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By graf Leo Tolstoy
Hippolyte spluttered again, and amid his laughter said, “And you were saying that the Russian ladies are not equal to the French? One has to know how to deal with them.”
Pierre reaching the house first went into Prince Andrew’s study like one quite at home, and from habit immediately lay down on the sofa, took from the shelf the first book that came to his hand (it was Caesar’s Commentaries), and resting on his elbow, began reading it in the middle.
“What have you done to Mlle Scherer? She will be quite ill now,” said Prince Andrew, as he entered the study, rubbing his small white hands.
Pierre turned his whole body, making the sofa creak. He lifted his eager face to Prince Andrew, smiled, and waved his hand.
“That abbe is very interesting but he does not see the thing in the right light.... In my opinion perpetual peace is possible but–I do not know how to express it... not by a balance of political power....”
It was evident that Prince Andrew was not interested in such abstract conversation.
“One can’t everywhere say all one thinks, mon cher. Well, have you at last decided on anything? Are you going to be a guardsman or a diplomatist?” asked Prince Andrew after a momentary silence.
Pierre sat up on the sofa, with his legs tucked under him.
“Really, I don’t yet know. I don’t like either the one or the other.”
“But you must decide on something! Your father expects it.”
Pierre at the age of ten had been sent abroad with an abbe as tutor, and had remained away till he was twenty. When he returned to Moscow his father dismissed the abbe and said to the young man, “Now go to Petersburg, look round, and choose your profession. I will agree to anything. Here is a letter to Prince Vasili, and here is money. Write to me all about it, and I will help you in everything.” Pierre had already been choosing a career for three months, and had not decided on anything. It was about this choice that Prince Andrew was speaking. Pierre rubbed his forehead.
“But he must be a Freemason,” said he, referring to the abbe whom he had met that evening.
“That is all nonsense.” Prince Andrew again interrupted him, “let us talk business. Have you been to the Horse Guards?”
“No, I have not; but this is what I have been thinking and wanted to tell you. There is a war now against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom I could understand it and should be the first to enter the army; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world is not right.”
Prince Andrew only shrugged his shoulders at Pierre’s childish words. He put on the air of one who finds it impossible to reply to such nonsense, but it would in fact have been difficult to give any other answer than the one Prince Andrew gave to this naive question.
“If no one fought except on his own conviction, there would be no wars,” he said.
“And that would be splendid,” said Pierre.
Prince Andrew smiled ironically.
“Very likely it would be splendid, but it will never come about...”
“Well, why are you going to the war?” asked Pierre.
“What for? I don’t know. I must. Besides that I am going...” He paused. “I am going because the life I am leading here does not suit me!”
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