The friends were silent. Neither cared to begin talking. Pierre continuall_lanced at Prince Andrew; Prince Andrew rubbed his forehead with his smal_and.
"Let us go and have supper," he said with a sigh, going to the door.
They entered the elegant, newly decorated, and luxurious dining room.
Everything from the table napkins to the silver, china, and glass bore tha_mprint of newness found in the households of the newly married. Halfwa_hrough supper Prince Andrew leaned his elbows on the table and, with a loo_f nervous agitation such as Pierre had never before seen on his face, bega_o talk—as one who has long had something on his mind and suddenly determine_o speak out.
"Never, never marry, my dear fellow! That's my advice: never marry till yo_an say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of, and until yo_ave ceased to love the woman of your choice and have seen her plainly as sh_s, or else you will make a cruel and irrevocable mistake. Marry when you ar_ld and good for nothing—or all that is good and noble in you will be lost. I_ill all be wasted on trifles. Yes! Yes! Yes! Don't look at me with suc_urprise. If you marry expecting anything from yourself in the future, yo_ill feel at every step that for you all is ended, all is closed except th_rawing room, where you will be ranged side by side with a court lackey and a_diot!… But what's the good?… " and he waved his arm.
Pierre took off his spectacles, which made his face seem different and th_ood-natured expression still more apparent, and gazed at his friend i_mazement.
"My wife," continued Prince Andrew, "is an excellent woman, one of those rar_omen with whom a man's honor is safe; but, O God, what would I not give no_o be unmarried! You are the first and only one to whom I mention this,
because I like you."
As he said this Prince Andrew was less than ever like that Bolkonski who ha_olled in Anna Pavlovna's easy chairs and with half-closed eyes had uttere_rench phrases between his teeth. Every muscle of his thin face was no_uivering with nervous excitement; his eyes, in which the fire of life ha_eemed extinguished, now flashed with brilliant light. It was evident that th_ore lifeless he seemed at ordinary times, the more impassioned he became i_hese moments of almost morbid irritation.
"You don't understand why I say this," he continued, "but it is the whol_tory of life. You talk of Bonaparte and his career," said he (though Pierr_ad not mentioned Bonaparte), "but Bonaparte when he worked went step by ste_oward his goal. He was free, he had nothing but his aim to consider, and h_eached it. But tie yourself up with a woman and, like a chained convict, yo_ose all freedom! And all you have of hope and strength merely weighs you dow_nd torments you with regret. Drawing rooms, gossip, balls, vanity, an_riviality—these are the enchanted circle I cannot escape from. I am now goin_o the war, the greatest war there ever was, and I know nothing and am fit fo_othing. I am very amiable and have a caustic wit," continued Prince Andrew,
"and at Anna Pavlovna's they listen to me. And that stupid set without whom m_ife cannot exist, and those women… If you only knew what those society wome_re, and women in general! My father is right. Selfish, vain, stupid, trivia_n everything—that's what women are when you see them in their true colors!
When you meet them in society it seems as if there were something in them, bu_here's nothing, nothing, nothing! No, don't marry, my dear fellow; don'_arry!" concluded Prince Andrew.
"It seems funny to me," said Pierre, "that you, you should consider yoursel_ncapable and your life a spoiled life. You have everything before you,
everything. And you… "
He did not finish his sentence, but his tone showed how highly he thought o_is friend and how much he expected of him in the future.
"How can he talk like that?" thought Pierre. He considered his friend a mode_f perfection because Prince Andrew possessed in the highest degree just th_ery qualities Pierre lacked, and which might be best described as strength o_ill. Pierre was always astonished at Prince Andrew's calm manner of treatin_verybody, his extraordinary memory, his extensive reading (he had rea_verything, knew everything, and had an opinion about everything), but abov_ll at his capacity for work and study. And if Pierre was often struck b_ndrew's lack of capacity for philosophical meditation (to which he himsel_as particularly addicted), he regarded even this not as a defect but as _ign of strength.
Even in the best, most friendly and simplest relations of life, praise an_ommendation are essential, just as grease is necessary to wheels that the_ay run smoothly.
"My part is played out," said Prince Andrew. "What's the use of talking abou_e? Let us talk about you," he added after a silence, smiling at hi_eassuring thoughts.
That smile was immediately reflected on Pierre's face.
"But what is there to say about me?" said Pierre, his face relaxing into _areless, merry smile. "What am I? An illegitimate son!" He suddenly blushe_rimson, and it was plain that he had made a great effort to say this.
"Without a name and without means… And it really… " But he did not say what
"it really" was. "For the present I am free and am all right. Only I haven'_he least idea what I am to do; I wanted to consult you seriously."
Prince Andrew looked kindly at him, yet his glance—friendly and affectionat_s it was—expressed a sense of his own superiority.
"I am fond of you, especially as you are the one live man among our whole set.
Yes, you're all right! Choose what you will; it's all the same. You'll be al_ight anywhere. But look here: give up visiting those Kuragins and leadin_hat sort of life. It suits you so badly—all this debauchery, dissipation, an_he rest of it!"
"What would you have, my dear fellow?" answered Pierre, shrugging hi_houlders. "Women, my dear fellow; women!"
"I don't understand it," replied Prince Andrew. "Women who are comme il faut,
that's a different matter; but the Kuragins' set of women, 'women and wine' _on't understand!"
Pierre was staying at Prince Vasili Kuragin's and sharing the dissipated lif_f his son Anatole, the son whom they were planning to reform by marrying hi_o Prince Andrew's sister.
"Do you know?" said Pierre, as if suddenly struck by a happy thought,
"seriously, I have long been thinking of it… . Leading such a life I can'_ecide or think properly about anything. One's head aches, and one spends al_ne's money. He asked me for tonight, but I won't go."