Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 7

  • The rustle of a woman's dress was heard in the next room. Prince Andrew shoo_imself as if waking up, and his face assumed the look it had had in Ann_avlovna's drawing room. Pierre removed his feet from the sofa. The princes_ame in. She had changed her gown for a house dress as fresh and elegant a_he other. Prince Andrew rose and politely placed a chair for her.
  • "How is it," she began, as usual in French, settling down briskly and fussil_n the easy chair, "how is it Annette never got married? How stupid you me_ll are not to have married her! Excuse me for saying so, but you have n_ense about women. What an argumentative fellow you are, Monsieur Pierre!"
  • "And I am still arguing with your husband. I can't understand why he wants t_o to the war," replied Pierre, addressing the princess with none of th_mbarrassment so commonly shown by young men in their intercourse with youn_omen.
  • The princess started. Evidently Pierre's words touched her to the quick.
  • "Ah, that is just what I tell him!" said she. "I don't understand it; I don'_n the least understand why men can't live without wars. How is it that w_omen don't want anything of the kind, don't need it? Now you shall judg_etween us. I always tell him: Here he is Uncle's aide-de-camp, a mos_rilliant position. He is so well known, so much appreciated by everyone. Th_ther day at the Apraksins' I heard a lady asking, 'Is that the famous Princ_ndrew?' I did indeed." She laughed. "He is so well received everywhere. H_ight easily become aide-de-camp to the Emperor. You know the Emperor spoke t_im most graciously. Annette and I were speaking of how to arrange it. What d_ou think?"
  • Pierre looked at his friend and, noticing that he did not like th_onversation, gave no reply.
  • "When are you starting?" he asked.
  • "Oh, don't speak of his going, don't! I won't hear it spoken of," said th_rincess in the same petulantly playful tone in which she had spoken t_ippolyte in the drawing room and which was so plainly ill-suited to th_amily circle of which Pierre was almost a member. "Today when I remembere_hat all these delightful associations must be broken off… and then you know,
  • Andre… " (she looked significantly at her husband) "I'm afraid, I'm afraid!"
  • she whispered, and a shudder ran down her back.
  • Her husband looked at her as if surprised to notice that someone beside_ierre and himself was in the room, and addressed her in a tone of frigi_oliteness.
  • "What is it you are afraid of, Lise? I don't understand," said he.
  • "There, what egotists men all are: all, all egotists! Just for a whim of hi_wn, goodness only knows why, he leaves me and locks me up alone in th_ountry."
  • "With my father and sister, remember," said Prince Andrew gently.
  • "Alone all the same, without my friends… . And he expects me not to b_fraid."
  • Her tone was now querulous and her lip drawn up, giving her not a joyful, bu_n animal, squirrel-like expression. She paused as if she felt it indecorou_o speak of her pregnancy before Pierre, though the gist of the matter lay i_hat.
  • "I still can't understand what you are afraid of," said Prince Andrew slowly,
  • not taking his eyes off his wife.
  • The princess blushed, and raised her arms with a gesture of despair.
  • "No, Andrew, I must say you have changed. Oh, how you have… "
  • "Your doctor tells you to go to bed earlier," said Prince Andrew. "You ha_etter go."
  • The princess said nothing, but suddenly her short downy lip quivered. Princ_ndrew rose, shrugged his shoulders, and walked about the room.
  • Pierre looked over his spectacles with naive surprise, now at him and now a_er, moved as if about to rise too, but changed his mind.
  • "Why should I mind Monsieur Pierre being here?" exclaimed the little princes_uddenly, her pretty face all at once distorted by a tearful grimace. "I hav_ong wanted to ask you, Andrew, why you have changed so to me? What have _one to you? You are going to the war and have no pity for me. Why is it?"
  • "Lise!" was all Prince Andrew said. But that one word expressed an entreaty, _hreat, and above all conviction that she would herself regret her words. Bu_he went on hurriedly:
  • "You treat me like an invalid or a child. I see it all! Did you behave lik_hat six months ago?"
  • "Lise, I beg you to desist," said Prince Andrew still more emphatically.
  • Pierre, who had been growing more and more agitated as he listened to al_his, rose and approached the princess. He seemed unable to bear the sight o_ears and was ready to cry himself.
  • "Calm yourself, Princess! It seems so to you because… I assure you I mysel_ave experienced… and so… because… No, excuse me! An outsider is out of plac_ere… No, don't distress yourself… Good-by!"
  • Prince Andrew caught him by the hand.
  • "No, wait, Pierre! The princess is too kind to wish to deprive me of th_leasure of spending the evening with you."
  • "No, he thinks only of himself," muttered the princess without restraining he_ngry tears.
  • "Lise!" said Prince Andrew dryly, raising his voice to the pitch whic_ndicates that patience is exhausted.
  • Suddenly the angry, squirrel-like expression of the princess' pretty fac_hanged into a winning and piteous look of fear. Her beautiful eyes glance_skance at her husband's face, and her own assumed the timid, deprecatin_xpression of a dog when it rapidly but feebly wags its drooping tail.
  • "Mon Dieu, mon Dieu!" she muttered, and lifting her dress with one hand sh_ent up to her husband and kissed him on the forehead.
  • "Good night, Lise," said he, rising and courteously kissing her hand as h_ould have done to a stranger.