"Who's that? Why? Wait a moment!" Anatole's face seemed to say. Princess Mary looked at them in silence. She could not understand it. At last Mademoiselle Bourienne gave a scream and ran away. Anatole bowed to Princess Mary with a gay smile, as if inviting her to join in a laugh at this strange incident, and then shrugging his shoulders went to the door that led to his own apartments.
An hour later, Tikhon came to call Princess Mary to the old prince; he added that Prince Vasili was also there. When Tikhon came to her Princess Mary was sitting on the sofa in her room, holding the weeping Mademoiselle Bourienne in her arms and gently stroking her hair. The princess' beautiful eyes with all their former calm radiance were looking with tender affection and pity at Mademoiselle Bourienne's pretty face.
"No, Princess, I have lost your affection forever!" said Mademoiselle Bourienne.
"Why? I love you more than ever," said Princess Mary,"and I will try to do all I can for your happiness."
"But you despise me. You who are so pure can never understand being so carried away by passion. Oh, only my poor mother . . ."
"I quite understand," answered Princess Mary, with a sad smile."Calm yourself, my dear. I will go to my father," she said, and went out.
Prince Vasili, with one leg thrown high over the other and a snuffbox in his hand, was sitting there with a smile of deep emotion on his face, as if stirred to his heart's core and himself regretting and laughing at his own sensibility, when Princess Mary entered. He hurriedly took a pinch of snuff.
"Ah, my dear, my dear!" he began, rising and taking her by both hands. Then, sighing, he added:"My son's fate is in your hands. Decide, my dear, good, gentle Marie, whom I have always loved as a daughter!"
He drew back and a real tear appeared in his eye.
"Fr . . . fr . . ." snorted Prince Bolkonski."The prince is making a proposition to you in his pupil's — I mean, his son's — name. Do you wish or not to be Prince Anatole Kuragin's wife? Reply: yes or no," he shouted,"and then I shall reserve the right to state my opinion also. Yes, my opinion, and only my opinion," added Prince Bolkonski, turning to Prince Vasili and answering his imploring look."Yes, or no?"
"My desire is never to leave you, Father, never to separate my life from yours. I don't wish to marry," she answered positively, glancing at Prince Vasili and at her father with her beautiful eyes.
"Humbug! Nonsense! Humbug, humbug, humbug!" cried Prince Bolkonski, frowning and taking his daughter's hand; he did not kiss her, but only bending his forehead to hers just touched it, and pressed her hand so that she winced and uttered a cry.
Prince Vasili rose.
"My dear, I must tell you that this is a moment I shall never, never forget. But, my dear, will you not give us a little hope of touching this heart, so kind and generous? Say 'perhaps' . . . The future is so long. Say 'perhaps.'"
"Prince, what I have said is all there is in my heart. I thank you for the honor, but I shall never be your son's wife."
"Well, so that's finished, my dear fellow! I am very glad to have seen you. Very glad! Go back to your rooms, Princess. Go!" said the old prince."Very, very glad to have seen you," repeated he, embracing Prince Vasili.
"My vocation is a different one," thought Princess Mary."My vocation is to be happy with another kind of happiness, the happiness of love and self-sacrifice. And cost what it may, I will arrange poor Amelie's happiness, she loves him so passionately, and so passionately repents. I will do all I can to arrange the match between them. If he is not rich I will give her the means; I will ask my father and Andrew. I shall be so happy when she is his wife. She is so unfortunate, a stranger, alone, helpless! And, oh God, how passionately she must love him if she could so far forget herself! Perhaps I might have done the same! . . ." thought Princess Mary.