Having thanked Anna Pávlovna for her charming soiree, the guests began to take their leave.
Pierre was ungainly. Stout, about the average height, broad, with huge red hands; he did not know, as the saying is, how to enter a drawing room and still less how to leave one; that is, how to say something particularly agreeable before going away. Besides this he was absent-minded. When he rose to go, he took up instead of his own, the general’s three-cornered hat, and held it, pulling at the plume, till the general asked him to restore it. All his absent-mindedness and inability to enter a room and converse in it was, however, redeemed by his kindly, simple, and modest expression. Anna Pávlovna turned toward him and, with a Christian mildness that expressed forgiveness of his indiscretion, nodded and said: “I hope to see you again, but I also hope you will change your opinions, my dear Monsieur Pierre.”
When she said this, he did not reply and only bowed, but again everybody saw his smile, which said nothing, unless perhaps, “Opinions are opinions, but you see what a capital, good-natured fellow I am.” And everyone, including Anna Pávlovna, felt this.
Prince Andrew had gone out into the hall, and, turning his shoulders to the footman who was helping him on with his cloak, listened indifferently to his wife’s chatter with Prince Hippolyte who had also come into the hall. Prince Hippolyte stood close to the pretty, pregnant princess, and stared fixedly at her through his eyeglass.
“Go in, Annette, or you will catch cold,” said the little princess, taking leave of Anna Pávlovna. “It is settled,” she added in a low voice.
Anna Pávlovna had already managed to speak to Lise about the match she contemplated between Anatole and the little princess’ sister-in-law.
“I rely on you, my dear,” said Anna Pávlovna, also in a low tone. “Write to her and let me know how her father looks at the matter. Au revoir! ”—and she left the hall.
Prince Hippolyte approached the little princess and, bending his face close to her, began to whisper something.
Two footmen, the princess’ and his own, stood holding a shawl and a cloak, waiting for the conversation to finish. They listened to the French sentences which to them were meaningless, with an air of understanding but not wishing to appear to do so. The princess as usual spoke smilingly and listened with a laugh.
“I am very glad I did not go to the ambassador’s,” said Prince Hippolyte “—so dull—. It has been a delightful evening, has it not? Delightful!”
“They say the ball will be very good,” replied the princess, drawing up her downy little lip. “All the pretty women in society will be there.”
“Not all, for you will not be there; not all,” said Prince Hippolyte smiling joyfully; and snatching the shawl from the footman, whom he even pushed aside, he began wrapping it round the princess. Either from awkwardness or intentionally (no one could have said which) after the shawl had been adjusted he kept his arm around her for a long time, as though embracing her.
Still smiling, she gracefully moved away, turning and glancing at her husband. Prince Andrew’s eyes were closed, so weary and sleepy did he seem.
“Are you ready?” he asked his wife, looking past her.
Prince Hippolyte hurriedly put on his cloak, which in the latest fashion reached to his very heels, and, stumbling in it, ran out into the porch following the princess, whom a footman was helping into the carriage.
“Princesse, au revoir,” cried he, stumbling with his tongue as well as with his feet.
The princess, picking up her dress, was taking her seat in the dark carriage, her husband was adjusting his saber; Prince Hippolyte, under pretense of helping, was in everyone’s way.
“Allow me, sir,” said Prince Andrew in Russian in a cold, disagreeable tone to Prince Hippolyte who was blocking his path.
“I am expecting you, Pierre,” said the same voice, but gently and affectionately.
The postilion started, the carriage wheels rattled. Prince Hippolyte laughed spasmodically as he stood in the porch waiting for the vicomte whom he had promised to take home.
“Well, mon cher,” said the vicomte, having seated himself beside Hippolyte in the carriage, “your little princess is very nice, very nice indeed, quite French,” and he kissed the tips of his fingers. Hippolyte burst out laughing.
“Do you know, you are a terrible chap for all your innocent airs,” continued the vicomte. “I pity the poor husband, that little officer who gives himself the airs of a monarch.”
Hippolyte spluttered again, and amid his laughter said, “And you were saying that the Russian ladies are not equal to the French? One has to know how to deal with them.”
