Anatole had lately moved to Dólokhov’s. The plan for Natalie Rostóva’s abduction had been arranged and the preparations made by Dólokhov a few days before, and on the day that Sónya, after listening at Natásha’s door, resolved to safeguard her, it was to have been put into execution. Natásha had promised to come out to Kurágin at the back porch at ten that evening. Kurágin was to put her into a troyka he would have ready and to drive her forty miles to the village of Kámenka, where an unfrocked priest was in readiness to perform a marriage ceremony over them. At Kámenka a relay of horses was to wait which would take them to the Warsaw highroad, and from there they would hasten abroad with post horses.
Anatole had a passport, an order for post horses, ten thousand rubles he had taken from his sister and another ten thousand borrowed with Dólokhov’s help.
Two witnesses for the mock marriage—Khvóstikov, a retired petty official whom Dólokhov made use of in his gambling transactions, and Makárin, a retired hussar, a kindly, weak fellow who had an unbounded affection for Kurágin—were sitting at tea in Dólokhov’s front room.
In his large study, the walls of which were hung to the ceiling with Persian rugs, bearskins, and weapons, sat Dólokhov in a traveling cloak and high boots, at an open desk on which lay an abacus and some bundles of paper money. Anatole, with uniform unbuttoned, walked to and fro from the room where the witnesses were sitting, through the study to the room behind, where his French valet and others were packing the last of his things. Dólokhov was counting the money and noting something down.
“Well,” he said, “Khvóstikov must have two thousand.”
“Give it to him, then,” said Anatole.
“Makárka” (their name for Makárin) “will go through fire and water for you for nothing. So here are our accounts all settled,” said Dólokhov, showing him the memorandum. “Is that right?”
“Yes, of course,” returned Anatole, evidently not listening to Dólokhov and looking straight before him with a smile that did not leave his face.
Dólokhov banged down the lid of his desk and turned to Anatole with an ironic smile:
“Do you know? You’d really better drop it all. There’s still time!”
“Fool,” retorted Anatole. “Don’t talk nonsense! If you only knew... it’s the devil knows what!”
“No, really, give it up!” said Dólokhov. “I am speaking seriously. It’s no joke, this plot you’ve hatched.”
“What, teasing again? Go to the devil! Eh?” said Anatole, making a grimace. “Really it’s no time for your stupid jokes,” and he left the room.
Dólokhov smiled contemptuously and condescendingly when Anatole had gone out.
“You wait a bit,” he called after him. “I’m not joking, I’m talking sense. Come here, come here!”
Anatole returned and looked at Dólokhov, trying to give him his attention and evidently submitting to him involuntarily.
“Now listen to me. I’m telling you this for the last time. Why should I joke about it? Did I hinder you? Who arranged everything for you? Who found the priest and got the passport? Who raised the money? I did it all.”
“Well, thank you for it. Do you think I am not grateful?” And Anatole sighed and embraced Dólokhov.
“I helped you, but all the same I must tell you the truth; it is a dangerous business, and if you think about it—a stupid business. Well, you’ll carry her off—all right! Will they let it stop at that? It will come out that you’re already married. Why, they’ll have you in the criminal court....”
“Oh, nonsense, nonsense!” Anatole ejaculated and again made a grimace. “Didn’t I explain to you? What?” And Anatole, with the partiality dull-witted people have for any conclusion they have reached by their own reasoning, repeated the argument he had already put to Dólokhov a hundred times. “Didn’t I explain to you that I have come to this conclusion: if this marriage is invalid,” he went on, crooking one finger, “then I have nothing to answer for; but if it is valid, no matter! Abroad no one will know anything about it. Isn’t that so? And don’t talk to me, don’t, don’t.”
“Seriously, you’d better drop it! You’ll only get yourself into a mess!”
“Go to the devil!” cried Anatole and, clutching his hair, left the room, but returned at once and dropped into an armchair in front of Dólokhov with his feet turned under him. “It’s the very devil! What? Feel how it beats!” He took Dólokhov’s hand and put it on his heart. “What a foot, my dear fellow! What a glance! A goddess!” he added in French. “What?”
