One of the ladies, who had met the volunteers, came out of the hall and addressed Sergey Ivanovitch.
“You too come to see them off?” she asked in French.
“No, I’m going away myself, princess. To my brother’s for a holiday. Do you always see them off?” said Sergey Ivanovitch with a hardly perceptible smile.
“Oh, that would be impossible!” answered the princess. “Is it true that eight hundred have been sent from us already? Malvinsky wouldn’t believe me.”
“More than eight hundred. If you reckon those who have been sent not directly from Moscow, over a thousand,” answered Sergey Ivanovitch.
“There! That’s just what I said!” exclaimed the lady. “And it’s true too, I suppose, that more than a million has been subscribed?”
“What do you say to today’s telegram? Beaten the Turks again.”
“Yes, so I saw,” answered Sergey Ivanovitch. They were speaking of the last telegram stating that the Turks had been for three days in succession beaten at all points and put to flight, and that tomorrow a decisive engagement was expected.
“Ah, by the way, a splendid young fellow has asked leave to go, and they’ve made some difficulty, I don’t know why. I meant to ask you; I know him; please write a note about his case. He’s being sent by Countess Lidia Ivanovna.”
Sergey Ivanovitch asked for all the details the princess knew about the young man, and going into the first-class waiting-room, wrote a note to the person on whom the granting of leave of absence depended, and handed it to the princess.
“You know Count Vronsky, the notorious one...is going by this train?” said the princess with a smile full of triumph and meaning, when he found her again and gave her the letter.
“I had heard he was going, but I did not know when. By this train?”
“I’ve seen him. He’s here: there’s only his mother seeing him off. It’s the best thing, anyway, that he could do.”
“Oh, yes, of course.”
While they were talking the crowd streamed by them into the dining room. They went forward too, and heard a gentleman with a glass in his hand delivering a loud discourse to the volunteers. “In the service of religion, humanity, and our brothers,” the gentleman said, his voice growing louder and louder; “to this great cause mother Moscow dedicates you with her blessing. Jivio!” he concluded, loudly and tearfully.
Everyone shouted Jivio! and a fresh crowd dashed into the hall, almost carrying the princess off her legs.
“Ah, princess! that was something like!” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, suddenly appearing in the middle of the crowd and beaming upon them with a delighted smile. “Capitally, warmly said, wasn’t it? Bravo! And Sergey Ivanovitch! Why, you ought to have said something—just a few words, you know, to encourage them; you do that so well,” he added with a soft, respectful, and discreet smile, moving Sergey Ivanovitch forward a little by the arm.