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War And Peace 56

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War And Peace

have come to you and brought my wife who is pregnant," said Prince Andrew, following every movement of his fathers face with an eager and respectful look. "How is your health?" "Only fools and rakes fall ill, my boy. You know me: I am busy from morning till night and abstemious, so of course I am well." "Thank God," said his son smiling. "God has nothing to do with it! Well, go on," he continued, returning to his hobby; "tell me how the Germans have taught you to fight Bonaparte by this new science you call strategy." Prince Andrew smiled. "Give me time to collect my wits, Father," said he, with a smile that showed that his fathers foibles did not prevent his son from loving and honoring him. "Why, I have not yet had time to settle down!" "Nonsense, nonsense!" cried the old man, shaking his pigtail to see whether it was firmly plaited, and grasping his by the hand. "The house for your wife is ready. Princess Mary will take her there and show her over, and theyll talk nineteen to the dozen. Thats their womans way! I am glad to have her. Sit down and talk. About Mikhelsons army I understand--Tolstoys too... a simultaneous expedition.... But whats the southern army to do? Prussia is neutral... I know that. What about Austria?" said he, rising from his chair and pacing up and down the room followed by Tikhon, who ran after him, handing him different articles of clothing. "What of Sweden? How will they cross Pomerania?" Prince Andrew, seeing that his father insisted, began--at first reluctantly, but gradually with more and more animation, and from habit changing unconsciously from Russian to French as he went on--to explain the plan of operation for the coming campaign. He explained how an army, ninety thousand strong, was to threaten Prussia so as to bring her out of her neutrality and draw her into the war; how part of that army was to join some Swedish forces at Stralsund; how two hundred and twenty thousand Austrians, with a hundred thousand Russians, were to operate in Italy and on the Rhine; how fifty thousand Russians and as many English were to land at Naples, and how a total force of five hundred thousand men was to attack the French from different sides. The old prince did not evince the least interest during this explanation, but as if he were not listening to it continued to dress while walking about, and three times unexpectedly interrupted. Once he stopped it by shouting: "The white one, the white one!" This meant that Tikhon was not handing him the waistcoat he wanted. Another time he interrupted, saying: "And will she soon be confined?" and shaking his head reproachfully said: "Thats bad! Go on, go on." The third interruption came when Prince Andrew was finishing his description. The old man began to sing, in the cracked voice of old age: "Malbrook sen va-t-en guerre. Dieu sait quand reviendra."* *"Marlborough is going to the wars; God knows when hell return." His son only smiled. "I dont say its a plan I approve of," said the son; "I am only telling you what it is. Napoleon has also formed his plan by now, not worse than this one." "Well, youve told me nothing new," and the old man repeated, meditatively and rapidly: "Dieu sait quand reviendra. Go to the dining room." CHAPTER XXVII At the appointed hour the prince, powdered and shaven, entered the dining room where his daughter-in-law, Princess Mary, and Mademoiselle Bourienne were already awaiting him together with his architect, who by a strange caprice of his employers was admitted to table though the position of that insignificant individual was such as could certainly not have caused him to expect that honor. The prince, who generally kept very strictly to social distinctions and rarely admitted even important government officials to his table, had unexpectedly selected Michael Ivanovich (who always went into a corner to blow his nose on his checked handkerchief) to illustrate the theory that all men are equals, and had more than once impressed on his daughter that Michael Ivanovich was "not a whit worse than you or I." At dinner the prince usually spoke to the taciturn Michael Ivanovich more often than to anyone else. In the dining room, which like all the rooms in the house was exceedingly lofty, the members of the household and the footmen--one behind each chair--stood waiting for the prince to enter. The head butler, napkin on arm, was scanning the setting of the table, making signs to the footmen, and anxiously glancing from the

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