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Anna Karenina 103


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today. He had scarcely got out of his carriage when his groom, the so-called "stable boy," recognizing the carriage some way off, called the trainer. A dry-looking Englishman, in high boots and a short jacket, clean-shaven, except for a tuft below his chin, came to meet him, walking with the uncouth gait of jockey, turning his elbows out and swaying from side to side. "Well, hows Frou-Frou?" Vronsky asked in English. "All right, sir," the Englishmans voice responded somewhere in the inside of his throat. "Better not go in," he added, touching his hat. "Ive put a muzzle on her, and the mares fidgety. Better not go in, itll excite the mare." "No, Im going in. I want to look at her." "Come along, then," said the Englishman, frowning, and speaking with his mouth shut, and, with swinging elbows, he went on in front with his disjointed gait. They went into the little yard in front of the shed. A stable boy, spruce and smart in his holiday attire, met them with a broom in his hand, and followed them. In the shed there were five horses in their separate stalls, and Vronsky knew that his chief rival, Gladiator, a very tall chestnut horse, had been brought there, and must be standing among them. Even more than his mare, Vronsky longed to see Gladiator, whom he had never seen. But he knew that by the etiquette of the race course it was not merely impossible for him to see the horse, but improper even to ask questions about him. Just as he was passing along the passage, the boy opened the door into the second horse-box on the left, and Vronsky caught a glimpse of a big chestnut horse with white legs. He knew that this was Gladiator, but, with the feeling of a man turning away from the sight of another mans open letter, he turned round and went into Frou-Frous stall. "The horse is here belonging to Mak...Mak...I never can say the name," said the Englishman, over his shoulder, pointing his big finger and dirty nail towards Gladiators stall. "Mahotin? Yes, hes my most serious rival," said Vronsky. "If you were riding him," said the Englishman, "Id bet on you." "Frou-Frous more nervous; hes stronger," said Vronsky, smiling at the compliment to his riding. "In a steeplechase it all depends on riding and on pluck," said the Englishman. Of pluck--that is, energy and courage--Vronsky did not merely feel that he had enough; what was of far more importance, he was firmly convinced that no one in the world could have more of this "pluck" than he had. "Dont you think I want more thinning down?" "Oh, no," answered the Englishman. "Please, dont speak loud. The mares fidgety," he added, nodding towards the horse-box, before which they were standing, and from which came the sound of restless stamping in the straw. He opened the door, and Vronsky went into the horse-box, dimly lighted by one little window. In the horse-box stood a dark bay mare, with a muzzle on, picking at the fresh straw with her hoofs. Looking round him in the twilight of the horse-box, Vronsky unconsciously took in once more in a comprehensive glance all the points of his favorite mare. Frou-Frou was a beast of medium size, not altogether free from reproach, from a breeders point of view. She was small-boned all over; though her chest was extremely prominent in front, it was narrow. Her hind-quarters were a little drooping, and in her fore-legs, and still more in her hind-legs, there was a noticeable curvature. The muscles of both hind- and fore-legs were not very thick; but across her shoulders the mare was exceptionally broad, a peculiarity specially striking now that she was lean from training. The bones of her legs below the knees looked no thicker than a finger from in front, but were extraordinarily thick seen from the side. She looked altogether, except across the shoulders, as it were, pinched in at the sides and pressed out in depth. But she had in the highest degree the quality that makes all defects forgotten: that quality was _blood_, the blood _that tells_, as the English expression has it. The muscles stood up sharply under the network of sinews, covered with the delicate, mobile skin, soft as satin, and they were hard as bone. Her clean-cut head, with prominent, bright, spirited eyes, broadened out at the open nostrils, that showed the red blood in the cartilage within.

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