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Release Date: April, 2001 [EBook #2600] [This file was first posted on October 7, 2003] [Most recently updated: May 21, 2006]Edition: 11 Language: English Character set encoding: US-ASCII *** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, WAR AND PEACE *** War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy/Tolstoi BOOK ONE: 1805 CHAPTER I
"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist--I really believe he is Antichrist--I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you--sit down and tell me all the news."
It was in July, 1805, and the speaker was the well-known Anna Pavlovna Scherer, maid of honor and favorite of the Empress Marya Fedorovna. With these words she greeted Prince Vasili Kuragin, a man of high rank and importance, who was the first to arrive at her reception. Anna Pavlovna had had a cough for some days. She was, as she said, suffering from la grippe; grippe being then a new word in St. Petersburg, used only by the elite.All her invitations without exception, written in French, and delivered by a scarlet-liveried footman that morning, ran as follows:
"If you have nothing better to do, Count [or Prince], and if the prospect of spending an evening with a poor invalid is not too terrible, I shall be very charmed to see you tonight between 7 and 10- Annette Scherer."
"Heavens! what a virulent attack!" replied the prince, not in the least disconcerted by this reception. He had just entered, wearing an embroidered court uniform, knee breeches, and shoes, and had stars on his breast and a serene expression on his flat face. He spoke in that refined French in which our grandfathers not only spoke but thought, and with the gentle, patronizing intonation natural to a man of importance who had grown old in society and at court. He went up to Anna Pavlovna, kissed her hand, presenting to her his bald, scented, and shining head, and complacently seated himself on the sofa.
"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.
"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 that God will not forsake him. He will fulfill his vocation and crush the hydra of revolution, which has become more terrible than ever in the person of this murderer and villain! We alone must avenge the blood of the just one.... Whom, I ask you, can we rely on?... England with her commercial spirit will not and cannot understand the Emperor Alexander's loftiness of soul. She has refused to evacuate Malta. She wanted to find, and still seeks, some secret motive in our actions. What answer did Novosiltsev get? None. The English have not understood and cannot understand the self-abnegation of our Emperor who wants nothing for himself, but only desires the good of mankind. And what have they promised? Nothing! And what little they have promised they will not perform! Prussia has always declared that Buonaparte is invincible, and that all Europe is powerless before him.... And I don't believe a word that Hardenburg says, or Haugwitz either. This famous Prussian neutrality is just a trap. I have faith only in God and the lofty destiny of our adored monarch. He will save Europe!"She suddenly paused, smiling at her own impetuosity.
"I think," said the prince with a smile, "that if you had been sent instead of our dear Wintzingerode you would have captured the King of Prussia's consent by assault. You are so eloquent. Will you give me a cup of tea?"
"In a moment. A propos," she added, becoming calm again, "I am expecting two very interesting men tonight, le Vicomte de Mortemart, who is connected with the Montmorencys through the Rohans, one of the best French families. He is one of the genuine emigres, the good ones. And also the Abbe Morio. Do you know that profound thinker? He has been received by the Emperor. Had you heard?"
"I shall be delighted to meet them," said the prince. "But tell me," he added with studied carelessness as if it had only just occurred to him, though the question he was about to ask was the chief motive of his visit, "is it true that the Dowager Empress wants Baron Funke to be appointed first secretary at Vienna? The baron by all accounts is a poor creature."
Prince Vasili wished to obtain this post for his son, but others were trying through the Dowager Empress Marya Fedorovna to secure it for the baron.
Anna Pavlovna almost closed her eyes to indicate that neither she nor anyone else had a right to criticize what the Empress desired or was pleased with.
"Baron Funke has been recommended to the Dowager Empress by her sister," was all she said, in a dry and mournful tone.
As she named the Empress, Anna Pavlovna's face suddenly assumed an expression of profound and sincere devotion and respect mingled with sadness, and this occurred every time she mentioned her illustrious patroness. She added that Her Majesty had deigned to show Baron Funke beaucoup d'estime, and again her face clouded over with sadness.
The prince was silent and looked indifferent. But, with the
womanly and courtierlike quickness and tact habitual to her, Anna Pavlovna wished both to rebuke him (for daring to speak he had done of a man recommended to the Empress) and at the same time to console him, so she said:
"Now about your family. Do you know that since your daughter came out everyone has been enraptured by her? They say she is amazingly beautiful."The prince bowed to signify his respect and gratitude.
"I often think," she continued after a short pause, drawing nearer to the prince and smiling amiably at him as if to show that political and social topics were ended and the time had come for intimate conversation--"I often think how unfairly sometimes the joys of life are distributed. Why has fate given you two such splendid children? I don't speak of Anatole, your youngest. I don't like him," she added in a tone admitting of no rejoinder and raising her eyebrows. "Two such charming children. And really you appreciate them less than anyone, and so you don't deserve to have them."And she smiled her ecstatic smile. "I can't help it," said the prince. "Lavater would have said I lack the bump of paternity."
"Don't joke; I mean to have a serious talk with you. Do you know I am dissatisfied with your younger son? Between ourselves" (and her face assumed its melancholy expression), "he was mentioned at Her Majesty's and you were pitied...."The prince answered nothing, but she looked at him significantly, awaiting a reply. He frowned.
"What would you have me do?" he said at last. "You know I did all a father could for their education, and they have both turned out fools. Hippolyte is at least a quiet fool, but Anatole is an active one. That is the only difference between them." He said this smiling in a way more natural and animated than usual, so that the wrinkles round his mouth very clearly revealed something unexpectedly coarse and unpleasant.
"And why are children born to such men as you? If you were not a father there would be nothing I could reproach you with," said Anna Pavlovna, looking up pensively.
"I am your faithful slave and to you alone I can confess that my children are the bane of my life. It is the cross I have to bear. That is how I explain it to myself. It can't be helped!"He said no more, but expressed his resignation to cruel fate by a gesture. Anna Pavlovna meditated.
"Have you never thought of marrying your prodigal son Anatole?" she asked. "They say old maids have a mania for matchmaking, and though I don't feel that weakness in myself as yet, I know a little person who is very unhappy with her father. She is a relation of yours, Princess Mary Bolkonskaya."
Prince Vasili did not reply, though, with the quickness of memory and perception befitting a man of the world, he indicated by a movement of the head that he was considering this information.
"Do you know," he said at last, evidently unable to check the sad current of his thoughts, "that Anatole is costing me forty thousand rubles a year? And," he went on after a pause, "what will it be in five years, if he goes on like this?" Presently he added: "That's what we fathers have to put up with.... Is this princess of yours rich?"
"Her father is very rich and stingy. He lives in the country. He is the well-known Prince Bolkonski who had to retire from the army under the late Emperor, and was nicknamed 'the King of Prussia.' He is very clever but eccentric, and a bore. The poor girl is very unhappy. She has a brother; I think you know him, he married Lise Meinen lately. He is an aide-de-camp of Kutuzov's and will be here tonight."
"Listen, dear Annette," said the prince, suddenly taking Anna Pavlovna's hand and for some reason drawing it downwards. "Arrange that affair for me and I shall always be your most devoted slave- slafe with an f, as a village elder of mine writes in his reports. She is rich and of good family and that's all I want."
And with the familiarity and easy grace peculiar to him, he raised the maid of honor's hand to his lips, kissed it, and swung it to and fro as he lay back in his armchair, looking in another direction.
"Attendez," said Anna Pavlovna, reflecting, "I'll speak to Lise, young Bolkonski's wife, this very evening, and perhaps the thing can be arranged. It shall be on your family's behalf that I'll start my apprenticeship as old maid."
Anna Pavlovna's drawing room was gradually filling. The highest Petersburg society was assembled there: people differing widely in age and character but alike in the social circle to which they belonged. Prince Vasili's daughter, the beautiful Helene, came to take her father to the ambassador's entertainment; she wore a ball dress and her badge as maid of honor. The youthful little Princess
Bolkonskaya, known as la femme la plus seduisante de Petersbourg,* was also there. She had been married during the previous winter, and being pregnant did not go to any large gatherings, but only to small receptions. Prince Vasili's son, Hippolyte, had come with Mortemart, whom he introduced. The Abbe Morio and many others had also come.
To each new arrival Anna Pavlovna said, "You have not yet seen my aunt," or "You do not know my aunt?" and very gravely conducted him or her to a little old lady, wearing large bows of ribbon in her cap, who had come sailing in from another room as soon as the guests began to arrive; and slowly turning her eyes from the visitor to her aunt, Anna Pavlovna mentioned each one's name and then left them.
Each visitor performed the ceremony of greeting this old aunt whom not one of them knew, not one of them wanted to know, and not one of them cared about; Anna Pavlovna observed these greetings with mournful and solemn interest and silent approval. The aunt spoke to each of them in the same words, about their health and her own, and the health of Her Majesty, "who, thank God, was better today." And each visitor, though politeness prevented his showing impatience, left the old woman with a sense of relief at having performed a vexatious duty and did not return to her the whole evening.
The young Princess Bolkonskaya had brought some work in a gold-embroidered velvet bag. Her pretty little upper lip, on which a delicate dark down was just perceptible, was too short for her teeth, but it lifted all the more sweetly, and was especially charming when she occasionally drew it down to meet the lower lip. As is always the case with a thoroughly attractive woman, her defect--the shortness of her upper lip and her half-open mouth--seemed to be her own special and peculiar form of beauty. Everyone brightened at the sight of this pretty young woman, so soon to become a mother, so full of life and health, and carrying her burden so lightly. Old men and dull dispirited young ones who looked at her, after being in her company and talking to her a little while, felt as if they too were
becoming, like her, full of life and health. All who talked to her, and at each word saw her bright smile and the constant gleam of her white teeth, thought that they were in a specially amiable mood that day.
The little princess went round the table with quick, short, swaying steps, her workbag on her arm, and gaily spreading out her dress sat down on a sofa near the silver samovar, as if all she was doing was a pleasure to herself and to all around her. "I have brought my work," said she in French, displaying her bag and addressing all present. "Mind, Annette, I hope you have not played a wicked trick on me," she added, turning to her hostess. "You wrote that it was to be quite a small reception, and just see how badly I am dressed." And she spread out her arms to show her short-waisted, lace-trimmed, dainty gray dress, girdled with a broad ribbon just below the breast."Soyez tranquille, Lise, you will always be prettier than anyone else," replied Anna Pavlovna.
"You know," said the princess in the same tone of voice and still in French, turning to a general, "my husband is deserting me? He is going to get himself killed. Tell me what this wretched war is for?" she added, addressing Prince Vasili, and without waiting for an answer she turned to speak to his daughter, the beautiful Helene."What a delightful woman this little princess is!" said Prince Vasili to Anna Pavlovna.
One of the next arrivals was a stout, heavily built young man with close-cropped hair, spectacles, the light-colored breeches fashionable at that time, a very high ruffle, and a brown dress coat. This stout young man was an illegitimate son of Count Bezukhov, a well-known grandee of Catherine's time who now lay dying in Moscow. The young man had not yet entered either the military or civil service, as he had only just returned from abroad where he had been educated, and this was his first appearance in society. Anna Pavlovna greeted him with the nod she accorded to the lowest hierarchy in her drawing room. But in spite of this lowest-grade greeting, a look of anxiety and fear, as at the sight of something too large and unsuited to the place, came over her face when she saw Pierre enter. Though he was certainly rather bigger than the other men in the room, her anxiety could only have reference to the clever though shy, but observant and natural, expression which distinguished him from everyone else in that drawing room.
"It is very good of you, Monsieur Pierre, to come and visit a poor invalid," said Anna Pavlovna, exchanging an alarmed glance with her aunt as she conducted him to her.
Pierre murmured something unintelligible, and continued to look round as if in search of something. On his way to the aunt he bowed to the little princess with a pleased smile, as to an intimate acquaintance.
Anna Pavlovna's alarm was justified, for Pierre turned away from the aunt without waiting to hear her speech about Her Majesty's health. Anna Pavlovna in dismay detained him with the words: "Do you know the Abbe Morio? He is a most interesting man.""Yes, I have heard of his scheme for perpetual peace, and it is very interesting but hardly feasible."
"You think so?" rejoined Anna Pavlovna in order to say something and get away to attend to her duties as hostess. But Pierre now committed a reverse act of impoliteness. First he had left a lady before she had finished speaking to him, and now he continued to speak to another who wished to get away. With his head bent, and his big feet spread apart, he began explaining his reasons for thinking the abbe's plan chimerical."We will talk of it later," said Anna Pavlovna with a smile.
And having got rid of this young man who did not know how to behave, she resumed her duties as hostess and continued to listen and watch, ready to help at any point where the conversation might happen to flag. As the foreman of a spinning mill, when he has set the hands to work, goes round and notices here a spindle that has stopped or there one that creaks or makes more noise than it should, and hastens to check the machine or set it in proper motion, so Anna Pavlovna moved about her drawing room, approaching now a silent, now a too-noisy group, and by a word or slight rearrangement kept the conversational machine in steady, proper, and regular motion. But amid these cares her anxiety about Pierre was evident. She kept an anxious watch on him when he approached the group round Mortemart to listen to what was being said there, and again when he passed to another group whose center was the abbe.
Pierre had been educated abroad, and this reception at Anna Pavlovna's was the first he had attended in Russia. He knew that all the intellectual lights of Petersburg were gathered there and, like a child in a toyshop, did not know which way to look, afraid of missing any clever conversation that was to be heard. Seeing the self-confident and refined expression on the faces of those present he was always expecting to hear something very profound. At last he came up to Morio. Here the conversation seemed interesting and he stood waiting for an opportunity to express his own views, as young people are fond of doing.
Anna Pavlovna's reception was in full swing. The spindles hummed steadily and ceaselessly on all sides. With the exception of the aunt, beside whom sat only one elderly lady, who with her thin careworn face was rather out of place in this brilliant society, the whole company had settled into three groups. One, chiefly masculine, had formed round the abbe. Another, of young people, was grouped round the beautiful Princess Helene, Prince Vasili's daughter, and the little Princess Bolkonskaya, very pretty and rosy, though rather too plump for her age. The third group was gathered round Mortemart and Anna Pavlovna.
The vicomte was a nice-looking young man with soft features and polished manners, who evidently considered himself a celebrity but out of politeness modestly placed himself at the disposal of the circle in which he found himself. Anna Pavlovna was obviously serving him up as a treat to her guests. As a clever maitre d'hotel serves up as a specially choice delicacy a piece of meat that no one who had seen it in the kitchen would have cared to eat, so Anna Pavlovna served up to her guests, first the vicomte and then the abbe, as peculiarly choice morsels. The group about Mortemart immediately began discussing the murder of the Duc d'Enghien. The vicomte said that the Duc d'Enghien had perished by his own magnanimity, and that there were particular reasons for Buonaparte's hatred of him.
"Ah, yes! Do tell us all about it, Vicomte," said Anna Pavlovna, with a pleasant feeling that there was something a la Louis XV in the sound of that sentence: "Contez nous cela, Vicomte."
The vicomte bowed and smiled courteously in token of his willingness to comply. Anna Pavlovna arranged a group round him, inviting everyone to listen to his tale.
"The vicomte knew the duc personally," whispered Anna Pavlovna to of the guests. "The vicomte is a wonderful raconteur," said she to another. "How evidently he belongs to the best society," said she to a third; and the vicomte was served up to the company in the choicest and most advantageous style, like a well-garnished joint of roast beef on a hot dish.The vicomte wished to begin his story and gave a subtle smile.
"Come over here, Helene, dear," said Anna Pavlovna to the beautiful young princess who was sitting some way off, the center of another group.
The princess smiled. She rose with the same unchanging smile with which she had first entered the room--the smile of a perfectly beautiful woman. With a slight rustle of her white dress trimmed with moss and ivy, with a gleam of white shoulders, glossy hair, and sparkling diamonds, she passed between the men who made way for her, not looking at any of them but smiling on all, as if graciously allowing each the privilege of admiring her beautiful figure and shapely shoulders, back, and bosom--which in the fashion of those days were very much exposed--and she seemed to bring the glamour of a ballroom with her as she moved toward Anna Pavlovna. Helene was so lovely that not only did she not show any trace of coquetry, but on the contrary she even appeared shy of her unquestionable and all too victorious beauty. She seemed to wish, but to be unable, to diminish its effect.
