BOOK SEVEN: 1810 - 11
7. CHAPTER VII
"That's right, young countess, that's it, come on! I never saw
anyone like her!" said he, offering Nicholas a pipe with a long stem
and, with a practiced motion of three fingers, taking down another
that had been cut short. "She's ridden all day like a man, and is as
fresh as ever!
Soon after "Uncle's" reappearance the door was opened, evidently
from the sound by a barefooted girl, and a stout, rosy, good-looking
woman of about forty, with a double chin and full red lips, entered
carrying a large loaded tray. With hospitable dignity and cordiality
in her glance and in every motion, she looked at the visitors and,
with a pleasant smile, bowed respectfully. In spite of her exceptional
stoutness, which caused her to protrude her chest and stomach and
throw back her head, this woman (who was "Uncle's" housekeeper) trod
very lightly. She went to the table, set down the tray, and with her
plump white hands deftly took from it the bottles and various hors
d'oeuvres and dishes and arranged them on the table. When she had
finished, she stepped aside and stopped at the door with a smile on
her face. "Here I am. I am she! Now do you understand 'Uncle'?" her
expression said to Rostov. How could one help understanding? Not
only Nicholas, but even Natasha understood the meaning of his puckered
brow and the happy complacent smile that slightly puckered his lips
when Anisya Fedorovna entered. On the tray was a bottle of herb
wine, different kinds of vodka, pickled mushrooms, rye cakes made with
buttermilk, honey in the comb, still mead and sparkling mead,
apples, nuts (raw and roasted), and nut-and-honey sweets. Afterwards
she brought a freshly roasted chicken, ham, preserves made with honey,
and preserves made with sugar.
All this was the fruit of Anisya Fedorovna's housekeeping,
gathered and prepared by her. The smell and taste of it all had a
smack of Anisya Fedorovna herself: a savor of juiciness,
cleanliness, whiteness, and pleasant smiles.
"Take this, little Lady-Countess!" she kept saying, as she offered
Natasha first one thing and then another.
Natasha ate of everything and thought she had never seen or eaten
such buttermilk cakes, such aromatic jam, such honey-and-nut sweets,
or such a chicken anywhere. Anisya Fedorovna left the room.