War and Peace HTML version

"First of all, dear friend, tell me how you are. Set your friend's
mind at rest," said he without altering his tone, beneath the
politeness and affected sympathy of which indifference and even
irony could be discerned.
"Can one be well while suffering morally? Can one be calm in times
like these if one has any feeling?" said Anna Pavlovna. "You are
staying the whole evening, I hope?"
"And the fete at the English ambassador's? Today is Wednesday. I
must put in an appearance there," said the prince. "My daughter is
coming for me to take me there."
"I thought today's fete had been canceled. I confess all these
festivities and fireworks are becoming wearisome."
"If they had known that you wished it, the entertainment would
have been put off," said the prince, who, like a wound-up clock, by
force of habit said things he did not even wish to be believed.
"Don't tease! Well, and what has been decided about Novosiltsev's
dispatch? You know everything."
"What can one say about it?" replied the prince in a cold,
listless tone. "What has been decided? They have decided that
Buonaparte has burnt his boats, and I believe that we are ready to
burn ours."
Prince Vasili always spoke languidly, like an actor repeating a
stale part. Anna Pavlovna Scherer on the contrary, despite her forty
years, overflowed with animation and impulsiveness. To be an
enthusiast had become her social vocation and, sometimes even when she
did not feel like it, she became enthusiastic in order not to
disappoint the expectations of those who knew her. The subdued smile
which, though it did not suit her faded features, always played
round her lips expressed, as in a spoiled child, a continual
consciousness of her charming defect, which she neither wished, nor
could, nor considered it necessary, to correct.
In the midst of a conversation on political matters Anna Pavlovna
burst out:
"Oh, don't speak to me of Austria. Perhaps I don't understand
things, but Austria never has wished, and does not wish, for war.
She is betraying us! Russia alone must save Europe. Our gracious
sovereign recognizes his high vocation and will be true to it. That is
the one thing I have faith in! Our good and wonderful sovereign has to
perform the noblest role on earth, and he is so virtuous and noble