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War And Peace 293

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War And Peace

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 huntsmans 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-deacons 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. "Its 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 minutes pause. "He says shes 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, dont 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 masters 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 nurses big shawl wrapped round her. Petya ran in at the same time. "You are going?" asked Natasha. "I knew you would! Sonya said you wouldnt go, but I knew that today is the sort of day when you couldnt 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. "Its not fair; you are going by yourself, are having the horses saddled and said nothing to us about it." "No barrier bars a Russians path--well go!" shouted Petya. "But you cant. Mamma said you mustnt," said Nicholas to Natasha. "Yes, Ill go. I shall certainly go," said Natasha decisively. "Daniel, tell them to saddle for us,

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