“And, do you know, papa, I have a great favour to ask …” he began.

“H’m?” said the count, pausing.

“I was passing by Yusupov’s house just now,” said Berg, laughing. “The steward, a man I know, ran out and asked me whether I wouldn’t care to buy any of their things. I went in, you know, out of curiosity, and there is a little chiffonier and dressing-table. You know, just like what Verushka wanted, and we quarrelled about.” (Berg unconsciously passed into a tone expressive of his pleasure in his own excellent domestic arrangements.) “And such a charming thing!—it moves forward, you know, with a secret English lock. And it’s just what Verushka wanted. So I want to make it a surprise for her. I see what a number of peasants you have in the yard. Please, spare me one of them. I’ll pay him well, and …”

The count frowned and sniffed.

“Ask the countess; I don’t give the orders.”

“If it’s troublesome, pray don’t,” said Berg. “Only I should have liked it on Vera’s account.”

“Ah, go to damnation all of you, damnation! damnation! damnation!” cried the old count. “My head’s going round.” And he went out of the room.

The countess began to cry.

“Yes, indeed, these are terrible times, mamma!” said Berg.

Natasha went out with her father, and as though unable to make up her mind on some difficult question, she followed him at first, then turned and ran downstairs.

Petya was standing at the entrance, engaged in giving out weapons to the servants, who were leaving Moscow. The loaded waggons were still standing in the yards. Two of them had been uncorded, and on to one of these the wounded officer was clambering with the assistance of his orderly.

“Do you know what it was about?” Petya asked Natasha. (Natasha knew that he meant, what their father and mother had been quarrelling about.) She did not answer.

“It was because papa wanted to give up all the waggons to the wounded,” said Petya. “Vassilitch told me. And what I think …”

“What I think,” Natasha suddenly almost screamed, turning a furious face on Petya, “what I think is, that it’s so vile, so loathsome … I don’t know. Are we a lot of low Germans? …” Her throat was quivering with sobs, but afraid of being weak, or wasting the force of her anger, she turned and flew headlong up the stairs.

Berg was sitting beside the countess, trying with filial respectfulness to reassure her. The count was walking about the room with a pipe in his hand, when, with a face distorted by passion, Natasha burst like a tempest into the room, and ran with rapid steps up to her mother.

“It’s vile! It’s loathsome!” she screamed. “It can’t be true that it’s your order.”

Berg and the countess gazed at her in alarm and bewilderment. The count stood still in the window listening.

“Mamma, it’s impossible; look what’s being done in the yard!” she cried; “they are being left …”

“What’s the matter? Who are they? What do you want?”

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