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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 13
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 13 Post by :Sandi_McQuade Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :782

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 13 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 13

Twenty-three soldiers, three officers, and two officials were
confined in the shed in which Pierre had been placed and where he
remained for four weeks.

When Pierre remembered them afterwards they all seemed misty figures
to him except Platon Karataev, who always remained in his mind a
most vivid and precious memory and the personification of everything
Russian, kindly, and round. When Pierre saw his neighbor next
morning at dawn the first impression of him, as of something round,
was fully confirmed: Platon's whole figure- in a French overcoat
girdled with a cord, a soldier's cap, and bast shoes- was round. His
head was quite round, his back, chest, shoulders, and even his arms,
which he held as if ever ready to embrace something, were rounded, his
pleasant smile and his large, gentle brown eyes were also round.

Platon Karataev must have been fifty, judging by his stories of
campaigns he had been in, told as by an old soldier. He did not
himself know his age and was quite unable to determine it. But his
brilliantly white, strong teeth which showed in two unbroken
semicircles when he laughed- as he often did- were all sound and good,
there was not a gray hair in his beard or on his head, and his whole
body gave an impression of suppleness and especially of firmness and
endurance.

His face, despite its fine, rounded wrinkles, had an expression of
innocence and youth, his voice was pleasant and musical. But the chief
peculiarity of his speech was its directness and appositeness. It
was evident that he never considered what he had said or was going
to say, and consequently the rapidity and justice of his intonation
had an irresistible persuasiveness.

His physical strength and agility during the first days of his
imprisonment were such that he seemed not to know what fatigue and
sickness meant. Every night before lying down, he said: "Lord, lay
me down as a stone and raise me up as a loaf!" and every morning on
getting up, he said: "I lay down and curled up, I get up and shake
myself." And indeed he only had to lie down, to fall asleep like a
stone, and he only had to shake himself, to be ready without a
moment's delay for some work, just as children are ready to play
directly they awake. He could do everything, not very well but not
badly. He baked, cooked, sewed, planed, and mended boots. He was
always busy, and only at night allowed himself conversation- of
which he was fond- and songs. He did not sing like a trained singer
who knows he is listened to, but like the birds, evidently giving vent
to the sounds in the same way that one stretches oneself or walks
about to get rid of stiffness, and the sounds were always
high-pitched, mournful, delicate, and almost feminine, and his face at
such times was very serious.

Having been taken prisoner and allowed his beard to grow, he
seemed to have thrown off all that had been forced upon him-
everything military and alien to himself- and had returned to his
former peasant habits.

"A soldier on leave- a shirt outside breeches," he would say.

He did not like talking about his life as a soldier, though he did
not complain, and often mentioned that he had not been flogged once
during the whole of his army service. When he related anything it
was generally some old and evidently precious memory of his
"Christian" life, as he called his peasant existence. The proverbs, of
which his talk was full, were for the most part not the coarse and
indecent saws soldiers employ, but those folk sayings which taken
without a context seem so insignificant, but when used appositely
suddenly acquire a significance of profound wisdom.

He would often say the exact opposite of what he had said on a
previous occasion, yet both would be right. He liked to talk and he
talked well, adorning his speech with terms of endearment and with
folk sayings which Pierre thought he invented himself, but the chief
charm of his talk lay in the fact that the commonest events- sometimes
just such as Pierre had witnessed without taking notice of them-
assumed in Karataev's a character of solemn fitness. He liked to
hear the folk tales one of the soldiers used to tell of an evening
(they were always the same), but most of all he liked to hear
stories of real life. He would smile joyfully when listening to such
stories, now and then putting in a word or asking a question to make
the moral beauty of what he was told clear to himself. Karataev had no
attachments, friendships, or love, as Pierre understood them, but
loved and lived affectionately with everything life brought him in
contact with, particularly with man- not any particular man, but those
with whom he happened to be. He loved his dog, his comrades, the
French, and Pierre who was his neighbor, but Pierre felt that in spite
of Karataev's affectionate tenderness for him (by which he
unconsciously gave Pierre's spiritual life its due) he would not
have grieved for a moment at parting from him. And Pierre began to
feel in the same way toward Karataev.

To all the other prisoners Platon Karataev seemed a most ordinary
soldier. They called him "little falcon" or "Platosha," chaffed him
good-naturedly, and sent him on errands. But to Pierre he always
remained what he had seemed that first night: an unfathomable,
rounded, eternal personification of the spirit of simplicity and
truth.

Platon Karataev knew nothing by heart except his prayers. When he
began to speak he seemed not to know how he would conclude.

Sometimes Pierre, struck by the meaning of his words, would ask
him to repeat them, but Platon could never recall what he had said a
moment before, just as he never could repeat to Pierre the words of
his favorite song: native and birch tree and my heart is sick occurred
in it, but when spoken and not sung, no meaning could be got out of
it. He did not, and could not, understand the meaning of words apart
from their context. Every word and action of his was the manifestation
of an activity unknown to him, which was his life. But his life, as he
regarded it, had no meaning as a separate thing. It had meaning only
as part of a whole of which he was always conscious. His words and
actions flowed from him as evenly, inevitably, and spontaneously as
fragrance exhales from a flower. He could not understand the value
or significance of any word or deed taken separately.

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After the execution Pierre was separated from the rest of theprisoners and placed alone in a small, ruined, and befouled church.Toward evening a noncommissioned officer entered with two soldiersand told him that he had been pardoned and would now go to thebarracks for the prisoners of war. Without understanding what was saidto him, Pierre got up and went with the soldiers. They took him to theupper end of the field there were some sheds built of charredplanks, beams, and battens, and led him into one of them. In thedarkness some twenty different men surrounded Pierre. He looked atthem without understanding
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