War and Peace
Just them 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
"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
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 dutched Prince Vasili's arm more
"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
"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
"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.
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