Chapter 6

PIERRE had of late rarely seen his wife alone. Both at Petersburg and at Moscow their house had been constantly full of guests. On the night following the duel he did not go to his bedroom, but spent the night, as he often did, in his huge study, formerly his father’s room, the very room indeed in which Count Bezuhov had died.

He lay down on the couch and tried to go to sleep, so as to forget all that had happened to him, but he could not do so. Such a tempest of feelings, thoughts, and reminiscences suddenly arose in his soul, that, far from going to sleep, he could not even sit still in one place, and was forced to leap up from the couch and pace with rapid steps about the room. At one moment he had a vision of his wife, as she was in the first days after their marriage, with her bare shoulders, and languid, passionate eyes; and then immediately by her side he saw the handsome, impudent, hard, and ironical face of Dolohov, as he had seen it at the banquet, and again the same face of Dolohov, pale, quivering, in agony, as it had been when he turned and sank in the snow.

“What has happened?” he asked himself; “I have killed her lover; yes, killed the lover of my wife. Yes, that has happened. Why was it? How have I come to this?” “Because you married her,” answered an inner voice.

“But how am I to blame?” he asked. “For marrying without loving her, for deceiving yourself and her.” And vividly he recalled that minute after supper at Prince Vassily’s when he had said those words he found so difficult to utter: “I love you.” “It has all come from that. Even then I felt it,” he thought; “I felt at the time that it wasn’t the right thing, that I had no right to do it. And so it has turned out.” He recalled the honeymoon, and blushed at the recollection of it. Particularly vivid, humiliating, and shameful was the memory of how one day soon after his marriage he had come in his silk dressing-gown out of his bedroom into his study at twelve o’clock in the day, and in his study had found his head steward, who had bowed deferentially, and looking at Pierre’s face and his dressing-gown, had faintly smiled, as though to express by that smile his respectful sympathy with his patron’s happiness. “And how often I have been proud of her, proud of her majestic beauty, her social tact,” he thought; “proud of my house, in which she received all Petersburg, proud of her unapproachability and beauty. So this was what I prided myself on. I used to think then that I did not understand her. How often, reflecting on her character, I have told myself that I was to blame, that I did not understand her, did not understand that everlasting composure and complacency, and the absence of all preferences and desires, and the solution of the whole riddle lay in that fearful word, that she is a dissolute woman; I have found that fearful word, and all has become clear.

“Anatole used to come to borrow money of her, and used to kiss her on her bare shoulders. She didn’t give him money; but she let herself be kissed. Her father used to try in joke to rouse her jealousy; with a serene smile she used to say she was not fool enough to be jealous. Let him do as he likes, she used to say about me. I asked her once if she felt no symptoms of pregnancy. She laughed contemptuously, and said she was not such a fool as to want children, and that she would never have a child by me.”

Then he thought of the coarseness, the bluntness of her ideas, and the vulgarity of the expressions that were characteristic of her, although she had been brought up in the highest aristocratic circles. “Not quite such a fool…you just try it on…you clear out of this,” she would say. Often, watching the favourable impression she made on young and old, on men and women, Pierre could not understand why it was he did not love her. “Yes; I never loved her,” Pierre said to himself; “I knew she was a dissolute woman,” he repeated to himself; “but I did not dare own it to myself.

“And now Dolohov: there he sits in the snow and forces himself to smile; and dies with maybe some swaggering affectation on his lips in answer to my remorse.”

Pierre was one of those people who in spite of external weakness of character—so-called—do not seek a confidant for their sorrows. He worked through his trouble alone.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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