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War And Peace 517


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swaying his head from side to side to express sympathy, remained standing beside her. "Yes, Mamma, I tell you sincerely that these are hard and sad times for every Russian. But why are you so anxious? You have still time to get away...." "I cant think what the servants are about," said the countess, turning to her husband. "I have just been told that nothing is ready yet. Somebody after all must see to things. One misses Mitenka at such times. There wont be any end to it." The count was about to say something, but evidently restrained himself. He got up from his chair and went to the door. At that moment Berg drew out his handkerchief as if to blow his nose and, seeing the knot in it, pondered, shaking his head sadly and significantly. "And I have a great favor to ask of you, Papa," said he. "Hm..." said the count, and stopped. "I was driving past Yusupovs house just now," said Berg with a laugh, "when the steward, a man I know, ran out and asked me whether I wouldnt buy something. I went in out of curiosity, you know, and there is a small chiffonier and a dressing table. You know how dear Vera wanted a chiffonier like that and how we had a dispute about it." (At the mention of the chiffonier and dressing table Berg involuntarily changed his tone to one of pleasure at his admirable domestic arrangements.) "And its such a beauty! It pulls out and has a secret English drawer, you know! And dear Vera has long wanted one. I wish to give her a surprise, you see. I saw so many of those peasant carts in your yard. Please let me have one, I will pay the man well, and..." The count frowned and coughed. "Ask the countess, I dont give orders." "If its inconvenient, please dont," said Berg. "Only I so wanted it, for dear Veras sake." "Oh, go to the devil, all of you! To the devil, the devil, the devil..." cried the old count. "My heads in a whirl!" And he left the room. The countess began to cry. "Yes, Mamma! Yes, these are very hard times!" said Berg. Natasha left the room with her father and, as if finding it difficult to reach some decision, first followed him and then ran downstairs. Petya was in the porch, engaged in giving out weapons to the servants who were to leave Moscow. The loaded carts were still standing in the yard. Two of them had been uncorded and a wounded officer was climbing into one of them helped by an orderly. "Do you know what its about?" Petya asked Natasha. She understood that he meant what were their parents quarreling about. She did not answer. "Its because Papa wanted to give up all the carts to the wounded," said Petya. "Vasilich told me. I consider..." "I consider," Natasha suddenly almost shouted, turning her angry face to Petya, "I consider it so horrid, so abominable, so... I dont know what. Are we despicable Germans?" Her throat quivered with convulsive sobs and, afraid of weakening and letting the force of her anger run to waste, she turned and rushed headlong up the stairs. Berg was sitting beside the countess consoling her with the respectful attention of a relative. The count, pipe in hand, was pacing up and down the room, when Natasha, her face distorted by anger, burst in like a tempest and approached her mother with rapid steps. "Its horrid! Its abominable!" she screamed. "You cant possibly have ordered it!" Berg and the countess looked at her, perplexed and frightened. The count stood still at the window and listened. "Mamma, its impossible: see what is going on in the yard!" she cried. "They will be left!..." "Whats the matter with you? Who are they? What do you want?" "Why, the wounded! Its impossible, Mamma. Its monstrous!... No, Mamma darling, its not the thing. Please forgive me, darling.... Mamma, what does it matter what we take away? Only look what is going on in the yard... Mamma!... Its impossible!" The count stood by the window and listened without turning round. Suddenly he sniffed and put his face closer to the window. The countess glanced at her daughter, saw her face full of shame for her mother, saw her agitation, and understood why her husband did not turn to look at her now, and she glanced round quite disconcerted. "Oh, do as you like! Am I hindering anyone?" she said, not surrendering at once. "Mamma, darling, forgive me!" But the countess pushed her daughter away and went up to

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