|BOOK 7: CHAPTER I|| |
The Bible legend tells us that the absence of labor—idleness—was a condition of the first man's blessedness before the Fall. Fallen man has retained a love of idleness, but the curse weighs on the race not only because we have to seek our bread in the sweat of our brows, but because our moral nature is such that we cannot be both idle and at ease. An inner voice tells us we are in the wrong if we are idle. If man could find a state in which he felt that though idle he was fulfilling his duty, he would have found one of the conditions of man's primitive blessedness. And such a state of obligatory and irreproachable idleness is the lot of a whole class—the military. The chief attraction of military service has consisted and will consist in this compulsory and irreproachable idleness.
Nicholas Rostov experienced this blissful condition to the full when, after 1807, he continued to serve in the Pavlograd regiment, in which he already commanded the squadron he had taken over from Denisov.
Rostov had become a bluff, good-natured fellow, whom his Moscow acquaintances would have considered rather bad form, but who was liked and respected by his comrades, subordinates, and superiors, and was well contented with his life. Of late, in 1809, he found in letters from home more frequent complaints from his mother that their affairs were falling into greater and greater disorder, and that it was time for him to come back to gladden and comfort his old parents.
Reading these letters, Nicholas felt a dread of their wanting to take him away from surroundings in which, protected from all the entanglements of life, he was living so calmly and quietly. He felt that sooner or later he would have to re-enter that whirlpool of life, with its embarrassments and affairs to be straightened out, its accounts with stewards, quarrels, and intrigues, its ties, society, and with Sonya's love and his promise to her. It was all dreadfully difficult and complicated; and he replied to his mother in cold, formal letters in French, beginning: "My dear Mamma," and ending: "Your obedient son," which said nothing of when he would return. In 1810 he received letters from his parents, in which they told him of Natasha's engagement to Bolkonski, and that the wedding would be in a year's time because the old prince made difficulties. This letter grieved and mortified Nicholas. In the first place he was sorry that Natasha, for whom he cared more than for anyone else in the family, should be lost to the home; and secondly, from his hussar point of view, he regretted not to have been there to show that fellow Bolkonski that connection with him was no such great honor after all, and that if he loved Natasha he might dispense with permission from his dotard father. For a moment he hesitated whether he should not apply for leave in order to see Natasha before she was married, but then came the maneuvers, and considerations about Sonya and about the confusion of their affairs, and Nicholas again put it off. But in the spring of that year, he received a letter from his mother, written without his father's knowledge, and that letter persuaded him to return. She wrote that if he did not come and take matters in hand, their whole property would be sold by auction and they would all have to go begging. The count was so weak, and trusted Mitenka so much, and was so good-natured, that everybody took advantage of him and things were going from bad to worse. "For God's sake, I implore you, come at once if you do not wish to make me and the whole family wretched," wrote the countess.
This letter touched Nicholas. He had that common sense of a matter-of-fact man which showed him what he ought to do.
The right thing now was, if not to retire from the service, at any rate to go home on leave. Why he had to go he did not know; but after his after-dinner nap he gave orders to saddle Mars, an extremely vicious gray stallion that had not been ridden for a long time, and when he returned with the horse all in a lather, he informed Lavrushka (Denisov's servant who had remained with him) and his comrades who turned up in the evening that he was applying for leave and was going home. Difficult and strange as it was for him to reflect that he would go away without having heard from the staff—and this interested him extremely—whether he was promoted to a captaincy or would receive the Order of St. Anne for the last maneuvers; strange as it was to think that he would go away without having sold his three roans to the Polish Count Golukhovski, who was bargaining for the horses Rostov had betted he would sell for two thousand rubles; incomprehensible as it seemed that the ball the hussars were giving in honor of the Polish Mademoiselle Przazdziecka (out of rivalry to the uhlans who had given one in honor of their Polish Mademoiselle Borzozowska) would take place without him—he knew he must go away from this good, bright world to somewhere where everything was stupid and confused. A week later he obtained his leave. His hussar comrades—not only those of his own regiment, but the whole brigade—gave Rostov a dinner to which the subscription was fifteen rubles a head, and at which there were two bands and two choirs of singers. Rostov danced the Trepak with Major Basov; the tipsy officers tossed, embraced, and dropped Rostov; the soldiers of the third squadron tossed him too, and shouted "hurrah!" and then they put him in his sleigh and escorted him as far as the first post station.
During the first half of the journey—from Kremenchug to Kiev—all Rostov's thoughts, as is usual in such cases, were behind him, with the squadron; but when he had gone more than halfway he began to forget his three roans and Dozhoyveyko, his quartermaster, and to wonder anxiously how things would be at Otradnoe and what he would find there. Thoughts of home grew stronger the nearer he approached it—far stronger, as though this feeling of his was subject to the law by which the force of attraction is in inverse proportion to the square of the distance. At the last post station before Otradnoe he gave the driver a three-ruble tip, and on arriving he ran breathlessly, like a boy, up the steps of his home.
After the rapture of meeting, and after that odd feeling of unsatisfied expectation—the feeling that "everything is just the same, so why did I hurry?"—Nicholas began to settle down in his old home world. His father and mother were much the same, only a little older. What was new in them was a certain uneasiness and occasional discord, which there used not to be, and which, as Nicholas soon found out, was due to the bad state of their affairs. Sonya was nearly twenty; she had stopped growing prettier and promised nothing more than she was already, but that was enough. She exhaled happiness and love from the time Nicholas returned, and the faithful, unalterable love of this girl had a gladdening effect on him. Petya and Natasha surprised Nicholas most. Petya was a big handsome boy of thirteen, merry, witty, and mischievous, with a voice that was already breaking. As for Natasha, for a long while Nicholas wondered and laughed whenever he looked at her.
"You're not the same at all," he said.
"How? Am I uglier?"
"On the contrary, but what dignity? A princess!" he whispered to her.
"Yes, yes, yes!" cried Natasha, joyfully.
She told him about her romance with Prince Andrew and of his visit to Otradnoe and showed him his last letter.
"Well, are you glad?" Natasha asked. "I am so tranquil and happy now."
"Very glad," answered Nicholas. "He is an excellent fellow.... And are you very much in love?"
"How shall I put it?" replied Natasha. "I was in love with Boris, with my teacher, and with Denisov, but this is quite different. I feel at peace and settled. I know that no better man than he exists, and I am calm and contented now. Not at all as before."
Nicholas expressed his disapproval of the postponement of the marriage for a year; but Natasha attacked her brother with exasperation, proving to him that it could not be otherwise, and that it would be a bad thing to enter a family against the father's will, and that she herself wished it so.
"You don't at all understand," she said.
Nicholas was silent and agreed with her.
Her brother often wondered as he looked at her. She did not seem at all like a girl in love and parted from her affianced husband. She was even-tempered and calm and quite as cheerful as of old. This amazed Nicholas and even made him regard Bolkonski's courtship skeptically. He could not believe that her fate was sealed, especially as he had not seen her with Prince Andrew. It always seemed to him that there was something not quite right about this intended marriage.
"Why this delay? Why no betrothal?" he thought. Once, when he had touched on this topic with his mother, he discovered, to his surprise and somewhat to his satisfaction, that in the depth of her soul she too had doubts about this marriage.
"You see he writes," said she, showing her son a letter of Prince Andrew's, with that latent grudge a mother always has in regard to a daughter's future married happiness, "he writes that he won't come before December. What can be keeping him? Illness, probably! His health is very delicate. Don't tell Natasha. And don't attach importance to her being so bright: that's because she's living through the last days of her girlhood, but I know what she is like every time we receive a letter from him! However, God grant that everything turns out well!" (She always ended with these words.) "He is an excellent man!"
After reaching home Nicholas was at first serious and even dull. He was worried by the impending necessity of interfering in the stupid business matters for which his mother had called him home. To throw off this burden as quickly as possible, on the third day after his arrival he went, angry and scowling and without answering questions as to where he was going, to Mitenka's lodge and demanded an account of everything. But what an account of everything might be Nicholas knew even less than the frightened and bewildered Mitenka. The conversation and the examination of the accounts with Mitenka did not last long. The village elder, a peasant delegate, and the village clerk, who were waiting in the passage, heard with fear and delight first the young count's voice roaring and snapping and rising louder and louder, and then words of abuse, dreadful words, ejaculated one after the other.
"Robber!... Ungrateful wretch!... I'll hack the dog to pieces! I'm not my father!... Robbing us!..." and so on.
Then with no less fear and delight they saw how the young count, red in the face and with bloodshot eyes, dragged Mitenka out by the scruff of the neck and applied his foot and knee to his behind with great agility at convenient moments between the words, shouting, "Be off! Never let me see your face here again, you villain!"
Mitenka flew headlong down the six steps and ran away into the shrubbery. (This shrubbery was a well-known haven of refuge for culprits at Otradnoe. Mitenka himself, returning tipsy from the town, used to hide there, and many of the residents at Otradnoe, hiding from Mitenka, knew of its protective qualities.)
Mitenka's wife and sisters-in-law thrust their heads and frightened faces out of the door of a room where a bright samovar was boiling and where the steward's high bedstead stood with its patchwork quilt.
The young count paid no heed to them, but, breathing hard, passed by with resolute strides and went into the house.
The countess, who heard at once from the maids what had happened at the lodge, was calmed by the thought that now their affairs would certainly improve, but on the other hand felt anxious as to the effect this excitement might have on her son. She went several times to his door on tiptoe and listened, as he lighted one pipe after another.
Next day the old count called his son aside and, with an embarrassed smile, said to him:
"But you know, my dear boy, it's a pity you got excited! Mitenka has told me all about it."
"I knew," thought Nicholas, "that I should never understand anything in this crazy world."
"You were angry that he had not entered those 700 rubles. But they were carried forward—and you did not look at the other page."
"Papa, he is a blackguard and a thief! I know he is! And what I have done, I have done; but, if you like, I won't speak to him again."
"No, my dear boy" (the count, too, felt embarrassed. He knew he had mismanaged his wife's property and was to blame toward his children, but he did not know how to remedy it). "No, I beg you to attend to the business. I am old. I..."
"No, Papa. Forgive me if I have caused you unpleasantness. I understand it all less than you do."
"Devil take all these peasants, and money matters, and carryings forward from page to page," he thought. "I used to understand what a 'corner' and the stakes at cards meant, but carrying forward to another page I don't understand at all," said he to himself, and after that he did not meddle in business affairs. But once the countess called her son and informed him that she had a promissory note from Anna Mikhaylovna for two thousand rubles, and asked him what he thought of doing with it.
"This," answered Nicholas. "You say it rests with me. Well, I don't like Anna Mikhaylovna and I don't like Boris, but they were our friends and poor. Well then, this!" and he tore up the note, and by so doing caused the old countess to weep tears of joy. After that, young Rostov took no further part in any business affairs, but devoted himself with passionate enthusiasm to what was to him a new pursuit—the chase—for which his father kept a large establishment.
The weather was already growing wintry and morning frosts congealed an earth saturated by autumn rains. The verdure had thickened and its bright green stood out sharply against the brownish strips of winter rye trodden down by the cattle, and against the pale-yellow stubble of the spring buckwheat. The wooded ravines and the copses, which at the end of August had still been green islands amid black fields and stubble, had become golden and bright-red islands amid the green winter rye. The hares had already half changed their summer coats, the fox cubs were beginning to scatter, and the young wolves were bigger than dogs. It was the best time of the year for the chase. The hounds of that ardent young sportsman Rostov had not merely reached hard winter condition, but were so jaded that at a meeting of the huntsmen it was decided to give them a three days' rest and then, on the sixteenth of September, to go on a distant expedition, starting from the oak grove where there was an undisturbed litter of wolf cubs.
All that day the hounds remained at home. It was frosty and the air was sharp, but toward evening the sky became overcast and it began to thaw. On the fifteenth, when young Rostov, in his dressing gown, looked out of the window, he saw it was an unsurpassable morning for hunting: it was as if the sky were melting and sinking to the earth without any wind. The only motion in the air was that of the dripping, microscopic particles of drizzling mist. The bare twigs in the garden were hung with transparent drops which fell on the freshly fallen leaves. The earth in the kitchen garden looked wet and black and glistened like poppy seed and at a short distance merged into the dull, moist veil of mist. Nicholas went out into the wet and muddy porch. There was a smell of decaying leaves and of dog. Milka, a black-spotted, broad-haunched bitch with prominent black eyes, got up on seeing her master, stretched her hind legs, lay down like a hare, and then suddenly jumped up and licked him right on his nose and mustache. Another borzoi, a dog, catching sight of his master from the garden path, arched his back and, rushing headlong toward the porch with lifted tail, began rubbing himself against his legs.
"O-hoy!" came at that moment, that inimitable huntsman's call which unites the deepest bass with the shrillest tenor, and round the corner came Daniel the head huntsman and head kennelman, a gray, wrinkled old man with hair cut straight over his forehead, Ukrainian fashion, a long bent whip in his hand, and that look of independence and scorn of everything that is only seen in huntsmen. He doffed his Circassian cap to his master and looked at him scornfully. This scorn was not offensive to his master. Nicholas knew that this Daniel, disdainful of everybody and who considered himself above them, was all the same his serf and huntsman.
"Daniel!" Nicholas said timidly, conscious at the sight of the weather, the hounds, and the huntsman that he was being carried away by that irresistible passion for sport which makes a man forget all his previous resolutions, as a lover forgets in the presence of his mistress.
"What orders, your excellency?" said the huntsman in his deep bass, deep as a proto-deacon's and hoarse with hallooing—and two flashing black eyes gazed from under his brows at his master, who was silent. "Can you resist it?" those eyes seemed to be asking.
"It's a good day, eh? For a hunt and a gallop, eh?" asked Nicholas, scratching Milka behind the ears.
