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Chapter 13

  • In the tavern, before which stood the doctor's covered cart, there wer_lready some five officers. Mary Hendrikhovna, a plump little blonde German,
  • in a dressing jacket and nightcap, was sitting on a broad bench in the fron_orner. Her husband, the doctor, lay asleep behind her. Rostov and Ilyin, o_ntering the room, were welcomed with merry shouts and laughter.
  • "Dear me, how jolly we are!" said Rostov laughing.
  • "And why do you stand there gaping?"
  • "What swells they are! Why, the water streams from them! Don't make ou_rawing room so wet."
  • "Don't mess Mary Hendrikhovna's dress!" cried other voices.
  • Rostov and Ilyin hastened to find a corner where they could change into dr_lothes without offending Mary Hendrikhovna's modesty. They were going into _iny recess behind a partition to change, but found it completely filled b_hree officers who sat playing cards by the light of a solitary candle on a_mpty box, and these officers would on no account yield their position. Mar_endrikhovna obliged them with the loan of a petticoat to be used as _urtain, and behind that screen Rostov and Ilyin, helped by Lavrushka who ha_rought their kits, changed their wet things for dry ones.
  • A fire was made up in the dilapidated brick stove. A board was found, fixed o_wo saddles and covered with a horsecloth, a small samovar was produced and _ellaret and half a bottle of rum, and having asked Mary Hendrikhovna t_reside, they all crowded round her. One offered her a clean handkerchief t_ipe her charming hands, another spread a jacket under her little feet to kee_hem from the damp, another hung his coat over the window to keep out th_raft, and yet another waved the flies off her husband's face, lest he shoul_ake up.
  • "Leave him alone," said Mary Hendrikhovna, smiling timidly and happily. "He i_leeping well as it is, after a sleepless night."
  • "Oh, no, Mary Hendrikhovna," replied the officer, "one must look after th_octor. Perhaps he'll take pity on me someday, when it comes to cutting off _eg or an arm for me."
  • There were only three tumblers, the water was so muddy that one could not mak_ut whether the tea was strong or weak, and the samovar held only six tumbler_f water, but this made it all the pleasanter to take turns in order o_eniority to receive one's tumbler from Mary Hendrikhovna's plump little hand_ith their short and not overclean nails. All the officers appeared to be, an_eally were, in love with her that evening. Even those playing cards behin_he partition soon left their game and came over to the samovar, yielding t_he general mood of courting Mary Hendrikhovna. She, seeing herself surrounde_y such brilliant and polite young men, beamed with satisfaction, try as sh_ight to hide it, and perturbed as she evidently was each time her husban_oved in his sleep behind her.
  • There was only one spoon, sugar was more plentiful than anything else, but i_ook too long to dissolve, so it was decided that Mary Hendrikhovna shoul_tir the sugar for everyone in turn. Rostov received his tumbler, and addin_ome rum to it asked Mary Hendrikhovna to stir it.
  • "But you take it without sugar?" she said, smiling all the time, as i_verything she said and everything the others said was very amusing and had _ouble meaning.
  • "It is not the sugar I want, but only that your little hand should stir m_ea."
  • Mary Hendrikhovna assented and began looking for the spoon which someon_eanwhile had pounced on.
  • "Use your finger, Mary Hendrikhovna, it will be still nicer," said Rostov.
  • "Too hot!" she replied, blushing with pleasure.
  • Ilyin put a few drops of rum into the bucket of water and brought it to Mar_endrikhovna, asking her to stir it with her finger.
  • "This is my cup," said he. "Only dip your finger in it and I'll drink it al_p."
  • When they had emptied the samovar, Rostov took a pack of cards and propose_hat they should play "Kings" with Mary Hendrikhovna. They drew lots to settl_ho should make up her set. At Rostov's suggestion it was agreed that whoeve_ecame "King" should have the right to kiss Mary Hendrikhovna's hand, and tha_he "Booby" should go to refill and reheat the samovar for the doctor when th_atter awoke.
  • "Well, but supposing Mary Hendrikhovna is 'King'?" asked Ilyin.
  • "As it is, she is Queen, and her word is law!"
  • They had hardly begun to play before the doctor's disheveled head suddenl_ppeared from behind Mary Hendrikhovna. He had been awake for some time,
  • listening to what was being said, and evidently found nothing entertaining o_musing in what was going on. His face was sad and depressed. Without greetin_he officers, he scratched himself and asked to be allowed to pass as the_ere blocking the way. As soon as he had left the room all the officers burs_nto loud laughter and Mary Hendrikhovna blushed till her eyes filled wit_ears and thereby became still more attractive to them. Returning from th_ard, the doctor told his wife (who had ceased to smile so happily, and looke_t him in alarm, awaiting her sentence) that the rain had ceased and they mus_o to sleep in their covered cart, or everything in it would be stolen.
  • "But I'll send an orderly… . Two of them!" said Rostov. "What an idea,
  • doctor!"
  • "I'll stand guard on it myself!" said Ilyin.
  • "No, gentlemen, you have had your sleep, but I have not slept for two nights,"
  • replied the doctor, and he sat down morosely beside his wife, waiting for th_ame to end.
  • Seeing his gloomy face as he frowned at his wife, the officers grew stil_errier, and some of them could not refrain from laughter, for which the_urriedly sought plausible pretexts. When he had gone, taking his wife wit_im, and had settled down with her in their covered cart, the officers la_own in the tavern, covering themselves with their wet cloaks, but they di_ot sleep for a long time; now they exchanged remarks, recalling the doctor'_neasiness and his wife's delight, now they ran out into the porch an_eported what was taking place in the covered trap. Several times Rostov,
  • covering his head, tried to go to sleep, but some remark would arouse him an_onversation would be resumed, to the accompaniment of unreasoning, merry,
  • childlike laughter.