BOOK TEN: 1812
3. CHAPTER III
"Tikhon, what did we talk about at dinner?"
"About Prince Michael..."
"Be quiet, quiet!" The prince slapped his hand on the table. "Yes, I
know, Prince Andrew's letter! Princess Mary read it. Dessalles said
something about Vitebsk. Now I'll read it."
He had the letter taken from his pocket and the table- on which
stood a glass of lemonade and a spiral wax candle- moved close to
the bed, and putting on his spectacles he began reading. Only now in
the stillness of the night, reading it by the faint light under the
green shade, did he grasp its meaning for a moment.
"The French at Vitebsk, in four days' march they may be at Smolensk;
perhaps are already there! Tikhon!" Tikhon jumped up. "No, no, I don't
want anything!" he shouted.
He put the letter under the candlestick and closed his eyes. And
there rose before him the Danube at bright noonday: reeds, the Russian
camp, and himself a young general without a wrinkle on his ruddy face,
vigorous and alert, entering Potemkin's gaily colored tent, and a
burning sense of jealousy of "the favorite" agitated him now as
strongly as it had done then. He recalled all the words spoken at that
first meeting with Potemkin. And he saw before him a plump, rather
sallow-faced, short, stout woman, the Empress Mother, with her smile
and her words at her first gracious reception of him, and then that
same face on the catafalque, and the encounter he had with Zubov
over her coffin about his right to kiss her hand.
"Oh, quicker, quicker! To get back to that time and have done with
all the present! Quicker, quicker- and that they should leave me in