Dólokhov with a cold smile and a gleam in his handsome insolent eyes looked at him—evidently wishing to get some more amusement out of him.
“Well and when the money’s gone, what then?”
“What then? Eh?” repeated Anatole, sincerely perplexed by a thought of the future. “What then?... Then, I don’t know.... But why talk nonsense!” He glanced at his watch. “It’s time!”
Anatole went into the back room.
“Now then! Nearly ready? You’re dawdling!” he shouted to the servants.
Dólokhov put away the money, called a footman whom he ordered to bring something for them to eat and drink before the journey, and went into the room where Khvóstikov and Makárin were sitting.
Anatole lay on the sofa in the study leaning on his elbow and smiling pensively, while his handsome lips muttered tenderly to himself.
“Come and eat something. Have a drink!” Dólokhov shouted to him from the other room.
“I don’t want to,” answered Anatole continuing to smile.
“Come! Balagá is here.”
Anatole rose and went into the dining room. Balagá was a famous troyka driver who had known Dólokhov and Anatole some six years and had given them good service with his troykas. More than once when Anatole’s regiment was stationed at Tver he had taken him from Tver in the evening, brought him to Moscow by daybreak, and driven him back again the next night. More than once he had enabled Dólokhov to escape when pursued. More than once he had driven them through the town with gypsies and “ladykins” as he called the cocottes. More than once in their service he had run over pedestrians and upset vehicles in the streets of Moscow and had always been protected from the consequences by “my gentlemen” as he called them. He had ruined more than one horse in their service. More than once they had beaten him, and more than once they had made him drunk on champagne and Madeira, which he loved; and he knew more than one thing about each of them which would long ago have sent an ordinary man to Siberia. They often called Balagá into their orgies and made him drink and dance at the gypsies’, and more than one thousand rubles of their money had passed through his hands. In their service he risked his skin and his life twenty times a year, and in their service had lost more horses than the money he had from them would buy. But he liked them; liked that mad driving at twelve miles an hour, liked upsetting a driver or running down a pedestrian, and flying at full gallop through the Moscow streets. He liked to hear those wild, tipsy shouts behind him: “Get on! Get on!” when it was impossible to go any faster. He liked giving a painful lash on the neck to some peasant who, more dead than alive, was already hurrying out of his way. “Real gentlemen!” he considered them.
Anatole and Dólokhov liked Balagá too for his masterly driving and because he liked the things they liked. With others Balagá bargained, charging twenty-five rubles for a two hours’ drive, and rarely drove himself, generally letting his young men do so. But with “his gentlemen” he always drove himself and never demanded anything for his work. Only a couple of times a year—when he knew from their valets that they had money in hand—he would turn up of a morning quite sober and with a deep bow would ask them to help him. The gentlemen always made him sit down.
“Do help me out, Theodore Iványch, sir,” or “your excellency,” he would say. “I am quite out of horses. Let me have what you can to go to the fair.”
And Anatole and Dólokhov, when they had money, would give him a thousand or a couple of thousand rubles.
Balagá was a fair-haired, short, and snub-nosed peasant of about twenty-seven; red-faced, with a particularly red thick neck, glittering little eyes, and a small beard. He wore a fine, dark-blue, silk-lined cloth coat over a sheepskin.
On entering the room now he crossed himself, turning toward the front corner of the room, and went up to Dólokhov, holding out a small, black hand.
“Theodore Iványch!” he said, bowing.
“How d’you do, friend? Well, here he is!”
“Good day, your excellency!” he said, again holding out his hand to Anatole who had just come in.
“I say, Balagá,” said Anatole, putting his hands on the man’s shoulders, “do you care for me or not? Eh? Now, do me a service.... What horses have you come with? Eh?”
“As your messenger ordered, your special beasts,” replied Balagá.
“Well, listen, Balagá! Drive all three to death but get me there in three hours. Eh?”
“When they are dead, what shall I drive?” said Balagá with a wink.
“Mind, I’ll smash your face in! Don’t make jokes!” cried Anatole, suddenly rolling his eyes.
“Why joke?” said the driver, laughing. “As if I’d grudge my gentlemen anything! As fast as ever the horses can gallop, so fast we’ll go!”
“Ah!” said Anatole. “Well, sit down.”
