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War And Peace 313


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in the snow, which was dry and glittered like sugar, and threw it up. Nicholas set off, following the first sleigh; behind him the others moved noisily, their runners squeaking. At first they drove at a steady trot along the narrow road. While they drove past the garden the shadows of the bare trees often fell across the road and hid the brilliant moonlight, but as soon as they were past the fence, the snowy plain bathed in moonlight and motionless spread out before them glittering like diamonds and dappled with bluish shadows. Bang, bang! went the first sleigh over a cradle hole in the snow of the road, and each of the other sleighs jolted in the same way, and rudely breaking the frost-bound stillness, the troykas began to speed along the road, one after the other. "A hares track, a lot of tracks!" rang out Natashas voice through the frost-bound air. "How light it is, Nicholas!" came Sonyas voice. Nicholas glanced round at Sonya, and bent down to see her face closer. Quite a new, sweet face with black eyebrows and mustaches peeped up at him from her sable furs--so close and yet so distant--in the moonlight. "That used to be Sonya," thought he, and looked at her closer and smiled. "What is it, Nicholas?" "Nothing," said he and turned again to the horses. When they came out onto the beaten highroad--polished by sleigh runners and cut up by rough-shod hoofs, the marks of which were visible in the moonlight--the horses began to tug at the reins of their own accord and increased their pace. The near side horse, arching his head and breaking into a short canter, tugged at his traces. The shaft horse swayed from side to side, moving his ears as if asking: "Isnt it time to begin now?" In front, already far ahead the deep bell of the sleigh ringing farther and farther off, the black horses driven by Zakhar could be clearly seen against the white snow. From that sleigh one could hear the shouts, laughter, and voices of the mummers. "Gee up, my darlings!" shouted Nicholas, pulling the reins to one side and flourishing the whip. It was only by the keener wind that met them and the jerks given by the side horses who pulled harder--ever increasing their gallop--that one noticed how fast the troyka was flying. Nicholas looked back. With screams squeals, and waving of whips that caused even the shaft horses to gallop--the other sleighs followed. The shaft horse swung steadily beneath the bow over its head, with no thought of slackening pace and ready to put on speed when required. Nicholas overtook the first sleigh. They were driving downhill and coming out upon a broad trodden track across a meadow, near a river. "Where are we?" thought he. "Its the Kosoy meadow, I suppose. But no--this is something new Ive never seen before. This isnt the Kosoy meadow nor the Demkin hill, and heaven only knows what it is! It is something new and enchanted. Well, whatever it may be..." And shouting to his horses, he began to pass the first sleigh. Zakhar held back his horses and turned his face, which was already covered with hoarfrost to his eyebrows. Nicholas gave the horses the rein, and Zakhar, stretching out his arms, clucked his tongue and let his horses go. "Now, look out, master!" he cried. Faster still the two troykas flew side by side, and faster moved the feet of the galloping side horses. Nicholas began to draw ahead. Zakhar, while still keeping his arms extended, raised one hand with the reins. "No you wont, master!" he shouted. Nicholas put all his horses to a gallop and passed Zakhar. The horses showered the fine dry snow on the faces of those in the sleigh--beside them sounded quick ringing bells and they caught confused glimpses of swiftly moving legs and the shadows of the troyka they were passing. The whistling sound of the runners on the snow and the voices of girls shrieking were heard from different sides. Again checking his horses, Nicholas looked around him. They were still surrounded by the magic plain bathed in moonlight and spangled with stars. "Zakhar is shouting that I should turn to the left, but why to the left?" thought Nicholas. "Are we getting to the Melyukovs? Is this Melyukovka? Heaven only knows where we are going, and heaven knows what is happening to us--but it is very strange and pleasant whatever it is." And he looked round in the sleigh. "Look, his mustache and eyelashes are all white!" said one of the strange, pretty, unfamiliar people--the

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