A Ruler to Make the Crooked Straight
The Rostovs arrive in Moscow. The old countess remains sick from worry over Sonya and Nikolai so she hasn’t made the trip. That leaves her husband firmly in charge of things. Clearly, then, already, the Rostov’s business in Moscow is off to a poor start. That guy is a disaster.
Their business in Moscow is twofold: First, the old count must sell their estate near town. Secondly, Prince Andrei is expected shortly and Natasha must make a good impression on Princess Marya and the old Prince. Good luck with that, Natasha!
They can’t stay at their Moscow estate because the old count decided not to keep it heated during the winter. Most likely this is because he couldn’t afford to keep it heated. Though, to be fair, fiscal responsibility hasn’t been his guiding light so far so we can’t really know for sure. At any rate, the Rostovs accept the hospitality of Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova and decide to stay with her during the visit.
It’s probably a good thing they decide to stay with her. Marya Dmitrievna seems like an upright, noble woman. She has a nice estate and a set schedule that appears to keep her on the straight and narrow. She may be someone the Rostovs want to look towards for inspiration.
They need it. We know the old count is flailing. He’s flailing largely due to his own incompetence and inability to act responsibly with his finances. Natasha, on the other hand, is entering adulthood and as such will experience increasing demands on her character. A good practice for those interested in improvement, such as the old count and Natasha, is to model and pattern their behavior upon someone, not necessarily Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova, of superior virtue and moral standing.
They better find that person fast.
There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make the crooked straight.
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic