After reaching home Nicholas was at first serious and even dull. He wa_orried by the impending necessity of interfering in the stupid busines_atters for which his mother had called him home. To throw off this burden a_uickly as possible, on the third day after his arrival he went, angry an_cowling and without answering questions as to where he was going, t_itenka's lodge and demanded an account of everything. But what an account o_verything might be Nicholas knew even less than the frightened and bewildere_itenka. The conversation and the examination of the accounts with Mitenka di_ot last long. The village elder, a peasant delegate, and the village clerk,
who were waiting in the passage, heard with fear and delight first the youn_ount's voice roaring and snapping and rising louder and louder, and the_ords of abuse, dreadful words, ejaculated one after the other.
"Robber!… Ungrateful wretch!… I'll hack the dog to pieces! I'm not my father!…
Robbing us!… " and so on.
Then with no less fear and delight they saw how the young count, red in th_ace and with bloodshot eyes, dragged Mitenka out by the scruff of the nec_nd applied his foot and knee to his behind with great agility at convenien_oments between the words, shouting, "Be off! Never let me see your face her_gain, you villain!"
Mitenka flew headlong down the six steps and ran away into the shrubbery.
(This shrubbery was a well-known haven of refuge for culprits at Otradnoe.
Mitenka himself, returning tipsy from the town, used to hide there, and man_f the residents at Otradnoe, hiding from Mitenka, knew of its protectiv_ualities.)
Mitenka's wife and sisters-in-law thrust their heads and frightened faces ou_f the door of a room where a bright samovar was boiling and where th_teward's high bedstead stood with its patchwork quilt.
The young count paid no heed to them, but, breathing hard, passed by wit_esolute strides and went into the house.
The countess, who heard at once from the maids what had happened at the lodge,
was calmed by the thought that now their affairs would certainly improve, bu_n the other hand felt anxious as to the effect this excitement might have o_er son. She went several times to his door on tiptoe and listened, as h_ighted one pipe after another.
Next day the old count called his son aside and, with an embarrassed smile,
said to him:
"But you know, my dear boy, it's a pity you got excited! Mitenka has told m_ll about it."
"I knew," thought Nicholas, "that I should never understand anything in thi_razy world."
"You were angry that he had not entered those 700 rubles. But they wer_arried forward—and you did not look at the other page."
"Papa, he is a blackguard and a thief! I know he is! And what I have done, _ave done; but, if you like, I won't speak to him again."
"No, my dear boy" (the count, too, felt embarrassed. He knew he had mismanage_is wife's property and was to blame toward his children, but he did not kno_ow to remedy it). "No, I beg you to attend to the business. I am old. I… "
"No, Papa. Forgive me if I have caused you unpleasantness. I understand it al_ess than you do."
"Devil take all these peasants, and money matters, and carryings forward fro_age to page," he thought. "I used to understand what a 'corner' and th_takes at cards meant, but carrying forward to another page I don't understan_t all," said he to himself, and after that he did not meddle in busines_ffairs. But once the countess called her son and informed him that she had _romissory note from Anna Mikhaylovna for two thousand rubles, and asked hi_hat he thought of doing with it.
"This," answered Nicholas. "You say it rests with me. Well, I don't like Ann_ikhaylovna and I don't like Boris, but they were our friends and poor. Wel_hen, this!" and he tore up the note, and by so doing caused the old countes_o weep tears of joy. After that, young Rostov took no further part in an_usiness affairs, but devoted himself with passionate enthusiasm to what wa_o him a new pursuit—the chase—for which his father kept a larg_stablishment.