Chapter 13

ON THE 17TH of August Rostov and Ilyin, accompanied by Lavrushka, who had just come back from being taken prisoner by the French, and an hussar on orderly duty, rode out from Yankovo, fifteen versts from Bogutcharovo. They meant to try a new horse that Ilyin had bought, and to find out whether there was hay to be had in the village.

Bogutcharovo had been for the last three days between the two hostile armies, so that the Russian rearguard could reach the village as easily as the French vanguard; and therefore Rostov, like a careful officer, was anxious to anticipate the French in securing any provisions that might be left there.

Rostov and Ilyin were in the liveliest spirits. On the way to Bogutcharovo, which they knew to be an estate belonging to a prince, with a manor-house, where they hoped to find a large household, and, perhaps, pretty servant-girls, they questioned Lavrushka about Napoleon, and laughed at his stories; then raced their horses to test Ilyin’s new purchase. Rostov had no notion that the village to which he was going was the property of the very Prince Bolkonsky who had been betrothed to his sister.

Rostov and Ilyin had just let their horses race till they were weary for the last time before Bogutcharovo, and Rostov, outstripping Ilyin was the first to gallop into the village street.

“You started in front,” said Ilyin, flushed.

“Yes, always in front, in the meadow and here too,” answered Rostov, patting his foaming Don horse.

“And on my Frenchy, your excellency,” said Lavrushka from behind, meaning the wretched cart-horse he was riding, “I could have overtaken you, only I didn’t want to put you to shame.”

They rode at a walking pace towards the granary, where there was a great crowd of peasants standing. Several of the peasants took off their caps, others stared at them without taking off their caps. Two old peasants, with wrinkled faces and scanty beards, came out of the tavern, reeling and singing a tuneless song, and advanced with smiles towards the officers. “They’re fine fellows!” said Rostov, laughing. “Well, have you any hay?”

“And so alike, somehow …” said Ilyin.

“Ma … a … aking mer … ry in my sum … sum … mer …” chanted the peasant, with a blissful smile.

A peasant came out of the crowd and went up to Rostov.

“Which part will you be from?” asked the peasant.

“We’re French,” answered Ilyin, laughing. “And this is Napoleon himself,” he said, pointing to Lavrushka.

“I suppose you are Russians then?” the peasant inquired.

“And have you many troops here?” asked another short peasant, approaching.

“A great many,” answered Rostov. “But why are you all assembled here?” he added. “Is it a holiday or what?”

“The old men are met about the village business,” answered the peasant, moving away from him.

At that moment there came into sight two women and a man in a white hat running from the prince’s house towards the officers.

“The one in pink’s mine; hands off, beware!” said Ilyin, noticing Dunyasha running resolutely towards them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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