Everything within himself and around him struck him as confused, meaningless, and loathsome. But in this very loathing of everything surrounding him Pierre found a sort of tantalising satisfaction.

“I make bold to beg your excellency to make room the least bit for this gentleman here,” said the overseer, coming into the room and ushering in after him another traveller, brought to a standstill from lack of horses. The traveller was a thickset, square-shouldered, yellow, wrinkled old man, with grey eyelashes overhanging gleaming eyes of an indefinite grey colour.

Pierre took his feet off the table, stood up and went to lie down on the bed that had been made ready for him, glancing now and then at the newcomer, who, without looking at Pierre, with an air of surly fatigue was wearily taking off his outer wraps with the aid of his servant. The traveller, now clothed in a shabby nankin-covered sheepskin coat with felt highboots on his thin bony legs, sat down on the sofa, and leaning on its back his close-cropped head, which was very large and broad across the temples, he glanced at Bezuhov. The stern, shrewd, and penetrating expression in that glance impressed Pierre. He felt disposed to speak to the traveller, but by the time he had ready a question about the road with which to address him, the traveller had closed his eyes, and folded his wrinkled old hands, on one finger of which there was a large iron ring with a seal representing the head of Adam. He sat without stirring, either resting or sunk, as it seemed to Pierre, in profound and calm meditation. The newcomer’s servant was also a yellow old man, covered with wrinkles. He had neither moustache nor beard, not because he was shaved, but obviously had never had any. The old servant was active in unpacking a travelling-case, in setting the tea-table and in bringing in a boiling samovar. When everything was ready, the traveller opened his eyes, moved to the table, and pouring out a glass of tea for himself, poured out another for the beardless old man and gave it him. Pierre began to feel an uneasiness and a sense of the necessity, of the inevitability of entering into conversation with the traveller.

The servant brought back his empty glass turned upside down with an unfinished piece of nibbled sugar beside it, and asked if anything were wanted.

“Nothing. Give me my book,” said the traveller. The servant gave him a book, which seemed to Pierre to be of a devotional character, and the traveller became absorbed in its perusal. Pierre looked at him. All at once the stranger laid down the book, and putting a mark in it, shut it up. Then closing his eyes and leaning his arms on the back of the sofa, he fell back into his former attitude. Pierre stared at him, and had not time to look away when the old man opened his eyes and bent his resolute and stern glance upon Pierre. Pierre felt confused and tried to turn away from that glance, but the gleaming old eyes drew him irresistibly to them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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