Pierre reaching the house first went into Prince Andrew’s study like one quite at home, and from habit immediately lay down on the sofa, took from the shelf the first book that came to his hand (it was Caesar’s Commentaries), and resting on his elbow, began reading it in the middle.
“What have you done to Mlle Schérer? She will be quite ill now,” said Prince Andrew, as he entered the study, rubbing his small white hands.
Pierre turned his whole body, making the sofa creak. He lifted his eager face to Prince Andrew, smiled, and waved his hand.
“That abbé is very interesting but he does not see the thing in the right light.... In my opinion perpetual peace is possible but—I do not know how to express it ... not by a balance of political power....”
It was evident that Prince Andrew was not interested in such abstract conversation.
“One can’t everywhere say all one thinks, mon cher. Well, have you at last decided on anything? Are you going to be a guardsman or a diplomatist?” asked Prince Andrew after a momentary silence.
Pierre sat up on the sofa, with his legs tucked under him.
“Really, I don’t yet know. I don’t like either the one or the other.”
“But you must decide on something! Your father expects it.”
Pierre at the age of ten had been sent abroad with an abbé as tutor, and had remained away till he was twenty. When he returned to Moscow his father dismissed the abbé and said to the young man, “Now go to Petersburg, look round, and choose your profession. I will agree to anything. Here is a letter to Prince Vasíli, and here is money. Write to me all about it, and I will help you in everything.” Pierre had already been choosing a career for three months, and had not decided on anything. It was about this choice that Prince Andrew was speaking. Pierre rubbed his forehead.
“But he must be a Freemason,” said he, referring to the abbé whom he had met that evening.
“That is all nonsense.” Prince Andrew again interrupted him, “let us talk business. Have you been to the Horse Guards?”
“No, I have not; but this is what I have been thinking and wanted to tell you. There is a war now against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom I could understand it and should be the first to enter the army; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world is not right.”
Prince Andrew only shrugged his shoulders at Pierre’s childish words. He put on the air of one who finds it impossible to reply to such nonsense, but it would in fact have been difficult to give any other answer than the one Prince Andrew gave to this naïve question.
“If no one fought except on his own conviction, there would be no wars,” he said.
“And that would be splendid,” said Pierre.
Prince Andrew smiled ironically.
“Very likely it would be splendid, but it will never come about....”
“Well, why are you going to the war?” asked Pierre.
“What for? I don’t know. I must. Besides that I am going....” He paused. “I am going because the life I am leading here does not suit me!”
The rustle of a woman’s dress was heard in the next room. Prince Andrew shook himself as if waking up, and his face assumed the look it had had in Anna Pávlovna’s drawing room. Pierre removed his feet from the sofa. The princess came in. She had changed her gown for a house dress as fresh and elegant as the other. Prince Andrew rose and politely placed a chair for her.
“How is it,” she began, as usual in French, settling down briskly and fussily in the easy chair, “how is it Annette never got married? How stupid you men all are not to have married her! Excuse me for saying so, but you have no sense 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 to go to the war,” replied Pierre, addressing the princess with none of the embarrassment so commonly shown by young men in their intercourse with young women.
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’t in the least understand why men can’t live without wars. How is it that we women don’t want anything of the kind, don’t need it? Now you shall judge between us. I always tell him: Here he is Uncle’s aide-de-camp, a most brilliant position. He is so well known, so much appreciated by everyone. The other day at the Apráksins’ I heard a lady asking, ‘Is that the famous Prince Andrew?’ I did indeed.” She laughed. “He is so well received everywhere. He might easily become aide-de-camp to the Emperor. You know the Emperor spoke to him most graciously. Annette and I were speaking of how to arrange it. What do you think?”
Pierre looked at his friend and, noticing that he did not like the conversation, 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 the princess in the same petulantly playful tone in which she had spoken to Hippolyte in the drawing room and which was so plainly ill-suited to the family circle of which Pierre was almost a member. “Today when I remembered that all these delightful associations must be broken off ... and then you know, André...” (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 besides Pierre and himself was in the room, and addressed her in a tone of frigid politeness.
“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 his own, goodness only knows why, he leaves me and locks me up alone in the country.”
“With my father and sister, remember,” said Prince Andrew gently.
