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Milka), with a quite gray face and large black eyes that seemed more prominent than ever, lay on the armchair beside him; Denisov, whose curly hair, mustache, and whiskers had turned half gray, sat beside countess Mary with his generals tunic unbuttoned; Pierre sat between his wife and the old countess. He spoke of what he knew might interest the old lady and that she could understand. He told her of external social events and of the people who had formed the circle of her contemporaries and had once been a real, living, and distinct group, but who were now for the most part scattered about the world and like herself were garnering the last ears of the harvests they had sown in earlier years. But to the old countess those contemporaries of hers seemed to be the only serious and real society. Natasha saw by Pierres animation that his visit had been interesting and that he had much to tell them but dare not say it before the old countess. Denisov, not being a member of the family, did not understand Pierres caution and being, as a malcontent, much interested in what was occurring in Petersburg, kept urging Pierre to tell them about what had happened in the Semenovsk regiment, then about Arakcheev, and then about the Bible Society. Once or twice Pierre was carried away and began to speak of these things, but Nicholas and Natasha always brought him back to the health of Prince Ivan and Countess Mary Alexeevna. "Well, and all this idiocy--Gossner and Tatawinova?" Denisov asked. "Is that weally still going on?" "Going on?" Pierre exclaimed. "Why more than ever! The Bible Society is the whole government now!" "What is that, mon cher ami?" asked the countess, who had finished her tea and evidently needed a pretext for being angry after her meal. "What are you saying about the government? I dont understand." "Well, you know, Maman," Nicholas interposed, knowing how to translate things into his mothers language, "Prince Alexander Golitsyn has founded a society and in consequence has great influence, they say." "Arakcheev and Golitsyn," incautiously remarked Pierre, "are now the whole government! And what a government! They see treason everywhere and are afraid of everything." "Well, and how is Prince Alexander to blame? He is a most estimable man. I used to meet him at Mary Antonovnas," said the countess in an offended tone; and still more offended that they all remained silent, she went on: "Nowadays everyone finds fault. A Gospel Society! Well, and what harm is there in that?" and she rose (everybody else got up too) and with a severe expression sailed back to her table in the sitting room. The melancholy silence that followed was broken by the sounds of the childrens voices and laughter from the next room. Evidently some jolly excitement was going on there. "Finished, finished!" little Natashas gleeful yell rose above them all. Pierre exchanged glances with Countess Mary and Nicholas (Natasha he never lost sight of) and smiled happily. "Thats delightful music!" said he. "It means that Anna Makarovna has finished her stocking," said Countess Mary. "Oh, Ill go and see," said Pierre, jumping up. "You know," he added, stopping at the door, "why Im especially fond of that music? It is always the first thing that tells me all is well. When I was driving here today, the nearer I got to the house the more anxious I grew. As I entered the anteroom I heard Andrushas peals of laughter and that meant that all was well." "I know! I know that feeling," said Nicholas. "But I mustnt go there--those stockings are to be a surprise for me." Pierre went to the children, and the shouting and laughter grew still louder. "Come, Anna Makarovna," Pierres voice was heard saying, "come here into the middle of the room and at the word of command, One, two, and when I say three... You stand here, and you in my arms--well now! One, two!..." said Pierre, and a silence followed: "three!" and a rapturously breathless cry of childrens voices filled the room. "Two, two!" they shouted. This meant two stockings, which by a secret process known only to herself Anna Makarovna used to knit at the same time on the same needles, and which, when they were ready, she always triumphantly drew, one out of the other, in the childrens presence. CHAPTER XIV Soon after this the children came in to say good night. They kissed everyone, the tutors and governesses made their bows, and they went out. Only young Nicholas and his tutor remained. Dessalles whispered to the boy to come downstairs. "No,

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