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Chapter 4

  • Just then another visitor entered the drawing room: Prince Andrew Bolkonski,
  • the little princess' husband. He was a very handsome young man, of mediu_eight, with firm, clearcut features. Everything about him, from his weary,
  • bored expression to his quiet, measured step, offered a most striking contras_o his quiet, little wife. It was evident that he not only knew everyone i_he drawing room, but had found them to be so tiresome that it wearied him t_ook 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 awa_rom her with a grimace that distorted his handsome face, kissed Ann_avlovna'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 las_yllable of the general's name like a Frenchman, "has been pleased to take m_s 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 manne_n which she spoke to other men, "the vicomte has been telling us such a tal_bout Mademoiselle George and Buonaparte!"
  • Prince Andrew screwed up his eyes and turned away. Pierre, who from the momen_rince Andrew entered the room had watched him with glad, affectionate eyes,
  • now came up and took his arm. Before he looked round Prince Andrew frowne_gain, expressing his annoyance with whoever was touching his arm, but when h_aw 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 wa_ontinuing his story.
  • "No, impossible!" said Prince Andrew, laughing and pressing Pierre's hand t_how that there was no need to ask the question. He wished to say somethin_ore, but at that moment Prince Vasili and his daughter got up to go and th_wo 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. "Thi_nfortunate fete at the ambassador's deprives me of a pleasure, and obliges m_o 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 u_he folds of her dress, and the smile shone still more radiantly on he_eautiful face. Pierre gazed at her with rapturous, almost frightened, eyes a_he 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 thi_s the first time I have seen him in society. Nothing is so necessary for _oung man as the society of clever women."
  • Anna Pavlovna smiled and promised to take Pierre in hand. She knew his fathe_o be a connection of Prince Vasili's. The elderly lady who had been sittin_ith the old aunt rose hurriedly and overtook Prince Vasili in the anteroom.
  • All the affectation of interest she had assumed had left her kindly an_earworn face and it now expressed only anxiety and fear.
  • "How about my son Boris, Prince?" said she, hurrying after him into th_nteroom. "I can't remain any longer in Petersburg. Tell me what news I ma_ake back to my poor boy."
  • Although Prince Vasili listened reluctantly and not very politely to th_lderly lady, even betraying some impatience, she gave him an ingratiating an_ppealing 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 b_ransferred 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 appea_o Rumyantsev through Prince Golitsyn. That would be the best way."
  • The elderly lady was a Princess Drubetskaya, belonging to one of the bes_amilies in Russia, but she was poor, and having long been out of society ha_ost her former influential connections. She had now come to Petersburg t_rocure an appointment in the Guards for her only son. It was, in fact, solel_o meet Prince Vasili that she had obtained an invitation to Anna Pavlovna'_eception and had sat listening to the vicomte's story. Prince Vasili's word_rightened her, an embittered look clouded her once handsome face, but onl_or a moment; then she smiled again and dutched Prince Vasili's arm mor_ightly.
  • "Listen to me, Prince," said she. "I have never yet asked you for anything an_ never will again, nor have I ever reminded you of my father's friendship fo_ou; but now I entreat you for God's sake to do this for my son—and I shal_lways 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 ma_ou 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 an_ooking 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 i_s to last. Prince Vasili knew this, and having once realized that if he aske_n behalf of all who begged of him, he would soon be unable to ask fo_imself, he became chary of using his influence. But in Princess Drubetskaya'_ase 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 he_ather for the first steps in his career. Moreover, he could see by he_anners that she was one of those women—mostly mothers—who, having once mad_p their minds, will not rest until they have gained their end, and ar_repared 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 wearines_f tone, "it is almost impossible for me to do what you ask; but to prove m_evotion to you and how I respect your father's memory, I will do th_mpossible—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 t_im 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 hi_ppointment as Commander in Chief. He told me himself that all the Mosco_adies 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 b_ate."
  • "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 th_mile 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 th_ld feminine arts. But as soon as the prince had gone her face resumed it_ormer cold, artificial expression. She returned to the group where th_icomte was still talking, and again pretended to listen, while waiting til_t would be time to leave. Her task was accomplished.