BOOK SEVEN: 1810 - 11
9. CHAPTER IX
Christmas came and except for the ceremonial Mass, the solemn and
wearisome Christmas congratulations from neighbors and servants, and
the new dresses everyone put on, there were no special festivities,
though the calm frost of twenty degrees Reaumur, the dazzling sunshine
by day, and the starlight of the winter nights seemed to call for some
special celebration of the season.
On the third day of Christmas week, after the midday dinner, all the
inmates of the house dispersed to various rooms. It was the dullest
time of the day. Nicholas, who had been visiting some neighbors that
morning, was asleep on the sitting-room sofa. The old count was
resting in his study. Sonya sat in the drawing room at the round
table, copying a design for embroidery. The countess was playing
patience. Nastasya Ivanovna the buffoon sat with a sad face at the
window with two old ladies. Natasha came into the room, went up to
Sonya, glanced at what she was doing, and then went up to her mother
and stood without speaking.
"Why are you wandering about like an outcast?" asked her mother.
"What do you want?"
"Him... I want him... now, this minute! I want him!" said Natasha,
with glittering eyes and no sign of a smile.
The countess lifted her head and looked attentively at her daughter.
"Don't look at me, Mamma! Don't look; I shall cry directly."
"Sit down with me a little," said the countess.
"Mamma, I want him. Why should I be wasted like this, Mamma?"
Her voice broke, tears gushed from her eyes, and she turned
quickly to hide them and left the room.
She passed into the sitting room, stood there thinking awhile, and
then went into the maids' room. There an old maidservant was grumbling
at a young girl who stood panting, having just run in through the cold
from the serfs' quarters.
"Stop playing- there's a time for everything," said the old woman.