Chapter 16

ANATOLE had lately moved into Dolohov’s quarters. The plan for the abduction of Natasha Rostov had been all planned out and prepared several days before by Dolohov, and on the day when Sonya had listened at Natasha’s door and resolved to protect her, that plan was to be put into execution. Natasha had promised to come out to Kuragin at the back entrance at ten o’clock in the evening. Kuragin was to get her into a sledge that was to be all ready with three horses in it, and to drive her off sixty versts from Moscow to the village of Kamenka, where an unfrocked priest was in readiness to perform a marriage ceremony over them. At Kamenka a relay of horses was to be in readiness, which was to take them as far as the Warsaw road, and thence they were to hasten abroad by means of post-horses.

Anatole had a passport and an order for post-horses and ten thousand roubles borrowed from his sister, and ten thousand more raised by the assistance of Dolohov.

The two witnesses of the mock marriage ceremony—Hvostikov, once a petty official, a man of whom Dolohov made use at cards, and Makarin, a retired hussar, a weak and good-natured man, whose devotion to Kuragin was unbounded—were sitting over their tea in the outer room.

In Dolohov’s big study, decorated from the walls to the ceiling with Persian rugs, bearskins, and weapons, Dolohov was sitting in a travelling tunic and high boots in front of an open bureau on which lay accounts and bundles of bank notes. Anatole, in an unbuttoned uniform, was walking to and fro from the room where the witnesses were sitting through the study into a room behind, where his French valet with some other servants was packing up the last of his belongings. Dolohov was reckoning up money and noting down sums.

“Well,” he said, “you will have to give Hvostikov two thousand.”

“Well, give it him then,” said Anatole.

“Makarka now” (their name for Makarin), “he would go through fire and water for you with nothing to gain by it. Well, here then, our accounts are finished,” said Dolohov, showing him the paper. “That’s all right?”

“Yes, of course, it’s all right,” said Anatole, evidently not attending to Dolohov, and looking straight before him with a smile that never left his face.

Dolohov shut the bureau with a slam, and turned to Anatole with a ironical smile.

“But I say, you drop it all; there’s still time!” he said.

“Idiot!” said Anatole. “Leave off talking rubbish. If only you knew.… Devil only knows what this means to me!”

“You’d really better drop it,” said Dolohov. “I’m speaking in earnest. It’s no joking matter this scheme of yours.”

“Why, teasing again, again? Go to the devil! Eh.…” said Anatole, frowning. “Really, I’m in no humour for your stupid jokes.” And he went out of the room.

Dolohov smiled a contemptuous and supercilious smile when Anatole had gone.

“Wait a bit,” he called after Anatole. “I’m not joking. I’m in earnest. Come here, come here!”

Anatole came back into the room, and trying to concentrate his attention, looked at Dolohov, obviously obeying him unwillingly.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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