Princesse, au revoir,” he shouted, his tongue tripping like his legs.

The princess, picking up her gown, seated herself in the darkness of the carriage; her husband was arranging his sabre; Prince Ippolit, under the pretence of assisting, was in every one’s way.

“Allow me, sir,” Prince Andrey said in Russian drily and disagreeably to Prince Ippolit, who prevented his passing.

“I expect you, Pierre,” the same voice called in warm and friendly tones.

The postillion started at a trot, and the carriage rumbled away. Prince Ippolit gave vent to a short, jerky guffaw, as he stood on the steps waiting for the vicomte, whom he had promised to take home.

“Well, my dear fellow, your little princess is very good-looking, very good-looking,” said the vicomte, as he sat in the carriage with Ippolit. “Very good-looking indeed;” he kissed his finger tips. “And quite French.”

Ippolit snorted and laughed.

“And, do you know, you are a terrible fellow with that little innocent way of yours,” pursued the vicomte. “I am sorry for the poor husband, that officer boy who gives himself the airs of a reigning prince.”

Ippolit guffawed again, and in the middle of a laugh articulated:

“And you said that the Russian ladies were not equal to the French ladies. You must know how to take them.”

Pierre, arriving first, went to Prince Andrey’s study, like one of the household, and at once lay down on the sofa, as his habit was, and taking up the first book he came upon in the shelf (it was Cæsar’s Commentaries) he propped himself on his elbow, and began reading it in the middle.

“What a shock you gave Mlle. Scherer! She’ll be quite ill now,” Prince Andrey said, as he came into the study rubbing his small white hands.

Pierre rolled his whole person over so that the sofa creaked, turned his eager face to Prince Andrey, smiled and waved his hand to him.

“Oh, that abbé was very interesting, only he’s got a wrong notion about it.…To my thinking, perpetual peace is possible, but I don’t know how to put it.…Not by means of the balance of political power.…”

Prince Andrey was obviously not interested in these abstract discussions.

“One can’t always say all one thinks everywhere, mon cher. Come tell me, have you settled on anything at last? Are you going into the cavalry or the diplomatic service?” asked Prince Andrey, after a momentary pause.

Pierre sat on the sofa with his legs crossed under him.

“Can you believe it, I still don’t know. I don’t like either.”

“But you must decide on something; you know your father’s expecting it.”

At ten years old Pierre had been sent with an abbé as tutor to be educated abroad, and there he remained till he was twenty. When he returned to Moscow, his father had dismissed the tutor and said to the young man: “Now you go to Petersburg, look about you and make your choice. I agree to anything. Here is a letter to Prince Vassily and here is money. Write and tell me everything; I will help you in everything.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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