“Yes, sit down!” said Dólokhov.
“I’ll stand, Theodore Iványch.”
“Sit down; nonsense! Have a drink!” said Anatole, and filled a large glass of Madeira for him.
The driver’s eyes sparkled at the sight of the wine. After refusing it for manners’ sake, he drank it and wiped his mouth with a red silk handkerchief he took out of his cap.
“And when are we to start, your excellency?”
“Well...” Anatole looked at his watch. “We’ll start at once. Mind, Balagá! You’ll get there in time? Eh?”
“That depends on our luck in starting, else why shouldn’t we be there in time?” replied Balagá. “Didn’t we get you to Tver in seven hours? I think you remember that, your excellency?”
“Do you know, one Christmas I drove from Tver,” said Anatole, smilingly at the recollection and turning to Makárin who gazed rapturously at him with wide-open eyes. “Will you believe it, Makárka, it took one’s breath away, the rate we flew. We came across a train of loaded sleighs and drove right over two of them. Eh?”
“Those were horses!” Balagá continued the tale. “That time I’d harnessed two young side horses with the bay in the shafts,” he went on, turning to Dólokhov. “Will you believe it, Theodore Iványch, those animals flew forty miles? I couldn’t hold them in, my hands grew numb in the sharp frost so that I threw down the reins—‘Catch hold yourself, your excellency!’ says I, and I just tumbled on the bottom of the sleigh and sprawled there. It wasn’t a case of urging them on, there was no holding them in till we reached the place. The devils took us there in three hours! Only the near one died of it.”
Anatole went out of the room and returned a few minutes later wearing a fur coat girt with a silver belt, and a sable cap jauntily set on one side and very becoming to his handsome face. Having looked in a mirror, and standing before Dólokhov in the same pose he had assumed before it, he lifted a glass of wine.
“Well, good-by, Theodore. Thank you for everything and farewell!” said Anatole. “Well, comrades and friends...” he considered for a moment “... of my youth, farewell!” he said, turning to Makárin and the others.
Though they were all going with him, Anatole evidently wished to make something touching and solemn out of this address to his comrades. He spoke slowly in a loud voice and throwing out his chest slightly swayed one leg.
“All take glasses; you too, Balagá. Well, comrades and friends of my youth, we’ve had our fling and lived and reveled. Eh? And now, when shall we meet again? I am going abroad. We have had a good time—now farewell, lads! To our health! Hurrah!...” he cried, and emptying his glass flung it on the floor.
“To your health!” said Balagá who also emptied his glass, and wiped his mouth with his handkerchief.
Makárin embraced Anatole with tears in his eyes.
“Ah, Prince, how sorry I am to part from you!
“Let’s go. Let’s go!” cried Anatole.
Balagá was about to leave the room.
“No, stop!” said Anatole. “Shut the door; we have first to sit down. That’s the way.”
They shut the door and all sat down.
“Now, quick march, lads!” said Anatole, rising.
Joseph, his valet, handed him his sabretache and saber, and they all went out into the vestibule.
“And where’s the fur cloak?” asked Dólokhov. “Hey, Ignátka! Go to Matrëna Matrévna and ask her for the sable cloak. I have heard what elopements are like,” continued Dólokhov with a wink. “Why, she’ll rush out more dead than alive just in the things she is wearing; if you delay at all there’ll be tears and ‘Papa’ and ‘Mamma,’ and she’s frozen in a minute and must go back—but you wrap the fur cloak round her first thing and carry her to the sleigh.”
The valet brought a woman’s fox-lined cloak.
“Fool, I told you the sable one! Hey, Matrëna, the sable!” he shouted so that his voice rang far through the rooms.
A handsome, slim, and pale-faced gypsy girl with glittering black eyes and curly blue-black hair, wearing a red shawl, ran out with a sable mantle on her arm.
“Here, I don’t grudge it—take it!” she said, evidently afraid of her master and yet regretful of her cloak.
Dólokhov, without answering, took the cloak, threw it over Matrëna, and wrapped her up in it.
“That’s the way,” said Dólokhov, “and then so!” and he turned the collar up round her head, leaving only a little of the face uncovered. “And then so, do you see?” and he pushed Anatole’s head forward to meet the gap left by the collar, through which Matrëna’s brilliant smile was seen.
