War and Peace
Prince Vasili kept the promise he had given to Princess
Drubetskaya who had spoken to him on behalf of her only son Boris on
the evening of Anna Pavlovna's soiree. The matter was mentioned to the
Emperor, an exception made, and Boris transferred into the regiment of
Semenov Guards with the rank of cornet. He received, however, no
appointment to Kutuzov's staff despite all Anna Mikhaylovna's
endeavors and entreaties. Soon after Anna Pavlovna's reception Anna
Mikhaylovna returned to Moscow and went straight to her rich
relations, the Rostovs, with whom she stayed when in the town and
where and where her darling Bory, who had only just entered a regiment
of the line and was being at once transferred to the Guards as a
cornet, had been educated from childhood and lived for years at a
time. The Guards had already left Petersburg on the tenth of August,
and her son, who had remained in Moscow for his equipment, was to join
them on the march to Radzivilov.
It was St. Natalia's day and the name day of two of the Rostovs- the
mother and the youngest daughter- both named Nataly. Ever since the
morning, carriages with six horses had been coming and going
continually, bringing visitors to the Countess Rostova's big house
on the Povarskaya, so well known to all Moscow. The countess herself
and her handsome eldest daughter were in the drawing-room with the
visitors who came to congratulate, and who constantly succeeded one
another in relays.
The countess was a woman of about forty-five, with a thin Oriental
type of face, evidently worn out with childbearing- she had had
twelve. A languor of motion and speech, resulting from weakness,
gave her a distinguished air which inspired respect. Princess Anna
Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya, who as a member of the household was also
seated in the drawing room, helped to receive and entertain the
visitors. The young people were in one of the inner rooms, not
considering it necessary to take part in receiving the visitors. The
count met the guests and saw them off, inviting them all to dinner.
"I am very, very grateful to you, mon cher," or "ma chere"- he
called everyone without exception and without the slightest
variation in his tone, "my dear," whether they were above or below him
in rank- "I thank you for myself and for our two dear ones whose
name day we are keeping. But mind you come to dinner or I shall be
offended, ma chere! On behalf of the whole family I beg you to come,
mon cher!" These words he repeated to everyone without exception or
variation, and with the same expression on his full, cheerful,
clean-shaven face, the same firm pressure of the hand and the same
quick, repeated bows. As soon as he had seen a visitor off he returned
to one of those who were still in the drawing room, drew a chair
toward him or her, and jauntily spreading out his legs and putting his
hands on his knees with the air of a man who enjoys life and knows how
to live, he swayed to and fro with dignity, offered surmises about the
weather, or touched on questions of health, sometimes in Russian and
sometimes in very bad but self-confident French; then again, like a
man weary but unflinching in the fulfillment of duty, he rose to see
some visitors off and, stroking his scanty gray hairs over his bald
patch, also asked them to dinner. Sometimes on his way back from the
anteroom he would pass through the conservatory and pantry into the
large marble dining hall, where tables were being set out for eighty
people; and looking at the footmen, who were bringing in silver and
china, moving tables, and unfolding damask table linen, he would
call Dmitri Vasilevich, a man of good family and the manager of all
his affairs, and while looking with pleasure at the enormous table
would say: "Well, Dmitri, you'll see that things are all as they
should be? That's right! The great thing is the serving, that's it."
And with a complacent sigh he would return to the drawing room.
"Marya Lvovna Karagina and her daughter!" announced the countess'
gigantic footman in his bass voice, entering the drawing room. The
countess reflected a moment and took a pinch from a gold snuffbox with
her husband's portrait on it.
"I'm quite worn out by these callers. However, I'll see her and no
more. She is so affected. Ask her in," she said to the footman in a
sad voice, as if saying: "Very well, finish me off."
A tall, stout, and proud-looking woman, with a round-faced smiling
daughter, entered the drawing room, their dresses rustling.
