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War And Peace 173


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could lift the back of the carriage from behind, sat plaiting slippers out of cloth selvedges. He looked up at the opening door and his expression of sleepy indifference suddenly changed to one of delighted amazement. "Gracious heavens! The young count!" he cried, recognizing his young master. "Can it be? My treasure!" and Prokofy, trembling with excitement, rushed toward the drawing-room door, probably in order to announce him, but, changing his mind, came back and stooped to kiss the young mans shoulder. "All well?" asked Rostov, drawing away his arm. "Yes, God be thanked! Yes! Theyve just finished supper. Let me have a look at you, your excellency." "Is everything quite all right?" "The Lord be thanked, yes!" Rostov, who had completely forgotten Denisov, not wishing anyone to forestall him, threw off his fur coat and ran on tiptoe through the large dark ballroom. All was the same: there were the same old card tables and the same chandelier with a cover over it; but someone had already seen the young master, and, before he had reached the drawing room, something flew out from a side door like a tornado and began hugging and kissing him. Another and yet another creature of the same kind sprang from a second door and a third; more hugging, more kissing, more outcries, and tears of joy. He could not distinguish which was Papa, which Natasha, and which Petya. Everyone shouted, talked, and kissed him at the same time. Only his mother was not there, he noticed that. "And I did not know... Nicholas... My darling!..." "Here he is... our own... Kolya,* dear fellow... How he has changed!... Where are the candles?... Tea!..." *Nicholas. "And me, kiss me!" "Dearest... and me!" Sonya, Natasha, Petya, Anna Mikhaylovna, Vera, and the old count were all hugging him, and the serfs, men and maids, flocked into the room, exclaiming and oh-ing and ah-ing. Petya, clinging to his legs, kept shouting, "And me too!" Natasha, after she had pulled him down toward her and covered his face with kisses, holding him tight by the skirt of his coat, sprang away and pranced up and down in one place like a goat and shrieked piercingly. All around were loving eyes glistening with tears of joy, and all around were lips seeking a kiss. Sonya too, all rosy red, clung to his arm and, radiant with bliss, looked eagerly toward his eyes, waiting for the look for which she longed. Sonya now was sixteen and she was very pretty, especially at this moment of happy, rapturous excitement. She gazed at him, not taking her eyes off him, and smiling and holding her breath. He gave her a grateful look, but was still expectant and looking for someone. The old countess had not yet come. But now steps were heard at the door, steps so rapid that they could hardly be his mothers. Yet it was she, dressed in a new gown which he did not know, made since he had left. All the others let him go, and he ran to her. When they met, she fell on his breast, sobbing. She could not lift her face, but only pressed it to the cold braiding of his hussars jacket. Denisov, who had come into the room unnoticed by anyone, stood there and wiped his eyes at the sight. "Vasili Denisov, your sons friend," he said, introducing himself to the count, who was looking inquiringly at him. "You are most welcome! I know, I know," said the count, kissing and embracing Denisov. "Nicholas wrote us... Natasha, Vera, look! Here is Denisov!" The same happy, rapturous faces turned to the shaggy figure of Denisov. "Darling Denisov!" screamed Natasha, beside herself with rapture, springing to him, putting her arms round him, and kissing him. This escapade made everybody feel confused. Denisov blushed too, but smiled and, taking Natashas hand, kissed it. Denisov was shown to the room prepared for him, and the Rostovs all gathered round Nicholas in the sitting room. The old countess, not letting go of his hand and kissing it every moment, sat beside him: the rest, crowding round him, watched every movement, word, or look of his, never taking their blissfully adoring eyes off him. His brother and sisters struggled for the places nearest to him and disputed with one another who should bring him his tea, handkerchief, and pipe. Rostov was very happy in the love they showed him; but the first moment of meeting had been so beatific that his present joy seemed insufficient, and he kept expecting something more, more and yet more. Next morning, after the fatigues of their journey, the travelers slept till

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