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War And Peace 60

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War And Peace

religious subjects. I dont understand how a man of his immense intellect can fail to see what is as clear as day, and can go so far astray. That is the only thing that makes me unhappy. But even in this I can see lately a shade of improvement. His satire has been less bitter of late, and there was a monk he received and had a long talk with." "Ah! my dear, I am afraid you and your monk are wasting your powder," said Prince Andrew banteringly yet tenderly. "Ah! mon ami, I only pray, and hope that God will hear me. Andrew..." she said timidly after a moments silence, "I have a great favor to ask of you." "What is it, dear?" "No--promise that you will not refuse! It will give you no trouble and is nothing unworthy of you, but it will comfort me. Promise, Andrusha!..." said she, putting her hand in her reticule but not yet taking out what she was holding inside it, as if what she held were the subject of her request and must not be shown before the request was granted. She looked timidly at her brother. "Even if it were a great deal of trouble..." answered Prince Andrew, as if guessing what it was about. "Think what you please! I know you are just like Father. Think as you please, but do this for my sake! Please do! Fathers father, our grandfather, wore it in all his wars." (She still did not take out what she was holding in her reticule.) "So you promise?" "Of course. What is it?" "Andrew, I bless you with this icon and you must promise me you will never take it off. Do you promise?" "If it does not weigh a hundredweight and wont break my neck... To please you..." said Prince Andrew. But immediately, noticing the pained expression his joke had brought to his sisters face, he repented and added: "I am glad; really, dear, I am very glad." "Against your will He will save and have mercy on you and bring you to Himself, for in Him alone is truth and peace," said she in a voice trembling with emotion, solemnly holding up in both hands before her brother a small, oval, antique, dark-faced icon of the Saviour in a gold setting, on a finely wrought silver chain. She crossed herself, kissed the icon, and handed it to Andrew. "Please, Andrew, for my sake!..." Rays of gentle light shone from her large, timid eyes. Those eyes lit up the whole of her thin, sickly face and made it beautiful. Her brother would have taken the icon, but she stopped him. Andrew understood, crossed himself and kissed the icon. There was a look of tenderness, for he was touched, but also a gleam of irony on his face. "Thank you, my dear." She kissed him on the forehead and sat down again on the sofa. They were silent for a while. "As I was saying to you, Andrew, be kind and generous as you always used to be. Dont judge Lise harshly," she began. "She is so sweet, so good-natured, and her position now is a very hard one." "I do not think I have complained of my wife to you, Masha, or blamed her. Why do you say all this to me?" Red patches appeared on Princess Marys face and she was silent as if she felt guilty. "I have said nothing to you, but you have already been talked to. And I am sorry for that," he went on. The patches grew deeper on her forehead, neck, and cheeks. She tried to say something but could not. Her brother had guessed right: the little princess had been crying after dinner and had spoken of her forebodings about her confinement, and how she dreaded it, and had complained of her fate, her father-in-law, and her husband. After crying she had fallen asleep. Prince Andrew felt sorry for his sister. "Know this, Masha: I cant reproach, have not reproached, and never shall reproach my wife with anything, and I cannot reproach myself with anything in regard to her; and that always will be so in whatever circumstances I may be placed. But if you want to know the truth... if you want to know whether I am happy? No! Is she happy? No! But why this is so I dont know..." As he said this he rose, went to his sister, and, stooping, kissed her forehead. His fine eyes lit up with a thoughtful, kindly, and unaccustomed brightness, but he was looking not at

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