Chapter 4

THE PAVLOGRADSKY REGIMENT of hussars was stationed two miles from Braunau. The squadron in which Nikolay Rostov was serving as ensign was billeted on a German village, Salzeneck. The officer in command of the squadron, Captain Denisov, known through the whole cavalry division under the name of Vaska Denisov, had been assigned the best quarters in the village. Ensign Rostov had been sharing his quarters, ever since he overtook the regiment in Poland.

On the 8th of October, the very day when at headquarters all was astir over the news of Mack’s defeat, the routine of life was going on as before among the officers of this squadron.

Denisov, who had been losing all night at cards, had not yet returned home, when Rostov rode back early in the morning from a foraging expedition. Rostov, in his ensign’s uniform, rode up to the steps, with a jerk to his horse, swung his leg over with a supple, youthful action, stood a moment in the stirrup as though loath to part from the horse, at last sprang down and called the orderly.

“Ah, Bondarenko, friend of my heart,” he said to the hussar who rushed headlong up to his horse. “Walk him up and down, my dear fellow,” he said, with that gay and brotherly cordiality with which good-hearted young people behave to every one, when they are happy.

“Yes, your excellency,” answered the Little Russian, shaking his head good-humouredly.

“Mind now, walk him about well!”

Another hussar rushed up to the horse too, but Bondarenko had already hold of the reins.

It was evident that the ensign was liberal with his tips, and that his service was a profitable one. Rostov stroked the horse on the neck and then on the haunch, and lingered on the steps.

“Splendid! What a horse he will be!” he said to himself, and smiling and holding his sword, he ran up the steps, clanking his spurs. The German, on whom they were billeted, looked out of the cowshed, wearing a jerkin and a pointed cap, and holding a fork, with which he was clearing out the dung. The German’s face brightened at once when he saw Rostov. He smiled good-humouredly and winked. “Good- morning, good-morning!” he repeated, apparently taking pleasure in greeting the young man.

“At work already?” said Rostov, still with the same happy, fraternal smile that was constantly on his eager face. “Long live the Austrians! Long live the Russians! Hurrah for the Emperor Alexander!” he said, repeating phrases that had often been uttered by the German. The German laughed, came right out of the cowshed, pulled off his cap, and waving it over his head, cried:

“And long live all the world!”

Rostov too, like the German, waved his cap over his bead, and laughing cried: “And hurrah for all the world!” Though there was no reason for any special rejoicing either for the German, clearing out his shed, or for Rostov, coming back from foraging for hay, both these persons gazed at one another in delighted ecstasy and brotherly love, wagged their heads at each other in token of their mutual affection, and parted with smiles, the German to his cowshed, and Rostov to the cottage he shared with Denisov.

“Where’s your master?” he asked of Lavrushka, Denisov’s valet, well known to all the regiment as a rogue.

“His honour’s not been in since the evening. He’s been losing, for sure,” answered Lavrushka. “I know by now, if he wins, he’ll come home early to boast of his luck; but if he’s not back by morning, it means that he’s lost,—he’ll come back in a rage. Shall I bring coffee?”

“Yes, bring it.”

Ten minutes later, Lavrushka brought in the coffee.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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