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Chapter 3

  • Old Prince Nicholas Bolkonski received a letter from Prince Vasili i_ovember, 1805, announcing that he and his son would be paying him a visit. "_m starting on a journey of inspection, and of course I shall think nothing o_n extra seventy miles to come and see you at the same time, my honore_enefactor," wrote Prince Vasili. "My son Anatole is accompanying me on hi_ay to the army, so I hope you will allow him personally to express the dee_espect that, emulating his father, he feels for you."
  • "It seems that there will be no need to bring Mary out, suitors are coming t_s of their own accord," incautiously remarked the little princess on hearin_he news.
  • Prince Nicholas frowned, but said nothing.
  • A fortnight after the letter Prince Vasili's servants came one evening i_dvance of him, and he and his son arrived next day.
  • Old Bolkonski had always had a poor opinion of Prince Vasili's character, bu_ore so recently, since in the new reigns of Paul and Alexander Prince Vasil_ad risen to high position and honors. And now, from the hints contained i_is letter and given by the little princess, he saw which way the wind wa_lowing, and his low opinion changed into a feeling of contemptuous ill will.
  • He snorted whenever he mentioned him. On the day of Prince Vasili's arrival, Prince Bolkonski was particularly discontented and out of temper. Whether h_as in a bad temper because Prince Vasili was coming, or whether his being i_ bad temper made him specially annoyed at Prince Vasili's visit, he was in _ad temper, and in the morning Tikhon had already advised the architect not t_o the prince with his report.
  • "Do you hear how he's walking?" said Tikhon, drawing the architect's attentio_o the sound of the prince's footsteps. "Stepping flat on his heels—we kno_hat that means… ."
  • However, at nine o'clock the prince, in his velvet coat with a sable colla_nd cap, went out for his usual walk. It had snowed the day before and th_ath to the hothouse, along which the prince was in the habit of walking, ha_een swept: the marks of the broom were still visible in the snow and a shove_ad been left sticking in one of the soft snowbanks that bordered both side_f the path. The prince went through the conservatories, the serfs' quarters, and the outbuildings, frowning and silent.
  • "Can a sleigh pass?" he asked his overseer, a venerable man, resembling hi_aster in manners and looks, who was accompanying him back to the house.
  • "The snow is deep. I am having the avenue swept, your honor."
  • The prince bowed his head and went up to the porch. "God be thanked," though_he overseer, "the storm has blown over!"
  • "It would have been hard to drive up, your honor," he added. "I heard, you_onor, that a minister is coming to visit your honor."
  • The prince turned round to the overseer and fixed his eyes on him, frowning.
  • "What? A minister? What minister? Who gave orders?" he said in his shrill, harsh voice. "The road is not swept for the princess my daughter, but for _inister! For me, there are no ministers!"
  • "Your honor, I thought… "
  • "You thought!" shouted the prince, his words coming more and more rapidly an_ndistinctly. "You thought!… Rascals! Blackgaurds!… I'll teach you to think!"
  • and lifting his stick he swung it and would have hit Alpatych, the overseer, had not the latter instinctively avoided the blow. "Thought… Blackguards… "
  • shouted the prince rapidly.
  • But although Alpatych, frightened at his own temerity in avoiding the stroke, came up to the prince, bowing his bald head resignedly before him, or perhap_or that very reason, the prince, though he continued to shout: "Blackgaurds!… Throw the snow back on the road!" did not lift his stick again but hurrie_nto the house.
  • Before dinner, Princess Mary and Mademoiselle Bourienne, who knew that th_rince was in a bad humor, stood awaiting him; Mademoiselle Bourienne with _adiant face that said: "I know nothing, I am the same as usual," and Princes_ary pale, frightened, and with downcast eyes. What she found hardest to bea_as to know that on such occasions she ought to behave like Mademoisell_ourienne, but could not. She thought: "If I seem not to notice he will thin_hat I do not sympathize with him; if I seem sad and out of spirits myself, h_ill say (as he has done before) that I'm in the dumps."
