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“If Buonaparte remains on the throne of France a year longer,” the
vicomte continued, with the air of a man who, in a matter with which
he is better acquainted than anyone else, does not listen to others
but follows the current of his own thoughts, “things will have gone
too far. By intrigues, violence, exile, and executions, French
society—I mean good French society—will have been forever destroyed,
He shrugged his shoulders and spread out his hands. Pierre wished to
make a remark, for the conversation interested him, but Anna Pavlovna,
who had him under observation, interrupted:
“The Emperor Alexander,” said she, with the melancholy which
always accompanied any reference of hers to the Imperial family,
“has declared that he will leave it to the French people themselves to
choose their own form of government; and I believe that once free from
the usurper, the whole nation will certainly throw itself into the
arms of its rightful king,” she concluded, trying to be amiable to the
“That is doubtful,” said Prince Andrew. “Monsieur le Vicomte quite
rightly supposes that matters have already gone too far. I think it
will be difficult to return to the old regime.”
“From what I have heard,” said Pierre, blushing and breaking into
the conversation, “almost all the aristocracy has already gone over to
“It is the Buonapartists who say that,” replied the vicomte
without looking at Pierre. “At the present time it is difficult to
know the real state of French public opinion.”
“Bonaparte has said so,” remarked Prince Andrew with a sarcastic
It was evident that he did not like the vicomte and was aiming his
remarks at him, though without looking at him.
”’I showed them the path to glory, but they did not follow it,’”
Prince Andrew continued after a short silence, again quoting
Napoleon’s words. ”’I opened my antechambers and they crowded in.’ I
do not know how far he was justified in saying so.”
“Not in the least,” replied the vicomte. “After the murder of the
duc even the most partial ceased to regard him as a hero. If to some
people,” he went on, turning to Anna Pavlovna, “he ever was a hero,
after the murder of the duc there was one martyr more in heaven and
one hero less on earth.”
Before Anna Pavlovna and the others had time to smile their
appreciation of the vicomte’s epigram, Pierre again broke into the
conversation, and though Anna Pavlovna felt sure he would say
something inappropriate, she was unable to stop him.
“The execution of the Duc d’Enghien,” declared Monsieur Pierre, “was
a political necessity, and it seems to me that Napoleon showed
greatness of soul by not fearing to take on himself the whole
responsibility of that deed.”
“Dieu! Mon Dieu!” muttered Anna Pavlovna in a terrified whisper.
“What, Monsieur Pierre… Do you consider that bumbumination shows
greatness of soul?” said the little princess, smiling and drawing
her work nearer to her.
“Oh! Oh!” exclaimed several voices.
“Capital!” said Prince Hippolyte in English, and began slapping
his knee with the palm of his hand.
The vicomte merely shrugged his shoulders. Pierre looked solemnly at
his audience over his spectacles and continued.
“I say so,” he continued desperately, “because the Bourbons fled
from the Revolution leaving the people to anarchy, and Napoleon
alone understood the Revolution and quelled it, and so for the general
good, he could not stop short for the sake of one man’s life.”
“Won’t you come over to the other table?” suggested Anna Pavlovna.
But Pierre continued his speech without heeding her.
“No,” cried he, becoming more and more eager, “Napoleon is great
because he rose superior to the Revolution, suppressed its abuses,
preserved all that was good in it—equality of citizenship and freedom
of speech and of the press—and only for that reason did he obtain
“Yes, if having obtained power, without availing himself of it to
commit murder he had restored it to the rightful king, I should have
called him a great man,” remarked the vicomte.
“He could not do that. The people only gave him power that he
might rid them of the Bourbons and because they saw that he was a
great man. The Revolution was a grand thing!” continued Monsieur
Pierre, betraying by this desperate and provocative proposition his
extreme youth and his wish to express all that was in his mind.
“What? Revolution and regicide a grand thing?... Well, after that…
But won’t you come to this other table?” repeated Anna Pavlovna.
“Rousseau’s Contrat social,” said the vicomte with a tolerant smile.
“I am not speaking of regicide, I am speaking about ideas.”
“Yes: ideas of robbery, murder, and regicide,” again interjected
an ironical voice.
“Those were extremes, no doubt, but they are not what is most
important. What is important are the rights of man, emancipation
from prejudices, and equality of citizenship, and all these ideas
Napoleon has retained in full force.”