“Alone all the same, without my friends.... And he expects me not to be afraid.”
Her tone was now querulous and her lip drawn up, giving her not a joyful, but an animal, squirrel-like expression. She paused as if she felt it indecorous to speak of her pregnancy before Pierre, though the gist of the matter lay in that.
“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 had better go.”
The princess said nothing, but suddenly her short downy lip quivered. Prince Andrew rose, shrugged his shoulders, and walked about the room.
Pierre looked over his spectacles with naïve surprise, now at him and now at her, moved as if about to rise too, but changed his mind.
“Why should I mind Monsieur Pierre being here?” exclaimed the little princess suddenly, her pretty face all at once distorted by a tearful grimace. “I have long wanted to ask you, Andrew, why you have changed so to me? What have I done 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, a threat, and above all conviction that she would herself regret her words. But she went on hurriedly:
“You treat me like an invalid or a child. I see it all! Did you behave like that 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 all this, rose and approached the princess. He seemed unable to bear the sight of tears and was ready to cry himself.
“Calm yourself, Princess! It seems so to you because.... I assure you I myself have experienced ... and so ... because ... No, excuse me! An outsider is out of place here.... 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 the pleasure of spending the evening with you.”
“No, he thinks only of himself,” muttered the princess without restraining her angry tears.
“Lise!” said Prince Andrew dryly, raising his voice to the pitch which indicates that patience is exhausted.
Suddenly the angry, squirrel-like expression of the princess’ pretty face changed into a winning and piteous look of fear. Her beautiful eyes glanced askance at her husband’s face, and her own assumed the timid, deprecating expression 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 she went up to her husband and kissed him on the forehead.
“Good night, Lise,” said he, rising and courteously kissing her hand as he would have done to a stranger.
The friends were silent. Neither cared to begin talking. Pierre continually glanced at Prince Andrew; Prince Andrew rubbed his forehead with his small hand.
“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 that imprint of newness found in the households of the newly married. Halfway through supper Prince Andrew leaned his elbows on the table and, with a look of nervous agitation such as Pierre had never before seen on his face, began to talk—as one who has long had something on his mind and suddenly determines to speak out.
“Never, never marry, my dear fellow! That’s my advice: never marry till you can say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of, and until you have ceased to love the woman of your choice and have seen her plainly as she is, or else you will make a cruel and irrevocable mistake. Marry when you are old and good for nothing—or all that is good and noble in you will be lost. It will all be wasted on trifles. Yes! Yes! Yes! Don’t look at me with such surprise. If you marry expecting anything from yourself in the future, you will feel at every step that for you all is ended, all is closed except the drawing room, where you will be ranged side by side with a court lackey and an idiot!... But what’s the good?...” and he waved his arm.
Pierre took off his spectacles, which made his face seem different and the good-natured expression still more apparent, and gazed at his friend in amazement.
“My wife,” continued Prince Andrew, “is an excellent woman, one of those rare women with whom a man’s honor is safe; but, O God, what would I not give now to 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 Bolkónski who had lolled in Anna Pávlovna’s easy chairs and with half-closed eyes had uttered French phrases between his teeth. Every muscle of his thin face was now quivering with nervous excitement; his eyes, in which the fire of life had seemed extinguished, now flashed with brilliant light. It was evident that the more lifeless he seemed at ordinary times, the more impassioned he became in these moments of almost morbid irritation.
“You don’t understand why I say this,” he continued, “but it is the whole story of life. You talk of Bonaparte and his career,” said he (though Pierre had not mentioned Bonaparte), “but Bonaparte when he worked went step by step toward his goal. He was free, he had nothing but his aim to consider, and he reached it. But tie yourself up with a woman and, like a chained convict, you lose all freedom! And all you have of hope and strength merely weighs you down and torments you with regret. Drawing rooms, gossip, balls, vanity, and triviality—these are the enchanted circle I cannot escape from. I am now going to the war, the greatest war there ever was, and I know nothing and am fit for nothing. I am very amiable and have a caustic wit,” continued Prince Andrew, “and at Anna Pávlovna’s they listen to me. And that stupid set without whom my wife cannot exist, and those women.... If you only knew what those society women are, and women in general! My father is right. Selfish, vain, stupid, trivial in 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, but there’s nothing, nothing, nothing! No, don’t marry, my dear fellow; don’t marry!” concluded Prince Andrew.
