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War And Peace 414


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closer in again. "Well, at last Ive finished, now Ill rest," thought the prince, and let Tikhon undress him. Frowning with vexation at the effort necessary to divest himself of his coat and trousers, the prince undressed, sat down heavily on the bed, and appeared to be meditating as he looked contemptuously at his withered yellow legs. He was not meditating, but only deferring the moment of making the effort to lift those legs up and turn over on the bed. "Ugh, how hard it is! Oh, that this toil might end and you would release me!" thought he. Pressing his lips together he made that effort for the twenty-thousandth time and lay down. But hardly had he done so before he felt the bed rocking backwards and forwards beneath him as if it were breathing heavily and jolting. This happened to him almost every night. He opened his eyes as they were closing. "No peace, damn them!" he muttered, angry he knew not with whom. "Ah yes, there was something else important, very important, that I was keeping till I should be in bed. The bolts? No, I told him about them. No, it was something, something in the drawing room. Princess Mary talked some nonsense. Dessalles, that fool, said something. Something in my pocket--cant remember..." "Tikhon, what did we talk about at dinner?" "About Prince Michael..." "Be quiet, quiet!" The prince slapped his hand on the table. "Yes, I know, Prince Andrews letter! Princess Mary read it. Dessalles said something about Vitebsk. Now Ill read it." He had the letter taken from his pocket and the table--on which stood a glass of lemonade and a spiral wax candle--moved close to the bed, and putting on his spectacles he began reading. Only now in the stillness of the night, reading it by the faint light under the green shade, did he grasp its meaning for a moment. "The French at Vitebsk, in four days march they may be at Smolensk; perhaps are already there! Tikhon!" Tikhon jumped up. "No, no, I dont want anything!" he shouted. He put the letter under the candlestick and closed his eyes. And there rose before him the Danube at bright noonday: reeds, the Russian camp, and himself a young general without a wrinkle on his ruddy face, vigorous and alert, entering Potemkins gaily colored tent, and a burning sense of jealousy of "the favorite" agitated him now as strongly as it had done then. He recalled all the words spoken at that first meeting with Potemkin. And he saw before him a plump, rather sallow-faced, short, stout woman, the Empress Mother, with her smile and her words at her first gracious reception of him, and then that same face on the catafalque, and the encounter he had with Zubov over her coffin about his right to kiss her hand. "Oh, quicker, quicker! To get back to that time and have done with all the present! Quicker, quicker--and that they should leave me in peace!" CHAPTER IV Bald Hills, Prince Nicholas Bolkonskis estate, lay forty miles east from Smolensk and two miles from the main road to Moscow. The same evening that the prince gave his instructions to Alpatych, Dessalles, having asked to see Princess Mary, told her that, as the prince was not very well and was taking no steps to secure his safety, though from Prince Andrews letter it was evident that to remain at Bald Hills might be dangerous, he respectfully advised her to send a letter by Alpatych to the Provincial Governor at Smolensk, asking him to let her know the state of affairs and the extent of the danger to which Bald Hills was exposed. Dessalles wrote this letter to the Governor for Princess Mary, she signed it, and it was given to Alpatych with instructions to hand it to the Governor and to come back as quickly as possible if there was danger. Having received all his orders Alpatych, wearing a white beaver hat--a present from the prince--and carrying a stick as the prince did, went out accompanied by his family. Three well-fed roans stood ready harnessed to a small conveyance with a leather hood. The larger bell was muffled and the little bells on the harness stuffed with paper. The prince allowed no one at Bald Hills to drive with ringing bells; but on a long journey Alpatych liked to have them. His satellites--the senior clerk, a countinghouse clerk, a scullery maid, a cook, two old women, a little pageboy, the coachman, and various domestic serfs--were seeing him off. His daughter placed chintz-covered down cushions for him to sit

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