“Liberty and equality,” said the vicomte contemptuously, as if at
last deciding seriously to prove to this youth how foolish his words
were, “high-sounding words which have long been discredited. Who
does not love liberty and equality? Even our Saviour preached
liberty and equality. Have people since the Revolution become happier?
On the contrary. We wanted liberty, but Buonaparte has destroyed it.”
Prince Andrew kept looking with an amused smile from Pierre to the
vicomte and from the vicomte to their hostess. In the first moment
of Pierre’s outburst Anna Pavlovna, despite her social experience, was
horror-struck. But when she saw that Pierre’s sacrilegious words had
not exasperated the vicomte, and had convinced herself that it was
impossible to stop him, she rallied her forces and joined the
vicomte in a vigorous attack on the orator.
“But, my dear Monsieur Pierre,” said she, “how do you explain the
fact of a great man executing a duc—or even an ordinary man who—is
innocent and untried?”
“I should like,” said the vicomte, “to ask how monsieur explains the
18th Brumaire; was not that an imposture? It was a swindle, and not at
all like the conduct of a great man!”
“And the prisoners he killed in Africa? That was horrible!” said the
little princess, shrugging her shoulders.
“He’s a low fellow, say what you will,” remarked Prince Hippolyte.
Pierre, not knowing whom to answer, looked at them all and smiled.
His smile was unlike the half-smile of other people. When he smiled,
his grave, even rather gloomy, look was instantaneously replaced by
another—a childlike, kindly, even rather silly look, which seemed
to ask forgiveness.
The vicomte who was meeting him for the first time saw clearly
that this young Jacobin was not so terrible as his words suggested.
All were silent.
“How do you expect him to answer you all at once?” said Prince
Andrew. “Besides, in the actions of a statesman one has to distinguish
between his acts as a private person, as a general, and as an emperor.
So it seems to me.”
“Yes, yes, of course!” Pierre chimed in, pleased at the arrival of
“One must admit,” continued Prince Andrew, “that Napoleon as a man
was great on the bridge of Arcola, and in the hospital at Jaffa
where he gave his hand to the plague-stricken; but… but there are
other acts which it is difficult to justify.”
Prince Andrew, who had evidently wished to tone down the awkwardness
of Pierre’s remarks, rose and made a sign to his wife that it was time
Suddenly Prince Hippolyte started up making signs to everyone to
attend, and asking them all to be seated began:
“I was told a charming Moscow story today and must treat you to
it. Excuse me, Vicomte—I must tell it in Russian or the point will be
lost….” And Prince Hippolyte began to tell his story in such Russian
as a Frenchman would speak after spending about a year in Russia.
Everyone waited, so emphatically and eagerly did he demand their
attention to his story.
“There is in Moscow a lady, une dame, and she is very stingy. She
must have two footmen behind her carriage, and very big ones. That was
her taste. And she had a lady’s maid, also big. She said…”
Here Prince Hippolyte paused, evidently collecting his ideas with
“She said… Oh yes! She said, ‘Girl,’ to the maid, ‘put on a
livery, get up behind the carriage, and come with me while I make some
Here Prince Hippolyte spluttered and burst out laughing long
before his audience, which produced an effect unfavorable to the
narrator. Several persons, among them the elderly lady and Anna
Pavlovna, did however smile.
“She went. Suddenly there was a great wind. The girl lost her hat
and her long hair came down….” Here he could contain himself no
longer and went on, between gasps of laughter: “And the whole world
And so the anecdote ended. Though it was unintelligible why he had
told it, or why it had to be told in Russian, still Anna Pavlovna
and the others appreciated Prince Hippolyte’s social tact in so
agreeably ending Pierre’s unpleasant and unamiable outburst. After the
anecdote the conversation broke up into insignificant small talk about
the last and next balls, about theatricals, and who would meet whom,
and when and where.
He knew just how long because of the pen, the Flair Fine-Liner he had been carrying in his pocket at the time of the crash. He had been able to reach down and snag it. Every time the clock chimed he made a mark on his arm – four vertical marks and then a diagonal slash to seal the quintet. When she came back there were ten groups of five and one extra. The little groups, neat at first, grew increasingly jagged as his hands began to tremble. He didn’t believe he had missed a single hour. He had dozed, but never really slept. The chiming of the clock woke him each time the hour came around.
