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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Seven: 1810-11 - Chapter 3
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War And Peace - Book Seven: 1810-11 - Chapter 3 Post by :rlpublic Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1630

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War And Peace - Book Seven: 1810-11 - Chapter 3

The weather was already growing wintry and morning frosts
congealed an earth saturated by autumn rains. The verdure had
thickened and its bright green stood out sharply against the
brownish strips of winter rye trodden down by the cattle, and
against the pale-yellow stubble of the spring buckwheat. The wooded
ravines and the copses, which at the end of August had still been
green islands amid black fields and stubble, had become golden and
bright-red islands amid the green winter rye. The hares had already
half changed their summer coats, the fox cubs were beginning to
scatter, and the young wolves were bigger than dogs. It was the best
time of the year for the chase. The hounds of that ardent young
sportsman Rostov had not merely reached hard winter condition, but
were so jaded that at a meeting of the huntsmen it was decided to give
them a three days' rest and then, on the sixteenth of September, to go
on a distant expedition, starting from the oak grove where there was
an undisturbed litter of wolf cubs.

All that day the hounds remained at home. It was frosty and the
air was sharp, but toward evening the sky became overcast and it began
to thaw. On the fifteenth, when young Rostov, in his dressing gown,
looked out of the window, he saw it was an unsurpassable morning for
hunting: it was as if the sky were melting and sinking to the earth
without any wind. The only motion in the air was that of the dripping,
microscopic particles of drizzling mist. The bare twigs in the
garden were hung with transparent drops which fell on the freshly
fallen leaves. The earth in the kitchen garden looked wet and black
and glistened like poppy seed and at a short distance merged into
the dull, moist veil of mist. Nicholas went out into the wet and muddy
porch. There was a smell of decaying leaves and of dog. Milka, a
black-spotted, broad-haunched bitch with prominent black eyes, got
up on seeing her master, stretched her hind legs, lay down like a
hare, and then suddenly jumped up and licked him right on his nose and
mustache. Another borzoi, a dog, catching sight of his master from the
garden path, arched his back and, rushing headlong toward the porch
with lifted tail, began rubbing himself against his legs.

"O-hoy!" came at that moment, that inimitable huntsman's call
which unites the deepest bass with the shrillest tenor, and round
the corner came Daniel the head huntsman and head kennelman, a gray,
wrinkled old man with hair cut straight over his forehead, Ukrainian
fashion, a long bent whip in his hand, and that look of independence
and scorn of everything that is only seen in huntsmen. He doffed his
Circassian cap to his master and looked at him scornfully. This
scorn was not offensive to his master. Nicholas knew that this Daniel,
disdainful of everybody and who considered himself above them, was all
the same his serf and huntsman.

"Daniel!" Nicholas said timidly, conscious at the sight of the
weather, the hounds, and the huntsman that he was being carried away
by that irresistible passion for sport which makes a man forget all
his previous resolutions, as a lover forgets in the presence of his
mistress.

"What orders, your excellency?" said the huntsman in his deep
bass, deep as a proto-deacon's and hoarse with hallooing- and two
flashing black eyes gazed from under his brows at his master, who
was silent. "Can you resist it?" those eyes seemed to be asking.

"It's a good day, eh? For a hunt and a gallop, eh?" asked
Nicholas, scratching Milka behind the ears.

Daniel did not answer, but winked instead.

"I sent Uvarka at dawn to listen," his bass boomed out after a
minute's pause. "He says she's moved them into the Otradnoe enclosure.
They were howling there." (This meant that the she-wolf, about whom
they both knew, had moved with her cubs to the Otradnoe copse, a small
place a mile and a half from the house.)

"We ought to go, don't you think so?" said Nicholas. "Come to me
with Uvarka."

"As you please."

"Then put off feeding them."

"Yes, sir."

Five minutes later Daniel and Uvarka were standing in Nicholas'
big study. Though Daniel was not a big man, to see him in a room was
like seeing a horse or a bear on the floor among the furniture and
surroundings of human life. Daniel himself felt this, and as usual
stood just inside the door, trying to speak softly and not move, for
fear of breaking something in the master's apartment, and he
hastened to say all that was necessary so as to get from under that
ceiling, out into the open under the sky once more.

Having finished his inquiries and extorted from Daniel an opinion
that the hounds were fit (Daniel himself wished to go hunting),
Nicholas ordered the horses to be saddled. But just as Daniel was
about to go Natasha came in with rapid steps, not having done up her
hair or finished dressing and with her old nurse's big shawl wrapped
round her. Petya ran in at the same time.

"You are going?" asked Natasha. "I knew you would! Sonya said you
wouldn't go, but I knew that today is the sort of day when you
couldn't help going."

"Yes, we are going," replied Nicholas reluctantly, for today, as
he intended to hunt seriously, he did not want to take Natasha and
Petya. "We are going, but only wolf hunting: it would be dull for
you."

"You know it is my greatest pleasure," said Natasha. "It's not fair;
you are going by yourself, are having the horses saddled and said
nothing to us about it."

"'No barrier bars a Russian's path'- we'll go!" shouted Petya.

"But you can't. Mamma said you mustn't," said Nicholas to Natasha.

"Yes, I'll go. I shall certainly go," said Natasha decisively.
"Daniel, tell them to saddle for us, and Michael must come with my
dogs," she added to the huntsman.

It seemed to Daniel irksome and improper to be in a room at all, but
to have anything to do with a young lady seemed to him impossible.
He cast down his eyes and hurried out as if it were none of his
business, careful as he went not to inflict any accidental injury on
the young lady.

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The old count, who had always kept up an enormous huntingestablishment but had now handed it all completely over to his son'scare, being in very good spirits on this fifteenth of September,prepared to go out with the others.In an hour's time the whole hunting party was at the porch.Nicholas, with a stern and serious air which showed that now was notime for attending to trifles, went past Natasha and Petya who weretrying to tell him something. He had a look at all the details ofthe hunt, sent a pack of hounds and huntsmen on ahead to find thequarry, mounted his chestnut
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After reaching home Nicholas was at first serious and even dull.He was worried by the impending necessity of interfering in the stupidbusiness matters for which his mother had called him home. To throwoff this burden as quickly as possible, on the third day after hisarrival he went, angry and scowling and without answering questions asto where he was going, to Mitenka's lodge and demanded an account ofeverything. But what an account of everything might be Nicholas kneweven less than the frightened and bewildered Mitenka. The conversationand the examination of the accounts with Mitenka did not last long.The village elder, a peasant
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