War and Peace
It was past one o'clock when Pierre left his friend. It was a
cloudless, northern, summer night. Pierre took an open cab intending
to drive straight home. But the nearer he drew to the house the more
he felt the impossibility of going to sleep on such a night. It was
light enough to see a long way in the deserted street and it seemed
more like morning or evening than night. On the way Pierre
remembered that Anatole Kuragin was expecting the usual set for
cards that evening, after which there was generally a drinking bout,
finishing with visits of a kind Pierre was very fond of.
"I should like to go to Kuragin's," thought he.
But he immediately recalled his promise to Prince Andrew not to go
there. Then, as happens to people of weak character, he desired so
passionately once more to enjoy that dissipation he was so
accustomed to that he decided to go. The thought immediately
occurred to him that his promise to Prince Andrew was of no account,
because before he gave it he had already promised Prince Anatole to
come to his gathering; "besides," thought he, "all such 'words of
honor' are conventional things with no definite meaning, especially if
one considers that by tomorrow one may be dead, or something so
extraordinary may happen to one that honor and dishonor will be all
the same!" Pierre often indulged in reflections of this sort,
nullifying all his decisions and intentions. He went to Kuragin's.
Reaching the large house near the Horse Guards' barracks, in which
Anatole lived, Pierre entered the lighted porch, ascended the
stairs, and went in at the open door. There was no one in the
anteroom; empty bottles, cloaks, and overshoes were lying about; there
was a smell of alcohol, and sounds of voices and shouting in the
Cards and supper were over, but the visitors had not yet
dispersed. Pierre threw off his cloak and entered the first room, in
which were the remains of supper. A footman, thinking no one saw
him, was drinking on the sly what was left in the glasses. From the
third room came sounds of laughter, the shouting of familiar voices,
the growling of a bear, and general commotion. Some eight or nine
young men were crowding anxiously round an open window. Three others
were romping with a young bear, one pulling him by the chain and
trying to set him at the others.
"I bet a hundred on Stevens!" shouted one.
"Mind, no holding on!" cried another.
"I bet on Dolokhov!" cried a third. "Kuragin, you part our hands."
"There, leave Bruin alone; here's a bet on."
"At one draught, or he loses!" shouted a fourth.
"Jacob, bring a bottle!" shouted the host, a tall, handsome fellow
who stood in the midst of the group, without a coat, and with his fine
linen shirt unfastened in front. "Wait a bit, you fellows.... Here
is Petya! Good man!" cried he, addressing Pierre.
Another voice, from a man of medium height with clear blue eyes,
particularly striking among all these drunken voices by its sober
ring, cried from the window: "Come here; part the bets!" This was
Dolokhov, an officer of the Semenov regiment, a notorious gambler
and duelist, who was living with Anatole. Pierre smiled, looking about
"I don't understand. What's it all about?"
"Wait a bit, he is not drunk yet! A bottle here," said Anatole,
taking a glass from the table he went up to Pierre.
"First of all you must drink!"
Pierre drank one glass after another, looking from under his brows
at the tipsy guests who were again crowding round the window, and
listening to their chatter. Anatole kept on refilling Pierre's glass
while explaining that Dolokhov was betting with Stevens, an English
naval officer, that he would drink a bottle of rum sitting on the
outer ledge of the third floor window with his legs hanging out.
"Go on, you must drink it all," said Anatole, giving Pierre the last
glass, "or I won't let you go!"
"No, I won't," said Pierre, pushing Anatole aside, and he went up to
Dolokhov was holding the Englishman's hand and clearly and
distinctly repeating the terms of the bet, addressing himself
particularly to Anatole and Pierre.
Dolokhov was of medium height, with curly hair and light-blue
eyes. He was about twenty-five. Like all infantry officers he wore
no mustache, so that his mouth, the most striking feature of his face,
was clearly seen. The lines of that mouth were remarkably finely
curved. The middle of the upper lip formed a sharp wedge and closed
firmly on the firm lower one, and something like two distinct smiles
played continually round the two corners of the mouth; this,
together with the resolute, insolent intelligence of his eyes,
produced an effect which made it impossible not to notice his face.
Dolokhov was a man of small means and no connections. Yet, though
Anatole spent tens of thousands of rubles, Dolokhov lived with him and
had placed himself on such a footing that all who knew them, including
Anatole himself, respected him more than they did Anatole. Dolokhov
could play all games and nearly always won. However much he drank,
he never lost his clearheadedness. Both Kuragin and Dolokhov were at
that time notorious among the rakes and scapegraces of Petersburg.
The bottle of rum was brought. The window frame which prevented
anyone from sitting on the outer sill was being forced out by two
footmen, who were evidently flurried and intimidated by the directions
and shouts of the gentlemen around.
Anatole with his swaggering air strode up to the window. He wanted
to smash something. Pushing away the footmen he tugged at the frame,
but could not move it. He smashed a pane.
"You have a try, Hercules," said he, turning to Pierre.
Pierre seized the crossbeam, tugged, and wrenched the oak frame
out with a crash.
"Take it right out, or they'll think I'm holding on," said Dolokhov.
"Is the Englishman bragging?... Eh? Is it all right?" said Anatole.
"First-rate," said Pierre, looking at Dolokhov, who with a bottle of
rum in his hand was approaching the window, from which the light of
the sky, the dawn merging with the afterglow of sunset, was visible.