Daniel did not answer, but winked instead.
"I sent Uvarka at dawn to listen," his bass boomed out after a minute's pause. "He says she's moved them into the Otradnoe enclosure. They were howling there." (This meant that the she-wolf, about whom they both knew, had moved with her cubs to the Otradnoe copse, a small place a mile and a half from the house.)
"We ought to go, don't you think so?" said Nicholas. "Come to me with Uvarka."
"As you please."
"Then put off feeding them."
Five minutes later Daniel and Uvarka were standing in Nicholas' big study. Though Daniel was not a big man, to see him in a room was like seeing a horse or a bear on the floor among the furniture and surroundings of human life. Daniel himself felt this, and as usual stood just inside the door, trying to speak softly and not move, for fear of breaking something in the master's apartment, and he hastened to say all that was necessary so as to get from under that ceiling, out into the open under the sky once more.
Having finished his inquiries and extorted from Daniel an opinion that the hounds were fit (Daniel himself wished to go hunting), Nicholas ordered the horses to be saddled. But just as Daniel was about to go Natasha came in with rapid steps, not having done up her hair or finished dressing and with her old nurse's big shawl wrapped round her. Petya ran in at the same time.
"You are going?" asked Natasha. "I knew you would! Sonya said you wouldn't go, but I knew that today is the sort of day when you couldn't help going."
"Yes, we are going," replied Nicholas reluctantly, for today, as he intended to hunt seriously, he did not want to take Natasha and Petya. "We are going, but only wolf hunting: it would be dull for you."
"You know it is my greatest pleasure," said Natasha. "It's not fair; you are going by yourself, are having the horses saddled and said nothing to us about it."
"'No barrier bars a Russian's path'—we'll go!" shouted Petya.
"But you can't. Mamma said you mustn't," said Nicholas to Natasha.
"Yes, I'll go. I shall certainly go," said Natasha decisively. "Daniel, tell them to saddle for us, and Michael must come with my dogs," she added to the huntsman.
It seemed to Daniel irksome and improper to be in a room at all, but to have anything to do with a young lady seemed to him impossible. He cast down his eyes and hurried out as if it were none of his business, careful as he went not to inflict any accidental injury on the young lady.
The old count, who had always kept up an enormous hunting establishment but had now handed it all completely over to his son's care, being in very good spirits on this fifteenth of September, prepared to go out with the others.
In an hour's time the whole hunting party was at the porch. Nicholas, with a stern and serious air which showed that now was no time for attending to trifles, went past Natasha and Petya who were trying to tell him something. He had a look at all the details of the hunt, sent a pack of hounds and huntsmen on ahead to find the quarry, mounted his chestnut Donets, and whistling to his own leash of borzois, set off across the threshing ground to a field leading to the Otradnoe wood. The old count's horse, a sorrel gelding called Viflyanka, was led by the groom in attendance on him, while the count himself was to drive in a small trap straight to a spot reserved for him.
They were taking fifty-four hounds, with six hunt attendants and whippers-in. Besides the family, there were eight borzoi kennelmen and more than forty borzois, so that, with the borzois on the leash belonging to members of the family, there were about a hundred and thirty dogs and twenty horsemen.
Each dog knew its master and its call. Each man in the hunt knew his business, his place, what he had to do. As soon as they had passed the fence they all spread out evenly and quietly, without noise or talk, along the road and field leading to the Otradnoe covert.
The horses stepped over the field as over a thick carpet, now and then splashing into puddles as they crossed a road. The misty sky still seemed to descend evenly and imperceptibly toward the earth, the air was still, warm, and silent. Occasionally the whistle of a huntsman, the snort of a horse, the crack of a whip, or the whine of a straggling hound could be heard.
When they had gone a little less than a mile, five more riders with dogs appeared out of the mist, approaching the Rostovs. In front rode a fresh-looking, handsome old man with a large gray mustache.
"Good morning, Uncle!" said Nicholas, when the old man drew near.
"That's it. Come on!... I was sure of it," began "Uncle." (He was a distant relative of the Rostovs', a man of small means, and their neighbor.) "I knew you wouldn't be able to resist it and it's a good thing you're going. That's it! Come on!" (This was "Uncle's" favorite expression.) "Take the covert at once, for my Girchik says the Ilagins are at Korniki with their hounds. That's it. Come on!... They'll take the cubs from under your very nose."
"That's where I'm going. Shall we join up our packs?" asked Nicholas.
The hounds were joined into one pack, and "Uncle" and Nicholas rode on side by side. Natasha, muffled up in shawls which did not hide her eager face and shining eyes, galloped up to them. She was followed by Petya who always kept close to her, by Michael, a huntsman, and by a groom appointed to look after her. Petya, who was laughing, whipped and pulled at his horse. Natasha sat easily and confidently on her black Arabchik and reined him in without effort with a firm hand.
"Uncle" looked round disapprovingly at Petya and Natasha. He did not like to combine frivolity with the serious business of hunting.
"Good morning, Uncle! We are going too!" shouted Petya.
"Good morning, good morning! But don't go overriding the hounds," said "Uncle" sternly.
"Nicholas, what a fine dog Trunila is! He knew me," said Natasha, referring to her favorite hound.
"In the first place, Trunila is not a 'dog,' but a harrier," thought Nicholas, and looked sternly at his sister, trying to make her feel the distance that ought to separate them at that moment. Natasha understood it.
"You mustn't think we'll be in anyone's way, Uncle," she said. "We'll go to our places and won't budge."
"A good thing too, little countess," said "Uncle," "only mind you don't fall off your horse," he added, "because—that's it, come on!—you've nothing to hold on to."
The oasis of the Otradnoe covert came in sight a few hundred yards off, the huntsmen were already nearing it. Rostov, having finally settled with "Uncle" where they should set on the hounds, and having shown Natasha where she was to stand—a spot where nothing could possibly run out—went round above the ravine.
"Well, nephew, you're going for a big wolf," said "Uncle." "Mind and don't let her slip!"
"That's as may happen," answered Rostov. "Karay, here!" he shouted, answering "Uncle's" remark by this call to his borzoi. Karay was a shaggy old dog with a hanging jowl, famous for having tackled a big wolf unaided. They all took up their places.
The old count, knowing his son's ardor in the hunt, hurried so as not to be late, and the huntsmen had not yet reached their places when Count Ilya Rostov, cheerful, flushed, and with quivering cheeks, drove up with his black horses over the winter rye to the place reserved for him, where a wolf might come out. Having straightened his coat and fastened on his hunting knives and horn, he mounted his good, sleek, well-fed, and comfortable horse, Viflyanka, which was turning gray, like himself. His horses and trap were sent home. Count Ilya Rostov, though not at heart a keen sportsman, knew the rules of the hunt well, and rode to the bushy edge of the road where he was to stand, arranged his reins, settled himself in the saddle, and, feeling that he was ready, looked about with a smile.
Beside him was Simon Chekmar, his personal attendant, an old horseman now somewhat stiff in the saddle. Chekmar held in leash three formidable wolfhounds, who had, however, grown fat like their master and his horse. Two wise old dogs lay down unleashed. Some hundred paces farther along the edge of the wood stood Mitka, the count's other groom, a daring horseman and keen rider to hounds. Before the hunt, by old custom, the count had drunk a silver cupful of mulled brandy, taken a snack, and washed it down with half a bottle of his favorite Bordeaux.
He was somewhat flushed with the wine and the drive. His eyes were rather moist and glittered more than usual, and as he sat in his saddle, wrapped up in his fur coat, he looked like a child taken out for an outing.
The thin, hollow-cheeked Chekmar, having got everything ready, kept glancing at his master with whom he had lived on the best of terms for thirty years, and understanding the mood he was in expected a pleasant chat. A third person rode up circumspectly through the wood (it was plain that he had had a lesson) and stopped behind the count. This person was a gray-bearded old man in a woman's cloak, with a tall peaked cap on his head. He was the buffoon, who went by a woman's name, Nastasya Ivanovna.
"Well, Nastasya Ivanovna!" whispered the count, winking at him. "If you scare away the beast, Daniel'll give it you!"
"I know a thing or two myself!" said Nastasya Ivanovna.
"Hush!" whispered the count and turned to Simon. "Have you seen the young countess?" he asked. "Where is she?"
"With young Count Peter, by the Zharov rank grass," answered Simon, smiling. "Though she's a lady, she's very fond of hunting."
"And you're surprised at the way she rides, Simon, eh?" said the count. "She's as good as many a man!"
"Of course! It's marvelous. So bold, so easy!"
"And Nicholas? Where is he? By the Lyadov upland, isn't he?"
"Yes, sir. He knows where to stand. He understands the matter so well that Daniel and I are often quite astounded," said Simon, well knowing what would please his master.
"Rides well, eh? And how well he looks on his horse, eh?"
"A perfect picture! How he chased a fox out of the rank grass by the Zavarzinsk thicket the other day! Leaped a fearful place; what a sight when they rushed from the covert... the horse worth a thousand rubles and the rider beyond all price! Yes, one would have to search far to find another as smart."
"To search far..." repeated the count, evidently sorry Simon had not said more. "To search far," he said, turning back the skirt of his coat to get at his snuffbox.
"The other day when he came out from Mass in full uniform, Michael Sidorych..." Simon did not finish, for on the still air he had distinctly caught the music of the hunt with only two or three hounds giving tongue. He bent down his head and listened, shaking a warning finger at his master. "They are on the scent of the cubs..." he whispered, "straight to the Lyadov uplands."
The count, forgetting to smooth out the smile on his face, looked into the distance straight before him, down the narrow open space, holding the snuffbox in his hand but not taking any. After the cry of the hounds came the deep tones of the wolf call from Daniel's hunting horn; the pack joined the first three hounds and they could be heard in full cry, with that peculiar lift in the note that indicates that they are after a wolf. The whippers-in no longer set on the hounds, but changed to the cry of ulyulyu, and above the others rose Daniel's voice, now a deep bass, now piercingly shrill. His voice seemed to fill the whole wood and carried far beyond out into the open field.
After listening a few moments in silence, the count and his attendant convinced themselves that the hounds had separated into two packs: the sound of the larger pack, eagerly giving tongue, began to die away in the distance, the other pack rushed by the wood past the count, and it was with this that Daniel's voice was heard calling ulyulyu. The sounds of both packs mingled and broke apart again, but both were becoming more distant.
Simon sighed and stooped to straighten the leash a young borzoi had entangled; the count too sighed and, noticing the snuffbox in his hand, opened it and took a pinch. "Back!" cried Simon to a borzoi that was pushing forward out of the wood. The count started and dropped the snuffbox. Nastasya Ivanovna dismounted to pick it up. The count and Simon were looking at him.
Then, unexpectedly, as often happens, the sound of the hunt suddenly approached, as if the hounds in full cry and Daniel ulyulyuing were just in front of them.
The count turned and saw on his right Mitka staring at him with eyes starting out of his head, raising his cap and pointing before him to the other side.
"Look out!" he shouted, in a voice plainly showing that he had long fretted to utter that word, and letting the borzois slip he galloped toward the count.
The count and Simon galloped out of the wood and saw on their left a wolf which, softly swaying from side to side, was coming at a quiet lope farther to the left to the very place where they were standing. The angry borzois whined and getting free of the leash rushed past the horses' feet at the wolf.
The wolf paused, turned its heavy forehead toward the dogs awkwardly, like a man suffering from the quinsy, and, still slightly swaying from side to side, gave a couple of leaps and with a swish of its tail disappeared into the skirt of the wood. At the same instant, with a cry like a wail, first one hound, then another, and then another, sprang helter-skelter from the wood opposite and the whole pack rushed across the field toward the very spot where the wolf had disappeared. The hazel bushes parted behind the hounds and Daniel's chestnut horse appeared, dark with sweat. On its long back sat Daniel, hunched forward, capless, his disheveled gray hair hanging over his flushed, perspiring face.
"Ulyulyulyu! ulyulyu!..." he cried. When he caught sight of the count his eyes flashed lightning.
"Blast you!" he shouted, holding up his whip threateningly at the count.
"You've let the wolf go!... What sportsmen!" and as if scorning to say more to the frightened and shamefaced count, he lashed the heaving flanks of his sweating chestnut gelding with all the anger the count had aroused and flew off after the hounds. The count, like a punished schoolboy, looked round, trying by a smile to win Simon's sympathy for his plight. But Simon was no longer there. He was galloping round by the bushes while the field was coming up on both sides, all trying to head the wolf, but it vanished into the wood before they could do so.
Nicholas Rostov meanwhile remained at his post, waiting for the wolf. By the way the hunt approached and receded, by the cries of the dogs whose notes were familiar to him, by the way the voices of the huntsmen approached, receded, and rose, he realized what was happening at the copse. He knew that young and old wolves were there, that the hounds had separated into two packs, that somewhere a wolf was being chased, and that something had gone wrong. He expected the wolf to come his way any moment. He made thousands of different conjectures as to where and from what side the beast would come and how he would set upon it. Hope alternated with despair. Several times he addressed a prayer to God that the wolf should come his way. He prayed with that passionate and shamefaced feeling with which men pray at moments of great excitement arising from trivial causes. "What would it be to Thee to do this for me?" he said to God. "I know Thou art great, and that it is a sin to ask this of Thee, but for God's sake do let the old wolf come my way and let Karay spring at it—in sight of 'Uncle' who is watching from over there—and seize it by the throat in a death grip!" A thousand times during that half-hour Rostov cast eager and restless glances over the edge of the wood, with the two scraggy oaks rising above the aspen undergrowth and the gully with its water-worn side and "Uncle's" cap just visible above the bush on his right.
