Book 5 Chapter 14

THE PILGRIM WOMAN was appeased, and being drawn into conversation again, told them a long story again of Father Amfilohey, who was of so holy a life that his hands smelt of incense, and how some monks of her acquaintance had, on her last pilgrimage to Kiev, given her the keys of the catacombs, and how taking with her some dry bread she had spent two days and nights in the catacombs with the saints. “I pray a bit in one, chant a hymn, and go into another. I fall asleep, again I go and kiss the holy relics; and such peace, ma'am, such blessedness, that one has no wish to come out into God's world again.”

Pierre listened to her attentively and seriously. Prince Andrey went out of the room. And leaving God's folk to finish their tea, Princess Marya followed him with Pierre to the drawing-room. “You are very kind,” she said to him.

“Ah, I really didn't mean to hurt her feelings; I so well understand those feelings, and prize them so highly.”

Princess Marya looked mutely at him, and smiled affectionately.

“I have known you for a long time, you see, and I love you like a brother,” she said. “How do you think Andrey is looking?” she asked hurriedly, not letting him have time to say anything in reply to her affectionate words. “He makes me very uneasy. His health was better in the winter, but last spring the wound reopened, and the doctor says he ought to go away for proper treatment. And I feel afraid for him morally. He has not a character like us women, to suffer and find relief for sorrow in tears. He keeps it all within him. To-day he is lively and in good spirits. But that's the effect of your being with him; he is not often like this. If only you could persuade him to go abroad. He needs activity, and this quiet, regular life is bad for him. Others don't notice it, but I see it.”

Towards ten o'clock the footmen rushed to the steps, hearing the bells of the old prince's carriage approaching. Prince Andrey and Pierre, too, went out on to the steps.

“Who's that?” asked the old prince, as he got out of the carriage and saw Pierre.

“Ah! very glad! kiss me!” he said, on learning who the young stranger was.

The old prince was in good humour and very cordial to Pierre.

Before supper, Prince Andrey, on coming back into his father's study, found the old prince in hot dispute with Pierre. The latter was maintaining that a time would come when there would be no more war. The old prince was making fun of him but with good humour.

“Let off blood from men's veins and fill them up with water, then there'll be no more war. Old women's nonsense, old women's nonsense,” he was saying, but still he slapped Pierre affectionately on the shoulder, and went up to the table where Prince Andrey, evidently not caring to take part in the conversation, was looking through the papers the old prince had brought from the town. The old prince went up to him and began to talk of business.

“The marshal, a Count Rostov, hasn't sent half his contingent. Came to the town and thought fit to invite me to dinner—a pretty dinner I gave him; … And here, look at this.… Well, my boy,” said the old prince to his son, clapping Pierre on the shoulder, “your friend is a capital fellow; I like him! He warms me up. Other people will talk sense and one doesn't care to listen, and he talks nonsense, but it does an old man like me good. There, run along,” he said; “maybe I'll come and sit with you at your supper. We'll have another dispute. Make friends with my dunce, Princess Marya,” he shouted to Pierre from the door.

It was only now on his visit to Bleak Hills that Pierre appreciated fully all the charm of his friendship with Prince Andrey. The charm was not so manifest in his relations with his friend himself as in his relations with all his family and household. Though he had hardly known them, Pierre felt at once like an old friend both with the harsh old prince and the gentle, timid Princess Marya. They all liked him. Not only Princess Marya, who had been won by his kindliness with the pilgrims, looked at him with her most radiant expression, little Prince Nikolay, as the old prince called the year-old baby, smiled at Pierre and went to him. Mihail Ivanitch and Mademoiselle Bourienne looked at him with smiles when he talked to the old prince.

The old prince came in to supper; it was obviously on Pierre's account. He was extremely warm with him both days of his stay at Bleak Hills, and asked him to come and stay with him again.

When Pierre had gone, and all the members of the family were met together, they began to criticise him, as people always do after a new guest has left, and as rarely happens, all said nothing but good of him.