L. N. Tolstoy. War and peace. Volume four. Part Three V
It rained through, but the fog fell and drops of water from the branches of the trees. Denisov, sesaul, and Petya were silently following the man in the hood, who was walking with his legs turned upside down on the roots and wet leaves, leading them to the edge of the forest.
When the man came out on the drag, he stopped, looked around and headed towards the thinning wall of the trees. He stopped at the big oak tree, which had not yet fallen off the leaf, and mysteriously lured it to him with his hand.
Denisov and Petya approached him. From where the man was staying, the French were visible. Now, behind the forest was going down a half-bumpy spring field. To the right, through a steep ravine, you could see a small village and a manor house with ruined roofs. In this village, both in the manor house and all over the hill, in the garden, at the wells and pond, and along the entire road from the bridge to the village, no more than two hundred sazhens of distance, were seen in the fluctuating fog of the crowd. Their non-Russian shouts at the horses in wagons pulled out into the mountain and calls to each other were clearly heard.
- Give the prisoner here," Denisov said quietly, keeping an eye on the French.
The Cossack got off his horse, took the boy off and approached Denisov with him. Denisov, pointing to the French, asked what and what kind of troops they were. The boy, having stuck his frozen hands in his pockets and raised his eyebrows, looked frightened at Denisov and, despite the obvious desire to say everything he knew, was confused in his answers and only confirmed what Denisov was asking. Denisov, frowning, turned away from him and turned to Esaul, giving him his thoughts.
Petya, turning his head quickly, looked back at the drummer, Denisov, the Esaul, the French in the village and on the road, trying not to miss anything important.
- Pg'go, not Pg'go Dolokhov, bg'ath!... А? - Denisov said, shining his eyes merrily.
- The place is convenient," said Esaul.
- We'll send infantry down with swamps," Denisov continued, "and they'll climb up to the garden; you'll come with the Cossacks from there," Denisov pointed to the forest behind the village, "and I'll go with my geese from here. And by the quilting...
- A mire wouldn't be a mire," said Esaul. - If you tie up your horses, you'll have to go around the field...
While they were speaking in such a way, down in the valley from the pond, one shot clicked, the smoke came out, the other one sounded friendly, like a cheerful scream of hundreds of votes of the French who were on the half-mountain. In the first minute, both Denisov and Esaul went back. They were so close that they thought they were the cause of the shots and screams. But the shots and shouts weren't related to them. A man in something red ran down the swamps. Apparently, he was shot and shouted at by the French.
- This is Tikhon," said Esaul.
- He is! He is!
- The era of the shelf," said Denisov.
- He will leave! - Sharpening his eyes, said Esaul.
The man, whom they called Tikhon, ran up to the river and broke into it in such a way that the spatter flew away, hiding for a moment, all black from the water, and got out on all fours and ran further. The French, who were running after him, stopped.
- Well, that's a trick," said Esaul.
- What a beast! - Denisov spoke with the same frustration. - And what has he been doing so far?
- Who's that? - Petya asked.
- This is our Plast member. I sent him to take his tongue.
- Oh, yes," said Petya from the first word of Denisov, nodding his head as if he understood everything, though he did not understand a single word.
Tychon Scherbatyi was one of the most needed people in the party. He was a man from Pokrovsky under Grunt. When, at the beginning of his actions, Denisov came to Pokrovskoe and, as always, calling the headman, asked what they knew about the French, the headman answered as all the headmen answered, as if defending themselves that they knew nothing, did not know. But when Denisov explained to them that his purpose was to beat the French, and when he asked if the French had waited for them, the mayor said that the myroders had been there exactly, but that they had only one Tishka Scherbatyy in the village to do these things. Denisov ordered to invite Tikhon to his house and, praising him for his work, said a few words about the loyalty to the king and the homeland and hatred for the French, which should be guarded by the sons of the fatherland.
- We don't do bad things to the French," said Tikhon, apparently sprawling with these words of Denisov. - That's the only way we've been hunting with the guys. We beat up dozens of myroders, or we didn't do anything bad... - The next day, when Denisov, having completely forgotten about this guy, left Pokrovsky, he was told that Tikhon had stuck to the game and asked to be left with it. Denisov told him to leave him.
Tikhon, who at first corrected the black work of making fires, delivering water, ripping horses off, etc., soon proved to be a great hunter and capable of guerrilla warfare. He used to go out at night to prey and every time he brought his dress and French weapons, and when he was ordered, he also brought prisoners. Denisov abandoned Tikhon from his work, began to take him with him on the road and enrolled him in the Cossacks.
Tikhon did not like riding and always walked, never lagging behind the cavalry. His weapon was a musketeer, which he wore more for laughter, peak and axe, which he owned as a wolf owns teeth, equally easily choosing fleas from wool and eating thick bones. Tikhon would split the logs with an axe from all sides and, taking the axe by the shoes, he would trim their thin pegs and cut out spoons. In the game of Denisov Tikhon took his special, exceptional place. When it was necessary to do something especially difficult and nasty - to turn a horse out of the dirt of a cart with his shoulder, to pull a horse out of the swamp by its tail, to rip it off, to climb into the very middle of the French, to pass fifty versts a day - everybody pointed, laughing, at Tikhon.
- What the hell is he doing, a giant meringue," they said of him.
Once the Frenchman Tikhon took him, shot him with a gun and hit him in the pulp of his back. This wound, from which Tikhon was treated only with vodka, both internally and externally, was the subject of the funniest jokes in the whole unit and jokes that Tikhon was willing to give in to.
- What, brother, you won't? Ali curled up? - Cossacks laughed at him, and Tikhon, intentionally curled up and made faces, pretending that he was angry, was scolding the French with the funniest swearing. This case only had an impact on Tikhon because he rarely brought prisoners after his wound.
Tikhon was the most useful and brave man in the party. No one else had opened up any more cases of attack, no one else had beaten him up or beaten the French; and as a result, he was a jester of all Cossacks, hussars and himself willingly succumbed to this rank. Now Tikhon was sent by Denisov, the night before, to Shamshevo in order to take the tongue. But, either because he was not satisfied with one Frenchman, or because he had slept through the night, he climbed into the bushes in the afternoon, into the middle of the French and, as he saw from Mount Denisov, was discovered by them.