"No, I shan't have such luck," thought Rostov, "yet what wouldn't it be worth! It is not to be! Everywhere, at cards and in war, I am always unlucky." Memories of Austerlitz and of Dolokhov flashed rapidly and clearly through his mind. "Only once in my life to get an old wolf, I want only that!" thought he, straining eyes and ears and looking to the left and then to the right and listening to the slightest variation of note in the cries of the dogs.
Again he looked to the right and saw something running toward him across the deserted field. "No, it can't be!" thought Rostov, taking a deep breath, as a man does at the coming of something long hoped for. The height of happiness was reached—and so simply, without warning, or noise, or display, that Rostov could not believe his eyes and remained in doubt for over a second. The wolf ran forward and jumped heavily over a gully that lay in her path. She was an old animal with a gray back and big reddish belly. She ran without hurry, evidently feeling sure that no one saw her. Rostov, holding his breath, looked round at the borzois. They stood or lay not seeing the wolf or understanding the situation. Old Karay had turned his head and was angrily searching for fleas, baring his yellow teeth and snapping at his hind legs.
"Ulyulyulyu!" whispered Rostov, pouting his lips. The borzois jumped up, jerking the rings of the leashes and pricking their ears. Karay finished scratching his hindquarters and, cocking his ears, got up with quivering tail from which tufts of matted hair hung down.
"Shall I loose them or not?" Nicholas asked himself as the wolf approached him coming from the copse. Suddenly the wolf's whole physiognomy changed: she shuddered, seeing what she had probably never seen before—human eyes fixed upon her—and turning her head a little toward Rostov, she paused.
"Back or forward? Eh, no matter, forward..." the wolf seemed to say to herself, and she moved forward without again looking round and with a quiet, long, easy yet resolute lope.
"Ulyulyu!" cried Nicholas, in a voice not his own, and of its own accord his good horse darted headlong downhill, leaping over gullies to head off the wolf, and the borzois passed it, running faster still. Nicholas did not hear his own cry nor feel that he was galloping, nor see the borzois, nor the ground over which he went: he saw only the wolf, who, increasing her speed, bounded on in the same direction along the hollow. The first to come into view was Milka, with her black markings and powerful quarters, gaining upon the wolf. Nearer and nearer... now she was ahead of it; but the wolf turned its head to face her, and instead of putting on speed as she usually did Milka suddenly raised her tail and stiffened her forelegs.
"Ulyulyulyulyu!" shouted Nicholas.
The reddish Lyubim rushed forward from behind Milka, sprang impetuously at the wolf, and seized it by its hindquarters, but immediately jumped aside in terror. The wolf crouched, gnashed her teeth, and again rose and bounded forward, followed at the distance of a couple of feet by all the borzois, who did not get any closer to her.
"She'll get away! No, it's impossible!" thought Nicholas, still shouting with a hoarse voice.
"Karay, ulyulyu!..." he shouted, looking round for the old borzoi who was now his only hope. Karay, with all the strength age had left him, stretched himself to the utmost and, watching the wolf, galloped heavily aside to intercept it. But the quickness of the wolf's lope and the borzoi's slower pace made it plain that Karay had miscalculated. Nicholas could already see not far in front of him the wood where the wolf would certainly escape should she reach it. But, coming toward him, he saw hounds and a huntsman galloping almost straight at the wolf. There was still hope. A long, yellowish young borzoi, one Nicholas did not know, from another leash, rushed impetuously at the wolf from in front and almost knocked her over. But the wolf jumped up more quickly than anyone could have expected and, gnashing her teeth, flew at the yellowish borzoi, which, with a piercing yelp, fell with its head on the ground, bleeding from a gash in its side.
"Karay? Old fellow!..." wailed Nicholas.
Thanks to the delay caused by this crossing of the wolf's path, the old dog with its felted hair hanging from its thigh was within five paces of it. As if aware of her danger, the wolf turned her eyes on Karay, tucked her tail yet further between her legs, and increased her speed. But here Nicholas only saw that something happened to Karay—the borzoi was suddenly on the wolf, and they rolled together down into a gully just in front of them.
That instant, when Nicholas saw the wolf struggling in the gully with the dogs, while from under them could be seen her gray hair and outstretched hind leg and her frightened choking head, with her ears laid back (Karay was pinning her by the throat), was the happiest moment of his life. With his hand on his saddlebow, he was ready to dismount and stab the wolf, when she suddenly thrust her head up from among that mass of dogs, and then her forepaws were on the edge of the gully. She clicked her teeth (Karay no longer had her by the throat), leaped with a movement of her hind legs out of the gully, and having disengaged herself from the dogs, with tail tucked in again, went forward. Karay, his hair bristling, and probably bruised or wounded, climbed with difficulty out of the gully.
"Oh my God! Why?" Nicholas cried in despair.
"Uncle's" huntsman was galloping from the other side across the wolf's path and his borzois once more stopped the animal's advance. She was again hemmed in.
Nicholas and his attendant, with "Uncle" and his huntsman, were all riding round the wolf, crying "ulyulyu!" shouting and preparing to dismount each moment that the wolf crouched back, and starting forward again every time she shook herself and moved toward the wood where she would be safe.
Already, at the beginning of this chase, Daniel, hearing the ulyulyuing, had rushed out from the wood. He saw Karay seize the wolf, and checked his horse, supposing the affair to be over. But when he saw that the horsemen did not dismount and that the wolf shook herself and ran for safety, Daniel set his chestnut galloping, not at the wolf but straight toward the wood, just as Karay had run to cut the animal off. As a result of this, he galloped up to the wolf just when she had been stopped a second time by "Uncle's" borzois.
Daniel galloped up silently, holding a naked dagger in his left hand and thrashing the laboring sides of his chestnut horse with his whip as if it were a flail.
Nicholas neither saw nor heard Daniel until the chestnut, breathing heavily, panted past him, and he heard the fall of a body and saw Daniel lying on the wolf's back among the dogs, trying to seize her by the ears. It was evident to the dogs, the hunters, and to the wolf herself that all was now over. The terrified wolf pressed back her ears and tried to rise, but the borzois stuck to her. Daniel rose a little, took a step, and with his whole weight, as if lying down to rest, fell on the wolf, seizing her by the ears. Nicholas was about to stab her, but Daniel whispered, "Don't! We'll gag her!" and, changing his position, set his foot on the wolf's neck. A stick was thrust between her jaws and she was fastened with a leash, as if bridled, her legs were bound together, and Daniel rolled her over once or twice from side to side.
With happy, exhausted faces, they laid the old wolf, alive, on a shying and snorting horse and, accompanied by the dogs yelping at her, took her to the place where they were all to meet. The hounds had killed two of the cubs and the borzois three. The huntsmen assembled with their booty and their stories, and all came to look at the wolf, which, with her broad-browed head hanging down and the bitten stick between her jaws, gazed with great glassy eyes at this crowd of dogs and men surrounding her. When she was touched, she jerked her bound legs and looked wildly yet simply at everybody. Old Count Rostov also rode up and touched the wolf.
"Oh, what a formidable one!" said he. "A formidable one, eh?" he asked Daniel, who was standing near.
"Yes, your excellency," answered Daniel, quickly doffing his cap.
The count remembered the wolf he had let slip and his encounter with Daniel.
"Ah, but you are a crusty fellow, friend!" said the count.
For sole reply Daniel gave him a shy, childlike, meek, and amiable smile.
The old count went home, and Natasha and Petya promised to return very soon, but as it was still early the hunt went farther. At midday they put the hounds into a ravine thickly overgrown with young trees. Nicholas standing in a fallow field could see all his whips.
Facing him lay a field of winter rye, there his own huntsman stood alone in a hollow behind a hazel bush. The hounds had scarcely been loosed before Nicholas heard one he knew, Voltorn, giving tongue at intervals; other hounds joined in, now pausing and now again giving tongue. A moment later he heard a cry from the wooded ravine that a fox had been found, and the whole pack, joining together, rushed along the ravine toward the ryefield and away from Nicholas.
He saw the whips in their red caps galloping along the edge of the ravine, he even saw the hounds, and was expecting a fox to show itself at any moment on the ryefield opposite.
The huntsman standing in the hollow moved and loosed his borzois, and Nicholas saw a queer, short-legged red fox with a fine brush going hard across the field. The borzois bore down on it.... Now they drew close to the fox which began to dodge between the field in sharper and sharper curves, trailing its brush, when suddenly a strange white borzoi dashed in followed by a black one, and everything was in confusion; the borzois formed a star-shaped figure, scarcely swaying their bodies and with tails turned away from the center of the group. Two huntsmen galloped up to the dogs; one in a red cap, the other, a stranger, in a green coat.
"What's this?" thought Nicholas. "Where's that huntsman from? He is not 'Uncle's' man."
The huntsmen got the fox, but stayed there a long time without strapping it to the saddle. Their horses, bridled and with high saddles, stood near them and there too the dogs were lying. The huntsmen waved their arms and did something to the fox. Then from that spot came the sound of a horn, with the signal agreed on in case of a fight.
"That's Ilagin's huntsman having a row with our Ivan," said Nicholas' groom.
Nicholas sent the man to call Natasha and Petya to him, and rode at a footpace to the place where the whips were getting the hounds together. Several of the field galloped to the spot where the fight was going on.
Nicholas dismounted, and with Natasha and Petya, who had ridden up, stopped near the hounds, waiting to see how the matter would end. Out of the bushes came the huntsman who had been fighting and rode toward his young master, with the fox tied to his crupper. While still at a distance he took off his cap and tried to speak respectfully, but he was pale and breathless and his face was angry. One of his eyes was black, but he probably was not even aware of it.
"What has happened?" asked Nicholas.
"A likely thing, killing a fox our dogs had hunted! And it was my gray bitch that caught it! Go to law, indeed!... He snatches at the fox! I gave him one with the fox. Here it is on my saddle! Do you want a taste of this?..." said the huntsman, pointing to his dagger and probably imagining himself still speaking to his foe.
Nicholas, not stopping to talk to the man, asked his sister and Petya to wait for him and rode to the spot where the enemy's, Ilagin's, hunting party was.
The victorious huntsman rode off to join the field, and there, surrounded by inquiring sympathizers, recounted his exploits.
The facts were that Ilagin, with whom the Rostovs had a quarrel and were at law, hunted over places that belonged by custom to the Rostovs, and had now, as if purposely, sent his men to the very woods the Rostovs were hunting and let his man snatch a fox their dogs had chased.
Nicholas, though he had never seen Ilagin, with his usual absence of moderation in judgment, hated him cordially from reports of his arbitrariness and violence, and regarded him as his bitterest foe. He rode in angry agitation toward him, firmly grasping his whip and fully prepared to take the most resolute and desperate steps to punish his enemy.
Hardly had he passed an angle of the wood before a stout gentleman in a beaver cap came riding toward him on a handsome raven-black horse, accompanied by two hunt servants.
Instead of an enemy, Nicholas found in Ilagin a stately and courteous gentleman who was particularly anxious to make the young count's acquaintance. Having ridden up to Nicholas, Ilagin raised his beaver cap and said he much regretted what had occurred and would have the man punished who had allowed himself to seize a fox hunted by someone else's borzois. He hoped to become better acquainted with the count and invited him to draw his covert.
Natasha, afraid that her brother would do something dreadful, had followed him in some excitement. Seeing the enemies exchanging friendly greetings, she rode up to them. Ilagin lifted his beaver cap still higher to Natasha and said, with a pleasant smile, that the young countess resembled Diana in her passion for the chase as well as in her beauty, of which he had heard much.
To expiate his huntsman's offense, Ilagin pressed the Rostovs to come to an upland of his about a mile away which he usually kept for himself and which, he said, swarmed with hares. Nicholas agreed, and the hunt, now doubled, moved on.
The way to Iligin's upland was across the fields. The hunt servants fell into line. The masters rode together. "Uncle," Rostov, and Ilagin kept stealthily glancing at one another's dogs, trying not to be observed by their companions and searching uneasily for rivals to their own borzois.
Rostov was particularly struck by the beauty of a small, pure-bred, red-spotted bitch on Ilagin's leash, slender but with muscles like steel, a delicate muzzle, and prominent black eyes. He had heard of the swiftness of Ilagin's borzois, and in that beautiful bitch saw a rival to his own Milka.
In the middle of a sober conversation begun by Ilagin about the year's harvest, Nicholas pointed to the red-spotted bitch.
"A fine little bitch, that!" said he in a careless tone. "Is she swift?"
"That one? Yes, she's a good dog, gets what she's after," answered Ilagin indifferently, of the red-spotted bitch Erza, for which, a year before, he had given a neighbor three families of house serfs. "So in your parts, too, the harvest is nothing to boast of, Count?" he went on, continuing the conversation they had begun. And considering it polite to return the young count's compliment, Ilagin looked at his borzois and picked out Milka who attracted his attention by her breadth. "That black-spotted one of yours is fine—well shaped!" said he.
"Yes, she's fast enough," replied Nicholas, and thought: "If only a full-grown hare would cross the field now I'd show you what sort of borzoi she is," and turning to his groom, he said he would give a ruble to anyone who found a hare.
"I don't understand," continued Ilagin, "how some sportsmen can be so jealous about game and dogs. For myself, I can tell you, Count, I enjoy riding in company such as this... what could be better?" (he again raised his cap to Natasha) "but as for counting skins and what one takes, I don't care about that."
"Of course not!"
"Or being upset because someone else's borzoi and not mine catches something. All I care about is to enjoy seeing the chase, is it not so, Count? For I consider that..."
"A-tu!" came the long-drawn cry of one of the borzoi whippers-in, who had halted. He stood on a knoll in the stubble, holding his whip aloft, and again repeated his long-drawn cry, "A-tu!" (This call and the uplifted whip meant that he saw a sitting hare.)
