remember
where he had seen him before.

"See where we've met again!" said the little man. "Tushin, Tushin,
don't you remember, who gave you a lift at Schon Grabern? And I've had
a bit cut off, you see..." he went on with a smile, pointing to the
empty sleeve of his dressing gown. "Looking for Vasili Dmitrich
Denisov? My neighbor," he added, when he heard who Rostov wanted.
"Here, here," and Tushin led him into the next room, from whence
came sounds of several laughing voices.

"How can they laugh, or even live at all here?" thought Rostov,
still aware of that smell of decomposing flesh that had been so strong
in the soldiers' ward, and still seeming to see fixed on him those
envious looks which had followed him out from both sides, and the face
of that young soldier with eyes rolled back.

Denisov lay asleep on his bed with his head under the blanket,
though it was nearly noon.

"Ah, Wostov? How are you, how are you?" he called out, still in
the same voice as in the regiment, but Rostov noticed sadly that under
this habitual ease and animation some new, sinister, hidden feeling
showed itself in the expression of Denisov's face and the
intonations of his voice.

His wound, though a slight one, had not yet healed even now, six
weeks after he had been hit. His face had the same swollen pallor as
the faces of the other hospital patients, but it was not this that
struck Rostov. What struck him was that Denisov did not seem glad to
see him, and smiled at him unnaturally. He did not ask about the
regiment, nor about the general state of affairs, and when Rostov
spoke of these matters did not listen.

Rostov even noticed that Denisov did not like to be reminded of
the regiment, or in general of that other free life which was going on
outside the hospital. He seemed to try to forget that old life and was
only interested in the affair with the commissariat officers. On
Rostov's inquiry as to how the matter stood, he at once produced
from under his pillow a paper he had received from the commission
and the rough draft of his answer to it. He became animated when he
began reading his paper and specially drew Rostov's attention to the
stinging rejoinders he made to his enemies. His hospital companions,
who had gathered round Rostov- a fresh arrival from the world outside-
gradually began to disperse as soon as Denisov began reading his
answer. Rostov noticed by their faces that all those gentlemen had
already heard that story more than once and were tired of it. Only the
man who had the next bed, a stout Uhlan, continued to sit on his
bed, gloomily frowning and smoking a pipe, and little one-armed Tushin
still listened, shaking his head disapprovingly. In the middle of
the reading, the Uhlan interrupted Denisov.

"But what I say is," he said, turning to Rostov, "it would be best
simply to petition the Emperor for pardon. They say great rewards will
now be distributed, and surely a pardon would be granted...."

"Me petition the Empewo'!" exclaimed Denisov, in a voice to which he
tried hard to give the old energy and fire, but which sounded like
an expression of irritable impotence. "What for? If I were a wobber
I would ask mercy, but I'm being court-martialed for bwinging
wobbers to book. Let them twy me, I'm not afwaid of anyone. I've
served the Tsar and my countwy honowably and have not stolen! And am I
to be degwaded?... Listen, I'm w'iting to them stwaight. This is
what I say: 'If I had wobbed the Tweasuwy...'"

"It's certainly well written," said Tushin, "but that's not the
point, Vasili Dmitrich," and he also turned to Rostov. "One has to
submit, and Vasili Dmitrich doesn't want to. You know the auditor told
you it was a bad business.

"Well, let it be bad," said Denisov.

"The auditor wrote out a petition for you," continued Tushin, "and
you ought to sign it and ask this gentleman to take it. No doubt he"
(indicating Rostov) "has connections on the staff. You won't find a
better opportunity."

"Haven't I said I'm not going to gwovel?" Denisov interrupted him,
went on reading his paper.

Rostov had not the courage to persuade Denisov, though he
instinctively felt that the way advised by Tushin and the other
officers was the safest, and though he would have been glad to be of
service to Denisov. He knew his stubborn will and straightforward
hasty temper.

When the reading of Denisov's virulent reply, which took more than
an hour, was over, Rostov said nothing, and he spent the rest of the
day in a most dejected state of mind amid Denisov's hospital comrades,
who had round him, telling them what he knew and listening to their
stories. Denisov was moodily silent all the evening.

Late in the evening, when Rostov was about to leave, he asked
Denisov whether he had no commission for him.

"Yes, wait a bit," said Denisov, glancing round at the officers, and
taking his papers from under his pillow he went to the window, where
he had an inkpot, and sat down to write.

"It seems it's no use knocking one's head against a wall!" he
said, coming from the window and giving Rostov a large envelope. In it
was the petition to the Emperor drawn up by the auditor, in which
Denisov, without alluding to the offenses of the commissariat
officials, simply asked for pardon.

"Hand it in. It seems..."

He did not finish, but gave a painfully unnatural smile.

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Having returned to the regiment and told the commander the stateof Denisov's affairs, Rostov rode to Tilsit with the letter to theEmperor.On the thirteenth of June the French and Russian Emperors arrived inTilsit. Boris Drubetskoy had asked the important personage on whomhe was in attendance, to include him in the suite appointed for thestay at Tilsit."I should like to see the great man," he said, alluding to Napoleon,whom hitherto he, like everyone else, had always called Buonaparte."You are speaking of Buonaparte?" asked the general, smiling.Boris looked at his general inquiringly and immediately saw thathe was being tested."I am speaking, Prince, of
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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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