Chapter 5

THEY ALL WENT to their rooms, and except Anatole, who fell asleep the instant he got into bed, no one could get to sleep for a long while that night. “Can he possibly be—my husband, that stranger, that handsome, kind man; yes, he is certainly kind,” thought Princess Marya, and a feeling of terror, such as she scarcely ever felt, came upon her. She was afraid to look round; it seemed to her that there was some one there—the devil, and he was that man with his white forehead, black eyebrows, and red lips.

She rang for her maid and asked her to sleep in her room.

Mademoiselle Bourienne walked up and down the winter garden for a long while that evening, in vain expectation of some one; at one moment she was smiling at that some one, the next, moved to tears by an imaginary reference to ma pauvre mère reproaching her for her fall.

The little princess kept grumbling to her maid that her bed had not been properly made. She could not lie on her side nor on her face. She felt uncomfortable and ill at ease in every position. Her burden oppressed her, oppressed her more than ever that night, because Anatole’s presence had carried her vividly back to another time when it was not so, and she had been light and gay. She sat in a low chair in her nightcap and dressing-jacket. Katya, sleepy and dishevelled, for the third time beat and turned the heavy feather bed, murmuring something.

“I told you it was all in lumps and hollows,” the little princess repeated; “I should be glad enough to go to sleep, so it’s not my fault.”

And her voice quivered like a child’s when it is going to cry.

The old prince too could not sleep. Tihon, half asleep, heard him pacing angrily up and down and blowing his nose. The old prince felt as though he had been insulted through his daughter. The insult was the more bitter because it concerned not himself, but another, his daughter, whom he loved more than himself. He said to himself that he would think the whole matter over thoroughly and decide what was right and what must be done, but instead of doing so, he only worked up his irritation more and more.

“The first stray comer that appears! and father and all forgotten, and she runs upstairs, and does up her hair, and rigs herself out, and doesn’t know what she’s doing! She’s glad to abandon her father! And she knew I should notice it. Fr…fr…fr…And don’t I see the fool has no eyes but for Bourienne (must get rid of her). And how can she have so little pride, as not to see it? If not for her own sake, if she has no pride, at least for mine. I must show her that the blockhead doesn’t give her a thought, and only looks at Bourienne. She has no pride, but I’ll make her see it…”

By telling his daughter that she was making a mistake, that Anatole was getting up a flirtation with Mademoiselle Bourienne, the old prince knew that he would wound her self-respect, and so his object (not to be parted from his daughter) would be gained, and so at this reflection he grew calmer. He called Tihon and began undressing.

“The devil brought them here!” he thought, as Tihon slipped his nightshirt over his dried-up old body and his chest covered with grey hair.

“I didn’t invite them. They come and upset my life. And there’s not much of it left. Damn them!” he muttered, while his head was hidden in the nightshirt. Tihon was used to the prince’s habit of expressing his thoughts aloud, and so it was with an unmoved countenance that he met the wrathful and inquiring face that emerged from the nightshirt.

“Gone to bed?” inquired the prince.

Tihon, like all good valets, indeed, knew by instinct the direction of his master’s thoughts. He guessed that it was Prince Vassily and his son who were meant.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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