"Ah, he has found one, I think," said Ilagin carelessly. "Yes, we must ride up.... Shall we both course it?" answered Nicholas, seeing in Erza and "Uncle's" red Rugay two rivals he had never yet had a chance of pitting against his own borzois. "And suppose they outdo my Milka at once!" he thought as he rode with "Uncle" and Ilagin toward the hare.
"A full-grown one?" asked Ilagin as he approached the whip who had sighted the hare—and not without agitation he looked round and whistled to Erza.
"And you, Michael Nikanorovich?" he said, addressing "Uncle."
The latter was riding with a sullen expression on his face.
"How can I join in? Why, you've given a village for each of your borzois! That's it, come on! Yours are worth thousands. Try yours against one another, you two, and I'll look on!"
"Rugay, hey, hey!" he shouted. "Rugayushka!" he added, involuntarily by this diminutive expressing his affection and the hopes he placed on this red borzoi. Natasha saw and felt the agitation the two elderly men and her brother were trying to conceal, and was herself excited by it.
The huntsman stood halfway up the knoll holding up his whip and the gentlefolk rode up to him at a footpace; the hounds that were far off on the horizon turned away from the hare, and the whips, but not the gentlefolk, also moved away. All were moving slowly and sedately.
"How is it pointing?" asked Nicholas, riding a hundred paces toward the whip who had sighted the hare.
But before the whip could reply, the hare, scenting the frost coming next morning, was unable to rest and leaped up. The pack on leash rushed downhill in full cry after the hare, and from all sides the borzois that were not on leash darted after the hounds and the hare. All the hunt, who had been moving slowly, shouted, "Stop!" calling in the hounds, while the borzoi whips, with a cry of "A-tu!" galloped across the field setting the borzois on the hare. The tranquil Ilagin, Nicholas, Natasha, and "Uncle" flew, reckless of where and how they went, seeing only the borzois and the hare and fearing only to lose sight even for an instant of the chase. The hare they had started was a strong and swift one. When he jumped up he did not run at once, but pricked his ears listening to the shouting and trampling that resounded from all sides at once. He took a dozen bounds, not very quickly, letting the borzois gain on him, and, finally having chosen his direction and realized his danger, laid back his ears and rushed off headlong. He had been lying in the stubble, but in front of him was the autumn sowing where the ground was soft. The two borzois of the huntsman who had sighted him, having been the nearest, were the first to see and pursue him, but they had not gone far before Ilagin's red-spotted Erza passed them, got within a length, flew at the hare with terrible swiftness aiming at his scut, and, thinking she had seized him, rolled over like a ball. The hare arched his back and bounded off yet more swiftly. From behind Erza rushed the broad-haunched, black-spotted Milka and began rapidly gaining on the hare.
"Milashka, dear!" rose Nicholas' triumphant cry. It looked as if Milka would immediately pounce on the hare, but she overtook him and flew past. The hare had squatted. Again the beautiful Erza reached him, but when close to the hare's scut paused as if measuring the distance, so as not to make a mistake this time but seize his hind leg.
"Erza, darling!" Ilagin wailed in a voice unlike his own. Erza did not hearken to his appeal. At the very moment when she would have seized her prey, the hare moved and darted along the balk between the winter rye and the stubble. Again Erza and Milka were abreast, running like a pair of carriage horses, and began to overtake the hare, but it was easier for the hare to run on the balk and the borzois did not overtake him so quickly.
"Rugay, Rugayushka! That's it, come on!" came a third voice just then, and "Uncle's" red borzoi, straining and curving its back, caught up with the two foremost borzois, pushed ahead of them regardless of the terrible strain, put on speed close to the hare, knocked it off the balk onto the ryefield, again put on speed still more viciously, sinking to his knees in the muddy field, and all one could see was how, muddying his back, he rolled over with the hare. A ring of borzois surrounded him. A moment later everyone had drawn up round the crowd of dogs. Only the delighted "Uncle" dismounted, and cut off a pad, shaking the hare for the blood to drip off, and anxiously glancing round with restless eyes while his arms and legs twitched. He spoke without himself knowing whom to or what about. "That's it, come on! That's a dog!... There, it has beaten them all, the thousand-ruble as well as the one-ruble borzois. That's it, come on!" said he, panting and looking wrathfully around as if he were abusing someone, as if they were all his enemies and had insulted him, and only now had he at last succeeded in justifying himself. "There are your thousand-ruble ones.... That's it, come on!..."
"Rugay, here's a pad for you!" he said, throwing down the hare's muddy pad. "You've deserved it, that's it, come on!"
"She'd tired herself out, she'd run it down three times by herself," said Nicholas, also not listening to anyone and regardless of whether he were heard or not.
"But what is there in running across it like that?" said Ilagin's groom.
"Once she had missed it and turned it away, any mongrel could take it," Ilagin was saying at the same time, breathless from his gallop and his excitement. At the same moment Natasha, without drawing breath, screamed joyously, ecstatically, and so piercingly that it set everyone's ear tingling. By that shriek she expressed what the others expressed by all talking at once, and it was so strange that she must herself have been ashamed of so wild a cry and everyone else would have been amazed at it at any other time. "Uncle" himself twisted up the hare, threw it neatly and smartly across his horse's back as if by that gesture he meant to rebuke everybody, and, with an air of not wishing to speak to anyone, mounted his bay and rode off. The others all followed, dispirited and shamefaced, and only much later were they able to regain their former affectation of indifference. For a long time they continued to look at red Rugay who, his arched back spattered with mud and clanking the ring of his leash, walked along just behind "Uncle's" horse with the serene air of a conqueror.
"Well, I am like any other dog as long as it's not a question of coursing. But when it is, then look out!" his appearance seemed to Nicholas to be saying.
When, much later, "Uncle" rode up to Nicholas and began talking to him, he felt flattered that, after what had happened, "Uncle" deigned to speak to him.
Toward evening Ilagin took leave of Nicholas, who found that they were so far from home that he accepted "Uncle's" offer that the hunting party should spend the night in his little village of Mikhaylovna.
"And if you put up at my house that will be better still. That's it, come on!" said "Uncle." "You see it's damp weather, and you could rest, and the little countess could be driven home in a trap."
"Uncle's" offer was accepted. A huntsman was sent to Otradnoe for a trap, while Nicholas rode with Natasha and Petya to "Uncle's" house.
Some five male domestic serfs, big and little, rushed out to the front porch to meet their master. A score of women serfs, old and young, as well as children, popped out from the back entrance to have a look at the hunters who were arriving. The presence of Natasha—a woman, a lady, and on horseback—raised the curiosity of the serfs to such a degree that many of them came up to her, stared her in the face, and unabashed by her presence made remarks about her as though she were some prodigy on show and not a human being able to hear or understand what was said about her.
"Arinka! Look, she sits sideways! There she sits and her skirt dangles.... See, she's got a little hunting horn!"
"Goodness gracious! See her knife?..."
"Isn't she a Tartar!"
"How is it you didn't go head over heels?" asked the boldest of all, addressing Natasha directly.
"Uncle" dismounted at the porch of his little wooden house which stood in the midst of an overgrown garden and, after a glance at his retainers, shouted authoritatively that the superfluous ones should take themselves off and that all necessary preparations should be made to receive the guests and the visitors.
The serfs all dispersed. "Uncle" lifted Natasha off her horse and taking her hand led her up the rickety wooden steps of the porch. The house, with its bare, unplastered log walls, was not overclean—it did not seem that those living in it aimed at keeping it spotless—but neither was it noticeably neglected. In the entry there was a smell of fresh apples, and wolf and fox skins hung about.
"Uncle" led the visitors through the anteroom into a small hall with a folding table and red chairs, then into the drawing room with a round birchwood table and a sofa, and finally into his private room where there was a tattered sofa, a worn carpet, and portraits of Suvorov, of the host's father and mother, and of himself in military uniform. The study smelt strongly of tobacco and dogs. "Uncle" asked his visitors to sit down and make themselves at home, and then went out of the room. Rugay, his back still muddy, came into the room and lay down on the sofa, cleaning himself with his tongue and teeth. Leading from the study was a passage in which a partition with ragged curtains could be seen. From behind this came women's laughter and whispers. Natasha, Nicholas, and Petya took off their wraps and sat down on the sofa. Petya, leaning on his elbow, fell asleep at once. Natasha and Nicholas were silent. Their faces glowed, they were hungry and very cheerful. They looked at one another (now that the hunt was over and they were in the house, Nicholas no longer considered it necessary to show his manly superiority over his sister), Natasha gave him a wink, and neither refrained long from bursting into a peal of ringing laughter even before they had a pretext ready to account for it.
After a while "Uncle" came in, in a Cossack coat, blue trousers, and small top boots. And Natasha felt that this costume, the very one she had regarded with surprise and amusement at Otradnoe, was just the right thing and not at all worse than a swallow-tail or frock coat. "Uncle" too was in high spirits and far from being offended by the brother's and sister's laughter (it could never enter his head that they might be laughing at his way of life) he himself joined in the merriment.
"That's right, young countess, that's it, come on! I never saw anyone like her!" said he, offering Nicholas a pipe with a long stem and, with a practiced motion of three fingers, taking down another that had been cut short. "She's ridden all day like a man, and is as fresh as ever!"
Soon after "Uncle's" reappearance the door was opened, evidently from the sound by a barefooted girl, and a stout, rosy, good-looking woman of about forty, with a double chin and full red lips, entered carrying a large loaded tray. With hospitable dignity and cordiality in her glance and in every motion, she looked at the visitors and, with a pleasant smile, bowed respectfully. In spite of her exceptional stoutness, which caused her to protrude her chest and stomach and throw back her head, this woman (who was "Uncle's" housekeeper) trod very lightly. She went to the table, set down the tray, and with her plump white hands deftly took from it the bottles and various hors d'oeuvres and dishes and arranged them on the table. When she had finished, she stepped aside and stopped at the door with a smile on her face. "Here I am. I am she! Now do you understand 'Uncle'?" her expression said to Rostov. How could one help understanding? Not only Nicholas, but even Natasha understood the meaning of his puckered brow and the happy complacent smile that slightly puckered his lips when Anisya Fedorovna entered. On the tray was a bottle of herb wine, different kinds of vodka, pickled mushrooms, rye cakes made with buttermilk, honey in the comb, still mead and sparkling mead, apples, nuts (raw and roasted), and nut-and-honey sweets. Afterwards she brought a freshly roasted chicken, ham, preserves made with honey, and preserves made with sugar.
All this was the fruit of Anisya Fedorovna's housekeeping, gathered and prepared by her. The smell and taste of it all had a smack of Anisya Fedorovna herself: a savor of juiciness, cleanliness, whiteness, and pleasant smiles.
"Take this, little Lady-Countess!" she kept saying, as she offered Natasha first one thing and then another.
Natasha ate of everything and thought she had never seen or eaten such buttermilk cakes, such aromatic jam, such honey-and-nut sweets, or such a chicken anywhere. Anisya Fedorovna left the room.
After supper, over their cherry brandy, Rostov and "Uncle" talked of past and future hunts, of Rugay and Ilagin's dogs, while Natasha sat upright on the sofa and listened with sparkling eyes. She tried several times to wake Petya that he might eat something, but he only muttered incoherent words without waking up. Natasha felt so lighthearted and happy in these novel surroundings that she only feared the trap would come for her too soon. After a casual pause, such as often occurs when receiving friends for the first time in one's own house, "Uncle," answering a thought that was in his visitors' minds, said:
"This, you see, is how I am finishing my days... Death will come. That's it, come on! Nothing will remain. Then why harm anyone?"
"Uncle's" face was very significant and even handsome as he said this. Involuntarily Rostov recalled all the good he had heard about him from his father and the neighbors. Throughout the whole province "Uncle" had the reputation of being the most honorable and disinterested of cranks. They called him in to decide family disputes, chose him as executor, confided secrets to him, elected him to be a justice and to other posts; but he always persistently refused public appointments, passing the autumn and spring in the fields on his bay gelding, sitting at home in winter, and lying in his overgrown garden in summer.
"Why don't you enter the service, Uncle?"
"I did once, but gave it up. I am not fit for it. That's it, come on! I can't make head or tail of it. That's for you—I haven't brains enough. Now, hunting is another matter—that's it, come on! Open the door, there!" he shouted. "Why have you shut it?"
The door at the end of the passage led to the huntsmen's room, as they called the room for the hunt servants.
There was a rapid patter of bare feet, and an unseen hand opened the door into the huntsmen's room, from which came the clear sounds of a balalayka on which someone, who was evidently a master of the art, was playing. Natasha had been listening to those strains for some time and now went out into the passage to hear better.
"That's Mitka, my coachman.... I have got him a good balalayka. I'm fond of it," said "Uncle."
It was the custom for Mitka to play the balalayka in the huntsmen's room when "Uncle" returned from the chase. "Uncle" was fond of such music.
"How good! Really very good!" said Nicholas with some unintentional superciliousness, as if ashamed to confess that the sounds pleased him very much.
"Very good?" said Natasha reproachfully, noticing her brother's tone. "Not 'very good' it's simply delicious!"
Just as "Uncle's" pickled mushrooms, honey, and cherry brandy had seemed to her the best in the world, so also that song, at that moment, seemed to her the acme of musical delight.
"More, please, more!" cried Natasha at the door as soon as the balalayka ceased. Mitka tuned up afresh, and recommenced thrumming the balalayka to the air of My Lady, with trills and variations. "Uncle" sat listening, slightly smiling, with his head on one side. The air was repeated a hundred times. The balalayka was retuned several times and the same notes were thrummed again, but the listeners did not grow weary of it and wished to hear it again and again. Anisya Fedorovna came in and leaned her portly person against the doorpost.
