War And Peace

CHAPTER XI

Chinese

EARLY in the morning of the 6th of October, Pierre came out of the shed, and when he went back, he stood in the doorway, playing with the long bandy-legged, purplish-grey dog, that jumped about him. This dog lived in their shed, sleeping with Karataev, though it sometimes went off on its own account into the town, and came back again. It had probably never belonged to any one, and now it had no master, and no name. The French called it Azor; the soldier who told stories called it Femgalka; Karataev called it “Grey-coat,” and sometimes “Floppy.” The lack of a master, of a name, of any particular breed, and even of a definite colour, by no means troubled the purplish-grey dog. Its fluffy tail stood up firm and round like a plume; its bandy legs served it so well that often, as though disdaining to use all four, it would hold one hind-leg gracefully up, and run very quickly and smartly on three paws. Everything was a source of satisfaction to it. At one moment, it was barking with joy, then it would bask in the sun, with a dreamy and thoughtful air, then it would frolic about, playing with a chip or a straw.

Pierre's attire now consisted of a dirty, tattered shirt, the sole relic left of his previous wardrobe, a pair of soldier's drawers, tied with string round the ankles by Karataev's advice, for the sake of warmth, a full peasant's coat and a peasant's cap. Physically Pierre had changed greatly during this period. He no longer seemed stout, though he still had that look of solidity and strength that was characteristic of the Bezuhov family. The lower part of his face was overgrown with beard and moustaches; his long, tangled hair, swarming with lice, formed a mat of curls on his head. His eyes had a look of firmness, calm, and alert readiness, such as had never been seen in Pierre's face before. All his old slackness, which had shown even in his eyes, was replaced now by a vigorous, alert look of readiness for action and for resistance. His feet were bare.

Pierre looked over the meadow, across which waggons and men on horseback were moving that morning, then far away beyond the river, then at the dog, who was pretending to be meaning to bite him in earnest, then at his bare feet, which he shifted with pleasure from one position to another, moving the dirty, thick, big toes. And every time he looked at his bare feet, a smile of eager self-satisfaction flitted across his face. The sight of those bare feet reminded him of all he had passed through and learned during this time; and the thought of that was sweet to him.

The weather had for several days been still and clear, with light frosts in the mornings—the so-called “old granny's summer.”

It was warm out of doors in the sunshine, and that warmth was particularly pleasant, with the bracing freshness of the morning frost still in the air.

Over everything, over all objects near and far, lay that magical, crystal-clear brightness, which is only seen at that time in the autumn. In the distance could be seen the Sparrow Hills, with the village, the church, and the great white house. And the leafless trees, and the sand and the stones and roofs of the houses, the green spire of the church, and the angles of the white house in the distance, all stood out in the most delicate outlines with unnatural distinctness in the limpid air. Close at hand stood the familiar ruins of a half-burnt mansion, occupied by French soldiers, with lilac bushes still dark-green by the fence. And even this charred and ruined house, which looked revoltingly hideous in bad weather, had a sort of soothing comeliness in the clear, still brightness.

A French corporal, in a smoking-cap, with his coat comfortably unbuttoned, came round the corner of the shed, with a short pipe between his teeth, and with a friendly wink, approached Pierre.

“What sunshine, hein, M. Kiril?” (This was what all the French soldiers called Pierre.) “One would say it was spring.” And the corporal leaned against the door, and offered Pierre his pipe, though he was always offering it, and Pierre always declined it.

“If one were marching in weather like this,” he began.

Pierre questioned him what he had heard of the departure of the French, and the corporal told him that almost all the troops were setting out, and that to-day instructions were expected in regard to the prisoners. In the shed in which Pierre was, one of the Russian soldiers, Sokolov, was dangerously ill, and Pierre told the corporal that something ought to be done about this soldier. The corporal said that Pierre might set his mind at rest, that they had both travelling and stationary hospitals for such cases, that instructions would be given in regard to the sick, and that in fact every possible contingency was provided for by the authorities.

“And then, M. Kiril, you have only to say a word to the captain, you know. Oh, he is a man who never forgets anything. Speak to the captain when he makes his round; he will do anything for you.”

