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War And Peace 12


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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 ambassadors," 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 Andrews 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 everyones 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 Andrews 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 Caesars Commentaries), and resting on his elbow, began reading it in the middle. "What have you done to Mlle Scherer? 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 abbe 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 cant 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 dont yet know. I dont 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 abbe as tutor, and had remained away till he was twenty. When he returned to Moscow his father dismissed the abbe 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 Vasili, 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,

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