"How lovely!" said everyone who saw her; and the vicomte lifted his shoulders and dropped his eyes as if startled by something extraordinary when she took her seat opposite and beamed upon him also with her unchanging smile."Madame, I doubt my ability before such an audience," said he, smilingly inclining his head.
The princess rested her bare round arm on a little table and considered a reply unnecessary. She smilingly waited. All the time the story was being told she sat upright, glancing now at her beautiful round arm, altered in shape by its pressure on the table, now at her still more beautiful bosom, on which she readjusted a diamond necklace. From time to time she smoothed the folds of her dress, and whenever the story produced an effect she glanced at Anna Pavlovna, at once adopted just the expression she saw on the maid of honor's face, and again relapsed into her radiant smile.The little princess had also left the tea table and followed Helene. "Wait a moment, I'll get my work.... Now then, what are you thinking of?" she went on, turning to Prince Hippolyte. "Fetch me my workbag."
There was a general movement as the princess, smiling and talking merrily to everyone at once, sat down and gaily arranged herself in her seat."Now I am all right," she said, and asking the vicomte to begin, she took up her work. Prince Hippolyte, having brought the workbag, joined the circle and moving a chair close to hers seated himself beside her.
Le charmant Hippolyte was surprising by his extraordinary resemblance to his beautiful sister, but yet more by the fact that in spite of this resemblance he was exceedingly ugly. His features were like his sister's, but while in her case everything was lit up by a joyous, self-satisfied, youthful, and constant smile of animation, and by the wonderful classic beauty of her figure, his face on the contrary was dulled by imbecility and a constant expression of sullen self-confidence, while his body was thin and weak. His eyes, nose, and mouth all seemed puckered into a vacant, wearied grimace, and his arms and legs always fell into unnatural positions.
"It's not going to be a ghost story?" said he, sitting down beside the princess and hastily adjusting his lorgnette, as if without this instrument he could not begin to speak."Why no, my dear fellow," said the astonished narrator, shrugging his shoulders.
"Because I hate ghost stories," said Prince Hippolyte in a tone which showed that he only understood the meaning of his words after he had uttered them.
He spoke with such self-confidence that his hearers could not be sure whether what he said was very witty or very stupid. He was dressed in a dark-green dress coat, knee breeches of the color of cuisse de nymphe effrayee, as he called it, shoes, and silk stockings.
The vicomte told his tale very neatly. It was an anecdote, then current, to the effect that the Duc d'Enghien had gone secretly to Paris to visit Mademoiselle George; that at her house he came upon Bonaparte, who also enjoyed the famous actress' favors, and that in his presence Napoleon happened to fall into one of the fainting fits to which he was subject, and was thus at the duc's mercy. The latter spared him, and this magnanimity Bonaparte subsequently repaid by death.
The story was very pretty and interesting, especially at the point where the rivals suddenly recognized one another; and the ladies looked agitated."Charming!" said Anna Pavlovna with an inquiring glance at the little princess.
"Charming!" whispered the little princess, sticking the needle into her work as if to testify that the interest and fascination of the story prevented her from going on with it.
The vicomte appreciated this silent praise and smiling gratefully prepared to continue, but just then Anna Pavlovna, who had kept a watchful eye on the young man who so alarmed her, noticed that he was talking too loudly and vehemently with the abbe, so she hurried to the rescue. Pierre had managed to start a conversation with the abbe about the balance of power, and the latter, evidently interested by the young man's simple-minded eagerness, was explaining his pet theory. Both were talking and listening too eagerly and too naturally, which was why Anna Pavlovna disapproved.
"The means are... the balance of power in Europe and the rights of the people," the abbe was saying. "It is only necessary for one powerful nation like Russia--barbaric as she is said to be--to place herself disinterestedly at the head of an alliance having for its object the maintenance of the balance of power of Europe, and it would save the world!""But how are you to get that balance?" Pierre was beginning.
At that moment Anna Pavlovna came up and, looking severely at Pierre, asked the Italian how he stood Russian climate. The Italian's face instantly changed and assumed an offensively affected, sugary expression, evidently habitual to him when conversing with women.
"I am so enchanted by the brilliancy of the wit and culture of the society, more especially of the feminine society, in which I have had the honor of being received, that I have not yet had time to think of the climate," said he.
Not letting the abbe and Pierre escape, Anna Pavlovna, the more conveniently to keep them under observation, brought them into the larger circle.CHAPTER IV
Just then another visitor entered the drawing room: Prince Andrew Bolkonski, the little princess' husband. He was a very handsome young man, of medium height, with firm, clearcut features. Everything about him, from his weary, bored expression to his quiet, measured step, offered a most striking contrast to his quiet, little wife. It was evident that he not only knew everyone in the drawing room, but had found them to be so tiresome that it wearied him to look at or listen to them. And among all these faces that he found so tedious, none seemed to bore him so much as that of his pretty wife. He turned away from her with a grimace that distorted his handsome face, kissed Anna Pavlovna's hand, and screwing up his eyes scanned the whole company.
"You are off to the war, Prince?" said Anna Pavlovna. "General Kutuzov," said Bolkonski, speaking French and stressing the last syllable of the general's name like a Frenchman, "has been pleased to take me as an aide-de-camp....""And Lise, your wife?" "She will go to the country." "Are you not ashamed to deprive us of your charming wife?"
"Andre," said his wife, addressing her husband in the same coquettish manner in which she spoke to other men, "the vicomte has been telling us such a tale about Mademoiselle George and Buonaparte!"
Prince Andrew screwed up his eyes and turned away. Pierre, who from the moment Prince Andrew entered the room had watched him with glad, affectionate eyes, now came up and took his arm. Before he looked round Prince Andrew frowned again, expressing his annoyance with whoever was touching his arm, but when he saw Pierre's beaming face he gave him an unexpectedly kind and pleasant smile."There now!... So you, too, are in the great world?" said he to Pierre.
"I knew you would be here," replied Pierre. "I will come to supper with you. May I?" he added in a low voice so as not to disturb the vicomte who was continuing his story.
"No, impossible!" said Prince Andrew, laughing and pressing Pierre's hand to show that there was no need to ask the question. He wished to say something more, but at that moment Prince Vasili and his daughter got up to go and the two young men rose to let them pass.
"You must excuse me, dear Vicomte," said Prince Vasili to the Frenchman, holding him down by the sleeve in a friendly way to prevent his rising. "This unfortunate fete at the ambassador's deprives me of a pleasure, and obliges me to interrupt you. I am very sorry to leave your enchanting party," said he, turning to Anna Pavlovna.
His daughter, Princess Helene, passed between the chairs, lightly holding up the folds of her dress, and the smile shone still more radiantly on her beautiful face. Pierre gazed at her with rapturous, almost frightened, eyes as she passed him."Very lovely," said Prince Andrew. "Very," said Pierre.
In passing Prince Vasili seized Pierre's hand and said to Anna Pavlovna: "Educate this bear for me! He has been staying with me a whole month and this is the first time I have seen him in society. Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the society of clever women."
Anna Pavlovna smiled and promised to take Pierre in hand. She knew his father to be a connection of Prince Vasili's. The elderly lady who had been sitting with the old aunt rose hurriedly and overtook Prince Vasili in the anteroom. All the affectation of interest she had assumed had left her kindly and tearworn face and it now expressed only anxiety and fear.
"How about my son Boris, Prince?" said she, hurrying after him into the anteroom. "I can't remain any longer in Petersburg. Tell me what news I may take back to my poor boy."
Although Prince Vasili listened reluctantly and not very politely to the elderly lady, even betraying some impatience, she gave him an ingratiating and appealing smile, and took his hand that he might not go away."What would it cost you to say a word to the Emperor, and then he would be transferred to the Guards at once?" said she.
"Believe me, Princess, I am ready to do all I can," answered Prince Vasili, "but it is difficult for me to ask the Emperor. I should advise you to appeal to Rumyantsev through Prince Golitsyn. That would be the best way."
The elderly lady was a Princess Drubetskaya, belonging to one of the best families in Russia, but she was poor, and having long been out of society had lost her former influential connections. She had now come to Petersburg to procure an appointment in the Guards for her only son. It was, in fact, solely to meet Prince Vasili that she had obtained an invitation to Anna Pavlovna's reception and had sat listening to the vicomte's story. Prince Vasili's words frightened her, an embittered look clouded her once handsome face, but only for a moment; then she smiled again and clutched Prince Vasili's arm more tightly.
"Listen to me, Prince," said she. "I have never yet asked you for anything and I never will again, nor have I ever reminded you of my father's friendship for you; but now I entreat you for God's sake to do this for my son--and I shall always regard you as a benefactor," she added hurriedly. "No, don't be angry, but promise! I have asked Golitsyn and he has refused. Be the kindhearted man you always were," she said, trying to smile though tears were in her eyes.
"Papa, we shall be late," said Princess Helene, turning her beautiful head and looking over her classically molded shoulder as she stood waiting by the door.
Influence in society, however, is a capital which has to be
economized if it is to last. Prince Vasili knew this, and having once realized that if he asked on behalf of all who begged of him, he would soon be unable to ask for himself, he became chary of using his influence. But in Princess Drubetskaya's case he felt, after her second appeal, something like qualms of conscience. She had reminded him of what was quite true; he had been indebted to her father for the first steps in his career. Moreover, he could see by her manners that she was one of those women--mostly mothers--who, having once made up their minds, will not rest until they have gained their end, and are prepared if necessary to go on insisting day after day and hour after hour, and even to make scenes. This last consideration moved him.
"My dear Anna Mikhaylovna," said he with his usual familiarity and weariness of tone, "it is almost impossible for me to do what you ask; but to prove my devotion to you and how I respect your father's memory, I will do the impossible--your son shall be transferred to the Guards. Here is my hand on it. Are you satisfied?""My dear benefactor! This is what I expected from you--I knew your kindness!" He turned to go.
"Wait--just a word! When he has been transferred to the Guards..." she faltered. "You are on good terms with Michael Ilarionovich Kutuzov... recommend Boris to him as adjutant! Then I shall be at rest, and then..."Prince Vasili smiled.
"No, I won't promise that. You don't know how Kutuzov is pestered since his appointment as Commander in Chief. He told me himself that all the Moscow ladies have conspired to give him all their sons as adjutants.""No, but do promise! I won't let you go! My dear benefactor..." "Papa," said his beautiful daughter in the same tone as before, "we shall be late." "Well, au revoir! Good-by! You hear her?" "Then tomorrow you will speak to the Emperor?" "Certainly; but about Kutuzov, I don't promise."
"Do promise, do promise, Vasili!" cried Anna Mikhaylovna as he went, with the smile of a coquettish girl, which at one time probably came naturally to her, but was now very ill-suited to her careworn face.
Apparently she had forgotten her age and by force of habit employed all the old feminine arts. But as soon as the prince had gone her face resumed its former cold, artificial expression. She returned to the group where the vicomte was still talking, and again pretended to listen, while waiting till it would be time to leave. Her task was accomplished.CHAPTER V
"And what do you think of this latest comedy, the coronation at Milan?" asked Anna Pavlovna, "and of the comedy of the people of Genoa and Lucca laying their petitions before Monsieur Buonaparte, and Monsieur Buonaparte sitting on a throne and granting the petitions of the nations? Adorable! It is enough to make one's head whirl! It is as if the whole world had gone crazy."Prince Andrew looked Anna Pavlovna straight in the face with a sarcastic smile.
"'Dieu me la donne, gare a qui la touche!'* They say he was very fine when he said that," he remarked, repeating the words in Italian: "'Dio mi l'ha dato. Guai a chi la tocchi!'"*God has given it to me, let him who touches it beware!
"I hope this will prove the last drop that will make the glass run over," Anna Pavlovna continued. "The sovereigns will not be able to endure this man who is a menace to everything."
"The sovereigns? I do not speak of Russia," said the vicomte, polite but hopeless: "The sovereigns, madame... What have they done for Louis XVII, for the Queen, or for Madame Elizabeth? Nothing!" and he became more animated. "And believe me, they are reaping the reward of their betrayal of the Bourbon cause. The sovereigns! Why, they are sending ambassadors to compliment the usurper."And sighing disdainfully, he again changed his position.
Prince Hippolyte, who had been gazing at the vicomte for some time through his lorgnette, suddenly turned completely round toward the little princess, and having asked for a needle began tracing the Conde coat of arms on the table. He explained this to her with as much gravity as if she had asked him to do it."Baton de gueules, engrele de gueules d' azur--maison Conde," said he. The princess listened, smiling.
"If Buonaparte remains on the throne of France a year longer," the vicomte continued, with the air of a man who, in a matter with which he is better acquainted than anyone else, does not listen to others but follows the current of his own thoughts, "things will have gone too far. By intrigues, violence, exile, and executions, French society--I mean good French society--will have been forever destroyed, and then..."
He shrugged his shoulders and spread out his hands. Pierre wished to make a remark, for the conversation interested him, but Anna Pavlovna, who had him under observation, interrupted:
"The Emperor Alexander," said she, with the melancholy which always accompanied any reference of hers to the Imperial family, "has declared that he will leave it to the French people themselves to choose their own form of government; and I believe that once free from the usurper, the whole nation will certainly throw itself into the arms of its rightful king," she concluded, trying to be amiable to the royalist emigrant.
"That is doubtful," said Prince Andrew. "Monsieur le Vicomte quite rightly supposes that matters have already gone too far. I think it will be difficult to return to the old regime."
"From what I have heard," said Pierre, blushing and breaking into the conversation, "almost all the aristocracy has already gone over to Bonaparte's side."
"It is the Buonapartists who say that," replied the vicomte without looking at Pierre. "At the present time it is difficult to know the real state of French public opinion.""Bonaparte has said so," remarked Prince Andrew with a sarcastic smile. It was evident that he did not like the vicomte and was aiming his remarks at him, though without looking at him.
"'I showed them the path to glory, but they did not follow it,'" Prince Andrew continued after a short silence, again quoting Napoleon's words. "'I opened my antechambers and they crowded in.' I do not know how far he was justified in saying so."
"Not in the least," replied the vicomte. "After the murder of the duc even the most partial ceased to regard him as a hero. If to some people," he went on, turning to Anna Pavlovna, "he ever was a hero, after the murder of the duc there was one martyr more in heaven and one hero less on earth."
Before Anna Pavlovna and the others had time to smile their appreciation of the vicomte's epigram, Pierre again broke into the conversation, and though Anna Pavlovna felt sure he would say something inappropriate, she was unable to stop him.
"The execution of the Duc d'Enghien," declared Monsieur Pierre, "was a political necessity, and it seems to me that Napoleon showed greatness of soul by not fearing to take on himself the whole responsibility of that deed.""Dieu! Mon Dieu!" muttered Anna Pavlovna in a terrified whisper.
"What, Monsieur Pierre... Do you consider that assassination shows greatness of soul?" said the little princess, smiling and drawing her work nearer to her."Oh! Oh!" exclaimed several voices. "Capital!" said Prince Hippolyte in English, and began slapping his knee with the palm of his hand. The vicomte merely shrugged his shoulders. Pierre looked solemnly at his audience over his spectacles and continued.
"I say so," he continued desperately, "because the Bourbons fled from the Revolution leaving the people to anarchy, and Napoleon alone understood the Revolution and quelled it, and so for the general good, he could not stop short for the sake of one man's life.""Won't you come over to the other table?" suggested Anna Pavlovna. But Pierre continued his speech without heeding her.
"No," cried he, becoming more and more eager, "Napoleon is great because he rose superior to the Revolution, suppressed its abuses, preserved all that was good in it--equality of citizenship and freedom of speech and of the press--and only for that reason did he obtain power."
"Yes, if having obtained power, without availing himself of it to commit murder he had restored it to the rightful king, I should have called him a great man," remarked the vicomte.
"He could not do that. The people only gave him power that he might rid them of the Bourbons and because they saw that he was a great man. The Revolution was a grand thing!" continued Monsieur Pierre, betraying by this desperate and provocative proposition his extreme youth and his wish to express all that was in his mind.
"Those were extremes, no doubt, but they are not what is most important. What is important are the rights of man, emancipation from prejudices, and equality of citizenship, and all these ideas Napoleon has retained in full force."
"Liberty and equality," said the vicomte contemptuously, as if at last deciding seriously to prove to this youth how foolish his words were, "high-sounding words which have long been discredited. Who does not love liberty and equality? Even our Saviour preached liberty and equality. Have people since the Revolution become happier? On the contrary. We wanted liberty, but Buonaparte has destroyed it."
