“Shouldn’t we go, eh?” said Nikolay. “Come to me with Uvarka.”

“As you desire.”

“Then put off feeding them.”

“Yes, sir!”

Five minutes later Danilo and Uvarka were standing in Nikolay’s big study. Although Danilo was not tall, to see him in a room gave one an impression such as one has on seeing a horse or bear standing on the floor among the furniture and surroundings of human life. Danilo felt this himself, and as usual he kept close to the door and tried to speak more softly, and not to move for fear of causing some breakage in the master’s apartments. He did his utmost to get everything said quickly so as to get as soon as might be out into the open again, from under a ceiling out under the sky.

After making inquiries and extracting from Danilo an admission that the dogs were fit (Danilo himself was longing to go), Nikolay told them to have the horses saddled. But just as Danilo was about to go, Natasha, wrapped in a big shawl of her old nurse’s, ran into the room, not yet dressed, and her hair in disorder. Petya ran in with her.

“Are you going?” said Natasha. “I knew you would! Sonya said you weren’t going. I knew that on such a day you couldn’t help going!”

“Yes, we’re going,” Nikolay answered reluctantly. As he meant to attempt serious hunting he did not want to take Natasha and Petya. “We are going, but only wolf-hunting; it will be dull for you.”

“You know that it’s the greatest of my pleasures,” said Natasha. “It’s too bad—he’s going himself, has ordered the horses out and not a word to us.”

“No hindrance bars a Russian’s path!” declaimed Petya; “let’s go!”

“But you mustn’t, you know; mamma said you were not to,” said Nikolay to Natasha.

“No, I’m going, I must go,” said Natasha stoutly. “Danilo, bid them saddle my horse, and tell Mihailo to come with my leash,” she said to the huntsman.

Simply to be in a room seemed irksome and unfitting to Danilo, but to have anything to do with a young lady he felt to be utterly impossible. He cast down his eyes and made haste to get away, making as though it were no affair of his, and trying to avoid accidentally doing some hurt to the young lady.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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