BOOK EIGHT: 1811 - 12
2. CHAPTER II
One day in Moscow in Princess Mary's presence (she thought her
father did it purposely when she was there) the old prince kissed
Mademoiselle Bourienne's hand and, drawing her to him, embraced her
affectionately. Princess Mary flushed and ran out of the room. A few
minutes later Mademoiselle Bourienne came into Princess Mary's room
smiling and making cheerful remarks in her agreeable voice. Princess
Mary hastily wiped away her tears, went resolutely up to
Mademoiselle Bourienne, and evidently unconscious of what she was
doing began shouting in angry haste at the Frenchwoman, her voice
breaking: "It's horrible, vile, inhuman, to take advantage of the
weakness..." She did not finish. "Leave my room," she exclaimed, and
burst into sobs.
Next day the prince did not say a word to his daughter, but she
noticed that at dinner he gave orders that Mademoiselle Bourienne
should be served first. After dinner, when the footman handed coffee
and from habit began with the princess, the prince suddenly grew
furious, threw his stick at Philip, and instantly gave instructions to
have him conscripted for the army.
"He doesn't obey... I said it twice... and he doesn't obey! She is
the first person in this house; she's my best friend," cried the
prince. "And if you allow yourself," he screamed in a fury, addressing
Princess Mary for the first time, "to forget yourself again before her
as you dared to do yesterday, I will show you who is master in this
house. Go! Don't let me set eyes on you; beg her pardon!"
Princess Mary asked Mademoiselle Bourienne's pardon, and also her
father's pardon for herself and for Philip the footman, who had begged
for her intervention.
At such moments something like a pride of sacrifice gathered in
her soul. And suddenly that father whom she had judged would look
for his spectacles in her presence, fumbling near them and not
seeing them, or would forget something that had just occurred, or take
a false step with his failing legs and turn to see if anyone had
noticed his feebleness, or, worst of all, at dinner when there were no
visitors to excite him would suddenly fall asleep, letting his
napkin drop and his shaking head sink over his plate. "He is old and
feeble, and I dare to condemn him!" she thought at such moments,
with a feeling of revulsion against herself.