Prince Andrew kept looking with an amused smile from Pierre to the vicomte and from the vicomte to their hostess. In the first moment of Pierre's outburst Anna Pavlovna, despite her social experience, was horror-struck. But when she saw that Pierre's sacrilegious words had not exasperated the vicomte, and had convinced herself that it was impossible to stop him, she rallied her forces and joined the vicomte in a vigorous attack on the orator.
"But, my dear Monsieur Pierre," said she, "how do you explain the fact of a great man executing a duc--or even an ordinary man who--is innocent and untried?"
"I should like," said the vicomte, "to ask how monsieur explains the 18th Brumaire; was not that an imposture? It was a swindle, and not at all like the conduct of a great man!""And the prisoners he killed in Africa? That was horrible!" said the little princess, shrugging her shoulders.
"He's a low fellow, say what you will," remarked Prince Hippolyte. Pierre, not knowing whom to answer, looked at them all and smiled. His smile was unlike the half-smile of other people. When he smiled, his grave, even rather gloomy, look was instantaneously replaced by another--a childlike, kindly, even rather silly look, which seemed to ask forgiveness.
The vicomte who was meeting him for the first time saw clearly that this young Jacobin was not so terrible as his words suggested. All were silent.
"How do you expect him to answer you all at once?" said Prince Andrew. "Besides, in the actions of a statesman one has to distinguish between his acts as a private person, as a general, and as an emperor. So it seems to me.""Yes, yes, of course!" Pierre chimed in, pleased at the arrival of this reinforcement.
"One must admit," continued Prince Andrew, "that Napoleon as a man was great on the bridge of Arcola, and in the hospital at Jaffa where he gave his hand to the plague-stricken; but... but there are other acts which it is difficult to justify."
Prince Andrew, who had evidently wished to tone down the awkwardness of Pierre's remarks, rose and made a sign to his wife that it was time to go.Suddenly Prince Hippolyte started up making signs to everyone to attend, and asking them all to be seated began:
"I was told a charming Moscow story today and must treat you to it. Excuse me, Vicomte--I must tell it in Russian or the point will be lost...." And Prince Hippolyte began to tell his story in such Russian as a Frenchman would speak after spending about a year in Russia. Everyone waited, so emphatically and eagerly did he demand their attention to his story.
"There is in Moscow a lady, une dame, and she is very stingy. She must have two footmen behind her carriage, and very big ones. That was her taste. And she had a lady's maid, also big. She said..."Here Prince Hippolyte paused, evidently collecting his ideas with difficulty.
"She said... Oh yes! She said, 'Girl,' to the maid, 'put on a livery, get up behind the carriage, and come with me while I make some calls.'"
Here Prince Hippolyte spluttered and burst out laughing long before his audience, which produced an effect unfavorable to the narrator. Several persons, among them the elderly lady and Anna Pavlovna, did however smile.
"She went. Suddenly there was a great wind. The girl lost her hat and her long hair came down...." Here he could contain himself no longer and went on, between gasps of laughter: "And the whole world knew...."
And so the anecdote ended. Though it was unintelligible why he had told it, or why it had to be told in Russian, still Anna Pavlovna and the others appreciated Prince Hippolyte's social tact in so agreeably ending Pierre's unpleasant and unamiable outburst. After the anecdote the conversation broke up into insignificant small talk about the last and next balls, about theatricals, and who would meet whom, and when and where.CHAPTER VI Having thanked Anna Pavlovna for her charming soiree, the guests began to take their leave.
Pierre was ungainly. Stout, about the average height, broad, with huge red hands; he did not know, as the saying is, how to enter a drawing room and still less how to leave one; that is, how to say something particularly agreeable before going away. Besides this he was absent-minded. When he rose to go, he took up instead of his own, the general's three-cornered hat, and held it, pulling at the plume, till the general asked him to restore it. All his
absent-mindedness and inability to enter a room and converse in it was, however, redeemed by his kindly, simple, and modest expression. Anna Pavlovna turned toward him and, with a Christian mildness that expressed forgiveness of his indiscretion, nodded and said: "I hope to see you again, but I also hope you will change your opinions, my dear Monsieur Pierre."
When she said this, he did not reply and only bowed, but again everybody saw his smile, which said nothing, unless perhaps, "Opinions are opinions, but you see what a capital, good-natured fellow I am." And everyone, including Anna Pavlovna, felt this.
Prince Andrew had gone out into the hall, and, turning his shoulders to the footman who was helping him on with his cloak, listened indifferently to his wife's chatter with Prince Hippolyte who had also come into the hall. Prince Hippolyte stood close to the pretty, pregnant princess, and stared fixedly at her through his eyeglass.
"Go in, Annette, or you will catch cold," said the little
princess, taking leave of Anna Pavlovna. "It is settled," she added in a low voice.
Anna Pavlovna had already managed to speak to Lise about the match she contemplated between Anatole and the little princess' sister-in-law.
"I rely on you, my dear," said Anna Pavlovna, also in a low tone. "Write to her and let me know how her father looks at the matter. Au revoir!"--and she left the hall.Prince Hippolyte approached the little princess and, bending his face close to her, began to whisper something.
Two footmen, the princess' and his own, stood holding a shawl and a cloak, waiting for the conversation to finish. They listened to the French sentences which to them were meaningless, with an air of understanding but not wishing to appear to do so. The princess as usual spoke smilingly and listened with a laugh.
"I am very glad I did not go to the ambassador's," said Prince Hippolyte "-so dull-. It has been a delightful evening, has it not? Delightful!"
"They say the ball will be very good," replied the princess, drawing up her downy little lip. "All the pretty women in society will be there."
"Not all, for you will not be there; not all," said Prince Hippolyte smiling joyfully; and snatching the shawl from the footman, whom he even pushed aside, he began wrapping it round the princess. Either from awkwardness or intentionally (no one could have said which) after the shawl had been adjusted he kept his arm around her for a long time, as though embracing her.
Still smiling, she gracefully moved away, turning and glancing at her husband. Prince Andrew's eyes were closed, so weary and sleepy did he seem."Are you ready?" he asked his wife, looking past her.
Prince Hippolyte hurriedly put on his cloak, which in the latest fashion reached to his very heels, and, stumbling in it, ran out into the porch following the princess, whom a footman was helping into the carriage."Princesse, au revoir," cried he, stumbling with his tongue as well as with his feet.
The princess, picking up her dress, was taking her seat in the dark carriage, her husband was adjusting his saber; Prince Hippolyte, under pretense of helping, was in everyone's way."Allow me, sir," said Prince Andrew in Russian in a cold, disagreeable tone to Prince Hippolyte who was blocking his path. "I am expecting you, Pierre," said the same voice, but gently and affectionately.
The postilion started, the carriage wheels rattled. Prince Hippolyte laughed spasmodically as he stood in the porch waiting for the vicomte whom he had promised to take home.
"Well, mon cher," said the vicomte, having seated himself beside Hippolyte in the carriage, "your little princess is very nice, very nice indeed, quite French," and he kissed the tips of his fingers. Hippolyte burst out laughing.
"Do you know, you are a terrible chap for all your innocent airs," continued the vicomte. "I pity the poor husband, that little officer who gives himself the airs of a monarch."
Hippolyte spluttered again, and amid his laughter said, "And you were saying that the Russian ladies are not equal to the French? One has to know how to deal with them."
Pierre reaching the house first went into Prince Andrew's study like one quite at home, and from habit immediately lay down on the sofa, took from the shelf the first book that came to his hand (it was Caesar's Commentaries), and resting on his elbow, began reading it in the middle.
"What have you done to Mlle Scherer? She will be quite ill now," said Prince Andrew, as he entered the study, rubbing his small white hands.Pierre turned his whole body, making the sofa creak. He lifted his eager face to Prince Andrew, smiled, and waved his hand.
"That abbe is very interesting but he does not see the thing in the right light.... In my opinion perpetual peace is possible but--I do not know how to express it... not by a balance of political power...."
It was evident that Prince Andrew was not interested in such abstract conversation.
"One can't everywhere say all one thinks, mon cher. Well, have you at last decided on anything? Are you going to be a guardsman or a diplomatist?" asked Prince Andrew after a momentary silence.
Pierre at the age of ten had been sent abroad with an abbe as tutor, and had remained away till he was twenty. When he returned to Moscow his father dismissed the abbe and said to the young man, "Now go to Petersburg, look round, and choose your profession. I will agree to anything. Here is a letter to Prince Vasili, and here is money. Write to me all about it, and I will help you in everything." Pierre had already been choosing a career for three months, and had not decided on anything. It was about this choice that Prince Andrew was speaking. Pierre rubbed his forehead."But he must be a Freemason," said he, referring to the abbe whom he had met that evening. "That is all nonsense." Prince Andrew again interrupted him, "let us talk business. Have you been to the Horse Guards?"
"No, I have not; but this is what I have been thinking and wanted to tell you. There is a war now against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom I could understand it and should be the first to enter the army; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world is not right."
Prince Andrew only shrugged his shoulders at Pierre's childish words. He put on the air of one who finds it impossible to reply to such nonsense, but it would in fact have been difficult to give any other answer than the one Prince Andrew gave to this naive question."If no one fought except on his own conviction, there would be no wars," he said. "And that would be splendid," said Pierre. Prince Andrew smiled ironically. "Very likely it would be splendid, but it will never come about..."
"Well, why are you going to the war?" asked Pierre. "What for? I don't know. I must. Besides that I am going..." He paused. "I am going because the life I am leading here does not suit me!"CHAPTER VII
The rustle of a woman's dress was heard in the next room. Prince Andrew shook himself as if waking up, and his face assumed the look it had had in Anna Pavlovna's drawing room. Pierre removed his feet from the sofa. The princess came in. She had changed her gown for a house dress as fresh and elegant as the other. Prince Andrew rose and politely placed a chair for her.
"How is it," she began, as usual in French, settling down briskly and fussily in the easy chair, "how is it Annette never got married? How stupid you men all are not to have married her! Excuse me for saying so, but you have no sense about women. What an argumentative fellow you are, Monsieur Pierre!"
"And I am still arguing with your husband. I can't understand why he wants to go to the war," replied Pierre, addressing the princess with none of the embarrassment so commonly shown by young men in their intercourse with young women.The princess started. Evidently Pierre's words touched her to the quick.
"Ah, that is just what I tell him!" said she. "I don't understand it; I don't in the least understand why men can't live without wars. How is it that we women don't want anything of the kind, don't need it? Now you shall judge between us. I always tell him: Here he is Uncle's aide-de-camp, a most brilliant position. He is so well known, so much appreciated by everyone. The other day at the Apraksins' I heard a lady asking, 'Is that the famous Prince Andrew?' I did indeed." She laughed. "He is so well received everywhere. He might easily become aide-de-camp to the Emperor. You know the Emperor spoke to him most graciously. Annette and I were speaking of how to arrange it. What do you think?"Pierre looked at his friend and, noticing that he did not like the conversation, gave no reply. "When are you starting?" he asked.
"Oh, don't speak of his going, don't! I won't hear it spoken of," said the princess in the same petulantly playful tone in which she had spoken to Hippolyte in the drawing room and which was so plainly ill-suited to the family circle of which Pierre was almost a member. "Today when I remembered that all these delightful associations must be broken off... and then you know, Andre..." (she looked significantly at her husband) "I'm afraid, I'm afraid!" she whispered, and a shudder ran down her back.
Her husband looked at her as if surprised to notice that someone besides Pierre and himself was in the room, and addressed her in a tone of frigid politeness."What is it you are afraid of, Lise? I don't understand," said he.
"There, what egotists men all are: all, all egotists! Just for a
whim of his own, goodness only knows why, he leaves me and locks me up alone in the country."
Her tone was now querulous and her lip drawn up, giving her not a joyful, but an animal, squirrel-like expression. She paused as if she felt it indecorous to speak of her pregnancy before Pierre, though the gist of the matter lay in that."I still can't understand what you are afraid of," said Prince Andrew slowly, not taking his eyes off his wife. The princess blushed, and raised her arms with a gesture of despair. "No, Andrew, I must say you have changed. Oh, how you have..." "Your doctor tells you to go to bed earlier," said Prince Andrew. "You had better go."
The princess said nothing, but suddenly her short downy lip quivered. Prince Andrew rose, shrugged his shoulders, and walked about the room.Pierre looked over his spectacles with naive surprise, now at him and now at her, moved as if about to rise too, but changed his mind.
"Why should I mind Monsieur Pierre being here?" exclaimed the little princess suddenly, her pretty face all at once distorted by a tearful grimace. "I have long wanted to ask you, Andrew, why you have changed so to me? What have I done to you? You are going to the war and have no pity for me. Why is it?"
"Lise!" was all Prince Andrew said. But that one word expressed an entreaty, a threat, and above all conviction that she would herself regret her words. But she went on hurriedly:
Pierre, who had been growing more and more agitated as he listened to all this, rose and approached the princess. He seemed unable to bear the sight of tears and was ready to cry himself.
"Calm yourself, Princess! It seems so to you because... I assure you I myself have experienced... and so... because... No, excuse me! An outsider is out of place here... No, don't distress yourself... Good-by!"Prince Andrew caught him by the hand. "No, wait, Pierre! The princess is too kind to wish to deprive me of the pleasure of spending the evening with you." "No, he thinks only of himself," muttered the princess without restraining her angry tears. "Lise!" said Prince Andrew dryly, raising his voice to the pitch which indicates that patience is exhausted.
Suddenly the angry, squirrel-like expression of the princess' pretty face changed into a winning and piteous look of fear. Her beautiful eyes glanced askance at her husband's face, and her own assumed the timid, deprecating expression of a dog when it rapidly but feebly wags its drooping tail."Mon Dieu, mon Dieu!" she muttered, and lifting her dress with one hand she went up to her husband and kissed him on the forehead. "Good night, Lise," said he, rising and courteously kissing her hand as he would have done to a stranger.
CHAPTER VIII The friends were silent. Neither cared to begin talking. Pierre continually glanced at Prince Andrew; Prince Andrew rubbed his forehead with his small hand."Let us go and have supper," he said with a sigh, going to the door.
They entered the elegant, newly decorated, and luxurious dining room. Everything from the table napkins to the silver, china, and glass bore that imprint of newness found in the households of the newly married. Halfway through supper Prince Andrew leaned his elbows on the table and, with a look of nervous agitation such as Pierre had never before seen on his face, began to talk--as one who has long had something on his mind and suddenly determines to speak out.
"Never, never marry, my dear fellow! That's my advice: never marry till you can say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of, and until you have ceased to love the woman of your choice and have seen her plainly as she is, or else you will make a cruel and irrevocable mistake. Marry when you are old and good for nothing--or all that is good and noble in you will be lost. It will all be wasted on trifles. Yes! Yes! Yes! Don't look at me with such surprise. If you marry expecting anything from yourself in the future, you will feel at every step that for you all is ended, all is closed except the drawing room, where you will be ranged side by side with a court lackey and an idiot!... But what's the good?..." and he waved his arm.
Pierre took off his spectacles, which made his face seem different and the good-natured expression still more apparent, and gazed at his friend in amazement.
"My wife," continued Prince Andrew, "is an excellent woman, one of those rare women with whom a man's honor is safe; but, O God, what would I not give now to be unmarried! You are the first and only one to whom I mention this, because I like you."
As he said this Prince Andrew was less than ever like that Bolkonski who had lolled in Anna Pavlovna's easy chairs and with half-closed eyes had uttered French phrases between his teeth. Every muscle of his thin face was now quivering with nervous excitement; his eyes, in which the fire of life had seemed extinguished, now flashed with brilliant light. It was evident that the more lifeless he seemed at ordinary times, the more impassioned he became in these moments of almost morbid irritation.
