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War And Peace 349

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who, more dead than alive, was already hurrying out of his way. "Real gentlemen!" he considered them. Anatole and Dolokhov liked Balaga too for his masterly driving and because he liked the things they liked. With others Balaga bargained, charging twenty-five rubles for a two hours drive, and rarely drove himself, generally letting his young men do so. But with "his gentlemen" he always drove himself and never demanded anything for his work. Only a couple of times a year--when he knew from their valets that they had money in hand--he would turn up of a morning quite sober and with a deep bow would ask them to help him. The gentlemen always made him sit down. "Do help me out, Theodore Ivanych, sir," or "your excellency," he would say. "I am quite out of horses. Let me have what you can to go to the fair." And Anatole and Dolokhov, when they had money, would give him a thousand or a couple of thousand rubles. Balaga was a fair-haired, short, and snub-nosed peasant of about twenty-seven; red-faced, with a particularly red thick neck, glittering little eyes, and a small beard. He wore a fine, dark-blue, silk-lined cloth coat over a sheepskin. On entering the room now he crossed himself, turning toward the front corner of the room, and went up to Dolokhov, holding out a small, black hand. "Theodore Ivanych!" he said, bowing. "How dyou do, friend? Well, here he is!" "Good day, your excellency!" he said, again holding out his hand to Anatole who had just come in. "I say, Balaga," said Anatole, putting his hands on the mans shoulders, "do you care for me or not? Eh? Now, do me a service.... What horses have you come with? Eh?" "As your messenger ordered, your special beasts," replied Balaga. "Well, listen, Balaga! Drive all three to death but get me there in three hours. Eh?" "When they are dead, what shall I drive?" said Balaga with a wink. "Mind, Ill smash your face in! Dont make jokes!" cried Anatole, suddenly rolling his eyes. "Why joke?" said the driver, laughing. "As if Id grudge my gentlemen anything! As fast as ever the horses can gallop, so fast well go!" "Ah!" said Anatole. "Well, sit down." "Yes, sit down!" said Dolokhov. "Ill stand, Theodore Ivanych." "Sit down; nonsense! Have a drink!" said Anatole, and filled a large glass of Madeira for him. The drivers eyes sparkled at the sight of the wine. After refusing it for manners sake, he drank it and wiped his mouth with a red silk handkerchief he took out of his cap. "And when are we to start, your excellency?" "Well..." Anatole looked at his watch. "Well start at once. Mind, Balaga! Youll get there in time? Eh?" "That depends on our luck in starting, else why shouldnt we be there in time?" replied Balaga. "Didnt we get you to Tver in seven hours? I think you remember that, your excellency?" "Do you know, one Christmas I drove from Tver," said Anatole, smilingly at the recollection and turning to Makarin who gazed rapturously at him with wide-open eyes. "Will you believe it, Makarka, it took ones breath away, the rate we flew. We came across a train of loaded sleighs and drove right over two of them. Eh?" "Those were horses!" Balaga continued the tale. "That time Id harnessed two young side horses with the bay in the shafts," he went on, turning to Dolokhov. "Will you believe it, Theodore Ivanych, those animals flew forty miles? I couldnt hold them in, my hands grew numb in the sharp frost so that I threw down the reins--Catch hold yourself, your excellency! says I, and I just tumbled on the bottom of the sleigh and sprawled there. It wasnt a case of urging them on, there was no holding them in till we reached the place. The devils took us there in three hours! Only the near one died of it." CHAPTER XVII Anatole went out of the room and returned a few minutes later wearing a fur coat girt with a silver belt, and a sable cap jauntily set on one side and very becoming to his handsome face. Having looked in a mirror, and standing before Dolokhov in the same pose he had assumed before it, he lifted a glass of wine. "Well, good-by, Theodore. Thank you for everything and farewell!" said Anatole. "Well, comrades and friends..." he considered for a moment "...of my youth, farewell!" he said, turning to Makarin and the others. Though they were all going with him, Anatole evidently wished to make something touching and solemn out of this address to

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