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War And Peace 303


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living in it aimed at keeping it spotless--but neither was it noticeably neglected. In the entry there was a smell of fresh apples, and wolf and fox skins hung about. "Uncle" led the visitors through the anteroom into a small hall with a folding table and red chairs, then into the drawing room with a round birchwood table and a sofa, and finally into his private room where there was a tattered sofa, a worn carpet, and portraits of Suvorov, of the hosts father and mother, and of himself in military uniform. The study smelt strongly of tobacco and dogs. "Uncle" asked his visitors to sit down and make themselves at home, and then went out of the room. Rugay, his back still muddy, came into the room and lay down on the sofa, cleaning himself with his tongue and teeth. Leading from the study was a passage in which a partition with ragged curtains could be seen. From behind this came womens laughter and whispers. Natasha, Nicholas, and Petya took off their wraps and sat down on the sofa. Petya, leaning on his elbow, fell asleep at once. Natasha and Nicholas were silent. Their faces glowed, they were hungry and very cheerful. They looked at one another (now that the hunt was over and they were in the house, Nicholas no longer considered it necessary to show his manly superiority over his sister), Natasha gave him a wink, and neither refrained long from bursting into a peal of ringing laughter even before they had a pretext ready to account for it. After a while "Uncle" came in, in a Cossack coat, blue trousers, and small top boots. And Natasha felt that this costume, the very one she had regarded with surprise and amusement at Otradnoe, was just the right thing and not at all worse than a swallow-tail or frock coat. "Uncle" too was in high spirits and far from being offended by the brothers and sisters laughter (it could never enter his head that they might be laughing at his way of life) he himself joined in the merriment. "Thats right, young countess, thats it, come on! I never saw anyone like her!" said he, offering Nicholas a pipe with a long stem and, with a practiced motion of three fingers, taking down another that had been cut short. "Shes ridden all day like a man, and is as fresh as ever!" Soon after "Uncles" reappearance the door was opened, evidently from the sound by a barefooted girl, and a stout, rosy, good-looking woman of about forty, with a double chin and full red lips, entered carrying a large loaded tray. With hospitable dignity and cordiality in her glance and in every motion, she looked at the visitors and, with a pleasant smile, bowed respectfully. In spite of her exceptional stoutness, which caused her to protrude her chest and stomach and throw back her head, this woman (who was "Uncles" housekeeper) trod very lightly. She went to the table, set down the tray, and with her plump white hands deftly took from it the bottles and various hors doeuvres and dishes and arranged them on the table. When she had finished, she stepped aside and stopped at the door with a smile on her face. "Here I am. I am she! Now do you understand Uncle?" her expression said to Rostov. How could one help understanding? Not only Nicholas, but even Natasha understood the meaning of his puckered brow and the happy complacent smile that slightly puckered his lips when Anisya Fedorovna entered. On the tray was a bottle of herb wine, different kinds of vodka, pickled mushrooms, rye cakes made with buttermilk, honey in the comb, still mead and sparkling mead, apples, nuts (raw and roasted), and nut-and-honey sweets. Afterwards she brought a freshly roasted chicken, ham, preserves made with honey, and preserves made with sugar. All this was the fruit of Anisya Fedorovnas housekeeping, gathered and prepared by her. The smell and taste of it all had a smack of Anisya Fedorovna herself: a savor of juiciness, cleanliness, whiteness, and pleasant smiles. "Take this, little Lady-Countess!" she kept saying, as she offered Natasha first one thing and then another. Natasha ate of everything and thought she had never seen or eaten such buttermilk cakes, such aromatic jam, such honey-and-nut sweets, or such a chicken anywhere. Anisya Fedorovna left the room. After supper, over their cherry brandy, Rostov and "Uncle" talked of past and future hunts, of Rugay and Ilagins dogs, while Natasha sat upright on the sofa and listened with sparkling eyes. She tried several times

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