War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book III: Chapters 6–8


On the twelfth of November, Kutuzov's active army, in camp before Olmutz, was preparing to be reviewed next day by the two Emperors — the Russian and the Austrian. The Guards, just arrived from Russia, spent the night ten miles from Olmutz and next morning were to come straight to the review, reaching the field at Olmutz by ten o'clock.

That day Nicholas Rostov received a letter from Boris, telling him that the Ismaylov regiment was quartered for the night ten miles from Olmutz and that he wanted to see him as he had a letter and money for him. Rostov was particularly in need of money now that the troops, after their active service, were stationed near Olmutz and the camp swarmed with well-provisioned sutlers and Austrian Jews offering all sorts of tempting wares. The Pavlograds held feast after feast, celebrating awards they had received for the campaign, and made expeditions to Olmutz to visit a certain Caroline the Hungarian, who had recently opened a restaurant there with girls as waitresses. Rostov, who had just celebrated his promotion to a cornetcy and bought Denisov's horse, Bedouin, was in debt all round, to his comrades and the sutlers. On receiving Boris' letter he rode with a fellow officer to Olmutz, dined there, drank a bottle of wine, and then set off alone to the Guards' camp to find his old playmate. Rostov had not yet had time to get his uniform. He had on a shabby cadet jacket, decorated with a soldier's cross, equally shabby cadet's riding breeches lined with worn leather, and an officer's saber with a sword knot. The Don horse he was riding was one he had bought from a Cossack during the campaign, and he wore a crumpled hussar cap stuck jauntily back on one side of his head. As he rode up to the camp he thought how he would impress Boris and all his comrades of the Guards by his appearance — that of a fighting hussar who had been under fire.

The Guards had made their whole march as if on a pleasure trip, parading their cleanliness and discipline. They had come by easy stages, their knapsacks conveyed on carts, and the Austrian authorities had provided excellent dinners for the officers at every halting place. The regiments had entered and left the town with their bands playing, and by the Grand Duke's orders the men had marched all the way in step (a practice on which the Guards prided themselves), the officers on foot and at their proper posts. Boris had been quartered, and had marched all the way, with Berg who was already in command of a company. Berg, who had obtained his captaincy during the campaign, had gained the confidence of his superiors by his promptitude and accuracy and had arranged his money matters very satisfactorily. Boris, during the campaign, had made the acquaintance of many persons who might prove useful to him, and by a letter of recommendation he had brought from Pierre had become acquainted with Prince Andrew Bolkonski, through whom he hoped to obtain a post on the commander in chief's staff. Berg and Boris, having rested after yesterday's march, were sitting, clean and neatly dressed, at a round table in the clean quarters allotted to them, playing chess. Berg held a smoking pipe between his knees. Boris, in the accurate way characteristic of him, was building a little pyramid of chessmen with his delicate white fingers while awaiting Berg's move, and watched his opponent's face, evidently thinking about the game as he always thought only of whatever he was engaged on.

"Well, how are you going to get out of that?" he remarked.

"We'll try to," replied Berg, touching a pawn and then removing his hand.

At that moment the door opened.

"Here he is at last!" shouted Rostov."And Berg too! Oh, you petisenfans, allay cushay dormir!" he exclaimed, imitating his Russian nurse's French, at which he and Boris used to laugh long ago.

"Dear me, how you have changed!"

Boris rose to meet Rostov, but in doing so did not omit to steady and replace some chessmen that were falling. He was about to embrace his friend, but Nicholas avoided him. With that peculiar feeling of youth, that dread of beaten tracks, and wish to express itself in a manner different from that of its elders which is often insincere, Nicholas wished to do something special on meeting his friend. He wanted to pinch him, push him, do anything but kiss him — a thing everybody did. But notwithstanding this, Boris embraced him in a quiet, friendly way and kissed him three times.

They had not met for nearly half a year and, being at the age when young men take their first steps on life's road, each saw immense changes in the other, quite a new reflection of the society in which they had taken those first steps. Both had changed greatly since they last met and both were in a hurry to show the changes that had taken place in them.

"Oh, you damned dandies! Clean and fresh as if you'd been to a fete, not like us sinners of the line," cried Rostov, with martial swagger and with baritone notes in his voice, new to Boris, pointing to his own mud-bespattered breeches. The German landlady, hearing Rostov's loud voice, popped her head in at the door.

"Eh, is she pretty?" he asked with a wink.

"Why do you shout so? You'll frighten them!" said Boris."I did not expect you today," he added."I only sent you the note yesterday by Bolkonski — an adjutant of Kutuzov's, who's a friend of mine. I did not think he would get it to you so quickly . . . . Well, how are you? Been under fire already?" asked Boris.

Without answering, Rostov shook the soldier's Cross of St. George fastened to the cording of his uniform and, indicating a bandaged arm, glanced at Berg with a smile.

"As you see," he said.

"Indeed? Yes, yes!" said Boris, with a smile."And we too have had a splendid march. You know, of course, that His Imperial Highness rode with our regiment all the time, so that we had every comfort and every advantage. What receptions we had in Poland! What dinners and balls! I can't tell you. And the Tsarevich was very gracious to all our officers."

And the two friends told each other of their doings, the one of his hussar revels and life in the fighting line, the other of the pleasures and advantages of service under members of the Imperial family.

"Oh, you Guards!" said Rostov."I say, send for some wine."

Boris made a grimace.

"If you really want it," said he.

He went to his bed, drew a purse from under the clean pillow, and sent for wine.

"Yes, and I have some money and a letter to give you," he added.

Rostov took the letter and, throwing the money on the sofa, put both arms on the table and began to read. After reading a few lines, he glanced angrily at Berg, then, meeting his eyes, hid his face behind the letter.

"Well, they've sent you a tidy sum," said Berg, eying the heavy purse that sank into the sofa."As for us, Count, we get along on our pay. I can tell you for myself . . ."

"I say, Berg, my dear fellow," said Rostov,"when you get a letter from home and meet one of your own people whom you want to talk everything over with, and I happen to be there, I'll go at once, to be out of your way! Do go somewhere, anywhere . . . to the devil!" he exclaimed, and immediately seizing him by the shoulder and looking amiably into his face, evidently wishing to soften the rudeness of his words, he added,"Don't be hurt, my dear fellow; you know I speak from my heart as to an old acquaintance."

"Oh, don't mention it, Count! I quite understand," said Berg, getting up and speaking in a muffled and guttural voice.

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