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War And Peace 124

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War And Peace

ashamed of himself. *"I love you." Six weeks later he was married, and settled in Count Bezukhovs large, newly furnished Petersburg house, the happy possessor, as people said, of a wife who was a celebrated beauty and of millions of money. CHAPTER III Old Prince Nicholas Bolkonski received a letter from Prince Vasili in November, 1805, announcing that he and his son would be paying him a visit. "I am starting on a journey of inspection, and of course I shall think nothing of an extra seventy miles to come and see you at the same time, my honored benefactor," wrote Prince Vasili. "My son Anatole is accompanying me on his way to the army, so I hope you will allow him personally to express the deep respect that, emulating his father, he feels for you." "It seems that there will be no need to bring Mary out, suitors are coming to us of their own accord," incautiously remarked the little princess on hearing the news. Prince Nicholas frowned, but said nothing. A fortnight after the letter Prince Vasilis servants came one evening in advance of him, and he and his son arrived next day. Old Bolkonski had always had a poor opinion of Prince Vasilis character, but more so recently, since in the new reigns of Paul and Alexander Prince Vasili had risen to high position and honors. And now, from the hints contained in his letter and given by the little princess, he saw which way the wind was blowing, and his low opinion changed into a feeling of contemptuous ill will. He snorted whenever he mentioned him. On the day of Prince Vasilis arrival, Prince Bolkonski was particularly discontented and out of temper. Whether he was in a bad temper because Prince Vasili was coming, or whether his being in a bad temper made him specially annoyed at Prince Vasilis visit, he was in a bad temper, and in the morning Tikhon had already advised the architect not to go to the prince with his report. "Do you hear how hes walking?" said Tikhon, drawing the architects attention to the sound of the princes footsteps. "Stepping flat on his heels--we know what that means...." However, at nine oclock the prince, in his velvet coat with a sable collar and cap, went out for his usual walk. It had snowed the day before and the path to the hothouse, along which the prince was in the habit of walking, had been swept: the marks of the broom were still visible in the snow and a shovel had been left sticking in one of the soft snowbanks that bordered both sides of the path. The prince went through the conservatories, the serfs quarters, and the outbuildings, frowning and silent. "Can a sleigh pass?" he asked his overseer, a venerable man, resembling his master in manners and looks, who was accompanying him back to the house. "The snow is deep. I am having the avenue swept, your honor." The prince bowed his head and went up to the porch. "God be thanked," thought the overseer, "the storm has blown over!" "It would have been hard to drive up, your honor," he added. "I heard, your honor, that a minister is coming to visit your honor." The prince turned round to the overseer and fixed his eyes on him, frowning. "What? A minister? What minister? Who gave orders?" he said in his shrill, harsh voice. "The road is not swept for the princess my daughter, but for a minister! For me, there are no ministers!" "Your honor, I thought..." "You thought!" shouted the prince, his words coming more and more rapidly and indistinctly. "You thought!... Rascals! Blackguards!... Ill teach you to think!" and lifting his stick he swung it and would have hit Alpatych, the overseer, had not the latter instinctively avoided the blow. "Thought... Blackguards..." shouted the prince rapidly. But although Alpatych, frightened at his own temerity in avoiding the stroke, came up to the prince, bowing his bald head resignedly before him, or perhaps for that very reason, the prince, though he continued to shout: "Blackguards!... Throw the snow back on the road!" did not lift his stick again but hurried into the house. Before dinner, Princess Mary and Mademoiselle Bourienne, who knew that the prince was in a bad humor, stood awaiting him; Mademoiselle Bourienne with a radiant face that said: "I know nothing, I am the same as usual," and Princess Mary pale, frightened, and with downcast eyes. What she found hardest to bear was to know that on such occasions she ought to behave like Mademoiselle Bourienne, but could not. She thought: "If

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