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War And Peace 41


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whether she was considering what he had just said or whether she was simply looking at him. "There is one thing I constantly pray God to grant, mon cousin," she replied, "and it is that He would be merciful to him and would allow his noble soul peacefully to leave this..." "Yes, yes, of course," interrupted Prince Vasili impatiently, rubbing his bald head and angrily pulling back toward him the little table that he had pushed away. "But... in short, the fact is... you know yourself that last winter the count made a will by which he left all his property, not to us his direct heirs, but to Pierre." "He has made wills enough!" quietly remarked the princess. "But he cannot leave the estate to Pierre. Pierre is illegitimate." "But, my dear," said Prince Vasili suddenly, clutching the little table and becoming more animated and talking more rapidly: "what if a letter has been written to the Emperor in which the count asks for Pierres legitimation? Do you understand that in consideration of the counts services, his request would be granted?..." The princess smiled as people do who think they know more about the subject under discussion than those they are talking with. "I can tell you more," continued Prince Vasili, seizing her hand, "that letter was written, though it was not sent, and the Emperor knew of it. The only question is, has it been destroyed or not? If not, then as soon as all is over," and Prince Vasili sighed to intimate what he meant by the words all is over, "and the counts papers are opened, the will and letter will be delivered to the Emperor, and the petition will certainly be granted. Pierre will get everything as the legitimate son." "And our share?" asked the princess smiling ironically, as if anything might happen, only not that. "But, my poor Catiche, it is as clear as daylight! He will then be the legal heir to everything and you wont get anything. You must know, my dear, whether the will and letter were written, and whether they have been destroyed or not. And if they have somehow been overlooked, you ought to know where they are, and must find them, because..." "What next?" the princess interrupted, smiling sardonically and not changing the expression of her eyes. "I am a woman, and you think we are all stupid; but I know this: an illegitimate son cannot inherit... un batard!"* she added, as if supposing that this translation of the word would effectively prove to Prince Vasili the invalidity of his contention. *A bastard. "Well, really, Catiche! Cant you understand! You are so intelligent, how is it you dont see that if the count has written a letter to the Emperor begging him to recognize Pierre as legitimate, it follows that Pierre will not be Pierre but will become Count Bezukhov, and will then inherit everything under the will? And if the will and letter are not destroyed, then you will have nothing but the consolation of having been dutiful et tout ce qui sensuit!* Thats certain." *And all that follows therefrom. "I know the will was made, but I also know that it is invalid; and you, mon cousin, seem to consider me a perfect fool," said the princess with the expression women assume when they suppose they are saying something witty and stinging. "My dear Princess Catherine Semenovna," began Prince Vasili impatiently, "I came here not to wrangle with you, but to talk about your interests as with a kinswoman, a good, kind, true relation. And I tell you for the tenth time that if the letter to the Emperor and the will in Pierres favor are among the counts papers, then, my dear girl, you and your sisters are not heiresses! If you dont believe me, then believe an expert. I have just been talking to Dmitri Onufrich" (the family solicitor) "and he says the same." At this a sudden change evidently took place in the princess ideas; her thin lips grew white, though her eyes did not change, and her voice when she began to speak passed through such transitions as she herself evidently did not expect. "That would be a fine thing!" said she. "I never wanted anything and I dont now." She pushed the little dog off her lap and smoothed her dress. "And this is gratitude--this is recognition for those who have sacrificed everything for his sake!" she cried. "Its splendid! Fine! I dont want anything, Prince." "Yes, but you are not the only one. There are your sisters..." replied Prince Vasili. But the princess did not

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