The captain of whom the corporal spoke used often to have long conversations with Pierre, and did him all kinds of favours.

“‘You see, St. Thomas,” he said to me the other day, ‘Kiril is a man of education, who speaks French; he is a Russian lord who has had troubles, but he is a man. And he understands … If he wants anything, let him tell me, he shall not meet with a refusal. When one has studied, one likes education, you see, and well-bred people.' It's for your own sake I tell you that, M. Kiril. In the affair that happened the other day, if it hadn't been for you, things would have ended badly.”

(The corporal was alluding to a fight a few days before between the prisoners and the French soldiers, in which Pierre had succeeded in pacifying his companions.) After chatting a little time longer the corporal went away.

Several of the prisoners had heard Pierre talking to the corporal, and they came up immediately to ask what the latter had said. While Pierre was telling his companions what the corporal had said about setting off from Moscow, a thin, sallow, ragged French soldier came up to the door of the shed. With a shy and rapid gesture he put his fingers to his forehead by way of a salute, and addressing Pierre, asked him if the soldier, Platoche, who was making a shirt for him, were in this shed.

The French soldiers had been provided with linen and leather a week previously, and had given out the materials to the Russian prisoners to make them boots and shirts.

“It's ready, darling, it's ready!” said Karataev, coming out with a carefully folded shirt. On account of the heat and for greater convenience in working, Karataev was wearing nothing but a pair of drawers and a tattered shirt, as black as the earth. He had tied a wisp of bast round his hair, as workmen do, and his round face looked rounder and more pleasing than ever.

“Punctuality is own brother to good business. I said Friday, and so I have done it,” said Platon, smiling and displaying the shirt he had made.

The Frenchman looked about him uneasily, and as though overcoming some hesitation, rapidly slipped off his uniform and put on the shirt. Under his uniform he had no shirt, but a long, greasy, flowered silk waistcoat next his bare, yellow, thin body. The Frenchman was evidently afraid that the prisoners, who were looking at him, would laugh at him, and he made haste to put his head through the shirt. None of the prisoners said a word. “To be sure, it fits well,” Platon observed, pulling the shirt down. The Frenchman, after putting his head and arms through, looked down at the shirt, and examined the stitching without lifting his eyes.

“Well, darling, this isn't a tailor's, you know, and I had no proper sewing materials, and there's a saying without the right tool you can't even kill a louse properly,” said Karataev, still admiring his own handiwork.

“Very good, thanks; but you must have some stuff left…” said the Frenchman.

“It will be more comfortable as it wears to your body,” said Karataev, still admiring his work. “There, you'll be nice and comfortable.”

“Thanks, thanks, old fellow; but what is left…?” repeated the Frenchman, giving Karataev a paper note. “Give me the pieces that are over.”

Pierre saw that Platon did not want to understand what the Frenchman said, and he looked on without interfering. Karataev thanked him for the rouble and went on admiring his own work. The Frenchman persisted in asking for what was left, and asked Pierre to translate what he said.

“What does he want with the pieces?” said Karataev. “They would have made me capital leg wrappers. Oh well, God bless the man.”

And, looking suddenly crestfallen and melancholy, Karataev took a bundle of remnants out of his bosom and gave it to the Frenchman without looking at him. “Ach-ma!” he cried, and walked away. The Frenchman looked at the linen, he hesitated, glanced inquiringly at Pierre, and as though Pierre's eyes had told him something:

“Here, Platoche!” he cried in a shrill voice, suddenly blushing. “Keep them yourself,” he said, and giving him the remnants, he turned and went out.

“There, look'ee now,” said Karataev, shaking his head. “They say they're not Christians, but they have souls too. It's true what the old folks used to say: a sweating hand is an open hand, but a dry hand is closefisted. His own back's bare, and yet he has given me this.” Karataev paused for a while, smiling dreamily and gazing at the cuttings of linen. “But first-rate leg binders they'll make me, my dear,” he added, as he went back into the shed.

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旺旺英语--名著对译