War and Peace by graf Leo Tolstoy BOOK FOUR: 1806

BOOK FOUR: 1806

CHAPTER I
Early in the year 1806 Nicholas Rostóv returned home on leave. Denísov was going home to Vorónezh and Rostóv persuaded him to travel with him as far as Moscow and to stay with him there. Meeting a comrade at the last post station but one before Moscow, Denísov had drunk three bottles of wine with him and, despite the jolting ruts across the snow-covered road, did not once wake up on the way to Moscow, but lay at the bottom of the sleigh beside Rostóv, who grew more and more impatient the nearer they got to Moscow.

“How much longer? How much longer? Oh, these insufferable streets, shops, bakers’ signboards, street lamps, and sleighs!” thought Rostóv, when their leave permits had been passed at the town gate and they had entered Moscow.

“Denísov! We’re here! He’s asleep,” he added, leaning forward with his whole body as if in that position he hoped to hasten the speed of the sleigh.

Denísov gave no answer.

“There’s the corner at the crossroads, where the cabman, Zakhár, has his stand, and there’s Zakhár himself and still the same horse! And here’s the little shop where we used to buy gingerbread! Can’t you hurry up? Now then!”

“Which house is it?” asked the driver.

“Why, that one, right at the end, the big one. Don’t you see? That’s our house,” said Rostóv. “Of course, it’s our house! Denísov, Denísov! We’re almost there!”

Denísov raised his head, coughed, and made no answer.

“Dmítri,” said Rostóv to his valet on the box, “those lights are in our house, aren’t they?”

“Yes, sir, and there’s a light in your father’s study.”

“Then they’ve not gone to bed yet? What do you think? Mind now, don’t forget to put out my new coat,” added Rostóv, fingering his new mustache. “Now then, get on,” he shouted to the driver. “Do wake up, Váska!” he went on, turning to Denísov, whose head was again nodding. “Come, get on! You shall have three rubles for vodka—get on!” Rostóv shouted, when the sleigh was only three houses from his door. It seemed to him the horses were not moving at all. At last the sleigh bore to the right, drew up at an entrance, and Rostóv saw overhead the old familiar cornice with a bit of plaster broken off, the porch, and the post by the side of the pavement. He sprang out before the sleigh stopped, and ran into the hall. The house stood cold and silent, as if quite regardless of who had come to it. There was no one in the hall. “Oh God! Is everyone all right?” he thought, stopping for a moment with a sinking heart, and then immediately starting to run along the hall and up the warped steps of the familiar staircase. The well-known old door handle, which always angered the countess when it was not properly cleaned, turned as loosely as ever. A solitary tallow candle burned in the anteroom.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33