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By graf Leo Tolstoy
“Wait–just a word! When he has been transferred to the Guards...” she faltered. “You are on good terms with Michael Ilarionovich Kutuzov... recommend Boris to him as adjutant! Then I shall be at rest, and then...”
Prince Vasili smiled.
“No, I won’t promise that. You don’t know how Kutuzov is pestered since his appointment as Commander in Chief. He told me himself that all the Moscow ladies have conspired to give him all their sons as adjutants.”
“No, but do promise! I won’t let you go! My dear benefactor...”
“Papa,” said his beautiful daughter in the same tone as before, “we shall be late.”
“Well, au revoir! Good—by! You hear her?”
“Then tomorrow you will speak to the Emperor?”
“Certainly; but about Kutuzov, I don’t promise.”
“Do promise, do promise, Vasili!” cried Anna Mikhaylovna as he went, with the smile of a coquettish girl, which at one time probably came naturally to her, but was now very ill—suited to her careworn face.
Apparently she had forgotten her age and by force of habit employed all the old feminine arts. But as soon as the prince had gone her face resumed its former cold, artificial expression. She returned to the group where the vicomte was still talking, and again pretended to listen, while waiting till it would be time to leave. Her task was accomplished.
“And what do you think of this latest comedy, the coronation at Milan?” asked Anna Pavlovna, “and of the comedy of the people of Genoa and Lucca laying their petitions before Monsieur Buonaparte, and Monsieur Buonaparte sitting on a throne and granting the petitions of the nations? Adorable! It is enough to make one’s head whirl! It is as if the whole world had gone crazy.”
Prince Andrew looked Anna Pavlovna straight in the face with a sarcastic smile.
“’Dieu me la donne, gare a qui la touche!’ * They say he was very fine when he said that,” he remarked, repeating the words in Italian: “’Dio mi l’ha dato. Guai a chi la tocchi!’”
* God has given it to me, let him who touches it beware!
“I hope this will prove the last drop that will make the glass run over,” Anna Pavlovna continued. “The sovereigns will not be able to endure this man who is a menace to everything.”
“The sovereigns? I do not speak of Russia,” said the vicomte, polite but hopeless: “The sovereigns, madame... What have they done for Louis XVII, for the Queen, or for Madame Elizabeth? Nothing!” and he became more animated. “And believe me, they are reaping the reward of their betrayal of the Bourbon cause. The sovereigns! Why, they are sending ambassadors to compliment the usurper.”
And sighing disdainfully, he again changed his position.
Prince Hippolyte, who had been gazing at the vicomte for some time through his lorgnette, suddenly turned completely round toward the little princess, and having asked for a needle began tracing the Conde coat of arms on the table. He explained this to her with as much gravity as if she had asked him to do it.
“Baton de gueules, engrele de gueules d’azur–maison Conde,” said he.
The princess listened, smiling.
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