Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 11

  • Silence ensued. The countess looked at her callers, smiling affably, but no_oncealing the fact that she would not be distressed if they now rose and too_heir leave. The visitor's daughter was already smoothing down her dress wit_n inquiring look at her mother, when suddenly from the next room were hear_he footsteps of boys and girls running to the door and the noise of a chai_alling over, and a girl of thirteen, hiding something in the folds of he_hort muslin frock, darted in and stopped short in the middle of the room. I_as evident that she had not intended her flight to bring her so far. Behin_er in the doorway appeared a student with a crimson coat collar, an office_f the Guards, a girl of fifteen, and a plump rosy-faced boy in a shor_acket.
  • The count jumped up and, swaying from side to side, spread his arms wide an_hrew them round the little girl who had run in.
  • "Ah, here she is!" he exclaimed laughing. "My pet, whose name day it is. M_ear pet!"
  • "Ma chere, there is a time for everything," said the countess with feigne_everity. "You spoil her, Ilya," she added, turning to her husband.
  • "How do you do, my dear? I wish you many happy returns of your name day," sai_he visitor. "What a charming child," she added, addressing the mother.
  • This black-eyed, wide-mouthed girl, not pretty but full of life- with childis_are shoulders which after her run heaved and shook her bodice, with blac_urls tossed backward, thin bare arms, little legs in lace-frilled drawers,
  • and feet in low slippers—was just at that charming age when a girl is n_onger a child, though the child is not yet a young woman. Escaping from he_ather she ran to hide her flushed face in the lace of her mother'_antilla—not paying the least attention to her severe remark—and began t_augh. She laughed, and in fragmentary sentences tried to explain about a dol_hich she produced from the folds of her frock.
  • "Do you see?… My doll… Mimi… You see… " was all Natasha managed to utter (t_er everything seemed funny). She leaned against her mother and burst int_uch a loud, ringing fit of laughter that even the prim visitor could not hel_oining in.
  • "Now then, go away and take your monstrosity with you," said the mother,
  • pushing away her daughter with pretended sternness, and turning to the visito_he added: "She is my youngest girl."
  • Natasha, raising her face for a moment from her mother's mantilla, glanced u_t her through tears of laughter, and again hid her face.
  • The visitor, compelled to look on at this family scene, thought it necessar_o take some part in it.
  • "Tell me, my dear," said she to Natasha, "is Mimi a relation of yours? _aughter, I suppose?"
  • Natasha did not like the visitor's tone of condescension to childish things.
  • She did not reply, but looked at her seriously.
  • Meanwhile the younger generation: Boris, the officer, Anna Mikhaylovna's son;
  • Nicholas, the undergraduate, the count's eldest son; Sonya, the count'_ifteen-year-old niece, and little Petya, his youngest boy, had all settle_own in the drawing room and were obviously trying to restrain within th_ounds of decorum the excitement and mirth that shone in all their faces.
  • Evidently in the back rooms, from which they had dashed out so impetuously,
  • the conversation had been more amusing than the drawing-room talk of societ_candals, the weather, and Countess Apraksina. Now and then they glanced a_ne another, hardly able to suppress their laughter.
  • The two young men, the student and the officer, friends from childhood, wer_f the same age and both handsome fellows, though not alike. Boris was tal_nd fair, and his calm and handsome face had regular, delicate features.
  • Nicholas was short with curly hair and an open expression. Dark hairs wer_lready showing on his upper lip, and his whole face expressed impetuosity an_nthusiasm. Nicholas blushed when he entered the drawing room. He evidentl_ried to find something to say, but failed. Boris on the contrary at onc_ound his footing, and related quietly and humorously how he had know tha_oll Mimi when she was still quite a young lady, before her nose was broken;
  • how she had aged during the five years he had known her, and how her head ha_racked right across the skull. Having said this he glanced at Natasha. Sh_urned away from him and glanced at her younger brother, who was screwing u_is eyes and shaking with suppressed laughter, and unable to control hersel_ny longer, she jumped up and rushed from the room as fast as her nimbl_ittle feet would carry her. Boris did not laugh.
  • "You were meaning to go out, weren't you, Mamma? Do you want the carriage?" h_sked his mother with a smile.
  • "Yes, yes, go and tell them to get it ready," she answered, returning hi_mile.
  • Boris quietly left the room and went in search of Natasha. The plump boy ra_fter them angrily, as if vexed that their program had been disturbed.