“Well, good-by, Matrëna,” said Anatole, kissing her. “Ah, my revels here are over. Remember me to Stëshka. There, good-by! Good-by, Matrëna, wish me luck!”
“Well, Prince, may God give you great luck!” said Matrëna in her gypsy accent.
Two troykas were standing before the porch and two young drivers were holding the horses. Balagá took his seat in the front one and holding his elbows high arranged the reins deliberately. Anatole and Dólokhov got in with him. Makárin, Khvóstikov, and a valet seated themselves in the other sleigh.
“Well, are you ready?” asked Balagá.
“Go!” he cried, twisting the reins round his hands, and the troyka tore down the Nikítski Boulevard.
“Tproo! Get out of the way! Hi!... Tproo!...” The shouting of Balagá and of the sturdy young fellow seated on the box was all that could be heard. On the Arbát Square the troyka caught against a carriage; something cracked, shouts were heard, and the troyka flew along the Arbát Street.
After taking a turn along the Podnovínski Boulevard, Balagá began to rein in, and turning back drew up at the crossing of the old Konyúsheny Street.
The young fellow on the box jumped down to hold the horses and Anatole and Dólokhov went along the pavement. When they reached the gate Dólokhov whistled. The whistle was answered, and a maidservant ran out.
“Come into the courtyard or you’ll be seen; she’ll come out directly,” said she.
Dólokhov stayed by the gate. Anatole followed the maid into the courtyard, turned the corner, and ran up into the porch.
He was met by Gabriel, Márya Dmítrievna’s gigantic footman.
“Come to the mistress, please,” said the footman in his deep bass, intercepting any retreat.
“To what Mistress? Who are you?” asked Anatole in a breathless whisper.
“Kindly step in, my orders are to bring you in.”
“Kurágin! Come back!” shouted Dólokhov. “Betrayed! Back!”
Dólokhov, after Anatole entered, had remained at the wicket gate and was struggling with the yard porter who was trying to lock it. With a last desperate effort Dólokhov pushed the porter aside, and when Anatole ran back seized him by the arm, pulled him through the wicket, and ran back with him to the troyka.
Márya Dmítrievna, having found Sónya weeping in the corridor, made her confess everything, and intercepting the note to Natásha she read it and went into Natásha’s room with it in her hand.
“You shameless good-for-nothing!” said she. “I won’t hear a word.”
Pushing back Natásha who looked at her with astonished but tearless eyes, she locked her in; and having given orders to the yard porter to admit the persons who would be coming that evening, but not to let them out again, and having told the footman to bring them up to her, she seated herself in the drawing room to await the abductors.
When Gabriel came to inform her that the men who had come had run away again, she rose frowning, and clasping her hands behind her paced through the rooms a long time considering what she should do. Toward midnight she went to Natásha’s room fingering the key in her pocket. Sónya was sitting sobbing in the corridor. “Márya Dmítrievna, for God’s sake let me in to her!” she pleaded, but Márya Dmítrievna unlocked the door and went in without giving her an answer.... “Disgusting, abominable... In my house... horrid girl, hussy! I’m only sorry for her father!” thought she, trying to restrain her wrath. “Hard as it may be, I’ll tell them all to hold their tongues and will hide it from the count.” She entered the room with resolute steps. Natásha lying on the sofa, her head hidden in her hands, and she did not stir. She was in just the same position in which Márya Dmítrievna had left her.
“A nice girl! Very nice!” said Márya Dmítrievna. “Arranging meetings with lovers in my house! It’s no use pretending: you listen when I speak to you!” And Márya Dmítrievna touched her arm. “Listen when I speak! You’ve disgraced yourself like the lowest of hussies. I’d treat you differently, but I’m sorry for your father, so I will conceal it.”
Natásha did not change her position, but her whole body heaved with noiseless, convulsive sobs which choked her. Márya Dmítrievna glanced round at Sónya and seated herself on the sofa beside Natásha.
“It’s lucky for him that he escaped me; but I’ll find him!” she said in her rough voice. “Do you hear what I am saying or not?” she added.
