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War And Peace 50


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feeling of respect and even fear when the enormously high study door opened and showed the figure of a rather small old man, with powdered wig, small withered hands, and bushy gray eyebrows which, when he frowned, sometimes hid the gleam of his shrewd, youthfully glittering eyes. On the morning of the day that the young couple were to arrive, Princess Mary entered the antechamber as usual at the time appointed for the morning greeting, crossing herself with trepidation and repeating a silent prayer. Every morning she came in like that, and every morning prayed that the daily interview might pass off well. An old powdered manservant who was sitting in the antechamber rose quietly and said in a whisper: "Please walk in." Through the door came the regular hum of a lathe. The princess timidly opened the door which moved noiselessly and easily. She paused at the entrance. The prince was working at the lathe and after glancing round continued his work. The enormous study was full of things evidently in constant use. The large table covered with books and plans, the tall glass-fronted bookcases with keys in the locks, the high desk for writing while standing up, on which lay an open exercise book, and the lathe with tools laid ready to hand and shavings scattered around--all indicated continuous, varied, and orderly activity. The motion of the small foot shod in a Tartar boot embroidered with silver, and the firm pressure of the lean sinewy hand, showed that the prince still possessed the tenacious endurance and vigor of hardy old age. After a few more turns of the lathe he removed his foot from the pedal, wiped his chisel, dropped it into a leather pouch attached to the lathe, and, approaching the table, summoned his daughter. He never gave his children a blessing, so he simply held out his bristly cheek (as yet unshaven) and, regarding her tenderly and attentively, said severely: "Quite well? All right then, sit down." He took the exercise book containing lessons in geometry written by himself and drew up a chair with his foot. "For tomorrow!" said he, quickly finding the page and making a scratch from one paragraph to another with his hard nail. The princess bent over the exercise book on the table. "Wait a bit, heres a letter for you," said the old man suddenly, taking a letter addressed in a womans hand from a bag hanging above the table, onto which he threw it. At the sight of the letter red patches showed themselves on the princess face. She took it quickly and bent her head over it. "From Heloise?" asked the prince with a cold smile that showed his still sound, yellowish teeth. "Yes, its from Julie," replied the princess with a timid glance and a timid smile. "Ill let two more letters pass, but the third Ill read," said the prince sternly; "Im afraid you write much nonsense. Ill read the third!" "Read this if you like, Father," said the princess, blushing still more and holding out the letter. "The third, I said the third!" cried the prince abruptly, pushing the letter away, and leaning his elbows on the table he drew toward him the exercise book containing geometrical figures. "Well, madam," he began, stooping over the book close to his daughter and placing an arm on the back of the chair on which she sat, so that she felt herself surrounded on all sides by the acrid scent of old age and tobacco, which she had known so long. "Now, madam, these triangles are equal; please note that the angle ABC..." The princess looked in a scared way at her fathers eyes glittering close to her; the red patches on her face came and went, and it was plain that she understood nothing and was so frightened that her fear would prevent her understanding any of her fathers further explanations, however clear they might be. Whether it was the teachers fault or the pupils, this same thing happened every day: the princess eyes grew dim, she could not see and could not hear anything, but was only conscious of her stern fathers withered face close to her, of his breath and the smell of him, and could think only of how to get away quickly to her own room to make out the problem in peace. The old man was beside himself: moved the chair on which he was sitting noisily backward and forward, made efforts to control himself and not become vehement, but almost always did become vehement, scolded, and sometimes flung the exercise book away. The princess

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