Book 4 Chapter 6

PIERRE had of late rarely seen his wife alone. Both at Petersburg and at Moscow their house had been constantly full of guests. On the night following the duel he did not go to his bedroom, but spent the night, as he often did, in his huge study, formerly his father's room, the very room indeed in which Count Bezuhov had died.

He lay down on the couch and tried to go to sleep, so as to forget all that had happened to him, but he could not do so. Such a tempest of feelings, thoughts, and reminiscences suddenly arose in his soul, that, far from going to sleep, he could not even sit still in one place, and was forced to leap up from the couch and pace with rapid steps about the room. At one moment he had a vision of his wife, as she was in the first days after their marriage, with her bare shoulders, and languid, passionate eyes; and then immediately by her side he saw the handsome, impudent, hard, and ironical face of Dolohov, as he had seen it at the banquet, and again the same face of Dolohov, pale, quivering, in agony, as it had been when he turned and sank in the snow.

“What has happened?” he asked himself; “I have killed her lover; yes, killed the lover of my wife. Yes, that has happened. Why was it? How have I come to this?” “Because you married her,” answered an inner voice.

“But how am I to blame?” he asked. “For marrying without loving her, for deceiving yourself and her.” And vividly he recalled that minute after supper at Prince Vassily's when he had said those words he found so difficult to utter: “I love you.” “It has all come from that. Even then I felt it,” he thought; “I felt at the time that it wasn't the right thing, that I had no right to do it. And so it has turned out.” He recalled the honeymoon, and blushed at the recollection of it. Particularly vivid, humiliating, and shameful was the memory of how one day soon after his marriage he had come in his silk dressing-gown out of his bedroom into his study at twelve o'clock in the day, and in his study had found his head steward, who had bowed deferentially, and looking at Pierre's face and his dressing-gown, had faintly smiled, as though to express by that smile his respectful sympathy with his patron's happiness. “And how often I have been proud of her, proud of her majestic beauty, her social tact,” he thought; “proud of my house, in which she received all Petersburg, proud of her unapproachability and beauty. So this was what I prided myself on. I used to think then that I did not understand her. How often, reflecting on her character, I have told myself that I was to blame, that I did not understand her, did not understand that everlasting composure and complacency, and the absence of all preferences and desires, and the solution of the whole riddle lay in that fearful word, that she is a dissolute woman; I have found that fearful word, and all has become clear.

“Anatole used to come to borrow money of her, and used to kiss her on her bare shoulders. She didn't give him money; but she let herself be kissed. Her father used to try in joke to rouse her jealousy; with a serene smile she used to say she was not fool enough to be jealous. Let him do as he likes, she used to say about me. I asked her once if she felt no symptoms of pregnancy. She laughed contemptuously, and said she was not such a fool as to want children, and that she would never have a child by me.”

Then he thought of the coarseness, the bluntness of her ideas, and the vulgarity of the expressions that were characteristic of her, although she had been brought up in the highest aristocratic circles. “Not quite such a fool…you just try it on…you clear out of this,” she would say. Often, watching the favourable impression she made on young and old, on men and women, Pierre could not understand why it was he did not love her. “Yes; I never loved her,” Pierre said to himself; “I knew she was a dissolute woman,” he repeated to himself; “but I did not dare own it to myself.

“And now Dolohov: there he sits in the snow and forces himself to smile; and dies with maybe some swaggering affectation on his lips in answer to my remorse.”

Pierre was one of those people who in spite of external weakness of character—so-called—do not seek a confidant for their sorrows. He worked through his trouble alone.

“She, she alone is to blame for everything,” he said to himself; “but what of it? Why did I bind myself to her; why did I say to her that ‘I love you,' which was a lie, and worse than a lie,” he said to himself; “I am to blame, and ought to bear … What? The disgrace to my name, the misery of my life? Oh, that's all rubbish,” he thought, “disgrace to one's name and honour, all that's relative, all that's apart from myself.