She put her large hand under Natásha’s face and turned it toward her. Both Márya Dmítrievna and Sónya were amazed when they saw how Natásha looked. Her eyes were dry and glistening, her lips compressed, her cheeks sunken.
“Let me be!... What is it to me?... I shall die!” she muttered, wrenching herself from Márya Dmítrievna’s hands with a vicious effort and sinking down again into her former position.
“Natalie!” said Márya Dmítrievna. “I wish for your good. Lie still, stay like that then, I won’t touch you. But listen. I won’t tell you how guilty you are. You know that yourself. But when your father comes back tomorrow what am I to tell him? Eh?”
Again Natásha’s body shook with sobs.
“Suppose he finds out, and your brother, and your betrothed?”
“I have no betrothed: I have refused him!” cried Natásha.
“That’s all the same,” continued Márya Dmítrievna. “If they hear of this, will they let it pass? He, your father, I know him... if he challenges him to a duel will that be all right? Eh?”
“Oh, let me be! Why have you interfered at all? Why? Why? Who asked you to?” shouted Natásha, raising herself on the sofa and looking malignantly at Márya Dmítrievna.
“But what did you want?” cried Márya Dmítrievna, growing angry again. “Were you kept under lock and key? Who hindered his coming to the house? Why carry you off as if you were some gypsy singing girl?... Well, if he had carried you off... do you think they wouldn’t have found him? Your father, or brother, or your betrothed? And he’s a scoundrel, a wretch—that’s a fact!”
“He is better than any of you!” exclaimed Natásha getting up. “If you hadn’t interfered... Oh, my God! What is it all? What is it? Sónya, why?... Go away!”
And she burst into sobs with the despairing vehemence with which people bewail disasters they feel they have themselves occasioned. Márya Dmítrievna was to speak again but Natásha cried out:
“Go away! Go away! You all hate and despise me!” and she threw herself back on the sofa.
Márya Dmítrievna went on admonishing her for some time, enjoining on her that it must all be kept from her father and assuring her that nobody would know anything about it if only Natásha herself would undertake to forget it all and not let anyone see that something had happened. Natásha did not reply, nor did she sob any longer, but she grew cold and had a shivering fit. Márya Dmítrievna put a pillow under her head, covered her with two quilts, and herself brought her some lime-flower water, but Natásha did not respond to her.
“Well, let her sleep,” said Márya Dmítrievna as she went out of the room supposing Natásha to be asleep.
But Natásha was not asleep; with pale face and fixed wide-open eyes she looked straight before her. All that night she did not sleep or weep and did not speak to Sónya who got up and went to her several times.
Next day Count Rostóv returned from his estate near Moscow in time for lunch as he had promised. He was in very good spirits; the affair with the purchaser was going on satisfactorily, and there was nothing to keep him any longer in Moscow, away from the countess whom he missed. Márya Dmítrievna met him and told him that Natásha had been very unwell the day before and that they had sent for the doctor, but that she was better now. Natásha had not left her room that morning. With compressed and parched lips and dry fixed eyes, she sat at the window, uneasily watching the people who drove past and hurriedly glancing round at anyone who entered the room. She was evidently expecting news of him and that he would come or would write to her.
When the count came to see her she turned anxiously round at the sound of a man’s footstep, and then her face resumed its cold and malevolent expression. She did not even get up to greet him. “What is the matter with you, my angel? Are you ill?” asked the count.
After a moment’s silence Natásha answered: “Yes, ill.”
In reply to the count’s anxious inquiries as to why she was so dejected and whether anything had happened to her betrothed, she assured him that nothing had happened and asked him not to worry. Márya Dmítrievna confirmed Natásha’s assurances that nothing had happened. From the pretense of illness, from his daughter’s distress, and by the embarrassed faces of Sónya and Márya Dmítrievna, the count saw clearly that something had gone wrong during his absence, but it was so terrible for him to think that anything disgraceful had happened to his beloved daughter, and he so prized his own cheerful tranquillity, that he avoided inquiries and tried to assure himself that nothing particularly had happened; and he was only dissatisfied that her indisposition delayed their return to the country.
