to give him a pinch, to give Berg a shove, anything rather than to kiss, as people always did on such occasions. Boris, on the contrary, embraced Rostov in a composed and friendly manner, and gave him three kisses.

It was almost six months since they had seen each other. And being at the stage when young men take their first steps along the path of life, each found immense changes in the other, quite new reflections of the different society in which they had taken those first steps. Both had changed greatly since they were last together, and both wanted to show as soon as possible what a change had taken place.

“Ah, you damned floor polishers! Smart and clean, as if you’d been enjoying yourselves; not like us poor devils at the front,” said Rostov, with martial swagger, and with baritone notes in his voice that were new to Boris. He pointed to his mud-stained riding-breeches. The German woman of the house popped her head out of a door at Rostov’s loud voice.

“A pretty woman, eh?” said he, winking.

“Why do you shout so? You are frightening them,” said Boris. “I didn’t expect you to-day,” he added. “I only sent the note off to you yesterday—through an adjutant of Kutuzov’s, who’s a friend of mine—Bolkonsky. I didn’t expect he would send it to you so quickly. Well, how are you? Been under fire already?” asked Boris.

Without answering, Rostov, in soldierly fashion, shook the cross of St. George that hung on the cording of his uniform, and pointing to his arm in a sling, he glanced at Berg.

“As you see,” he said.

“To be sure, yes, yes,” said Boris, smiling, “and we have had a capital march here too. You know his Highness kept all the while with our regiment, so that we had every convenience and advantage. In Poland, the receptions, the dinners, the balls!—I can’t tell you. And the Tsarevitch was very gracious to all our officers.” And both the friends began describing; one, the gay revels of the hussars and life at the front; the other, the amenities and advantages of service under the command of royalty.

“Oh, you guards,” said Rostov. “But, I say, send for some wine.”

Boris frowned.

“If you really want some,” he said. And he went to the bedstead, took a purse from under the clean pillows, and ordered some wine. “Oh, and I have a letter and money to give you,” he added.

Rostov took the letter, and flinging the money on the sofa, put both his elbows on the table and began reading it. He read a few lines, and looked wrathfully at Berg. Meeting his eyes, Rostov hid his face with the letter.

“They sent you a decent lot of money, though,” said Berg, looking at the heavy bag, that sank into the sofa. “But we manage to scrape along on our pay, count, I can tell you in my own case. …”

“I say, Berg, my dear fellow,” said Rostov; “when you get a letter from home and meet one of your own people, whom you want to talk everything over with, and I’m on the scene, I’ll clear out at once, so as not to be in your way. Do you hear, be off, please, anywhere, anywhere … to the devil!” he cried, and immediately seizing him by the shoulder, and looking affectionately into his face, evidently to soften the rudeness of his words, he added: “you know, you’re not angry, my dear fellow, I speak straight from the heart to an old friend like you.”

“Why, of course, count, I quite understand,” said Berg, getting up and speaking in his deep voice.

“You might go and see the people of the house; they did invite you,” added Boris.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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