“You have no mercy on any one,” Julie went on to the volunteer, paying no attention to the remark of the author.

Caustique, I admit,” she said, “and I’ll pay for the pleasure of telling you the truth. I am ready to pay even more; but I am not responsible for Gallicisms,” she said to the writer. “I have neither the time nor the money to engage a teacher and learn Russian like Prince Galitzin. Ah, here he is!” added Julie. “Quand on … No, no,” she protested to the volunteer, “you’re not going to catch me. When one speaks of the sun, one sees its rays. We were just talking of you,” she said, smiling affably to Pierre, and adding, with the easy lying characteristic of society women, “We were saying your regiment was certain to be a finer one than Mamonov’s.”

“Oh, don’t talk to me about my regiment,” answered Pierre, kissing his hostess’s hand, and sitting down beside her. “I am so heartily sick of it!”

“You will take the command of it yourself, of course?” said Julie with a sly and sarcastic look towards the volunteer.

The latter was by no means so ready to be caustic in Pierre’s presence, and his countenance betokened perplexity as to what Julie’s smile could signify. In spite of his absent-mindedness and good nature, Pierre’s presence never failed to cut short any attempt at ridicule at his expense.

“No,” answered Pierre, laughing and looking at his huge, bulky figure; “I should make too good a target for the French, and indeed I’m afraid I could hardly scramble on to a horse’s back.”

Among the people picked out as subjects for gossip, Julie’s friends happened to pitch on the Rostovs. “Their pecuniary position is very serious, I am told,” said Julie. “And the count is so unreasonable. The Razumovskys wanted to buy his house and his estate in the environs, and the matter is still dragging on. He will ask too much.”

“No, I fancy purchase will be concluded in a few days,” said some one. “Though it’s madness to buy anything in Moscow just now.”

“Why so?” said Julie. “Surely you don’t suppose that Moscow is in any danger.”

“Why are you leaving it then?”

“I? That’s a strange question. I am going because … well, because everybody’s going, and I am not a Jeanne d’Arc nor an Amazon.”

“Oh, oh! Give me another strip of linen to scrape.”

“He ought to be able to pay off all his debts, if he sets about it properly,” the volunteer observed of Count Rostov.

“He’s a good-hearted old fellow, but very foolish.”

“And why are they staying on here so long? They were meaning to leave for the country long ago. Natalie is quite well again now, I suppose?” Julie asked Pierre, with a sly smile.

“They are waiting for their younger son,” said Pierre. “He went into Obolensky’s Cossacks, and was sent off to Byela Tserkov. The regiment is being formed there. But now they have transferred him to my regiment, and he is expected every day. The count wanted to get away long ago, but nothing would induce the countess to leave Moscow till her son’s return.”

“I saw them the day before yesterday at the Arharovs’. Natalie has quite recovered her looks and her spirits. She sang a song. How easily some people get over everything!”

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