"Dear Countess, what an age... She has been laid up, poor child...
at the Razumovski's ball... and Countess Apraksina... I was so
delighted..." came the sounds of animated feminine voices,
interrupting one another and mingling with the rustling of dresses and
the scraping of chairs. Then one of those conversations began which
last out until, at the first pause, the guests rise with a rustle of
dresses and say, "I am so delighted... Mamma's health... and
Countess Apraksina... and then, again rustling, pass into the
anteroom, put on cloaks or mantles, and drive away. The conversation
was on the chief topic of the day: the illness of the wealthy and
celebrated beau of Catherine's day, Count Bezukhov, and about his
illegitimate son Pierre, the one who had behaved so improperly at Anna
"I am so sorry for the poor count," said the visitor. "He is in such
bad health, and now this vexation about his son is enough to kill
"What is that?" asked the countess as if she did not know what the
visitor alluded to, though she had already heard about the cause of
Count Bezukhov's distress some fifteen times.
"That's what comes of a modern education," exclaimed the visitor.
"It seems that while he was abroad this young man was allowed to do as
he liked, now in Petersburg I hear he has been doing such terrible
things that he has been expelled by the police."
"You don't say so!" replied the countess.
"He chose his friends badly," interposed Anna Mikhaylovna. "Prince
Vasili's son, he, and a certain Dolokhov have, it is said, been up
to heaven only knows what! And they have had to suffer for it.
Dolokhov has been degraded to the ranks and Bezukhov's son sent back
to Moscow. Anatole Kuragin's father managed somehow to get his son's
affair hushed up, but even he was ordered out of Petersburg."
"But what have they been up to?" asked the countess.
"They are regular brigands, especially Dolokhov," replied the
visitor. "He is a son of Marya Ivanovna Dolokhova, such a worthy
woman, but there, just fancy! Those three got hold of a bear
somewhere, put it in a carriage, and set off with it to visit some
actresses! The police tried to interfere, and what did the young men
do? They tied a policeman and the bear back to back and put the bear
into the Moyka Canal. And there was the bear swimming about with the
policeman on his back!"
"What a nice figure the policeman must have cut, my dear!" shouted
the count, dying with laughter.
"Oh, how dreadful! How can you laugh at it, Count?"
Yet the ladies themselves could not help laughing.
"It was all they could do to rescue the poor man," continued the
visitor. "And to think it is Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov's son who
amuses himself in this sensible manner! And he was said to be so
well educated and clever. This is all that his foreign education has
done for him! I hope that here in Moscow no one will receive him, in
spite of his money. They wanted to introduce him to me, but I quite
declined: I have my daughters to consider."
"Why do you say this young man is so rich?" asked the countess,
turning away from the girls, who at once assumed an air of
inattention. "His children are all illegitimate. I think Pierre also
The visitor made a gesture with her hand.
"I should think he has a score of them."
Princess Anna Mikhaylovna intervened in the conversation,
evidently wishing to show her connections and knowledge of what went
on in society.
"The fact of the matter is," said she significantly, and also in a
half whisper, "everyone knows Count Cyril's reputation.... He has lost
count of his children, but this Pierre was his favorite."
"How handsome the old man still was only a year ago!" remarked the
countess. "I have never seen a handsomer man."
"He is very much altered now," said Anna Mikhaylovna. "Well, as I
was saying, Prince Vasili is the next heir through his wife, but the
count is very fond of Pierre, looked after his education, and wrote to
the Emperor about him; so that in the case of his death- and he is
so ill that he may die at any moment, and Dr. Lorrain has come from
Petersburg- no one knows who will inherit his immense fortune,
Pierre or Prince Vasili. Forty thousand serfs and millions of
rubles! I know it all very well for Prince Vasili told me himself.
Besides, Cyril Vladimirovich is my mother's second cousin. He's also
my Bory's godfather," she added, as if she attached no importance at
all to the fact.
"Prince Vasili arrived in Moscow yesterday. I hear he has come on
some inspection business," remarked the visitor.
"Yes, but between ourselves," said the princess, that is a
pretext. The fact is he has come to see Count Cyril Vladimirovich,
hearing how ill he is."
"But do you know, my dear, that was a capital joke," said the count;
and seeing that the elder visitor was not listening, he turned to
the young ladies. "I can just imagine what a funny figure that
And as he waved his arms to impersonate the policeman, his portly
form again shook with a deep ringing laugh, the laugh of one who
always eats well and, in particular, drinks well. "So do come and dine
with us!" he said.
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