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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 3
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War And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 3 Post by :magicat90 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :926

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 3 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 3

On that third of March, all the rooms in the English Club were
filled with a hum of conversation, like the hum of bees swarming in
springtime. The members and guests of the Club wandered hither and
thither, sat, stood, met, and separated, some in uniform and some in
evening dress, and a few here and there with powdered hair and in
Russian kaftans. Powdered footmen, in livery with buckled shoes and
smart stockings, stood at every door anxiously noting visitors'
every movement in order to offer their services. Most of those present
were elderly, respected men with broad, self-confident faces, fat
fingers, and resolute gestures and voices. This class of guests and
members sat in certain habitual places and met in certain habitual
groups. A minority of those present were casual guests- chiefly
young men, among whom were Denisov, Rostov, and Dolokhov- who was
now again an officer in the Semenov regiment. The faces of these young
people, especially those who were militarymen, bore that expression of
condescending respect for their elders which seems to say to the older
generation, "We are prepared to respect and honor you, but all the
same remember that the future belongs to us."

Nesvitski was there as an old member of the Club. Pierre, who at his
wife's command had let his hair grow and abandoned his spectacles,
went about the rooms fashionably dressed but looking sad and dull.
Here, as elsewhere, he was surrounded by an atmosphere of subservience
to his wealth, and being in the habit of lording it over these people,
he treated them with absent-minded contempt.

By his age he should have belonged to the younger men, but by his
wealth and connections he belonged to the groups old and honored
guests, and so he went from one group to another. Some of the most
important old men were the center of groups which even strangers
approached respectfully to hear the voices of well-known men. The
largest circles formed round Count Rostopchin, Valuev, and
Naryshkin. Rostopchin was describing how the Russians had been
overwhelmed by flying Austrians and had had to force their way through
them with bayonets.

Valuev was confidentially telling that Uvarov had been sent from
Petersburg to ascertain what Moscow was thinking about Austerlitz.

In the third circle, Naryshkin was speaking of the meeting of the
Austrian Council of War at which Suvorov crowed like a cock in reply
to the nonsense talked by the Austrian generals. Shinshin, standing
close by, tried to make a joke, saying that Kutuzov had evidently
failed to learn from Suvorov even so simple a thing as the art of
crowing like a cock, but the elder members glanced severely at the
wit, making him feel that in that place and on that day, it was
improper to speak so of Kutuzov.

Count Ilya Rostov, hurried and preoccupied, went about in his soft
boots between the dining and drawing rooms, hastily greeting the
important and unimportant, all of whom he knew, as if they were all
equals, while his eyes occasionally sought out his fine well-set-up
young son, resting on him and winking joyfully at him. Young Rostov
stood at a window with Dolokhov, whose acquaintance he had lately made
and highly valued. The old count came up to them and pressed
Dolokhov's hand.

"Please come and visit us... you know my brave boy... been
together out there... both playing the hero... Ah, Vasili
Ignatovich... How d'ye do, old fellow?" he said, turning to an old man
who was passing, but before he had finished his greeting there was a
general stir, and a footman who had run in announced, with a
frightened face: "He's arrived!"

Bells rang, the stewards rushed forward, and- like rye shaken
together in a shovel- the guests who had been scattered about in
different rooms came together and crowded in the large drawing room by
the door of the ballroom.

Bagration appeared in the doorway of the anteroom without hat or
sword, which, in accord with the Club custom, he had given up to the
hall porter. He had no lambskin cap on his head, nor had he a loaded
whip over his shoulder, as when Rostov had seen him on the eve of
the battle of Austerlitz, but wore a tight new uniform with Russian
and foreign Orders, and the Star of St. George on his left breast.
Evidently just before coming to the dinner he had had his hair and
whiskers trimmed, which changed his appearance for the worse. There
was something naively festive in his air, which, in conjunction with
his firm and virile features, gave him a rather comical expression.
Bekleshev and Theodore Uvarov, who had arrived with him, paused at the
doorway to allow him, as the guest of honor, to enter first. Bagration
was embarrassed, not wishing to avail himself of their courtesy, and
this caused some delay at the doors, but after all he did at last
enter first. He walked shyly and awkwardly over the parquet floor of
the reception room, not knowing what to do with his hands; he was more
accustomed to walk over a plowed field under fire, as he had done at
the head of the Kursk regiment at Schon Grabern- and he would have
found that easier. The committeemen met him at the first door and,
expressing their delight at seeing such a highly honored guest, took
possession of him as it were, without waiting for his reply,
surrounded him, and led him to the drawing room. It was at first
impossible to enter the drawing-room door for the crowd of members and
guests jostling one another and trying to get a good look at Bagration
over each other's shoulders, as if he were some rare animal. Count
Ilya Rostov, laughing and repeating the words, "Make way, dear boy!
Make way, make way!" pushed through the crowd more energetically
than anyone, led the guests into the drawing room, and seated them
on the center sofa. The bigwigs, the most respected members of the
Club, beset the new arrivals. Count Ilya, again thrusting his way
through the crowd, went out of the drawing room and reappeared a
minute later with another committeeman, carrying a large silver salver
which he presented to Prince Bagration. On the salver lay some
verses composed and printed in the hero's honor. Bagration, on
seeing the salver, glanced around in dismay, as though seeking help.
But all eyes demanded that he should submit. Feeling himself in
their power, he resolutely took the salver with both hands and
looked sternly and reproachfully at the count who had presented it
to him. Someone obligingly took the dish from Bagration (or he
would, it seemed, have held it till evening and have gone in to dinner
with it) and drew his attention to the verses.

