“One has to be sweet to the husbands of pretty women,” said Denisov. Pierre did not hear what they were saying, but he knew they were talking of him. He flushed and turned away. “Well, now to the health of pretty women,” said Dolohov, and with a serious expression, though a smile lurked in the corners of his mouth, he turned to Pierre.

“To the health of pretty women, Petrusha, and their lovers too,” he said.

Pierre, with downcast eyes, sipped his glass, without looking at Dolohov or answering him. The footman, distributing copies of Kutuzov’s cantata, laid a copy by Pierre, as one of the more honoured guests. He would have taken it, but Dolohov bent forward, snatched the paper out of his hands and began reading it. Pierre glanced at Dolohov, and his eyes dropped; something terrible and hideous, that had been torturing him all through the dinner, rose up and took possession of him. He bent the whole of his ungainly person across the table. “Don’t you dare to take it!” he shouted.

Hearing that shout and seeing to whom it was addressed, Nesvitsky and his neighbour on the right side turned in haste and alarm to Bezuhov.

“Hush, hush, what are you about?” whispered panic-stricken voices. Dolohov looked at Pierre with his clear, mirthful, cruel eyes, still with the same smile, as though he were saying: “Come now, this is what I like.”

“I won’t give it up,” he said distinctly.

Pale and with quivering lips, Pierre snatched the copy.

“You…you…blackguard!…I challenge you,” he said, and moving back his chair, he got up from the table. At the second Pierre did this and uttered these words he felt that the question of his wife’s guilt, that had been torturing him for the last four and twenty hours, was finally and incontestably answered in the affirmative. He hated her and was severed from her for ever. In spite of Denisov’s entreaties that Rostov would have nothing to do with the affair, Rostov agreed to be Dolohov’s second, and after dinner he discussed with Nesvitsky, Bezuhov’s second, the arrangements for the duel. Pierre had gone home, but Rostov with Dolohov and Denisov stayed on at the club listening to the gypsies and the singers till late in the evening.

“So good-bye till to-morrow, at Sokolniky,” said Dolohov, as he parted from Rostov at the club steps.

“And do you feel quite calm?” asked Rostov.

Dolohov stopped.

“Well, do you see, in a couple of words I’ll let you into the whole secret of duelling. If, when you go to a duel, you make your will and write long letters to your parents, if you think that you may be killed, you’re a fool and certain to be done for. But go with the firm intention of killing your man, as quickly and as surely as may be, then everything will be all right. As our bear-killer from Kostroma used to say to me: ‘A bear,’ he’d say, ‘why, who’s not afraid of one? but come to see one and your fear’s all gone, all you hope is he won’t get away!’ Well, that’s just how I feel. A demain, mon cher.”

When everything was ready, the swords stuck in the snow to mark the barrier, and the pistols loaded, Nesvitsky went up to Pierre.

“I should not be doing my duty, count,” he said in a timid voice, “nor justifying the confidence and the honour you have done me in choosing me for your second, if at this grave moment, this very grave moment, I did not speak the whole truth to you. I consider that the quarrel has not sufficient grounds and is not worth shedding blood over.… You were not right, not quite in the right; you lost your temper.…”

“Oh, yes, it was awfully stupid,” said Pierre.

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