War and Peace
After Anna Mikhaylovna had driven off with her son to visit Count
Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov, Countess Rostova sat for a long time all
alone applying her handkerchief to her eyes. At last she rang.
"What is the matter with you, my dear?" she said crossly to the maid
who kept her waiting some minutes. "Don't you wish to serve me? Then
I'll find you another place."
The countess was upset by her friend's sorrow and humiliating
poverty, and was therefore out of sorts, a state of mind which with
her always found expression in calling her maid "my dear" and speaking
to her with exaggerated politeness.
"I am very sorry, ma'am," answered the maid.
"Ask the count to come to me."
The count came waddling in to see his wife with a rather guilty look
"Well, little countess? What a saute of game au madere we are to
have, my dear! I tasted it. The thousand rubles I paid for Taras
were not ill-spent. He is worth it!"
He sat down by his wife, his elbows on his knees and his hands
ruffling his gray hair.
"What are your commands, little countess?"
"You see, my dear... What's that mess?" she said, pointing to his
waistcoat. "It's, the saute, most likely," she added with a smile.
"Well, you see, Count, I want some money."
Her face became sad.
"Oh, little countess!"... and the count began bustling to get out
"I want a great deal, Count! I want five hundred rubles," and taking
out her cambric handkerchief she began wiping her husband's waistcoat.
"Yes, immediately, immediately! Hey, who's there?" he called out
in a tone only used by persons who are certain that those they call
will rush to obey the summons. "Send Dmitri to me!"
Dmitri, a man of good family who had been brought up in the
count's house and now managed all his affairs, stepped softly into the
"This is what I want, my dear fellow," said the count to the
deferential young man who had entered. "Bring me..." he reflected a
moment, "yes, bring me seven hundred rubles, yes! But mind, don't
bring me such tattered and dirty notes as last time, but nice clean
ones for the countess."
"Yes, Dmitri, clean ones, please," said the countess, sighing
"When would you like them, your excellency?" asked Dmitri. "Allow me
to inform you... But, don't be uneasy," he added, noticing that the
count was beginning to breathe heavily and quickly which was always
a sign of approaching anger. "I was forgetting... Do you wish it
brought at once?"
"Yes, yes; just so! Bring it. Give it to the countess."
"What a treasure that Dmitri is," added the count with a smile
when the young man had departed. "There is never any 'impossible' with
him. That's a thing I hate! Everything is possible."
"Ah, money, Count, money! How much sorrow it causes in the world,"
said the countess. "But I am in great need of this sum."
"You, my little countess, are a notorious spendthrift," said the
count, and having kissed his wife's hand he went back to his study.
When Anna Mikhaylovna returned from Count Bezukhov's the money,
all in clean notes, was lying ready under a handkerchief on the
countess' little table, and Anna Mikhaylovna noticed that something
was agitating her.
"Well, my dear?" asked the countess.
"Oh, what a terrible state he is in! One would not know him, he is
so ill! I was only there a few moments and hardly said a word..."
"Annette, for heaven's sake don't refuse me," the countess began,
with a blush that looked very strange on her thin, dignified,
elderly face, and she took the money from under the handkerchief.
Anna Mikhaylovna instantly guessed her intention and stooped to be
ready to embrace the countess at the appropriate moment.
"This is for Boris from me, for his outfit."
Anna Mikhaylovna was already embracing her and weeping. The countess
wept too. They wept because they were friends, and because they were
kindhearted, and because they- friends from childhood- had to think
about such a base thing as money, and because their youth was over....
But those tears were pleasant to them both.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter