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War And Peace 54


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already dispatched mine. I have written to my poor mother," said the smiling Mademoiselle Bourienne rapidly, in her pleasant mellow tones and with guttural rs. She brought into Princess Marys strenuous, mournful, and gloomy world a quite different atmosphere, careless, lighthearted, and self-satisfied. "Princess, I must warn you," she added, lowering her voice and evidently listening to herself with pleasure, and speaking with exaggerated grasseyement, "the prince has been scolding Michael Ivanovich. He is in a very bad humor, very morose. Be prepared." "Ah, dear friend," replied Princess Mary, "I have asked you never to warn me of the humor my father is in. I do not allow myself to judge him and would not have others do so." The princess glanced at her watch and, seeing that she was five minutes late in starting her practice on the clavichord, went into the sitting room with a look of alarm. Between twelve and two oclock, as the day was mapped out, the prince rested and the princess played the clavichord. CHAPTER XXVI The gray-haired valet was sitting drowsily listening to the snoring of the prince, who was in his large study. From the far side of the house through the closed doors came the sound of difficult passages--twenty times repeated--of a sonata by Dussek. Just then a closed carriage and another with a hood drove up to the porch. Prince Andrew got out of the carriage, helped his little wife to alight, and let her pass into the house before him. Old Tikhon, wearing a wig, put his head out of the door of the antechamber, reported in a whisper that the prince was sleeping, and hastily closed the door. Tikhon knew that neither the sons arrival nor any other unusual event must be allowed to disturb the appointed order of the day. Prince Andrew apparently knew this as well as Tikhon; he looked at his watch as if to ascertain whether his fathers habits had changed since he was at home last, and, having assured himself that they had not, he turned to his wife. "He will get up in twenty minutes. Let us go across to Marys room," he said. The little princess had grown stouter during this time, but her eyes and her short, downy, smiling lip lifted when she began to speak just as merrily and prettily as ever. "Why, this is a palace!" she said to her husband, looking around with the expression with which people compliment their host at a ball. "Lets come, quick, quick!" And with a glance round, she smiled at Tikhon, at her husband, and at the footman who accompanied them. "Is that Mary practicing? Lets go quietly and take her by surprise." Prince Andrew followed her with a courteous but sad expression. "Youve grown older, Tikhon," he said in passing to the old man, who kissed his hand. Before they reached the room from which the sounds of the clavichord came, the pretty, fair haired Frenchwoman, Mademoiselle Bourienne, rushed out apparently beside herself with delight. "Ah! what joy for the princess!" exclaimed she: "At last! I must let her know." "No, no, please not... You are Mademoiselle Bourienne," said the little princess, kissing her. "I know you already through my sister-in-laws friendship for you. She was not expecting us?" They went up to the door of the sitting room from which came the sound of the oft-repeated passage of the sonata. Prince Andrew stopped and made a grimace, as if expecting something unpleasant. The little princess entered the room. The passage broke off in the middle, a cry was heard, then Princess Marys heavy tread and the sound of kissing. When Prince Andrew went in the two princesses, who had only met once before for a short time at his wedding, were in each others arms warmly pressing their lips to whatever place they happened to touch. Mademoiselle Bourienne stood near them pressing her hand to her heart, with a beatific smile and obviously equally ready to cry or to laugh. Prince Andrew shrugged his shoulders and frowned, as lovers of music do when they hear a false note. The two women let go of one another, and then, as if afraid of being too late, seized each others hands, kissing them and pulling them away, and again began kissing each other on the face, and then to Prince Andrews surprise both began to cry and kissed again. Mademoiselle Bourienne also began to cry. Prince Andrew evidently felt ill at ease, but to the two women it seemed quite natural that they should cry, and apparently it never entered their heads that it could

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