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War And Peace 40

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War And Peace

of cream of tartar," and he indicated with his delicate fingers what he meant by a pinch. "Dere has neffer been a gase," a German doctor was saying to an aide-de-camp, "dat one liffs after de sird stroke." "And what a well-preserved man he was!" remarked the aide-de-camp. "And who will inherit his wealth?" he added in a whisper. "It vont go begging," replied the German with a smile. Everyone again looked toward the door, which creaked as the second princess went in with the drink she had prepared according to Lorrains instructions. The German doctor went up to Lorrain. "Do you think he can last till morning?" asked the German, addressing Lorrain in French which he pronounced badly. Lorrain, pursing up his lips, waved a severely negative finger before his nose. "Tonight, not later," said he in a low voice, and he moved away with a decorous smile of self-satisfaction at being able clearly to understand and state the patients condition. Meanwhile Prince Vasili had opened the door into the princess room. In this room it was almost dark; only two tiny lamps were burning before the icons and there was a pleasant scent of flowers and burnt pastilles. The room was crowded with small pieces of furniture, whatnots, cupboards, and little tables. The quilt of a high, white feather bed was just visible behind a screen. A small dog began to bark. "Ah, is it you, cousin?" She rose and smoothed her hair, which was as usual so extremely smooth that it seemed to be made of one piece with her head and covered with varnish. "Has anything happened?" she asked. "I am so terrified." "No, there is no change. I only came to have a talk about business, Catiche,"* muttered the prince, seating himself wearily on the chair she had just vacated. "You have made the place warm, I must say," he remarked. "Well, sit down: lets have a talk." *Catherine. "I thought perhaps something had happened," she said with her unchanging stonily severe expression; and, sitting down opposite the prince, she prepared to listen. "I wished to get a nap, mon cousin, but I cant." "Well, my dear?" said Prince Vasili, taking her hand and bending it downwards as was his habit. It was plain that this "well?" referred to much that they both understood without naming. The princess, who had a straight, rigid body, abnormally long for her legs, looked directly at Prince Vasili with no sign of emotion in her prominent gray eyes. Then she shook her head and glanced up at the icons with a sigh. This might have been taken as an expression of sorrow and devotion, or of weariness and hope of resting before long. Prince Vasili understood it as an expression of weariness. "And I?" he said; "do you think it is easier for me? I am as worn out as a post horse, but still I must have a talk with you, Catiche, a very serious talk." Prince Vasili said no more and his cheeks began to twitch nervously, now on one side, now on the other, giving his face an unpleasant expression which was never to be seen on it in a drawing room. His eyes too seemed strange; at one moment they looked impudently sly and at the next glanced round in alarm. The princess, holding her little dog on her lap with her thin bony hands, looked attentively into Prince Vasilis eyes evidently resolved not to be the first to break silence, if she had to wait till morning. "Well, you see, my dear princess and cousin, Catherine Semenovna," continued Prince Vasili, returning to his theme, apparently not without an inner struggle; "at such a moment as this one must think of everything. One must think of the future, of all of you... I love you all, like children of my own, as you know." The princess continued to look at him without moving, and with the same dull expression. "And then of course my family has also to be considered," Prince Vasili went on, testily pushing away a little table without looking at her. "You know, Catiche, that we--you three sisters, Mamontov, and my wife--are the counts only direct heirs. I know, I know how hard it is for you to talk or think of such matters. It is no easier for me; but, my dear, I am getting on for sixty and must be prepared for anything. Do you know I have sent for Pierre? The count," pointing to his portrait, "definitely demanded that he should be called." Prince Vasili looked questioningly at the princess, but could not make out

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