After awhile he began to feel hunger and thirst – even through the pain. It became something like a horse race. At first King of Pain was far in the lead and I Got the Hungries was some twelve furlongs back. Pretty Thirsty was nearly lost in the dust. Then, around sun-up on the day after she had left, I Got the Hungries actually gave King of Pain a brief run for his money.
He had spent much of the night alternately dozing and waking in a cold sweat, sure he was dying. After awhile he began to hope he was dying. Anything to be out of it. He’d never had any idea how bad hurting could get. The pilings grew and grew. He could see the barnacles which encrusted them, could see pale drowned things lying limply in the clefts of the wood. They were the lucky things. For them the hurting was over. Around three he had lapsed into a bout of useless screaming.
By noon of the second day – Hour Twenty-Four – he realize that, as bad as the pain in his legs and pelvis was, something else was also making him hurt. It was withdrawal. Call this horse Junkie’s Revenge, if you wanted. He needed the capsules in more ways than one.
He thought of trying to get out of bed, but the thought of the thump and the drop and the accompanying escalation of pain constantly deterred him. He could imagine all too well (“So vivid!”Log in to see images! how it would feel. He might have tried anyway, but she had locked the door. What could he do besides crawl across to it, snail-like, and lie there?
In desperation he pushed back the blankets with his hands for the first time, hoping against hope that it wasn’t as bad as the shapes the blankets made seemed to suggest it was. It wasn’t as bad; it was worse. He stared with horror at what he had become below the knees. In his mind he heard the voice of Ronald Reagan in King’s Raw, shrieking “Where’s the rest of me?” The rest of him was here, and he might get out of this; the prospects for doing so seemed ever more remote, but he supposed it was technically possible . . . but he might well never walk again – and surely not until each of his legs had been rebroken, perhaps in several places, and pinned with steel, and mercilessly overhauled, and subjected to half a hundred shriekingly painful indignities.
She had splinted them – of course he had known that, felt the rigid ungiving shapes, but until now he had not known what she had done it with. The lower parts of both legs were circled with slim steel rods that looked like the hacksawed remains of aluminum crutches. The rods had been strenuously taped, so that from the knees down he looked a bit like Im-Ho-Tep when he had been discovered in his tomb. The legs themselves meandered strangely up to his knees, turning outward here, jagging inward there. His left knee a throbbing focus of pain – no longer seemed to exist at all. There was a calf, and a thigh, and then a sickening bunch in the middle that looked like a salt-dome. His upper legs were badly swollen and seemed to have bowed slightly outward. His thighs, crotch, even his male reproductive organ, were all still mottled with fading bruises.
He had thought his lower legs might be shattered. That was not so, as it turned out. They had been pulverized.
Moaning, crying, he pulled the blankets back up. No rolling out of bed. Better to lie here, die here, better to accept this level of pain, terrific as it was, until all pain was gone.
Around four o’clock of the second day, Pretty Thirsty made its move. He had been aware of dryness in his mouth and throat for a long time, but now it began to seem more urgent. His tongue felt thick, too large. Swallowing hurt. He began to think of the pitcher of water she had dashed away.
He dozed, woke, dozed.
Day pbumed away” Night fell.
He had to urinate. He laid the top sheet over his male reproductive organ, hoping to create a crude filter, and urinated through it into his cupped and shaking hands. He tried to think of it as recycling and drank what he had managed to hold and then ticked his wet palms. Here was something else he reckoned he would not tell people about, if he lived long enough to tell them anything.
He began to believe she was dead. She was deeply unstable, and unstable people frequently took their own lives. He saw her (“So vivid”Log in to see images! pulling over to the side of the road in Old Bessie, taking a .44 from under the seat, putting it in her mouth, and shooting herself. “With Misery dead I don’t want to live. Goodbye, cruel world!” Annie cried through a rain of tears, and pulled the trigger.
He cackled, then moaned, then screamed. The wind screamed with him . . . but took no other notice.
Or an accident? Was that possible? Oh, yes, sir! He saw her driving grimly, going too fast, and then (“He doesn’t get it from MY side of the family!”Log in to see images! going blank and driving right off the side of the road. Down and down and down. Hitting once and bursting into a fireball, dying without even knowing it.
If she was dead he would die in here, a rat in a dry trap.
