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War And Peace 295


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added, "because--thats it, come on!--youve nothing to hold on to." The oasis of the Otradnoe covert came in sight a few hundred yards off, the huntsmen were already nearing it. Rostov, having finally settled with "Uncle" where they should set on the hounds, and having shown Natasha where she was to stand--a spot where nothing could possibly run out--went round above the ravine. "Well, nephew, youre going for a big wolf," said "Uncle." "Mind and dont let her slip!" "Thats as may happen," answered Rostov. "Karay, here!" he shouted, answering "Uncles" remark by this call to his borzoi. Karay was a shaggy old dog with a hanging jowl, famous for having tackled a big wolf unaided. They all took up their places. The old count, knowing his sons ardor in the hunt, hurried so as not to be late, and the huntsmen had not yet reached their places when Count Ilya Rostov, cheerful, flushed, and with quivering cheeks, drove up with his black horses over the winter rye to the place reserved for him, where a wolf might come out. Having straightened his coat and fastened on his hunting knives and horn, he mounted his good, sleek, well-fed, and comfortable horse, Viflyanka, which was turning gray, like himself. His horses and trap were sent home. Count Ilya Rostov, though not at heart a keen sportsman, knew the rules of the hunt well, and rode to the bushy edge of the road where he was to stand, arranged his reins, settled himself in the saddle, and, feeling that he was ready, looked about with a smile. Beside him was Simon Chekmar, his personal attendant, an old horseman now somewhat stiff in the saddle. Chekmar held in leash three formidable wolfhounds, who had, however, grown fat like their master and his horse. Two wise old dogs lay down unleashed. Some hundred paces farther along the edge of the wood stood Mitka, the counts other groom, a daring horseman and keen rider to hounds. Before the hunt, by old custom, the count had drunk a silver cupful of mulled brandy, taken a snack, and washed it down with half a bottle of his favorite Bordeaux. He was somewhat flushed with the wine and the drive. His eyes were rather moist and glittered more than usual, and as he sat in his saddle, wrapped up in his fur coat, he looked like a child taken out for an outing. The thin, hollow-cheeked Chekmar, having got everything ready, kept glancing at his master with whom he had lived on the best of terms for thirty years, and understanding the mood he was in expected a pleasant chat. A third person rode up circumspectly through the wood (it was plain that he had had a lesson) and stopped behind the count. This person was a gray-bearded old man in a womans cloak, with a tall peaked cap on his head. He was the buffoon, who went by a womans name, Nastasya Ivanovna. "Well, Nastasya Ivanovna!" whispered the count, winking at him. "If you scare away the beast, Danielll give it you!" "I know a thing or two myself!" said Nastasya Ivanovna. "Hush!" whispered the count and turned to Simon. "Have you seen the young countess?" he asked. "Where is she?" "With young Count Peter, by the Zharov rank grass," answered Simon, smiling. "Though shes a lady, shes very fond of hunting." "And youre surprised at the way she rides, Simon, eh?" said the count. "Shes as good as many a man!" "Of course! Its marvelous. So bold, so easy!" "And Nicholas? Where is he? By the Lyadov upland, isnt he?" "Yes, sir. He knows where to stand. He understands the matter so well that Daniel and I are often quite astounded," said Simon, well knowing what would please his master. "Rides well, eh? And how well he looks on his horse, eh?" "A perfect picture! How he chased a fox out of the rank grass by the Zavarzinsk thicket the other day! Leaped a fearful place; what a sight when they rushed from the covert... the horse worth a thousand rubles and the rider beyond all price! Yes, one would have to search far to find another as smart." "To search far..." repeated the count, evidently sorry Simon had not said more. "To search far," he said, turning back the skirt of his coat to get at his snuffbox. "The other day when he came out from Mass in full uniform, Michael Sidorych..." Simon did not finish, for on the still air he had distinctly caught the music of the hunt with only two or three hounds giving

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