down, and branches of the plum-trees had been pulled off with the fruit. An old peasant, whom Prince Andrey used to see in his childhood at the gate, was sitting on the green garden seat plaiting bast shoes.

He was deaf, and did not hear Prince Andrey’s approach. He was sitting on the seat on which the old prince liked to sit, and near him the bast was hanging on the branches of a broken and dried-up magnolia.

Prince Andrey rode up to the house. Several lime-trees in the old garden had been cut down; a piebald mare and a colt were among the rose-trees just before the house. The shutters were all up in the house, except on one open window downstairs. A servant lad caught sight of Prince Andrey and ran into the house.

Alpatitch had sent his family away, and was staying on alone at Bleak Hills. He was sitting indoors, reading the Lives of the Saints. On hearing that Prince Andrey had come, he ran out, spectacles on nose, buttoning himself up, hurried up to the prince, and without uttering a word, burst into tears, kissing his knee.

Then he turned away in anger at his own weakness, and began giving him an account of the position of affairs. Everything precious and valuable had been moved to Bogutcharovo. Corn to the amount of a hundred measures had been carried away, but the hay, and the wheat—an extraordinary crop that season, so Alpatitch said—had been cut green and carried off by the troops. The peasants were ruined: some of them, too, had gone to Bogutcharovo; a small number remained. Prince Andrey, not heeding his words, asked, “When did my father and sister go?” meaning when had they set off for Moscow. Alpatitch, assuming he was asking about the removal to Bogutcharovo, answered that they had set off on the 7th, and began going off again into details about the crops, asking for instructions.

“Is it your honour’s orders that I let the oats go on getting a receipt from the officers?” asked Alpatitch. “We have still six hundred measures left.”

“What am I to say to him?” Prince Andrey wondered, looking at the old man’s bald head shining in the sun, and reading in his face the consciousness that he knew himself the untimeliness of those questions, and asked them only to stifle his own grief.

“Yes, let it go,” he said.

“If your excellency noticed any disorder in the garden,” said Alpatitch, “it could not be prevented; three regiments have been here and spent the night. The dragoons were the worst; I noted down the name and rank of the commanding officer to lodge a complaint.”

“Well, and what are you going to do? Shall you stay, if the enemy occupies the place?” Prince Andrey asked him.

Alpatitch turned his face towards Prince Andrey and looked at him; then all at once, with a solemn gesture, he lifted his hand upwards: “He is my protector, and His will be done!” he said. A group of peasants and house-serfs were coming across the meadow, uncovering their heads as they drew near Prince Andrey.

“Well, good-bye!” said Prince Andrey, bending over to Alpatitch. “Go away yourself; take what you can; and tell the peasants to set off for the Ryazan estate or the property near Moscow.”

Alpatitch hugged his leg and broke into sobs. Prince Andrey gently moved him away, and spurring his horse galloped down the garden walk.

On the terrace the old man was still sitting as before, as uninterested as a fly on some beloved dead face, knocking on the sole of the bast shoe. And two little girls came running from the plum-trees in the conservatories with their skirts full of plums. They ran almost against Prince Andrey, and seeing their young master, the elder one clutched her younger companion by the hand, with a panic-stricken face, and hid with her behind a birch-tree not stopping to pick up the green plums they had dropped.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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