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War And Peace 546


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expression of sympathy was pleasing to him. "Honestly, without speaking of what I owe you, I feel friendship for you. Can I do anything for you? Dispose of me. It is for life and death. I say it with my hand on my heart!" said he, striking his chest. "Thank you," said Pierre. The captain gazed intently at him as he had done when he learned that "shelter" was Unterkunft in German, and his face suddenly brightened. "Well, in that case, I drink to our friendship!" he cried gaily, filling two glasses with wine. Pierre took one of the glasses and emptied it. Ramballe emptied his too, again pressed Pierres hand, and leaned his elbows on the table in a pensive attitude. "Yes, my dear friend," he began, "such is fortunes caprice. Who would have said that I should be a soldier and a captain of dragoons in the service of Bonaparte, as we used to call him? Yet here I am in Moscow with him. I must tell you, mon cher," he continued in the sad and measured tones of a man who intends to tell a long story, "that our name is one of the most ancient in France." And with a Frenchmans easy and naive frankness the captain told Pierre the story of his ancestors, his childhood, youth, and manhood, and all about his relations and his financial and family affairs, "ma pauvre mere" playing of course an important part in the story. "But all that is only lifes setting, the real thing is love--love! Am I not right, Monsieur Pierre?" said he, growing animated. "Another glass?" Pierre again emptied his glass and poured himself out a third. "Oh, women, women!" and the captain, looking with glistening eyes at Pierre, began talking of love and of his love affairs. There were very many of these, as one could easily believe, looking at the officers handsome, self-satisfied face, and noting the eager enthusiasm with which he spoke of women. Though all Ramballes love stories had the sensual character which Frenchmen regard as the special charm and poetry of love, yet he told his story with such sincere conviction that he alone had experienced and known all the charm of love and he described women so alluringly that Pierre listened to him with curiosity. It was plain that lamour which the Frenchman was so fond of was not that low and simple kind that Pierre had once felt for his wife, nor was it the romantic love stimulated by himself that he experienced for Natasha. (Ramballe despised both these kinds of love equally: the one he considered the "love of clodhoppers" and the other the "love of simpletons.") Lamour which the Frenchman worshiped consisted principally in the unnaturalness of his relation to the woman and in a combination of incongruities giving the chief charm to the feeling. Thus the captain touchingly recounted the story of his love for a fascinating marquise of thirty-five and at the same time for a charming, innocent child of seventeen, daughter of the bewitching marquise. The conflict of magnanimity between the mother and the daughter, ending in the mothers sacrificing herself and offering her daughter in marriage to her lover, even now agitated the captain, though it was the memory of a distant past. Then he recounted an episode in which the husband played the part of the lover, and he--the lover--assumed the role of the husband, as well as several droll incidents from his recollections of Germany, where "shelter" is called Unterkunft and where the husbands eat sauerkraut and the young girls are "too blonde." Finally, the latest episode in Poland still fresh in the captains memory, and which he narrated with rapid gestures and glowing face, was of how he had saved the life of a Pole (in general, the saving of life continually occurred in the captains stories) and the Pole had entrusted to him his enchanting wife (parisienne de coeur) while himself entering the French service. The captain was happy, the enchanting Polish lady wished to elope with him, but, prompted by magnanimity, the captain restored the wife to the husband, saying as he did so: "I have saved your life, and I save your honor!" Having repeated these words the captain wiped his eyes and gave himself a shake, as if driving away the weakness which assailed him at this touching recollection. Listening to the captains tales, Pierre--as often happens late in the evening and under the influence of wine--followed all that was told him, understood it all, and at the same time followed a train of personal memories which, he knew not

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