Chapter 20

PIERRE did not stay to dinner but went away at once on leaving Natasha’s room. He drove about the town looking for Anatole Kuragin, at the very thought of whom the blood rushed to his heart, and he felt a difficulty in breathing. On the ice-hills, at the gypsies’, at Somoneno he was not to be found. Pierre drove to the club. In the club everything was going on just as usual: the members who had come in to dinner were sitting in groups; they greeted Pierre, and talked of the news of the town. The footman, after greeting him, told him, as he knew his friends and his habits, that there was a place left for him in the little dining-room, that Prince Mihail Zaharitch was in the library, and that Pavel Timofeitch had not come in yet. One of Pierre’s acquaintances asked him in the middle of a conversation about the weather, whether he had heard of Kuragin’s elopement with Natalie Rostov, of which every one was talking in the town; was it true? Pierre said, laughing, that it was all nonsense, for he had just come from the Rostovs’. He asked every one about Anatole; one man told him he had not come in yet; another said he was to dine there that day. It was strange to Pierre to look at that calm, indifferent crowd of people, who knew nothing of what was passing in his soul. He walked about the hall, waited till every one had come in, and still seeing nothing of Anatole, he did not dine, but drove home.

Anatole was dining that day with Dolohov, and consulting with him how to achieve the exploit that had miscarried. It seemed to him essential to see Natasha. In the evening he went to his sister’s, to discuss with her means for arranging their meeting. When Pierre, after vainly driving about all Moscow, returned home, his valet told him that Prince Anatole Vassilyevitch was with the countess. The drawing-room of the countess was full of guests.

Pierre did not bestow a greeting on his wife, whom he had not seen since his return (she was more hateful to him than ever at that moment); he walked into the drawing-room, and seeing Anatole, went straight up to him.

“Ah, Pierre,” said the countess, going up to her husband, “you don’t know what a plight our poor Anatole is in …” She stopped short, seeing in her husband’s bowed head, in his glittering eyes, in his resolute tread, that terrible look of rage and power, which she knew and had experienced in her own case after the duel with Dolohov.

“Wherever you are, there is vice and wickedness,” said Pierre to his wife. “Anatole, come along, I want a word with you,” he said in French. Anatole looked round at his sister, and got up obediently, prepared to follow Pierre.

Pierre took him by the arm, drew him to him, and walked out of the room.

“If you allow yourself in my drawing-room…” Ellen whispered; but Pierre walked out of the room, without answering her.

Anatole followed him, with his usual jaunty swagger. But his face betrayed uneasiness. Going into his own room, Pierre shut the door, and addressed Anatole without looking at him. “Did you promise Countess Rostov to marry her? Did you try to elope with her?”

“My dear fellow,” answered Anatole, in French (as was the whole conversation), “I don’t consider myself bound to answer questions put to me in that tone.”

Pierre’s face, which had been pale before, was distorted by fury. With his big hand he clutched Anatole by the collar of his uniform, and proceeded to shake him from side to side, till Anatole’s face showed a sufficient degree of terror.

“When I say I want a word with you …” Pierre repeated.

“Well, what? this is stupid. Eh?” said Anatole, feeling a button of his collar that had been torn off with the cloth.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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