and Fyodor Petrovitch Uvarov, who had come with him, stood still in the doorway trying to make him, as the guest of most importance, precede them. Bagration was embarrassed, and unwilling to avail himself of their courtesy; there was a hitch in the proceedings at the door, but finally Bagration did, after all, enter first. He walked shyly and awkwardly over the parquet of the reception-room, not knowing what to do with his hands. He would have been more at home and at his ease walking over a ploughed field under fire, as he had walked at the head of the Kursk regiment at Schöngraben. The stewards met him at the first door, and saying a few words of their pleasure at seeing such an honoured guest, they surrounded him without waiting for an answer, and, as it were, taking possession of him, led him off to the drawing-room. There was no possibility of getting in at the drawing-room door from the crowds of members and guests, who were crushing one another in their efforts to get a look over each other’s shoulders at Bagration, as if he were some rare sort of beast. Count Ilya Andreitch laughed more vigorously than any one, and continually repeating, “Make way for him, my dear boy, make way, make way,” shoved the crowd aside, led the guests into the drawing-room, and seated them on the sofa in the middle of it. The great men, and the more honoured members of the club, surrounded the newly arrived guests. Count Ilya Andreitch, shoving his way again through the crowd, went out of the drawing-room, and reappeared a minute later with another steward carrying a great silver dish, which he held out to Prince Bagration. On the dish lay a poem, composed and printed in the hero’s honour. Bagration, on seeing the dish, looked about him in dismay, as though seeking assistance. But in all eyes he saw the expectation that he would submit. Feeling himself in their power, Bagration resolutely took the dish in both hands, and looked angrily and reproachfully at the count, who had brought it. Some one officiously took the dish from Bagration (or he would, it seemed, have held it so till nightfall, and have carried it with him to the table), and drew his attention to the poem. “Well, I’ll read it then,” Bagration seemed to say, and fixing his weary eyes on the paper, he began reading it with a serious and concentrated expression. The author of the verses took them, and began to read them aloud himself. Prince Bagration bowed his head and listened.

“Be thou the pride of Alexander’s reign!
And save for us our Titus on the throne!
Be thou our champion and our country’s stay!
A noble heart, a Caesar in the fray!
Napoleon in the zenith of his fame
Learns to his cost to fear Bagration’s name,
Nor dares provoke a Russian foe again,” etc. etc.

But he had not finished the poem, when the butler boomed out sonorously: “Dinner is ready!” The door opened, from the dining-room thundered the strains of the Polonaise: “Raise the shout of victory, valiant Russian, festive sing,” and Count Ilya Andreitch, looking angrily at the author, who still went on reading his verses, bowed to Bagration as a signal to go in. All the company rose, feeling the dinner of more importance than the poem, and Bagration, again preceding all the rest, went in to dinner. In the place of honour between two Alexanders— Bekleshov and Naryshkin—(this, too, was intentional, in allusion to the name of the Tsar) they put Bagration: three hundred persons were ranged about the tables according to their rank and importance, those of greater consequence, nearer to the distinguished guest—as naturally as water flows to find its own level.

Just before dinner, Count Ilya Andreitch presented his son to the prince. Bagration recognised him, and uttered a few words, awkward and incoherent, as were indeed all he spoke that day. Count Ilya Andreitch looked about at every one in gleeful pride while Bagration was speaking to his son.

Nikolay Rostov, with Denisov and his new acquaintance Dolohov, sat together almost in the middle of the table. Facing them sat Pierre with Prince Nesvitsky. Count Ilya Andreitch was sitting with the other stewards facing Bagration, and, the very impersonation of Moscow hospitality, did his utmost to regale the prince.

His labours had not been in vain. All the banquet—the meat dishes and the Lenten fare alike—was sumptuous, but still he could not be perfectly at ease till the end of dinner. He made signs to the carver, gave whispered directions to the footmen, and not without emotion awaited the arrival of each anticipated dish. Everything was capital. At the second course, with the gigantic sturgeon (at the sight of which Ilya Andreitch flushed with shamefaced delight), the footman began popping corks and pouring out champagne.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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