War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book I: Chapters 7–21

"Ah, my dear," said the countess,"my life is not all roses either. Don't I know that at the rate we are living our means won't last long? It's all the Club and his easygoing nature. Even in the country do we get any rest? Theatricals, hunting, and heaven knows what besides! But don't let's talk about me; tell me how you managed everything. I often wonder at you, Annette — how at your age you can rush off alone in a carriage to Moscow, to Petersburg, to those ministers and great people, and know how to deal with them all! It's quite astonishing. How did you get things settled? I couldn't possibly do it."

"Ah, my love," answered Anna Mikhaylovna,"God grant you never know what it is to be left a widow without means and with a son you love to distraction! One learns many things then," she added with a certain pride."That lawsuit taught me much. When I want to see one of those big people I write a note: 'Princess So-and-So desires an interview with So and-So,' and then I take a cab and go myself two, three, or four times — till I get what I want. I don't mind what they think of me."

"Well, and to whom did you apply about Bory?" asked the countess."You see yours is already an officer in the Guards, while my Nicholas is going as a cadet. There's no one to interest himself for him. To whom did you apply?"

"To Prince Vasili. He was so kind. He at once agreed to everything, and put the matter before the Emperor," said Princess Anna Mikhaylovna enthusiastically, quite forgetting all the humiliation she had endured to gain her end.

"Has Prince Vasili aged much?" asked the countess."I have not seen him since we acted together at the Rumyantsovs' theatricals. I expect he has forgotten me. He paid me attentions in those days," said the countess, with a smile.

"He is just the same as ever," replied Anna Mikhaylovna,"overflowing with amiability. His position has not turned his head at all. He said to me, 'I am sorry I can do so little for you, dear Princess. I am at your command.' Yes, he is a fine fellow and a very kind relation. But, Nataly, you know my love for my son: I would do anything for his happiness! And my affairs are in such a bad way that my position is now a terrible one," continued Anna Mikhaylovna, sadly, dropping her voice."My wretched lawsuit takes all I have and makes no progress. Would you believe it, I have literally not a penny and don't know how to equip Boris." She took out her handkerchief and began to cry."I need five hundred rubles, and have only one twenty-five-ruble note. I am in such a state . . . . My only hope now is in Count Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov. If he will not assist his godson — you know he is Bory's godfather — and allow him something for his maintenance, all my trouble will have been thrown away . . . . I shall not be able to equip him."

The countess' eyes filled with tears and she pondered in silence.

"I often think, though, perhaps it's a sin," said the princess,"that here lives Count Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov so rich, all alone . . . that tremendous fortune . . . and what is his life worth? It's a burden to him, and Bory's life is only just beginning . . . ."

"Surely he will leave something to Boris," said the countess.

"Heaven only knows, my dear! These rich grandees are so selfish. Still, I will take Boris and go to see him at once, and I shall speak to him straight out. Let people think what they will of me, it's really all the same to me when my son's fate is at stake." The princess rose."It's now two o'clock and you dine at four. There will just be time."

And like a practical Petersburg lady who knows how to make the most of time, Anna Mikhaylovna sent someone to call her son, and went into the anteroom with him.

"Good-by, my dear," said she to the countess who saw her to the door, and added in a whisper so that her son should not hear,"Wish me good luck."

"Are you going to Count Cyril Vladimirovich, my dear?" said the count coming out from the dining hall into the anteroom, and he added:"If he is better, ask Pierre to dine with us. He has been to the house, you know, and danced with the children. Be sure to invite him, my dear. We will see how Taras distinguishes himself today. He says Count Orlov never gave such a dinner as ours will be!"

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