Chapter 16

IN APRIL the army was excited by the news of the arrival of the Tsar. Rostov did not succeed in being present at the review the Tsar held at Bartenstein; the Pavlograd hussars were at the advance posts, a long way in front of Bartenstein.

They were bivouacking. Denisov and Rostov were living in a mud hut dug out by the soldiers for them, and roofed with branches and turf. The hut was made after a pattern that had just come into fashion among the soldiers. A trench was dug out an ell and a half in breadth, two ells in depth, and three and a half in length. At one end of the trench steps were scooped out, and these formed the entrance and the approach. The trench itself was the room, and in it the lucky officers, such as the captain, had a plank lying on piles at the further end away from the steps—this was the table. On both sides of the trench the earth had been thrown up, and these mounds made the two beds and the sofa. The roof was so constructed that one could stand upright in the middle, and on the beds it was possible to sit, if one moved up close to the table. Denisov, who always fared luxuriously, because the soldiers of his squadron were fond of him, had a board nailed up in the front part of the roof, and in the board a broken but cemented window pane. When it was very cold, they used to bring red-hot embers from the soldiers’ camp-fires in a bent sheet of iron and set them near the steps (in the drawing-room, as Denisov called that part of the hut), and this made it so warm that the officers, of whom there were always a number with Denisov and Rostov, used to sit with nothing but their shirts on.

In April Rostov had been on duty. At eight o’clock in the morning, on coming home after a sleepless night, he sent for hot embers, changed his rain-soaked underclothes, said his prayers, drank some tea, warmed himself, put things tidy in his corner and on the table, and with a wind-beaten, heated face, and with only his shirt on, lay down on his back, folding his hands behind his head. He was engaged in agreeable meditations, reflecting that he would be sure to be promoted for the last reconnoitring expedition, and was expecting Denisov to come in. He wanted to talk to him.

Behind the hut he heard the resounding roar of Denisov, unmistakably irritated. Rostov moved to the window to see to whom he was speaking, and saw the quartermaster, Toptcheenko.

“I told you not to let them stuff themselves with that root—Mary’s what do you call it!” Denisov was roaring. “Why, I saw it myself, Lazartchuk was pulling it up in the field.”

“I did give the order, your honour; they won’t heed it,” answered the quartermaster.

Rostov lay down again on his bed, and thought contentedly: “Let him see to things now; he’s fussing about while I have done my work, and I am lying here—it’s splendid!” Through the wall he could hear now some one besides the quartermaster speaking. Lavrushka, Denisov’s smart rogue of a valet, was telling him something about some transports, biscuits and oxen, he had seen, while on the look-out for provisions.

Again he heard Denisov’s shout from further away, and the words: “Saddle! second platoon!”

“Where are they off to?” thought Rostov.

Five minutes later Denisov came into the hut, clambered with muddy feet on the bed, angrily lighted his pipe, scattered about all his belongings, put on his riding-whip and sword, and was going out of the hut. In reply to Rostov’s question, where was he going? he answered angrily and vaguely that he had business to see after.

“God be my judge, then, and our gracious Emperor!” said Denisov, as he went out. Outside the hut Rostov heard the hoofs of several horses splashing through the mud. Rostov did not even trouble himself to find out where Denisov was going. Getting warm through in his corner, he fell asleep, and it was only towards evening that he came out of the hut. Denisov had not yet come back. The weather had cleared; near the next hut two officers were playing quoits, with a laugh sticking big radishes for pegs in the soft muddy earth. Rostov joined them. In the middle of a game the officers saw transport waggons

  By PanEris using Melati.

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