Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
himself, on returning
from his office, heard a ring at their bell and voices, went out,
and seeing the intoxicated officers with a letter, he had turned
them out. He asked for exemplary punishment.
"Yes, its all very well," said the colonel to Vronsky, whom he
had invited to come and see him. "Petritskys becoming
impossible. Not a week goes by without some scandal. This
government clerk wont let it drop, hell go on with the thing."
Vronsky saw all the thanklessness of the business, and that there
could be no question of a duel in it, that everything must be
done to soften the government clerk, and hush the matter up. The
colonel had called in Vronsky just because he knew him to be an
honorable and intelligent man, and, more than all, a man who
cared for the honor of the regiment. They talked it over, and
decided that Petritsky and Kedrov must go with Vronsky to
Vendens to apologize. The colonel and Vronsky were both fully
aware that Vronskys name and rank would be sure to contribute
greatly to the softening of the injured husbands feelings.
And these two influences were not in fact without effect; though
the result remained, as Vronsky had described, uncertain.
On reaching the French theater, Vronsky retired to the foyer with
the colonel, and reported to him his success, or non-success.
The colonel, thinking it all over, made up his mind not to pursue
the matter further, but then for his own satisfaction proceeded
to cross-examine Vronsky about his interview; and it was a long
while before he could restrain his laughter, as Vronsky described
how the government clerk, after subsiding for a while, would
suddenly flare up again, as he recalled the details, and how
Vronsky, at the last half word of conciliation, skillfully
maneuvered a retreat, shoving Petritsky out before him.
"Its a disgraceful story, but killing. Kedrov really cant
fight the gentleman! Was he so awfully hot?" he commented,
laughing. "But what do you say to Claire today? Shes
marvelous," he went on, speaking of a new French actress.
"However often you see her, every day shes different. Its only
the French who can do that."
Princess Betsy drove home from the theater, without waiting for
the end of the last act. She had only just time to go into her
dressing room, sprinkle her long, pale face with powder, rub it,
set her dress to rights, and order tea in the big drawing room,
when one after another carriages drove up to her huge house in
Bolshaia Morskaia. Her guests stepped out at the wide entrance,
and the stout porter, who used to read the newspapers in the
mornings behind the glass door, to the edification of the
passers-by, noiselessly opened the immense door, letting the
visitors pass by him into the house.
Almost at the same instant the hostess, with freshly arranged
coiffure and freshened face, walked in at one door and her guests
at the other door of the drawing room, a large room with dark
walls, downy rugs, and a brightly lighted table, gleaming with
the light of candles, white cloth, silver samovar, and
transparent china tea things.
The hostess sat down at the table and took off her gloves.
Chairs were set with the aid of footmen, moving almost
imperceptibly about the room; the party settled itself, divided
into two groups: one round the samovar near the hostess, the
other at the opposite end of the drawing room, round the handsome
wife of an ambassador, in black velvet, with sharply defined
black eyebrows. In both groups conversation wavered, as it
always does, for the first few minutes, broken up by meetings,
greetings, offers of tea, and as it were, feeling about for
something to rest upon.
"Shes exceptionally good as an actress; one can see shes
studied Kaulbach," said a diplomatic attache in the group round
the ambassadors wife. "Did you notice how she fell down?..."
"Oh, please, dont let us talk about Nilsson! No one can
possibly say anything new about her," said a fat, red-faced,
flaxen-headed lady, without eyebrows and chignon, wearing an old
silk dress. This was Princess Myakaya, noted for her simplicity
and the roughness of her manners, and nicknamed _enfant terrible_.
Princess Myakaya, sitting in the middle between the two groups,
and listening to both, took part in the conversation first of one
and then of the other. "Three people have used that very phrase
about Kaulbach to me today already, just
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