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War And Peace 292


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applied his foot and knee to his behind with great agility at convenient moments between the words, shouting, "Be off! Never let me see your face here again, you villain!" Mitenka flew headlong down the six steps and ran away into the shrubbery. (This shrubbery was a well-known haven of refuge for culprits at Otradnoe. Mitenka himself, returning tipsy from the town, used to hide there, and many of the residents at Otradnoe, hiding from Mitenka, knew of its protective qualities.) Mitenkas wife and sisters-in-law thrust their heads and frightened faces out of the door of a room where a bright samovar was boiling and where the stewards high bedstead stood with its patchwork quilt. The young count paid no heed to them, but, breathing hard, passed by with resolute strides and went into the house. The countess, who heard at once from the maids what had happened at the lodge, was calmed by the thought that now their affairs would certainly improve, but on the other hand felt anxious as to the effect this excitement might have on her son. She went several times to his door on tiptoe and listened, as he lighted one pipe after another. Next day the old count called his son aside and, with an embarrassed smile, said to him: "But you know, my dear boy, its a pity you got excited! Mitenka has told me all about it." "I knew," thought Nicholas, "that I should never understand anything in this crazy world." "You were angry that he had not entered those 700 rubles. But they were carried forward--and you did not look at the other page." "Papa, he is a blackguard and a thief! I know he is! And what I have done, I have done; but, if you like, I wont speak to him again." "No, my dear boy" (the count, too, felt embarrassed. He knew he had mismanaged his wifes property and was to blame toward his children, but he did not know how to remedy it). "No, I beg you to attend to the business. I am old. I..." "No, Papa. Forgive me if I have caused you unpleasantness. I understand it all less than you do." "Devil take all these peasants, and money matters, and carryings forward from page to page," he thought. "I used to understand what a corner and the stakes at cards meant, but carrying forward to another page I dont understand at all," said he to himself, and after that he did not meddle in business affairs. But once the countess called her son and informed him that she had a promissory note from Anna Mikhaylovna for two thousand rubles, and asked him what he thought of doing with it. "This," answered Nicholas. "You say it rests with me. Well, I dont like Anna Mikhaylovna and I dont like Boris, but they were our friends and poor. Well then, this!" and he tore up the note, and by so doing caused the old countess to weep tears of joy. After that, young Rostov took no further part in any business affairs, but devoted himself with passionate enthusiasm to what was to him a new pursuit--the chase--for which his father kept a large establishment. CHAPTER III 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:

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