PRINCESS MARYA, sitting in the drawing-room, and hearing the old mens talk and criticisms, did not understand a word of what she was hearing. She thought of nothing but whether all their guests were noticing her fathers hostile attitude to her. She did not even notice the marked attention and amiability shown her during the whole of dinner by Drubetskoy, who was that day paying them his third visit.
Princess Marya turned with an absent-minded, questioning glance to Pierre, who, with a smile on his face, came up to her, hat in hand, the last of the guests, after the prince had gone out, and they were left alone together in the drawing-room.
Can I stay a little longer? he said, dropping his bulky person into a low chair beside Princess Marya.
Oh, yes, she said. You noticed nothing? her eyes asked.
Pierre was in an agreeable, after-dinner mood. He looked straight before him and smiled softly. Have you known that young man long, princess? he said.
No, not long.
Well, do you like him?
Yes; hes a very agreeable young man. Why do you ask me? said Princess Marya, still thinking of her conversation in the morning with her father.
Because I have observed, that when a young man comes from Petersburg to Moscow on leave, it is invariably with the object of marrying an heiress.
Have you observed that? said Princess Marya.
Yes, Pierre went on with a smile, and that young man now manages matters so that wherever there are wealthy heiressesthere he is to be found. I can read him like a book. He is hesitating now which to attack, you or Mademoiselle Julie Karagin. He is very attentive to her.
Does he visit them?
Yes, very often. And do you know the new-fashioned method of courting? said Pierre, smiling good- humouredly, and obviously feeling in that light-hearted mood of good-natured irony, for which he had so often reproached himself in his diary.
No, said Princess Marya.
To please the Moscow girls nowadays one has to be melancholy. He is very melancholy with Mademoiselle Karagin, said Pierre.
Really! said Princess Marya, looking at the kindly face of Pierre, and thinking all the time of her own trouble. It would ease my heart, she was thinking, if I could make up my mind to confide all I am feeling to some one. And it is just Pierre I should like to tell it all to. He is so kind and generous. It would ease my heart. He would give me advice.
Would you marry him? asked Pierre.
O my God, count! there are moments when I would marry any oneto her own surprise Princess Marya said, with tears in her voice. Ah! how bitter it is to love some one near to one and to feel, she
|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.|