Youre a scoundrel and a blackguard; and I dont know what prevents me from permitting myself the pleasure of braining you with this, see, said Pierre, expressing himself so artificially, because he was speaking French. He took up a heavy paper-weight, and lifted it in a menacing way, but at once hurriedly put it down in its place.
Did you promise to marry her?
I, I, I didnt think I never promised, though, because
Pierre interrupted him.
Have you any of her letters? Have you any letters? Pierre repeated, advancing upon Anatole. Anatole glanced at him, and at once thrust his hand in his pocket, and took out a pocket-book.
Pierre took the letter he gave him, and pushing away a table that stood in the way, he plumped down on the sofa.
I wont be violent, dont be afraid, said Pierre, in response to a gesture of alarm from Anatole. Lettersone, said Pierre, as though repeating a lesson to himself. Twoafter a moments silence he went on, getting up again and beginning to walk aboutto-morrow you are to leave Moscow.
But how can I ?
ThreePierre went on, not heeding himyou are never to say a word of what has passed between you and the young countess. That I know I cant prevent your doing; but if you have a spark of conscience Pierre walked several times up and down the room. Anatole sat at the table, scowling and biting his lips.
You surely must understand that, apart from your own pleasure, theres the happiness, the peace of other people; that you are ruining a whole life, simply because you want to amuse yourself. Amuse yourself with women like my wifewith them youre within your rights, they know what it is you want of them. They are armed against you by the same experience of vice; but to promise a girl to marry her to deceive, to steal Surely you must see that its as base as attacking an old man or a child!
Pierre paused and glanced at Anatole, more with inquiry now than with wrath.
I dont know about that. Eh? said Anatole, growing bolder as Pierre gained control over his rage. I dont know about that, and I dont want to, he said, looking away from Pierre, and speaking with a slight quiver of his lower jaw, but you have said words to me, base and all that sort of thing, which as a man of honour I cant allow any one to do.
Pierre looked at him in amazement, not able to understand what it was he wanted.
Though it has been only tête-à-tête, Anatole went on, still I cant
What, do you want satisfaction? said Pierre sarcastically.
At any rate you might take back your words. Eh? If you want me to do as you wish. Eh!
Ill take them back, Ill take them back, said Pierre, and beg you to forgive me. Pierre could not help glancing at the loose button. And heres money too, if you want some for your journey.
The expression of that base and cringing smile, that he knew so well in his wife, infuriated Pierre. Oh, you vile, heartless tribe! he cried, and walked out of the room.
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