"You don't understand why I say this," he continued, "but it is the whole story of life. You talk of Bonaparte and his career," said he (though Pierre had not mentioned Bonaparte), "but Bonaparte when he worked went step by step toward his goal. He was free, he had nothing but his aim to consider, and he reached it. But tie yourself up with a woman and, like a chained convict, you lose all freedom! And all you have of hope and strength merely weighs you down and torments you with regret. Drawing rooms, gossip, balls, vanity, and triviality--these are the enchanted circle I cannot escape from. I am now going to the war, the greatest war there ever was, and I know nothing and am fit for nothing. I am very amiable and have a caustic wit," continued Prince Andrew, "and at Anna Pavlovna's they listen to me. And that stupid set without whom my wife cannot exist, and those women... If you only knew what those society women are, and women in general! My father is right. Selfish, vain, stupid, trivial in everything--that's what women are when you see them in their true colors! When you meet them in society it seems as if there were something in them, but there's nothing, nothing, nothing! No, don't marry, my dear fellow; don't marry!" concluded Prince Andrew.
"It seems funny to me," said Pierre, "that you, you should consider yourself incapable and your life a spoiled life. You have everything before you, everything. And you..."He did not finish his sentence, but his tone showed how highly he thought of his friend and how much he expected of him in the future.
"How can he talk like that?" thought Pierre. He considered his friend a model of perfection because Prince Andrew possessed in the highest degree just the very qualities Pierre lacked, and which might be best described as strength of will. Pierre was always astonished at Prince Andrew's calm manner of treating everybody, his extraordinary memory, his extensive reading (he had read everything, knew everything, and had an opinion about everything), but above all at his capacity for work and study. And if Pierre was often struck by Andrew's lack of capacity for philosophical meditation (to which he himself was particularly addicted), he regarded even this not as a defect but as a sign of strength.
Even in the best, most friendly and simplest relations of life, praise and commendation are essential, just as grease is necessary to wheels that they may run smoothly.
"My part is played out," said Prince Andrew. "What's the use of talking about me? Let us talk about you," he added after a silence, smiling at his reassuring thoughts.That smile was immediately reflected on Pierre's face.
"But what is there to say about me?" said Pierre, his face
relaxing into a careless, merry smile. "What am I? An illegitimate son!" He suddenly blushed crimson, and it was plain that he had made a great effort to say this. "Without a name and without means... And it really..." But he did not say what "it really" was. "For the present I am free and am all right. Only I haven't the least idea what I am to do; I wanted to consult you seriously."
"I am fond of you, especially as you are the one live man among our whole set. Yes, you're all right! Choose what you will; it's all the same. You'll be all right anywhere. But look here: give up visiting those Kuragins and leading that sort of life. It suits you so badly--all this debauchery, dissipation, and the rest of it!""What would you have, my dear fellow?" answered Pierre, shrugging his shoulders. "Women, my dear fellow; women!"
"I don't understand it," replied Prince Andrew. "Women who are comme il faut, that's a different matter; but the Kuragins' set of women, 'women and wine' I don't understand!"
Pierre was staying at Prince Vasili Kuragin's and sharing the dissipated life of his son Anatole, the son whom they were planning to reform by marrying him to Prince Andrew's sister.
"Do you know?" said Pierre, as if suddenly struck by a happy thought, "seriously, I have long been thinking of it.... Leading such a life I can't decide or think properly about anything. One's head aches, and one spends all one's money. He asked me for tonight, but I won't go.""You give me your word of honor not to go?" "On my honor!" CHAPTER IX
It was past one o'clock when Pierre left his friend. It was a cloudless, northern, summer night. Pierre took an open cab intending to drive straight home. But the nearer he drew to the house the more he felt the impossibility of going to sleep on such a night. It was light enough to see a long way in the deserted street and it seemed more like morning or evening than night. On the way Pierre remembered that Anatole Kuragin was expecting the usual set for cards that evening, after which there was generally a drinking bout, finishing with visits of a kind Pierre was very fond of.
"I should like to go to Kuragin's," thought he.
But he immediately recalled his promise to Prince Andrew not to go there. Then, as happens to people of weak character, he desired so passionately once more to enjoy that dissipation he was so accustomed to that he decided to go. The thought immediately occurred to him that his promise to Prince Andrew was of no account, because before he gave it he had already promised Prince Anatole to come to his gathering; "besides," thought he, "all such 'words of honor' are conventional things with no definite meaning, especially if one considers that by tomorrow one may be dead, or something so extraordinary may happen to one that honor and dishonor will be all the same!" Pierre often indulged in reflections of this sort, nullifying all his decisions and intentions. He went to Kuragin's.
Reaching the large house near the Horse Guards' barracks, in which Anatole lived, Pierre entered the lighted porch, ascended the stairs, and went in at the open door. There was no one in the anteroom; empty bottles, cloaks, and overshoes were lying about; there was a smell of alcohol, and sounds of voices and shouting in the distance.
Cards and supper were over, but the visitors had not yet
dispersed. Pierre threw off his cloak and entered the first room, in which were the remains of supper. A footman, thinking no one saw him, was drinking on the sly what was left in the glasses. From the third room came sounds of laughter, the shouting of familiar voices, the growling of a bear, and general commotion. Some eight or nine young men were crowding anxiously round an open window. Three others were romping with a young bear, one pulling him by the chain and trying to set him at the others.
"Jacob, bring a bottle!" shouted the host, a tall, handsome fellow who stood in the midst of the group, without a coat, and with his fine linen shirt unfastened in front. "Wait a bit, you fellows.... Here is Petya! Good man!" cried he, addressing Pierre.
Another voice, from a man of medium height with clear blue eyes, particularly striking among all these drunken voices by its sober ring, cried from the window: "Come here; part the bets!" This was Dolokhov, an officer of the Semenov regiment, a notorious gambler and duelist, who was living with Anatole. Pierre smiled, looking about him merrily."I don't understand. What's it all about?" "Wait a bit, he is not drunk yet! A bottle here," said Anatole, taking a glass from the table he went up to Pierre. "First of all you must drink!"
Pierre drank one glass after another, looking from under his brows at the tipsy guests who were again crowding round the window, and listening to their chatter. Anatole kept on refilling Pierre's glass while explaining that Dolokhov was betting with Stevens, an English naval officer, that he would drink a bottle of rum sitting on the outer ledge of the third floor window with his legs hanging out."Go on, you must drink it all," said Anatole, giving Pierre the last glass, "or I won't let you go!" "No, I won't," said Pierre, pushing Anatole aside, and he went up to the window.
Dolokhov was holding the Englishman's hand and clearly and distinctly repeating the terms of the bet, addressing himself particularly to Anatole and Pierre.
Dolokhov was of medium height, with curly hair and light-blue eyes. He was about twenty-five. Like all infantry officers he wore no mustache, so that his mouth, the most striking feature of his face, was clearly seen. The lines of that mouth were remarkably finely curved. The middle of the upper lip formed a sharp wedge and closed firmly on the firm lower one, and something like two distinct smiles played continually round the two corners of the mouth; this, together with the resolute, insolent intelligence of his eyes, produced an effect which made it impossible not to notice his face. Dolokhov was a man of small means and no connections. Yet, though Anatole spent tens of thousands of rubles, Dolokhov lived with him and had placed himself on such a footing that all who knew them, including Anatole himself, respected him more than they did Anatole. Dolokhov could play all games and nearly always won. However much he drank, he never lost his clearheadedness. Both Kuragin and Dolokhov were at that time notorious among the rakes and scapegraces of Petersburg.
The bottle of rum was brought. The window frame which prevented anyone from sitting on the outer sill was being forced out by two footmen, who were evidently flurried and intimidated by the directions and shouts of the gentlemen around.
Anatole with his swaggering air strode up to the window. He wanted to smash something. Pushing away the footmen he tugged at the frame, but could not move it. He smashed a pane.
"First-rate," said Pierre, looking at Dolokhov, who with a bottle of rum in his hand was approaching the window, from which the light of the sky, the dawn merging with the afterglow of sunset, was visible.
Dolokhov, the bottle of rum still in his hand, jumped onto the window sill. "Listen!" cried he, standing there and addressing those in the room. All were silent.
"I bet fifty imperials"--he spoke French that the Englishman might understand him, but he did, not speak it very well--"I bet fifty imperials... or do you wish to make it a hundred?" added he, addressing the Englishman."No, fifty," replied the latter.
"All right. Fifty imperials... that I will drink a whole bottle of rum without taking it from my mouth, sitting outside the window on this spot" (he stooped and pointed to the sloping ledge outside the window) "and without holding on to anything. Is that right?""Quite right," said the Englishman.
Anatole turned to the Englishman and taking him by one of the buttons of his coat and looking down at him--the Englishman was short- began repeating the terms of the wager to him in English.
"Wait!" cried Dolokhov, hammering with the bottle on the window sill to attract attention. "Wait a bit, Kuragin. Listen! If anyone else does the same, I will pay him a hundred imperials. Do you understand?"
The Englishman nodded, but gave no indication whether he intended to accept this challenge or not. Anatole did not release him, and though he kept nodding to show that he understood, Anatole went on translating Dolokhov's words into English. A thin young lad, an hussar of the Life Guards, who had been losing that evening, climbed on the window sill, leaned over, and looked down.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" he muttered, looking down from the window at the stones of the pavement.
Placing the bottle on the window sill where he could reach it easily, Dolokhov climbed carefully and slowly through the window and lowered his legs. Pressing against both sides of the window, he adjusted himself on his seat, lowered his hands, moved a little to the right and then to the left, and took up the bottle. Anatole brought two candles and placed them on the window sill, though it was already quite light. Dolokhov's back in his white shirt, and his curly head, were lit up from both sides. Everyone crowded to the window, the Englishman in front. Pierre stood smiling but silent. One man, older than the others present, suddenly pushed forward with a scared and angry look and wanted to seize hold of Dolokhov's shirt."I say, this is folly! He'll be killed," said this more sensible man. Anatole stopped him. "Don't touch him! You'll startle him and then he'll be killed. Eh?... What then?... Eh?" Dolokhov turned round and, again holding on with both hands, arranged himself on his seat.
"If anyone comes meddling again," said he, emitting the words separately through his thin compressed lips, "I will throw him down there. Now then!"
Saying this he again turned round, dropped his hands, took the bottle and lifted it to his lips, threw back his head, and raised his free hand to balance himself. One of the footmen who had stooped to pick up some broken glass remained in that position without taking his eyes from the window and from Dolokhov's back. Anatole stood erect with staring eyes. The Englishman looked on sideways, pursing up his lips. The man who had wished to stop the affair ran to a corner of the room and threw himself on a sofa with his face to the wall. Pierre hid his face, from which a faint smile forgot to fade though his features now expressed horror and fear. All were still. Pierre took his hands from his eyes. Dolokhov still sat in the same position, only his head was thrown further back till his curly hair touched his shirt collar, and the hand holding the bottle was lifted higher and higher and trembled with the effort. The bottle was emptying perceptibly and rising still higher and his head tilting yet further back. "Why is it so long?" thought Pierre. It seemed to him that more than half an hour had elapsed. Suddenly Dolokhov made a backward movement with his spine, and his arm trembled nervously; this was sufficient to cause his whole body to slip as he sat on the sloping ledge. As he began slipping down, his head and arm wavered still more with the strain. One hand moved as if to clutch the window sill, but refrained from touching it. Pierre again covered his eyes and thought he would never never them again. Suddenly he was aware of a stir all around. He looked up: Dolokhov was standing on the window sill, with a pale but radiant face."It's empty." He threw the bottle to the Englishman, who caught it neatly. Dolokhov jumped down. He smelt strongly of rum. "Well done!... Fine fellow!... There's a bet for you!... Devil take you!" came from different sides.
The Englishman took out his purse and began counting out the money. Dolokhov stood frowning and did not speak. Pierre jumped upon the window sill.
"Gentlemen, who wishes to bet with me? I'll do the same thing!" he suddenly cried. "Even without a bet, there! Tell them to bring me a bottle. I'll do it.... Bring a bottle!""Let him do it, let him do it," said Dolokhov, smiling. "What next? Have you gone mad?... No one would let you!... Why, you go giddy even on a staircase," exclaimed several voices.
"I'll drink it! Let's have a bottle of rum!" shouted Pierre, banging the table with a determined and drunken gesture and preparing to climb out of the window.They seized him by his arms; but he was so strong that everyone who touched him was sent flying.
"No, you'll never manage him that way," said Anatole. "Wait a bit and I'll get round him.... Listen! I'll take your bet tomorrow, but now we are all going to ----'s.""Come on then," cried Pierre. "Come on!... And we'll take Bruin with us." And he caught the bear, took it in his arms, lifted it from the ground, and began dancing round the room with it. CHAPTER X
Prince Vasili kept the promise he had given to Princess
Drubetskaya who had spoken to him on behalf of her only son Boris on the evening of Anna Pavlovna's soiree. The matter was mentioned to the Emperor, an exception made, and Boris transferred into the regiment of Semenov Guards with the rank of cornet. He received, however, no appointment to Kutuzov's staff despite all Anna Mikhaylovna's endeavors and entreaties. Soon after Anna Pavlovna's reception Anna Mikhaylovna returned to Moscow and went straight to her rich relations, the Rostovs, with whom she stayed when in the town and where her darling Bory, who had only just entered a regiment of the line and was being at once transferred to the Guards as a cornet, had been educated from childhood and lived for years at a time. The Guards had already left Petersburg on the tenth of August, and her son, who had remained in Moscow for his equipment, was to join them on the march to Radzivilov.
It was St. Natalia's day and the name day of two of the Rostovs--the mother and the youngest daughter--both named Nataly. Ever since the morning, carriages with six horses had been coming and going continually, bringing visitors to the Countess Rostova's big house on the Povarskaya, so well known to all Moscow. The countess herself and her handsome eldest daughter were in the drawing-room with the visitors who came to congratulate, and who constantly succeeded one another in relays.
The countess was a woman of about forty-five, with a thin Oriental type of face, evidently worn out with childbearing--she had had twelve. A languor of motion and speech, resulting from weakness, gave her a distinguished air which inspired respect. Princess Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya, who as a member of the household was also seated in the drawing room, helped to receive and entertain the visitors. The young people were in one of the inner rooms, not considering it necessary to take part in receiving the visitors. The count met the guests and saw them off, inviting them all to dinner.
"I am very, very grateful to you, mon cher," or "ma chere"--he called everyone without exception and without the slightest variation in his tone, "my dear," whether they were above or below him in rank--"I thank you for myself and for our two dear ones whose name day we are keeping. But mind you come to dinner or I shall be offended, ma chere! On behalf of the whole family I beg you to come, mon cher!" These words he repeated to everyone without exception or variation, and with the same expression on his full, cheerful, clean-shaven face, the same firm pressure of the hand and the same quick, repeated bows. As soon as he had seen a visitor off he returned to one of those who were still in the drawing room, drew a chair toward him or her, and jauntily spreading out his legs and putting his hands on his knees with the air of a man who enjoys life and knows how to live, he swayed to and fro with dignity, offered surmises about the weather, or touched on questions of health, sometimes in Russian and sometimes in very bad but self-confident French; then again, like a man weary but unflinching in the fulfillment of duty, he rose to see some visitors off and, stroking his scanty gray hairs over his bald patch, also asked them to dinner. Sometimes on his way back from the anteroom he would pass through the conservatory and pantry into the large marble dining hall, where tables were being set out for eighty people; and looking at the footmen, who were bringing in silver and china, moving tables, and unfolding damask table linen, he would call Dmitri Vasilevich, a man of good family and the manager of all his affairs, and while looking with pleasure at the enormous table would say: "Well, Dmitri, you'll see that things are all as they should be? That's right! The great thing is the serving, that's it." And with a complacent sigh he would return to the drawing room.
"Marya Lvovna Karagina and her daughter!" announced the countess' gigantic footman in his bass voice, entering the drawing room. The countess reflected a moment and took a pinch from a gold snuffbox with her husband's portrait on it.
"I'm quite worn out by these callers. However, I'll see her and no more. She is so affected. Ask her in," she said to the footman in a sad voice, as if saying: "Very well, finish me off."A tall, stout, and proud-looking woman, with a round-faced smiling daughter, entered the drawing room, their dresses rustling.
"Dear Countess, what an age... She has been laid up, poor child... at the Razumovski's ball... and Countess Apraksina... I was so delighted..." came the sounds of animated feminine voices, interrupting one another and mingling with the rustling of dresses and the scraping of chairs. Then one of those conversations began which last out until, at the first pause, the guests rise with a rustle of dresses and say, "I am so delighted... Mamma's health... and Countess Apraksina..." and then, again rustling, pass into the anteroom, put on cloaks or mantles, and drive away. The conversation was on the chief topic of the day: the illness of the wealthy and celebrated beau of Catherine's day, Count Bezukhov, and about his illegitimate son Pierre, the one who had behaved so improperly at Anna Pavlovna's reception.
