ANATOLE had lately moved into Dolohov's quarters. The plan for the abduction of Natasha Rostov had been all planned out and prepared several days before by Dolohov, and on the day when Sonya had listened at Natasha's door and resolved to protect her, that plan was to be put into execution. Natasha had promised to come out to Kuragin at the back entrance at ten o'clock in the evening. Kuragin was to get her into a sledge that was to be all ready with three horses in it, and to drive her off sixty versts from Moscow to the village of Kamenka, where an unfrocked priest was in readiness to perform a marriage ceremony over them. At Kamenka a relay of horses was to be in readiness, which was to take them as far as the Warsaw road, and thence they were to hasten abroad by means of post-horses.
Anatole had a passport and an order for post-horses and ten thousand roubles borrowed from his sister, and ten thousand more raised by the assistance of Dolohov.
The two witnesses of the mock marriage ceremony—Hvostikov, once a petty official, a man of whom Dolohov made use at cards, and Makarin, a retired hussar, a weak and good-natured man, whose devotion to Kuragin was unbounded—were sitting over their tea in the outer room.
In Dolohov's big study, decorated from the walls to the ceiling with Persian rugs, bearskins, and weapons, Dolohov was sitting in a travelling tunic and high boots in front of an open bureau on which lay accounts and bundles of bank notes. Anatole, in an unbuttoned uniform, was walking to and fro from the room where the witnesses were sitting through the study into a room behind, where his French valet with some other servants was packing up the last of his belongings. Dolohov was reckoning up money and noting down sums.
“Well,” he said, “you will have to give Hvostikov two thousand.”
“Well, give it him then,” said Anatole.
“Makarka now” (their name for Makarin), “he would go through fire and water for you with nothing to gain by it. Well, here then, our accounts are finished,” said Dolohov, showing him the paper. “That's all right?”
“Yes, of course, it's all right,” said Anatole, evidently not attending to Dolohov, and looking straight before him with a smile that never left his face.
Dolohov shut the bureau with a slam, and turned to Anatole with a ironical smile.
“But I say, you drop it all; there's still time!” he said.
“Idiot!” said Anatole. “Leave off talking rubbish. If only you knew.… Devil only knows what this means to me!”
“You'd really better drop it,” said Dolohov. “I'm speaking in earnest. It's no joking matter this scheme of yours.”
“Why, teasing again, again? Go to the devil! Eh.…” said Anatole, frowning. “Really, I'm in no humour for your stupid jokes.” And he went out of the room.
Dolohov smiled a contemptuous and supercilious smile when Anatole had gone.
“Wait a bit,” he called after Anatole. “I'm not joking. I'm in earnest. Come here, come here!”
Anatole came back into the room, and trying to concentrate his attention, looked at Dolohov, obviously obeying him unwillingly.
“Listen to me. I'm speaking to you for the last time. What should I want to joke with you for? Have I ever thwarted you? Who was it arranged it all for you? Who found your priest? Who took your passport? Who got you your money? It has all been my doing.”
“Well, and thank you for it. Do you suppose I'm not grateful?” Anatole sighed and embraced Dolohov.
“I have helped you; but still I ought to tell you the truth: it's a dangerous business, and if you come to think of it, it's stupid. Come, you carry her off, well and good. Do you suppose they'll let it rest? It will come out that you are married. Why, they will have you up on a criminal charge, you know …”
“Oh, nonsense, nonsense!” said Anatole, frowning again. “Why, didn't I explain to you? Eh?” and Anatole, with that peculiar partiality (common in persons of dull brain), for any conclusion to which they have been led by their own mental processes, repeated the argument he had repeated a hundred times over to Dolohov already. “Why, I explained it, I settled that. If this marriage is invalid,” he said, crooking his finger, “then it follows I'm not answerable for it. Well, and if it is valid, it won't matter. No one will ever know of it abroad, so, you see, it's all right, isn't it? And don't talk to me; don't talk to me; don't talk to me!”
“Really, you drop it. You'll get yourself into a mess …”
“You go to the devil!” said Anatole, and clutching at his hair he went off into the next room, but at once returning he sat with his legs up on an arm-chair close to Dolohov and facing him. “Devil only knows what's the matter with me! Eh? See how it beats.” He took Dolohov's hand and put it on his heart. “Ah, what a foot, my dear boy, what a glance! A goddess!” he said in French. “Eh?”
Dolohov, with a cold smile and a gleam in his handsome impudent eyes, looked at him, obviously disposed to get a little more amusement out of him.
“Well, your money will be gone, what then?”
“What then? Eh?” repeated Anatole, with genuine perplexity at the thought of the future. “What then? I don't know what then … Come, why talk nonsense?” He looked at his watch. “It's time!”
Anatole went into the back room.
“Well, will you soon have done? You're dawdling there,” he shouted at the servants.
Dolohov put away the money; and calling a servant to give him orders about getting something to eat and drink before the journey, he went into the room where Hvostikov and Makarin were sitting.
Anatole lay down on the sofa in the study, and, propped on his elbows, smiled pensively and murmured something fervently to himself.
