BOOK SIX: 1808 - 10
20. CHAPTER XX
One morning Colonel Berg, whom Pierre knew as he knew everybody in
Moscow and Petersburg, came to see him. Berg arrived in an
immaculate brand-new uniform, with his hair pomaded and brushed
forward over his temples as the Emperor Alexander wore his hair.
"I have just been to see the countess, your wife. Unfortunately
she could not grant my request, but I hope, Count, I shall be more
fortunate with you," he said with a smile.
"What is it you wish, Colonel? I am at your service."
"I have now quite settled in my new rooms, Count" (Berg said this
with perfect conviction that this information could not but be
agreeable), "and so I wish to arrange just a small party for my own
and my wife's friends." (He smiled still more pleasantly.) "I wished
to ask the countess and you to do me the honor of coming to tea and to
Only Countess Helene, considering the society of such people as
the Bergs beneath her, could be cruel enough to refuse such an
invitation. Berg explained so clearly why he wanted to collect at
his house a small but select company, and why this would give him
pleasure, and why though he grudged spending money on cards or
anything harmful, he was prepared to run into some expense for the
sake of good society- that Pierre could not refuse, and promised to
"But don't be late, Count, if I may venture to ask; about ten
minutes to eight, please. We shall make up a rubber. Our general is
coming. He is very good to me. We shall have supper, Count. So you
will do me the favor."
Contrary to his habit of being late, Pierre on that day arrived at
the Bergs' house, not at ten but at fifteen minutes to eight.
Having prepared everything necessary for the party, the Bergs were
really for their guests' arrival.
In their new, clean, and light study with its small busts and
pictures and new furniture sat Berg and his wife. Berg, closely
buttoned up in his new uniform, sat beside his wife explaining to
her that one always could and should be acquainted with people above
one, because only then does one get satisfaction from acquaintances.