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War And Peace 19


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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. Natalias 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 Rostovas 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, youll see that things are all as they should be? Thats right! The great thing is the serving, thats 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 husbands portrait on it. "Im quite worn out by these callers. However, Ill 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 Razumovskis 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... Mammas 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

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