Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

War and Peace »


By graf Leo Tolstoy

“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 him merrily.

“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 the window.

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.

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