BOOK EIGHT: 1811 - 12
3. CHAPTER III
In 1811 there was living in Moscow a French doctor- Metivier- who
had rapidly become the fashion. He was enormously tall, handsome,
amiable as Frenchmen are, and was, as all Moscow said, an
extraordinarily clever doctor. He was received in the best houses
not merely as a doctor, but as an equal.
Prince Nicholas had always ridiculed medicine, but latterly on
Mademoiselle Bourienne's advice had allowed this doctor to visit him
and had grown accustomed to him. Metivier came to see the prince about
twice a week.
On December 6- St. Nicholas' Day and the prince's name day- all
Moscow came to the prince's front door but he gave orders to admit
no one and to invite to dinner only a small number, a list of whom
he gave to Princess Mary.
Metivier, who came in the morning with his felicitations, considered
it proper in his quality of doctor de forcer la consigne,* as he
told Princess Mary, and went in to see the prince. It happened that on
that morning of his name day the prince was in one of his worst moods.
He had been going about the house all the morning finding fault with
everyone and pretending not to understand what was said to him and not
to be understood himself. Princess Mary well knew this mood of quiet
absorbed querulousness, which generally culminated in a burst of rage,
and she went about all that morning as though facing a cocked and
loaded gun and awaited the inevitable explosion. Until the doctor's
arrival the morning had passed off safely. After admitting the doctor,
Princess Mary sat down with a book in the drawing room near the door
through which she could hear all that passed in the study.
*To force the guard.
At first she heard only Metivier's voice, then her father's, then
both voices began speaking at the same time, the door was flung
open, and on the threshold appeared the handsome figure of the
terrified Metivier with his shock of black hair, and the prince in his
dressing gown and fez, his face distorted with fury and the pupils
of his eyes rolled downwards.