When Anna Mihalovna came back from the Bezuhovs’, the money was already on the countess’s little table, all in new notes, under her pocket-handkerchief. Anna Mihalovna noticed that the countess was fluttered about something.

“Well, my dear?” queried the countess.

“Ah, he is in a terrible condition! One would not recognise him, he is so ill, so ill; I was there only a minute, and did not say two words.”

“Annette, for God’s sake don’t refuse me,” the countess said suddenly with a blush, which was strangely incongruous with her elderly, thin, and dignified face, taking the money from under her handkerchief. Anna Mihalovna instantly grasped the situation, and was already bending over to embrace the countess at the appropriate moment.

“This is for Boris, from me, for his equipment …”

Anna Mihalovna was already embracing her and weeping. The countess wept too. They wept because they were friends, and because they were soft-hearted, and that they, who had been friends in youth, should have to think of anything so base as money, and that their youth was over.… But the tears of both were sweet to them.…

  By PanEris using Melati.

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