BOOK TWO: 1805
11. CHAPTER XI
Next day he woke late. Recalling his recent impressions, the first
thought that came into his mind was that today he had to be
presented to the Emperor Francis; he remembered the Minister of War,
the polite Austrian adjutant, Bilibin, and last night's
conversation. Having dressed for his attendance at court in full
parade uniform, which he had not worn for a long time, he went into
Bilibin's study fresh, animated, and handsome, with his hand bandaged.
In the study were four gentlemen of the diplomatic corps. With
Prince Hippolyte Kuragin, who was a secretary to the embassy,
Bolkonski was already acquainted. Bilibin introduced him to the
The gentlemen assembled at Bilibin's were young, wealthy, gay
society men, who here, as in Vienna, formed a special set which
Bilibin, their leader, called les notres.* This set, consisting almost
exclusively of diplomats, evidently had its own interests which had
nothing to do with war or politics but related to high society, to
certain women, and to the official side of the service. These
gentlemen received Prince Andrew as one of themselves, an honor they
did not extend to many. From politeness and to start conversation,
they asked him a few questions about the army and the battle, and then
the talk went off into merry jests and gossip.
"But the best of it was," said one, telling of the misfortune of a
fellow diplomat, "that the Chancellor told him flatly that his
appointment to London was a promotion and that he was so to regard it.
Can you fancy the figure he cut?..."
"But the worst of it, gentlemen- I am giving Kuragin away to you- is
that that man suffers, and this Don Juan, wicked fellow, is taking
advantage of it!"
Prince Hippolyte was lolling in a lounge chair with his legs over
its arm. He began to laugh.
"Tell me about that!" he said.
"Oh, you Don Juan! You serpent!" cried several voices.
"You, Bolkonski, don't know," said Bilibin turning to Prince Andrew,
"that all the atrocities of the French army (I nearly said of the
Russian army) are nothing compared to what this man has been doing
among the women!"