"You like listening?" she said to Natasha, with a smile extremely like "Uncle's." "That's a good player of ours," she added.
"He doesn't play that part right!" said "Uncle" suddenly, with an energetic gesture. "Here he ought to burst out—that's it, come on!—ought to burst out."
"Do you play then?" asked Natasha.
"Uncle" did not answer, but smiled.
"Anisya, go and see if the strings of my guitar are all right. I haven't touched it for a long time. That's it—come on! I've given it up."
Anisya Fedorovna, with her light step, willingly went to fulfill her errand and brought back the guitar.
Without looking at anyone, "Uncle" blew the dust off it and, tapping the case with his bony fingers, tuned the guitar and settled himself in his armchair. He took the guitar a little above the fingerboard, arching his left elbow with a somewhat theatrical gesture, and, with a wink at Anisya Fedorovna, struck a single chord, pure and sonorous, and then quietly, smoothly, and confidently began playing in very slow time, not My Lady, but the well-known song: Came a maiden down the street. The tune, played with precision and in exact time, began to thrill in the hearts of Nicholas and Natasha, arousing in them the same kind of sober mirth as radiated from Anisya Fedorovna's whole being. Anisya Fedorovna flushed, and drawing her kerchief over her face went laughing out of the room. "Uncle" continued to play correctly, carefully, with energetic firmness, looking with a changed and inspired expression at the spot where Anisya Fedorovna had just stood. Something seemed to be laughing a little on one side of his face under his gray mustaches, especially as the song grew brisker and the time quicker and when, here and there, as he ran his fingers over the strings, something seemed to snap.
"Lovely, lovely! Go on, Uncle, go on!" shouted Natasha as soon as he had finished. She jumped up and hugged and kissed him. "Nicholas, Nicholas!" she said, turning to her brother, as if asking him: "What is it moves me so?"
Nicholas too was greatly pleased by "Uncle's" playing, and "Uncle" played the piece over again. Anisya Fedorovna's smiling face reappeared in the doorway and behind hers other faces...
Fetching water clear and sweet,
Stop, dear maiden, I entreat—
played "Uncle" once more, running his fingers skillfully over the strings, and then he stopped short and jerked his shoulders.
"Go on, Uncle dear," Natasha wailed in an imploring tone as if her life depended on it.
"Uncle" rose, and it was as if there were two men in him: one of them smiled seriously at the merry fellow, while the merry fellow struck a naive and precise attitude preparatory to a folk dance.
"Now then, niece!" he exclaimed, waving to Natasha the hand that had just struck a chord.
Natasha threw off the shawl from her shoulders, ran forward to face "Uncle," and setting her arms akimbo also made a motion with her shoulders and struck an attitude.
Where, how, and when had this young countess, educated by an emigree French governess, imbibed from the Russian air she breathed that spirit and obtained that manner which the pas de chale * would, one would have supposed, long ago have effaced? But the spirit and the movements were those inimitable and unteachable Russian ones that "Uncle" had expected of her. As soon as she had struck her pose, and smiled triumphantly, proudly, and with sly merriment, the fear that had at first seized Nicholas and the others that she might not do the right thing was at an end, and they were already admiring her.
* The French shawl dance.
She did the right thing with such precision, such complete precision, that Anisya Fedorovna, who had at once handed her the handkerchief she needed for the dance, had tears in her eyes, though she laughed as she watched this slim, graceful countess, reared in silks and velvets and so different from herself, who yet was able to understand all that was in Anisya and in Anisya's father and mother and aunt, and in every Russian man and woman.
"Well, little countess; that's it—come on!" cried "Uncle," with a joyous laugh, having finished the dance. "Well done, niece! Now a fine young fellow must be found as husband for you. That's it—come on!"
"He's chosen already," said Nicholas smiling.
"Oh?" said "Uncle" in surprise, looking inquiringly at Natasha, who nodded her head with a happy smile.
"And such a one!" she said. But as soon as she had said it a new train of thoughts and feelings arose in her. "What did Nicholas' smile mean when he said 'chosen already'? Is he glad of it or not? It is as if he thought my Bolkonski would not approve of or understand our gaiety. But he would understand it all. Where is he now?" she thought, and her face suddenly became serious. But this lasted only a second. "Don't dare to think about it," she said to herself, and sat down again smilingly beside "Uncle," begging him to play something more.
"Uncle" played another song and a valse; then after a pause he cleared his throat and sang his favorite hunting song:
As 'twas growing dark last night
Fell the snow so soft and light...
"Uncle" sang as peasants sing, with full and naive conviction that the whole meaning of a song lies in the words and that the tune comes of itself, and that apart from the words there is no tune, which exists only to give measure to the words. As a result of this the unconsidered tune, like the song of a bird, was extraordinarily good. Natasha was in ecstasies over "Uncle's" singing. She resolved to give up learning the harp and to play only the guitar. She asked "Uncle" for his guitar and at once found the chords of the song.
After nine o'clock two traps and three mounted men, who had been sent to look for them, arrived to fetch Natasha and Petya. The count and countess did not know where they were and were very anxious, said one of the men.
Petya was carried out like a log and laid in the larger of the two traps. Natasha and Nicholas got into the other. "Uncle" wrapped Natasha up warmly and took leave of her with quite a new tenderness. He accompanied them on foot as far as the bridge that could not be crossed, so that they had to go round by the ford, and he sent huntsmen to ride in front with lanterns.
"Good-bye, dear niece," his voice called out of the darkness—not the voice Natasha had known previously, but the one that had sung As 'twas growing dark last night.
In the village through which they passed there were red lights and a cheerful smell of smoke.
"What a darling Uncle is!" said Natasha, when they had come out onto the highroad.
"Yes," returned Nicholas. "You're not cold?"
"No. I'm quite, quite all right. I feel so comfortable!" answered Natasha, almost perplexed by her feelings. They remained silent a long while. The night was dark and damp. They could not see the horses, but only heard them splashing through the unseen mud.
What was passing in that receptive childlike soul that so eagerly caught and assimilated all the diverse impressions of life? How did they all find place in her? But she was very happy. As they were nearing home she suddenly struck up the air of As 'twas growing dark last night—the tune of which she had all the way been trying to get and had at last caught.
"Got it?" said Nicholas.
"What were you thinking about just now, Nicholas?" inquired Natasha.
They were fond of asking one another that question.
"I?" said Nicholas, trying to remember. "Well, you see, first I thought that Rugay, the red hound, was like Uncle, and that if he were a man he would always keep Uncle near him, if not for his riding, then for his manner. What a good fellow Uncle is! Don't you think so?... Well, and you?"
"I? Wait a bit, wait.... Yes, first I thought that we are driving along and imagining that we are going home, but that heaven knows where we are really going in the darkness, and that we shall arrive and suddenly find that we are not in Otradnoe, but in Fairyland. And then I thought... No, nothing else."
"I know, I expect you thought of him," said Nicholas, smiling as Natasha knew by the sound of his voice.
"No," said Natasha, though she had in reality been thinking about Prince Andrew at the same time as of the rest, and of how he would have liked "Uncle." "And then I was saying to myself all the way, 'How well Anisya carried herself, how well!'" And Nicholas heard her spontaneous, happy, ringing laughter. "And do you know," she suddenly said, "I know that I shall never again be as happy and tranquil as I am now."
"Rubbish, nonsense, humbug!" exclaimed Nicholas, and he thought: "How charming this Natasha of mine is! I have no other friend like her and never shall have. Why should she marry? We might always drive about together!"
"What a darling this Nicholas of mine is!" thought Natasha.
"Ah, there are still lights in the drawing-room!" she said, pointing to the windows of the house that gleamed invitingly in the moist velvety darkness of the night.
Count Ilya Rostov had resigned the position of Marshal of the Nobility because it involved him in too much expense, but still his affairs did not improve. Natasha and Nicholas often noticed their parents conferring together anxiously and privately and heard suggestions of selling the fine ancestral Rostov house and estate near Moscow. It was not necessary to entertain so freely as when the count had been Marshal, and life at Otradnoe was quieter than in former years, but still the enormous house and its lodges were full of people and more than twenty sat down to table every day. These were all their own people who had settled down in the house almost as members of the family, or persons who were, it seemed, obliged to live in the count's house. Such were Dimmler the musician and his wife, Vogel the dancing master and his family, Belova, an old maiden lady, an inmate of the house, and many others such as Petya's tutors, the girls' former governess, and other people who simply found it preferable and more advantageous to live in the count's house than at home. They had not as many visitors as before, but the old habits of life without which the count and countess could not conceive of existence remained unchanged. There was still the hunting establishment which Nicholas had even enlarged, the same fifty horses and fifteen grooms in the stables, the same expensive presents and dinner parties to the whole district on name days; there were still the count's games of whist and boston, at which—spreading out his cards so that everybody could see them—he let himself be plundered of hundreds of rubles every day by his neighbors, who looked upon an opportunity to play a rubber with Count Rostov as a most profitable source of income.
The count moved in his affairs as in a huge net, trying not to believe that he was entangled but becoming more and more so at every step, and feeling too feeble to break the meshes or to set to work carefully and patiently to disentangle them. The countess, with her loving heart, felt that her children were being ruined, that it was not the count's fault for he could not help being what he was—that (though he tried to hide it) he himself suffered from the consciousness of his own and his children's ruin, and she tried to find means of remedying the position. From her feminine point of view she could see only one solution, namely, for Nicholas to marry a rich heiress. She felt this to be their last hope and that if Nicholas refused the match she had found for him, she would have to abandon the hope of ever getting matters right. This match was with Julie Karagina, the daughter of excellent and virtuous parents, a girl the Rostovs had known from childhood, and who had now become a wealthy heiress through the death of the last of her brothers.
The countess had written direct to Julie's mother in Moscow suggesting a marriage between their children and had received a favorable answer from her. Karagina had replied that for her part she was agreeable, and everything depend on her daughter's inclination. She invited Nicholas to come to Moscow.
Several times the countess, with tears in her eyes, told her son that now both her daughters were settled, her only wish was to see him married. She said she could lie down in her grave peacefully if that were accomplished. Then she told him that she knew of a splendid girl and tried to discover what he thought about marriage.
At other times she praised Julie to him and advised him to go to Moscow during the holidays to amuse himself. Nicholas guessed what his mother's remarks were leading to and during one of these conversations induced her to speak quite frankly. She told him that her only hope of getting their affairs disentangled now lay in his marrying Julie Karagina.
"But, Mamma, suppose I loved a girl who has no fortune, would you expect me to sacrifice my feelings and my honor for the sake of money?" he asked his mother, not realizing the cruelty of his question and only wishing to show his noble-mindedness.
"No, you have not understood me," said his mother, not knowing how to justify herself. "You have not understood me, Nikolenka. It is your happiness I wish for," she added, feeling that she was telling an untruth and was becoming entangled. She began to cry.
"Mamma, don't cry! Only tell me that you wish it, and you know I will give my life, anything, to put you at ease," said Nicholas. "I would sacrifice anything for you—even my feelings."
But the countess did not want the question put like that: she did not want a sacrifice from her son, she herself wished to make a sacrifice for him.
"No, you have not understood me, don't let us talk about it," she replied, wiping away her tears.
"Maybe I do love a poor girl," said Nicholas to himself. "Am I to sacrifice my feelings and my honor for money? I wonder how Mamma could speak so to me. Because Sonya is poor I must not love her," he thought, "must not respond to her faithful, devoted love? Yet I should certainly be happier with her than with some doll-like Julie. I can always sacrifice my feelings for my family's welfare," he said to himself, "but I can't coerce my feelings. If I love Sonya, that feeling is for me stronger and higher than all else."
Nicholas did not go to Moscow, and the countess did not renew the conversation with him about marriage. She saw with sorrow, and sometimes with exasperation, symptoms of a growing attachment between her son and the portionless Sonya. Though she blamed herself for it, she could not refrain from grumbling at and worrying Sonya, often pulling her up without reason, addressing her stiffly as "my dear," and using the formal "you" instead of the intimate "thou" in speaking to her. The kindhearted countess was the more vexed with Sonya because that poor, dark-eyed niece of hers was so meek, so kind, so devotedly grateful to her benefactors, and so faithfully, unchangingly, and unselfishly in love with Nicholas, that there were no grounds for finding fault with her.
Nicholas was spending the last of his leave at home. A fourth letter had come from Prince Andrew, from Rome, in which he wrote that he would have been on his way back to Russia long ago had not his wound unexpectedly reopened in the warm climate, which obliged him to defer his return till the beginning of the new year. Natasha was still as much in love with her betrothed, found the same comfort in that love, and was still as ready to throw herself into all the pleasures of life as before; but at the end of the fourth month of their separation she began to have fits of depression which she could not master. She felt sorry for herself: sorry that she was being wasted all this time and of no use to anyone—while she felt herself so capable of loving and being loved.
Things were not cheerful in the Rostovs' home.
Christmas came and except for the ceremonial Mass, the solemn and wearisome Christmas congratulations from neighbors and servants, and the new dresses everyone put on, there were no special festivities, though the calm frost of twenty degrees Reaumur, the dazzling sunshine by day, and the starlight of the winter nights seemed to call for some special celebration of the season.
On the third day of Christmas week, after the midday dinner, all the inmates of the house dispersed to various rooms. It was the dullest time of the day. Nicholas, who had been visiting some neighbors that morning, was asleep on the sitting-room sofa. The old count was resting in his study. Sonya sat in the drawing room at the round table, copying a design for embroidery. The countess was playing patience. Nastasya Ivanovna the buffoon sat with a sad face at the window with two old ladies. Natasha came into the room, went up to Sonya, glanced at what she was doing, and then went up to her mother and stood without speaking.
"Why are you wandering about like an outcast?" asked her mother. "What do you want?"