“Come and have something to eat. Here, have a drink!” Dolohov shouted to him from the other room.
“I don't want to,” answered Anatole, still smiling.
“Come, Balaga is here.”
Anatole got up, and went into the dining-room. Balaga was a well-known driver, who had known Dolohov and Anatole for the last six years, and driven them in his three-horse sledges. More than once, when Anatole's regiment had been stationed at Tver, he had driven him out of Tver in the evening, reached Moscow by dawn, and driven him back the next night. More than once he had driven Dolohov safe away when he was being pursued. Many a time he had driven them about the town with gypsies and “gay ladies,” as he called them. More than one horse had he ruined in driving them. More than once he had driven over people and upset vehicles in Moscow, and always his “gentlemen,” as he called them, had got him out of trouble. Many a time had they beaten him, many a time made him drunk with champagne and madeira, a wine he loved, and more than one exploit he knew of each of them, which would long ago have sent any ordinary man to Siberia. They often called Balaga in to their carousals, made him drink and dance with the gypsies, and many a thousand roubles of their money had passed through his hands. In their service, twenty times a year, he risked his life and his skin, and wore out more horses than they repaid him for in money. But he liked them, liked their furious driving, eighteen versts an hour, liked upsetting coachmen, and running down people on foot in Moscow, and always flew full gallop along the Moscow streets. He liked to hear behind him the wild shout of drunken voices, “Get on; get on!” when it was impossible to drive faster; liked to give a lash on the neck to a passing peasant who was already hastening out of his way more dead than alive. “Real gentlemen!” he thought.
Anatole and Dolohov liked Balaga, too, for his spirited driving, and because he liked the same things that they liked. With other people Balaga drove hard bargains; he would take as much as twenty-five roubles for a two hours' drive, and rarely drove himself, generally sending one of his young men. But with his own gentlemen, as he called them, he always drove himself, and never asked for anything for the job.
Only after learning through their valets when money was plentiful, he would turn up once every few months in the morning; and sober, and bowing low, would ask them to help him out of his difficulties. The gentlemen always made him sit down.
“Please, help me out of a scrape, Fyodor Ivanovitch, or your excellency,” he would say. “I'm quite run out of horses; lend me what you can to go to the fair.”
And whenever they were flush of money Anatole and Dolohov would give him a thousand or two.
Balaga was a flaxen-headed, squat, snub-nosed peasant of seven and twenty, with a red face and a particularly red, thick neck, little sparkling eyes, and a little beard. He wore a fine blue silk-lined full coat, put on over a fur pelisse.
He crossed himself, facing the opposite corner, and went up to Dolohov, holding out his black, little hand.
“Respects to Fyodor Ivanovitch!” said he, bowing
“Good-day to you, brother. Well, here he comes!”
“Good-morning, your excellency!” he said to Anatole as he came in and to him, too, he held out his hand.
“I say, Balaga,” said Anatole, laying his hands on his shoulders, “do you care for me or not? Eh? Now's the time to do me good service.… What sort of horses have you come with? Eh?”
“As the messenger bade me; your favourite beasts,” said Balaga.
“Come, Balaga, do you hear? You may kill all three of them; only get there in three hours. Eh?”
“If I kill them, how are we to get there?” said Balaga, winking.
“None of your jokes now. I'll smash your face in!” cried Anatole suddenly, rolling his eyes.
“Jokes!” said the driver, laughing. “Do I grudge anything for my gentlemen? As fast as ever the horses can gallop we shall get there.”
“Ah!” said Anatole. “Well, sit down.”
“Come, sit down,” said Dolohov.
“Oh, I'll stand, Fyodor Ivanovitch.”
“Sit down; nonsense! have a drink,” said Anatole, and he poured him out a big glass of madeira. The driver's eyes sparkled at the sight of the wine. Refusing it at first for manners' sake, he tossed it off, and wiped his mouth with a red silk handkerchief that lay in his cap.
“Well, and when are we to start, your excellency?”
“Oh…” Anatole looked at his watch. “We must set off at once. Now mind, Balaga. Eh? You'll get there in time?”
“To be sure, if we've luck in getting off. Why shouldn't we do it in the time?” said Balaga. “We got you to Tver, and got there in seven hours. You remember, I bet, your excellency!”
“Do you know, I once drove from Tver at Christmas time,” said Anatole, with a smile at the recollection, addressing Makarin, who was gazing admiringly at him. “Would you believe it, Makarka, one could hardly breathe we flew so fast. We drove into a train of wagons and rode right over two of them! Eh?”
“They were horses, too,” Balaga went on. “I'd put two young horses in the traces with the bay in the shafts”—he turned to Dolohov—“and, would you believe me, Fyodor Ivanovitch, sixty versts those beasts galloped. There was no holding them, for my hands were numb; it was a frost. I flung down the reins. “You hold them yourself, your excellency,” said I, and I rolled up inside the sledge. No need of driving them. Why, we couldn't hold them in when we got there. In three hours the devils brought us. Only the left one died of it.”