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Arms and the Man

In the library after lunch. It is not much of a library, its literary equipment
consisting of a single fixed shelf stocked with old paper-covered novels, broken
backed, coffee stained, torn and thumbed, and a couple of little hanging shelves
with a few gift books on them, the rest of the wall space being occupied by
trophies of war and the chase. But it is a most comfortable sitting-room. A row of
three large windows in the front of the house shew a mountain panorama, which
is just now seen in one of its softest aspects in the mellowing afternoon light. In
the left hand corner, a square earthenware stove, a perfect tower of colored
pottery, rises nearly to the ceiling and guarantees plenty of warmth. The ottoman
in the middle is a circular bank of decorated cushions, and the window seats are
well upholstered divans. Little Turkish tables, one of them with an elaborate
hookah on it, and a screen to match them, complete the handsome effect of the
furnishing. There is one object, however, which is hopelessly out of keeping with
its surroundings. This is a small kitchen table, much the worse for wear, fitted as
a writing table with an old canister full of pens, an eggcup filled with ink, and a
deplorable scrap of severely used pink blotting paper.
At the side of this table, which stands on the right, Bluntschli is hard at work, with
a couple of maps before him, writing orders. At the head of it sits Sergius, who is
also supposed to be at work, but who is actually gnawing the feather of a pen,
and contemplating Bluntschli's quick, sure, businesslike progress with a mixture
of envious irritation at his own incapacity, and awestruck wonder at an ability
which seems to him almost miraculous, though its prosaic character forbids him
to esteem it. The major is comfortably established on the ottoman, with a
newspaper in his hand and the tube of the hookah within his reach. Catherine
sits at the stove, with her back to them, embroidering. Raina, reclining on the
divan under the left hand window, is gazing in a daydream out at the Balkan
landscape, with a neglected novel in her lap.
The door is on the left. The button of the electric bell is between the door and the
PETKOFF (looking up from his paper to watch how they are getting on at the
table). Are you sure I can't help you in any way, Bluntschli?
BLUNTSCHLI (without interrupting his writing or looking up). Quite sure, thank
you. Saranoff and I will manage it.
SERGIUS (grimly). Yes: we'll manage it. He finds out what to do; draws up the
orders; and I sign 'em. Division of labour, Major. (Bluntschli passes him a paper.)
Another one? Thank you. (He plants the papers squarely before him; sets his
chair carefully parallel to them; and signs with the air of a man resolutely