“Louis XVI was executed because they said he was dishonourable and a criminal” (the idea crossed Pierre's mind), “and they were right from their point of view just as those were right too who died a martyr's death for his sake, and canonised him as a saint. Then Robespierre was executed for being a tyrant. Who is right, who is wrong? No one. But live while you live, to-morrow you die, as I might have died an hour ago. And is it worth worrying oneself, when life is only one second in comparison with eternity?” But at the moment when he believed himself soothed by reflections of that sort, he suddenly had a vision of her, and of her at those moments when he had most violently expressed his most insincere love to her, and he felt a rush of blood to his heart, and had to jump up again, and move about and break and tear to pieces anything that his hands came across. “Why did I say to her ‘I love you'?” he kept repeating to himself. And as he repeated the question for the tenth time the saying of Molière came into his head: “But what the devil was he doing in that galley?” and he laughed at himself.

In the night he called for his valet and bade him pack up to go to Petersburg. He could not conceive how he was going to speak to her now. He resolved that next day he would go away, leaving her a letter, in which he would announce his intention of parting from her for ever.

In the morning when the valet came into the study with his coffee, Pierre was lying on an ottoman asleep with an open book in his hand.

He woke up and looked about him for a long while in alarm, unable to grasp where he was.

“The countess sent to inquire if your excellency were at home,” said the valet.

But before Pierre had time to make up his mind what answer he would send, the countess herself walked calmly and majestically into the room. She was wearing a white satin dressing-gown embroidered with silver, and had her hair in two immense coils wound like a coronet round her exquisite head. In spite of her calm, there was a wrathful line on her rather prominent, marble brow. With her accustomed self-control and composure she did not begin to speak till the valet had left the room. She knew of the duel and had come to talk of it. She waited till the valet had set the coffee and gone out. Pierre looked timidly at her over his spectacles, and as the hare, hemmed in by dogs, goes on lying with its ears back in sight of its foes, so he tried to go on reading. But he felt that this was senseless and impossible, and again he glanced timidly at her. She did not sit down, but stood looking at him with a disdainful smile, waiting for the valet to be gone.

“What's this about now? What have you been up to? I'm asking you,” she said sternly.

“I? I? what?” said Pierre.

“You going in for deeds of valour! Now, answer me, what does this duel mean? What did you want to prove by it? Eh! I ask you the question.” Pierre turned heavily on the sofa, opened his mouth but could not answer.

“If you won't answer, I'll tell you …” Ellen went on. “You believe everything you're told. You were told …” Ellen laughed, “that Dolohov was my lover,” she said in French, with her coarse plainness of speech, uttering the word “amant” like any other word, “and you believed it! But what have you proved by this? What have you proved by this duel? That you're a fool; but every one knew that as it was. What does it lead to? Why, that I'm made a laughing-stock to all Moscow; that every one's saying that when you were drunk and didn't know what you were doing, you challenged a man of whom you were jealous without grounds,” Ellen raised her voice and grew more and more passionate; “who's a better man than you in every respect. …”

“Hem … hem …” Pierre growled, wrinkling up his face, and neither looking at her nor stirring a muscle.

“And how came you to believe that he's my lover? … Eh? Because I like his society? If you were cleverer and more agreeable, I should prefer yours.”

“Don't speak to me … I beseech you,” Pierre muttered huskily.

“Why shouldn't I speak? I can speak as I like, and I tell you boldly that it's not many a wife who with a husband like you wouldn't have taken a lover, but I haven't done it,” she said. Pierre tried to say something, glanced at her with strange eyes, whose meaning she did not comprehend, and lay down again. He was in physical agony at that moment; he felt a weight on his chest so that he could not breathe. He knew that he must do something to put an end to this agony but what he wanted to do was too horrible.

“We had better part,” he articulated huskily.

“Part, by all means, only if you give me a fortune,” said Ellen. … “Part—that's a threat to frighten me!”

Pierre leaped up from the couch and rushed staggering towards her.

“I'll kill you!” he shouted, and snatching up a marble slab from a table with a strength he had not known in himself till then, he made a step towards her and waved it at her.

Ellen's face was terrible to see; she shrieked and darted away from him. His father's nature showed itself in him. Pierre felt the abandonment and the fascination of frenzy. He flung down the slab, shivering it into fragments, and with open arms swooping down upon Ellen, screamed “Go!” in a voice so terrible that they heard it all over the house with horror. God knows what Pierre would have done at that moment if Ellen had not run out of the room.

A week later Pierre had made over to his wife the revenue from all his estates in Great Russia, which made up the larger half of his property, and had gone away alone to Petersburg.