"I am so sorry for the poor count," said the visitor. "He is in such bad health, and now this vexation about his son is enough to kill him!""What is that?" asked the countess as if she did not know what the visitor alluded to, though she had already heard about the cause of Count Bezukhov's distress some fifteen times.
"That's what comes of a modern education," exclaimed the visitor. "It seems that while he was abroad this young man was allowed to do as he liked, now in Petersburg I hear he has been doing such terrible things that he has been expelled by the police.""You don't say so!" replied the countess.
"He chose his friends badly," interposed Anna Mikhaylovna. "Prince Vasili's son, he, and a certain Dolokhov have, it is said, been up to heaven only knows what! And they have had to suffer for it. Dolokhov has been degraded to the ranks and Bezukhov's son sent back to Moscow. Anatole Kuragin's father managed somehow to get his son's affair hushed up, but even he was ordered out of Petersburg.""But what have they been up to?" asked the countess.
"They are regular brigands, especially Dolokhov," replied the visitor. "He is a son of Marya Ivanovna Dolokhova, such a worthy woman, but there, just fancy! Those three got hold of a bear somewhere, put it in a carriage, and set off with it to visit some actresses! The police tried to interfere, and what did the young men do? They tied a policeman and the bear back to back and put the bear into the Moyka Canal. And there was the bear swimming about with the policeman on his back!""What a nice figure the policeman must have cut, my dear!" shouted the count, dying with laughter. "Oh, how dreadful! How can you laugh at it, Count?" Yet the ladies themselves could not help laughing.
"It was all they could do to rescue the poor man," continued the visitor. "And to think it is Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov's son who amuses himself in this sensible manner! And he was said to be so well educated and clever. This is all that his foreign education has done for him! I hope that here in Moscow no one will receive him, in spite of his money. They wanted to introduce him to me, but I quite declined: I have my daughters to consider."
"Why do you say this young man is so rich?" asked the countess, turning away from the girls, who at once assumed an air of inattention. "His children are all illegitimate. I think Pierre also is illegitimate."The visitor made a gesture with her hand.
"I should think he has a score of them." Princess Anna Mikhaylovna intervened in the conversation, evidently wishing to show her connections and knowledge of what went on in society.
"The fact of the matter is," said she significantly, and also in a half whisper, "everyone knows Count Cyril's reputation.... He has lost count of his children, but this Pierre was his favorite.""How handsome the old man still was only a year ago!" remarked the countess. "I have never seen a handsomer man."
"He is very much altered now," said Anna Mikhaylovna. "Well, as I was saying, Prince Vasili is the next heir through his wife, but the count is very fond of Pierre, looked after his education, and wrote to the Emperor about him; so that in the case of his death--and he is so ill that he may die at any moment, and Dr. Lorrain has come from Petersburg--no one knows who will inherit his immense fortune, Pierre or Prince Vasili. Forty thousand serfs and millions of rubles! I know it all very well for Prince Vasili told me himself. Besides, Cyril Vladimirovich is my mother's second cousin. He's also my Bory's godfather," she added, as if she attached no importance at all to the fact."Prince Vasili arrived in Moscow yesterday. I hear he has come on some inspection business," remarked the visitor.
"Yes, but between ourselves," said the princess, "that is a pretext. The fact is he has come to see Count Cyril Vladimirovich, hearing how ill he is."
"But do you know, my dear, that was a capital joke," said the count; and seeing that the elder visitor was not listening, he turned to the young ladies. "I can just imagine what a funny figure that policeman cut!"
And as he waved his arms to impersonate the policeman, his portly form again shook with a deep ringing laugh, the laugh of one who always eats well and, in particular, drinks well. "So do come and dine with us!" he said.CHAPTER XI
Silence ensued. The countess looked at her callers, smiling affably, but not concealing the fact that she would not be distressed if they now rose and took their leave. The visitor's daughter was already smoothing down her dress with an inquiring look at her mother, when suddenly from the next room were heard the footsteps of boys and girls running to the door and the noise of a chair falling over, and a girl of thirteen, hiding something in the folds of her short muslin frock, darted in and stopped short in the middle of the room. It was evident that she had not intended her flight to bring her so far. Behind her in the doorway appeared a student with a crimson coat collar, an officer of the Guards, a girl of fifteen, and a plump rosy-faced boy in a short jacket.The count jumped up and, swaying from side to side, spread his arms wide and threw them round the little girl who had run in. "Ah, here she is!" he exclaimed laughing. "My pet, whose name day it is. My dear pet!"
"Ma chere, there is a time for everything," said the countess with feigned severity. "You spoil her, Ilya," she added, turning to her husband.
"How do you do, my dear? I wish you many happy returns of your name day," said the visitor. "What a charming child," she added, addressing the mother.
This black-eyed, wide-mouthed girl, not pretty but full of life- with childish bare shoulders which after her run heaved and shook her bodice, with black curls tossed backward, thin bare arms, little legs in lace-frilled drawers, and feet in low slippers--was just at that charming age when a girl is no longer a child, though the child is not yet a young woman. Escaping from her father she ran to hide her flushed face in the lace of her mother's mantilla--not paying the least attention to her severe remark--and began to laugh. She laughed, and in fragmentary sentences tried to explain about a doll which she produced from the folds of her frock.
"Do you see?... My doll... Mimi... You see..." was all Natasha managed to utter (to her everything seemed funny). She leaned against her mother and burst into such a loud, ringing fit of laughter that even the prim visitor could not help joining in.
"Now then, go away and take your monstrosity with you," said the mother, pushing away her daughter with pretended sternness, and turning to the visitor she added: "She is my youngest girl."Natasha, raising her face for a moment from her mother's mantilla, glanced up at her through tears of laughter, and again hid her face.
The visitor, compelled to look on at this family scene, thought it necessary to take some part in it.
"Tell me, my dear," said she to Natasha, "is Mimi a relation of yours? A daughter, I suppose?"
Meanwhile the younger generation: Boris, the officer, Anna Mikhaylovna's son; Nicholas, the undergraduate, the count's eldest son; Sonya, the count's fifteen-year-old niece, and little Petya, his youngest boy, had all settled down in the drawing room and were obviously trying to restrain within the bounds of decorum the excitement and mirth that shone in all their faces. Evidently in the back rooms, from which they had dashed out so impetuously, the conversation had been more amusing than the drawing-room talk of society scandals, the weather, and Countess Apraksina. Now and then they glanced at one another, hardly able to suppress their laughter.
The two young men, the student and the officer, friends from childhood, were of the same age and both handsome fellows, though not alike. Boris was tall and fair, and his calm and handsome face had regular, delicate features. Nicholas was short with curly hair and an open expression. Dark hairs were already showing on his upper lip, and his whole face expressed impetuosity and enthusiasm. Nicholas blushed when he entered the drawing room. He evidently tried to find something to say, but failed. Boris on the contrary at once found his footing, and related quietly and humorously how he had know that doll Mimi when she was still quite a young lady, before her nose was broken; how she had aged during the five years he had known her, and how her head had cracked right across the skull. Having said this he glanced at Natasha. She turned away from him and glanced at her younger brother, who was screwing up his eyes and shaking with suppressed laughter, and unable to control herself any longer, she jumped up and rushed from the room as fast as her nimble little feet would carry her. Boris did not laugh."You were meaning to go out, weren't you, Mamma? Do you want the carriage?" he asked his mother with a smile. "Yes, yes, go and tell them to get it ready," she answered, returning his smile.
Boris quietly left the room and went in search of Natasha. The plump boy ran after them angrily, as if vexed that their program had been disturbed.
The only young people remaining in the drawing room, not counting the young lady visitor and the countess' eldest daughter (who was four years older than her sister and behaved already like a grown-up person), were Nicholas and Sonya, the niece. Sonya was a slender little brunette with a tender look in her eyes which were veiled by long lashes, thick black plaits coiling twice round her head, and a tawny tint in her complexion and especially in the color of her slender but graceful and muscular arms and neck. By the grace of her movements, by the softness and flexibility of her small limbs, and by a certain coyness and reserve of manner, she reminded one of a pretty, half-grown kitten which promises to become a beautiful little cat. She evidently considered it proper to show an interest in the general conversation by smiling, but in spite of herself her eyes under their thick long lashes watched her cousin who was going to join the army, with such passionate girlish adoration that her smile could not for a single instant impose upon anyone, and it was clear that the kitten had settled down only to spring up with more energy and again play with her cousin as soon as they too could, like Natasha and Boris, escape from the drawing room.
"Ah yes, my dear," said the count, addressing the visitor and pointing to Nicholas, "his friend Boris has become an officer, and so for friendship's sake he is leaving the university and me, his old father, and entering the military service, my dear. And there was a place and everything waiting for him in the Archives Department! Isn't that friendship?" remarked the count in an inquiring tone."But they say that war has been declared," replied the visitor.
"They've been saying so a long while," said the count, "and they'll say so again and again, and that will be the end of it. My dear, there's friendship for you," he repeated. "He's joining the hussars."The visitor, not knowing what to say, shook her head.
"It's not at all from friendship," declared Nicholas, flaring up and turning away as if from a shameful aspersion. "It is not from friendship at all; I simply feel that the army is my vocation."He glanced at his cousin and the young lady visitor; and they were both regarding him with a smile of approbation.
"Schubert, the colonel of the Pavlograd Hussars, is dining with us today. He has been here on leave and is taking Nicholas back with him. It can't be helped!" said the count, shrugging his shoulders and speaking playfully of a matter that evidently distressed him. "I have already told you, Papa," said his son, "that if you don't wish to let me go, I'll stay. But I know I am no use anywhere except in the army; I am not a diplomat or a government clerk.--I don't know how to hide what I feel." As he spoke he kept glancing with the flirtatiousness of a handsome youth at Sonya and the young lady visitor.The little kitten, feasting her eyes on him, seemed ready at any moment to start her gambols again and display her kittenish nature.
"All right, all right!" said the old count. "He always flares up! This Buonaparte has turned all their heads; they all think of how he rose from an ensign and became Emperor. Well, well, God grant it," he added, not noticing his visitor's sarcastic smile.The elders began talking about Bonaparte. Julie Karagina turned to young Rostov. "What a pity you weren't at the Arkharovs' on Thursday. It was so dull without you," said she, giving him a tender smile.
The young man, flattered, sat down nearer to her with a coquettish smile, and engaged the smiling Julie in a confidential conversation without at all noticing that his involuntary smile had stabbed the heart of Sonya, who blushed and smiled unnaturally. In the midst of his talk he glanced round at her. She gave him a passionately angry glance, and hardly able to restrain her tears and maintain the artificial smile on her lips, she got up and left the room. All Nicholas' animation vanished. He waited for the first pause in the conversation, and then with a distressed face left the room to find Sonya.
"How plainly all these young people wear their hearts on their sleeves!" said Anna Mikhaylovna, pointing to Nicholas as he went out. "Cousinage--dangereux voisinage;"* she added.*Cousinhood is a dangerous neighborhood.
"Yes," said the countess when the brightness these young people had brought into the room had vanished; and as if answering a question no one had put but which was always in her mind, "and how much suffering, how much anxiety one has had to go through that we might rejoice in them now! And yet really the anxiety is greater now than the joy. One is always, always anxious! Especially just at this age, so dangerous both for girls and boys."
"It all depends on the bringing up," remarked the visitor. "Yes, you're quite right," continued the countess. "Till now I have always, thank God, been my children's friend and had their full confidence," said she, repeating the mistake of so many parents who imagine that their children have no secrets from them. "I know I shall always be my daughters' first confidante, and that if Nicholas, with his impulsive nature, does get into mischief (a boy can't help it), he will all the same never be like those Petersburg young men."
"Yes, they are splendid, splendid youngsters," chimed in the count, who always solved questions that seemed to him perplexing by deciding that everything was splendid. "Just fancy: wants to be an hussar. What's one to do, my dear?""What a charming creature your younger girl is," said the visitor; "a little volcano!"
"Yes, a regular volcano," said the count. "Takes after me! And what a voice she has; though she's my daughter, I tell the truth when I say she'll be a singer, a second Salomoni! We have engaged an Italian to give her lessons.""Isn't she too young? I have heard that it harms the voice to train it at that age." "Oh no, not at all too young!" replied the count. "Why, our mothers used to be married at twelve or thirteen."
"And she's in love with Boris already. Just fancy!" said the countess with a gentle smile, looking at Boris' and went on, evidently concerned with a thought that always occupied her: "Now you see if I were to be severe with her and to forbid it... goodness knows what they might be up to on the sly" (she meant that they would be kissing), "but as it is, I know every word she utters. She will come running to me of her own accord in the evening and tell me everything. Perhaps I spoil her, but really that seems the best plan. With her elder sister I was stricter.""Yes, I was brought up quite differently," remarked the handsome elder daughter, Countess Vera, with a smile.
But the smile did not enhance Vera's beauty as smiles generally do; on the contrary it gave her an unnatural, and therefore unpleasant, expression. Vera was good-looking, not at all stupid, quick at learning, was well brought up, and had a pleasant voice; what she said was true and appropriate, yet, strange to say, everyone- the visitors and countess alike--turned to look at her as if wondering why she had said it, and they all felt awkward."People are always too clever with their eldest children and try to make something exceptional of them," said the visitor.
"What's the good of denying it, my dear? Our dear countess was too clever with Vera," said the count. "Well, what of that? She's turned out splendidly all the same," he added, winking at Vera.The guests got up and took their leave, promising to return to dinner. "What manners! I thought they would never go," said the countess, when she had seen her guests out. CHAPTER XIII
When Natasha ran out of the drawing room she only went as far as the conservatory. There she paused and stood listening to the conversation in the drawing room, waiting for Boris to come out. She was already growing impatient, and stamped her foot, ready to cry at his not coming at once, when she heard the young man's discreet steps approaching neither quickly nor slowly. At this Natasha dashed swiftly among the flower tubs and hid there.
Boris paused in the middle of the room, looked round, brushed a little dust from the sleeve of his uniform, and going up to a mirror examined his handsome face. Natasha, very still, peered out from her ambush, waiting to see what he would do. He stood a little while before the glass, smiled, and walked toward the other door. Natasha was about to call him but changed her mind. "Let him look for me," thought she. Hardly had Boris gone than Sonya, flushed, in tears, and muttering angrily, came in at the other door. Natasha checked her first impulse to run out to her, and remained in her hiding place, watching--as under an invisible cap--to see what went on in the world. She was experiencing a new and peculiar pleasure. Sonya, muttering to herself, kept looking round toward the drawing-room door. It opened and Nicholas came in."Sonya, what is the matter with you? How can you?" said he, running up to her. "It's nothing, nothing; leave me alone!" sobbed Sonya. "Ah, I know what it is."
"Well, if you do, so much the better, and you can go back to her!" "So-o-onya! Look here! How can you torture me and yourself like that, for a mere fancy?" said Nicholas taking her hand.
Sonya did not pull it away, and left off crying. Natasha, not stirring and scarcely breathing, watched from her ambush with sparkling eyes. "What will happen now?" thought she."Sonya! What is anyone in the world to me? You alone are everything!" said Nicholas. "And I will prove it to you." "I don't like you to talk like that." "Well, then, I won't; only forgive me, Sonya!" He drew her to him and kissed her. "Oh, how nice," thought Natasha; and when Sonya and Nicholas had gone out of the conservatory she followed and called Boris to her.
"Boris, come here," said she with a sly and significant look. "I have something to tell you. Here, here!" and she led him into the conservatory to the place among the tubs where she had been hiding.Boris followed her, smiling. "What is the something?" asked he. She grew confused, glanced round, and, seeing the doll she had thrown down on one of the tubs, picked it up. "Kiss the doll," said she. Boris looked attentively and kindly at her eager face, but did not reply.
"Don't you want to? Well, then, come here," said she, and went further in among the plants and threw down the doll. "Closer, closer!" she whispered.She caught the young officer by his cuffs, and a look of solemnity and fear appeared on her flushed face.
"And me? Would you like to kiss me?" she whispered almost inaudibly, glancing up at him from under her brows, smiling, and almost crying from excitement.Boris blushed.
