BOOK SIX: 1808 - 10
20. CHAPTER XX
"You can get to know something, you can ask for something. See how I
managed from my first promotion." (Berg measured his life not by years
but by promotions.) "My comrades are still nobodies, while I am only
waiting for a vacancy to command a regiment, and have the happiness to
be your husband." (He rose and kissed Vera's hand, and on the way to
her straightened out a turned-up corner of the carpet.) "And how
have I obtained all this? Chiefly by knowing how to choose my
aquaintances. It goes without saying that one must be conscientious
Berg smiled with a sense of his superiority over a weak woman, and
paused, reflecting that this dear wife of his was after all but a weak
woman who could not understand all that constitutes a man's dignity,
what it was ein Mann zu sein.* Vera at the same time smiling with a
sense of superiority over her good, conscientious husband, who all the
same understood life wrongly, as according to Vera all men did.
Berg, judging by his wife, thought all women weak and foolish. Vera,
judging only by her husband and generalizing from that observation,
supposed that all men, though they understand nothing and are
conceited and selfish, ascribe common sense to themselves alone.
*To be a man.
Berg rose and embraced his wife carefully, so as not to crush her
lace fichu for which he had paid a good price, kissing her straight on
"The only thing is, we mustn't have children too soon," he
continued, following an unconscious sequence of ideas.
"Yes," answered Vera, "I don't at all want that. We must live for
"Princess Yusupova wore one exactly like this," said Berg,
pointing to the fichu with a happy and kindly smile.
Just then Count Bezukhov was announced. Husband and wife glanced
at one another, both smiling with self-satisfaction, and each mentally
claiming the honor of this visit.
"This is what what comes of knowing how to make acquaintances,"
thought Berg. "This is what comes of knowing how to conduct oneself."