Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
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
"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
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
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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