"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
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
"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
"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
In the midst of a conversation on political matters Anna Pavlovna burst
"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
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
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
"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 as he had done of a man
recommended to the Empress) and at the same time to console him, so she
"Now about your family. Do you know that since your daughter came out
everyone has been enraptured by her? They say she is amazingly
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
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.
* The most fascinating woman in Petersburg.
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
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 one 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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"Charming!" said Anna Pavlovna with an inquiring glance at the little
"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
"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
"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
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 tear-worn face and it now expressed only anxiety and
"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
"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
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
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-bye! 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
"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
"'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
"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
"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
"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.
"What? Revolution and regicide a grand thing?... Well, after that... But
won't you come to this other table?" repeated Anna Pavlovna.
"Rousseau's Contrat Social," said the vicomte with a tolerant smile.
"I am not speaking of regicide, I am speaking about ideas."
"Yes: ideas of robbery, murder, and regicide," again interjected an
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"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 sat up on the sofa, with his legs tucked under him.
"Really, I don't yet know. I don't like either the one or the other."
"But you must decide on something! Your father expects it."
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
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,"
"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!"
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,
"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
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
"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
"With my father and sister, remember," said Prince Andrew gently.
"Alone all the same, without my friends.... And he expects me not to be
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:
"You treat me like an invalid or a child. I see it all! Did you behave
like that six months ago?"
"Lise, I beg you to desist," said Prince Andrew still more emphatically.
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-
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
"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.
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
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