Chapter 12

Mon cher Boris,” said Anna Mihalovna as the Countess Rostov’s carriage drove along the street strewn with straw and into the wide courtyard of Count Kirill Vladimirovitch Bezuhov’s house. “Mon cher Boris,” said the mother, putting her hand out from under her old mantle, and laying it on her son’s hand with a timid, caressing movement, “be nice, be attentive. Count Kirill Vladimirovitch is after all your godfather, and your future depends on him. Remember that, mon cher, be charming, as you know so well how to be.…”

“If I knew anything would come of it but humiliation,” her son answered coldly. “But I have promised, and I will do it for your sake.”

Although the carriage was standing at the entrance, the hall-porter, scanning the mother and son (they had not sent in their names, but had walked straight in through the glass doors between two rows of statues in niches), and looking significantly at the old mantle, inquired whom they wanted, the princesses or the count; and hearing that they wanted to see the count, said that his excellency was worse to-day, and his excellency could see no one.

“We may as well go away,” the son said in French.

Mon ami!” said the mother in a voice of entreaty, again touching her son’s hand, as though the contact might soothe or rouse him. Boris said no more, but without taking off his overcoat, looked inquiringly at his mother.

“My good man,” Anna Mihalovna said ingratiatingly, addressing the hall-porter, “I know that Count Kirill Vladimirovitch is very ill … that is why I am here … I am a relation … I shall not disturb him, my good man … I need only see Prince Vassily Sergyevitch; he’s staying here, I know. Announce us, please.”

The hall-porter sullenly pulled the bell-rope that rang upstairs and turned away.

“Princess Drubetskoy to see Prince Vassily Sergyevitch,” he called to a footman in stockings, slippers and a frockcoat, who ran down from above, and looked down from the turn in the staircase.

The mother straightened out the folds of her dyed silk gown, looked at herself in the full-length Venetian looking-glass on the wall, and boldly walked up on the stair carpet in her shabby, shapeless shoes.

“My dear, you promised me,” she turned again to her son, rousing him by a touch on his arm. The son, with his eyes on the door, walked submissively after her.

They went into a large room, from which a door led to the apartments that had been assigned to Prince Vassily.

At the moment when the mother and son reached the middle of the room and were about to ask their way of an old footman, who had darted out at their entrance, the bronze handle of one of the doors turned, and Prince Vassily, dressed in a house jacket of velvet, with one star, came out, accompanying a handsome, black-haired man. This man was the celebrated Petersburg doctor, Lorrain.

“It is positive, then?” said the Prince.

“Prince, errare est humanum,” answered the doctor, lisping, and pronouncing the Latin words with a French accent.

“Very well, very well …”

Perceiving Anna Mihalovna and her son, Prince Vassily dismissed the doctor with a bow, and in silence, with an air of inquiry, advanced to meet them. The son noticed how an expression of intense grief came at once into his mother’s eyes, and he smiled slightly.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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