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.
"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.
"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.