Chapter 5

THANKING ANNA PAVLOVNA for her charmante soirée, the guests began to take leave.

Pierre was clumsy, stout and uncommonly tall, with huge red hands; he did not, as they say, know how to come into a drawing-room and still less how to get out of one, that is, how to say something particularly agreeable on going away. Moreover, he was dreamy. He stood up, and picking up a three-cornered hat with the plume of a general in it instead of his own, he kept hold of it, pulling the feathers till the general asked him to restore it. But all his dreaminess and his inability to enter a drawing-room or talk properly in it were atoned for by his expression of good-nature, simplicity and modesty. Anna Pavlovna turned to him, and with Christian meekness signifying her forgiveness for his misbehaviour, she nodded to him and said:

“I hope I shall see you again, but I hope too you will change your opinions, my dear Monsieur Pierre.”

He made no answer, simply bowed and displayed to every one once more his smile, which said as plainly as words: “Opinions or no opinions, you see what a nice, good-hearted fellow I am.” And Anna Pavlovna and every one else instinctively felt this. Prince Andrey had gone out into the hall and turning his shoulders to the footman who was ready to put his cloak on him, he listened indifferently to his wife’s chatter with Prince Ippolit, who had also come out into the hall. Prince Ippolit stood close to the pretty princess, so soon to be a mother, and stared persistently straight at her through his eyeglass.

“Go in, Annette, you’ll catch cold,” said the little princess, saying good-bye to Anna Pavlovna. “It is settled,” she added in a low voice.

Anna Pavlovna had managed to have a few words with Liza about the match she was planning between Anatole and the sister-in-law of the little princess.

“I rely on you, my dear,” said Anna Pavlovna, also in an undertone; “you write to her and tell me how the father will view the matter. Au revoir!” And she went back out of the hall.

Prince Ippolit went up to the little princess and, bending his face down close to her, began saying something to her in a half whisper.

Two footmen, one the princess’s, the other his own, stood with shawl and redingote waiting till they should finish talking, and listened to their French prattle, incomprehensible to them, with faces that seemed to say that they understood what was being said but would not show it. The princess, as always, talked with a smile and listened laughing.

“I’m very glad I didn’t go to the ambassador’s,” Prince Ippolit was saying: “such a bore.…A delightful evening it has been, hasn’t it? delightful.”

“They say the ball will be a very fine one,” answered the little princess, twitching up her downy little lip. “All the pretty women are to be there.”

“Not all, since you won’t be there; not all,” said Prince Ippolit, laughing gleefully; and snatching the shawl from the footman, shoving him aside as he did so, he began putting it on the little princess. Either from awkwardness or intentionally—no one could have said which—he did not remove his arms for a long while after the shawl had been put on, as it were holding the young woman in his embrace.

Gracefully, but still smiling, she moved away, turned round and glanced at her husband. Prince Andrey’s eyes were closed: he seemed weary and drowsy.

“Are you ready?” he asked his wife, avoiding her eyes.

Prince Ippolit hurriedly put on his redingote, which in the latest mode hung down to his heels, and stumbling over it, ran out on to the steps after the princess, whom the footman was assisting into the carriage.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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