in the highest society, like the busy bee gathering honey even from the least attractive flowers—and without morals, without information of any kind, but with the reputation of being good at business; with an insight into men, and a ready comprehension of the exigencies of the moment, and above all, a never-swerving desire for his own advantage, he saw at last all paths lying open before him. . . .
Litvinov smiled constrainedly, while Irina merely shrugged her shoulders.
'Well,' she said in the same cold tone, 'did you see the Count?'
'To be sure I saw him. He told me to remember him to you.'
'Ah! is he as imbecile as ever, that patron of yours?'
General Ratmirov made no reply. He only smiled to himself, as though lenient to the overhastiness of a woman's judgment. With just such a smile kindly-disposed grown-up people respond to the nonsensical whims of children.
'Yes,' Irina went on, 'the stupidity of your friend the Count is too striking, even when one has seen a good deal of the world.'
'You sent me to him yourself,' muttered the general, and turning to Litvinov he asked him in Russian, 'Was he getting any benefit from the Baden waters?'