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Chapter 11

  • The Rostovs' monetary affairs had not improved during the two years they ha_pent in the country.
  • Though Nicholas Rostov had kept firmly to his resolution and was still servin_odestly in an obscure regiment, spending comparatively little, the way o_ife at Otradnoe—Mitenka's management of affairs, in particular—was such tha_he debts inevitably increased every year. The only resource obviousl_resenting itself to the old count was to apply for an official post, so h_ad come to Petersburg to look for one and also, as he said, to let th_assies enjoy themselves for the last time.
  • Soon after their arrival in Petersburg Berg proposed to Vera and was accepted.
  • Though in Moscow the Rostovs belonged to the best society without themselve_iving it a thought, yet in Petersburg their circle of acquaintances was _ixed and indefinite one. In Petersburg they were provincials, and the ver_eople they had entertained in Moscow without inquiring to what set the_elonged, here looked down on them.
  • The Rostovs lived in the same hospitable way in Petersburg as in Moscow, an_he most diverse people met at their suppers. Country neighbors from Otradnoe,
  • impoverished old squires and their daughters, Peronskaya a maid of honor,
  • Pierre Bezukhov, and the son of their district postmaster who had obtained _ost in Petersburg. Among the men who very soon became frequent visitors a_he Rostovs' house in Petersburg were Boris, Pierre whom the count had met i_he street and dragged home with him, and Berg who spent whole days at th_ostovs' and paid the eldest daughter, Countess Vera, the attentions a youn_an pays when he intends to propose.
  • Not in vain had Berg shown everybody his right hand wounded at Austerlitz an_eld a perfectly unnecessary sword in his left. He narrated that episode s_ersistently and with so important an air that everyone believed in the meri_nd usefulness of his deed, and he had obtained two decorations fo_usterlitz.
  • In the Finnish war he also managed to distinguish himself. He had picked u_he scrap of a grenade that had killed an aide-de-camp standing near th_ommander in chief and had taken it to his commander. Just as he had don_fter Austerlitz, he related this occurrence at such length and so insistentl_hat everyone again believed it had been necessary to do this, and he receive_wo decorations for the Finnish war also. In 1809 he was a captain in th_uards, wore medals, and held some special lucrative posts in Petersburg.
  • Though some skeptics smiled when told of Berg's merits, it could not be denie_hat he was a painstaking and brave officer, on excellent terms with hi_uperiors, and a moral young man with a brilliant career before him and a_ssured position in society.
  • Four years before, meeting a German comrade in the stalls of a Moscow theater,
  • Berg had pointed out Vera Rostova to him and had said in German, "das sol_ein Weib werden,"[[60]](footnotes.xml#footnote_60) and from that moment ha_ade up his mind to marry her. Now in Petersburg, having considered th_ostovs' position and his own, he decided that the time had come to propose.
  • Berg's proposal was at first received with a perplexity that was no_lattering to him. At first it seemed strange that the son of an obscur_ivonian gentleman should propose marriage to a Countess Rostova; but Berg'_hief characteristic was such a naive and good natured egotism that th_ostovs involuntarily came to think it would be a good thing, since he himsel_as so firmly convinced that it was good, indeed excellent. Moreover, th_ostovs' affairs were seriously embarrassed, as the suitor could not but know;
  • and above all, Vera was twenty-four, had been taken out everywhere, and thoug_he was certainly good-looking and sensible, no one up to now had proposed t_er. So they gave their consent. "You see," said Berg to his comrade, whom h_alled "friend" only because he knew that everyone has friends, "you see, _ave considered it all, and should not marry if I had not thought it all ou_r if it were in any way unsuitable. But on the contrary, my papa and mamm_re now provided for—I have arranged that rent for them in the Balti_rovinces—and I can live in Petersburg on my pay, and with her fortune and m_ood management we can get along nicely. I am not marrying for money—_onsider that dishonorable—but a wife should bring her share and a husban_is. I have my position in the service, she has connections and some means. I_ur times that is worth something, isn't it? But above all, she is a handsome,
  • estimable girl, and she loves me… " Berg blushed and smiled. "And I love her,
  • because her character is sensible and very good. Now the other sister, thoug_hey are the same family, is quite different—an unpleasant character and ha_ot the same intelligence. She is so… you know?… Unpleasant… But my fiancee!…
  • Well, you will be coming," he was going to say, "to dine," but changed hi_ind and said "to take tea with us," and quickly doubling up his tongue h_lew a small round ring of tobacco smoke, perfectly embodying his dream o_appiness. After the first feeling of perplexity aroused in the parents b_erg's proposal, the holiday tone of joyousness usual at such times too_ossession of the family, but the rejoicing was external and insincere. In th_amily's feeling toward this wedding a certain awkwardness and constraint wa_vident, as if they were ashamed of not having loved Vera sufficiently and o_eing so ready to get her off their hands. The old count felt this most. H_ould probably have been unable to state the cause of his embarrassment, bu_t resulted from the state of his affairs. He did not know at all how much h_ad, what his debts amounted to, or what dowry he could give Vera. When hi_aughters were born he had assigned to each of them, for her dowry, an estat_ith three hundred serfs; but one of these estates had already been sold, an_he other was mortgaged and the interest so much in arrears that it would hav_o be sold, so that it was impossible to give it to Vera. Nor had he an_oney. Berg had already been engaged a month, and only a week remained befor_he wedding, but the count had not yet decided in his own mind the question o_he dowry, nor spoken to his wife about it. At one time the count thought o_iving her the Ryazan estate or of selling a forest, at another time o_orrowing money on a note of hand. A few days before the wedding Berg entere_he count's study early one morning and, with a pleasant smile, respectfull_sked his future father-in-law to let him know what Vera's dowry would be. Th_ount was so disconcerted by this long-foreseen inquiry that withou_onsideration he gave the first reply that came into his head. "I like you_eing businesslike about it… . I like it. You shall be satisfied… ." An_atting Berg on the shoulder he got up, wishing to end the conversation. Bu_erg, smiling pleasantly, explained that if he did not know for certain ho_uch Vera would have and did not receive at least part of the dowry i_dvance, he would have to break matters off. "Because, consider, Count—if _llowed myself to marry now without having definite means to maintain my wife,
  • I should be acting badly… ." The conversation ended by the count, who wishe_o be generous and to avoid further importunity, saying that he would give _ote of hand for eighty thousand rubles. Berg smiled meekly, kissed the coun_n the shoulder, and said that he was very grateful, but that it wa_mpossible for him to arrange his new life without receiving thirty thousan_n ready money. "Or at least twenty thousand, Count," he added, "and then _ote of hand for only sixty thousand." "Yes, yes, all right!" said the coun_urriedly. "Only excuse me, my dear fellow, I'll give you twenty thousand an_ note of hand for eighty thousand as well. Yes, yes! Kiss me."