“It seems funny to me,” said Pierre, “that you, you should consider yourself incapable 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 of his friend and how much he expected of him in the future.
“How can he talk like that?” thought Pierre. He considered his friend a model of perfection because Prince Andrew possessed in the highest degree just the very qualities Pierre lacked, and which might be best described as strength of will. Pierre was always astonished at Prince Andrew’s calm manner of treating everybody, his extraordinary memory, his extensive reading (he had read everything, knew everything, and had an opinion about everything), but above all at his capacity for work and study. And if Pierre was often struck by Andrew’s lack of capacity for philosophical meditation (to which he himself was particularly addicted), he regarded even this not as a defect but as a sign of strength.
Even in the best, most friendly and simplest relations of life, praise and commendation are essential, just as grease is necessary to wheels that they may run smoothly.
“My part is played out,” said Prince Andrew. “What’s the use of talking about me? Let us talk about you,” he added after a silence, smiling at his reassuring thoughts.
That smile was immediately reflected on Pierre’s face.
“But what is there to say about me?” said Pierre, his face relaxing into a careless, merry smile. “What am I? An illegitimate son!” He suddenly blushed crimson, 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’t the least idea what I am to do; I wanted to consult you seriously.”
Prince Andrew looked kindly at him, yet his glance—friendly and affectionate as 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 all right anywhere. But look here: give up visiting those Kurágins and leading that sort of life. It suits you so badly—all this debauchery, dissipation, and the rest of it!”
“What would you have, my dear fellow?” answered Pierre, shrugging his shoulders. “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 Kurágins’ set of women, ‘women and wine’ I don’t understand!”
Pierre was staying at Prince Vasíli Kurágin’s and sharing the dissipated life of his son Anatole, the son whom they were planning to reform by marrying him to 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’t decide or think properly about anything. One’s head aches, and one spends all one’s money. He asked me for tonight, but I won’t go.”
“You give me your word of honor not to go?”
“On my honor!”
It was past one o’clock when Pierre left his friend. It was a cloudless, northern, summer night. Pierre took an open cab intending to drive straight home. But the nearer he drew to the house the more he felt the impossibility of going to sleep on such a night. It was light enough to see a long way in the deserted street and it seemed more like morning or evening than night. On the way Pierre remembered that Anatole Kurágin was expecting the usual set for cards that evening, after which there was generally a drinking bout, finishing with visits of a kind Pierre was very fond of.
“I should like to go to Kurágin’s,” thought he.
But he immediately recalled his promise to Prince Andrew not to go there. Then, as happens to people of weak character, he desired so passionately once more to enjoy that dissipation he was so accustomed to that he decided to go. The thought immediately occurred to him that his promise to Prince Andrew was of no account, because before he gave it he had already promised Prince Anatole to come to his gathering; “besides,” thought he, “all such ‘words of honor’ are conventional things with no definite meaning, especially if one considers that by tomorrow one may be dead, or something so extraordinary may happen to one that honor and dishonor will be all the same!” Pierre often indulged in reflections of this sort, nullifying all his decisions and intentions. He went to Kurágin’s.
Reaching the large house near the Horse Guards’ barracks, in which Anatole lived, Pierre entered the lighted porch, ascended the stairs, and went in at the open door. There was no one in the anteroom; empty bottles, cloaks, and overshoes were lying about; there was a smell of alcohol, and sounds of voices and shouting in the distance.
Cards and supper were over, but the visitors had not yet dispersed. Pierre threw off his cloak and entered the first room, in which were the remains of supper. A footman, thinking no one saw him, was drinking on the sly what was left in the glasses. From the third room came sounds of laughter, the shouting of familiar voices, the growling of a bear, and general commotion. Some eight or nine young men were crowding anxiously round an open window. Three others were romping with a young bear, one pulling him by the chain and trying to set him at the others.
“I bet a hundred on Stevens!” shouted one.
“Mind, no holding on!” cried another.
“I bet on Dólokhov!” cried a third. “Kurágin, you part our hands.”
