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.