"Him... I want him... now, this minute! I want him!" said Natasha, with glittering eyes and no sign of a smile.
The countess lifted her head and looked attentively at her daughter.
"Don't look at me, Mamma! Don't look; I shall cry directly."
"Sit down with me a little," said the countess.
"Mamma, I want him. Why should I be wasted like this, Mamma?"
Her voice broke, tears gushed from her eyes, and she turned quickly to hide them and left the room.
She passed into the sitting room, stood there thinking awhile, and then went into the maids' room. There an old maidservant was grumbling at a young girl who stood panting, having just run in through the cold from the serfs' quarters.
"Stop playing—there's a time for everything," said the old woman.
"Let her alone, Kondratevna," said Natasha. "Go, Mavrushka, go."
Having released Mavrushka, Natasha crossed the dancing hall and went to the vestibule. There an old footman and two young ones were playing cards. They broke off and rose as she entered.
"What can I do with them?" thought Natasha.
"Oh, Nikita, please go... where can I send him?... Yes, go to the yard and fetch a fowl, please, a cock, and you, Misha, bring me some oats."
"Just a few oats?" said Misha, cheerfully and readily.
"Go, go quickly," the old man urged him.
"And you, Theodore, get me a piece of chalk."
On her way past the butler's pantry she told them to set a samovar, though it was not at all the time for tea.
Foka, the butler, was the most ill-tempered person in the house. Natasha liked to test her power over him. He distrusted the order and asked whether the samovar was really wanted.
"Oh dear, what a young lady!" said Foka, pretending to frown at Natasha.
No one in the house sent people about or gave them as much trouble as Natasha did. She could not see people unconcernedly, but had to send them on some errand. She seemed to be trying whether any of them would get angry or sulky with her; but the serfs fulfilled no one's orders so readily as they did hers. "What can I do, where can I go?" thought she, as she went slowly along the passage.
"Nastasya Ivanovna, what sort of children shall I have?" she asked the buffoon, who was coming toward her in a woman's jacket.
"Why, fleas, crickets, grasshoppers," answered the buffoon.
"O Lord, O Lord, it's always the same! Oh, where am I to go? What am I to do with myself?" And tapping with her heels, she ran quickly upstairs to see Vogel and his wife who lived on the upper story.
Two governesses were sitting with the Vogels at a table, on which were plates of raisins, walnuts, and almonds. The governesses were discussing whether it was cheaper to live in Moscow or Odessa. Natasha sat down, listened to their talk with a serious and thoughtful air, and then got up again.
"The island of Madagascar," she said, "Ma-da-gas-car," she repeated, articulating each syllable distinctly, and, not replying to Madame Schoss who asked her what she was saying, she went out of the room.
Her brother Petya was upstairs too; with the man in attendance on him he was preparing fireworks to let off that night.
"Petya! Petya!" she called to him. "Carry me downstairs."
Petya ran up and offered her his back. She jumped on it, putting her arms round his neck, and he pranced along with her.
"No, don't... the island of Madagascar!" she said, and jumping off his back she went downstairs.
Having as it were reviewed her kingdom, tested her power, and made sure that everyone was submissive, but that all the same it was dull, Natasha betook herself to the ballroom, picked up her guitar, sat down in a dark corner behind a bookcase, and began to run her fingers over the strings in the bass, picking out a passage she recalled from an opera she had heard in Petersburg with Prince Andrew. What she drew from the guitar would have had no meaning for other listeners, but in her imagination a whole series of reminiscences arose from those sounds. She sat behind the bookcase with her eyes fixed on a streak of light escaping from the pantry door and listened to herself and pondered. She was in a mood for brooding on the past.
Sonya passed to the pantry with a glass in her hand. Natasha glanced at her and at the crack in the pantry door, and it seemed to her that she remembered the light falling through that crack once before and Sonya passing with a glass in her hand. "Yes it was exactly the same," thought Natasha.
"Sonya, what is this?" she cried, twanging a thick string.
"Oh, you are there!" said Sonya with a start, and came near and listened. "I don't know. A storm?" she ventured timidly, afraid of being wrong.
"There! That's just how she started and just how she came up smiling timidly when all this happened before," thought Natasha, "and in just the same way I thought there was something lacking in her."
"No, it's the chorus from The Water-Carrier, listen!" and Natasha sang the air of the chorus so that Sonya should catch it. "Where were you going?" she asked.
"To change the water in this glass. I am just finishing the design."
"You always find something to do, but I can't," said Natasha. "And where's Nicholas?"
"Asleep, I think."
"Sonya, go and wake him," said Natasha. "Tell him I want him to come and sing."
She sat awhile, wondering what the meaning of it all having happened before could be, and without solving this problem, or at all regretting not having done so, she again passed in fancy to the time when she was with him and he was looking at her with a lover's eyes.
"Oh, if only he would come quicker! I am so afraid it will never be! And, worst of all, I am growing old—that's the thing! There won't then be in me what there is now. But perhaps he'll come today, will come immediately. Perhaps he has come and is sitting in the drawing room. Perhaps he came yesterday and I have forgotten it." She rose, put down the guitar, and went to the drawing room.
All the domestic circle, tutors, governesses, and guests, were already at the tea table. The servants stood round the table—but Prince Andrew was not there and life was going on as before.
"Ah, here she is!" said the old count, when he saw Natasha enter. "Well, sit down by me." But Natasha stayed by her mother and glanced round as if looking for something.
"Mamma!" she muttered, "give him to me, give him, Mamma, quickly, quickly!" and she again had difficulty in repressing her sobs.
She sat down at the table and listened to the conversation between the elders and Nicholas, who had also come to the table. "My God, my God! The same faces, the same talk, Papa holding his cup and blowing in the same way!" thought Natasha, feeling with horror a sense of repulsion rising up in her for the whole household, because they were always the same.
After tea, Nicholas, Sonya, and Natasha went to the sitting room, to their favorite corner where their most intimate talks always began.
"Does it ever happen to you," said Natasha to her brother, when they settled down in the sitting room, "does it ever happen to you to feel as if there were nothing more to come—nothing; that everything good is past? And to feel not exactly dull, but sad?"
"I should think so!" he replied. "I have felt like that when everything was all right and everyone was cheerful. The thought has come into my mind that I was already tired of it all, and that we must all die. Once in the regiment I had not gone to some merrymaking where there was music... and suddenly I felt so depressed..."
"Oh yes, I know, I know, I know!" Natasha interrupted him. "When I was quite little that used to be so with me. Do you remember when I was punished once about some plums? You were all dancing, and I sat sobbing in the schoolroom? I shall never forget it: I felt sad and sorry for everyone, for myself, and for everyone. And I was innocent—that was the chief thing," said Natasha. "Do you remember?"
"I remember," answered Nicholas. "I remember that I came to you afterwards and wanted to comfort you, but do you know, I felt ashamed to. We were terribly absurd. I had a funny doll then and wanted to give it to you. Do you remember?"
"And do you remember," Natasha asked with a pensive smile, "how once, long, long ago, when we were quite little, Uncle called us into the study—that was in the old house—and it was dark—we went in and suddenly there stood..."
"A Negro," chimed in Nicholas with a smile of delight. "Of course I remember. Even now I don't know whether there really was a Negro, or if we only dreamed it or were told about him."
"He was gray, you remember, and had white teeth, and stood and looked at us..."
"Sonya, do you remember?" asked Nicholas.
"Yes, yes, I do remember something too," Sonya answered timidly.
"You know I have asked Papa and Mamma about that Negro," said Natasha, "and they say there was no Negro at all. But you see, you remember!"
"Of course I do, I remember his teeth as if I had just seen them."
"How strange it is! It's as if it were a dream! I like that."
"And do you remember how we rolled hard-boiled eggs in the ballroom, and suddenly two old women began spinning round on the carpet? Was that real or not? Do you remember what fun it was?"
"Yes, and you remember how Papa in his blue overcoat fired a gun in the porch?"
So they went through their memories, smiling with pleasure: not the sad memories of old age, but poetic, youthful ones—those impressions of one's most distant past in which dreams and realities blend—and they laughed with quiet enjoyment.
Sonya, as always, did not quite keep pace with them, though they shared the same reminiscences.
Much that they remembered had slipped from her mind, and what she recalled did not arouse the same poetic feeling as they experienced. She simply enjoyed their pleasure and tried to fit in with it.
She only really took part when they recalled Sonya's first arrival. She told them how afraid she had been of Nicholas because he had on a corded jacket and her nurse had told her that she, too, would be sewn up with cords.
"And I remember their telling me that you had been born under a cabbage," said Natasha, "and I remember that I dared not disbelieve it then, but knew that it was not true, and I felt so uncomfortable."
While they were talking a maid thrust her head in at the other door of the sitting room.
"They have brought the cock, Miss," she said in a whisper.
"It isn't wanted, Petya. Tell them to take it away," replied Natasha.
In the middle of their talk in the sitting room, Dimmler came in and went up to the harp that stood there in a corner. He took off its cloth covering, and the harp gave out a jarring sound.
"Mr. Dimmler, please play my favorite nocturne by Field," came the old countess' voice from the drawing room.
Dimmler struck a chord and, turning to Natasha, Nicholas, and Sonya, remarked: "How quiet you young people are!"
"Yes, we're philosophizing," said Natasha, glancing round for a moment and then continuing the conversation. They were now discussing dreams.
Dimmler began to play; Natasha went on tiptoe noiselessly to the table, took up a candle, carried it out, and returned, seating herself quietly in her former place. It was dark in the room especially where they were sitting on the sofa, but through the big windows the silvery light of the full moon fell on the floor. Dimmler had finished the piece but still sat softly running his fingers over the strings, evidently uncertain whether to stop or to play something else.
"Do you know," said Natasha in a whisper, moving closer to Nicholas and Sonya, "that when one goes on and on recalling memories, one at last begins to remember what happened before one was in the world..."
"That is metempsychosis," said Sonya, who had always learned well, and remembered everything. "The Egyptians believed that our souls have lived in animals, and will go back into animals again."
"No, I don't believe we ever were in animals," said Natasha, still in a whisper though the music had ceased. "But I am certain that we were angels somewhere there, and have been here, and that is why we remember...."
"May I join you?" said Dimmler who had come up quietly, and he sat down by them.
"If we have been angels, why have we fallen lower?" said Nicholas. "No, that can't be!"
"Not lower, who said we were lower?... How do I know what I was before?" Natasha rejoined with conviction. "The soul is immortal—well then, if I shall always live I must have lived before, lived for a whole eternity."
"Yes, but it is hard for us to imagine eternity," remarked Dimmler, who had joined the young folk with a mildly condescending smile but now spoke as quietly and seriously as they.
"Why is it hard to imagine eternity?" said Natasha. "It is now today, and it will be tomorrow, and always; and there was yesterday, and the day before..."
"Natasha! Now it's your turn. Sing me something," they heard the countess say. "Why are you sitting there like conspirators?"
"Mamma, I don't at all want to," replied Natasha, but all the same she rose.
None of them, not even the middle-aged Dimmler, wanted to break off their conversation and quit that corner in the sitting room, but Natasha got up and Nicholas sat down at the clavichord. Standing as usual in the middle of the hall and choosing the place where the resonance was best, Natasha began to sing her mother's favorite song.
She had said she did not want to sing, but it was long since she had sung, and long before she again sang, as she did that evening. The count, from his study where he was talking to Mitenka, heard her and, like a schoolboy in a hurry to run out to play, blundered in his talk while giving orders to the steward, and at last stopped, while Mitenka stood in front of him also listening and smiling. Nicholas did not take his eyes off his sister and drew breath in time with her. Sonya, as she listened, thought of the immense difference there was between herself and her friend, and how impossible it was for her to be anything like as bewitching as her cousin. The old countess sat with a blissful yet sad smile and with tears in her eyes, occasionally shaking her head. She thought of Natasha and of her own youth, and of how there was something unnatural and dreadful in this impending marriage of Natasha and Prince Andrew.
Dimmler, who had seated himself beside the countess, listened with closed eyes.
"Ah, Countess," he said at last, "that's a European talent, she has nothing to learn—what softness, tenderness, and strength...."
"Ah, how afraid I am for her, how afraid I am!" said the countess, not realizing to whom she was speaking. Her maternal instinct told her that Natasha had too much of something, and that because of this she would not be happy. Before Natasha had finished singing, fourteen-year-old Petya rushed in delightedly, to say that some mummers had arrived.
Natasha stopped abruptly.
"Idiot!" she screamed at her brother and, running to a chair, threw herself on it, sobbing so violently that she could not stop for a long time.
"It's nothing, Mamma, really it's nothing; only Petya startled me," she said, trying to smile, but her tears still flowed and sobs still choked her.
The mummers (some of the house serfs) dressed up as bears, Turks, innkeepers, and ladies—frightening and funny—bringing in with them the cold from outside and a feeling of gaiety, crowded, at first timidly, into the anteroom, then hiding behind one another they pushed into the ballroom where, shyly at first and then more and more merrily and heartily, they started singing, dancing, and playing Christmas games. The countess, when she had identified them and laughed at their costumes, went into the drawing room. The count sat in the ballroom, smiling radiantly and applauding the players. The young people had disappeared.
Half an hour later there appeared among the other mummers in the ballroom an old lady in a hooped skirt—this was Nicholas. A Turkish girl was Petya. A clown was Dimmler. An hussar was Natasha, and a Circassian was Sonya with burnt-cork mustache and eyebrows.
After the condescending surprise, nonrecognition, and praise, from those who were not themselves dressed up, the young people decided that their costumes were so good that they ought to be shown elsewhere.
Nicholas, who, as the roads were in splendid condition, wanted to take them all for a drive in his troyka, proposed to take with them about a dozen of the serf mummers and drive to "Uncle's."