  • The prince looked at his daughter's frightened face and snorted.
  • "Fool… or dummy!" he muttered.
  • "And the other one is not here. They've been telling tales," h_hought—referring to the little princess who was not in the dining room.
  • "Where is the princess?" he asked. "Hiding?"
  • "She is not very well," answered Mademoiselle Bourienne with a bright smile,
  • "so she won't come down. It is natural in her state."
  • "Hm! Hm!" muttered the prince, sitting down.
  • His plate seemed to him not quite clean, and pointing to a spot he flung i_way. Tikhon caught it and handed it to a footman. The little princess was no_nwell, but had such an overpowering fear of the prince that, hearing he wa_n a bad humor, she had decided not to appear.
  • "I am afraid for the baby," she said to Mademoiselle Bourienne: "Heaven know_hat a fright might do."
  • In general at Bald Hills the little princess lived in constant fear, and wit_ sense of antipathy to the old prince which she did not realize because th_ear was so much the stronger feeling. The prince reciprocated this antipathy, but it was overpowered by his contempt for her. When the little princess ha_rown accustomed to life at Bald Hills, she took a special fancy t_ademoiselle Bourienne, spent whole days with her, asked her to sleep in he_oom, and often talked with her about the old prince and criticized him.
  • "So we are to have visitors, mon prince?" remarked Mademoiselle Bourienne, unfolding her white napkin with her rosy fingers. "His Excellency Princ_asili Kuragin and his son, I understand?" she said inquiringly.
  • "Hm!—his excellency is a puppy… . I got him his appointment in the service,"
  • said the prince disdainfully. "Why his son is coming I don't understand.
  • Perhaps Princess Elizabeth and Princess Mary know. I don't want him." (H_ooked at his blushing daughter.) "Are you unwell today? Eh? Afraid of the
  • 'minister' as that idiot Alpatych called him this morning?"
  • "No, mon pere."
  • Though Mademoiselle Bourienne had been so unsuccessful in her choice of _ubject, she did not stop talking, but chattered about the conservatories an_he beauty of a flower that had just opened, and after the soup the princ_ecame more genial.
  • After dinner, he went to see his daughter-in-law. The little princess wa_itting at a small table, chattering with Masha, her maid. She grew pale o_eeing her father-in-law.
  • She was much altered. She was now plain rather than pretty. Her cheeks ha_unk, her lip was drawn up, and her eyes drawn down.
  • "Yes, I feel a kind of oppression," she said in reply to the prince's questio_s to how she felt.
  • "Do you want anything?"
  • "No, merci, mon pere."
  • "Well, all right, all right."
  • He left the room and went to the waiting room where Alpatych stood with bowe_ead.
  • "Has the snow been shoveled back?"
  • "Yes, your excellency. Forgive me for heaven's sake… It was only m_tupidity."
  • "All right, all right," interrupted the prince, and laughing his unnatura_ay, he stretched out his hand for Alpatych to kiss, and then proceeded to hi_tudy.
  • Prince Vasili arrived that evening. He was met in the avenue by coachmen an_ootmen, who, with loud shouts, dragged his sleighs up to one of the lodge_ver the road purposely laden with snow.
  • Prince Vasili and Anatole had separate rooms assigned to them.
  • Anatole, having taken off his overcoat, sat with arms akimbo before a table o_ corner of which he smilingly and absent-mindedly fixed his large an_andsome eyes. He regarded his whole life as a continual round of amusemen_hich someone for some reason had to provide for him. And he looked on thi_isit to a churlish old man and a rich and ugly heiress in the same way. Al_his might, he thought, turn out very well and amusingly. "And why not marr_er if she really has so much money? That never does any harm," though_natole.
  • He shaved and scented himself with the care and elegance which had becom_abitual to him and, his handsome head held high, entered his father's roo_ith the good-humored and victorious air natural to him. Prince Vasili's tw_alets were busy dressing him, and he looked round with much animation an_heerfully nodded to his son as the latter entered, as if to say: "Yes, that'_ow I want you to look."
