Chapter 13

FOR TWO DAYS after the dance, Rostov had not seen Dolohov at his people’s house nor found him at home; on the third day he received a note from him.

“As I do not intend to be at your house again owing to causes of which you are aware, and am going to rejoin the regiment, I am giving a farewell supper to my friends—come to the English Hotel.” On the day fixed Rostov went at about ten o’clock, from the theatre where he had been with his family and Denisov, to the English Hotel. He was at once conducted to the best room in the hotel, which Dolohov had taken for the occasion.

Some twenty men were gathered about a table before which Dolohov was sitting between two candles. On the table lay money and notes, and Dolohov was keeping the bank. Nikolay had not seen him again since his offer and Sonya’s refusal, and he felt uneasy at the thought of meeting him.

Dolohov’s clear, cold glance met Rostov in the doorway as though he had been expecting him a long while.

“It’s a long while since we’ve met,” said he; “thanks for coming. I’ll just finish dealing here, and Ilyushka will make his appearance with his chorus.”

“I did go to see you,” said Rostov, flushing.

Dolohov made him no reply.

“You might put down a stake,” he said.

Rostov recalled at that instant a strange conversation he once had with Dolohov. “None but fools trust to luck in play,” Dolohov had said then. “Or are you afraid to play with me?” Dolohov said now, as though divining Rostov’s thought; and he smiled. Behind his smile Rostov saw in him that mood which he had seen in him at the club dinner and at other times, when Dolohov seemed, as it were, weary of the monotony of daily life, and felt a craving to escape from it by some strange, for the most part cruel, act.

Rostov felt ill at ease; he racked his brain and could not find in it a joke in which to reply to Dolohov’s words. But before he had time to do so, Dolohov, looking straight into Rostov’s face, said to him slowly and deliberately so that all could hear: “Do you remember, I was talking to you about play…he’s a fool who trusts to luck in play; one must play a sure game, and I want to try.”

“Try his luck, or try to play a sure game?” wondered Rostov.

“Indeed, and you’d better not play,” he added; and throwing down a pack he had just torn open, he said, “Bank, gentlemen!”

Moving the money forward, Dolohov began dealing.

Rostov sat near him, and at first he did not play. Dolohov glanced at him.

“Why don’t you play?” said Dolohov. And strange to say, Nikolay felt that he could not help taking up a card, staking a trifling sum on it, and beginning to play.

“I have no money with me,” said Rostov.

“I’ll trust you!”

Rostov staked five roubles on a card and lost it, staked again and again lost. Dolohov “killed,” that is, beat ten cards in succession from Rostov.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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