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《War And Peace》Book8 CHAPTER II

[日期:2008-02-26]   [字体: ]

《War And Peace》 Book8  CHAPTER II
    by Leo Tolstoy


AT THE BEGINNING of the winter Prince Nikolay Andreitch Bolkonsky and his
daughter moved to Moscow. His past, his intellect and originality, and still
more the falling off at about that time of the popular enthusiasm for the rule
of the Tsar Alexander and the anti-French and patriotic sentiments then
prevailing at Moscow, all contributed to make Prince Nikolay Andreitch at once
an object of peculiar veneration and the centre of the Moscow opposition to the
government.


The prince had GREatly aged during that year. He had begun to show
unmistakable signs of failing powers, sudden attacks of drowsiness, and
forgetfulness of events nearest in time, and exact memory of remote incidents,
and a childlike vanity in playing the part of leader of the Moscow opposition.
But in spite of that, when the old man came into the drawing-room in the
evenings to tea, in his wig and fur coat, and on being incited to do so by some
one, began uttering abrupt observations on the past, or still more abrupt and
harsh criticisms on the present—he aroused the same feeling of esteem and
reverence in all his guests. For visitors, that old-fashioned house, with its
huge mirrors, pre-revolutionary furniture, and powdered lackeys, and the stern
and shrewd old man, himself a relic of a past age, with the gentle daughter and
the pretty Frenchwoman, both so reverently devoted to him, made a stately and
agreeable spectacle. But those visitors did not reflect that, apart from the
couple of hours during which they saw the household, there were twenty-two hours
of the day and night during which the secret, private life of the house went on
its accustomed way.


That inner life had become very hard for Princess Marya of late in Moscow.
She was deprived in Moscow of her two GREatest pleasures—talks with God's folk
and the solitude which had refreshed her spirit at Bleak Hills, and she had none
of the advantages and pleasures of town life. She did not go into society; every
one knew that her father would not allow her to go anywhere without him, and
owing to his failing health he could go nowhere himself. She was not even
invited now to dinner-parties or balls. Princess Marya had laid aside all hopes
of marriage. She saw the coldness and hostility with which the old prince
received and dismissed the young men, possible suitors, who sometimes appeared
at the house. Friends, Princess Marya now had none; during this stay in Moscow
she had lost all faith in the two friends who had been nearest to her.
Mademoiselle Bourienne, with whom she had never been able to be perfectly open,
she now regarded with dislike, and for certain reasons kept at a distance.
Julie, with whom Princess Marya had kept up an unbroken correspondence for five
years, was in Moscow. When Princess Marya renewed her personal relations with
her, she felt her former friend to be utterly alien to her. Julie, who had
become, by the death of her brothers, one of the wealthiest heiresses in Moscow,
was at that time engrossed in a giddy whirl of fashionable amusements. She was
surrounded by young men, whom she believed to have become suddenly appreciative
of her qualities. Julie was at that stage when a young lady is somewhat past her
first youth in society and feels that her last chance of marrying has come, and
that now or never her fate must be decided. With a mournful smile Princess Marya
reflected every Thursday that she had now no one to write to, seeing that Julie
was here and saw her every week, though her friend's actual presence gave her no
sort of pleasure. Like the old French émigré, who declined to marry the
lady with whom he had for so many years spent his evenings, she regretted that
Julie was here and she had no one to write to. In Moscow Princess Marya had no
one to speak to, no one to confide her sorrows to, and many fresh sorrows fell
to her lot about this time. The time for Prince Andrey's return and marriage was
approaching, and his commission to her to prepare her father's mind was so far
from being successfully carried out that the whole thing seemed hopeless; and
any reference to the young Countess Rostov infuriated the old prince, who was
for the most part out of humour at all times now. Another trouble that weighed
on Princess Marya of late was due to the lessons she gave to her six-year-old
nephew. In her relations with little Nikolay she recognised to her consternation
symptoms of her father's irritable character in herself. However often she told
herself that she must not let herself lose her temper, when teaching her nephew,
almost every time she sat down with a pointer showing him the French alphabet,
she so longed to hasten, to make easy the process of transferring her knowledge
to the child, who was by now always afraid his auntie would be angry the next
moment, that at the slightest inattention she was quivering in nervous haste and
vexation, she raised her voice and sometimes pulled him by his little hand and
stood him in the corner. When she had stood him in the corner she would begin to
cry herself over her evil, wicked nature, and little Nikolay, his sobs vying
with hers, would come unbidden out of the corner to pull her wet hands from her
face and try to comfort her. But the greatest, far the greatest of the
princess's burdens was her father's irascibility, which was invariably directed
against his daughter, and had of late reached the point of cruelty. Had he
forced her to spend the night bowing to the ground, had he beaten her, or made
her carry in wood and water, it would never have entered her head that her
position was a hard one. But this loving despot—most cruel of all because he
loved, and for that very reason tortured himself and her—knew not only how to
mortify and humiliate her, but of set purpose, to prove to her that she was
always to blame in everything. Of late he had taken a new departure, which
caused Princess Marya more misery than anything—that was his closer and closer
intimacy with Mademoiselle Bourienne. The idea, that had occurred to him in jest
at the first moment of receiving the news of his son's intentions, that if
Andrey got married he, too, would marry Mademoiselle Bourienne, obviously
pleased him, and he had of late— simply, as Princess Marya fancied, to annoy
her—persisted in being particularly gracious to Mademoiselle Bourienne and
manifesting his dissatisfaction with his daughter by demonstrations of love for
the Frenchwoman.


One day in Princess Marya's presence (it seemed to her that her father did it
on purpose because she was there) the old prince kissed Mademoiselle Bourienne's
hand, and drawing her to him embraced her affectionately. Princess Marya flushed
hotly and ran out of the room. A few minutes later, Mademoiselle Bourienne went
into Princess Marya's room, smiling and making some cheerful remarks in her
aGREeable voice. Princess Marya hastily wiped away her tears, with resolute
steps went up to the Frenchwoman, and obviously unconscious of what she was
doing, with wrathful haste and breaks in her voice she began screaming at
her:


“It's loathsome, vile, inhuman to take advantage of feebleness…” She could
not go on. “Go out of my room,” she cried, and broke into sobs.

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The next day the old prince did not say a word to his daughter, but she
noticed that at dinner he gave orders for the dishes to be handed to
Mademoiselle Bourienne first. When towards the end of dinner, the footman from
habit handed the coffee, beginning with the princess, the old prince flew into a
sudden frenzy of rage, flung his cane at Filipp, and immediately gave orders for
him to be sent for a soldier.


“He won't obey…twice I told him!…and he didn't obey. She's the first person
in this house, she's my best friend,” screamed the old prince. And if you allow
yourself,” he shouted in a fury, for the first time addressing Princess Marya,
“ever again, as you dared yesterday … to forget yourself in her presence, I'll
show you who is master in this house. Away! don't let me set eyes on you! Beg
her pardon!”


Princess Marya begged Amalia Yevgenyevna's pardon and also her father's, both
for herself and the footman Filipp, who implored her intervention.

name=Marker10>

At such moments the feeling that prevailed in Princess Marya's soul was akin
to the pride of sacrifice. And all of a sudden at such moments, that father whom
she was judging would look for his spectacles, fumbling by them and not seeing
them, or would forget what had just happened, or would take a tottering step
with his weak legs, and look round to see whether any one had noticed his
feebleness, or what was worst of all, at dinner when there were no guests to
excite him, he would suddenly fall asleep, letting his napkin drop and his
shaking head sink over his plate. “He is old and feeble, and I dare to judge
him!” she thought, revolted by herself.

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