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While the Princess is gone, the Countess gets more and more upset thinking about her broke friend.
Finally, she calls her husband and asks him for 500 rubles. Without even blinking, he summons his personal secretary and tells him to bring 700 rubles – and “don’t bring torn and dirty [notes] like the other time, but nice ones, for the countess” (1.14.17).
That’s class. Not to mention some deep pockets.
The Countess doesn’t tell him what it’s for and he assumes it’s for whatever she usually wastes money on. They have a sweet moment when she scrubs a little stain off his coat.
When Princess Drubetskoy comes back, she tells the Countess about Count Bezukhov being on his deathbed. She is clearly upset and disturbed by this.
With some embarrassment, the Countess slips her the money. The Princess starts to cry, and so does the Countess. They hug each other. Aw – that’s what friendship is all about.