“可是我有什么过失呢?”他问,“过失就在于你不爱她而娶她为妻,你既欺骗了自己,也欺骗了她。”于是他清楚地回忆起在瓦西里公爵家里举办的晚宴结束后的那个时刻,那时他说了一句不是出自内心的话:“Je vous aime.①一切都是由此而引起的!那时候我感觉到,”他想道,“那时候我感觉到,这不是那么回事,我还没有说这句话的权利。其结果真是如此。”他想起他度蜜月的光景,一回忆往事就涨红了脸。尤其使他感到沉痛、委屈和可耻的是,他回想起在婚后不久,有一次,上午十一点多钟,他穿着一身丝绸的长罩衫,从卧室走进书斋,他在书斋里碰见总管家,总管家恭恭敬敬地鞠躬行礼,他向皮埃尔面孔、他的长罩衫瞥了一眼,微微一笑,仿佛在这微笑中表示他对主人的幸福深为赞美。




后来他回想起,虽然她在上层贵族社会中受过教育,但是她的思想却很粗陋而且简单,她所惯用的言词庸俗而不可耐。“我不是一个微贱的傻瓜……不信的话,试试看……allez vous promen-er。”①她说。皮埃尔常常看见她在男女老少心目中取得的成就,但是他无法明白他为什么不爱她。“可是我从来没有爱过她,”皮埃尔对自己说,“我知道她是一个淫荡的女人,”他重复地说,可是这一点他不敢承认。



“她在各个方面,在各个方面都是有过错的,”他自言自语地说,“那末,要怎么样呢?我为什么把我自己和她结合在一起呢?我为什么对她说出这句话:‘Je vous aime'②,这是句谎话,甚至比谎话更坏,”他自言自语地说,“我有过错,应当来承担……甚么?声名狼藉吗?生活不幸吗?唉,这全是废话,”他想了想,“无论是玷辱名声,抑或是享有殊荣,全是相对而论,一切都不以我为转移。”



“路易十六被处以死刑,是因为他们说他寡廉鲜耻,罪恶累累(皮埃尔忽然想起这件事),他们从自己的观点看来是对的,正如那些为他而折磨致死,将他奉为神圣的人,也是对的。后来罗伯斯庇尔因是暴君而被处以极刑。谁无辜,谁有罪?莫衷一是。你活着,就活下去:说不定你明天就死去,正如一小时前我也可能死去一样。人生与永恒相比较只是一瞬间,值得遭受折磨吗?”但是在他认为这种论断使他自己得到安慰的时候,她忽然在他脑海中浮现出来,在他至为强烈地向她表白虚伪的爱情时,他感觉到一股热血涌上心头,又不得不站立起来,举步向前,他在手边随便碰到什么东西,就把它折断、撕破。“我为什么对她说:‘我爱您?'”他还在自言自语地重复这句话。这个问题重提了十次,他忽然想到莫里哀的台词:“Mais que diable allait-il faire dans cette qalère?”①他于是嘲笑自己来了。












“您相信人家对您说的一切。有人对您说了……”海伦大笑起来,“多洛霍夫是我的情夫,”她用法国话说,藉以明确地指出这句话所包含的粗俗意味,“情夫”这个词也像任何别的词一样,在强调其含义时,她就这样说,“您真的相信!您凭这件事证明了什么呢?您凭藉这次决斗证明了什么呢?证明您是个蠢东西,que vous êtes un sot①,这是众所周知的事!这会弄到什么地步呢?这会使我成为全莫斯科人取笑的对象,到头来每个人都会说您烂醉如泥,忘乎所以,居然把那个您毫无根据地嫉妒的人喊出来决斗,”海伦把嗓门越抬越高,越来越兴奋,“其实那个人在各个方面都比您优越……”





“我为什么不说话呢?我可以说话,而且要大胆地说话,凡是有您这样的丈夫的妻子,很少有人不找到几个情夫的(法语为:des amants),可是我没有干这种勾当。”她说道。皮埃尔想说句什么话,他用她无法理解的奇异的眼神望望她,又躺下来。这时候他在肉体上遭受痛苦,他觉得胸口发闷,几乎不能呼吸。他知道他应当拿出一点办法来制止肉体上的痛苦,但是他想做的事情太骇人了。