"Well, I will read them, then!" Bagration seemed to say, and, fixing
his weary eyes on the paper, began to read them with a fixed and
serious expression. But the author himself took the verses and began
reading them aloud. Bagration bowed his bead and listened:

Bring glory then to Alexander's reign
And on the throne our Titus shield.
A dreaded foe be thou, kindhearted as a man,
A Rhipheus at home, a Caesar in the field!
E'en fortunate Napoleon
Knows by experience, now, Bagration,
And dare not Herculean Russians trouble...

But before he had finished reading, a stentorian major-domo
announced that dinner was ready! The door opened, and from the
dining room came the resounding strains of the polonaise:

Conquest's joyful thunder waken,
Triumph, valiant Russians, now!...

and Count Rostov, glancing angrily at the author who went on reading
his verses, bowed to Bagration. Everyone rose, feeling that dinner was
more important than verses, and Bagration, again preceding all the
rest, went in to dinner. He was seated in the place of honor between
two Alexanders- Bekleshev and Naryshkin- which was a significant
allusion to the name of the sovereign. Three hundred persons took
their seats in the dining room, according to their rank and
importance: the more important nearer to the honored guest, as
naturally as water flows deepest where the land lies lowest.

Just before dinner, Count Ilya Rostov presented his son to
Bagration, who recognized him and said a few words to him,
disjointed and awkward, as were all the words he spoke that day, and
Count Ilya looked joyfully and proudly around while Bagration spoke to
his son.

Nicholas Rostov, with Denisov and his new acquaintance, Dolokhov,
sat almost at the middle of the table. Facing them sat Pierre,
beside Prince Nesvitski. Count Ilya Rostov with the other members of
the committee sat facing Bagration and, as the very personification of
Moscow hospitality, did the honors to the prince.

His efforts had not been in vain. The dinner, both the Lenten and
the other fare, was splendid, yet he could not feel quite at ease till
the end of the meal. He winked at the butler, whispered directions
to the footmen, and awaited each expected dish with some anxiety.
Everything was excellent. With the second course, a gigantic sterlet
(at sight of which Ilya Rostov blushed with self-conscious
pleasure), the footmen began popping corks and filling the champagne
glasses. After the fish, which made a certain sensation, the count
exchanged glances with the other committeemen. "There will be many
toasts, it's time to begin," he whispered, and taking up his glass, he
rose. All were silent, waiting for what he would say.

"To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!" he cried, and at
the same moment his kindly eyes grew moist with tears of joy and
enthusiasm. The band immediately struck up "Conquest's joyful
thunder waken..." All rose and cried "Hurrah!" Bagration also rose and
shouted "Hurrah!" in exactly the same voice in which he had shouted it
on the field at Schon Grabern. Young Rostov's ecstatic voice could
be heard above the three hundred others. He nearly wept. "To the
health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!" he roared, "Hurrah!" and
emptying his glass at one gulp he dashed it to the floor. Many
followed his example, and the loud shouting continued for a long time.
When the voices subsided, the footmen cleared away the broken glass
and everybody sat down again, smiling at the noise they had made and
exchanging remarks. The old count rose once more, glanced at a note
lying beside his plate, and proposed a toast, "To the health of the
hero of our last campaign, Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration!" and
again his blue eyes grew moist. "Hurrah!" cried the three hundred
voices again, but instead of the band a choir began singing a
cantata composed by Paul Ivanovich Kutuzov:

Russians! O'er all barriers on!
Courage conquest guarantees;
Have we not Bagration?
He brings foe men to their knees,... etc.


As soon as the singing was over, another and another toast was
proposed and Count Ilya Rostov became more and more moved, more
glass was smashed, and the shouting grew louder. They drank to
Bekleshev, Naryshkin, Uvarov, Dolgorukov, Apraksin, Valuev, to the
committee, to all the Club members and to all the Club guests, and
finally to Count Ilya Rostov separately, as the organizer of the
banquet. At that toast, the count took out his handkerchief and,
covering his face, wept outright.

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Pierre sat opposite Dolokhov and Nicholas Rostov. As usual, he ateand drank much, and eagerly. But those who knew him intimately noticedthat some great change had come over him that day. He was silent allthrough dinner and looked about, blinking and scowling, or, with fixedeyes and a look of complete absent-mindedness, kept rubbing the bridgeof his nose. His face was depressed and gloomy. He seemed to see andhear nothing of what was going on around him and to be absorbed bysome depressing and unsolved problem.The unsolved problem that tormented him was caused by hints given bythe princess, his cousin, at Moscow,
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On his return to Moscow from the army, Nicholas Rostov waswelcomed by his home circle as the best of sons, a hero, and theirdarling Nikolenka; by his relations as a charming, attractive, andpolite young man; by his acquaintances as a handsome lieutenant ofhussars, a good dancer, and one of the best matches in the city.The Rostovs knew everybody in Moscow. The old count had money enoughthat year, as all his estates had been remortgaged, and so Nicholas,acquiring a trotter of his own, very stylish riding breeches of thelatest cut, such as no one else yet had in Moscow, and boots of
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