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some means. In our times that is worth something, isnt it? But above all, she is a handsome, estimable girl, and she loves me..." Berg blushed and smiled. "And I love her, because her character is sensible and very good. Now the other sister, though they are the same family, is quite different--an unpleasant character and has not the same intelligence. She is so... you know?... Unpleasant... But my fiancee!... Well, you will be coming," he was going to say, "to dine," but changed his mind and said "to take tea with us," and quickly doubling up his tongue he blew a small round ring of tobacco smoke, perfectly embodying his dream of happiness. After the first feeling of perplexity aroused in the parents by Bergs proposal, the holiday tone of joyousness usual at such times took possession of the family, but the rejoicing was external and insincere. In the familys feeling toward this wedding a certain awkwardness and constraint was evident, as if they were ashamed of not having loved Vera sufficiently and of being so ready to get her off their hands. The old count felt this most. He would probably have been unable to state the cause of his embarrassment, but it resulted from the state of his affairs. He did not know at all how much he had, what his debts amounted to, or what dowry he could give Vera. When his daughters were born he had assigned to each of them, for her dowry, an estate with three hundred serfs; but one of these estates had already been sold, and the other was mortgaged and the interest so much in arrears that it would have to be sold, so that it was impossible to give it to Vera. Nor had he any money. Berg had already been engaged a month, and only a week remained before the wedding, but the count had not yet decided in his own mind the question of the dowry, nor spoken to his wife about it. At one time the count thought of giving her the Ryazan estate or of selling a forest, at another time of borrowing money on a note of hand. A few days before the wedding Berg entered the counts study early one morning and, with a pleasant smile, respectfully asked his future father-in-law to let him know what Veras dowry would be. The count was so disconcerted by this long-foreseen inquiry that without consideration he gave the first reply that came into his head. "I like your being businesslike about it.... I like it. You shall be satisfied...." And patting Berg on the shoulder he got up, wishing to end the conversation. But Berg, smiling pleasantly, explained that if he did not know for certain how much Vera would have and did not receive at least part of the dowry in advance, he would have to break matters off. "Because, consider, Count--if I allowed myself to marry now without having definite means to maintain my wife, I should be acting badly...." The conversation ended by the count, who wished to be generous and to avoid further importunity, saying that he would give a note of hand for eighty thousand rubles. Berg smiled meekly, kissed the count on the shoulder, and said that he was very grateful, but that it was impossible for him to arrange his new life without receiving thirty thousand in ready money. "Or at least twenty thousand, Count," he added, "and then a note of hand for only sixty thousand." "Yes, yes, all right!" said the count hurriedly. "Only excuse me, my dear fellow, Ill give you twenty thousand and a note of hand for eighty thousand as well. Yes, yes! Kiss me." CHAPTER XII Natasha was sixteen and it was the year 1809, the very year to which she had counted on her fingers with Boris after they had kissed four years ago. Since then she had not seen him. Before Sonya and her mother, if Boris happened to be mentioned, she spoke quite freely of that episode as of some childish, long-forgotten matter that was not worth mentioning. But in the secret depths of her soul the question whether her engagement to Boris was a jest or an important, binding promise tormented her. Since Boris left Moscow in 1805 to join the army he had not seen the Rostovs. He had been in Moscow several times, and had passed near Otradnoe, but had never been to see them. Sometimes it occurred to Natasha that he did not wish to see her, and this conjecture was confirmed by the sad tone

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