Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 20

  • Pierre did not stay for dinner, but left the room and went away at once. H_rove through the town seeking Anatole Kuragin, at the thought of whom now th_lood rushed to his heart and he felt a difficulty in breathing. He was not a_he ice hills, nor at the gypsies', nor at Komoneno's. Pierre drove to th_lub. In the Club all was going on as usual. The members who were assemblin_or dinner were sitting about in groups; they greeted Pierre and spoke of th_own news. The footman having greeted him, knowing his habits and hi_cquaintances, told him there was a place left for him in the small dinin_oom and that Prince Michael Zakharych was in the library, but Pau_imofeevich had not yet arrived. One of Pierre's acquaintances, while the_ere talking about the weather, asked if he had heard of Kuragin's abductio_f Rostova which was talked of in the town, and was it true? Pierre laughe_nd said it was nonsense for he had just come from the Rostovs'. He aske_veryone about Anatole. One man told him he had not come yet, and another tha_e was coming to dinner. Pierre felt it strange to see this calm, indifferen_rowd of people unaware of what was going on in his soul. He paced through th_allroom, waited till everyone had come, and as Anatole had not turned up di_ot stay for dinner but drove home.
  • Anatole, for whom Pierre was looking, dined that day with Dolokhov, consultin_im as to how to remedy this unfortunate affair. It seemed to him essential t_ee Natasha. In the evening he drove to his sister's to discuss with her ho_o arrange a meeting. When Pierre returned home after vainly hunting all ove_oscow, his valet informed him that Prince Anatole was with the countess. Th_ountess' drawing room was full of guests.
  • Pierre without greeting his wife whom he had not seen since his return—at tha_oment she was more repulsive to him than ever- entered the drawing room an_eeing Anatole went up to him.
  • "Ah, Pierre," said the countess going up to her husband. "You don't know wha_ plight our Anatole… "
  • She stopped, seeing in the forward thrust of her husband's head, in hi_lowing eyes and his resolute gait, the terrible indications of that rage an_trength which she knew and had herself experienced after his duel wit_olokhov.
  • "Where you are, there is vice and evil!" said Pierre to his wife. "Anatole,
  • come with me! I must speak to you," he added in French.
  • Anatole glanced round at his sister and rose submissively, ready to follo_ierre. Pierre, taking him by the arm, pulled him toward himself and wa_eading him from the room.
  • "If you allow yourself in my drawing room… " whispered Helene, but Pierre di_ot reply and went out of the room.
  • Anatole followed him with his usual jaunty step but his face betrayed anxiety.
  • Having entered his study Pierre closed the door and addressed Anatole withou_ooking at him.
  • "You promised Countess Rostova to marry her and were about to elope with her,
  • is that so?"
  • "Mon cher," answered Anatole (their whole conversation was in French), "_on't consider myself bound to answer questions put to me in that tone."
  • Pierre's face, already pale, became distorted by fury. He seized Anatole b_he collar of his uniform with his big hand and shook him from side to sid_ill Anatole's face showed a sufficient degree of terror.
  • "When I tell you that I must talk to you!… " repeated Pierre.
  • "Come now, this is stupid. What?" said Anatole, fingering a button of hi_ollar that had been wrenched loose with a bit of the cloth.
  • "You're a scoundrel and a blackguard, and I don't know what deprives me fro_he pleasure of smashing your head with this!" said Pierre, expressing himsel_o artificially because he was talking French.
  • He took a heavy paperweight and lifted it threateningly, but at once put i_ack in its place.
  • "Did you promise to marry her?"
  • "I… I didn't think of it. I never promised, because… "
  • Pierre interrupted him.
  • "Have you any letters of hers? Any letters?" he said, moving toward Anatole.
  • Anatole glanced at him and immediately thrust his hand into his pocket an_rew out his pocketbook.
  • Pierre took the letter Anatole handed him and, pushing aside a table tha_tood in his way, threw himself on the sofa.
  • "I shan't be violent, don't be afraid!" said Pierre in answer to a frightene_esture of Anatole's. "First, the letters," said he, as if repeating a lesso_o himself. "Secondly," he continued after a short pause, again rising an_gain pacing the room, "tomorrow you must get out of Moscow."
  • "But how can I?… "
  • "Thirdly," Pierre continued without listening to him, "you must never breath_ word of what has passed between you and Countess Rostova. I know I can'_revent your doing so, but if you have a spark of conscience… " Pierre pace_he room several times in silence.
  • Anatole sat at a table frowning and biting his lips.
  • "After all, you must understand that besides your pleasure there is such _hing as other people's happiness and peace, and that you are ruining a whol_ife for the sake of amusing yourself! Amuse yourself with women like m_ife—with them you are within your rights, for they know what you want o_hem. They are armed against you by the same experience of debauchery; but t_romise a maid to marry her… to deceive, to kidnap… . Don't you understan_hat it is as mean as beating an old man or a child?… "
  • Pierre paused and looked at Anatole no longer with an angry but with _uestioning look.
  • "I don't know about that, eh?" said Anatole, growing more confident as Pierr_astered his wrath. "I don't know that and don't want to," he said, no_ooking at Pierre and with a slight tremor of his lower jaw, "but you hav_sed such words to me—'mean' and so on—which as a man of honor I can't allo_nyone to use."
  • Pierre glanced at him with amazement, unable to understand what he wanted.
  • "Though it was tete-a-tete," Anatole continued, "still I can't… "
  • "Is it satisfaction you want?" said Pierre ironically.
  • "You could at least take back your words. What? If you want me to do as yo_ish, eh?"
  • "I take them back, I take them back!" said Pierre, "and I ask you to forgiv_e." Pierre involuntarily glanced at the loose button. "And if you requir_oney for your journey… "
  • Anatole smiled. The expression of that base and cringing smile, which Pierr_new so well in his wife, revolted him.
  • "Oh, vile and heartless brood!" he exclaimed, and left the room.
  • Next day Anatole left for Petersburg.