Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
concluded, and followed
Anna Mikhaylovna. She hurriedly ascended the narrow dimly lit stone
staircase, calling to Pierre, who was lagging behind, to follow.
Though he did not see why it was necessary for him to go to the
count at all, still less why he had to go by the back stairs, yet
judging by Anna Mikhaylovnas air of assurance and haste, Pierre
concluded that it was all absolutely necessary. Halfway up the
stairs they were almost knocked over by some men who, carrying
pails, came running downstairs, their boots clattering. These men
pressed close to the wall to let Pierre and Anna Mikhaylovna pass
and did not evince the least surprise at seeing them there.
"Is this the way to the princesses apartments?" asked Anna
Mikhaylovna of one of them.
"Yes," replied a footman in a bold loud voice, as if anything were
now permissible; "the door to the left, maam."
"Perhaps the count did not ask for me," said Pierre when he
reached the landing. "Id better go to my own room."
Anna Mikhaylovna paused and waited for him to come up.
"Ah, my friend!" she said, touching his arm as she had done her
sons when speaking to him that afternoon, "believe me I suffer no
less than you do, but be a man!"
"But really, hadnt I better go away?" he asked, looking kindly at
her over his spectacles.
"Ah, my dear friend! Forget the wrongs that may have been done
you. Think that he is your father... perhaps in the agony of death."
She sighed. "I have loved you like a son from the first. Trust
yourself to me, Pierre. I shall not forget your interests."
Pierre did not understand a word, but the conviction that all this
had to be grew stronger, and he meekly followed Anna Mikhaylovna who
was already opening a door.
This door led into a back anteroom. An old man, a servant of the
princesses, sat in a corner knitting a stocking. Pierre had never been
in this part of the house and did not even know of the existence of
these rooms. Anna Mikhaylovna, addressing a maid who was hurrying past
with a decanter on a tray as "my dear" and "my sweet," asked about the
princess health and then led Pierre along a stone passage. The
first door on the left led into the princesses apartments. The maid
with the decanter in her haste had not closed the door (everything
in the house was done in haste at that time), and Pierre and Anna
Mikhaylovna in passing instinctively glanced into the room, where
Prince Vasili and the eldest princess were sitting close together
talking. Seeing them pass, Prince Vasili drew back with obvious
impatience, while the princess jumped up and with a gesture of
desperation slammed the door with all her might.
This action was so unlike her usual composure and the fear
depicted on Prince Vasilis face so out of keeping with his dignity
that Pierre stopped and glanced inquiringly over his spectacles at his
guide. Anna Mikhaylovna evinced no surprise, she only smiled faintly
and sighed, as if to say that this was no more than she had expected.
"Be a man, my friend. I will look after your interests," said she in
reply to his look, and went still faster along the passage.
Pierre could not make out what it was all about, and still less what
"watching over his interests" meant, but he decided that all these
things had to be. From the passage they went into a large, dimly lit
room adjoining the counts reception room. It was one of those
sumptuous but cold apartments known to Pierre only from the front
approach, but even in this room there now stood an empty bath, and
water had been spilled on the carpet. They were met by a deacon with a
censer and by a servant who passed out on tiptoe without heeding them.
They went into the reception room familiar to Pierre, with two Italian
windows opening into the conservatory, with its large bust and full
length portrait of Catherine the Great. The same people were still
sitting here in almost the same positions as before, whispering to one
another. All became silent and turned to look at the pale tear-worn
Anna Mikhaylovna as she entered, and at the big stout figure of Pierre
who, hanging his head, meekly followed her.
Anna Mikhaylovnas face expressed a consciousness that the
decisive moment had arrived. With the air of a practical Petersburg
lady she now, keeping Pierre close beside her, entered the room
War And Peace page 42 War And Peace page 44