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Chapter 4

  • Princess Mary as she sat listening to the old men's talk and faultfinding,
  • understood nothing of what she heard; she only wondered whether the guests ha_ll observed her father's hostile attitude toward her. She did not even notic_he special attentions and amiabilities shown her during dinner by Bori_rubetskoy, who was visiting them for the third time already.
  • Princess Mary turned with absent-minded questioning look to Pierre, who hat i_and and with a smile on his face was the last of the guests to approach he_fter the old prince had gone out and they were left alone in the drawin_oom.
  • "May I stay a little longer?" he said, letting his stout body sink into a_rmchair beside her.
  • "Oh yes," she answered. "You noticed nothing?" her look asked.
  • Pierre was in an agreeable after-dinner mood. He looked straight before hi_nd smiled quietly.
  • "Have you known that young man long, Princess?" he asked.
  • "Who?"
  • "Drubetskoy."
  • "No, not long… "
  • "Do you like him?"
  • "Yes, he is an agreeable young man… . Why do you ask me that?" said Princes_ary, still thinking of that morning's conversation with her father.
  • "Because I have noticed that when a young man comes on leave from Petersbur_o Moscow it is usually with the object of marrying an heiress."
  • "You have observed that?" said Princess Mary.
  • "Yes," returned Pierre with a smile, "and this young man now manages matter_o that where there is a wealthy heiress there he is too. I can read him lik_ book. At present he is hesitating whom to lay siege to—you or Mademoisell_ulie Karagina. He is very attentive to her."
  • "He visits them?"
  • "Yes, very often. And do you know the new way of courting?" said Pierre wit_n amused smile, evidently in that cheerful mood of good humored raillery fo_hich he so often reproached himself in his diary.
  • "No," replied Princess Mary.
  • "To please Moscow girls nowadays one has to be melancholy. He is ver_elancholy with Mademoiselle Karagina," said Pierre.
  • "Really?" asked Princess Mary, looking into Pierre's kindly face and stil_hinking of her own sorrow. "It would be a relief," thought she, "if _entured to confide what I am feeling to someone. I should like to tel_verything to Pierre. He is kind and generous. It would be a relief. He woul_ive me advice."
  • "Would you marry him?"
  • "Oh, my God, Count, there are moments when I would marry anybody!" she crie_uddenly to her own surprise and with tears in her voice. "Ah, how bitter i_s to love someone near to you and to feel that… " she went on in a tremblin_oice, "that you can do nothing for him but grieve him, and to know that yo_annot alter this. Then there is only one thing left—to go away, but wher_ould I go?"
  • "What is wrong? What is it, Princess?"
  • But without finishing what she was saying, Princess Mary burst into tears.
  • "I don't know what is the matter with me today. Don't take any notice—forge_hat I have said!"
  • Pierre's gaiety vanished completely. He anxiously questioned the princess,
  • asked her to speak out fully and confide her grief to him; but she onl_epeated that she begged him to forget what she had said, that she did no_emember what she had said, and that she had no trouble except the one he kne_f—that Prince Andrew's marriage threatened to cause a rupture between fathe_nd son.
  • "Have you any news of the Rostovs?" she asked, to change the subject. "I wa_old they are coming soon. I am also expecting Andrew any day. I should lik_hem to meet here."
  • "And how does he now regard the matter?" asked Pierre, referring to the ol_rince.
  • Princess Mary shook her head.
  • "What is to be done? In a few months the year will be up. The thing i_mpossible. I only wish I could spare my brother the first moments. I wis_hey would come sooner. I hope to be friends with her. You have known them _ong time," said Princess Mary. "Tell me honestly the whole truth: what sor_f girl is she, and what do you think of her?—The real truth, because you kno_ndrew is risking so much doing this against his father's will that I shoul_ike to know… "
  • An undefined instinct told Pierre that these explanations, and repeate_equests to be told the whole truth, expressed ill-will on the princess' par_oward her future sister-in-law and a wish that he should disapprove o_ndrew's choice; but in reply he said what he felt rather than what h_hought.
  • "I don't know how to answer your question," he said, blushing without knowin_hy. "I really don't know what sort of girl she is; I can't analyze her a_ll. She is enchanting, but what makes her so I don't know. That is all on_an say about her."
  • Princess Mary sighed, and the expression on her face said: "Yes, that's what _xpected and feared."
  • "Is she clever?" she asked.
  • Pierre considered.
  • "I think not," he said, "and yet—yes. She does not deign to be clever… . O_o, she is simply enchanting, and that is all."
  • Princess Mary again shook her head disapprovingly.
  • "Ah, I so long to like her! Tell her so if you see her before I do."
  • "I hear they are expected very soon," said Pierre.
  • Princess Mary told Pierre of her plan to become intimate with her futur_ister-in-law as soon as the Rostovs arrived and to try to accustom the ol_rince to her.