"I beg you," said one of them in French--"I beg you will have the goodness to translate this sentence for me. I think it has relation to Prince Henry, but I find it impossible to decipher this barbarous dialect." He handed the journal to his neighbor, and pointed with his finger to the paragraph.
"Yes, there is something about Prince Henry," said the other, with a peculiar accent which betrayed the Russian; "and something, Monsieur Belleville, which will greatly interest you."
"Oh, I beseech you to read it to us," said the Frenchman, somewhat impatiently; then, turning graciously to the third gentleman who sat silent and indifferent near him, he added: "We must first ascertain, however, if our kind host, Monsieur le Comte di Ranuzi, consents to the reading."
"I gladly take part," said the Italian count, "in any thing that is interesting; above all, in every thing which has no relation to this wearisome and stupid Berlin."
"Vraiment! you are right." sighed the Frenchman. "It is a dreary and ceremonious region. They are so inexpressibly prudish and virtuous-- so ruled with old-fashioned scruples--led captive by such little prejudicesthat I should be greatly amused at it, if I did not suffer daily from the dead monotony it brings. What would the enchanting mistress of France--what would the Marquise de Pompadour say, if she could see me, the gay, witty, merry Belleville, conversing with such an aspect of pious gravity with this poor Queen of Prussia, who makes a face if one alludes to La Pucelle d'Orleans, and wishes to make it appear that she has not read Crebillon!"
"Tell me, now, Giurgenow, how is it with your court of Petersburg? Is it formal, as ceremonious as here in Prussia?"
Giurgenow laughed aloud. "Our Empress Elizabeth is an angel of beauty and goodness--mild and magnanimous to all-sacrificing herself constantly to the good of others. Last year she gave a ball to her body-guard. She danced with every one of the soldiers, and sipped from every glass; and when the soldiers, carried away by her grace and favor, dared to indulge in somewhat free jests, the good empress laughed merrily, and forgave them. On that auspicious day she first turned her attention to the happy Bestuchef. He was then a poor subordinate officer--now he is a prince and one of the richest men in Russia."
"It appears that your Russia has some resemblance to my beautiful France," said Belleville, gayly. "But how is it with you, Count Ranuzi? Is the Austrian court like the court of France, or like this wearisome Prussia?"