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round the crowd of dogs. Only the delighted "Uncle" dismounted, and cut off a pad, shaking the hare for the blood to drip off, and anxiously glancing round with restless eyes while his arms and legs twitched. He spoke without himself knowing whom to or what about. "Thats it, come on! Thats a dog!... There, it has beaten them all, the thousand-ruble as well as the one-ruble borzois. Thats it, come on!" said he, panting and looking wrathfully around as if he were abusing someone, as if they were all his enemies and had insulted him, and only now had he at last succeeded in justifying himself. "There are your thousand-ruble ones.... Thats it, come on!..." "Rugay, heres a pad for you!" he said, throwing down the hares muddy pad. "Youve deserved it, thats it, come on!" "Shed tired herself out, shed run it down three times by herself," said Nicholas, also not listening to anyone and regardless of whether he were heard or not. "But what is there in running across it like that?" said Ilagins groom. "Once she had missed it and turned it away, any mongrel could take it," Ilagin was saying at the same time, breathless from his gallop and his excitement. At the same moment Natasha, without drawing breath, screamed joyously, ecstatically, and so piercingly that it set everyones ear tingling. By that shriek she expressed what the others expressed by all talking at once, and it was so strange that she must herself have been ashamed of so wild a cry and everyone else would have been amazed at it at any other time. "Uncle" himself twisted up the hare, threw it neatly and smartly across his horses back as if by that gesture he meant to rebuke everybody, and, with an air of not wishing to speak to anyone, mounted his bay and rode off. The others all followed, dispirited and shamefaced, and only much later were they able to regain their former affectation of indifference. For a long time they continued to look at red Rugay who, his arched back spattered with mud and clanking the ring of his leash, walked along just behind "Uncles" horse with the serene air of a conqueror. "Well, I am like any other dog as long as its not a question of coursing. But when it is, then look out!" his appearance seemed to Nicholas to be saying. When, much later, "Uncle" rode up to Nicholas and began talking to him, he felt flattered that, after what had happened, "Uncle" deigned to speak to him. CHAPTER VII Toward evening Ilagin took leave of Nicholas, who found that they were so far from home that he accepted "Uncles" offer that the hunting party should spend the night in his little village of Mikhaylovna. "And if you put up at my house that will be better still. Thats it, come on!" said "Uncle." "You see its damp weather, and you could rest, and the little countess could be driven home in a trap." "Uncles" offer was accepted. A huntsman was sent to Otradnoe for a trap, while Nicholas rode with Natasha and Petya to "Uncles" house. Some five male domestic serfs, big and little, rushed out to the front porch to meet their master. A score of women serfs, old and young, as well as children, popped out from the back entrance to have a look at the hunters who were arriving. The presence of Natasha--a woman, a lady, and on horseback--raised the curiosity of the serfs to such a degree that many of them came up to her, stared her in the face, and unabashed by her presence made remarks about her as though she were some prodigy on show and not a human being able to hear or understand what was said about her. "Arinka! Look, she sits sideways! There she sits and her skirt dangles.... See, shes got a little hunting horn!" "Goodness gracious! See her knife?..." "Isnt she a Tartar!" "How is it you didnt go head over heels?" asked the boldest of all, addressing Natasha directly. "Uncle" dismounted at the porch of his little wooden house which stood in the midst of an overgrown garden and, after a glance at his retainers, shouted authoritatively that the superfluous ones should take themselves off and that all necessary preparations should be made to receive the guests and the visitors. The serfs all dispersed. "Uncle" lifted Natasha off her horse and taking her hand led her up the rickety wooden steps of the porch. The house, with its bare, unplastered log walls, was not overclean--it did not seem that those

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