Dolokhov, the bottle of rum still in his hand, jumped onto the
window sill. "Listen!" cried he, standing there and addressing those
in the room. All were silent.
"I bet fifty imperials"- he spoke French that the Englishman might
understand him, but he did, not speak it very well- "I bet fifty
imperials... or do you wish to make it a hundred?" added he,
addressing the Englishman.
"No, fifty," replied the latter.
"All right. Fifty imperials... that I will drink a whole bottle of
rum without taking it from my mouth, sitting outside the window on
this spot" (he stooped and pointed to the sloping ledge outside the
window) "and without holding on to anything. Is that right?"
"Quite right," said the Englishman.
Anatole turned to the Englishman and taking him by one of the
buttons of his coat and looking down at him- the Englishman was short-
began repeating the terms of the wager to him in English.
"Wait!" cried Dolokhov, hammering with the bottle on the window sill
to attract attention. "Wait a bit, Kuragin. Listen! If anyone else
does the same, I will pay him a hundred imperials. Do you understand?"
The Englishman nodded, but gave no indication whether he intended to
accept this challenge or not. Anatole did not release him, and
though he kept nodding to show that he understood, Anatole went on
translating Dolokhov's words into English. A thin young lad, an hussar
of the Life Guards, who had been losing that evening, climbed on the
window sill, leaned over, and looked down.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" he muttered, looking down from the window at the
stones of the pavement.
"Shut up!" cried Dolokhov, pushing him away from the window. The lad
jumped awkwardly back into the room, tripping over his spurs.
Placing the bottle on the window sill where he could reach it
easily, Dolokhov climbed carefully and slowly through the window and
lowered his legs. Pressing against both sides of the window, he
adjusted himself on his seat, lowered his hands, moved a little to the
right and then to the left, and took up the bottle. Anatole brought
two candles and placed them on the window sill, though it was
already quite light. Dolokhov's back in his white shirt, and his curly
head, were lit up from both sides. Everyone crowded to the window, the
Englishman in front. Pierre stood smiling but silent. One man, older
than the others present, suddenly pushed forward with a scared and
angry look and wanted to seize hold of Dolokhov's shirt.
"I say, this is folly! He'll be killed," said this more sensible
Anatole stopped him.
"Don't touch him! You'll startle him and then he'll be killed.
Eh?... What then?... Eh?"
Dolokhov turned round and, again holding on with both hands,
arranged himself on his seat.
"If anyone comes meddling again," said he, emitting the words
separately through his thin compressed lips, "I will throw him down
there. Now then!"
Saying this he again turned round, dropped his hands, took the
bottle and lifted it to his lips, threw back his head, and raised
his free hand to balance himself. One of the footmen who had stooped
to pick up some broken glass remained in that position without
taking his eyes from the window and from Dolokhov's back. Anatole
stood erect with staring eyes. The Englishman looked on sideways,
pursing up his lips. The man who had wished to stop the affair ran
to a corner of the room and threw himself on a sofa with his face to
the wall. Pierre hid his face, from which a faint smile forgot to fade
though his features now expressed horror and fear. All were still.
Pierre took his hands from his eyes. Dolokhov still sat in the same
position, only his head was thrown further back till his curly hair
touched his shirt collar, and the hand holding the bottle was lifted
higher and higher and trembled with the effort. The bottle was
emptying perceptibly and rising still higher and his head tilting
yet further back. "Why is it so long?" thought Pierre. It seemed to
him that more than half an hour had elapsed. Suddenly Dolokhov made
a backward movement with his spine, and his arm trembled nervously;
this was sufficient to cause his whole body to slip as he sat on the
sloping ledge. As he began slipping down, his head and arm wavered
still more with the strain. One hand moved as if to clutch the
window sill, but refrained from touching it. Pierre again covered
his eyes and thought he would never never them again. Suddenly he
was aware of a stir all around. He looked up: Dolokhov was standing on
the window sill, with a pale but radiant face.
He threw the bottle to the Englishman, who caught it neatly.
Dolokhov jumped down. He smelt strongly of rum.
"Well done!... Fine fellow!... There's a bet for you!... Devil
take you!" came from different sides.
The Englishman took out his purse and began counting out the
money. Dolokhov stood frowning and did not speak. Pierre jumped upon
the window sill.
"Gentlemen, who wishes to bet with me? I'll do the same thing!" he
suddenly cried. "Even without a bet, there! Tell them to bring me a
bottle. I'll do it.... Bring a bottle!"
"Let him do it, let him do it," said Dolokhov, smiling.
"What next? Have you gone mad?... No one would let you!... Why,
you go giddy even on a staircase," exclaimed several voices.
"I'll drink it! Let's have a bottle of rum!" shouted Pierre, banging
the table with a determined and drunken gesture and preparing to climb
out of the window.
They seized him by his arms; but he was so strong that everyone
who touched him was sent flying.
"No, you'll never manage him that way," said Anatole. "Wait a bit
and I'll get round him.... Listen! I'll take your bet tomorrow, but
now we are all going to -'s."
"Come on then," cried Pierre. "Come on!... And we'll take Bruin with
And he caught the bear, took it in his arms, lifted it from the
ground, and began dancing round the room with it.
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