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Chapter IV.2

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On his return to Moscow from the army, Nicholas Rostov was welcomed by his home circle as the best of sons, a hero, and their darling Nikolenka; by his relations as a charming, attractive, and polite young man; by his acquaintances as a handsome lieutenant of hussars, a good dancer, and one of the best matches in the city.

The Rostovs knew everybody in Moscow. The old count had money enough that year, as all his estates had been remortgaged, and so Nicholas, acquiring a trotter of his own, very stylish riding breeches of the latest cut, such as no one else yet had in Moscow, and boots of the latest fashion, with extremely pointed toes and small silver spurs, passed his time very gaily. After a short period of adapting himself to the old conditions of life, Nicholas found it very pleasant to be at home again. He felt that he had grown up and matured very much. His despair at failing in a Scripture examination, his borrowing money from Gavril to pay a sleigh driver, his kissing Sonya on the sly- he now recalled all this as childishness he had left immeasurably behind. Now he was a lieutenant of hussars, in a jacket laced with silver, and wearing the Cross of St. George, awarded to soldiers for bravery in action, and in the company of well-known, elderly, and respected racing men was training a trotter of his own for a race. He knew a lady on one of the boulevards whom he visited of an evening. He led the mazurka at the Arkharovs' ball, talked about the war with Field Marshal Kamenski, visited the English Club, and was on intimate terms with a colonel of forty to whom Denisov had introduced

His passion for the Emperor had cooled somewhat in Moscow. But still, as he did not see him and had no opportunity of seeing him, he often spoke about him and about his love for him, letting it be understood that he had not told all and that there was something in his feelings for the Emperor not everyone could understand, and with his whole soul he shared the adoration then common in Moscow for the Emperor, who was spoken of as the "angel incarnate."

During Rostov's short stay in Moscow, before rejoining the army, he did not draw closer to Sonya, but rather drifted away from her. She was very pretty and sweet, and evidently deeply in love with him, but he was at the period of youth when there seems so much to do that there is no time for that sort of thing and a young man fears to bind himself and prizes his freedom which he needs for so many other things. When he thought of Sonya, during this stay in Moscow, he said to himself, "Ah, there will be, and there are, many more such girls somewhere whom I do not yet know. There will be time enough to think about love when I want to, but now I have no time." Besides, it seemed to him that the society of women was rather derogatory to his manhood. He went to balls and into ladies' society with an affectation of doing so against his will. The races, the English Club, sprees with Denisov, and visits to a certain house- that was another matter and quite the thing for a dashing young hussar!

At the beginning of March, old Count Ilya Rostov was very busy arranging a dinner in honor of Prince Bagration at the English Club.

The count walked up and down the hall in his dressing gown, giving orders to the club steward and to the famous Feoktist, the Club's head cook, about asparagus, fresh cucumbers, strawberries, veal, and fish for this dinner. The count had been a member and on the committee of the Club from the day it was founded. To him the Club entrusted the arrangement of the festival in honor of Bagration, for few men knew so well how to arrange a feast on an open-handed, hospitable scale, and still fewer men would be so well able and willing to make up out of their own resources what might be needed for the success of the fete. The club cook and the steward listened to the count's orders with pleased faces, for they knew that under no other management could they so easily extract a good profit for themselves from a dinner costing several thousand rubles.

"Well then, mind and have cocks' comb in the turtle soup, you know!"

"Shall we have three cold dishes then?" asked the cook.

The count considered.

"We can't have less- yes, three... the mayonnaise, that's one," said he, bending down a finger.

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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