“I can’t tell you how much I have passed through during this time. I shouldn’t know my old self.”

“Yes, you are very, very much changed since those days,” said Prince Andrey.

“Well, and what of you?” asked Pierre. “What are your plans?”

“Plans?” repeated Prince Andrey ironically. “My plans?” he repeated, as though wondering what was the meaning of such a word. “Why, you see, I am building; I want next year to settle in here altogether …”

Pierre looked silently and intently into the face of Prince Andrey, which had grown so much older.

“No, I’m asking about …” Pierre began, but Prince Andrey interrupted him.

“But why talk about me … talk to me, and tell me about your journey, about everything you have been doing on your estates.”

Pierre began describing what he had been doing on his estates, trying as far as he could to disguise his share in the improvements made on them. Prince Andrey several times put in a few words before Pierre could utter them, as though all Pierre’s doings were an old, familiar story, and he were hearing it not only without interest, but even as it were a little ashamed of what was told him.

Pierre began to feel awkward and positively wretched in his friend’s company. He relapsed into silence.

“I tell you what, my dear fellow,” said Prince Andrey, who was unmistakably dreary and ill at ease with his visitor, “I’m simply bivouacking here; I only came over to have a look at things. I’m going back again to my sister to-day. I will introduce you to her. But I think you know her, though,” he added, obviously trying to provide entertainment for his guest, with whom he now found nothing in common. “We will set off after dinner. And now would you care to see my place?” They went out and walked about till dinner time, talking of political news and common acquaintances, like people not very intimate. The only thing of which Prince Andrey now spoke with some eagerness and interest was the new buildings and homestead he was building; but even in the middle of a conversation on this subject, on the scaffolding, when Prince Andrey was describing to Pierre the plan of the house, he suddenly stopped. “There’s nothing interesting in that, though, let us go in to dinner and set off.”

At dinner the conversation fell on Pierre’s marriage.

“I was very much surprised when I heard of it,” said Prince Andrey.

Pierre blushed as he always did at any reference to his marriage, and said hurriedly: “I’ll tell you one day how it all happened. But you know that it’s all over and for ever.”

“For ever?” said Prince Andrey; “nothing’s for ever.”

“But do you know how it all ended? Did you hear of the duel?”

“Yes, you had to go through that too!”

“The one thing for which I thank God is that I didn’t kill that man,” said Pierre.

“Why so?” said Prince Andrey. “To kill a vicious dog is a very good thing to do, really.”

“No, to kill a man is bad, wrong …”

“Why is it wrong?” repeated Prince Andrey; “what’s right and wrong is a question it has not been given to men to decide. Men are for ever in error, and always will be in error, and in nothing more than in what they regard as right and wrong.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.