War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book X: Chapters 1–14


"Well, is she pretty? Ah, friend — my pink one is delicious; her name is Dunyasha . . . ."

But on glancing at Rostov's face Ilyin stopped short. He saw that his hero and commander was following quite a different train of thought.

Rostov glanced angrily at Ilyin and without replying strode off with rapid steps to the village.

"I'll show them; I'll give it to them, the brigands!" said he to himself.

Alpatych at a gliding trot, only just managing not to run, kept up with him with difficulty.

"What decision have you been pleased to come to?" said he.

Rostov stopped and, clenching his fists, suddenly and sternly turned on Alpatych.

"Decision? What decision? Old dotard! . . ." cried he."What have you been about? Eh? The peasants are rioting, and you can't manage them? You're a traitor yourself! I know you. I'll flay you all alive! . . ." And as if afraid of wasting his store of anger, he left Alpatych and went rapidly forward. Alpatych, mastering his offended feelings, kept pace with Rostov at a gliding gait and continued to impart his views. He said the peasants were obdurate and that at the present moment it would be imprudent to"overresist" them without an armed force, and would it not be better first to send for the military?

"I'll give them armed force . . . I'll 'overresist' them!" uttered Rostov meaninglessly, breathless with irrational animal fury and the need to vent it.

Without considering what he would do he moved unconciously with quick, resolute steps toward the crowd. And the nearer he drew to it the more Alpatych felt that this unreasonable action might produce good results. The peasants in the crowd were similarly impressed when they saw Rostov's rapid, firm steps and resolute, frowning face.

After the hussars had come to the village and Rostov had gone to see the princess, a certain confusion and dissension had arisen among the crowd. Some of the peasants said that these new arrivals were Russians and might take it amiss that the mistress was being detained. Dron was of this opinion, but as soon as he expressed it Karp and others attacked their ex-Elder.

"How many years have you been fattening on the commune?" Karp shouted at him."It's all one to you! You'll dig up your pot of money and take it away with you . . . . What does it matter to you whether our homes are ruined or not?"

"We've been told to keep order, and that no one is to leave their homes or take away a single grain, and that's all about it!" cried another.

"It was your son's turn to be conscripted, but no fear! You begrudged your lump of a son," a little old man suddenly began attacking Dron —"and so they took my Vanka to be shaved for a soldier! But we all have to die."

"To be sure, we all have to die. I'm not against the commune," said Dron.

"That's it — not against it! You've filled your belly . . . ."

The two tall peasants had their say. As soon as Rostov, followed by Ilyin, Lavrushka, and Alpatych, came up to the crowd, Karp, thrusting his fingers into his belt and smiling a little, walked to the front. Dron on the contrary retired to the rear and the crowd drew closer together.

"Who is your Elder here? Hey?" shouted Rostov, coming up to the crowd with quick steps.

"The Elder? What do you want with him? . . ." asked Karp.

But before the words were well out of his mouth, his cap flew off and a fierce blow jerked his head to one side.

"Caps off, traitors!" shouted Rostov in a wrathful voice."Where's the Elder?" he cried furiously.

"The Elder . . . . He wants the Elder! . . . Dron Zakharych, you!" meek and flustered voices here and there were heard calling and caps began to come off their heads.

"We don't riot, we're following the orders," declared Karp, and at that moment several voices began speaking together.

"It's as the old men have decided — there's too many of you giving orders."

"Arguing? Mutiny! . . . Brigands! Traitors!" cried Rostov unmeaningly in a voice not his own, gripping Karp by the collar."Bind him, bind him!" he shouted, though there was no one to bind him but Lavrushka and Alpatych.

Lavrushka, however, ran up to Karp and seized him by the arms from behind.

"Shall I call up our men from beyond the hill?" he called out.

Alpatych turned to the peasants and ordered two of them by name to come and bind Karp. The men obediently came out of the crowd and began taking off their belts.

"Where's the Elder?" demanded Rostov in a loud voice.

With a pale and frowning face Dron stepped out of the crowd.

"Are you the Elder? Bind him, Lavrushka!" shouted Rostov, as if that order, too, could not possibly meet with any opposition.

And in fact two more peasants began binding Dron, who took off his own belt and handed it to them, as if to aid them.

"And you all listen to me!" said Rostov to the peasants."Be off to your houses at once, and don't let one of your voices be heard!"

"Why, we've not done any harm! We did it just out of foolishness. It's all nonsense . . . I said then that it was not in order," voices were heard bickering with one another.

"There! What did I say?" said Alpatych, coming into his own again."It's wrong, lads!"

"All our stupidity, Yakov Alpatych," came the answers, and the crowd began at once to disperse through the village.

The two bound men were led off to the master's house. The two drunken peasants followed them.

"Aye, when I look at you! . . ." said one of them to Karp.

"How can one talk to the masters like that? What were you thinking of, you fool?" added the other —"A real fool!"

Two hours later the carts were standing in the courtyard of the Bogucharovo house. The peasants were briskly carrying out the proprietor's goods and packing them on the carts, and Dron, liberated at Princess Mary's wish from the cupboard where he had been confined, was standing in the yard directing the men.

"Don't put it in so carelessly," said one of the peasants, a man with a round smiling face, taking a casket from a housemaid."You know it has cost money! How can you chuck it in like that or shove it under the cord where it'll get rubbed? I don't like that way of doing things. Let it all be done properly, according to rule. Look here, put it under the bast matting and cover it with hay — that's the way!"

"Eh, books, books!" said another peasant, bringing out Prince Andrew's library cupboards."Don't catch up against it! It's heavy, lads — solid books."

"Yes, they worked all day and didn't play!" remarked the tall, round-faced peasant gravely, pointing with a significant wink at the dictionaries that were on the top.

Unwilling to obtrude himself on the princess, Rostov did not go back to the house but remained in the village awaiting her departure. When her carriage drove out of the house, he mounted and accompanied her eight miles from Bogucharovo to where the road was occupied by our troops. At the inn at Yankovo he respectfully took leave of her, for the first time permitting himself to kiss her hand.

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