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faculty of thinking--and the pretext for that was a game of patience. When she needed to cry, the deceased count would be the pretext. When she wanted to be agitated, Nicholas and his health would be the pretext, and when she felt a need to speak spitefully, the pretext would be Countess Mary. When her vocal organs needed exercise, which was usually toward seven oclock when she had had an after-dinner rest in a darkened room, the pretext would be the retelling of the same stories over and over again to the same audience. The old ladys condition was understood by the whole household though no one ever spoke of it, and they all made every possible effort to satisfy her needs. Only by a rare glance exchanged with a sad smile between Nicholas, Pierre, Natasha, and Countess Mary was the common understanding of her condition expressed. But those glances expressed something more: they said that she had played her part in life, that what they now saw was not her whole self, that we must all become like her, and that they were glad to yield to her, to restrain themselves for this once precious being formerly as full of life as themselves, but now so much to be pitied. "Memento mori," said these glances. Only the really heartless, the stupid ones of that household, and the little children failed to understand this and avoided her. CHAPTER XIII When Pierre and his wife entered the drawing room the countess was in one of her customary states in which she needed the mental exertion of playing patience, and so--though by force of habit she greeted him with the words she always used when Pierre or her son returned after an absence: "High time, my dear, high time! We were all weary of waiting for you. Well, thank God!" and received her presents with another customary remark: "Its not the gift thats precious, my dear, but that you give it to me, an old woman..."--yet it was evident that she was not pleased by Pierres arrival at that moment when it diverted her attention from the unfinished game. She finished her game of patience and only then examined the presents. They consisted of a box for cards, of splendid workmanship, a bright-blue Sevres tea cup with shepherdesses depicted on it and with a lid, and a gold snuffbox with the counts portrait on the lid which Pierre had had done by a miniaturist in Petersburg. The countess had long wished for such a box, but as she did not want to cry just then she glanced indifferently at the portrait and gave her attention chiefly to the box for cards. "Thank you, my dear, you have cheered me up," said she as she always did. "But best of all you have brought yourself back--for I never saw anything like it, you ought to give your wife a scolding! What are we to do with her? She is like a mad woman when you are away. Doesnt see anything, doesnt remember anything," she went on, repeating her usual phrases. "Look, Anna Timofeevna," she added to her companion, "see what a box for cards my son has brought us!" Belova admired the presents and was delighted with her dress material. Though Pierre, Natasha, Nicholas, Countess Mary, and Denisov had much to talk about that they could not discuss before the old countess--not that anything was hidden from her, but because she had dropped so far behindhand in many things that had they begun to converse in her presence they would have had to answer inopportune questions and to repeat what they had already told her many times: that so-and-so was dead and so-and-so was married, which she would again be unable to remember--yet they sat at tea round the samovar in the drawing room from habit, and Pierre answered the countess questions as to whether Prince Vasili had aged and whether Countess Mary Alexeevna had sent greetings and still thought of them, and other matters that interested no one and to which she herself was indifferent. Conversation of this kind, interesting to no one yet unavoidable, continued all through teatime. All the grown-up members of the family were assembled near the round tea table at which Sonya presided beside the samovar. The children with their tutors and governesses had had tea and their voices were audible from the next room. At tea all sat in their accustomed places: Nicholas beside the stove at a small table where his tea was handed to him; Milka, the old gray borzoi bitch (daughter of the first

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