"No, why disturb the old fellow?" said the countess. "Besides, you wouldn't have room to turn round there. If you must go, go to the Melyukovs'."
Melyukova was a widow, who, with her family and their tutors and governesses, lived three miles from the Rostovs.
"That's right, my dear," chimed in the old count, thoroughly aroused. "I'll dress up at once and go with them. I'll make Pashette open her eyes."
But the countess would not agree to his going; he had had a bad leg all these last days. It was decided that the count must not go, but that if Louisa Ivanovna (Madame Schoss) would go with them, the young ladies might go to the Melyukovs', Sonya, generally so timid and shy, more urgently than anyone begging Louisa Ivanovna not to refuse.
Sonya's costume was the best of all. Her mustache and eyebrows were extraordinarily becoming. Everyone told her she looked very handsome, and she was in a spirited and energetic mood unusual with her. Some inner voice told her that now or never her fate would be decided, and in her male attire she seemed quite a different person. Louisa Ivanovna consented to go, and in half an hour four troyka sleighs with large and small bells, their runners squeaking and whistling over the frozen snow, drove up to the porch.
Natasha was foremost in setting a merry holiday tone, which, passing from one to another, grew stronger and reached its climax when they all came out into the frost and got into the sleighs, talking, calling to one another, laughing, and shouting.
Two of the troykas were the usual household sleighs, the third was the old count's with a trotter from the Orlov stud as shaft horse, the fourth was Nicholas' own with a short shaggy black shaft horse. Nicholas, in his old lady's dress over which he had belted his hussar overcoat, stood in the middle of the sleigh, reins in hand.
It was so light that he could see the moonlight reflected from the metal harness disks and from the eyes of the horses, who looked round in alarm at the noisy party under the shadow of the porch roof.
Natasha, Sonya, Madame Schoss, and two maids got into Nicholas' sleigh; Dimmler, his wife, and Petya, into the old count's, and the rest of the mummers seated themselves in the other two sleighs.
"You go ahead, Zakhar!" shouted Nicholas to his father's coachman, wishing for a chance to race past him.
The old count's troyka, with Dimmler and his party, started forward, squeaking on its runners as though freezing to the snow, its deep-toned bell clanging. The side horses, pressing against the shafts of the middle horse, sank in the snow, which was dry and glittered like sugar, and threw it up.
Nicholas set off, following the first sleigh; behind him the others moved noisily, their runners squeaking. At first they drove at a steady trot along the narrow road. While they drove past the garden the shadows of the bare trees often fell across the road and hid the brilliant moonlight, but as soon as they were past the fence, the snowy plain bathed in moonlight and motionless spread out before them glittering like diamonds and dappled with bluish shadows. Bang, bang! went the first sleigh over a cradle hole in the snow of the road, and each of the other sleighs jolted in the same way, and rudely breaking the frost-bound stillness, the troykas began to speed along the road, one after the other.
"A hare's track, a lot of tracks!" rang out Natasha's voice through the frost-bound air.
"How light it is, Nicholas!" came Sonya's voice.
Nicholas glanced round at Sonya, and bent down to see her face closer. Quite a new, sweet face with black eyebrows and mustaches peeped up at him from her sable furs—so close and yet so distant—in the moonlight.
"That used to be Sonya," thought he, and looked at her closer and smiled.
"What is it, Nicholas?"
"Nothing," said he and turned again to the horses.
When they came out onto the beaten highroad—polished by sleigh runners and cut up by rough-shod hoofs, the marks of which were visible in the moonlight—the horses began to tug at the reins of their own accord and increased their pace. The near side horse, arching his head and breaking into a short canter, tugged at his traces. The shaft horse swayed from side to side, moving his ears as if asking: "Isn't it time to begin now?" In front, already far ahead the deep bell of the sleigh ringing farther and farther off, the black horses driven by Zakhar could be clearly seen against the white snow. From that sleigh one could hear the shouts, laughter, and voices of the mummers.
"Gee up, my darlings!" shouted Nicholas, pulling the reins to one side and flourishing the whip.
It was only by the keener wind that met them and the jerks given by the side horses who pulled harder—ever increasing their gallop—that one noticed how fast the troyka was flying. Nicholas looked back. With screams squeals, and waving of whips that caused even the shaft horses to gallop—the other sleighs followed. The shaft horse swung steadily beneath the bow over its head, with no thought of slackening pace and ready to put on speed when required.
Nicholas overtook the first sleigh. They were driving downhill and coming out upon a broad trodden track across a meadow, near a river.
"Where are we?" thought he. "It's the Kosoy meadow, I suppose. But no—this is something new I've never seen before. This isn't the Kosoy meadow nor the Demkin hill, and heaven only knows what it is! It is something new and enchanted. Well, whatever it may be..." And shouting to his horses, he began to pass the first sleigh.
Zakhar held back his horses and turned his face, which was already covered with hoarfrost to his eyebrows.
Nicholas gave the horses the rein, and Zakhar, stretching out his arms, clucked his tongue and let his horses go.
"Now, look out, master!" he cried.
Faster still the two troykas flew side by side, and faster moved the feet of the galloping side horses. Nicholas began to draw ahead. Zakhar, while still keeping his arms extended, raised one hand with the reins.
"No you won't, master!" he shouted.
Nicholas put all his horses to a gallop and passed Zakhar. The horses showered the fine dry snow on the faces of those in the sleigh—beside them sounded quick ringing bells and they caught confused glimpses of swiftly moving legs and the shadows of the troyka they were passing. The whistling sound of the runners on the snow and the voices of girls shrieking were heard from different sides.
Again checking his horses, Nicholas looked around him. They were still surrounded by the magic plain bathed in moonlight and spangled with stars.
"Zakhar is shouting that I should turn to the left, but why to the left?" thought Nicholas. "Are we getting to the Melyukovs'? Is this Melyukovka? Heaven only knows where we are going, and heaven knows what is happening to us—but it is very strange and pleasant whatever it is." And he looked round in the sleigh.
"Look, his mustache and eyelashes are all white!" said one of the strange, pretty, unfamiliar people—the one with fine eyebrows and mustache.
"I think this used to be Natasha," thought Nicholas, "and that was Madame Schoss, but perhaps it's not, and this Circassian with the mustache I don't know, but I love her."
"Aren't you cold?" he asked.
They did not answer but began to laugh. Dimmler from the sleigh behind shouted something—probably something funny—but they could not make out what he said.
"Yes, yes!" some voices answered, laughing.
"But here was a fairy forest with black moving shadows, and a glitter of diamonds and a flight of marble steps and the silver roofs of fairy buildings and the shrill yells of some animals. And if this is really Melyukovka, it is still stranger that we drove heaven knows where and have come to Melyukovka," thought Nicholas.
It really was Melyukovka, and maids and footmen with merry faces came running, out to the porch carrying candles.
"Who is it?" asked someone in the porch.
"The mummers from the count's. I know by the horses," replied some voices.
Pelageya Danilovna Melyukova, a broadly built, energetic woman wearing spectacles, sat in the drawing room in a loose dress, surrounded by her daughters whom she was trying to keep from feeling dull. They were quietly dropping melted wax into snow and looking at the shadows the wax figures would throw on the wall, when they heard the steps and voices of new arrivals in the vestibule.
Hussars, ladies, witches, clowns, and bears, after clearing their throats and wiping the hoarfrost from their faces in the vestibule, came into the ballroom where candles were hurriedly lighted. The clown—Dimmler—and the lady—Nicholas—started a dance. Surrounded by the screaming children the mummers, covering their faces and disguising their voices, bowed to their hostess and arranged themselves about the room.
"Dear me! there's no recognizing them! And Natasha! See whom she looks like! She really reminds me of somebody. But Herr Dimmler—isn't he good! I didn't know him! And how he dances. Dear me, there's a Circassian. Really, how becoming it is to dear Sonya. And who is that? Well, you have cheered us up! Nikita and Vanya—clear away the tables! And we were sitting so quietly. Ha, ha, ha!... The hussar, the hussar! Just like a boy! And the legs!... I can't look at him..." different voices were saying.
Natasha, the young Melyukovs' favorite, disappeared with them into the back rooms where a cork and various dressing gowns and male garments were called for and received from the footman by bare girlish arms from behind the door. Ten minutes later, all the young Melyukovs joined the mummers.
Pelageya Danilovna, having given orders to clear the rooms for the visitors and arranged about refreshments for the gentry and the serfs, went about among the mummers without removing her spectacles, peering into their faces with a suppressed smile and failing to recognize any of them. It was not merely Dimmler and the Rostovs she failed to recognize, she did not even recognize her own daughters, or her late husband's, dressing gowns and uniforms, which they had put on.
"And who is this?" she asked her governess, peering into the face of her own daughter dressed up as a Kazan-Tartar. "I suppose it is one of the Rostovs! Well, Mr. Hussar, and what regiment do you serve in?" she asked Natasha. "Here, hand some fruit jelly to the Turk!" she ordered the butler who was handing things round. "That's not forbidden by his law."
Sometimes, as she looked at the strange but amusing capers cut by the dancers, who—having decided once for all that being disguised, no one would recognize them—were not at all shy, Pelageya Danilovna hid her face in her handkerchief, and her whole stout body shook with irrepressible, kindly, elderly laughter.
"My little Sasha! Look at Sasha!" she said.
After Russian country dances and chorus dances, Pelageya Danilovna made the serfs and gentry join in one large circle: a ring, a string, and a silver ruble were fetched and they all played games together.
In an hour, all the costumes were crumpled and disordered. The corked eyebrows and mustaches were smeared over the perspiring, flushed, and merry faces. Pelageya Danilovna began to recognize the mummers, admired their cleverly contrived costumes, and particularly how they suited the young ladies, and she thanked them all for having entertained her so well. The visitors were invited to supper in the drawing room, and the serfs had something served to them in the ballroom.
"Now to tell one's fortune in the empty bathhouse is frightening!" said an old maid who lived with the Melyukovs, during supper.
"Why?" said the eldest Melyukov girl.
"You wouldn't go, it takes courage..."
"I'll go," said Sonya.
"Tell what happened to the young lady!" said the second Melyukov girl.
"Well," began the old maid, "a young lady once went out, took a cock, laid the table for two, all properly, and sat down. After sitting a while, she suddenly hears someone coming... a sleigh drives up with harness bells; she hears him coming! He comes in, just in the shape of a man, like an officer—comes in and sits down to table with her."
"Ah! ah!" screamed Natasha, rolling her eyes with horror.
"Yes? And how... did he speak?"
"Yes, like a man. Everything quite all right, and he began persuading her; and she should have kept him talking till cockcrow, but she got frightened, just got frightened and hid her face in her hands. Then he caught her up. It was lucky the maids ran in just then..."
"Now, why frighten them?" said Pelageya Danilovna.
"Mamma, you used to try your fate yourself..." said her daughter.
"And how does one do it in a barn?" inquired Sonya.
"Well, say you went to the barn now, and listened. It depends on what you hear; hammering and knocking—that's bad; but a sound of shifting grain is good and one sometimes hears that, too."
"Mamma, tell us what happened to you in the barn."
Pelageya Danilovna smiled.
"Oh, I've forgotten..." she replied. "But none of you would go?"
"Yes, I will; Pelageya Danilovna, let me! I'll go," said Sonya.
"Well, why not, if you're not afraid?"
"Louisa Ivanovna, may I?" asked Sonya.
Whether they were playing the ring and string game or the ruble game or talking as now, Nicholas did not leave Sonya's side, and gazed at her with quite new eyes. It seemed to him that it was only today, thanks to that burnt-cork mustache, that he had fully learned to know her. And really, that evening, Sonya was brighter, more animated, and prettier than Nicholas had ever seen her before.
"So that's what she is like; what a fool I have been!" he thought gazing at her sparkling eyes, and under the mustache a happy rapturous smile dimpled her cheeks, a smile he had never seen before.
"I'm not afraid of anything," said Sonya. "May I go at once?" She got up.
They told her where the barn was and how she should stand and listen, and they handed her a fur cloak. She threw this over her head and shoulders and glanced at Nicholas.
"What a darling that girl is!" thought he. "And what have I been thinking of till now?"
Sonya went out into the passage to go to the barn. Nicholas went hastily to the front porch, saying he felt too hot. The crowd of people really had made the house stuffy.
Outside, there was the same cold stillness and the same moon, but even brighter than before. The light was so strong and the snow sparkled with so many stars that one did not wish to look up at the sky and the real stars were unnoticed. The sky was black and dreary, while the earth was gay.
"I am a fool, a fool! what have I been waiting for?" thought Nicholas, and running out from the porch he went round the corner of the house and along the path that led to the back porch. He knew Sonya would pass that way. Halfway lay some snow-covered piles of firewood and across and along them a network of shadows from the bare old lime trees fell on the snow and on the path. This path led to the barn. The log walls of the barn and its snow-covered roof, that looked as if hewn out of some precious stone, sparkled in the moonlight. A tree in the garden snapped with the frost, and then all was again perfectly silent. His bosom seemed to inhale not air but the strength of eternal youth and gladness.
From the back porch came the sound of feet descending the steps, the bottom step upon which snow had fallen gave a ringing creak and he heard the voice of an old maidservant saying, "Straight, straight, along the path, Miss. Only, don't look back."
"I am not afraid," answered Sonya's voice, and along the path toward Nicholas came the crunching, whistling sound of Sonya's feet in her thin shoes.
Sonya came along, wrapped in her cloak. She was only a couple of paces away when she saw him, and to her too he was not the Nicholas she had known and always slightly feared. He was in a woman's dress, with tousled hair and a happy smile new to Sonya. She ran rapidly toward him.