From the day his wife arrived in Moscow Pierre had been intending to go away somewhere, so as not to be near her. Soon after the Rostóvs came to Moscow the effect Natásha had on him made him hasten to carry out his intention. He went to Tver to see Joseph Alexéevich’s widow, who had long since promised to hand over to him some papers of her deceased husband’s.
When he returned to Moscow Pierre was handed a letter from Márya Dmítrievna asking him to come and see her on a matter of great importance relating to Andrew Bolkónski and his betrothed. Pierre had been avoiding Natásha because it seemed to him that his feeling for her was stronger than a married man’s should be for his friend’s fiancée. Yet some fate constantly threw them together.
“What can have happened? And what can they want with me?” thought he as he dressed to go to Márya Dmítrievna’s. “If only Prince Andrew would hurry up and come and marry her!” thought he on his way to the house.
On the Tverskóy Boulevard a familiar voice called to him.
“Pierre! Been back long?” someone shouted. Pierre raised his head. In a sleigh drawn by two gray trotting-horses that were bespattering the dashboard with snow, Anatole and his constant companion Makárin dashed past. Anatole was sitting upright in the classic pose of military dandies, the lower part of his face hidden by his beaver collar and his head slightly bent. His face was fresh and rosy, his white-plumed hat, tilted to one side, disclosed his curled and pomaded hair besprinkled with powdery snow.
“Yes, indeed, that’s a true sage,” thought Pierre. “He sees nothing beyond the pleasure of the moment, nothing troubles him and so he is always cheerful, satisfied, and serene. What wouldn’t I give to be like him!” he thought enviously.
In Márya Dmítrievna’s anteroom the footman who helped him off with his fur coat said that the mistress asked him to come to her bedroom.
When he opened the ballroom door Pierre saw Natásha sitting at the window, with a thin, pale, and spiteful face. She glanced round at him, frowned, and left the room with an expression of cold dignity.
“What has happened?” asked Pierre, entering Márya Dmítrievna’s room.
“Fine doings!” answered Dmítrievna. “For fifty-eight years have I lived in this world and never known anything so disgraceful!”
And having put him on his honor not to repeat anything she told him, Márya Dmítrievna informed him that Natásha had refused Prince Andrew without her parents’ knowledge and that the cause of this was Anatole Kurágin into whose society Pierre’s wife had thrown her and with whom Natásha had tried to elope during her father’s absence, in order to be married secretly.
Pierre raised his shoulders and listened open-mouthed to what was told him, scarcely able to believe his own ears. That Prince Andrew’s deeply loved affianced wife—the same Natásha Rostóva who used to be so charming—should give up Bolkónski for that fool Anatole who was already secretly married (as Pierre knew), and should be so in love with him as to agree to run away with him, was something Pierre could not conceive and could not imagine.
He could not reconcile the charming impression he had of Natásha, whom he had known from a child, with this new conception of her baseness, folly, and cruelty. He thought of his wife. “They are all alike!” he said to himself, reflecting that he was not the only man unfortunate enough to be tied to a bad woman. But still he pitied Prince Andrew to the point of tears and sympathized with his wounded pride, and the more he pitied his friend the more did he think with contempt and even with disgust of that Natásha who had just passed him in the ballroom with such a look of cold dignity. He did not know that Natásha’s soul was overflowing with despair, shame, and humiliation, and that it was not her fault that her face happened to assume an expression of calm dignity and severity.
“But how get married?” said Pierre, in answer to Márya Dmítrievna. “He could not marry—he is married!”
“Things get worse from hour to hour!” ejaculated Márya Dmítrievna. “A nice youth! What a scoundrel! And she’s expecting him—expecting him since yesterday. She must be told! Then at least she won’t go on expecting him.”
After hearing the details of Anatole’s marriage from Pierre, and giving vent to her anger against Anatole in words of abuse, Márya Dmítrievna told Pierre why she had sent for him. She was afraid that the count or Bolkónski, who might arrive at any moment, if they knew of this affair (which she hoped to hide from them) might challenge Anatole to a duel, and she therefore asked Pierre to tell his brother-in-law in her name to leave Moscow and not dare to let her set eyes on him again. Pierre—only now realizing the danger to the old count, Nicholas, and Prince Andrew—promised to do as she wished. Having briefly and exactly explained her wishes to him, she let him go to the drawing room.