  • "I say, Father, joking apart, is she very hideous?" Anatole asked, as i_ontinuing a conversation the subject of which had often been mentioned durin_he journey.
  • "Enough! What nonsense! Above all, try to be respectful and cautious with th_ld prince."
  • "If he starts a row I'll go away," said Prince Anatole. "I can't bear thos_ld men! Eh?"
  • "Remember, for you everything depends on this."
  • In the meantime, not only was it known in the maidservants' rooms that th_inister and his son had arrived, but the appearance of both had been minutel_escribed. Princess Mary was sitting alone in her room, vainly trying t_aster her agitation.
  • "Why did they write, why did Lise tell me about it? It can never happen!" sh_aid, looking at herself in the glass. "How shall I enter the drawing room?
  • Even if I like him I can't now be myself with him." The mere thought of he_ather's look filled her with terror. The little princess and Mademoisell_ourienne had already received from Masha, the lady's maid, the necessar_eport of how handsome the minister's son was, with his rosy cheeks and dar_yebrows, and with what difficulty the father had dragged his legs upstair_hile the son had followed him like an eagle, three steps at a time. Havin_eceived this information, the little princess and Mademoiselle Bourienne, whose chattering voices had reached her from the corridor, went into Princes_ary's room.
  • "You know they've come, Marie?" said the little princess, waddling in, an_inking heavily into an armchair.
  • She was no longer in the loose gown she generally wore in the morning, but ha_n one of her best dresses. Her hair was carefully done and her face wa_nimated, which, however, did not conceal its sunken and faded outlines.
  • Dressed as she used to be in Petersburg society, it was still more noticeabl_ow much plainer she had become. Some unobtrusive touch had been added t_ademoiselle Bourienne's toilet which rendered her fresh and pretty face ye_ore attractive.
  • "What! Are you going to remain as you are, dear princess?" she began. "They'l_e announcing that the gentlemen are in the drawing room and we shall have t_o down, and you have not smartened yourself up at all!"
  • The little princess got up, rang for the maid, and hurriedly and merrily bega_o devise and carry out a plan of how Princess Mary should be dressed.
  • Princess Mary's self-esteem was wounded by the fact that the arrival of _uitor agitated her, and still more so by both her companions' not having th_east conception that it could be otherwise. To tell them that she fel_shamed for herself and for them would be to betray her agitation, while t_ecline their offers to dress her would prolong their banter and insistence.
  • She flushed, her beautiful eyes grew dim, red blotches came on her face, an_t took on the unattractive martyrlike expression it so often wore, as sh_ubmitted herself to Mademoiselle Bourienne and Lise. Both these women quit_incerely tried to make her look pretty. She was so plain that neither of the_ould think of her as a rival, so they began dressing her with perfec_incerity, and with the naive and firm conviction women have that dress ca_ake a face pretty.
  • "No really, my dear, this dress is not pretty," said Lise, looking sideways a_rincess Mary from a little distance. "You have a maroon dress, have i_etched. Really! You know the fate of your whole life may be at stake. Bu_his one is too light, it's not becoming!"
  • It was not the dress, but the face and whole figure of Princess Mary that wa_ot pretty, but neither Mademoiselle Bourienne nor the little princess fel_his; they still thought that if a blue ribbon were placed in the hair, th_air combed up, and the blue scarf arranged lower on the best maroon dress, and so on, all would be well. They forgot that the frightened face and th_igure could not be altered, and that however they might change the settin_nd adornment of that face, it would still remain piteous and plain. After tw_r three changes to which Princess Mary meekly submitted, just as her hair ha_een arranged on the top of her head (a style that quite altered and spoile_er looks) and she had put on a maroon dress with a pale-blue scarf, th_ittle princess walked twice round her, now adjusting a fold of the dress wit_er little hand, now arranging the scarf and looking at her with her head ben_irst on one side and then on the other.
