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War And Peace 439

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War And Peace

On the way to Bogucharovo, a princely estate with a dwelling house and farm where they hoped to find many domestic serfs and pretty girls, they questioned Lavrushka about Napoleon and laughed at his stories, and raced one another to try Ilyins horse. Rostov had no idea that the village he was entering was the property of that very Bolkonski who had been engaged to his sister. Rostov and Ilyin gave rein to their horses for a last race along the incline before reaching Bogucharovo, and Rostov, outstripping Ilyin, was the first to gallop into the village street. "Youre first!" cried Ilyin, flushed. "Yes, always first both on the grassland and here," answered Rostov, stroking his heated Donets horse. "And Id have won on my Frenchy, your excellency," said Lavrushka from behind, alluding to his shabby cart horse, "only I didnt wish to mortify you." They rode at a footpace to the barn, where a large crowd of peasants was standing. Some of the men bared their heads, others stared at the new arrivals without doffing their caps. Two tall old peasants with wrinkled faces and scanty beards emerged from the tavern, smiling, staggering, and singing some incoherent song, and approached the officers. "Fine fellows!" said Rostov laughing. "Is there any hay here?" "And how like one another," said Ilyin. "A mo-o-st me-r-r-y co-o-m-pa...!" sang one of the peasants with a blissful smile. One of the men came out of the crowd and went up to Rostov. "Who do you belong to?" he asked. "The French," replied Ilyin jestingly, "and here is Napoleon himself"--and he pointed to Lavrushka. "Then you are Russians?" the peasant asked again. "And is there a large force of you here?" said another, a short man, coming up. "Very large," answered Rostov. "But why have you collected here?" he added. "Is it a holiday?" "The old men have met to talk over the business of the commune," replied the peasant, moving away. At that moment, on the road leading from the big house, two women and a man in a white hat were seen coming toward the officers. "The one in pink is mine, so keep off!" said Ilyin on seeing Dunyasha running resolutely toward him. "Shell be ours!" said Lavrushka to Ilyin, winking. "What do you want, my pretty?" said Ilyin with a smile. "The princess ordered me to ask your regiment and your name." "This is Count Rostov, squadron commander, and I am your humble servant." "Co-o-om-pa-ny!" roared the tipsy peasant with a beatific smile as he looked at Ilyin talking to the girl. Following Dunyasha, Alpatych advanced to Rostov, having bared his head while still at a distance. "May I make bold to trouble your honor?" said he respectfully, but with a shade of contempt for the youthfulness of this officer and with a hand thrust into his bosom. "My mistress, daughter of General in Chief Prince Nicholas Bolkonski who died on the fifteenth of this month, finding herself in difficulties owing to the boorishness of these people"--he pointed to the peasants--"asks you to come up to the house.... Wont you, please, ride on a little farther," said Alpatych with a melancholy smile, "as it is not convenient in the presence of...?" He pointed to the two peasants who kept as close to him as horseflies to a horse. "Ah!... Alpatych... Ah, Yakov Alpatych... Grand! Forgive us for Christs sake, eh?" said the peasants, smiling joyfully at him. Rostov looked at the tipsy peasants and smiled. "Or perhaps they amuse your honor?" remarked Alpatych with a staid air, as he pointed at the old men with his free hand. "No, theres not much to be amused at here," said Rostov, and rode on a little way. "Whats the matter?" he asked. "I make bold to inform your honor that the rude peasants here dont wish to let the mistress leave the estate, and threaten to unharness her horses, so that though everything has been packed up since morning, her excellency cannot get away." "Impossible!" exclaimed Rostov. "I have the honor to report to you the actual truth," said Alpatych. Rostov dismounted, gave his horse to the orderly, and followed Alpatych to the house, questioning him as to the state of affairs. It appeared that the princess offer of corn to the peasants the previous day, and her talk with Dron and at the meeting, had actually had so bad an effect that Dron had finally given up the keys and joined the peasants and had not appeared when Alpatych sent for him; and that in the morning when the princess gave orders to harness for her journey, the peasants had come in a

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