“She, she alone is to blame for everything,” he said to himself; “but what of it? Why did I bind myself to her; why did I say to her that ‘I love you,’ which was a lie, and worse than a lie,” he said to himself; “I am to blame, and ought to bear … What? The disgrace to my name, the misery of my life? Oh, that’s all rubbish,” he thought, “disgrace to one’s name and honour, all that’s relative, all that’s apart from myself.

“Louis XVI was executed because they said he was dishonourable and a criminal” (the idea crossed Pierre’s mind), “and they were right from their point of view just as those were right too who died a martyr’s death for his sake, and canonised him as a saint. Then Robespierre was executed for being a tyrant. Who is right, who is wrong? No one. But live while you live, to-morrow you die, as I might have died an hour ago. And is it worth worrying oneself, when life is only one second in comparison with eternity?” But at the moment when he believed himself soothed by reflections of that sort, he suddenly had a vision of her, and of her at those moments when he had most violently expressed his most insincere love to her, and he felt a rush of blood to his heart, and had to jump up again, and move about and break and tear to pieces anything that his hands came across. “Why did I say to her ‘I love you’?” he kept repeating to himself. And as he repeated the question for the tenth time the saying of Molière came into his head: “But what the devil was he doing in that galley?” and he laughed at himself.

In the night he called for his valet and bade him pack up to go to Petersburg. He could not conceive how he was going to speak to her now. He resolved that next day he would go away, leaving her a letter, in which he would announce his intention of parting from her for ever.

In the morning when the valet came into the study with his coffee, Pierre was lying on an ottoman asleep with an open book in his hand.

He woke up and looked about him for a long while in alarm, unable to grasp where he was.

“The countess sent to inquire if your excellency were at home,” said the valet.

But before Pierre had time to make up his mind what answer he would send, the countess herself walked calmly and majestically into the room. She was wearing a white satin dressing-gown embroidered with silver, and had her hair in two immense coils wound like a coronet round her exquisite head. In spite of her calm, there was a wrathful line on her rather prominent, marble brow. With her accustomed self- control and composure she did not begin to speak till the valet had left the room. She knew of the duel and had come to talk of it. She waited till the valet had set the coffee and gone out. Pierre looked timidly at her over his spectacles, and as the hare, hemmed in by dogs, goes on lying with its ears back in sight of its foes, so he tried to go on reading. But he felt that this was senseless and impossible, and again he glanced timidly at her. She did not sit down, but stood looking at him with a disdainful smile, waiting for the valet to be gone.

“What’s this about now? What have you been up to? I’m asking you,” she said sternly.

“I? I? what?” said Pierre.

“You going in for deeds of valour! Now, answer me, what does this duel mean? What did you want to prove by it? Eh! I ask you the question.” Pierre turned heavily on the sofa, opened his mouth but could not answer.

“If you won’t answer, I’ll tell you …” Ellen went on. “You believe everything you’re told. You were told …” Ellen laughed, “that Dolohov was my lover,” she said in French, with her coarse plainness of speech, uttering the word “amant” like any other word, “and you believed it! But what have you proved by this? What have you proved by this duel? That you’re a fool; but every one knew that as it was. What does it lead to? Why, that I’m made a laughing-stock to all Moscow; that every one’s saying that when you were drunk and didn’t know what you were doing, you challenged a man of whom you were jealous without grounds,” Ellen raised her voice and grew more and more passionate; “who’s a better man than you in every respect. …”

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