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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 20
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 20 Post by :Roy_Adriaan Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :805

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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 20

One morning Colonel Berg, whom Pierre knew as he knew everybody in
Moscow and Petersburg, came to see him. Berg arrived in an
immaculate brand-new uniform, with his hair pomaded and brushed
forward over his temples as the Emperor Alexander wore his hair.

"I have just been to see the countess, your wife. Unfortunately
she could not grant my request, but I hope, Count, I shall be more
fortunate with you," he said with a smile.

"What is it you wish, Colonel? I am at your service."

"I have now quite settled in my new rooms, Count" (Berg said this
with perfect conviction that this information could not but be
agreeable), "and so I wish to arrange just a small party for my own
and my wife's friends." (He smiled still more pleasantly.) "I wished
to ask the countess and you to do me the honor of coming to tea and to

Only Countess Helene, considering the society of such people as
the Bergs beneath her, could be cruel enough to refuse such an
invitation. Berg explained so clearly why he wanted to collect at
his house a small but select company, and why this would give him
pleasure, and why though he grudged spending money on cards or
anything harmful, he was prepared to run into some expense for the
sake of good society- that Pierre could not refuse, and promised to

"But don't be late, Count, if I may venture to ask; about ten
minutes to eight, please. We shall make up a rubber. Our general is
coming. He is very good to me. We shall have supper, Count. So you
will do me the favor."

Contrary to his habit of being late, Pierre on that day arrived at
the Bergs' house, not at ten but at fifteen minutes to eight.

Having prepared everything necessary for the party, the Bergs were
really for their guests' arrival.

In their new, clean, and light study with its small busts and
pictures and new furniture sat Berg and his wife. Berg, closely
buttoned up in his new uniform, sat beside his wife explaining to
her that one always could and should be acquainted with people above
one, because only then does one get satisfaction from acquaintances.

"You can get to know something, you can ask for something. See how I
managed from my first promotion." (Berg measured his life not by years
but by promotions.) "My comrades are still nobodies, while I am only
waiting for a vacancy to command a regiment, and have the happiness to
be your husband." (He rose and kissed Vera's hand, and on the way to
her straightened out a turned-up corner of the carpet.) "And how
have I obtained all this? Chiefly by knowing how to choose my
aquaintances. It goes without saying that one must be conscientious
and methodical."

Berg smiled with a sense of his superiority over a weak woman, and
paused, reflecting that this dear wife of his was after all but a weak
woman who could not understand all that constitutes a man's dignity,
what it was ein Mann zu sein.* Vera at the same time smiling with a
sense of superiority over her good, conscientious husband, who all the
same understood life wrongly, as according to Vera all men did.
Berg, judging by his wife, thought all women weak and foolish. Vera,
judging only by her husband and generalizing from that observation,
supposed that all men, though they understand nothing and are
conceited and selfish, ascribe common sense to themselves alone.

*To be a man.

Berg rose and embraced his wife carefully, so as not to crush her
lace fichu for which he had paid a good price, kissing her straight on
the lips.

"The only thing is, we mustn't have children too soon," he
continued, following an unconscious sequence of ideas.

"Yes," answered Vera, "I don't at all want that. We must live for

"Princess Yusupova wore one exactly like this," said Berg,
pointing to the fichu with a happy and kindly smile.

Just then Count Bezukhov was announced. Husband and wife glanced
at one another, both smiling with self-satisfaction, and each mentally
claiming the honor of this visit.

"This is what what comes of knowing how to make acquaintances,"
thought Berg. "This is what comes of knowing how to conduct oneself."

"But please don't interrupt me when I am entertaining the guests,"
said Vera, "because I know what interests each of them and what to say
to different people."

Berg smiled again.

"It can't be helped: men must sometimes have masculine
conversation," said he.

They received Pierre in their small, new drawing-room, where it
was impossible to sit down anywhere without disturbing its symmetry,
neatness, and order; so it was quite comprehensible and not strange
that Berg, having generously offered to disturb the symmetry of an
armchair or of the sofa for his dear guest, but being apparently
painfully undecided on the matter himself, eventually left the visitor
to settle the question of selection. Pierre disturbed the symmetry
by moving a chair for himself, and Berg and Vera immediately began
their evening party, interrupting each other in their efforts to
entertain their guest.

Vera, having decided in her own mind that Pierre ought to be
entertained with conversation about the French embassy, at once
began accordingly. Berg, having decided that masculine conversation
was required, interrupted his wife's remarks and touched on the
question of the war with Austria, and unconsciously jumped from the
general subject to personal considerations as to the proposals made
him to take part in the Austrian campaign and the reasons why he had
declined them. Though the conversation was very incoherent and Vera
was angry at the intrusion of the masculine element, both husband
and wife felt with satisfaction that, even if only one guest was
present, their evening had begun very well and was as like as two peas
to every other evening party with its talk, tea, and lighted candles.

Before long Boris, Berg's old comrade, arrived. There was a shade of
condescension and patronage in his treatment of Berg and Vera. After
Boris came a lady with the colonel, then the general himself, then the
Rostovs, and the party became unquestionably exactly like all other
evening parties. Berg and Vera could not repress their smiles of
satisfaction at the sight of all this movement in their drawing
room, at the sound of the disconnected talk, the rustling of
dresses, and the bowing and scraping. Everything was just as everybody
always has it, especially so the general, who admired the apartment,
patted Berg on the shoulder, and with parental authority superintended
the setting out of the table for boston. The general sat down by Count
Ilya Rostov, who was next to himself the most important guest. The old
people sat with the old, the young with the young, and the hostess
at the tea table, on which stood exactly the same kind of cakes in a
silver cake basket as the Panins had at their party. Everything was
just as it was everywhere else.

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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 21 War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 21

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 21
Pierre, as one of the principal guests, had to sit down to bostonwith Count Rostov, the general, and the colonel. At the card tablehe happened to be directly facing Natasha, and was struck by a curiouschange that had come over her since the ball, She was silent, andnot only less pretty than at the ball, but only redeemed fromplainness by her look of gentle indifference to everything around."What's the matter with her?" thought Pierre, glancing at her. Shewas sitting by her sister at the tea table, and reluctantly, withoutlooking at him, made some reply to Boris who sat down beside her.After

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 19 War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 19

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 19
Next day Prince Andrew called at a few houses he had not visitedbefore, and among them at the Rostovs' with whom he had renewedacquaintance at the ball. Apart from considerations of politenesswhich demanded the call, he wanted to see that original, eager girlwho had left such a pleasant impression on his mind, in her own home.Natasha was one of the first to meet him. She was wearing adark-blue house dress in which Prince Andrew thought her even prettierthan in her ball dress. She and all the Rostov family welcomed himas an old friend, simply and cordially. The whole family, whom hehad