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War And Peace 243

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War And Peace

he had evidently only just put on, standing in that room, and his valet was buttoning on to the back of his breeches a new pair of handsome silk-embroidered braces that, for some reason, attracted Rostovs attention. This man was speaking to someone in the adjoining room. "A good figure and in her first bloom," he was saying, but on seeing Rostov, he stopped short and frowned. "What is it? A petition?" "What is it?" asked the person in the other room. "Another petitioner," answered the man with the braces. "Tell him to come later. Hell be coming out directly, we must go." "Later... later! Tomorrow. Its too late..." Rostov turned and was about to go, but the man in the braces stopped him. "Whom have you come from? Who are you?" "I come from Major Denisov," answered Rostov. "Are you an officer?" "Lieutenant Count Rostov." "What audacity! Hand it in through your commander. And go along with you... go," and he continued to put on the uniform the valet handed him. Rostov went back into the hall and noticed that in the porch there were many officers and generals in full parade uniform, whom he had to pass. Cursing his temerity, his heart sinking at the thought of finding himself at any moment face to face with the Emperor and being put to shame and arrested in his presence, fully alive now to the impropriety of his conduct and repenting of it, Rostov, with downcast eyes, was making his way out of the house through the brilliant suite when a familiar voice called him and a hand detained him. "What are you doing here, sir, in civilian dress?" asked a deep voice. It was a cavalry general who had obtained the Emperors special favor during this campaign, and who had formerly commanded the division in which Rostov was serving. Rostov, in dismay, began justifying himself, but seeing the kindly, jocular face of the general, he took him aside and in an excited voice told him the whole affair, asking him to intercede for Denisov, whom the general knew. Having heard Rostov to the end, the general shook his head gravely. "Im sorry, sorry for that fine fellow. Give me the letter." Hardly had Rostov handed him the letter and finished explaining Denisovs case, when hasty steps and the jingling of spurs were heard on the stairs, and the general, leaving him, went to the porch. The gentlemen of the Emperors suite ran down the stairs and went to their horses. Hayne, the same groom who had been at Austerlitz, led up the Emperors horse, and the faint creak of a footstep Rostov knew at once was heard on the stairs. Forgetting the danger of being recognized, Rostov went close to the porch, together with some inquisitive civilians, and again, after two years, saw those features he adored: that same face and same look and step, and the same union of majesty and mildness.... And the feeling of enthusiasm and love for his sovereign rose again in Rostovs soul in all its old force. In the uniform of the Preobrazhensk regiment--white chamois-leather breeches and high boots--and wearing a star Rostov did not know (it was that of the Legion dhonneur), the monarch came out into the porch, putting on his gloves and carrying his hat under his arm. He stopped and looked about him, brightening everything around by his glance. He spoke a few words to some of the generals, and, recognizing the former commander of Rostovs division, smiled and beckoned to him. All the suite drew back and Rostov saw the general talking for some time to the Emperor. The Emperor said a few words to him and took a step toward his horse. Again the crowd of members of the suite and street gazers (among whom was Rostov) moved nearer to the Emperor. Stopping beside his horse, with his hand on the saddle, the Emperor turned to the cavalry general and said in a loud voice, evidently wishing to be heard by all: "I cannot do it, General. I cannot, because the law is stronger than I," and he raised his foot to the stirrup. The general bowed his head respectfully, and the monarch mounted and rode down the street at a gallop. Beside himself with enthusiasm, Rostov ran after him with the crowd. CHAPTER XXI The Emperor rode to the square where, facing one another, a battalion of the Preobrazhensk regiment stood on the right and a battalion of the French Guards in their bearskin caps on the left. As the Tsar rode up to one flank of the battalions, which presented arms, another group of

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