“Mind, the count knows nothing. Behave as if you know nothing either,” she said. “And I will go and tell her it is no use expecting him! And stay to dinner if you care to!” she called after Pierre.
Pierre met the old count, who seemed nervous and upset. That morning Natásha had told him that she had rejected Bolkónski.
“Troubles, troubles, my dear fellow!” he said to Pierre. “What troubles one has with these girls without their mother! I do so regret having come here.... I will be frank with you. Have you heard she has broken off her engagement without consulting anybody? It’s true this engagement never was much to my liking. Of course he is an excellent man, but still, with his father’s disapproval they wouldn’t have been happy, and Natásha won’t lack suitors. Still, it has been going on so long, and to take such a step without father’s or mother’s consent! And now she’s ill, and God knows what! It’s hard, Count, hard to manage daughters in their mother’s absence....”
Pierre saw that the count was much upset and tried to change the subject, but the count returned to his troubles.
Sónya entered the room with an agitated face.
“Natásha is not quite well; she’s in her room and would like to see you. Márya Dmítrievna is with her and she too asks you to come.”
“Yes, you are a great friend of Bolkónski’s, no doubt she wants to send him a message,” said the count. “Oh dear! Oh dear! How happy it all was!”
And clutching the spare gray locks on his temples the count left the room.
When Márya Dmítrievna told Natásha that Anatole was married, Natásha did not wish to believe it and insisted on having it confirmed by Pierre himself. Sónya told Pierre this as she led him along the corridor to Natásha’s room.
Natásha, pale and stern, was sitting beside Márya Dmítrievna, and her eyes, glittering feverishly, met Pierre with a questioning look the moment he entered. She did not smile or nod, but only gazed fixedly at him, and her look asked only one thing: was he a friend, or like the others an enemy in regard to Anatole? As for Pierre, he evidently did not exist for her.
“He knows all about it,” said Márya Dmítrievna pointing to Pierre and addressing Natásha. “Let him tell you whether I have told the truth.”
Natásha looked from one to the other as a hunted and wounded animal looks at the approaching dogs and sportsmen.
“Natálya Ilyníchna,” Pierre began, dropping his eyes with a feeling of pity for her and loathing for the thing he had to do, “whether it is true or not should make no difference to you, because...”
“Then it is not true that he’s married!”
“Yes, it is true.”
“Has he been married long?” she asked. “On your honor?...”
Pierre gave his word of honor.
“Is he still here?” she asked, quickly.
“Yes, I have just seen him.”
She was evidently unable to speak and made a sign with her hands that they should leave her alone.
Pierre did not stay for dinner, but left the room and went away at once. He drove through the town seeking Anatole Kurágin, at the thought of whom now the blood rushed to his heart and he felt a difficulty in breathing. He was not at the ice hills, nor at the gypsies’, nor at Komoneno’s. Pierre drove to the Club. In the Club all was going on as usual. The members who were assembling for dinner were sitting about in groups; they greeted Pierre and spoke of the town news. The footman having greeted him, knowing his habits and his acquaintances, told him there was a place left for him in the small dining room and that Prince Michael Zakhárych was in the library, but Paul Timoféevich had not yet arrived. One of Pierre’s acquaintances, while they were talking about the weather, asked if he had heard of Kurágin’s abduction of Rostóva which was talked of in the town, and was it true? Pierre laughed and said it was nonsense for he had just come from the Rostóvs’. He asked everyone about Anatole. One man told him he had not come yet, and another that he was coming to dinner. Pierre felt it strange to see this calm, indifferent crowd of people unaware of what was going on in his soul. He paced through the ballroom, waited till everyone had come, and as Anatole had not turned up did not stay for dinner but drove home.
Anatole, for whom Pierre was looking, dined that day with Dólokhov, consulting him as to how to remedy this unfortunate affair. It seemed to him essential to see Natásha. In the evening he drove to his sister’s to discuss with her how to arrange a meeting. When Pierre returned home after vainly hunting all over Moscow, his valet informed him that Prince Anatole was with the countess. The countess’ drawing room was full of guests.
