“Your pride is dear to you, you don’t want to apologise,” continued the staff-captain, “but we old fellows, as we grew up in the regiment and, please God, we hope to die in it, it’s the honour of the regiment is dear to us, and Bogdanitch knows that. Ah, isn’t it dear to us! But this isn’t right; it’s not right! You may take offence or not; but I always speak the plain truth. It’s not right!”

And the staff-captain got up and turned away from Rostov.

“That’s the truth, damn it!” shouted Denisov, jumping up. “Come, Rostov, come!”

Rostov, turning crimson and white again, looked first at one officer and then at the other.

“No, gentlemen, no … you mustn’t think … I quite understand, you’re wrong in thinking that of me … I … for me … for the honour of the regiment I’d … but why talk? I’ll prove that in action and for me the honour of the flag … well, never mind, it’s true, I’m to blame!” … There were tears in his eyes. “I’m wrong, wrong all round! Well, what more do you want?” …

“Come, that’s right, count,” cried the staff-captain, turning round and clapping him on the shoulder with his big hand.

“I tell you,” shouted Denisov, “he’s a capital fellow.”

‘That’s better, count,” repeated the captain, beginning to address him by his title as though in acknowledgment of his confession. “Go and apologise, your excellency.”

“Gentlemen, I’ll do anything, no one shall hear a word from me,” Rostov protested in an imploring voice, “but I can’t apologise, by God, I can’t, say what you will! How can I apologise, like a little boy begging pardon!”

Denisov laughed.

“It’ll be the worse for you, if you don’t. Bogdanitch doesn’t forget things; he’ll make you pay for your obstinacy,” said Kirsten.

“By God, it’s not obstinacy! I can’t describe the feeling it gives me. I can’t do it.”

“Well, as you like,” said the staff-captain. “What has the scoundrel done with himself?” he asked Denisov.

“He has reported himself ill; to-morrow the order’s given for him to be struck off,” said Denisov.

“It is an illness, there’s no other way of explaining it,” said the staff-captain.

“Whether it’s illness or whether it’s not, he’d better not cross my path—I’d kill him,” Denisov shouted bloodthirstily.

Zherkov walked into the room.

“How do you come here?” the officers cried to the newcomer at once.

“To the front, gentlemen. Mack has surrendered with his whole army.”


“I’ve seen him myself.”

“What? Seen Mack alive, with all his arms and legs?”

“To the front! to the front! Give him a bottle for such news. How did you come here?”

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