"How funny you are!" he said, bending down to her and blushing still more, but he waited and did nothing.
Suddenly she jumped up onto a tub to be higher than he, embraced him so that both her slender bare arms clasped him above his neck, and, tossing back her hair, kissed him full on the lips.
After receiving her visitors, the countess was so tired that she gave orders to admit no more, but the porter was told to be sure to invite to dinner all who came "to congratulate." The countess wished to have a tete-a-tete talk with the friend of her childhood, Princess Anna Mikhaylovna, whom she had not seen properly since she returned from Petersburg. Anna Mikhaylovna, with her tear-worn but pleasant face, drew her chair nearer to that of the countess.
"With you I will be quite frank," said Anna Mikhaylovna. "There are not many left of us old friends! That's why I so value your friendship."
Anna Mikhaylovna looked at Vera and paused. The countess pressed her friend's hand.
"Vera," she said to her eldest daughter who was evidently not a favorite, "how is it you have so little tact? Don't you see you are not wanted here? Go to the other girls, or..."
But as she passed the sitting room she noticed two couples sitting, one pair at each window. She stopped and smiled scornfully. Sonya was sitting close to Nicholas who was copying out some verses for her, the first he had ever written. Boris and Natasha were at the other window and ceased talking when Vera entered. Sonya and Natasha looked at Vera with guilty, happy faces.It was pleasant and touching to see these little girls in love; but apparently the sight of them roused no pleasant feeling in Vera. "How often have I asked you not to take my things?" she said. "You have a room of your own," and she took the inkstand from Nicholas. "In a minute, in a minute," he said, dipping his pen.
"You always manage to do things at the wrong time," continued Vera. "You came rushing into the drawing room so that everyone felt ashamed of you."
Though what she said was quite just, perhaps for that very reason no one replied, and the four simply looked at one another. She lingered in the room with the inkstand in her hand."And at your age what secrets can there be between Natasha and Boris, or between you two? It's all nonsense!" "Now, Vera, what does it matter to you?" said Natasha in defense, speaking very gently. She seemed that day to be more than ever kind and affectionate to everyone. "Very silly," said Vera. "I am ashamed of you. Secrets indeed!" "All have secrets of their own," answered Natasha, getting warmer. "We don't interfere with you and Berg."
"I should think not," said Vera, "because there can never be anything wrong in my behavior. But I'll just tell Mamma how you are behaving with Boris."
"Natalya Ilynichna behaves very well to me," remarked Boris. "I have nothing to complain of."
"Don't, Boris! You are such a diplomat that it is really
tiresome," said Natasha in a mortified voice that trembled slightly. (She used the word "diplomat," which was just then much in vogue among the children, in the special sense they attached to it.) "Why does she bother me?" And she added, turning to Vera, "You'll never understand it, because you've never loved anyone. You have no heart! You are a Madame de Genlis and nothing more" (this nickname, bestowed on Vera by Nicholas, was considered very stinging), "and your greatest pleasure is to be unpleasant to people! Go and flirt with Berg as much as you please," she finished quickly.
"Well, now you've done what you wanted," put in Nicholas--"said unpleasant things to everyone and upset them. Let's go to the nursery."All four, like a flock of scared birds, got up and left the room. "The unpleasant things were said to me," remarked Vera, "I said none to anyone." "Madame de Genlis! Madame de Genlis!" shouted laughing voices through the door.
The handsome Vera, who produced such an irritating and unpleasant effect on everyone, smiled and, evidently unmoved by what had been said to her, went to the looking glass and arranged her hair and scarf. Looking at her own handsome face she seemed to become still colder and calmer.In the drawing room the conversation was still going on.
"Ah, my dear," said the countess, "my life is not all roses either. Don't I know that at the rate we are living our means won't last long? It's all the Club and his easygoing nature. Even in the country do we get any rest? Theatricals, hunting, and heaven knows what besides! But don't let's talk about me; tell me how you managed everything. I often wonder at you, Annette--how at your age you can rush off alone in a carriage to Moscow, to Petersburg, to those ministers and great people, and know how to deal with them all! It's quite astonishing. How did you get things settled? I couldn't possibly do it."
"Ah, my love," answered Anna Mikhaylovna, "God grant you never know what it is to be left a widow without means and with a son you love to distraction! One learns many things then," she added with a certain pride. "That lawsuit taught me much. When I want to see one of those big people I write a note: 'Princess So-and-So desires an interview with So and-So,' and then I take a cab and go myself two, three, or four times--till I get what I want. I don't mind what they think of me."
"Well, and to whom did you apply about Bory?" asked the countess. "You see yours is already an officer in the Guards, while my Nicholas is going as a cadet. There's no one to interest himself for him. To whom did you apply?"
"To Prince Vasili. He was so kind. He at once agreed to
everything, and put the matter before the Emperor," said Princess Anna Mikhaylovna enthusiastically, quite forgetting all the humiliation she had endured to gain her end.
"Has Prince Vasili aged much?" asked the countess. "I have not seen him since we acted together at the Rumyantsovs' theatricals. I expect he has forgotten me. He paid me attentions in those days," said the countess, with a smile.
"He is just the same as ever," replied Anna Mikhaylovna, "overflowing with amiability. His position has not turned his head at all. He said to me, 'I am sorry I can do so little for you, dear Princess. I am at your command.' Yes, he is a fine fellow and a very kind relation. But, Nataly, you know my love for my son: I would do anything for his happiness! And my affairs are in such a bad way that my position is now a terrible one," continued Anna Mikhaylovna, sadly, dropping her voice. "My wretched lawsuit takes all I have and makes no progress. Would you believe it, I have literally not a penny and don't know how to equip Boris." She took out her handkerchief and began to cry. "I need five hundred rubles, and have only one twenty-five-ruble note. I am in such a state.... My only hope now is in Count Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov. If he will not assist his godson--you know he is Bory's godfather--and allow him something for his maintenance, all my trouble will have been thrown away.... I shall not be able to equip him."The countess' eyes filled with tears and she pondered in silence.
"I often think, though, perhaps it's a sin," said the princess, "that here lives Count Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov so rich, all alone... that tremendous fortune... and what is his life worth? It's a burden to him, and Bory's life is only just beginning....""Surely he will leave something to Boris," said the countess.
"Heaven only knows, my dear! These rich grandees are so selfish. Still, I will take Boris and go to see him at once, and I shall speak to him straight out. Let people think what they will of me, it's really all the same to me when my son's fate is at stake." The princess rose. "It's now two o'clock and you dine at four. There will just be time."
And like a practical Petersburg lady who knows how to make the most of time, Anna Mikhaylovna sent someone to call her son, and went into the anteroom with him.
"Good-by, my dear," said she to the countess who saw her to the door, and added in a whisper so that her son should not hear, "Wish me good luck."
"Are you going to Count Cyril Vladimirovich, my dear?" said the count coming out from the dining hall into the anteroom, and he added: "If he is better, ask Pierre to dine with us. He has been to the house, you know, and danced with the children. Be sure to invite him, my dear. We will see how Taras distinguishes himself today. He says Count Orlov never gave such a dinner as ours will be!"CHAPTER XV
"My dear Boris," said Princess Anna Mikhaylovna to her son as Countess Rostova's carriage in which they were seated drove over the straw covered street and turned into the wide courtyard of Count Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov's house. "My dear Boris," said the mother, drawing her hand from beneath her old mantle and laying it timidly and tenderly on her son's arm, "be affectionate and attentive to him. Count Cyril Vladimirovich is your godfather after all, your future depends on him. Remember that, my dear, and be nice to him, as you so well know how to be."
"If only I knew that anything besides humiliation would come of it..." answered her son coldly. "But I have promised and will do it for your sake."
Although the hall porter saw someone's carriage standing at the entrance, after scrutinizing the mother and son (who without asking to be announced had passed straight through the glass porch between the rows of statues in niches) and looking significantly at the lady's old cloak, he asked whether they wanted the count or the princesses, and, hearing that they wished to see the count, said his excellency was worse today, and that his excellency was not receiving anyone.
"We may as well go back," said the son in French. "My dear!" exclaimed his mother imploringly, again laying her hand on his arm as if that touch might soothe or rouse him.Boris said no more, but looked inquiringly at his mother without taking off his cloak.
"My friend," said Anna Mikhaylovna in gentle tones, addressing the hall porter, "I know Count Cyril Vladimirovich is very ill... that's why I have come... I am a relation. I shall not disturb him, my friend... I only need see Prince Vasili Sergeevich: he is staying here, is he not? Please announce me."The hall porter sullenly pulled a bell that rang upstairs, and turned away.
"Princess Drubetskaya to see Prince Vasili Sergeevich," he called to a footman dressed in knee breeches, shoes, and a swallow-tail coat, who ran downstairs and looked over from the halfway landing.
The mother smoothed the folds of her dyed silk dress before a large Venetian mirror in the wall, and in her trodden-down shoes briskly ascended the carpeted stairs."My dear," she said to her son, once more stimulating him by a touch, "you promised me!" The son, lowering his eyes, followed her quietly. They entered the large hall, from which one of the doors led to the apartments assigned to Prince Vasili.
Just as the mother and son, having reached the middle of the hall, were about to ask their way of an elderly footman who had sprung up as they entered, the bronze handle of one of the doors turned and Prince Vasili came out--wearing a velvet coat with a single star on his breast, as was his custom when at home--taking leave of a good-looking, dark-haired man. This was the celebrated Petersburg doctor, Lorrain."Then it is certain?" said the prince. "Prince, humanum est errare,* but..." replied the doctor, swallowing his r's, and pronouncing the Latin words with a French accent. *To err is human.
"Very well, very well..." Seeing Anna Mikhaylovna and her son, Prince Vasili dismissed the doctor with a bow and approached them silently and with a look of inquiry. The son noticed that an expression of profound sorrow suddenly clouded his mother's face, and he smiled slightly.
"Ah, Prince! In what sad circumstances we meet again! And how is our dear invalid?" said she, as though unaware of the cold offensive look fixed on her.
Prince Vasili stared at her and at Boris questioningly and perplexed. Boris bowed politely. Prince Vasili without acknowledging the bow turned to Anna Mikhaylovna, answering her query by a movement of the head and lips indicating very little hope for the patient.
"Is it possible?" exclaimed Anna Mikhaylovna. "Oh, how awful! It is terrible to think.... This is my son," she added, indicating Boris. "He wanted to thank you himself."Boris bowed again politely. "Believe me, Prince, a mother's heart will never forget what you have done for us."
"I am glad I was able to do you a service, my dear Anna
Mikhaylovna," said Prince Vasili, arranging his lace frill, and in tone and manner, here in Moscow to Anna Mikhaylovna whom he had placed under an obligation, assuming an air of much greater importance than he had done in Petersburg at Anna Scherer's reception.
"Try to serve well and show yourself worthy," added he, addressing Boris with severity. "I am glad.... Are you here on leave?" he went on in his usual tone of indifference.
"I am awaiting orders to join my new regiment, your excellency," replied Boris, betraying neither annoyance at the prince's brusque manner nor a desire to enter into conversation, but speaking so quietly and respectfully that the prince gave him a searching glance."Are you living with your mother?" "I am living at Countess Rostova's," replied Boris, again adding, "your excellency." "That is, with Ilya Rostov who married Nataly Shinshina," said Anna Mikhaylovna.
"I know, I know," answered Prince Vasili in his monotonous voice. "I never could understand how Nataly made up her mind to marry that unlicked bear! A perfectly absurd and stupid fellow, and a gambler too, I am told."
"But a very kind man, Prince," said Anna Mikhaylovna with a pathetic smile, as though she too knew that Count Rostov deserved this censure, but asked him not to be too hard on the poor old man. "What do the doctors say?" asked the princess after a pause, her worn face again expressing deep sorrow."They give little hope," replied the prince.
"And I should so like to thank Uncle once for all his kindness to me and Boris. He is his godson," she added, her tone suggesting that this fact ought to give Prince Vasili much satisfaction.
Prince Vasili became thoughtful and frowned. Anna Mikhaylovna saw that he was afraid of finding in her a rival for Count Bezukhov's fortune, and hastened to reassure him.
"If it were not for my sincere affection and devotion to Uncle," said she, uttering the word with peculiar assurance and unconcern, "I know his character: noble, upright... but you see he has no one with him except the young princesses.... They are still young...." She bent her head and continued in a whisper: "Has he performed his final duty, Prince? How priceless are those last moments! It can make things no worse, and it is absolutely necessary to prepare him if he is so ill. We women, Prince," and she smiled tenderly, "always know how to say these things. I absolutely must see him, however painful it may be for me. I am used to suffering."
Evidently the prince understood her, and also understood, as he had done at Anna Pavlovna's, that it would be difficult to get rid of Anna Mikhaylovna.
"Would not such a meeting be too trying for him, dear Anna Mikhaylovna?" said he. "Let us wait until evening. The doctors are expecting a crisis."
"But one cannot delay, Prince, at such a moment! Consider that the welfare of his soul is at stake. Ah, it is awful: the duties of a Christian..."
A door of one of the inner rooms opened and one of the princesses, the count's niece, entered with a cold, stern face. The length of her body was strikingly out of proportion to her short legs. Prince Vasili turned to her."Well, how is he?" "Still the same; but what can you expect, this noise..." said the princess, looking at Anna Mikhaylovna as at a stranger.
"Ah, my dear, I hardly knew you," said Anna Mikhaylovna with a happy smile, ambling lightly up to the count's niece. "I have come, and am at your service to help you nurse my uncle. I imagine what you have gone through," and she sympathetically turned up her eyes.
The princess gave no reply and did not even smile, but left the room as Anna Mikhaylovna took off her gloves and, occupying the position she had conquered, settled down in an armchair, inviting Prince Vasili to take a seat beside her.
"Boris," she said to her son with a smile, "I shall go in to see the count, my uncle; but you, my dear, had better go to Pierre meanwhile and don't forget to give him the Rostovs' invitation. They ask him to dinner. I suppose he won't go?" she continued, turning to the prince.
"On the contrary," replied the prince, who had plainly become depressed, "I shall be only too glad if you relieve me of that young man.... Here he is, and the count has not once asked for him."He shrugged his shoulders. A footman conducted Boris down one flight of stairs and up another, to Pierre's rooms. CHAPTER XVI
Pierre, after all, had not managed to choose a career for himself in Petersburg, and had been expelled from there for riotous conduct and sent to Moscow. The story told about him at Count Rostov's was true. Pierre had taken part in tying a policeman to a bear. He had now been for some days in Moscow and was staying as usual at his father's house. Though he expected that the story of his escapade would be already known in Moscow and that the ladies about his father- who were never favorably disposed toward him--would have used it to turn the count against him, he nevertheless on the day of his arrival went to his father's part of the house. Entering the drawing room, where the princesses spent most of their time, he greeted the ladies, two of whom were sitting at embroidery frames while a third read aloud. It was the eldest who was reading--the one who had met Anna Mikhaylovna. The two younger ones were embroidering: both were rosy and pretty and they differed only in that one had a little mole on her lip which made her much prettier. Pierre was received as if he were a corpse or a leper. The eldest princess paused in her reading and silently stared at him with frightened eyes; the second assumed precisely the same expression; while the youngest, the one with the mole, who was of a cheerful and lively disposition, bent over her frame to hide a smile probably evoked by the amusing scene she foresaw. She drew her wool down through the canvas and, scarcely able to refrain from laughing, stooped as if trying to make out the pattern."How do you do, cousin?" said Pierre. "You don't recognize me?" "I recognize you only too well, too well." "How is the count? Can I see him?" asked Pierre, awkwardly as usual, but unabashed. "The count is suffering physically and mentally, and apparently you have done your best to increase his mental sufferings." "Can I see the count?" Pierre again asked.
"Hm.... If you wish to kill him, to kill him outright, you can see him... Olga, go and see whether Uncle's beef tea is ready--it is almost time," she added, giving Pierre to understand that they were busy, and busy making his father comfortable, while evidently he, Pierre, was only busy causing him annoyance.
Olga went out. Pierre stood looking at the sisters; then he bowed and said: "Then I will go to my rooms. You will let me know when I can see him."And he left the room, followed by the low but ringing laughter of the sister with the mole.
Next day Prince Vasili had arrived and settled in the count's house. He sent for Pierre and said to him: "My dear fellow, if you are going to behave here as you did in Petersburg, you will end very badly; that is all I have to say to you. The count is very, very ill, and you must not see him at all."Since then Pierre had not been disturbed and had spent the whole time in his rooms upstairs.
