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Chapter 2

  • Anna Pavlovna's drawing room was gradually filling. The highest Petersbur_ociety was assembled there: people differing widely in age and character bu_like in the social circle to which they belonged. Prince Vasili's daughter,
  • the beautiful Helene, came to take her father to the ambassador'_ntertainment; she wore a ball dress and her badge as maid of honor. Th_outhful little Princess Bolkonskaya, known as la femme la plus seduisante d_etersbourg,[[1]](footnotes.xml#footnote_1) was also there. She had bee_arried during the previous winter, and being pregnant did not go to any larg_atherings, but only to small receptions. Prince Vasili's son, Hippolyte, ha_ome with Mortemart, whom he introduced. The Abbe Morio and many others ha_lso come. To each new arrival Anna Pavlovna said, "You have not yet seen m_unt," or "You do not know my aunt?" and very gravely conducted him or her t_ little old lady, wearing large bows of ribbon in her cap, who had com_ailing in from another room as soon as the guests began to arrive; and slowl_urning her eyes from the visitor to her aunt, Anna Pavlovna mentioned eac_ne's name and then left them. Each visitor performed the ceremony of greetin_his old aunt whom not one of them knew, not one of them wanted to know, an_ot one of them cared about; Anna Pavlovna observed these greetings wit_ournful and solemn interest and silent approval. The aunt spoke to each o_hem in the same words, about their health and her own, and the health of He_ajesty, "who, thank God, was better today." And each visitor, thoug_oliteness prevented his showing impatience, left the old woman with a sens_f relief at having performed a vexatious duty and did not return to her th_hole evening. The young Princess Bolkonskaya had brought some work in a gold-
  • embroidered velvet bag. Her pretty little upper lip, on which a delicate dar_own was just perceptible, was too short for her teeth, but it lifted all th_ore sweetly, and was especially charming when she occasionally drew it dow_o meet the lower lip. As is always the case with a thoroughly attractiv_oman, her defect—the shortness of her upper lip and her half-ope_outh—seemed to be her own special and peculiar form of beauty. Everyon_rightened at the sight of this pretty young woman, so soon to become _other, so full of life and health, and carrying her burden so lightly. Ol_en and dull dispirited young ones who looked at her, after being in he_ompany 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 sa_er bright smile and the constant gleam of her white teeth, thought that the_ere in a specially amiable mood that day. The little princess went round th_able with quick, short, swaying steps, her workbag on her arm, and gail_preading out her dress sat down on a sofa near the silver samovar, as if al_he was doing was a pleasure to herself and to all around her. "I have brough_y 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 he_hort-waisted, lace-trimmed, dainty gray dress, girdled with a broad ribbo_ust below the breast. "Soyez tranquille, Lise, you will always be prettie_han anyone else," replied Anna Pavlovna. "You know," said the princess in th_ame tone of voice and still in French, turning to a general, "my husband i_eserting me? He is going to get himself killed. Tell me what this wretche_ar is for?" she added, addressing Prince Vasili, and without waiting for a_nswer she turned to speak to his daughter, the beautiful Helene. "What _elightful woman this little princess is!" said Prince Vasili to Ann_avlovna. One of the next arrivals was a stout, heavily built young man wit_lose-cropped hair, spectacles, the light-colored breeches fashionable at tha_ime, a very high ruffle, and a brown dress coat. This stout young man was a_llegitimate son of Count Bezukhov, a well-known grandee of Catherine's tim_ho now lay dying in Moscow. The young man had not yet entered either th_ilitary or civil service, as he had only just returned from abroad where h_ad been educated, and this was his first appearance in society. Anna Pavlovn_reeted him with the nod she accorded to the lowest hierarchy in her drawin_oom. 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 ove_er face when she saw Pierre enter. Though he was certainly rather bigger tha_he other men in the room, her anxiety could only have reference to the cleve_hough shy, but observant and natural, expression which distinguished him fro_veryone 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 alarme_lance with her aunt as she conducted him to her. Pierre murmured somethin_nintelligible, and continued to look round as if in search of something. O_is way to the aunt he bowed to the little princess with a pleased smile, a_o an intimate acquaintance. Anna Pavlovna's alarm was justified, for Pierr_urned away from the aunt without waiting to hear her speech about He_ajesty's health. Anna Pavlovna in dismay detained him with the words: "Do yo_now the Abbe Morio? He is a most interesting man." "Yes, I have heard of hi_cheme for perpetual peace, and it is very interesting but hardly feasible."
  • "You think so?" rejoined Anna Pavlovna in order to say something and get awa_o attend to her duties as hostess. But Pierre now committed a reverse act o_mpoliteness. First he had left a lady before she had finished speaking t_im, and now he continued to speak to another who wished to get away. With hi_ead bent, and his big feet spread apart, he began explaining his reasons fo_hinking the abbe's plan chimerical. "We will talk of it later," said Ann_avlovna with a smile. And having got rid of this young man who did not kno_ow to behave, she resumed her duties as hostess and continued to listen an_atch, 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, goe_ound and notices here a spindle that has stopped or there one that creaks o_akes more noise than it should, and hastens to check the machine or set it i_roper motion, so Anna Pavlovna moved about her drawing room, approaching no_ silent, now a too-noisy group, and by a word or slight rearrangement kep_he conversational machine in steady, proper, and regular motion. But ami_hese cares her anxiety about Pierre was evident. She kept an anxious watch o_im when he approached the group round Mortemart to listen to what was bein_aid there, and again when he passed to another group whose center was th_bbe. Pierre had been educated abroad, and this reception at Anna Pavlovna'_as the first he had attended in Russia. He knew that all the intellectua_ights of Petersburg were gathered there and, like a child in a toyshop, di_ot know which way to look, afraid of missing any clever conversation that wa_o be heard. Seeing the self-confident and refined expression on the faces o_hose present he was always expecting to hear something very profound. At las_e came up to Morio. Here the conversation seemed interesting and he stoo_aiting for an opportunity to express his own views, as young people are fon_f doing.