Pierre without greeting his wife whom he had not seen since his return—at that moment she was more repulsive to him than ever—entered the drawing room and seeing Anatole went up to him.
“Ah, Pierre,” said the countess going up to her husband. “You don’t know what a plight our Anatole...”
She stopped, seeing in the forward thrust of her husband’s head, in his glowing eyes and his resolute gait, the terrible indications of that rage and strength which she knew and had herself experienced after his duel with Dólokhov.
“Where you are, there is vice and evil!” said Pierre to his wife. “Anatole, come with me! I must speak to you,” he added in French.
Anatole glanced round at his sister and rose submissively, ready to follow Pierre. Pierre, taking him by the arm, pulled him toward himself and was leading him from the room.
“If you allow yourself in my drawing room...” whispered Hélène, but Pierre did not reply and went out of the room.
Anatole followed him with his usual jaunty step but his face betrayed anxiety.
Having entered his study Pierre closed the door and addressed Anatole without looking at him.
“You promised Countess Rostóva to marry her and were about to elope with her, is that so?”
“Mon cher,” answered Anatole (their whole conversation was in French), “I don’t consider myself bound to answer questions put to me in that tone.”
Pierre’s face, already pale, became distorted by fury. He seized Anatole by the collar of his uniform with his big hand and shook him from side to side till Anatole’s face showed a sufficient degree of terror.
“When I tell you that I must talk to you!...” repeated Pierre.
“Come now, this is stupid. What?” said Anatole, fingering a button of his collar that had been wrenched loose with a bit of the cloth.
“You’re a scoundrel and a blackguard, and I don’t know what deprives me from the pleasure of smashing your head with this!” said Pierre, expressing himself so artificially because he was talking French.
He took a heavy paperweight and lifted it threateningly, but at once put it back in its place.
“Did you promise to marry her?”
“I... I didn’t think of it. I never promised, because...”
Pierre interrupted him.
“Have you any letters of hers? Any letters?” he said, moving toward Anatole.
Anatole glanced at him and immediately thrust his hand into his pocket and drew out his pocketbook.
Pierre took the letter Anatole handed him and, pushing aside a table that stood in his way, threw himself on the sofa.
“I shan’t be violent, don’t be afraid!” said Pierre in answer to a frightened gesture of Anatole’s. “First, the letters,” said he, as if repeating a lesson to himself. “Secondly,” he continued after a short pause, again rising and again pacing the room, “tomorrow you must get out of Moscow.”
“But how can I?...”
“Thirdly,” Pierre continued without listening to him, “you must never breathe a word of what has passed between you and Countess Rostóva. I know I can’t prevent your doing so, but if you have a spark of conscience...” Pierre paced the room several times in silence.
Anatole sat at a table frowning and biting his lips.
“After all, you must understand that besides your pleasure there is such a thing as other people’s happiness and peace, and that you are ruining a whole life for the sake of amusing yourself! Amuse yourself with women like my wife—with them you are within your rights, for they know what you want of them. They are armed against you by the same experience of debauchery; but to promise a maid to marry her... to deceive, to kidnap.... Don’t you understand that it is as mean as beating an old man or a child?...”
Pierre paused and looked at Anatole no longer with an angry but with a questioning look.
“I don’t know about that, eh?” said Anatole, growing more confident as Pierre mastered his wrath. “I don’t know that and don’t want to,” he said, not looking at Pierre and with a slight tremor of his lower jaw, “but you have used such words to me—‘mean’ and so on—which as a man of honor I can’t allow anyone to use.”
Pierre glanced at him with amazement, unable to understand what he wanted.
“Though it was tête-à-tête,” Anatole continued, “still I can’t...”
“Is it satisfaction you want?” said Pierre ironically.
“You could at least take back your words. What? If you want me to do as you wish, eh?”
“I take them back, I take them back!” said Pierre, “and I ask you to forgive me.” Pierre involuntarily glanced at the loose button. “And if you require money for your journey...”
Anatole smiled. The expression of that base and cringing smile, which Pierre knew so well in his wife, revolted him.
“Oh, vile and heartless brood!” he exclaimed, and left the room.
Next day Anatole left for Petersburg.