“There, leave Bruin alone; here’s a bet on.”
“At one draught, or he loses!” shouted a fourth.
“Jacob, bring a bottle!” shouted the host, a tall, handsome fellow who stood in the midst of the group, without a coat, and with his fine linen shirt unfastened in front. “Wait a bit, you fellows.... Here is Pétya! Good man!” cried he, addressing Pierre.
Another voice, from a man of medium height with clear blue eyes, particularly striking among all these drunken voices by its sober ring, cried from the window: “Come here; part the bets!” This was Dólokhov, an officer of the Semënov regiment, a notorious gambler and duelist, who was living with Anatole. Pierre smiled, looking about him merrily.
“I don’t understand. What’s it all about?”
“Wait a bit, he is not drunk yet! A bottle here,” said Anatole, and taking a glass from the table he went up to Pierre.
“First of all you must drink!”
Pierre drank one glass after another, looking from under his brows at the tipsy guests who were again crowding round the window, and listening to their chatter. Anatole kept on refilling Pierre’s glass while explaining that Dólokhov was betting with Stevens, an English naval officer, that he would drink a bottle of rum sitting on the outer ledge of the third floor window with his legs hanging out.
“Go on, you must drink it all,” said Anatole, giving Pierre the last glass, “or I won’t let you go!”
“No, I won’t,” said Pierre, pushing Anatole aside, and he went up to the window.
Dólokhov was holding the Englishman’s hand and clearly and distinctly repeating the terms of the bet, addressing himself particularly to Anatole and Pierre.
Dólokhov was of medium height, with curly hair and light-blue eyes. He was about twenty-five. Like all infantry officers he wore no mustache, so that his mouth, the most striking feature of his face, was clearly seen. The lines of that mouth were remarkably finely curved. The middle of the upper lip formed a sharp wedge and closed firmly on the firm lower one, and something like two distinct smiles played continually round the two corners of the mouth; this, together with the resolute, insolent intelligence of his eyes, produced an effect which made it impossible not to notice his face. Dólokhov was a man of small means and no connections. Yet, though Anatole spent tens of thousands of rubles, Dólokhov lived with him and had placed himself on such a footing that all who knew them, including Anatole himself, respected him more than they did Anatole. Dólokhov could play all games and nearly always won. However much he drank, he never lost his clearheadedness. Both Kurágin and Dólokhov were at that time notorious among the rakes and scapegraces of Petersburg.
The bottle of rum was brought. The window frame which prevented anyone from sitting on the outer sill was being forced out by two footmen, who were evidently flurried and intimidated by the directions and shouts of the gentlemen around.
Anatole with his swaggering air strode up to the window. He wanted to smash something. Pushing away the footmen he tugged at the frame, but could not move it. He smashed a pane.
“You have a try, Hercules,” said he, turning to Pierre.
Pierre seized the crossbeam, tugged, and wrenched the oak frame out with a crash.
“Take it right out, or they’ll think I’m holding on,” said Dólokhov.
“Is the Englishman bragging?... Eh? Is it all right?” said Anatole.
“First-rate,” said Pierre, looking at Dólokhov, who with a bottle of rum in his hand was approaching the window, from which the light of the sky, the dawn merging with the afterglow of sunset, was visible.
Dólokhov, the bottle of rum still in his hand, jumped onto the window sill. “Listen!” cried he, standing there and addressing those in the room. All were silent.
“I bet fifty imperials”—he spoke French that the Englishman might understand him, but he did not speak it very well—“I bet fifty imperials ... or do you wish to make it a hundred?” added he, addressing the Englishman.
“No, fifty,” replied the latter.
“All right. Fifty imperials ... that I will drink a whole bottle of rum without taking it from my mouth, sitting outside the window on this spot” (he stooped and pointed to the sloping ledge outside the window) “and without holding on to anything. Is that right?”
“Quite right,” said the Englishman.
Anatole turned to the Englishman and taking him by one of the buttons of his coat and looking down at him—the Englishman was short—began repeating the terms of the wager to him in English.
“Wait!” cried Dólokhov, hammering with the bottle on the window sill to attract attention. “Wait a bit, Kurágin. Listen! If anyone else does the same, I will pay him a hundred imperials. Do you understand?”
