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War And Peace 565


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he had not worn for a long time, went to present himself to the authorities. The commander of the militia was a civilian general, an old man who was evidently pleased with his military designation and rank. He received Nicholas brusquely (imagining this to be characteristically military) and questioned him with an important air, as if considering the general progress of affairs and approving and disapproving with full right to do so. Nicholas was in such good spirits that this merely amused him. From the commander of the militia he drove to the governor. The governor was a brisk little man, very simple and affable. He indicated the stud farms at which Nicholas might procure horses, recommended to him a horse dealer in the town and a landowner fourteen miles out of town who had the best horses, and promised to assist him in every way. "You are Count Ilya Rostovs son? My wife was a great friend of your mothers. We are at home on Thursdays--today is Thursday, so please come and see us quite informally," said the governor, taking leave of him. Immediately on leaving the governors, Nicholas hired post horses and, taking his squadron quartermaster with him, drove at a gallop to the landowner, fourteen miles away, who had the stud. Everything seemed to him pleasant and easy during that first part of his stay in Voronezh and, as usually happens when a man is in a pleasant state of mind, everything went well and easily. The landowner to whom Nicholas went was a bachelor, an old cavalryman, a horse fancier, a sportsman, the possessor of some century-old brandy and some old Hungarian wine, who had a snuggery where he smoked, and who owned some splendid horses. In very few words Nicholas bought seventeen picked stallions for six thousand rubles--to serve, as he said, as samples of his remounts. After dining and taking rather too much of the Hungarian wine, Nicholas--having exchanged kisses with the landowner, with whom he was already on the friendliest terms--galloped back over abominable roads, in the brightest frame of mind, continually urging on the driver so as to be in time for the governors party. When he had changed, poured water over his head, and scented himself, Nicholas arrived at the governors rather late, but with the phrase "better late than never" on his lips. It was not a ball, nor had dancing been announced, but everyone knew that Catherine Petrovna would play valses and the ecossaise on the clavichord and that there would be dancing, and so everyone had come as to a ball. Provincial life in 1812 went on very much as usual, but with this difference, that it was livelier in the towns in consequence of the arrival of many wealthy families from Moscow, and as in everything that went on in Russia at that time a special recklessness was noticeable, an "in for a penny, in for a pound--who cares?" spirit, and the inevitable small talk, instead of turning on the weather and mutual acquaintances, now turned on Moscow, the army, and Napoleon. The society gathered together at the governors was the best in Voronezh. There were a great many ladies and some of Nicholas Moscow acquaintances, but there were no men who could at all vie with the cavalier of St. George, the hussar remount officer, the good-natured and well-bred Count Rostov. Among the men was an Italian prisoner, an officer of the French army; and Nicholas felt that the presence of that prisoner enhanced his own importance as a Russian hero. The Italian was, as it were, a war trophy. Nicholas felt this, it seemed to him that everyone regarded the Italian in the same light, and he treated him cordially though with dignity and restraint. As soon as Nicholas entered in his hussar uniform, diffusing around him a fragrance of perfume and wine, and had uttered the words "better late than never" and heard them repeated several times by others, people clustered around him; all eyes turned on him, and he felt at once that he had entered into his proper position in the province--that of a universal favorite: a very pleasant position, and intoxicatingly so after his long privations. At posting stations, at inns, and in the landowners snuggery, maidservants had been flattered by his notice, and here too at the governors party there were (as it seemed to Nicholas) an inexhaustible number of pretty young women, married and unmarried, impatiently awaiting his notice. The women and girls flirted with him and, from the first day, the people concerned themselves to get this fine young daredevil of an

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