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War And Peace 449


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its rays!" and she smiled amiably at Pierre. "We were just talking of you," she said with the facility in lying natural to a society woman. "We were saying that your regiment would be sure to be better than Mamonovs." "Oh, dont talk to me of my regiment," replied Pierre, kissing his hostess hand and taking a seat beside her. "I am so sick of it." "You will, of course, command it yourself?" said Julie, directing a sly, sarcastic glance toward the militia officer. The latter in Pierres presence had ceased to be caustic, and his face expressed perplexity as to what Julies smile might mean. In spite of his absent-mindedness and good nature, Pierres personality immediately checked any attempt to ridicule him to his face. "No," said Pierre, with a laughing glance at his big, stout body. "I should make too good a target for the French, besides I am afraid I should hardly be able to climb onto a horse." Among those whom Julies guests happened to choose to gossip about were the Rostovs. "I hear that their affairs are in a very bad way," said Julie. "And he is so unreasonable, the count himself I mean. The Razumovskis wanted to buy his house and his estate near Moscow, but it drags on and on. He asks too much." "No, I think the sale will come off in a few days," said someone. "Though it is madness to buy anything in Moscow now." "Why?" asked Julie. "You dont think Moscow is in danger?" "Then why are you leaving?" "I? What a question! I am going because... well, because everyone is going: and besides--I am not Joan of Arc or an Amazon." "Well, of course, of course! Let me have some more strips of linen." "If he manages the business properly he will be able to pay off all his debts," said the militia officer, speaking of Rostov. "A kindly old man but not up to much. And why do they stay on so long in Moscow? They meant to leave for the country long ago. Natalie is quite well again now, isnt she?" Julie asked Pierre with a knowing smile. "They are waiting for their younger son," Pierre replied. "He joined Obolenskis Cossacks and went to Belaya Tserkov where the regiment is being formed. But now they have had him transferred to my regiment and are expecting him every day. The count wanted to leave long ago, but the countess wont on any account leave Moscow till her son returns." "I met them the day before yesterday at the Arkharovs. Natalie has recovered her looks and is brighter. She sang a song. How easily some people get over everything!" "Get over what?" inquired Pierre, looking displeased. Julie smiled. "You know, Count, such knights as you are only found in Madame de Souzas novels." "What knights? What do you mean?" demanded Pierre, blushing. "Oh, come, my dear count! Cest la fable de tout Moscou. Je vous admire, ma parole dhonneur!"* *"It is the talk of all Moscow. My word, I admire you!" "Forfeit, forfeit!" cried the militia officer. "All right, one cant talk--how tiresome!" "What is the talk of all Moscow?" Pierre asked angrily, rising to his feet. "Come now, Count, you know!" "I dont know anything about it," said Pierre. "I know you were friendly with Natalie, and so... but I was always more friendly with Vera--that dear Vera." "No, madame!" Pierre continued in a tone of displeasure, "I have not taken on myself the role of Natalie Rostovas knight at all, and have not been to their house for nearly a month. But I cannot understand the cruelty..." "Qui sexcuse saccuse,"* said Julie, smiling and waving the lint triumphantly, and to have the last word she promptly changed the subject. "Do you know what I heard today? Poor Mary Bolkonskaya arrived in Moscow yesterday. Do you know that she has lost her father?" *"Who excuses himself, accuses himself." "Really? Where is she? I should like very much to see her," said Pierre. "I spent the evening with her yesterday. She is going to their estate near Moscow either today or tomorrow morning, with her nephew." "Well, and how is she?" asked Pierre. "She is well, but sad. But do you know who rescued her? It is quite a romance. Nicholas Rostov! She was surrounded, and they wanted to kill her and had wounded some of her people. He rushed in and saved her...." "Another romance," said the militia officer. "Really, this general flight has been arranged to get all the old maids married off. Catiche is one and Princess Bolkonskaya another." "Do you know, I really believe she is

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