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War And Peace 59

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War And Peace

and thoughtfully shaking his head. Did he fear going to the war, or was he sad at leaving his wife?--perhaps both, but evidently he did not wish to be seen in that mood, for hearing footsteps in the passage he hurriedly unclasped his hands, stopped at a table as if tying the cover of the small box, and assumed his usual tranquil and impenetrable expression. It was the heavy tread of Princess Mary that he heard. "I hear you have given orders to harness," she cried, panting (she had apparently been running), "and I did so wish to have another talk with you alone! God knows how long we may again be parted. You are not angry with me for coming? You have changed so, Andrusha," she added, as if to explain such a question. She smiled as she uttered his pet name, "Andrusha." It was obviously strange to her to think that this stern handsome man should be Andrusha--the slender mischievous boy who had been her playfellow in childhood. "And where is Lise?" he asked, answering her question only by a smile. "She was so tired that she has fallen asleep on the sofa in my room. Oh, Andrew! What a treasure of a wife you have," said she, sitting down on the sofa, facing her brother. "She is quite a child: such a dear, merry child. I have grown so fond of her." Prince Andrew was silent, but the princess noticed the ironical and contemptuous look that showed itself on his face. "One must be indulgent to little weaknesses; who is free from them, Andrew? Dont forget that she has grown up and been educated in society, and so her position now is not a rosy one. We should enter into everyones situation. Tout comprendre, cest tout pardonner.* Think what it must be for her, poor thing, after what she has been used to, to be parted from her husband and be left alone in the country, in her condition! Its very hard." *To understand all is to forgive all. Prince Andrew smiled as he looked at his sister, as we smile at those we think we thoroughly understand. "You live in the country and dont think the life terrible," he replied. "I... thats different. Why speak of me? I dont want any other life, and cant, for I know no other. But think, Andrew: for a young society woman to be buried in the country during the best years of her life, all alone--for Papa is always busy, and I... well, you know what poor resources I have for entertaining a woman used to the best society. There is only Mademoiselle Bourienne...." "I dont like your Mademoiselle Bourienne at all," said Prince Andrew. "No? She is very nice and kind and, above all, shes much to be pitied. She has no one, no one. To tell the truth, I dont need her, and shes even in my way. You know I always was a savage, and now am even more so. I like being alone.... Father likes her very much. She and Michael Ivanovich are the two people to whom he is always gentle and kind, because he has been a benefactor to them both. As Sterne says: We dont love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we have done them. Father took her when she was homeless after losing her own father. She is very good-natured, and my father likes her way of reading. She reads to him in the evenings and reads splendidly." "To be quite frank, Mary, I expect Fathers character sometimes makes things trying for you, doesnt it?" Prince Andrew asked suddenly. Princess Mary was first surprised and then aghast at this question. "For me? For me?... Trying for me!..." said she. "He always was rather harsh; and now I should think hes getting very trying," said Prince Andrew, apparently speaking lightly of their father in order to puzzle or test his sister. "You are good in every way, Andrew, but you have a kind of intellectual pride," said the princess, following the train of her own thoughts rather than the trend of the conversation--"and thats a great sin. How can one judge Father? But even if one might, what feeling except veneration could such a man as my father evoke? And I am so contented and happy with him. I only wish you were all as happy as I am." Her brother shook his head incredulously. "The only thing that is hard for me... I will tell you the truth, Andrew... is Fathers way of treating

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