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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 5
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 5 Post by :Joe_Hamilton Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2230

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 5 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 5

Nicholas sat leaning slightly forward in an armchair, bending
closely over the blonde lady and paying her mythological compliments
with a smile that never left his face. Jauntily shifting the
position of his legs in their tight riding breeches, diffusing an odor
of perfume, and admiring his partner, himself, and the fine outlines
of his legs in their well-fitting Hessian boots, Nicholas told the
blonde lady that he wished to run away with a certain lady here in
Voronezh.

"Which lady?"

"A charming lady, a divine one. Her eyes" (Nicholas looked at his
partner) "are blue, her mouth coral and ivory; her figure" (he glanced
at her shoulders) "like Diana's...."

The husband came up and sullenly asked his wife what she was talking
about.

"Ah, Nikita Ivanych!" cried Nicholas, rising politely, and as if
wishing Nikita Ivanych to share his joke, he began to tell him of
his intention to elope with a blonde lady.

The husband smiled gloomily, the wife gaily. The governor's
good-natured wife came up with a look of disapproval.

"Anna Ignatyevna wants to see you, Nicholas," said she,
pronouncing the name so that Nicholas at once understood that Anna
Ignatyevna was a very important person. "Come, Nicholas! You know
you let me call you so?"

"Oh, yes, Aunt. Who is she?"

"Anna Ignatyevna Malvintseva. She has heard from her niece how you
rescued her... Can you guess?"

"I rescued such a lot of them!" said Nicholas.

"Her niece, Princess Bolkonskaya. She is here in Voronezh with her
aunt. Oho! How you blush. Why, are...?"

"Not a bit! Please don't, Aunt!"

"Very well, very well!... Oh, what a fellow you are!"

The governor's wife led him up to a tall and very stout old lady
with a blue headdress, who had just finished her game of cards with
the most important personages of the town. This was Malvintseva,
Princess Mary's aunt on her mother's side, a rich, childless widow who
always lived in Voronezh. When Rostov approached her she was
standing settling up for the game. She looked at him and, screwing
up her eyes sternly, continued to upbraid the general who had won from
her.

"Very pleased, mon cher," she then said, holding out her hand to
Nicholas. "Pray come and see me."

After a few words about Princess Mary and her late father, whom
Malvintseva had evidently not liked, and having asked what Nicholas
knew of Prince Andrew, who also was evidently no favorite of hers, the
important old lady dismissed Nicholas after repeating her invitation
to come to see her.

Nicholas promised to come and blushed again as he bowed. At the
mention of Princess Mary he experienced a feeling of shyness and
even of fear, which he himself did not understand.

When he had parted from Malvintseva Nicholas wished to return to the
dancing, but the governor's little wife placed her plump hand on his
sleeve and, saying that she wanted to have a talk with him, led him to
her sitting room, from which those who were there immediately withdrew
so as not to be in her way.

"Do you know, dear boy," began the governor's wife with a serious
expression on her kind little face, "that really would be the match
for you: would you like me to arrange it?"

"Whom do you mean, Aunt?" asked Nicholas.

"I will make a match for you with the princess. Catherine Petrovna
speaks of Lily, but I say, no- the princess! Do you want me to do
it? I am sure your mother will be grateful to me. What a charming girl
she is, really! And she is not at all so plain, either."

"Not at all," replied Nicholas as if offended at the idea. "As
befits a soldier, Aunt, I don't force myself on anyone or refuse
anything," he said before he had time to consider what he was saying.

"Well then, remember, this is not a joke!"

"Of course not!"

"Yes, yes," the governor's wife said as if talking to herself. "But,
my dear boy, among other things you are too attentive to the other,
the blonde. One is sorry for the husband, really...."

"Oh no, we are good friends with him," said Nicholas in the
simplicity of his heart; it did not enter his head that a pastime so
pleasant to himself might not be pleasant to someone else.

"But what nonsense I have been saying to the governor's wife!"
thought Nicholas suddenly at supper. "She will really begin to arrange
a match... and Soyna...?" And on taking leave of the governor's
wife, when she again smilingly said to him, "Well then, remember!"
he drew her aside.

"But see here, to tell the truth, Aunt..."

"What is it, my dear? Come, let's sit down here," said she.

Nicholas suddenly felt a desire and need to tell his most intimate
thoughts (which he would not have told to his mother, his sister, or
his friend) to this woman who was almost a stranger. When he
afterwards recalled that impulse to unsolicited and inexplicable
frankness which had very important results for him, it seemed to
him- as it seems to everyone in such cases- that it was merely some
silly whim that seized him: yet that burst of frankness, together with
other trifling events, had immense consequences for him and for all
his family.

"You see, Aunt, Mamma has long wanted me to marry an heiress, but
the very idea of marrying for money is repugnant to me."

"Oh yes, I understand," said the governor's wife.

"But Princess Bolkonskaya- that's another matter. I will tell you
the truth. In the first place I like her very much, I feel drawn to
her; and then, after I met her under such circumstances- so strangely,
the idea often occurred to me: 'This is fate.' Especially if you
remember that Mamma had long been thinking of it; but I had never
happened to meet her before, somehow it had always happened that we
did not meet. And as long as my sister Natasha was engaged to her
brother it was of course out of the question for me to think of
marrying her. And it must needs happen that I should meet her just
when Natasha's engagement had been broken off... and then
everything... So you see... I never told this to anyone and never
will, only to you."

The governor's wife pressed his elbow gratefully.

"You know Sonya, my cousin? I love her, and promised to marry her,
and will do so.... So you see there can be no question about-" said
Nicholas incoherently and blushing.

"My dear boy, what a way to look at it! You know Sonya has nothing
and you yourself say your Papa's affairs are in a very bad way. And
what about your mother? It would kill her, that's one thing. And
what sort of life would it be for Sonya- if she's a girl with a heart?
Your mother in despair, and you all ruined.... No, my dear, you and
Sonya ought to understand that."

Nicholas remained silent. It comforted him to hear these arguments.

"All the same, Aunt, it is impossible," he rejoined with a sigh,
after a short pause. "Besides, would the princess have me? And
besides, she is now in mourning. How can one think of it!"

"But you don't suppose I'm going to get you married at once? There
is always a right way of doing things," replied the governor's wife.

"What a matchmaker you are, Aunt..." said Nicholas, kissing her
plump little hand.

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