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Chapter V.18

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Going along the corridor, the assistant led Rostov to the officers' wards, consisting of three rooms, the doors of which stood open. There were beds in these rooms and the sick and wounded officers were lying or sitting on them. Some were walking about the rooms in hospital dressing gowns. The first person Rostov met in the officers' ward was a thin little man with one arm, who was walking about the first room in a nightcap and hospital dressing gown, with a pipe between his teeth. Rostov looked at him, trying to remember where he had seen him before.

"See where we've met again!" said the little man. "Tushin, Tushin, don't you remember, who gave you a lift at Schon Grabern? And I've had a bit cut off, you see..." he went on with a smile, pointing to the empty sleeve of his dressing gown. "Looking for Vasili Dmitrich Denisov? My neighbor," he added, when he heard who Rostov wanted. "Here, here," and Tushin led him into the next room, from whence came sounds of several laughing voices.

"How can they laugh, or even live at all here?" thought Rostov, still aware of that smell of decomposing flesh that had been so strong in the soldiers' ward, and still seeming to see fixed on him those envious looks which had followed him out from both sides, and the face of that young soldier with eyes rolled back.

Denisov lay asleep on his bed with his head under the blanket, though it was nearly noon.

"Ah, Wostov? How are you, how are you?" he called out, still in the same voice as in the regiment, but Rostov noticed sadly that under this habitual ease and animation some new, sinister, hidden feeling showed itself in the expression of Denisov's face and the intonations of his voice.

His wound, though a slight one, had not yet healed even now, six weeks after he had been hit. His face had the same swollen pallor as the faces of the other hospital patients, but it was not this that struck Rostov. What struck him was that Denisov did not seem glad to see him, and smiled at him unnaturally. He did not ask about the regiment, nor about the general state of affairs, and when Rostov spoke of these matters did not listen.

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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