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War And Peace 355

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War And Peace

study Pierre closed the door and addressed Anatole without looking at him. "You promised Countess Rostova to marry her and were about to elope with her, is that so?" "Mon cher," answered Anatole (their whole conversation was in French), "I dont consider myself bound to answer questions put to me in that tone." Pierres face, already pale, became distorted by fury. He seized Anatole by the collar of his uniform with his big hand and shook him from side to side till Anatoles face showed a sufficient degree of terror. "When I tell you that I must talk to you!..." repeated Pierre. "Come now, this is stupid. What?" said Anatole, fingering a button of his collar that had been wrenched loose with a bit of the cloth. "Youre a scoundrel and a blackguard, and I dont know what deprives me from the pleasure of smashing your head with this!" said Pierre, expressing himself so artificially because he was talking French. He took a heavy paperweight and lifted it threateningly, but at once put it back in its place. "Did you promise to marry her?" "I... I didnt think of it. I never promised, because..." Pierre interrupted him. "Have you any letters of hers? Any letters?" he said, moving toward Anatole. Anatole glanced at him and immediately thrust his hand into his pocket and drew out his pocketbook. Pierre took the letter Anatole handed him and, pushing aside a table that stood in his way, threw himself on the sofa. "I shant be violent, dont be afraid!" said Pierre in answer to a frightened gesture of Anatoles. "First, the letters," said he, as if repeating a lesson to himself. "Secondly," he continued after a short pause, again rising and again pacing the room, "tomorrow you must get out of Moscow." "But how can I?..." "Thirdly," Pierre continued without listening to him, "you must never breathe a word of what has passed between you and Countess Rostova. I know I cant prevent your doing so, but if you have a spark of conscience..." Pierre paced the room several times in silence. Anatole sat at a table frowning and biting his lips. "After all, you must understand that besides your pleasure there is such a thing as other peoples happiness and peace, and that you are ruining a whole life for the sake of amusing yourself! Amuse yourself with women like my wife--with them you are within your rights, for they know what you want of them. They are armed against you by the same experience of debauchery; but to promise a maid to marry her... to deceive, to kidnap.... Dont you understand that it is as mean as beating an old man or a child?..." Pierre paused and looked at Anatole no longer with an angry but with a questioning look. "I dont know about that, eh?" said Anatole, growing more confident as Pierre mastered his wrath. "I dont know that and dont want to," he said, not looking at Pierre and with a slight tremor of his lower jaw, "but you have used such words to me--mean and so on--which as a man of honor I cant allow anyone to use." Pierre glanced at him with amazement, unable to understand what he wanted. "Though it was tete-a-tete," Anatole continued, "still I cant..." "Is it satisfaction you want?" said Pierre ironically. "You could at least take back your words. What? If you want me to do as you wish, eh?" "I take them back, I take them back!" said Pierre, "and I ask you to forgive me." Pierre involuntarily glanced at the loose button. "And if you require money for your journey..." Anatole smiled. The expression of that base and cringing smile, which Pierre knew so well in his wife, revolted him. "Oh, vile and heartless brood!" he exclaimed, and left the room. Next day Anatole left for Petersburg. CHAPTER XXI Pierre drove to Marya Dmitrievnas to tell her of the fulfillment of her wish that Kuragin should be banished from Moscow. The whole house was in a state of alarm and commotion. Natasha was very ill, having, as Marya Dmitrievna told him in secret, poisoned herself the night after she had been told that Anatole was married, with some arsenic she had stealthily procured. After swallowing a little she had been so frightened that she woke Sonya and told her what she had done. The necessary antidotes had been administered in time and she was now out of danger, though still so weak that it was out of the question to move her to the country, and so the countess had been sent for. Pierre saw the distracted count,

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