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War And Peace 133


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he would walk away from her, repeating in a low voice the same words several times over. He came to the point at once, treating her ceremoniously. "I have had a proposition made me concerning you," he said with an unnatural smile. "I expect you have guessed that Prince Vasili has not come and brought his pupil with him" (for some reason Prince Bolkonski referred to Anatole as a "pupil") "for the sake of my beautiful eyes. Last night a proposition was made me on your account and, as you know my principles, I refer it to you." "How am I to understand you, mon pere?" said the princess, growing pale and then blushing. "How understand me!" cried her father angrily. "Prince Vasili finds you to his taste as a daughter-in-law and makes a proposal to you on his pupils behalf. Thats how its to be understood! How understand it!... And I ask you!" "I do not know what you think, Father," whispered the princess. "I? I? What of me? Leave me out of the question. Im not going to get married. What about you? Thats what I want to know." The princess saw that her father regarded the matter with disapproval, but at that moment the thought occurred to her that her fate would be decided now or never. She lowered her eyes so as not to see the gaze under which she felt that she could not think, but would only be able to submit from habit, and she said: "I wish only to do your will, but if I had to express my own desire..." She had no time to finish. The old prince interrupted her. "Thats admirable!" he shouted. "He will take you with your dowry and take Mademoiselle Bourienne into the bargain. Shell be the wife, while you..." The prince stopped. He saw the effect these words had produced on his daughter. She lowered her head and was ready to burst into tears. "Now then, now then, Im only joking!" he said. "Remember this, Princess, I hold to the principle that a maiden has a full right to choose. I give you freedom. Only remember that your lifes happiness depends on your decision. Never mind me!" "But I do not know, Father!" "Theres no need to talk! He receives his orders and will marry you or anybody; but you are free to choose.... Go to your room, think it over, and come back in an hour and tell me in his presence: yes or no. I know you will pray over it. Well, pray if you like, but you had better think it over. Go! Yes or no, yes or no, yes or no!" he still shouted when the princess, as if lost in a fog, had already staggered out of the study. Her fate was decided and happily decided. But what her father had said about Mademoiselle Bourienne was dreadful. It was untrue to be sure, but still it was terrible, and she could not help thinking of it. She was going straight on through the conservatory, neither seeing nor hearing anything, when suddenly the well-known whispering of Mademoiselle Bourienne aroused her. She raised her eyes, and two steps away saw Anatole embracing the Frenchwoman and whispering something to her. With a horrified expression on his handsome face, Anatole looked at Princess Mary, but did not at once take his arm from the waist of Mademoiselle Bourienne who had not yet seen her. "Whos that? Why? Wait a moment!" Anatoles face seemed to say. Princess Mary looked at them in silence. She could not understand it. At last Mademoiselle Bourienne gave a scream and ran away. Anatole bowed to Princess Mary with a gay smile, as if inviting her to join in a laugh at this strange incident, and then shrugging his shoulders went to the door that led to his own apartments. An hour later, Tikhon came to call Princess Mary to the old prince; he added that Prince Vasili was also there. When Tikhon came to her Princess Mary was sitting on the sofa in her room, holding the weeping Mademoiselle Bourienne in her arms and gently stroking her hair. The princess beautiful eyes with all their former calm radiance were looking with tender affection and pity at Mademoiselle Bouriennes pretty face. "No, Princess, I have lost your affection forever!" said Mademoiselle Bourienne. "Why? I love you more than ever," said Princess Mary, "and I will try to do all I can for your happiness." "But you despise me. You who are so pure can never understand being so carried away by

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