This was an old bachelor, Shinshin, a cousin of the countess', a man with "a sharp tongue" as they said in Moscow society.
"Well, then, old chap, mon tres honorable Alphonse Karlovich," said Shinshin, laughing ironically and mixing the most ordinary Russian expressions with the choicest French phrases--which was a peculiarity of his speech.
Were I in the cavalry I should get not more than two hundred rubles every four months, even with the rank of lieutenant; but as it is I receive two hundred and thirty, said he, looking at Shinshin and the count with a joyful, pleasant smile, as if it were obvious to him that his success must always be the chief desire of everyone else.
"La balance y est... * A German knows how to skin a flint, as the proverb says," remarked Shinshin, moving his pipe to the other side of his mouth and winking at the count.
The other guests seeing that Shinshin was talking came up to listen.
"Well, my boy, you'll get along wherever you go--foot or horse--that I'll warrant," said Shinshin, patting him on the shoulder and taking his feet off the sofa.
At the other end sat the count, with the hussar colonel on his left and Shinshin and the other male visitors on his right.
"Connaissez-vous le Proverbe: * 'Jerome, Jerome, do not roam, but turn spindles at home!'?" said Shinshin, puckering his brows and smiling.
Pierre was sitting in the drawing-room where Shinshin had engaged him, as a man recently returned from abroad, in a political conversation in which several others joined but which bored Pierre.
"Had there been no Bagration, it would have been necessary to invent him," said the wit Shinshin, parodying the words of Voltaire.
Shinshin, standing close by, tried to make a joke, saying that Kutuzov had evidently failed to learn from Suvorov even so simple a thing as the art of crowing like a cock, but the elder members glanced severely at the wit, making him feel that in that place and on that day, it was improper to speak so of Kutuzov.
Vera was playing chess with Shinshin in the drawing room.
Shinshin? she crooked one of her fingers.
"Oh yes, I heard it today," said Shinshin, coming into the Rostovs' box.
Shinshin, lowering his voice, began to tell the count of some intrigue of Kuragin's in Moscow, and Natasha tried to overhear it just because he had said she was "charmante."
As Shinshin had remarked, from the time of his arrival Anatole had turned the heads of the Moscow ladies, especially by the fact that he slighted them and plainly preferred the gypsy girls and French actresses--with the chief of whom, Mademoiselle George, he was said to be on intimate relations.
At dinner, at which champagne was drunk to the health of the new chevalier of St. George, Shinshin told them the town news, of the illness of the old Georgian princess, of Metivier's disappearance from Moscow, and of how some German fellow had been brought to Rostopchin and accused of being a French "spyer" (so Count Rostopchin had told the story), and how Rostopchin let him go and assured the people that he was "not a spire at all, but only an old German ruin."
Shinshin, with a sarcastic smile on his lips, was evidently preparing to make fun of anything that gave him the opportunity: Sonya's reading, any remark of the count's, or even the manifesto itself should no better pretext present itself.
Before Shinshin had time to utter the joke he was ready to make on the count's patriotism, Natasha jumped up from her place and ran to her father.