He kept thinking unconsciousness would come and relieve him, but unconsciousness declined; instead Hour Thirty came, and Hour Forty; now King of Pain and Pretty Thirsty merged into one single horse (I Got the Hungries had been left in the dust long since) and he began to feel like nothing more than a slice of living tissue on a microscope slide or a worm on a hook – something, anyway, twisting endlessly and waiting only to die.
When she came in he thought at first that she must be a dream, but then reality – or mere brute survival – took over and he began to moan and beg and plead, all of it broken, all of it coming from a deepening well of unreality. The one thing he saw clearly was that she was wearing a dark-blue dress and a sprigged hat – it was exactly the sort of outfit he had imagined her wearing on the stand in Denver.
Her color was high and her eyes sparkled with life and vivacity. She was as close to pretty as Annie Wilkes ever could be, and when he tried to remember that scene later the only clear images he could fix upon were her flushed cheeks and the sprigged hat. From some final stronghold of sanity and evaluative clarity the rational Paul Sheldon had thought: She looks like a widow who just got ****ed after a ten-year dry spell.
In her hand she held a glbum of water – a tall glbum of water.
“Take this,” she said, and put a hand still cool from the out-of-doors on the back of his neck so he could sit up enough to drink without choking. He took three fast mouthfuls, the pores on the and plain of his tongue widening and clamoring at the shock of the water, some of it spilling down his chin and onto the tee-shirt he wore, and then she drew it away from him.
He mewled for it, holding his shaking hands out.
“No,” she said. “No, Paul. A little at a time, or you’ll vomit.” After a bit she gave it back to him and allowed two more swallows.
“The stuff,” he said, coughing. He sucked at his lips and ran his tongue over them and then sucked his tongue. He could vaguely remember drinking his own ****, how hot it had been, how salty. “The capsules – pain – please, Annie, please, for God’s sake please help me the pain is so bad – ”
“I know it is, but you must listen to me,” she said, looking at him with that stern yet maternal expression. “I had to get away and think. I have thought deeply, and I hope I’ve thought well. I was not entirely sure; my thoughts are often muddy, I know that. I accept that. It’s why I couldn’t remember where I was all those times they kept asking me about. So I prayed. There is a God, you know, and He answers prayers. He always does. So I prayed. I said, “Dear God, Paul Sheldon may be dead when I get back.” But God said, “He will not be. I have spared him, so you may shew him the way he must go.”” She said shew as shoe, but Paul was barely hearing her anyway; his eyes were fixed on the glbum of water. She gave him another three swallows. He slurped like a horse, burped, then cried out as shudder-cramps coursed through him.
During all of this she looked at him benignly.
“I will give you your medication and relieve your pain, she said, “but first you have a job to do. I’ll be right back.” She got up and headed for the door.
“No!” he screamed.
She took no notice at all. He lay in bed, cocooned in pain, trying not to moan and moaning anyway.
“No,” he said, crying and shaking. One thought worked at him, burned in him like acid: for less than a hundred bucks he could have had the mbumcript photocopied in Boulder. People – Bryce, both of his ex-wives, hell, even his mother – had always told him he was crazy not to make at least one copy of his work and put it aside; after all, the Boulderado could catch on fire, or the New York townhouse; there might be a tornado or a flood or some other natural disaster. He had constantly refused, for no rational reason: it was just that making copies seemed a jinx thing to do.
Well, here was the jinx and the natural disaster all rolled up m one; here was Hurricane Annie. In her innocence it had apparently never even crossed her mind that there might be another copy of Fast Cars someplace, and if he had just listened, if he had just invested the lousy hundred dollars – “Yes,” she replied, holding out the matches to him. The mbumcript, clean white Hammermill Bond with the title page topmost, lay on her lap. Her face was still clear and calm.
“No,” he said, turning his burning face away from her.
“Yes. It’s filthy. That aside, it’s also no good.”
“You wouldn’t know good if it walked up and bit your nose off!” he yelled, not caring.
She laughed gently. Her temper had apparently gone on vacation. But, Paul thought, knowing Annie Wilkes, it could arrive back unexpectedly at any moment, bags in hand: Couldn’t stand to stay away! How ya doin?
“First of all,” she said, “good would not bite my nose off. Evil might, but not good. Second of all, I do know good when I see it – you are good, Paul. All you need is a little help. Now, take the matches.” He shook his head stiffly back and forth. “No.”
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