  • "No, it will not do," she said decidedly, clasping her hands. "No, Mary, really this dress does not suit you. I prefer you in your little gray everyda_ress. Now please, do it for my sake. Katie," she said to the maid, "bring th_rincess her gray dress, and you'll see, Mademoiselle Bourienne, how I shal_rrange it," she added, smiling with a foretaste of artistic pleasure.
  • But when Katie brought the required dress, Princess Mary remained sittin_otionless before the glass, looking at her face, and saw in the mirror he_yes full of tears and her mouth quivering, ready to burst into sobs.
  • "Come, dear princess," said Mademoiselle Bourienne, "just one more littl_ffort."
  • The little princess, taking the dress from the maid, came up to Princess Mary.
  • "Well, now we'll arrange something quite simple and becoming," she said.
  • The three voices, hers, Mademoiselle Bourienne's, and Katie's, who wa_aughing at something, mingled in a merry sound, like the chirping of birds.
  • "No, leave me alone," said Princess Mary.
  • Her voice sounded so serious and so sad that the chirping of the birds wa_ilenced at once. They looked at the beautiful, large, thoughtful eyes full o_ears and of thoughts, gazing shiningly and imploringly at them, an_nderstood that it was useless and even cruel to insist.
  • "At least, change your coiffure," said the little princess. "Didn't I tel_ou," she went on, turning reproachfully to Mademoiselle Bourienne, "Mary's i_ face which such a coiffure does not suit in the least. Not in the least!
  • Please change it."
  • "Leave me alone, please leave me alone! It is all quite the same to me,"
  • answered a voice struggling with tears.
  • Mademoiselle Bourienne and the little princess had to own to themselves tha_rincess Mary in this guise looked very plain, worse than usual, but it wa_oo late. She was looking at them with an expression they both knew, a_xpression thoughtful and sad. This expression in Princess Mary did no_righten them (she never inspired fear in anyone), but they knew that when i_ppeared on her face, she became mute and was not to be shaken in he_etermination.
  • "You will change it, won't you?" said Lise. And as Princess Mary gave n_nswer, she left the room.
  • Princess Mary was left alone. She did not comply with Lise's request, she no_nly left her hair as it was, but did not even look in her glass. Letting he_rms fall helplessly, she sat with downcast eyes and pondered. A husband, _an, a strong dominant and strangely attractive being rose in her imagination, and carried her into a totally different happy world of his own. She fancied _hild, her own—such as she had seen the day before in the arms of her nurse'_aughter—at her own breast, the husband standing by and gazing tenderly at he_nd the child. "But no, it is impossible, I am too ugly," she thought.
  • "Please come to tea. The prince will be out in a moment," came the maid'_oice at the door.
  • She roused herself, and felt appalled at what she had been thinking, an_efore going down she went into the room where the icons hung and, her eye_ixed on the dark face of a large icon of the Saviour lit by a lamp, she stoo_efore it with folded hands for a few moments. A painful doubt filled he_oul. Could the joy of love, of earthly love for a man, be for her? In he_houghts of marriage Princess Mary dreamed of happiness and of children, bu_er strongest, most deeply hidden longing was for earthly love. The more sh_ried to hide this feeling from others and even from herself, the stronger i_rew. "O God," she said, "how am I to stifle in my heart these temptations o_he devil? How am I to renounce forever these vile fancies, so as peacefull_o fulfill Thy will?" And scarcely had she put that question than God gave he_he answer in her own heart. "Desire nothing for thyself, seek nothing, be no_nxious or envious. Man's future and thy own fate must remain hidden fro_hee, but live so that thou mayest be ready for anything. If it be God's wil_o prove thee in the duties of marriage, be ready to fulfill His will." Wit_his consoling thought (but yet with a hope for the fulfillment of he_orbidden earthly longing) Princess Mary sighed, and having crossed hersel_ent down, thinking neither of her gown and coiffure nor of how she would g_n nor of what she would say. What could all that matter in comparison wit_he will of God, without Whose care not a hair of man's head can fall?