When Boris appeared at his door Pierre was pacing up and down his room, stopping occasionally at a corner to make menacing gestures at the wall, as if running a sword through an invisible foe, and glaring savagely over his spectacles, and then again resuming his walk, muttering indistinct words, shrugging his shoulders and gesticulating.
"England is done for," said he, scowling and pointing his finger at someone unseen. "Mr. Pitt, as a traitor to the nation and to the rights of man, is sentenced to..." But before Pierre--who at that moment imagined himself to be Napoleon in person and to have just effected the dangerous crossing of the Straits of Dover and captured London--could pronounce Pitt's sentence, he saw a well-built and handsome young officer entering his room. Pierre paused. He had left Moscow when Boris was a boy of fourteen, and had quite forgotten him, but in his usual impulsive and hearty way he took Boris by the hand with a friendly smile.
"Do you remember me?" asked Boris quietly with a pleasant smile. "I have come with my mother to see the count, but it seems he is not well.""Yes, it seems he is ill. People are always disturbing him," answered Pierre, trying to remember who this young man was.
Boris felt that Pierre did not recognize him but did not consider it necessary to introduce himself, and without experiencing the least embarrassment looked Pierre straight in the face."Count Rostov asks you to come to dinner today," said he, after a considerable pause which made Pierre feel uncomfortable.
"Ah, Count Rostov!" exclaimed Pierre joyfully. "Then you are his son, Ilya? Only fancy, I didn't know you at first. Do you remember how we went to the Sparrow Hills with Madame Jacquot?... It's such an age..."
"You are mistaken," said Boris deliberately, with a bold and slightly sarcastic smile. "I am Boris, son of Princess Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya. Rostov, the father, is Ilya, and his son is Nicholas. I never knew any Madame Jacquot."Pierre shook his head and arms as if attacked by mosquitoes or bees.
"Oh dear, what am I thinking about? I've mixed everything up. One has so many relatives in Moscow! So you are Boris? Of course. Well, now we know where we are. And what do you think of the Boulogne expedition? The English will come off badly, you know, if Napoleon gets across the Channel. I think the expedition is quite feasible. If only Villeneuve doesn't make a mess of things!"Boris knew nothing about the Boulogne expedition; he did not read the papers and it was the first time he had heard Villeneuve's name.
"We here in Moscow are more occupied with dinner parties and scandal than with politics," said he in his quiet ironical tone. "I know nothing about it and have not thought about it. Moscow is chiefly busy with gossip," he continued. "Just now they are talking about you and your father."
Pierre smiled in his good-natured way as if afraid for his companion's sake that the latter might say something he would afterwards regret. But Boris spoke distinctly, clearly, and dryly, looking straight into Pierre's eyes.
"Moscow has nothing else to do but gossip," Boris went on. "Everybody is wondering to whom the count will leave his fortune, though he may perhaps outlive us all, as I sincerely hope he will...""Yes, it is all very horrid," interrupted Pierre, "very horrid." Pierre was still afraid that this officer might inadvertently say something disconcerting to himself.
"And it must seem to you," said Boris flushing slightly, but not changing his tone or attitude, "it must seem to you that everyone is trying to get something out of the rich man?""So it does," thought Pierre.
"But I just wish to say, to avoid misunderstandings, that you are quite mistaken if you reckon me or my mother among such people. We are very poor, but for my own part at any rate, for the very reason that your father is rich, I don't regard myself as a relation of his, and neither I nor my mother would ever ask or take anything from him."
For a long time Pierre could not understand, but when he did, he jumped up from the sofa, seized Boris under the elbow in his quick, clumsy way, and, blushing far more than Boris, began to speak with a feeling of mingled shame and vexation."Well, this is strange! Do you suppose I... who could think?... I know very well..." But Boris again interrupted him.
"I am glad I have spoken out fully. Perhaps you did not like it? You must excuse me," said he, putting Pierre at ease instead of being put at ease by him, "but I hope I have not offended you. I always make it a rule to speak out... Well, what answer am I to take? Will you come to dinner at the Rostovs'?"
And Boris, having apparently relieved himself of an onerous duty and extricated himself from an awkward situation and placed another in it, became quite pleasant again.
"No, but I say," said Pierre, calming down, "you are a wonderful fellow! What you have just said is good, very good. Of course you don't know me. We have not met for such a long time... not since we were children. You might think that I... I understand, quite understand. I could not have done it myself, I should not have had the courage, but it's splendid. I am very glad to have made your acquaintance. It's queer," he added after a pause, "that you should have suspected me!" He began to laugh. "Well, what of it! I hope we'll get better acquainted," and he pressed Boris' hand. "Do you know, I have not once been in to see the count. He has not sent for me.... I am sorry for him as a man, but what can one do?""And so you think Napoleon will manage to get an army across?" asked Boris with a smile.
Pierre saw that Boris wished to change the subject, and being of the same mind he began explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the Boulogne expedition.
A footman came in to summon Boris--the princess was going. Pierre, in order to make Boris' better acquaintance, promised to come to dinner, and warmly pressing his hand looked affectionately over his spectacles into Boris' eyes. After he had gone Pierre continued pacing up and down the room for a long time, no longer piercing an imaginary foe with his imaginary sword, but smiling at the remembrance of that pleasant, intelligent, and resolute young man.
As often happens in early youth, especially to one who leads a lonely life, he felt an unaccountable tenderness for this young man and made up his mind that they would be friends.Prince Vasili saw the princess off. She held a handkerchief to her eyes and her face was tearful.
"It is dreadful, dreadful!" she was saying, "but cost me what it may I shall do my duty. I will come and spend the night. He must not be left like this. Every moment is precious. I can't think why his nieces put it off. Perhaps God will help me to find a way to prepare him!... Adieu, Prince! May God support you...""Adieu, ma bonne," answered Prince Vasili turning away from her. "Oh, he is in a dreadful state," said the mother to her son when they were in the carriage. "He hardly recognizes anybody." "I don't understand, Mamma--what is his attitude to Pierre?" asked the son. "The will will show that, my dear; our fate also depends on it." "But why do you expect that he will leave us anything?" "Ah, my dear! He is so rich, and we are so poor!" "Well, that is hardly a sufficient reason, Mamma..." "Oh, Heaven! How ill he is!" exclaimed the mother. CHAPTER XVII
After Anna Mikhaylovna had driven off with her son to visit Count Cyril Vladimirovich Bezukhov, Countess Rostova sat for a long time all alone applying her handkerchief to her eyes. At last she rang.
"What is the matter with you, my dear?" she said crossly to the maid who kept her waiting some minutes. "Don't you wish to serve me? Then I'll find you another place."
The countess was upset by her friend's sorrow and humiliating poverty, and was therefore out of sorts, a state of mind which with her always found expression in calling her maid "my dear" and speaking to her with exaggerated politeness."I am very sorry, ma'am," answered the maid. "Ask the count to come to me." The count came waddling in to see his wife with a rather guilty look as usual.
"Well, little countess? What a saute of game au madere we are to have, my dear! I tasted it. The thousand rubles I paid for Taras were not ill-spent. He is worth it!"He sat down by his wife, his elbows on his knees and his hands ruffling his gray hair. "What are your commands, little countess?"
"You see, my dear... What's that mess?" she said, pointing to his waistcoat. "It's the saute, most likely," she added with a smile. "Well, you see, Count, I want some money."Her face became sad. "Oh, little countess!"... and the count began bustling to get out his pocketbook. "I want a great deal, Count! I want five hundred rubles," and taking out her cambric handkerchief she began wiping her husband's waistcoat.
"Yes, immediately, immediately! Hey, who's there?" he called out in a tone only used by persons who are certain that those they call will rush to obey the summons. "Send Dmitri to me!"
Dmitri, a man of good family who had been brought up in the count's house and now managed all his affairs, stepped softly into the room.
"This is what I want, my dear fellow," said the count to the deferential young man who had entered. "Bring me..." he reflected a moment, "yes, bring me seven hundred rubles, yes! But mind, don't bring me such tattered and dirty notes as last time, but nice clean ones for the countess.""Yes, Dmitri, clean ones, please," said the countess, sighing deeply.
"When would you like them, your excellency?" asked Dmitri. "Allow me to inform you... But, don't be uneasy," he added, noticing that the count was beginning to breathe heavily and quickly which was always a sign of approaching anger. "I was forgetting... Do you wish it brought at once?""Yes, yes; just so! Bring it. Give it to the countess."
"What a treasure that Dmitri is," added the count with a smile when the young man had departed. "There is never any 'impossible' with him. That's a thing I hate! Everything is possible.""Ah, money, Count, money! How much sorrow it causes in the world," said the countess. "But I am in great need of this sum." "You, my little countess, are a notorious spendthrift," said the count, and having kissed his wife's hand he went back to his study.
When Anna Mikhaylovna returned from Count Bezukhov's the money, all in clean notes, was lying ready under a handkerchief on the countess' little table, and Anna Mikhaylovna noticed that something was agitating her."Well, my dear?" asked the countess. "Oh, what a terrible state he is in! One would not know him, he is so ill! I was only there a few moments and hardly said a word..."
"Annette, for heaven's sake don't refuse me," the countess began, with a blush that looked very strange on her thin, dignified, elderly face, and she took the money from under the handkerchief. Anna Mikhaylovna instantly guessed her intention and stooped to be ready to embrace the countess at the appropriate moment."This is for Boris from me, for his outfit."
Anna Mikhaylovna was already embracing her and weeping. The countess wept too. They wept because they were friends, and because they were kindhearted, and because they--friends from childhood--had to think about such a base thing as money, and because their youth was over.... But those tears were pleasant to them both.CHAPTER XVIII
Countess Rostova, with her daughters and a large number of guests, was already seated in the drawing room. The count took the gentlemen into his study and showed them his choice collection of Turkish pipes. From time to time he went out to ask: "Hasn't she come yet?" They were expecting Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova, known in society as le terrible dragon, a lady distinguished not for wealth or rank, but for common sense and frank plainness of speech. Marya Dmitrievna was known to the Imperial family as well as to all Moscow and
Petersburg, and both cities wondered at her, laughed privately at her rudenesses, and told good stories about her, while none the less all without exception respected and feared her.
In the count's room, which was full of tobacco smoke, they talked of war that had been announced in a manifesto, and about the recruiting. None of them had yet seen the manifesto, but they all knew it had appeared. The count sat on the sofa between two guests who were smoking and talking. He neither smoked nor talked, but bending his head first to one side and then to the other watched the smokers with evident pleasure and listened to the conversation of his two neighbors, whom he egged on against each other.
One of them was a sallow, clean-shaven civilian with a thin and wrinkled face, already growing old, though he was dressed like a most fashionable young man. He sat with his legs up on the sofa as if quite at home and, having stuck an amber mouthpiece far into his mouth, was inhaling the smoke spasmodically and screwing up his eyes. This was an old bachelor, Shinshin, a cousin of the countess', a man with "a sharp tongue" as they said in Moscow society. He seemed to be condescending to his companion. The latter, a fresh, rosy officer of the Guards, irreproachably washed, brushed, and buttoned, held his pipe in the middle of his mouth and with red lips gently inhaled the smoke, letting it escape from his handsome mouth in rings. This was Lieutenant Berg, an officer in the Semenov regiment with whom Boris was to travel to join the army, and about whom Natasha had, teased her elder sister Vera, speaking of Berg as her "intended." The count sat between them and listened attentively. His favorite occupation when not playing boston, a card game he was very fond of, was that of listener, especially when he succeeded in setting two loquacious talkers at one another.
"Well, then, old chap, mon tres honorable Alphonse Karlovich," said Shinshin, laughing ironically and mixing the most ordinary Russian expressions with the choicest French phrases--which was a peculiarity of his speech. "Vous comptez vous faire des rentes sur l'etat;* you want to make something out of your company?"*You expect to make an income out of the government.
"No, Peter Nikolaevich; I only want to show that in the cavalry the advantages are far less than in the infantry. Just consider my own position now, Peter Nikolaevich..."
Berg always spoke quietly, politely, and with great precision. His conversation always related entirely to himself; he would remain calm and silent when the talk related to any topic that had no direct bearing on himself. He could remain silent for hours without being at all put out of countenance himself or making others uncomfortable, but as soon as the conversation concerned himself he would begin to talk circumstantially and with evident satisfaction.
"Consider my position, Peter Nikolaevich. Were I in the cavalry I should get not more than two hundred rubles every four months, even with the rank of lieutenant; but as it is I receive two hundred and thirty," said he, looking at Shinshin and the count with a joyful, pleasant smile, as if it were obvious to him that his success must always be the chief desire of everyone else.
"Besides that, Peter Nikolaevich, by exchanging into the Guards I shall be in a more prominent position," continued Berg, "and vacancies occur much more frequently in the Foot Guards. Then just think what can be done with two hundred and thirty rubles! I even manage to put a little aside and to send something to my father," he went on, emitting a smoke ring.
"La balance y est...* A German knows how to skin a flint, as the proverb says," remarked Shinshin, moving his pipe to the other side of his mouth and winking at the count.
*So that squares matters.
The count burst out laughing. The other guests seeing that Shinshin was talking came up to listen. Berg, oblivious of irony or indifference, continued to explain how by exchanging into the Guards he had already gained a step on his old comrades of the Cadet Corps; how in wartime the company commander might get killed and he, as senior in the company, might easily succeed to the post; how popular he was with everyone in the regiment, and how satisfied his father was with him. Berg evidently enjoyed narrating all this, and did not seem to suspect that others, too, might have their own interests. But all he said was so prettily sedate, and the naivete of his youthful egotism was so obvious, that he disarmed his hearers.
"Well, my boy, you'll get along wherever you go--foot or horse--that I'll warrant," said Shinshin, patting him on the shoulder and taking his feet off the sofa.Berg smiled joyously. The count, by his guests, went into the drawing room.
It was just the moment before a big dinner when the assembled guests, expecting the summons to zakuska,* avoid engaging in any long conversation but think it necessary to move about and talk, in order to show that they are not at all impatient for their food. The host and hostess look toward the door, and now and then glance at one another, and the visitors try to guess from these glances who, or what, they are waiting for--some important relation who has not yet arrived, or a dish that is not yet ready.*Hors d'oeuvres.
Pierre had come just at dinnertime and was sitting awkwardly in the middle of the drawing room on the first chair he had come across, blocking the way for everyone. The countess tried to make him talk, but he went on naively looking around through his spectacles as if in search of somebody and answered all her questions in monosyllables. He was in the way and was the only one who did not notice the fact. Most of the guests, knowing of the affair with the bear, looked with curiosity at this big, stout, quiet man, wondering how such a clumsy, modest fellow could have played such a prank on a policeman."You have only lately arrived?" the countess asked him. "Oui, madame," replied he, looking around him. "You have not yet seen my husband?" "Non, madame." He smiled quite inappropriately. "You have been in Paris recently, I believe? I suppose it's very interesting." "Very interesting."
The countess exchanged glances with Anna Mikhaylovna. The latter understood that she was being asked to entertain this young man, and sitting down beside him she began to speak about his father; but he answered her, as he had the countess, only in monosyllables. The other guests were all conversing with one another. "The Razumovskis... It was charming... You are very kind... Countess Apraksina..." was heard on all sides. The countess rose and went into the ballroom."Marya Dmitrievna?" came her voice from there. "Herself," came the answer in a rough voice, and Marya Dmitrievna entered the room.
All the unmarried ladies and even the married ones except the very oldest rose. Marya Dmitrievna paused at the door. Tall and stout, holding high her fifty-year-old head with its gray curls, she stood surveying the guests, and leisurely arranged her wide sleeves as if rolling them up. Marya Dmitrievna always spoke in Russian.
"Health and happiness to her whose name day we are keeping and to her children," she said, in her loud, full-toned voice which drowned all others. "Well, you old sinner," she went on, turning to the count who was kissing her hand, "you're feeling dull in Moscow, I daresay? Nowhere to hunt with your dogs? But what is to be done, old man? Just see how these nestlings are growing up," and she pointed to the girls. "You must look for husbands for them whether you like it or not...."
"Well," said she, "how's my Cossack?" (Marya Dmitrievna always called Natasha a Cossack) and she stroked the child's arm as she came up fearless and gay to kiss her hand. "I know she's a scamp of a girl, but I like her."
