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Chapter II.4

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The Pavlograd Hussars were stationed two miles from Braunau. The squadron in which Nicholas Rostov served as a cadet was quartered in the German village of Salzeneck. The best quarters in the village were assigned to cavalry-captain Denisov, the squadron commander, known throughout the whole cavalry division as Vaska Denisov. Cadet Rostov, ever since he had overtaken the regiment in Poland, had lived with the squadron commander.

On October 11, the day when all was astir at headquarters over the news of Mack's defeat, the camp life of the officers of this squadron was proceeding as usual. Denisov, who had been losing at cards all night, had not yet come home when Rostov rode back early in the morning from a foraging expedition. Rostov in his cadet uniform, with a jerk to his horse, rode up to the porch, swung his leg over the saddle with a supple youthful movement, stood for a moment in the stirrup as if loathe to part from his horse, and at last sprang down and called to his orderly.

"Ah, Bondarenko, dear friend!" said he to the hussar who rushed up headlong to the horse. "Walk him up and down, my dear fellow," he continued, with that gay brotherly cordiality which goodhearted young people show to everyone when they are happy.

"Yes, your excellency," answered the Ukrainian gaily, tossing his head.

"Mind, walk him up and down well!"

Another hussar also rushed toward the horse, but Bondarenko had already thrown the reins of the snaffle bridle over the horse's head. It was evident that the cadet was liberal with his tips and that it paid to serve him. Rostov patted the horse's neck and then his flank, and lingered for a moment.

"Splendid! What a horse he will be!" he thought with a smile, and holding up his saber, his spurs jingling, he ran up the steps of the porch. His landlord, who in a waistcoat and a pointed cap, pitchfork in hand, was clearing manure from the cowhouse, looked out, and his face immediately brightened on seeing Rostov. "Schon gut Morgen! Schon gut Morgen!"* he said winking with a merry smile, evidently pleased to greet the young man.

*"A very good morning! A very good morning!"

"Schon fleissig?"* said Rostov with the same gay brotherly smile which did not leave his eager face. "Hoch Oestreicher! Hoch Russen! Kaiser Alexander hoch!"*[2] said he, quoting words often repeated by the German landlord.

*"Busy already?"

*[2] "Hurrah for the Austrians! Hurrah for the Russians! Hurrah for Emperor Alexander!"

The German laughed, came out of the cowshed, pulled off his cap, and waving it above his head cried:

"Und die ganze Welt hoch!"*

*"And hurrah for the whole world!"

Rostov waved his cap above his head like the German and ctied laughing, "Und vivat die ganze Welt!" Though neither the German cleaning his cowshed nor Rostov back with his platoon from foraging for hay had any reason for rejoicing, they looked at each other with joyful delight and brotherly love, wagged their heads in token of their mutual affection, and parted smiling, the German returning to his cowshed and Rostov going to the cottage he occupied with Denisov.

"What about your master?" he asked Lavrushka, Denisov's orderly, whom all the regiment knew for a rogue.

"Hasn't been in since the evening. Must have been losing," answered Lavrushka. "I know by now, if he wins he comes back early to brag about it, but if he stays out till morning it means he's lost and will come back in a rage. Will you have coffee?"

"Yes, bring some."

Ten minutes later Lavrushka brought the coffee. "He's coming!" said he. "Now for trouble!" Rostov looked out of the window and saw Denisov coming home. Denisov was a small man with a red face, sparkling black eyes, and black tousled mustache and hair. He wore an unfastened cloak, wide breeches hanging down in creases, and a crumpled shako on the back of his head. He came up to the porch gloomily, hanging his head.

"Lavwuska!" he shouted loudly and angrily, "take it off, blockhead!"

"Well, I am taking it off," replied Lavrushka's voice.

"Ah, you're up already," said Denisov, entering the room.

"Long ago," answered Rostov, "I have already been for the hay, and have seen Fraulein Mathilde."

"Weally! And I've been losing, bwother. I lost yesterday like a damned fool!" cried Denisov, not pronouncing his r's. "Such ill luck! Such ill luck. As soon as you left, it began and went on. Hullo there! Tea!"

Puckering up his face though smiling, and showing his short strong teeth, he began with stubby fingers of both hands to ruffle up his thick tangled black hair.

"And what devil made me go to that wat?" (an officer nicknamed "the rat") he said, rubbing his forehead and whole face with both hands. "Just fancy, he didn't let me win a single cahd, not one cahd."

He took the lighted pipe that was offered to him, gripped it in his fist, and tapped it on the floor, making the sparks fly, while he continued to shout.

"He lets one win the singles and collahs it as soon as one doubles it; gives the singles and snatches the doubles!"

He scattered the burning tobacco, smashed the pipe, and threw it away. Then he remained silent for a while, and all at once looked cheerfully with his glittering, black eyes at Rostov.

"If at least we had some women here; but there's nothing foh one to do but dwink. If we could only get to fighting soon. Hullo, who's there?" he said, turning to the door as he heard a tread of heavy boots and the clinking of spurs that came to a stop, and a respectful cough.

"The squadron quartermaster!" said Lavrushka.

Denisov's face puckered still more.

"Wetched!" he muttered, throwing down a purse with some gold in it. "Wostov, deah fellow, just see how much there is left and shove the purse undah the pillow," he said, and went out to the quartermaster.

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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