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战争与和平War And Peace5

2006-07-16 14:22

                              CHAPTER V

    THANKING ANNA PAVLOVNA for her charmante soirée, the guests began to take leave.

    Pierre was clumsy, stout and uncommonly tall, with huge red hands; he did not, as they say, know how to come into a drawing-room and still less how to get out of one, that is, how to say something particularly agreeable on going away. Moreover, he was dreamy. He stood up, and picking up a three-cornered hat with the plume of a general in it instead of his own, he kept hold of it, pulling the feathers till the general asked him to restore it. But all his dreaminess and his inability to enter a drawing-room or talk properly in it were atoned for by his expression of good-nature, simplicity and modesty. Anna Pavlovna turned to him, and with Christian meekness signifying her forgiveness for his misbehaviour, she nodded to him and said:

    “I hope I shall see you again, but I hope too you will change your opinions, my dear Monsieur Pierre.”

    He made no answer, simply bowed and displayed to every one once more his smile, which said as plainly as words: “Opinions or no opinions, you see what a nice, good-hearted fellow I am.” And Anna Pavlovna and every one else instinctively felt this. Prince Andrey had gone out into the hall and turning his shoulders to the footman who was ready to put his cloak on him, he listened indifferently to his wife's chatter with Prince Ippolit, who had also come out into the hall. Prince Ippolit stood close to the pretty princess, so soon to be a mother, and stared persistently straight at her through his eyeglass.

    “Go in, Annette, you'll catch cold,” said the little princess, saying good-bye to Anna Pavlovna. “It is settled,” she added in a low voice.

    Anna Pavlovna had managed to have a few words with Liza about the match she was planning between Anatole and the sister-in-law of the little princess.

    “I rely on you, my dear,” said Anna Pavlovna, also in an undertone; “you write to her and tell me how the father will view the matter. Au revoir!” And she went back out of the hall.

    Prince Ippolit went up to the little princess and, bending his face down close to her, began saying something to her in a half whisper.

    Two footmen, one the princess's, the other his own, stood with shawl and redingote waiting till they should finish talking, and listened to their French prattle, incomprehensible to them, with faces that seemed to say that they understood what was being said but would not show it. The princess, as always, talked with a smile and listened laughing.

    “I'm very glad I didn't go to the ambassador's,” Prince Ippolit was saying: “such a bore.…A delightful evening it has been, hasn't it? delightful.”

    “They say the ball will be a very fine one,” answered the little princess, twitching up her downy little lip. “All the pretty women are to be there.”

    “Not all, since you won't be there; not all,” said Prince Ippolit, laughing gleefully; and snatching the shawl from the footman, shoving him aside as he did so, he began putting it on the little princess. Either from awkwardness or intentionally—no one could have said which—he did not remove his arms for a long while after the shawl had been put on, as it were holding the young woman in his embrace.

    Gracefully, but still smiling, she moved away, turned round and glanced at her husband. Prince Andrey's eyes were closed: he seemed weary and drowsy.

    “Are you ready?” he asked his wife, avoiding her eyes.

    Prince Ippolit hurriedly put on his redingote, which in the latest mode hung down to his heels, and stumbling over it, ran out on to the steps after the princess, whom the footman was assisting into the carriage.

    “Princesse, au revoir,” he shouted, his tongue tripping like his legs.

    The princess, picking up her gown, seated herself in the darkness of the carriage; her husband was arranging his sabre; Prince Ippolit, under the pretence of assisting, was in every one's way.

    “Allow me, sir,” Prince Andrey said in Russian drily and disagreeably to Prince Ippolit, who prevented his passing.

    “I expect you, Pierre,” the same voice called in warm and friendly tones.

    The postillion started at a trot, and the carriage rumbled away. Prince Ippolit gave vent to a short, jerky guffaw, as he stood on the steps waiting for the vicomte, whom he had promised to take home.

    “Well, my dear fellow, your little princess is very good-looking, very good-looking,” said the vicomte, as he sat in the carriage with Ippolit. “Very good-looking indeed;” he kissed his finger tips. “And quite French.”

    Ippolit snorted and laughed.

    “And, do you know, you are a terrible fellow with that little innocent way of yours,” pursued the vicomte. “I am sorry for the poor husband, that officer boy who gives himself the airs of a reigning prince.”

    Ippolit guffawed again, and in the middle of a laugh articulated:

    “And you said that the Russian ladies were not equal to the French ladies. You must know how to take them.”

    Pierre, arriving first, went to Prince Andrey's study, like one of the household, and at once lay down on the sofa, as his habit was, and taking up the first book he came upon in the shelf (it was C?sar's Commentaries) he propped himself on his elbow, and began reading it in the middle.

    “What a shock you gave Mlle. Scherer! She'll be quite ill now,” Prince Andrey said, as he came into the study rubbing his small white hands.

    Pierre rolled his whole person over so that the sofa creaked, turned his eager face to Prince Andrey, smiled and waved his hand to him.

    “Oh, that abbé was very interesting, only he's got a wrong notion about it.…To my thinking, perpetual peace is possible, but I don't know how to put it.…Not by means of the balance of political power.…”

    Prince Andrey was obviously not interested in these abstract discussions.

    “One can't always say all one thinks everywhere, mon cher. Come tell me, have you settled on anything at last? Are you going into the cavalry or the diplomatic service?” asked Prince Andrey, after a momentary pause.

    Pierre sat on the sofa with his legs crossed under him.

    “Can you believe it, I still don't know. I don't like either.”

    “But you must decide on something; you know your father's expecting it.”

    At ten years old Pierre had been sent with an abbé as tutor to be educated abroad, and there he remained till he was twenty. When he returned to Moscow, his father had dismissed the tutor and said to the young man: “Now you go to Petersburg, look about you and make your choice. I agree to anything. Here is a letter to Prince Vassily and here is money. Write and tell me everything; I will help you in everything.” Pierre had been three months already choosing a career and had not yet made his choice. It was of this choice Prince Andrey spoke to him now. Pierre rubbed his forehead.

    “But he must be a freemason,” he said, meaning the abbé he had seen that evening.

    “That's all nonsense,” Prince Andrey pulled him up again; “we'd better talk of serious things. Have you been to the Horse Guards?”

    “No, I haven't; but this is what struck me and I wanted to talk to you about it. This war now is against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom, I could have understood it, I would have been the first to go into the army; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world—that's not right.”

    Prince Andrey simply shrugged his shoulders at Pierre's childish words. He looked as though one really could not answer such absurdities. But in reality it was hard to find any answer to this na?ve question other than the answer Prince Andrey made. “If every one would only fight for his own convictions, there'd be no war,” he said.

    “And a very good thing that would be too,” said Pierre.

    Prince Andrey smiled ironically. “Very likely it would be a good thing, but it will never come to pass…”

    “Well, what are you going to the war for?” asked Pierre.

    “What for? I don't know. Because I have to. Besides, I'm going…” he stopped. “I'm going because the life I lead here, this life is—not to my taste!”

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