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War And Peace 513

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

home told them the news he had heard. He said the people had been getting arms in the Kremlin, and that though Rostopchins broadsheet had said that he would sound a call two or three days in advance, the order had certainly already been given for everyone to go armed to the Three Hills tomorrow, and that there would be a big battle there. The countess looked with timid horror at her sons eager, excited face as he said this. She realized that if she said a word about his not going to the battle (she knew he enjoyed the thought of the impending engagement) he would say something about men, honor, and the fatherland--something senseless, masculine, and obstinate which there would be no contradicting, and her plans would be spoiled; and so, hoping to arrange to leave before then and take Petya with her as their protector and defender, she did not answer him, but after dinner called the count aside and implored him with tears to take her away quickly, that very night if possible. With a womans involuntary loving cunning she, who till then had not shown any alarm, said that she would die of fright if they did not leave that very night. Without any pretense she was now afraid of everything. CHAPTER XIV Madame Schoss, who had been out to visit her daughter, increased the countess fears still more by telling what she had seen at a spirit dealers in Myasnitski Street. When returning by that street she had been unable to pass because of a drunken crowd rioting in front of the shop. She had taken a cab and driven home by a side street and the cabman had told her that the people were breaking open the barrels at the drink store, having received orders to do so. After dinner the whole Rostov household set to work with enthusiastic haste packing their belongings and preparing for their departure. The old count, suddenly setting to work, kept passing from the yard to the house and back again, shouting confused instructions to the hurrying people, and flurrying them still more. Petya directed things in the yard. Sonya, owing to the counts contradictory orders, lost her head and did not know what to do. The servants ran noisily about the house and yard, shouting and disputing. Natasha, with the ardor characteristic of all she did suddenly set to work too. At first her intervention in the business of packing was received skeptically. Everybody expected some prank from her and did not wish to obey her; but she resolutely and passionately demanded obedience, grew angry and nearly cried because they did not heed her, and at last succeeded in making them believe her. Her first exploit, which cost her immense effort and established her authority, was the packing of the carpets. The count had valuable Gobelin tapestries and Persian carpets in the house. When Natasha set to work two cases were standing open in the ballroom, one almost full up with crockery, the other with carpets. There was also much china standing on the tables, and still more was being brought in from the storeroom. A third case was needed and servants had gone to fetch it. "Sonya, wait a bit--well pack everything into these," said Natasha. "You cant, Miss, we have tried to," said the butlers assistant. "No, wait a minute, please." And Natasha began rapidly taking out of the case dishes and plates wrapped in paper. "The dishes must go in here among the carpets," said she. "Why, its a mercy if we can get the carpets alone into three cases," said the butlers assistant. "Oh, wait, please!" And Natasha began rapidly and deftly sorting out the things. "These arent needed," said she, putting aside some plates of Kiev ware. "These--yes, these must go among the carpets," she said, referring to the Saxony china dishes. "Dont, Natasha! Leave it alone! Well get it all packed," urged Sonya reproachfully. "What a young lady she is!" remarked the major-domo. But Natasha would not give in. She turned everything out and began quickly repacking, deciding that the inferior Russian carpets and unnecessary crockery should not be taken at all. When everything had been taken out of the cases, they recommenced packing, and it turned out that when the cheaper things not worth taking had nearly all been rejected, the valuable ones really did all go into the two cases. Only the lid of the case containing the carpets would not shut down. A few more things might have been taken out, but Natasha insisted on having her own way. She

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