“She’ll be the girl for us!” said Lavrushka, winking to Ilyin.

“What is it you want, my pretty?” said Ilyin, smiling.

“The princess sent me to ask of what regiment are you, and what is your name?”

“This is Count Rostov, the commander of the squadron, and I am your humble servant.”

“Mer … mer … mer … arbour!” chanted the drunken peasant, smiling blissfully, and gazing at Ilyin as he talked to the girl. Alpatitch followed Dunyasha, taking off his hat to Rostov as he approached.

“I make bold to trouble your honour,” he said, putting one hand in his bosom, and speaking with a respectfulness in which there was a shade of contempt for the officer’s youth. “My mistress, the daughter of general-in- chief Prince Nikolay Andreitch Bolkonsky, who died on the 15th of this month, being in difficulties owing to the coarse ignorance of those people”—he pointed to the peasants—“begs you to come … Would you not be pleased,” said Alpatitch, with a melancholy smile, “to move a little away, as it is not so convenient before …” Alpatitch indicated two peasants, who were hovering about him, like gadflies about a horse.

“Ay! … Alpatitch! … Ay! Yakov Alpatitch! first-rate job! Eh? … for Christ’s sake, forgive us. First-rate! ay?” cried the peasants, smiling gleefully at him.

Rostov looked at the drunken peasants, and smiled.

“Or possibly this entertains your excellency?” said Yakov Alpatitch, with a sober air, pointing with his other hand to the old peasants.

“No, there’s nothing very entertaining in that,” said Rostov, and he moved away. “What is the matter?” he inquired.

“I make bold to submit to your excellency that the rude peasants here will not let their lady leave the estate, and threaten to take the horses out of her carriage, so that everything has been packed since morning, yet her excellency cannot get away.”

“Impossible!” cried Rostov.

“I have the honour of submitting to you the simple truth,” said Alpatitch.

Rostov got off his horse, and giving it to the orderly, walked with Alpatitch to the house, questioning him further about the state of affairs.

The princess’s offer of corn, and her interview with Dron and with the peasants, had, in fact, made the position so much worse that Dron had finally given up the keys of office, joined the peasants and refused to appear when Alpatitch sent for him. In the morning when the princess ordered the horses to be put in for her to set off, the peasants had come out in a great crowd to the granary, and had sent to say that they would not let the princess go out of the village; that there was an edict that people were not to leave their houses, and that they would unharness the horses. Alpatitch went out to lecture them; in reply they told him (a certain Karp was the principal speaker, Dron kept in the background in the crowd) that the princess could not be allowed to go, that there was an edict forbidding it, but that only let her stay, and they would serve her and obey her in everything as before.

At the moment when Rostov and Ilyin were galloping along the village street, regardless of the efforts of Alpatitch, the old nurse, and the maid to dissuade her, Princess Marya had just ordered the horses to be put in, and was intending to start. But seeing the horsemen galloping up, the coachmen took them for the French, and ran away, and a great lamentation arose among the women of the household.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.