Chapter 25

PRINCE ANDREY was leaving the following evening. The old prince, not departing from his regular routine, went away to his own room after dinner. The little princess was with her sister-in-law. Prince Andrey, having changed his dress and put on a travelling-coat without epaulettes, had been packing with his valet in the rooms set apart for him. After himself inspecting the coach and the packing of his trunks on it, he gave orders for the horses to be put to. Nothing was left in the room but the things that Prince Andrey always carried with him: a travelling-case, a big silver wine-case, two Turkish pistols and a sabre, a present from his father, brought back from his campaign under Otchakov. All Prince Andrey’s belongings for the journey were in good order; everything was new and clean, in cloth covers, carefully fastened with tape.

At moments of starting off and beginning a different life, persons given to deliberating on their actions are usually apt to be in a serious frame of mind. At such moments one reviews the past and forms plans for the future. The face of Prince Andrey was very dreamy and tender. Clasping his hands behind him, he walked rapidly up and down the room from corner to corner looking straight before him and dreamily shaking his head. Whether he felt dread at going to the war, or grief at forsaking his wife or possibly something of both—he evidently did not care to be seen in that mood, for, catching the sound of footsteps in the outer room, he hastily unclasped his hands, stood at the table, as though engaged in fastening the cover of the case, and assumed his habitual calm and impenetrable expression. It was the heavy step of Princess Marya.

“They told me you had ordered the horses to be put in,” she said, panting (she had evidently been running), “and I did so want to have a little more talk with you alone. God knows how long we shall be parted again. You’re not angry with me for coming? You’re very much changed, Andryusha,” she added, as though to explain the question.

She smiled as she uttered the word “Andryusha.” It was obviously strange to her to think that this stern, handsome man was the same as the thin, mischievous boy, the Andryusha who had been the companion of her childhood.

“And where’s Liza?” he asked, only answering her question by a smile.

“She was so tired that she fell asleep on the sofa in my room. Oh Andrey, what a treasure of a wife you have,” she said, sitting down on the sofa, facing her brother. “She is a perfect child; such a sweet, merry child. I like her so much.” Prince Andrey did not speak, but the princess noticed the ironical and contemptuous expression that came into his face.

“But one must be indulgent to little weaknesses. Who is free from them, Andrey? You mustn’t forget that she has grown up and been educated in society. And then her position is not a very cheerful one. One must put oneself in every one’s position. To understand everything is to forgive everything. Only think what it must be for her, poor girl, after the life she has been used to, to part from her husband and be left alone in the country, and in her condition too. It’s very hard.”

Prince Andrey smiled, looking at his sister as we smile listening to people whom we fancy we see through.

“You live in the country and think the life so awful?” he said.

“I—that’s a different matter. Why bring me in? I don’t wish for any other life, and indeed I can’t wish for anything different, for I know no other sort of life. But only think, Andrey, what it is for a young woman used to fashionable society to be buried for the best years of her life in the country, alone, because papa is always busy, and I … you know me … I am not a cheerful companion for women used to the best society. Mademoiselle Bourienne is the only person …”

“I don’t like her at all, your Bourienne,” said Prince Andrey.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.