She took a pair of pear-shaped ruby earrings from her huge reticule and, having given them to the rosy Natasha, who beamed with the pleasure of her saint's-day fete, turned away at once and addressed herself to Pierre.
"Eh, eh, friend! Come here a bit," said she, assuming a soft high tone of voice. "Come here, my friend..." and she ominously tucked up her sleeves still higher. Pierre approached, looking at her in a childlike way through his spectacles.
"Come nearer, come nearer, friend! I used to be the only one to tell your father the truth when he was in favor, and in your case it's my evident duty." She paused. All were silent, expectant of what was to follow, for this was dearly only a prelude.
"A fine lad! My word! A fine lad!... His father lies on his deathbed and he amuses himself setting a policeman astride a bear! For shame, sir, for shame! It would be better if you went to the war."She turned away and gave her hand to the count, who could hardly keep from laughing. "Well, I suppose it is time we were at table?" said Marya Dmitrievna.
The count went in first with Marya Dmitrievna, the countess followed on the arm of a colonel of hussars, a man of importance to them because Nicholas was to go with him to the regiment; then came Anna Mikhaylovna with Shinshin. Berg gave his arm to Vera. The smiling Julie Karagina went in with Nicholas. After them other couples followed, filling the whole dining hall, and last of all the children, tutors, and governesses followed singly. The footmen began moving about, chairs scraped, the band struck up in the gallery, and the guests settled down in their places. Then the strains of the count's household band were replaced by the clatter of knives and forks, the voices of visitors, and the soft steps of the footmen. At one end of the table sat the countess with Marya Dmitrievna on her right and Anna Mikhaylovna on her left, the other lady visitors were farther down. At the other end sat the count, with the hussar colonel on his left and Shinshin and the other male visitors on his right. Midway down the long table on one side sat the grownup young people: Vera beside Berg, and Pierre beside Boris; and on the other side, the children, tutors, and governesses. From behind the crystal decanters and fruit vases the count kept glancing at his wife and her tall cap with its light-blue ribbons, and busily filled his neighbors' glasses, not neglecting his own. The countess in turn, without omitting her duties as hostess, threw significant glances from behind the pineapples at her husband whose face and bald head seemed by their redness to contrast more than usual with his gray hair. At the ladies' end an even chatter of voices was heard all the time, at the men's end the voices sounded louder and louder, especially that of the colonel of hussars who, growing more and more flushed, ate and drank so much that the count held him up as a pattern to the other guests. Berg with tender smiles was saying to Vera that love is not an earthly but a heavenly feeling. Boris was telling his new friend Pierre who the guests were and exchanging glances with Natasha, who was sitting opposite. Pierre spoke little but examined the new faces, and ate a great deal. Of the two soups he chose turtle with savory patties and went on to the game without omitting a single dish or one of the wines. These latter the butler thrust mysteriously forward, wrapped in a napkin, from behind the next man's shoulders and whispered: "Dry Madeira"... "Hungarian"... or "Rhine wine" as the case might be. Of the four crystal glasses engraved with the count's monogram that stood before his plate, Pierre held out one at random and drank with enjoyment, gazing with ever-increasing amiability at the other guests. Natasha, who sat opposite, was looking at Boris as girls of thirteen look at the boy they are in love with and have just kissed for the first time. Sometimes that same look fell on Pierre, and that funny lively little girl's look made him inclined to laugh without knowing why.
Nicholas sat at some distance from Sonya, beside Julie Karagina, to whom he was again talking with the same involuntary smile. Sonya wore a company smile but was evidently tormented by jealousy; now she turned pale, now blushed and strained every nerve to overhear what Nicholas and Julie were saying to one another. The governess kept looking round uneasily as if preparing to resent any slight that might be put upon the children. The German tutor was trying to remember all the dishes, wines, and kinds of dessert, in order to send a full description of the dinner to his people in Germany; and he felt greatly offended when the butler with a bottle wrapped in a napkin passed him by. He frowned, trying to appear as if he did not want any of that wine, but was mortified because no one would understand that it was not to quench his thirst or from greediness that he wanted it, but simply from a conscientious desire for knowledge.CHAPTER XIX
At the men's end of the table the talk grew more and more animated. The colonel told them that the declaration of war had already appeared in Petersburg and that a copy, which he had himself seen, had that day been forwarded by courier to the commander in chief.
"And why the deuce are we going to fight Bonaparte?" remarked Shinshin. "He has stopped Austria's cackle and I fear it will be our turn next."
The colonel was a stout, tall, plethoric German, evidently devoted to the service and patriotically Russian. He resented Shinshin's remark.
"It is for the reasson, my goot sir," said he, speaking with a German accent, "for the reasson zat ze Emperor knows zat. He declares in ze manifessto zat he cannot fiew wiz indifference ze danger vreatening Russia and zat ze safety and dignity of ze Empire as vell as ze sanctity of its alliances..." he spoke this last word with particular emphasis as if in it lay the gist of the matter.Then with the unerring official memory that characterized him he repeated from the opening words of the manifesto:
... and the wish, which constitutes the Emperor's sole and absolute aim--to establish peace in Europe on firm foundations--has now decided him to despatch part of the army abroad and to create a new condition for the attainment of that purpose."Zat, my dear sir, is vy..." he concluded, drinking a tumbler of wine with dignity and looking to the count for approval.
"Connaissez-vous le Proverbe:* 'Jerome, Jerome, do not roam, but turn spindles at home!'?" said Shinshin, puckering his brows and smiling. "Cela nous convient a merveille.* Suvorov now--he knew what he was about; yet they beat him a plate couture,* and where are we to find Suvorovs now? Je vous demande un peu,"* said he, continually changing from French to Russian.*Do you know the proverb? * That suits us down to the ground. * Hollow. * I just ask you that.
"Ve must vight to the last tr-r-op of our plood!" said the
colonel, thumping the table; "and ve must tie for our Emperor, and zen all vill pe vell. And ve must discuss it as little as po-o-ossible"... he dwelt particularly on the word possible... "as po-o-ossible," he ended, again turning to the count. "Zat is how ve old hussars look at it, and zere's an end of it! And how do you, a young man and a young hussar, how do you judge of it?" he added, addressing Nicholas, who when he heard that the war was being discussed had turned from his partner with eyes and ears intent on the colonel.
"I am quite of your opinion," replied Nicholas, flaming up,
turning his plate round and moving his wineglasses about with as much decision and desperation as though he were at that moment facing some great danger. "I am convinced that we Russians must die or conquer," he concluded, conscious--as were others--after the words were uttered that his remarks were too enthusiastic and emphatic for the occasion and were therefore awkward.
"What are you making such a noise about over there?" Marya Dmitrievna's deep voice suddenly inquired from the other end of the table. "What are you thumping the table for?" she demanded of the hussar, "and why are you exciting yourself? Do you think the French are here?""I am speaking ze truce," replied the hussar with a smile. "It's all about the war," the count shouted down the table. "You know my son's going, Marya Dmitrievna? My son is going."
"I have four sons in the army but still I don't fret. It is all in God's hands. You may die in your bed or God may spare you in a battle," replied Marya Dmitrievna's deep voice, which easily carried the whole length of the table."That's true!" Once more the conversations concentrated, the ladies' at the one end and the men's at the other. "You won't ask," Natasha's little brother was saying; "I know you won't ask!" "I will," replied Natasha.
Her face suddenly flushed with reckless and joyous resolution. She half rose, by a glance inviting Pierre, who sat opposite, to listen to what was coming, and turning to her mother:"Mamma!" rang out the clear contralto notes of her childish voice, audible the whole length of the table.
"What is it?" asked the countess, startled; but seeing by her daughter's face that it was only mischief, she shook a finger at her sternly with a threatening and forbidding movement of her head. The conversation was hushed."Mamma! What sweets are we going to have?" and Natasha's voice sounded still more firm and resolute. The countess tried to frown, but could not. Marya Dmitrievna shook her fat finger. "Cossack!" she said threateningly. Most of the guests, uncertain how to regard this sally, looked at the elders. "You had better take care!" said the countess.
"Mamma! What sweets are we going to have?" Natasha again cried boldly, with saucy gaiety, confident that her prank would be taken in good part.Sonya and fat little Petya doubled up with laughter. "You see! I have asked," whispered Natasha to her little brother and to Pierre, glancing at him again. "Ice pudding, but you won't get any," said Marya Dmitrievna. Natasha saw there was nothing to be afraid of and so she braved even Marya Dmitrievna. "Marya Dmitrievna! What kind of ice pudding? I don't like ice cream." "Carrot ices." "No! What kind, Marya Dmitrievna? What kind?" she almost screamed; "I want to know!"
Marya Dmitrievna and the countess burst out laughing, and all the guests joined in. Everyone laughed, not at Marya Dmitrievna's answer but at the incredible boldness and smartness of this little girl who had dared to treat Marya Dmitrievna in this fashion.
Natasha only desisted when she had been told that there would be pineapple ice. Before the ices, champagne was served round. The band again struck up, the count and countess kissed, and the guests, leaving their seats, went up to "congratulate" the countess, and reached across the table to clink glasses with the count, with the children, and with one another. Again the footmen rushed about, chairs scraped, and in the same order in which they had entered but with redder faces, the guests returned to the drawing room and to the count's study.CHAPTER XX
The card tables were drawn out, sets made up for boston, and the count's visitors settled themselves, some in the two drawing rooms, some in the sitting room, some in the library.
The count, holding his cards fanwise, kept himself with difficulty from dropping into his usual after-dinner nap, and laughed at everything. The young people, at the countess' instigation, gathered round the clavichord and harp. Julie by general request played first. After she had played a little air with variations on the harp, she joined the other young ladies in begging Natasha and Nicholas, who were noted for their musical talent, to sing
something. Natasha, who was treated as though she were grown up, was evidently very proud of this but at the same time felt shy.
Running into Sonya's room and not finding her there, Natasha ran to the nursery, but Sonya was not there either. Natasha concluded that she must be on the chest in the passage. The chest in the passage was the place of mourning for the younger female generation in the Rostov household. And there in fact was Sonya lying face downward on Nurse's dirty feather bed on the top of the chest, crumpling her gauzy pink dress under her, hiding her face with her slender fingers, and sobbing so convulsively that her bare little shoulders shook. Natasha's face, which had been so radiantly happy all that saint's day, suddenly changed: her eyes became fixed, and then a shiver passed down her broad neck and the corners of her mouth drooped.
"Sonya! What is it? What is the matter?... Oo... Oo... Oo...!" And Natasha's large mouth widened, making her look quite ugly, and she began to wail like a baby without knowing why, except that Sonya was crying. Sonya tried to lift her head to answer but could not, and hid her face still deeper in the bed. Natasha wept, sitting on the blue-striped feather bed and hugging her friend. With an effort Sonya sat up and began wiping her eyes and explaining.
"Nicholas is going away in a week's time, his... papers... have come... he told me himself... but still I should not cry," and she showed a paper she held in her hand--with the verses Nicholas had written, "still, I should not cry, but you can't... no one can understand... what a soul he has!"And she began to cry again because he had such a noble soul.
"It's all very well for you... I am not envious... I love you and Boris also," she went on, gaining a little strength; "he is nice... there are no difficulties in your way.... But Nicholas is my cousin... one would have to... the Metropolitan himself... and even then it can't be done. And besides, if she tells Mamma" (Sonya looked upon the countess as her mother and called her so) "that I am spoiling Nicholas' career and am heartless and ungrateful, while truly... God is my witness," and she made the sign of the cross, "I love her so much, and all of you, only Vera... And what for? What have I done to her? I am so grateful to you that I would willingly sacrifice everything, only I have nothing...."
Sonya could not continue, and again hid her face in her hands and in the feather bed. Natasha began consoling her, but her face showed that she understood all the gravity of her friend's trouble.
"Sonya," she suddenly exclaimed, as if she had guessed the true reason of her friend's sorrow, "I'm sure Vera has said something to you since dinner? Hasn't she?"
"Yes, these verses Nicholas wrote himself and I copied some
others, and she found them on my table and said she'd show them to Mamma, and that I was ungrateful, and that Mamma would never allow him to marry me, but that he'll marry Julie. You see how he's been with her all day... Natasha, what have I done to deserve it?..."
And again she began to sob, more bitterly than before. Natasha lifted her up, hugged her, and, smiling through her tears, began comforting her.
"Sonya, don't believe her, darling! Don't believe her! Do you remember how we and Nicholas, all three of us, talked in the sitting room after supper? Why, we settled how everything was to be. I don't quite remember how, but don't you remember that it could all be arranged and how nice it all was? There's Uncle Shinshin's brother has married his first cousin. And we are only second cousins, you know. And Boris says it is quite possible. You know I have told him all about it. And he is so clever and so good!" said Natasha. "Don't you cry, Sonya, dear love, darling Sonya!" and she kissed her and laughed. "Vera's spiteful; never mind her! And all will come right and she won't say anything to Mamma. Nicholas will tell her himself, and he doesn't care at all for Julie."Natasha kissed her on the hair.
Sonya sat up. The little kitten brightened, its eyes shone, and it seemed ready to lift its tail, jump down on its soft paws, and begin playing with the ball of worsted as a kitten should."Do you think so?... Really? Truly?" she said, quickly smoothing her frock and hair. "Really, truly!" answered Natasha, pushing in a crisp lock that had strayed from under her friend's plaits. Both laughed. "Well, let's go and sing 'The Brook.'" "Come along!" "Do you know, that fat Pierre who sat opposite me is so funny!" said Natasha, stopping suddenly. "I feel so happy!" And she set off at a run along the passage.
Sonya, shaking off some down which clung to her and tucking away the verses in the bosom of her dress close to her bony little chest, ran after Natasha down the passage into the sitting room with flushed face and light, joyous steps. At the visitors' request the young people sang the quartette, "The Brook," with which everyone was delighted. Then Nicholas sang a song he had just learned:
At nighttime in the moon's fair glow How sweet, as fancies wander free,
To feel that in this world there's one Who still is thinking but of thee!
That while her fingers touch the harp Wafting sweet music music the lea,
It is for thee thus swells her heart, Sighing its message out to thee...
A day or two, then bliss unspoilt, But oh! till then I cannot live!... He had not finished the last verse before the young people began to get ready to dance in the large hall, and the sound of the feet and the coughing of the musicians were heard from the gallery.
Pierre was sitting in the drawing-room where Shinshin had engaged him, as a man recently returned from abroad, in a political
conversation in which several others joined but which bored Pierre. When the music began Natasha came in and walking straight up to Pierre said, laughing and blushing:
"I am afraid of mixing the figures," Pierre replied; "but if you will be my teacher..." And lowering his big arm he offered it to the slender little girl.
While the couples were arranging themselves and the musicians tuning up, Pierre sat down with his little partner. Natasha was perfectly happy; she was dancing with a grown-up man, who had been abroad. She was sitting in a conspicuous place and talking to him like a grown-up lady. She had a fan in her hand that one of the ladies had given her to hold. Assuming quite the pose of a society woman (heaven knows when and where she had learned it) she talked with her partner, fanning herself and smiling over the fan."Dear, dear! Just look at her!" exclaimed the countess as she crossed the ballroom, pointing to Natasha. Natasha blushed and laughed. "Well, really, Mamma! Why should you? What is there to be surprised at?"
In the midst of the third ecossaise there was a clatter of chairs being pushed back in the sitting room where the count and Marya Dmitrievna had been playing cards with the majority of the more distinguished and older visitors. They now, stretching themselves after sitting so long, and replacing their purses and pocketbooks, entered the ballroom. First came Marya Dmitrievna and the count, both with merry countenances. The count, with playful ceremony somewhat in ballet style, offered his bent arm to Marya Dmitrievna. He drew himself up, a smile of debonair gallantry lit up his face and as soon as the last figure of the ecossaise was ended, he clapped his hands to the musicians and shouted up to their gallery, addressing the first violin:
"Semen! Do you know the Daniel Cooper?" This was the count's favorite dance, which he had danced in his youth. (Strictly speaking, Daniel Cooper was one figure of the anglaise.)
"Look at Papa!" shouted Natasha to the whole company, and quite forgetting that she was dancing with a grown-up partner she bent her curly head to her knees and made the whole room ring with her laughter.