The Englishman nodded, but gave no indication whether he intended to accept this challenge or not. Anatole did not release him, and though he kept nodding to show that he understood, Anatole went on translating Dólokhov’s words into English. A thin young lad, an hussar of the Life Guards, who had been losing that evening, climbed on the window sill, leaned over, and looked down.
“Oh! Oh! Oh!” he muttered, looking down from the window at the stones of the pavement.
“Shut up!” cried Dólokhov, pushing him away from the window. The lad jumped awkwardly back into the room, tripping over his spurs.
Placing the bottle on the window sill where he could reach it easily, Dólokhov climbed carefully and slowly through the window and lowered his legs. Pressing against both sides of the window, he adjusted himself on his seat, lowered his hands, moved a little to the right and then to the left, and took up the bottle. Anatole brought two candles and placed them on the window sill, though it was already quite light. Dólokhov’s back in his white shirt, and his curly head, were lit up from both sides. Everyone crowded to the window, the Englishman in front. Pierre stood smiling but silent. One man, older than the others present, suddenly pushed forward with a scared and angry look and wanted to seize hold of Dólokhov’s shirt.
“I say, this is folly! He’ll be killed,” said this more sensible man.
Anatole stopped him.
“Don’t touch him! You’ll startle him and then he’ll be killed. Eh?... What then?... Eh?”
Dólokhov turned round and, again holding on with both hands, arranged himself on his seat.
“If anyone comes meddling again,” said he, emitting the words separately through his thin compressed lips, “I will throw him down there. Now then!”
Saying this he again turned round, dropped his hands, took the bottle and lifted it to his lips, threw back his head, and raised his free hand to balance himself. One of the footmen who had stooped to pick up some broken glass remained in that position without taking his eyes from the window and from Dólokhov’s back. Anatole stood erect with staring eyes. The Englishman looked on sideways, pursing up his lips. The man who had wished to stop the affair ran to a corner of the room and threw himself on a sofa with his face to the wall. Pierre hid his face, from which a faint smile forgot to fade though his features now expressed horror and fear. All were still. Pierre took his hands from his eyes. Dólokhov still sat in the same position, only his head was thrown further back till his curly hair touched his shirt collar, and the hand holding the bottle was lifted higher and higher and trembled with the effort. The bottle was emptying perceptibly and rising still higher and his head tilting yet further back. “Why is it so long?” thought Pierre. It seemed to him that more than half an hour had elapsed. Suddenly Dólokhov made a backward movement with his spine, and his arm trembled nervously; this was sufficient to cause his whole body to slip as he sat on the sloping ledge. As he began slipping down, his head and arm wavered still more with the strain. One hand moved as if to clutch the window sill, but refrained from touching it. Pierre again covered his eyes and thought he would never open them again. Suddenly he was aware of a stir all around. He looked up: Dólokhov was standing on the window sill, with a pale but radiant face.
He threw the bottle to the Englishman, who caught it neatly. Dólokhov jumped down. He smelt strongly of rum.
“Well done!... Fine fellow!... There’s a bet for you!... Devil take you!” came from different sides.
The Englishman took out his purse and began counting out the money. Dólokhov stood frowning and did not speak. Pierre jumped upon the window sill.
“Gentlemen, who wishes to bet with me? I’ll do the same thing!” he suddenly cried. “Even without a bet, there! Tell them to bring me a bottle. I’ll do it.... Bring a bottle!”
“Let him do it, let him do it,” said Dólokhov, smiling.
“What next? Have you gone mad?... No one would let you!... Why, you go giddy even on a staircase,” exclaimed several voices.
“I’ll drink it! Let’s have a bottle of rum!” shouted Pierre, banging the table with a determined and drunken gesture and preparing to climb out of the window.
They seized him by his arms; but he was so strong that everyone who touched him was sent flying.
“No, you’ll never manage him that way,” said Anatole. “Wait a bit and I’ll get round him.... Listen! I’ll take your bet tomorrow, but now we are all going to ——’s.”
“Come on then,” cried Pierre. “Come on!... And we’ll take Bruin with us.”
And he caught the bear, took it in his arms, lifted it from the ground, and began dancing round the room with it.
