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War And Peace 30


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not read the papers and it was the first time he had heard Villeneuves name. "We here in Moscow are more occupied with dinner parties and scandal than with politics," said he in his quiet ironical tone. "I know nothing about it and have not thought about it. Moscow is chiefly busy with gossip," he continued. "Just now they are talking about you and your father." Pierre smiled in his good-natured way as if afraid for his companions sake that the latter might say something he would afterwards regret. But Boris spoke distinctly, clearly, and dryly, looking straight into Pierres eyes. "Moscow has nothing else to do but gossip," Boris went on. "Everybody is wondering to whom the count will leave his fortune, though he may perhaps outlive us all, as I sincerely hope he will..." "Yes, it is all very horrid," interrupted Pierre, "very horrid." Pierre was still afraid that this officer might inadvertently say something disconcerting to himself. "And it must seem to you," said Boris flushing slightly, but not changing his tone or attitude, "it must seem to you that everyone is trying to get something out of the rich man?" "So it does," thought Pierre. "But I just wish to say, to avoid misunderstandings, that you are quite mistaken if you reckon me or my mother among such people. We are very poor, but for my own part at any rate, for the very reason that your father is rich, I dont regard myself as a relation of his, and neither I nor my mother would ever ask or take anything from him." For a long time Pierre could not understand, but when he did, he jumped up from the sofa, seized Boris under the elbow in his quick, clumsy way, and, blushing far more than Boris, began to speak with a feeling of mingled shame and vexation. "Well, this is strange! Do you suppose I... who could think?... I know very well..." But Boris again interrupted him. "I am glad I have spoken out fully. Perhaps you did not like it? You must excuse me," said he, putting Pierre at ease instead of being put at ease by him, "but I hope I have not offended you. I always make it a rule to speak out... Well, what answer am I to take? Will you come to dinner at the Rostovs?" And Boris, having apparently relieved himself of an onerous duty and extricated himself from an awkward situation and placed another in it, became quite pleasant again. "No, but I say," said Pierre, calming down, "you are a wonderful fellow! What you have just said is good, very good. Of course you dont know me. We have not met for such a long time... not since we were children. You might think that I... I understand, quite understand. I could not have done it myself, I should not have had the courage, but its splendid. I am very glad to have made your acquaintance. Its queer," he added after a pause, "that you should have suspected me!" He began to laugh. "Well, what of it! I hope well get better acquainted," and he pressed Boris hand. "Do you know, I have not once been in to see the count. He has not sent for me.... I am sorry for him as a man, but what can one do?" "And so you think Napoleon will manage to get an army across?" asked Boris with a smile. Pierre saw that Boris wished to change the subject, and being of the same mind he began explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the Boulogne expedition. A footman came in to summon Boris--the princess was going. Pierre, in order to make Boris better acquaintance, promised to come to dinner, and warmly pressing his hand looked affectionately over his spectacles into Boris eyes. After he had gone Pierre continued pacing up and down the room for a long time, no longer piercing an imaginary foe with his imaginary sword, but smiling at the remembrance of that pleasant, intelligent, and resolute young man. As often happens in early youth, especially to one who leads a lonely life, he felt an unaccountable tenderness for this young man and made up his mind that they would be friends. Prince Vasili saw the princess off. She held a handkerchief to her eyes and her face was tearful. "It is dreadful, dreadful!" she was saying, "but cost me what it may I shall do my duty. I will come and spend the night. He must not be left like this. Every moment is precious. I cant think

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