Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
had a world apart, which he loved
passionately and which had laws she had not fathomed.
Sometimes when, trying to understand him, she spoke of the good work
he was doing for his serfs, he would be vexed and reply: "Not in the
least; it never entered my head and I wouldnt do that for their good!
Thats all poetry and old wives talk--all that doing good to ones
neighbor! What I want is that our children should not have to go
begging. I must put our affairs in order while I am alive, thats all.
And to do that, order and strictness are essential.... Thats all
about it!" said he, clenching his vigorous fist. "And fairness, of
course," he added, "for if the peasant is naked and hungry and has
only one miserable horse, he can do no good either for himself or
And all Nicholas did was fruitful--probably just because he
refused to allow himself to think that he was doing good to others for
virtues sake. His means increased rapidly; serfs from neighboring
estates came to beg him to buy them, and long after his death the
memory of his administration was devoutly preserved among the serfs.
"He was a master... the peasants affairs first and then his own. Of
course he was not to be trifled with either--in a word, he was a
One matter connected with his management sometimes worried Nicholas,
and that was his quick temper together with his old hussar habit of
making free use of his fists. At first he saw nothing reprehensible in
this, but in the second year of his marriage his view of that form
of punishment suddenly changed.
Once in summer he had sent for the village elder from Bogucharovo, a
man who had succeeded to the post when Dron died and who was accused
of dishonesty and various irregularities. Nicholas went out into the
porch to question him, and immediately after the elder had given a few
replies the sound of cries and blows were heard. On returning to lunch
Nicholas went up to his wife, who sat with her head bent low over
her embroidery frame, and as usual began to tell her what he had
been doing that morning. Among other things he spoke of the
Bogucharovo elder. Countess Mary turned red and then pale, but
continued to sit with head bowed and lips compressed and gave her
husband no reply.
"Such an insolent scoundrel!" he cried, growing hot again at the
mere recollection of him. "If he had told me he was drunk and did
not see... But what is the matter with you, Mary?" he suddenly asked.
Countess Mary raised her head and tried to speak, but hastily looked
down again and her lips puckered.
"Why, whatever is the matter, my dearest?"
The looks of the plain Countess Mary always improved when she was in
tears. She never cried from pain or vexation, but always from sorrow
or pity, and when she wept her radiant eyes acquired an irresistible
The moment Nicholas took her hand she could no longer restrain
herself and began to cry.
"Nicholas, I saw it... he was to blame, but why do you... Nicholas!"
and she covered her face with her hands.
Nicholas said nothing. He flushed crimson, left her side, and
paced up and down the room. He understood what she was weeping
about, but could not in his heart at once agree with her that what
he had regarded from childhood as quite an everyday event was wrong.
"Is it just sentimentality, old wives tales, or is she right?" he
asked himself. Before he had solved that point he glanced again at her
face filled with love and pain, and he suddenly realized that she
was right and that he had long been sinning against himself.
"Mary," he said softly, going up to her, "it will never happen
again; I give you my word. Never," he repeated in a trembling voice
like a boy asking for forgiveness.
The tears flowed faster still from the countess eyes. She took
his hand and kissed it.
"Nicholas, when did you break your cameo?" she asked to change the
subject, looking at his finger on which he wore a ring with a cameo
of Laocoons head.
"Today--it was the same affair. Oh, Mary, dont remind me of it!"
and again he flushed. "I give you my word of honor it shant occur
again, and let this always be a reminder to me," and he pointed to the
After that, when in discussions with his
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