Prince Vasíli kept the promise he had given to Princess Drubetskáya who had spoken to him on behalf of her only son Borís on the evening of Anna Pávlovna’s soiree. The matter was mentioned to the Emperor, an exception made, and Borís transferred into the regiment of Semënov Guards with the rank of cornet. He received, however, no appointment to Kutúzov’s staff despite all Anna Mikháylovna’s endeavors and entreaties. Soon after Anna Pávlovna’s reception Anna Mikháylovna returned to Moscow and went straight to her rich relations, the Rostóvs, with whom she stayed when in the town and where her darling Bóry, who had only just entered a regiment of the line and was being at once transferred to the Guards as a cornet, had been educated from childhood and lived for years at a time. The Guards had already left Petersburg on the tenth of August, and her son, who had remained in Moscow for his equipment, was to join them on the march to Radzivílov.
It was St. Natalia’s day and the name day of two of the Rostóvs—the mother and the youngest daughter—both named Nataly. Ever since the morning, carriages with six horses had been coming and going continually, bringing visitors to the Countess Rostóva’s big house on the Povarskáya, so well known to all Moscow. The countess herself and her handsome eldest daughter were in the drawing room with the visitors who came to congratulate, and who constantly succeeded one another in relays.
The countess was a woman of about forty-five, with a thin Oriental type of face, evidently worn out with childbearing—she had had twelve. A languor of motion and speech, resulting from weakness, gave her a distinguished air which inspired respect. Princess Anna Mikháylovna Drubetskáya, who as a member of the household was also seated in the drawing room, helped to receive and entertain the visitors. The young people were in one of the inner rooms, not considering it necessary to take part in receiving the visitors. The count met the guests and saw them off, inviting them all to dinner.
“I am very, very grateful to you, mon cher,” or “ma chère”—he called everyone without exception and without the slightest variation in his tone, “my dear,” whether they were above or below him in rank—“I thank you for myself and for our two dear ones whose name day we are keeping. But mind you come to dinner or I shall be offended, ma chère! On behalf of the whole family I beg you to come, mon cher!” These words he repeated to everyone without exception or variation, and with the same expression on his full, cheerful, clean-shaven face, the same firm pressure of the hand and the same quick, repeated bows. As soon as he had seen a visitor off he returned to one of those who were still in the drawing room, drew a chair toward him or her, and jauntily spreading out his legs and putting his hands on his knees with the air of a man who enjoys life and knows how to live, he swayed to and fro with dignity, offered surmises about the weather, or touched on questions of health, sometimes in Russian and sometimes in very bad but self-confident French; then again, like a man weary but unflinching in the fulfillment of duty, he rose to see some visitors off and, stroking his scanty gray hairs over his bald patch, also asked them to dinner. Sometimes on his way back from the anteroom he would pass through the conservatory and pantry into the large marble dining hall, where tables were being set out for eighty people; and looking at the footmen, who were bringing in silver and china, moving tables, and unfolding damask table linen, he would call Dmítri Vasílevich, a man of good family and the manager of all his affairs, and while looking with pleasure at the enormous table would say: “Well, Dmítri, you’ll see that things are all as they should be? That’s right! The great thing is the serving, that’s it.” And with a complacent sigh he would return to the drawing room.
“Márya Lvóvna Karágina and her daughter!” announced the countess’ gigantic footman in his bass voice, entering the drawing room. The countess reflected a moment and took a pinch from a gold snuffbox with her husband’s portrait on it.
“I’m quite worn out by these callers. However, I’ll see her and no more. She is so affected. Ask her in,” she said to the footman in a sad voice, as if saying: “Very well, finish me off.”
A tall, stout, and proud-looking woman, with a round-faced smiling daughter, entered the drawing room, their dresses rustling.
“Dear Countess, what an age... She has been laid up, poor child ... at the Razumóvski’s ball ... and Countess Apráksina ... I was so delighted...” came the sounds of animated feminine voices, interrupting one another and mingling with the rustling of dresses and the scraping of chairs. Then one of those conversations began which last out until, at the first pause, the guests rise with a rustle of dresses and say, “I am so delighted... Mamma’s health... and Countess Apráksina...” and then, again rustling, pass into the anteroom, put on cloaks or mantles, and drive away. The conversation was on the chief topic of the day: the illness of the wealthy and celebrated beau of Catherine’s day, Count Bezúkhov, and about his illegitimate son Pierre, the one who had behaved so improperly at Anna Pávlovna’s reception.
