Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
to another who wished to get away. With his head bent, and his big
feet spread apart, he began explaining his reasons for thinking the
abbes plan chimerical.
"We will talk of it later," said Anna Pavlovna with a smile.
And having got rid of this young man who did not know how to behave,
she resumed her duties as hostess and continued to listen and watch,
ready to help at any point where the conversation might happen to
flag. As the foreman of a spinning mill, when he has set the hands
to work, goes round and notices here a spindle that has stopped or
there one that creaks or makes more noise than it should, and
hastens to check the machine or set it in proper motion, so Anna
Pavlovna moved about her drawing room, approaching now a silent, now a
too-noisy group, and by a word or slight rearrangement kept the
conversational machine in steady, proper, and regular motion. But amid
these cares her anxiety about Pierre was evident. She kept an
anxious watch on him when he approached the group round Mortemart to
listen to what was being said there, and again when he passed to
another group whose center was the abbe.
Pierre had been educated abroad, and this reception at Anna
Pavlovnas was the first he had attended in Russia. He knew that all
the intellectual lights of Petersburg were gathered there and, like
a child in a toyshop, did not know which way to look, afraid of
missing any clever conversation that was to be heard. Seeing the
self-confident and refined expression on the faces of those present he
was always expecting to hear something very profound. At last he
came up to Morio. Here the conversation seemed interesting and he
stood waiting for an opportunity to express his own views, as young
people are fond of doing.
Anna Pavlovnas reception was in full swing. The spindles hummed
steadily and ceaselessly on all sides. With the exception of the aunt,
beside whom sat only one elderly lady, who with her thin careworn face
was rather out of place in this brilliant society, the whole company
had settled into three groups. One, chiefly masculine, had formed
round the abbe. Another, of young people, was grouped round the
beautiful Princess Helene, Prince Vasilis daughter, and the little
Princess Bolkonskaya, very pretty and rosy, though rather too plump
for her age. The third group was gathered round Mortemart and Anna
The vicomte was a nice-looking young man with soft features and
polished manners, who evidently considered himself a celebrity but out
of politeness modestly placed himself at the disposal of the circle in
which he found himself. Anna Pavlovna was obviously serving him up
as a treat to her guests. As a clever maitre dhotel serves up as a
specially choice delicacy a piece of meat that no one who had seen
it in the kitchen would have cared to eat, so Anna Pavlovna served
up to her guests, first the vicomte and then the abbe, as peculiarly
choice morsels. The group about Mortemart immediately began discussing
the murder of the Duc dEnghien. The vicomte said that the Duc
dEnghien had perished by his own magnanimity, and that there were
particular reasons for Buonapartes hatred of him.
"Ah, yes! Do tell us all about it, Vicomte," said Anna Pavlovna,
with a pleasant feeling that there was something a la Louis XV in
the sound of that sentence: "Contez nous cela, Vicomte."
The vicomte bowed and smiled courteously in token of his willingness
to comply. Anna Pavlovna arranged a group round him, inviting everyone
to listen to his tale.
"The vicomte knew the duc personally," whispered Anna Pavlovna to of
the guests. "The vicomte is a wonderful raconteur," said she to
another. "How evidently he belongs to the best society," said she to a
third; and the vicomte was served up to the company in the choicest
and most advantageous style, like a well-garnished joint of roast beef
on a hot dish.
The vicomte wished to begin his story and gave a subtle smile.
"Come over here, Helene, dear," said Anna Pavlovna to the
beautiful young princess who was sitting some way off, the center of
The princess smiled. She rose with the same unchanging smile with
which she had first entered the room--the smile of a perfectly
beautiful woman. With a slight rustle of her white dress trimmed
with moss and ivy, with a gleam of white shoulders, glossy hair, and
sparkling diamonds, she passed between the men who made
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