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Chapter 7

  • Petya, having left his people after their departure from Moscow, joined hi_egiment and was soon taken as orderly by a general commanding a larg_uerrilla detachment. From the time he received his commission, and especiall_ince he had joined the active army and taken part in the battle of Vyazma,
  • Petya had been in a constant state of blissful excitement at being grown-u_nd in a perpetual ecstatic hurry not to miss any chance to do somethin_eally heroic. He was highly delighted with what he saw and experienced in th_rmy, but at the same time it always seemed to him that the really heroi_xploits were being performed just where he did not happen to be. And he wa_lways in a hurry to get where he was not.
  • When on the twenty-first of October his general expressed a wish to sen_omebody to Denisov's detachment, Petya begged so piteously to be sent tha_he general could not refuse. But when dispatching him he recalled Petya's ma_ction at the battle of Vyazma, where instead of riding by the road to th_lace to which he had been sent, he had galloped to the advanced line unde_he fire of the French and had there twice fired his pistol. So now th_eneral explicitly forbade his taking part in any action whatever o_enisov's. That was why Petya had blushed and grown confused when Deniso_sked him whether he could stay. Before they had ridden to the outskirts o_he forest Petya had considered he must carry out his instructions strictl_nd return at once. But when he saw the French and saw Tikhon and learned tha_here would certainly be an attack that night, he decided, with the rapidit_ith which young people change their views, that the general, whom he ha_reatly respected till then, was a rubbishy German, that Denisov was a hero,
  • the esaul a hero, and Tikhon a hero too, and that it would be shameful for hi_o leave them at a moment of difficulty.
  • It was already growing dusk when Denisov, Petya, and the esaul rode up to th_atchhouse. In the twilight saddled horses could be seen, and Cossacks an_ussars who had rigged up rough shelters in the glade and were kindlin_lowing fires in a hollow of the forest where the French could not see th_moke. In the passage of the small watchhouse a Cossack with sleeves rolled u_as chopping some mutton. In the room three officers of Denisov's band wer_onverting a door into a tabletop. Petya took off his wet clothes, gave the_o be dried, and at once began helping the officers to fix up the dinne_able.
  • In ten minutes the table was ready and a napkin spread on it. On the tabl_ere vodka, a flask of rum, white bread, roast mutton, and salt.
  • Sitting at table with the officers and tearing the fat savory mutton with hi_ands, down which the grease trickled, Petya was in an ecstatic childish stat_f love for all men, and consequently of confidence that others loved him i_he same way.
  • "So then what do you think, Vasili Dmitrich?" said he to Denisov. "It's al_ight my staying a day with you?" And not waiting for a reply he answered hi_wn question: "You see I was told to find out- well, I am finding out… . Onl_o let me into the very… into the chief… I don't want a reward… But I want… "
  • Petya clenched his teeth and looked around, throwing back his head an_lourishing his arms.
  • "Into the vewy chief… " Denisov repeated with a smile.
  • "Only, please let me command something, so that I may really command… " Pety_ent on. "What would it be to you?… Oh, you want a knife?" he said, turning t_n officer who wished to cut himself a piece of mutton.
  • And he handed him his clasp knife. The officer admired it.
  • "Please keep it. I have several like it," said Petya, blushing. "Heavens! _as quite forgetting!" he suddenly cried. "I have some raisins, fine ones; yo_now, seedless ones. We have a new sutler and he has such capital things. _ought ten pounds. I am used to something sweet. Would you like some?… " an_etya ran out into the passage to his Cossack and brought back some bags whic_ontained about five pounds of raisins. "Have some, gentlemen, have some!"
  • "You want a coffeepot, don't you?" he asked the esaul. "I bought a capital on_rom our sutler! He has splendid things. And he's very honest, that's th_hief thing. I'll be sure to send it to you. Or perhaps your flints are givin_ut, or are worn out—that happens sometimes, you know. I have brought som_ith me, here they are"- and he showed a bag—"a hundred flints. I bought the_ery cheap. Please take as many as you want, or all if you like… ."
  • Then suddenly, dismayed lest he had said too much, Petya stopped and blushed.
  • He tried to remember whether he had not done anything else that was foolish.
  • And running over the events of the day he remembered the French drummer boy.
  • "It's capital for us here, but what of him? Where have they put him? Have the_ed him? Haven't they hurt his feelings?" he thought. But having caugh_imself saying too much about the flints, he was now afraid to speak out.
  • "I might ask," he thought, "but they'll say: 'He's a boy himself and so h_ities the boy.' I'll show them tomorrow whether I'm a boy. Will it seem od_f I ask?" Petya thought. "Well, never mind!" and immediately, blushing an_ooking anxiously at the officers to see if they appeared ironical, he said:
  • "May I call in that boy who was taken prisoner and give him something to eat?…
  • Perhaps… "
  • "Yes, he's a poor little fellow," said Denisov, who evidently saw nothin_hameful in this reminder. "Call him in. His name is Vincent Bosse. Have hi_etched."
  • "I'll call him," said Petya.
  • "Yes, yes, call him. A poor little fellow," Denisov repeated.
  • Petya was standing at the door when Denisov said this. He slipped in betwee_he officers, came close to Denisov, and said:
  • "Let me kiss you, dear old fellow! Oh, how fine, how splendid!"
  • And having kissed Denisov he ran out of the hut.
  • "Bosse! Vincent!" Petya cried, stopping outside the door.
  • "Who do you want, sir?" asked a voice in the darkness.
  • Petya replied that he wanted the French lad who had been captured that day.
  • "Ah, Vesenny?" said a Cossack.
  • Vincent, the boy's name, had already been changed by the Cossacks into Vesenny
  • (vernal) and into Vesenya by the peasants and soldiers. In both thes_daptations the reference to spring (vesna) matched the impression made by th_oung lad.
  • "He is warming himself there by the bonfire. Ho, Vesenya! Vesenya!—Vesenny!"
  • laughing voices were heard calling to one another in the darkness.
  • "He's a smart lad," said an hussar standing near Petya. "We gave him somethin_o eat a while ago. He was awfully hungry!"
  • The sound of bare feet splashing through the mud was heard in the darkness,
  • and the drummer boy came to the door.
  • "Ah, c'est vous!" said Petya. "Voulez-vous manger? N'ayez pas peur, on ne vou_era pas de mal,"[[112]](footnotes.xml#footnote_112) he added shyly an_ffectionately, touching the boy's hand. "Entrez,
  • entrez."[[113]](footnotes.xml#footnote_113) "Merci,
  • monsieur,"[[114]](footnotes.xml#footnote_114) said the drummer boy in _rembling almost childish voice, and he began scraping his dirty feet on th_hreshold. There were many things Petya wanted to say to the drummer boy, bu_id not dare to. He stood irresolutely beside him in the passage. Then in th_arkness he took the boy's hand and pressed it. "Come in, come in!" h_epeated in a gentle whisper. "Oh, what can I do for him?" he thought, an_pening the door he let the boy pass in first. When the boy had entered th_ut, Petya sat down at a distance from him, considering it beneath his dignit_o pay attention to him. But he fingered the money in his pocket and wondere_hether it would seem ridiculous to give some to the drummer boy.