Chapter 3

ON THE 3RD OF MARCH all the rooms of the English Club were full of the hum of voices, and the members and guests of the club, in uniforms and frock-coats, some even in powder and Russian kaftans, were standing meeting, parting, and running to and fro like bees swarming in spring. Powdered footmen in livery, wearing slippers and stockings, stood at every door, anxiously trying to follow every movement of the guests and club members, so as to proffer their services. The majority of those present were elderly and respected persons, with broad, self-confident faces, fat fingers, and resolute gestures and voices. Guests and members of this class sat in certain habitual places, and met together in certain habitual circles. A small proportion of those present were casual guests—chiefly young men, among them Denisov, Rostov, and Dolohov, who was now an officer in the Semyonovsky regiment again. The faces of the younger men, especially the officers, wore that expression of condescending deference to their elders which seems to say to the older generation, “Respect and deference we are prepared to give you, but remember all the same the future is for us.” Nesvitsky, an old member of the club, was there too. Pierre, who at his wife’s command had let his hair grow and left off spectacles, was walking about the rooms dressed in the height of the fashion, but looking melancholy and depressed. Here, as everywhere, he was surrounded by the atmosphere of people paying homage to his wealth, and he behaved to them with the careless, contemptuous air of sovereignty that had become habitual with him.

In years, he belonged to the younger generation, but by his wealth and connections he was a member of the older circles, and so he passed from one set to the other. The most distinguished of the elder members formed the centres of circles, which even strangers respectfully approached to listen to the words of well-known men. The larger groups were formed round Count Rostoptchin, Valuev, and Naryshkin. Rostoptchin was describing how the Russians had been trampled underfoot by the fleeing Austrians, and had had to force a way with the bayonet through the fugitives. Valuev was confidentially informing his circle that Uvarov had been sent from Petersburg to ascertain the state of opinion in Moscow in regard to Austerlitz.

In the third group Naryshkin was repeating the tale of the meeting of the Austrian council of war, at which, in reply to the stupidity of the Austrian general, Suvorov crowed like a cock. Shinshin, who stood near, tried to make a joke, saying that Kutuzov, it seemed, had not even been able to learn from Suvorov that not very difficult art of crowing like a cock—but the elder club members looked sternly at the wit, giving him thereby to understand that even such a reference to Kutuzov was out of place on that day.

Count Ilya Andreitch Rostov kept anxiously hurrying in his soft boots to and fro from the dining-room to the drawing-room, giving hasty greetings to important and unimportant persons, all of whom he knew, and all of whom he treated alike, on an equal footing. Now and then his eyes sought out the graceful, dashing figure of his young son, rested gleefully on him, and winked to him. Young Rostov was standing at the window with Dolohov, whose acquaintance he had lately made, and greatly prized. The old count went up to them, and shook hands with Dolohov.

“I beg you will come and see us; so you’re a friend of my youngster’s … been together, playing the hero together out there.… Ah! Vassily Ignatitch … a good day to you, old man,” he turned to an old gentleman who had just come in, but before he had time to finish his greetings to him there was a general stir, and a footman running in with an alarmed countenance, announced: “He had arrived!”

Bells rang; the stewards rushed forward; the guests, scattered about the different rooms, gathered together in one mass, like rye shaken together in a shovel, and waited at the door of the great drawing-room.

At the door of the ante-room appeared the figure of Bagration, without his hat or sword, which, in accordance with the club custom, he had left with the hall porter. He was not wearing an Astrachan cap, and had not a riding-whip over his shoulder, as Rostov had seen him on the night before the battle of Austerlitz, but wore a tight new uniform with Russian and foreign orders and the star of St. George on the left side of his chest. He had, obviously with a view to the banquet, just had his hair cut and his whiskers clipped, which changed his appearance for the worse. He had a sort of naïvely festive air, which, in conjunction with his determined, manly features, gave an expression positively rather comic to his face. Bekleshov

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