The old man was in a good temper after his nap before dinner. (He used to say that a nap"after dinner was silver — before dinner, golden.") He cast happy, sidelong glances at his son from under his thick, bushy eyebrows. Prince Andrew went up and kissed his father on the spot indicated to him. He made no reply on his father's favorite topic — making fun of the military men of the day, and more particularly of Bonaparte.
"Yes, Father, I have come come to you and brought my wife who is pregnant," said Prince Andrew, following every movement of his father's face with an eager and respectful look."How is your health?"
"Only fools and rakes fall ill, my boy. You know me: I am busy from morning till night and abstemious, so of course I am well."
"Thank God," said his son smiling.
"God has nothing to do with it! Well, go on," he continued, returning to his hobby;"tell me how the Germans have taught you to fight Bonaparte by this new science you call 'strategy.'"
Prince Andrew smiled.
"Give me time to collect my wits, Father," said he, with a smile that showed that his father's foibles did not prevent his son from loving and honoring him."Why, I have not yet had time to settle down!"
"Nonsense, nonsense!" cried the old man, shaking his pigtail to see whether it was firmly plaited, and grasping his by the hand."The house for your wife is ready. Princess Mary will take her there and show her over, and they'll talk nineteen to the dozen. That's their woman's way! I am glad to have her. Sit down and talk. About Mikhelson's army I understand — Tolstoy's too . . . a simultaneous expedition . . . . But what's the southern army to do? Prussia is neutral . . . I know that. What about Austria?" said he, rising from his chair and pacing up and down the room followed by Tikhon, who ran after him, handing him different articles of clothing."What of Sweden? How will they cross Pomerania?"
Prince Andrew, seeing that his father insisted, began — at first reluctantly, but gradually with more and more animation, and from habit changing unconsciously from Russian to French as he went on- to explain the plan of operation for the coming campaign. He explained how an army, ninety thousand strong, was to threaten Prussia so as to bring her out of her neutrality and draw her into the war; how part of that army was to join some Swedish forces at Stralsund; how two hundred and twenty thousand Austrians, with a hundred thousand Russians, were to operate in Italy and on the Rhine; how fifty thousand Russians and as many English were to land at Naples, and how a total force of five hundred thousand men was to attack the French from different sides. The old prince did not evince the least interest during this explanation, but as if he were not listening to it continued to dress while walking about, and three times unexpectedly interrupted. Once he stopped it by shouting:"The white one, the white one!"
This meant that Tikhon was not handing him the waistcoat he wanted. Another time he interrupted, saying:
"And will she soon be confined?" and shaking his head reproachfully said:"That's bad! Go on, go on."
The third interruption came when Prince Andrew was finishing his description. The old man began to sing, in the cracked voice of old age:"Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre. Dieu sait quand reviendra."
* *"Marlborough is going to the wars; God knows when he'll return."
His son only smiled.
"I don't say it's a plan I approve of," said the son;"I am only telling you what it is. Napoleon has also formed his plan by now, not worse than this one."
"Well, you've told me nothing new," and the old man repeated, meditatively and rapidly:
"Dieu sait quand reviendra. Go to the dining room."