Chapter 6

COUNT ILYA ANDREITCH ROSTOV arrived in Moscow towards the end of January with Natasha and Sonya. The countess was still unwell, and unable to travel, but they could not put off coming till she recovered, for Prince Andrey was expected in Moscow every day. They had, besides, to order the trousseau, to sell the estate in the suburbs of Moscow, and to take advantage of old Prince Bolkonsky’s presence in Moscow to present his future daughter-in-law to him. The Rostovs’ house in Moscow had not been heated all the winter; and as they were coming only for a short time, and the countess was not with them, Count Ilya Andreitch made up his mind to stay with Marya Dmitryevna Ahrostimov, who had long been pressing her hospitality upon the count.

Late in the evening the four loaded sledges of the Rostovs drove into the courtyard of Marya Dmitryevna in Old Equerrys’ Place. Marya Dmitryevna lived alone. She had by now married off her daughter. Her sons were all in the service.

She still held herself as erect; still gave every one her opinions in the same loud, outspoken, decided fashion; and her whole bearing seemed a reproof to other people for every sort of weakness, passion, and temptation, of which she would not admit the bare possibility. In the early morning, in a house- jacket, she looked after the management of her household. Then she drove on saints’ days to Mass, and from Mass to the gaols and prisons; and of what she did there, she never spoke to any one.

On ordinary days she dressed and received petitioners of various classes, of whom some sought her aid every day. Then she had dinner, an abundant and appetising meal, at which some three or four guests were always present. After dinner she played a game of boston; and at night had the newspapers and new books read aloud to her while she knitted. It was only as a rare exception that she went out in the evening; if she did so, it was only to visit the most important people in the town.

She had not gone to bed when the Rostovs arrived, and the door in the vestibule squeaked on the block, as the Rostovs and their servants came in from the cold outside. Marya Dmitryevna stood in the doorway of the hall, with her spectacles slipping down on her nose, and her head flung back, looking with a stern and irate face at the new-comers. It might have been supposed that she was irritated at their arrival, and would pack them off again at once, had she not at the very time been giving careful instructions to her servants where to install her guests and their belongings.

“The count’s things? Bring them here,” she said, pointing to the trunks, and not bestowing a greeting on any one. “The young ladies’, this way to the left. Well, what are we pottering about for?” she called to her maids. “Warm the samovar! She’s plumper, prettier,” she pronounced of Natasha, flushed from the frosty air, as she drew her closer by her hood. “Foo! she is cold! You make haste and get your wraps off,” she shouted to the count, who would have kissed her hand. “You’re frozen, I warrant. Rum for the tea! Sonyushka, bonjour,” she said to Sonya, indicating by this French phrase the slightly contemptuous affectionateness of her attitude to Sonya.

When they had all taken off their outdoor things, set themselves straight after the journey, and come in to tea, Marya Dmitryevna kissed them all in due course.

“Heartily glad you have come, and are staying with me,” she said. “It’s long been time you were here,” she said, with a significant glance at Natasha.… “The old fellow’s here, and his son’s expected from day to day. You must, you must make their acquaintance. Oh, well, we shall talk of that later on,” she added, with a glance at Sonya, showing that she did not care to talk of it before her. “Now, listen,” she turned to the count, “what do you want to do to-morrow? Whom will you send for? Shinshin?”—she crooked one finger. “The tearful Anna Mihalovna— two. She’s here with her son. The son’s to be married too! Then Bezuhov. He’s here, too, with his wife. He ran away from her, and she has come trotting after him. He dined with me last Wednesday. Well, and I’ll take them”—she indicated the young ladies—“to- morrow to Iversky chapel, and then we shall go to Aubert-Chalmey. You’ll be getting everything now, I expect! Don’t judge by me—the sleeves nowadays are like this! The other day the young princess, Irina Vassilyevna, came to see me, just as though she had put two barrels on her arms, a dreadful fright.

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