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All the Rostovs' guests are milling about waiting for dinner to be announced.
Count Rostov is listening to an argument between Berg and one of Countess Rostov’s cousins, Shinshin. Berg is waxing poetic about how he makes 30 more rubles per week as a guardman than he would if he were in the cavalry. Whoop-de-do. The cousin is totally making fun of him for talking about this, but Berg can’t tell and keeps going on and on about it.
The rest of the men are talking about the manifesto that has just been published declaring war.
Wait, what war? Shmoop’s here for you. Napoleon Bonaparte has been conquering Europe, country by country. Russia has finally declared war on him, and it’s all pretty controversial.
Pierre shows up, and is again a totally useless and rude guest. He just has no sense of social conventions and does everything wrong.
Finally, Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimov shows up. She’s an old lady who is known for saying it like it is. Everyone is both scared of and totally respectful of her.
She congratulates the name-day girls, gives Natasha some earrings, and then lays into Pierre for his horrible stunt with the policeman and the bear.
Pierre sits with Boris, who explains who all the guests are and makes eyes at Natasha. Pierre stuffs his face with every piece of food he can get his hands on.
Nikolai sits with Julie Karagin, far away from Sonya, who is about to have a jealous fit.