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War And Peace 300


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hunting party was. The victorious huntsman rode off to join the field, and there, surrounded by inquiring sympathizers, recounted his exploits. The facts were that Ilagin, with whom the Rostovs had a quarrel and were at law, hunted over places that belonged by custom to the Rostovs, and had now, as if purposely, sent his men to the very woods the Rostovs were hunting and let his man snatch a fox their dogs had chased. Nicholas, though he had never seen Ilagin, with his usual absence of moderation in judgment, hated him cordially from reports of his arbitrariness and violence, and regarded him as his bitterest foe. He rode in angry agitation toward him, firmly grasping his whip and fully prepared to take the most resolute and desperate steps to punish his enemy. Hardly had he passed an angle of the wood before a stout gentleman in a beaver cap came riding toward him on a handsome raven-black horse, accompanied by two hunt servants. Instead of an enemy, Nicholas found in Ilagin a stately and courteous gentleman who was particularly anxious to make the young counts acquaintance. Having ridden up to Nicholas, Ilagin raised his beaver cap and said he much regretted what had occurred and would have the man punished who had allowed himself to seize a fox hunted by someone elses borzois. He hoped to become better acquainted with the count and invited him to draw his covert. Natasha, afraid that her brother would do something dreadful, had followed him in some excitement. Seeing the enemies exchanging friendly greetings, she rode up to them. Ilagin lifted his beaver cap still higher to Natasha and said, with a pleasant smile, that the young countess resembled Diana in her passion for the chase as well as in her beauty, of which he had heard much. To expiate his huntsmans offense, Ilagin pressed the Rostovs to come to an upland of his about a mile away which he usually kept for himself and which, he said, swarmed with hares. Nicholas agreed, and the hunt, now doubled, moved on. The way to Iligins upland was across the fields. The hunt servants fell into line. The masters rode together. "Uncle," Rostov, and Ilagin kept stealthily glancing at one anothers dogs, trying not to be observed by their companions and searching uneasily for rivals to their own borzois. Rostov was particularly struck by the beauty of a small, pure-bred, red-spotted bitch on Ilagins leash, slender but with muscles like steel, a delicate muzzle, and prominent black eyes. He had heard of the swiftness of Ilagins borzois, and in that beautiful bitch saw a rival to his own Milka. In the middle of a sober conversation begun by Ilagin about the years harvest, Nicholas pointed to the red-spotted bitch. "A fine little bitch, that!" said he in a careless tone. "Is she swift?" "That one? Yes, shes a good dog, gets what shes after," answered Ilagin indifferently, of the red-spotted bitch Erza, for which, a year before, he had given a neighbor three families of house serfs. "So in your parts, too, the harvest is nothing to boast of, Count?" he went on, continuing the conversation they had begun. And considering it polite to return the young counts compliment, Ilagin looked at his borzois and picked out Milka who attracted his attention by her breadth. "That black-spotted one of yours is fine--well shaped!" said he. "Yes, shes fast enough," replied Nicholas, and thought: "If only a full-grown hare would cross the field now Id show you what sort of borzoi she is," and turning to his groom, he said he would give a ruble to anyone who found a hare. "I dont understand," continued Ilagin, "how some sportsmen can be so jealous about game and dogs. For myself, I can tell you, Count, I enjoy riding in company such as this... what could be better?" (he again raised his cap to Natasha) "but as for counting skins and what one takes, I dont care about that." "Of course not!" "Or being upset because someone elses borzoi and not mine catches something. All I care about is to enjoy seeing the chase, is it not so, Count? For I consider that..." "A-tu!" came the long-drawn cry of one of the borzoi whippers-in, who had halted. He stood on a knoll in the stubble, holding his whip aloft, and again repeated his long-drawn cry, "A-tu!" (This call and the uplifted whip meant that he saw a sitting hare.) "Ah, he has found one, I think," said Ilagin carelessly. "Yes, we must ride up.... Shall we both course it?" answered Nicholas, seeing in Erza

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