War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book IV: Chapters 1–6

Conquest's joyful thunder waken, Triumph, valiant Russians, now! . . .

and Count Rostov, glancing angrily at the author who went on reading his verses, bowed to Bagration. Everyone rose, feeling that dinner was more important than verses, and Bagration, again preceding all the rest, went in to dinner. He was seated in the place of honor between two Alexanders — Bekleshev and Naryshkin — which was a significant allusion to the name of the sovereign. Three hundred persons took their seats in the dining room, according to their rank and importance: the more important nearer to the honored guest, as naturally as water flows deepest where the land lies lowest.

Just before dinner, Count Ilya Rostov presented his son to Bagration, who recognized him and said a few words to him, disjointed and awkward, as were all the words he spoke that day, and Count Ilya looked joyfully and proudly around while Bagration spoke to his son.

Nicholas Rostov, with Denisov and his new acquaintance, Dolokhov, sat almost at the middle of the table. Facing them sat Pierre, beside Prince Nesvitski. Count Ilya Rostov with the other members of the committee sat facing Bagration and, as the very personification of Moscow hospitality, did the honors to the prince.

His efforts had not been in vain. The dinner, both the Lenten and the other fare, was splendid, yet he could not feel quite at ease till the end of the meal. He winked at the butler, whispered directions to the footmen, and awaited each expected dish with some anxiety. Everything was excellent. With the second course, a gigantic sterlet (at sight of which Ilya Rostov blushed with self-conscious pleasure), the footmen began popping corks and filling the champagne glasses. After the fish, which made a certain sensation, the count exchanged glances with the other committeemen."There will be many toasts, it's time to begin," he whispered, and taking up his glass, he rose. All were silent, waiting for what he would say.

"To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!" he cried, and at the same moment his kindly eyes grew moist with tears of joy and enthusiasm. The band immediately struck up"Conquest's joyful thunder waken . . ." All rose and cried"Hurrah!" Bagration also rose and shouted"Hurrah!" in exactly the same voice in which he had shouted it on the field at Schon Grabern. Young Rostov's ecstatic voice could be heard above the three hundred others. He nearly wept."To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!" he roared,"Hurrah!" and emptying his glass at one gulp he dashed it to the floor. Many followed his example, and the loud shouting continued for a long time. When the voices subsided, the footmen cleared away the broken glass and everybody sat down again, smiling at the noise they had made and exchanging remarks. The old count rose once more, glanced at a note lying beside his plate, and proposed a toast,"To the health of the hero of our last campaign, Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration!" and again his blue eyes grew moist."Hurrah!" cried the three hundred voices again, but instead of the band a choir began singing a cantata composed by Paul Ivanovich Kutuzov:

Russians! O'er all barriers on! Courage conquest guarantees; Have we not Bagration? He brings foe men to their knees, . . . etc.

As soon as the singing was over, another and another toast was proposed and Count Ilya Rostov became more and more moved, more glass was smashed, and the shouting grew louder. They drank to Bekleshev, Naryshkin, Uvarov, Dolgorukov, Apraksin, Valuev, to the committee, to all the Club members and to all the Club guests, and finally to Count Ilya Rostov separately, as the organizer of the banquet. At that toast, the count took out his handkerchief and, covering his face, wept outright.

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