“I am so sorry for the poor count,” said the visitor. “He is in such bad health, and now this vexation about his son is enough to kill him!”
“What is that?” asked the countess as if she did not know what the visitor alluded to, though she had already heard about the cause of Count Bezúkhov’s distress some fifteen times.
“That’s what comes of a modern education,” exclaimed the visitor. “It seems that while he was abroad this young man was allowed to do as he liked, now in Petersburg I hear he has been doing such terrible things that he has been expelled by the police.”
“You don’t say so!” replied the countess.
“He chose his friends badly,” interposed Anna Mikháylovna. “Prince Vasíli’s son, he, and a certain Dólokhov have, it is said, been up to heaven only knows what! And they have had to suffer for it. Dólokhov has been degraded to the ranks and Bezúkhov’s son sent back to Moscow. Anatole Kurágin’s father managed somehow to get his son’s affair hushed up, but even he was ordered out of Petersburg.”
“But what have they been up to?” asked the countess.
“They are regular brigands, especially Dólokhov,” replied the visitor. “He is a son of Márya Ivánovna Dólokhova, such a worthy woman, but there, just fancy! Those three got hold of a bear somewhere, put it in a carriage, and set off with it to visit some actresses! The police tried to interfere, and what did the young men do? They tied a policeman and the bear back to back and put the bear into the Moyka Canal. And there was the bear swimming about with the policeman on his back!”
“What a nice figure the policeman must have cut, my dear!” shouted the count, dying with laughter.
“Oh, how dreadful! How can you laugh at it, Count?”
Yet the ladies themselves could not help laughing.
“It was all they could do to rescue the poor man,” continued the visitor. “And to think it is Cyril Vladímirovich Bezúkhov’s son who amuses himself in this sensible manner! And he was said to be so well educated and clever. This is all that his foreign education has done for him! I hope that here in Moscow no one will receive him, in spite of his money. They wanted to introduce him to me, but I quite declined: I have my daughters to consider.”
“Why do you say this young man is so rich?” asked the countess, turning away from the girls, who at once assumed an air of inattention. “His children are all illegitimate. I think Pierre also is illegitimate.”
The visitor made a gesture with her hand.
“I should think he has a score of them.”
Princess Anna Mikháylovna intervened in the conversation, evidently wishing to show her connections and knowledge of what went on in society.
“The fact of the matter is,” said she significantly, and also in a half whisper, “everyone knows Count Cyril’s reputation.... He has lost count of his children, but this Pierre was his favorite.”
“How handsome the old man still was only a year ago!” remarked the countess. “I have never seen a handsomer man.”
“He is very much altered now,” said Anna Mikháylovna. “Well, as I was saying, Prince Vasíli is the next heir through his wife, but the count is very fond of Pierre, looked after his education, and wrote to the Emperor about him; so that in the case of his death—and he is so ill that he may die at any moment, and Dr. Lorrain has come from Petersburg—no one knows who will inherit his immense fortune, Pierre or Prince Vasíli. Forty thousand serfs and millions of rubles! I know it all very well for Prince Vasíli told me himself. Besides, Cyril Vladímirovich is my mother’s second cousin. He’s also my Bóry’s godfather,” she added, as if she attached no importance at all to the fact.
“Prince Vasíli arrived in Moscow yesterday. I hear he has come on some inspection business,” remarked the visitor.
“Yes, but between ourselves,” said the princess, “that is a pretext. The fact is he has come to see Count Cyril Vladímirovich, hearing how ill he is.”
“But do you know, my dear, that was a capital joke,” said the count; and seeing that the elder visitor was not listening, he turned to the young ladies. “I can just imagine what a funny figure that policeman cut!”
And as he waved his arms to impersonate the policeman, his portly form again shook with a deep ringing laugh, the laugh of one who always eats well and, in particular, drinks well. “So do come and dine with us!” he said.