Chapter 7

ON THE 12TH of November, Kutuzov’s army, encamped near Olmütz, was preparing to be reviewed on the following day by the two Emperors—the Russian and the Austrian. The guards, who had only just arrived from Russia, spent a night fifteen versts from Olmütz, and at ten o’clock the next morning went straight to be reviewed in the Olmütz plain.

That day Nikolay Rostov had received a note from Boris informing him that the Ismailovsky regiment was quartered for the night fifteen versts from Olmütz, and that he wanted to see him to give him a letter and some money. The money Rostov particularly needed just now, when the troops after active service were stationed near Olmütz, and the camp swarmed with well-equipped canteen keepers and Austrian Jews, offering all kinds of attractions. The Pavlograd hussars had been keeping up a round of gaiety, fêtes in honour of the promotions received in the field, and excursions to Olmütz to a certain Caroline la Hongroise, who had recently opened a restaurant there with girls as waiters. Rostov had just been celebrating his commission as a cornet; he had bought Denisov’s horse Bedouin, too, and was in debt all round to his comrades and the canteen keepers. On getting the note from Boris, Rostov rode into Olmütz with a comrade, dined there, drank a bottle of wine, and rode on alone to the guards’ camp to find the companion of his childhood. Rostov had not yet got his uniform. He was wearing a shabby ensign’s jacket with a private soldier’s cross, equally shabby riding-trousers lined with worn leather, and an officer’s sabre with a sword knot. The horse he was riding was of the Don breed, bought of a Cossack on the march. A crushed hussar cap was stuck jauntily back on one side of his head. As he rode up to the camp of the Ismailovsky regiment, he was thinking of how he would impress Boris and all his comrades in the guards by looking so thoroughly a hussar who has been under fire and roughed it at the front.

The guards had made their march as though it were a pleasure excursion, priding themselves on their smartness and discipline. They moved by short stages, their knapsacks were carried in the transport waggons, and at every halt the Austrian government provided the officers with excellent dinners. The regiments made their entry into towns and their exit from them with bands playing, and, according to the grand duke’s order, the whole march had (a point on which the guards prided themselves) been performed by the soldiers in step, the officers too walking in their proper places. Boris had throughout the march walked and stayed with Berg, who was by this time a captain. Berg, who had received his company on the march, had succeeded in gaining the confidence of his superior officers by his conscientiousness and accuracy, and had established his financial position on a very satisfactory basis. Boris had during the same period made the acquaintance of many persons likely to be of use to him, and by means of a letter of recommendation brought from Pierre, had made the acquaintance of Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, through whom he had hopes of obtaining a post on the staff of the commander-in-chief. Berg and Boris, who had rested well after the previous day’s march, were sitting smartly and neatly dressed, in the clean quarters assigned them, playing draughts at a round table. Berg was holding between his knees a smoking pipe. Boris, with his characteristic nicety, was building the draughts into a pyramid with his delicate, white fingers, while he waited for Berg to play. He was watching his partner’s face, obviously thinking of the game, his attention concentrated, as it always was, on what he was engaged in.

“Well, how are you going to get out of that?” he said.

“I am going to try,” answered Berg, touching the pieces, and taking his hand away again.

At that instant the door opened.

“Here he is at last!” shouted Rostov. “And Berg too. Ah, petisanfan, alley cooshey dormir!” he cried, repeating the saying of their old nurse’s that had once been a joke with him and Boris.

“Goodness, how changed you are!” Boris got up to greet Rostov, but as he rose, he did not forget to hold the board, and to put back the falling pieces. He was about to embrace his friend, but Nikolay drew back from him. With that peculiarly youthful feeling of fearing beaten tracks, of wanting to avoid imitation, to express one’s feelings in some new way of one’s own, so as to escape the forms often conventionally used by one’s elders, Nikolay wanted to do something striking on meeting his friend. He wanted somehow

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.