BOOK TWO: 1805
10. CHAPTER X
Prince Andrew stayed at Brunn with Bilibin, a Russian acquaintance
of his in the diplomatic service.
"Ah, my dear prince! I could not have a more welcome visitor,"
said Bilibin as he came out to meet Prince Andrew. "Franz, put the
prince's things in my bedroom," said he to the servant who was
ushering Bolkonski in. "So you're a messenger of victory, eh?
Splendid! And I am sitting here ill, as you see."
After washing and dressing, Prince Andrew came into the diplomat's
luxurious study and sat down to the dinner prepared for him. Bilibin
settled down comfortably beside the fire.
After his journey and the campaign during which he had been deprived
of all the comforts of cleanliness and all the refinements of life,
Prince Andrew felt a pleasant sense of repose among luxurious
surroundings such as he had been accustomed to from childhood. Besides
it was pleasant, after his reception by the Austrians, to speak if not
in Russian (for they were speaking French) at least with a Russian who
would, he supposed, share the general Russian antipathy to the
Austrians which was then particularly strong.
Bilibin was a man of thirty-five, a bachelor, and of the same circle
as Prince Andrew. They had known each other previously in
Petersburg, but had become more intimate when Prince Andrew was in
Vienna with Kutuzov. Just as Prince Andrew was a young man who gave
promise of rising high in the military profession, so to an even
greater extent Bilibin gave promise of rising in his diplomatic
career. He still a young man but no longer a young diplomat, as he had
entered the service at the age of sixteen, had been in Paris and
Copenhagen, and now held a rather important post in Vienna. Both the
foreign minister and our ambassador in Vienna knew him and valued him.
He was not one of those many diplomats who are esteemed because they
have certain negative qualities, avoid doing certain things, and speak
French. He was one of those, who, liking work, knew how to do it,
and despite his indolence would sometimes spend a whole night at his
writing table. He worked well whatever the import of his work. It
was not the question "What for?" but the question "How?" that
interested him. What the diplomatic matter might be he did not care,
but it gave him great pleasure to prepare a circular, memorandum, or
report, skillfully, pointedly, and elegantly. Bilibin's services
were valued not only for what he wrote, but also for his skill in
dealing and conversing with those in the highest spheres.