To Pierre it seemed so natural that every one should be fond of him, it would have seemed to him so unnatural if any one had not liked him, that he could not help believing in the sincerity of the people surrounding him. Besides, he had no time to doubt their sincerity or insincerity. He never had a moment of leisure, and felt in a continual state of mild and agreeable intoxication. He felt as though he were the centre of some important public function, felt that something was continually being expected of him; that if he did this and that, all would be well, and he did what was expected of him, but still that happy result loomed in the future.

In these early days Prince Vassily, more than all the rest, took control of Pierre’s affairs, and of Pierre himself. On the death of Count Bezuhov he did not let Pierre slip out of his hands. Prince Vassily had the air of a man weighed down by affairs, weary, worried, but from sympathetic feeling, unable in the last resort to abandon this helpless lad, the son, after all, of his friend, and the heir to such an immense fortune, to leave him to his fate to become a prey to plotting knaves. During the few days he had stayed on in Moscow after Count Bezuhov’s death, he had invited Pierre to him, or had himself gone to see Pierre, and had dictated to him what he was to do in a tone of weariness and certainty which seemed to be always saying: “You know that I am overwhelmed with business and that it is out of pure charity that I concern myself with you, and moreover you know very well that what I propose to you is the only feasible thing.”

“Well, my dear boy, to-morrow we are off at last,” he said one day, closing his eyes, drumming his fingers on his elbow, and speaking as though the matter had long ago been settled between them, and could not be settled in any other way.

“To-morrow we set off; I’ll give you a place in my coach. I’m very glad. Here all our important business is settled. And I ought to have been back long ago. Here, I have received this from the chancellor. I petitioned him in your favour, and you are put on the diplomatic corps, and created a gentleman of the bedchamber. Now a diplomatic career lies open to you.”

Notwithstanding the effect produced on him by the tone of weariness and certainty with which these words were uttered, Pierre, who had so long been pondering over his future career, tried to protest. But Prince Vassily broke in on his protest in droning, bass tones, that precluded all possibility of interrupting the flow of his words; it was the resource he fell back upon when extreme measures of persuasion were needed.

“But, my dear boy, I have done it for my own sake, for my conscience’ sake, and there is no need to thank me. No one has ever complained yet of being too much loved; and then you are free, you can give it all up to-morrow. You’ll see for yourself in Petersburg. And it is high time you were getting away from these terrible associations.” Prince Vassily sighed. “So that’s all settled, my dear fellow. And let my valet go in your coach. Ah, yes, I was almost forgetting,” Prince Vassily added. “You know, my dear boy, I had a little account to settle with your father, so as I have received something from the Ryazan estate, I’ll keep that; you don’t want it. We’ll go into accounts later.”

What Prince Vassily called “something from the Ryazan estate” was several thousands of roubles paid in lieu of service by the peasants, and this sum he kept for himself.

In Petersburg, Pierre was surrounded by the same atmosphere of affection and tenderness as in Moscow. He could not decline the post, or rather the title (for he did nothing) that Prince Vassily had obtained for him, and acquaintances, invitations, and social duties were so numerous that Pierre was even more than in Moscow conscious of the feeling of stupefaction, hurry and continued expectation of some future good which was always coming and was never realised.

Of his old circle of bachelor acquaintances there were not many left in Petersburg. The Guards were on active service, Dolohov had been degraded to the ranks; Anatole had gone into the army and was somewhere in the provinces; Prince Andrey was abroad; and so Pierre had not the opportunity of spending his nights in the way he had so loved spending them before, nor could he open his heart in intimate talk

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