"Quite different and yet the same," thought Nicholas, looking at her face all lit up by the moonlight. He slipped his arms under the cloak that covered her head, embraced her, pressed her to him, and kissed her on the lips that wore a mustache and had a smell of burnt cork. Sonya kissed him full on the lips, and disengaging her little hands pressed them to his cheeks.
"Sonya!... Nicholas!"... was all they said. They ran to the barn and then back again, re-entering, he by the front and she by the back porch.
When they all drove back from Pelageya Danilovna's, Natasha, who always saw and noticed everything, arranged that she and Madame Schoss should go back in the sleigh with Dimmler, and Sonya with Nicholas and the maids.
On the way back Nicholas drove at a steady pace instead of racing and kept peering by that fantastic all-transforming light into Sonya's face and searching beneath the eyebrows and mustache for his former and his present Sonya from whom he had resolved never to be parted again. He looked and recognizing in her both the old and the new Sonya, and being reminded by the smell of burnt cork of the sensation of her kiss, inhaled the frosty air with a full breast and, looking at the ground flying beneath him and at the sparkling sky, felt himself again in fairyland.
"Sonya, is it well with thee?" he asked from time to time.
"Yes!" she replied. "And with thee?"
When halfway home Nicholas handed the reins to the coachman and ran for a moment to Natasha's sleigh and stood on its wing.
"Natasha!" he whispered in French, "do you know I have made up my mind about Sonya?"
"Have you told her?" asked Natasha, suddenly beaming all over with joy.
"Oh, how strange you are with that mustache and those eyebrows!... Natasha—are you glad?"
"I am so glad, so glad! I was beginning to be vexed with you. I did not tell you, but you have been treating her badly. What a heart she has, Nicholas! I am horrid sometimes, but I was ashamed to be happy while Sonya was not," continued Natasha. "Now I am so glad! Well, run back to her."
"No, wait a bit.... Oh, how funny you look!" cried Nicholas, peering into her face and finding in his sister too something new, unusual, and bewitchingly tender that he had not seen in her before. "Natasha, it's magical, isn't it?"
"Yes," she replied. "You have done splendidly."
"Had I seen her before as she is now," thought Nicholas, "I should long ago have asked her what to do and have done whatever she told me, and all would have been well."
"So you are glad and I have done right?"
"Oh, quite right! I had a quarrel with Mamma some time ago about it. Mamma said she was angling for you. How could she say such a thing! I nearly stormed at Mamma. I will never let anyone say anything bad of Sonya, for there is nothing but good in her."
"Then it's all right?" said Nicholas, again scrutinizing the expression of his sister's face to see if she was in earnest. Then he jumped down and, his boots scrunching the snow, ran back to his sleigh. The same happy, smiling Circassian, with mustache and beaming eyes looking up from under a sable hood, was still sitting there, and that Circassian was Sonya, and that Sonya was certainly his future happy and loving wife.
When they reached home and had told their mother how they had spent the evening at the Melyukovs', the girls went to their bedroom. When they had undressed, but without washing off the cork mustaches, they sat a long time talking of their happiness. They talked of how they would live when they were married, how their husbands would be friends, and how happy they would be. On Natasha's table stood two looking glasses which Dunyasha had prepared beforehand.
"Only when will all that be? I am afraid never.... It would be too good!" said Natasha, rising and going to the looking glasses.
"Sit down, Natasha; perhaps you'll see him," said Sonya.
Natasha lit the candles, one on each side of one of the looking glasses, and sat down.
"I see someone with a mustache," said Natasha, seeing her own face.
"You mustn't laugh, Miss," said Dunyasha.
With Sonya's help and the maid's, Natasha got the glass she held into the right position opposite the other; her face assumed a serious expression and she sat silent. She sat a long time looking at the receding line of candles reflected in the glasses and expecting (from tales she had heard) to see a coffin, or him, Prince Andrew, in that last dim, indistinctly outlined square. But ready as she was to take the smallest speck for the image of a man or of a coffin, she saw nothing. She began blinking rapidly and moved away from the looking glasses.
"Why is it others see things and I don't?" she said. "You sit down now, Sonya. You absolutely must, tonight! Do it for me.... Today I feel so frightened!"
Sonya sat down before the glasses, got the right position, and began looking.
"Now, Miss Sonya is sure to see something," whispered Dunyasha; "while you do nothing but laugh."
Sonya heard this and Natasha's whisper:
"I know she will. She saw something last year."
For about three minutes all were silent.
"Of course she will!" whispered Natasha, but did not finish... suddenly Sonya pushed away the glass she was holding and covered her eyes with her hand.
"Oh, Natasha!" she cried.
"Did you see? Did you? What was it?" exclaimed Natasha, holding up the looking glass.
Sonya had not seen anything, she was just wanting to blink and to get up when she heard Natasha say, "Of course she will!" She did not wish to disappoint either Dunyasha or Natasha, but it was hard to sit still. She did not herself know how or why the exclamation escaped her when she covered her eyes.
"You saw him?" urged Natasha, seizing her hand.
"Yes. Wait a bit... I... saw him," Sonya could not help saying, not yet knowing whom Natasha meant by him, Nicholas or Prince Andrew.
"But why shouldn't I say I saw something? Others do see! Besides who can tell whether I saw anything or not?" flashed through Sonya's mind.
"Yes, I saw him," she said.
"How? Standing or lying?"
"No, I saw... At first there was nothing, then I saw him lying down."
"Andrew lying? Is he ill?" asked Natasha, her frightened eyes fixed on her friend.
"No, on the contrary, on the contrary! His face was cheerful, and he turned to me." And when saying this she herself fancied she had really seen what she described.
"Well, and then, Sonya?..."
"After that, I could not make out what there was; something blue and red..."
"Sonya! When will he come back? When shall I see him! O, God, how afraid I am for him and for myself and about everything!..." Natasha began, and without replying to Sonya's words of comfort she got into bed, and long after her candle was out lay open-eyed and motionless, gazing at the moonlight through the frosty windowpanes.
Soon after the Christmas holidays Nicholas told his mother of his love for Sonya and of his firm resolve to marry her. The countess, who had long noticed what was going on between them and was expecting this declaration, listened to him in silence and then told her son that he might marry whom he pleased, but that neither she nor his father would give their blessing to such a marriage. Nicholas, for the first time, felt that his mother was displeased with him and that, despite her love for him, she would not give way. Coldly, without looking at her son, she sent for her husband and, when he came, tried briefly and coldly to inform him of the facts, in her son's presence, but unable to restrain herself she burst into tears of vexation and left the room. The old count began irresolutely to admonish Nicholas and beg him to abandon his purpose. Nicholas replied that he could not go back on his word, and his father, sighing and evidently disconcerted, very soon became silent and went in to the countess. In all his encounters with his son, the count was always conscious of his own guilt toward him for having wasted the family fortune, and so he could not be angry with him for refusing to marry an heiress and choosing the dowerless Sonya. On this occasion, he was only more vividly conscious of the fact that if his affairs had not been in disorder, no better wife for Nicholas than Sonya could have been wished for, and that no one but himself with his Mitenka and his uncomfortable habits was to blame for the condition of the family finances.
The father and mother did not speak of the matter to their son again, but a few days later the countess sent for Sonya and, with a cruelty neither of them expected, reproached her niece for trying to catch Nicholas and for ingratitude. Sonya listened silently with downcast eyes to the countess' cruel words, without understanding what was required of her. She was ready to sacrifice everything for her benefactors. Self-sacrifice was her most cherished idea but in this case she could not see what she ought to sacrifice, or for whom. She could not help loving the countess and the whole Rostov family, but neither could she help loving Nicholas and knowing that his happiness depended on that love. She was silent and sad and did not reply. Nicholas felt the situation to be intolerable and went to have an explanation with his mother. He first implored her to forgive him and Sonya and consent to their marriage, then he threatened that if she molested Sonya he would at once marry her secretly.
The countess, with a coldness her son had never seen in her before, replied that he was of age, that Prince Andrew was marrying without his father's consent, and he could do the same, but that she would never receive that intriguer as her daughter.
Exploding at the word intriguer, Nicholas, raising his voice, told his mother he had never expected her to try to force him to sell his feelings, but if that were so, he would say for the last time.... But he had no time to utter the decisive word which the expression of his face caused his mother to await with terror, and which would perhaps have forever remained a cruel memory to them both. He had not time to say it, for Natasha, with a pale and set face, entered the room from the door at which she had been listening.
"Nicholas, you are talking nonsense! Be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, I tell you!..." she almost screamed, so as to drown his voice.
"Mamma darling, it's not at all so... my poor, sweet darling," she said to her mother, who conscious that they had been on the brink of a rupture gazed at her son with terror, but in the obstinacy and excitement of the conflict could not and would not give way.
"Nicholas, I'll explain to you. Go away! Listen, Mamma darling," said Natasha.
Her words were incoherent, but they attained the purpose at which she was aiming.
The countess, sobbing heavily, hid her face on her daughter's breast, while Nicholas rose, clutching his head, and left the room.
Natasha set to work to effect a reconciliation, and so far succeeded that Nicholas received a promise from his mother that Sonya should not be troubled, while he on his side promised not to undertake anything without his parents' knowledge.
Firmly resolved, after putting his affairs in order in the regiment, to retire from the army and return and marry Sonya, Nicholas, serious, sorrowful, and at variance with his parents, but, as it seemed to him, passionately in love, left at the beginning of January to rejoin his regiment.
After Nicholas had gone things in the Rostov household were more depressing than ever, and the countess fell ill from mental agitation.
Sonya was unhappy at the separation from Nicholas and still more so on account of the hostile tone the countess could not help adopting toward her. The count was more perturbed than ever by the condition of his affairs, which called for some decisive action. Their town house and estate near Moscow had inevitably to be sold, and for this they had to go to Moscow. But the countess' health obliged them to delay their departure from day to day.
Natasha, who had borne the first period of separation from her betrothed lightly and even cheerfully, now grew more agitated and impatient every day. The thought that her best days, which she would have employed in loving him, were being vainly wasted, with no advantage to anyone, tormented her incessantly. His letters for the most part irritated her. It hurt her to think that while she lived only in the thought of him, he was living a real life, seeing new places and new people that interested him. The more interesting his letters were the more vexed she felt. Her letters to him, far from giving her any comfort, seemed to her a wearisome and artificial obligation. She could not write, because she could not conceive the possibility of expressing sincerely in a letter even a thousandth part of what she expressed by voice, smile, and glance. She wrote to him formal, monotonous, and dry letters, to which she attached no importance herself, and in the rough copies of which the countess corrected her mistakes in spelling.
There was still no improvement in the countess' health, but it was impossible to defer the journey to Moscow any longer. Natasha's trousseau had to be ordered and the house sold. Moreover, Prince Andrew was expected in Moscow, where old Prince Bolkonski was spending the winter, and Natasha felt sure he had already arrived.
So the countess remained in the country, and the count, taking Sonya and Natasha with him, went to Moscow at the end of January.
After Prince Andrew's engagement to Natasha, Pierre without any apparent cause suddenly felt it impossible to go on living as before. Firmly convinced as he was of the truths revealed to him by his benefactor, and happy as he had been in perfecting his inner man, to which he had devoted himself with such ardor—all the zest of such a life vanished after the engagement of Andrew and Natasha and the death of Joseph Alexeevich, the news of which reached him almost at the same time. Only the skeleton of life remained: his house, a brilliant wife who now enjoyed the favors of a very important personage, acquaintance with all Petersburg, and his court service with its dull formalities. And this life suddenly seemed to Pierre unexpectedly loathsome. He ceased keeping a diary, avoided the company of the Brothers, began going to the club again, drank a great deal, and came once more in touch with the bachelor sets, leading such a life that the Countess Helene thought it necessary to speak severely to him about it. Pierre felt that she was right, and to avoid compromising her went away to Moscow.
In Moscow as soon as he entered his huge house in which the faded and fading princesses still lived, with its enormous retinue; as soon as, driving through the town, he saw the Iberian shrine with innumerable tapers burning before the golden covers of the icons, the Kremlin Square with its snow undisturbed by vehicles, the sleigh drivers and hovels of the Sivtsev Vrazhok, those old Moscovites who desired nothing, hurried nowhere, and were ending their days leisurely; when he saw those old Moscow ladies, the Moscow balls, and the English Club, he felt himself at home in a quiet haven. In Moscow he felt at peace, at home, warm and dirty as in an old dressing gown.
Moscow society, from the old women down to the children, received Pierre like a long-expected guest whose place was always ready awaiting him. For Moscow society Pierre was the nicest, kindest, most intellectual, merriest, and most magnanimous of cranks, a heedless, genial nobleman of the old Russian type. His purse was always empty because it was open to everyone.
Benefit performances, poor pictures, statues, benevolent societies, gypsy choirs, schools, subscription dinners, sprees, Freemasons, churches, and books—no one and nothing met with a refusal from him, and had it not been for two friends who had borrowed large sums from him and taken him under their protection, he would have given everything away. There was never a dinner or soiree at the club without him. As soon as he sank into his place on the sofa after two bottles of Margaux he was surrounded, and talking, disputing, and joking began. When there were quarrels, his kindly smile and well-timed jests reconciled the antagonists. The masonic dinners were dull and dreary when he was not there.
When after a bachelor supper he rose with his amiable and kindly smile, yielding to the entreaties of the festive company to drive off somewhere with them, shouts of delight and triumph arose among the young men. At balls he danced if a partner was needed. Young ladies, married and unmarried, liked him because without making love to any of them, he was equally amiable to all, especially after supper. "Il est charmant; il n'a pas de sexe," * they said of him.
* "He is charming; he has no sex."
Pierre was one of those retired gentlemen-in-waiting of whom there were hundreds good-humoredly ending their days in Moscow.
How horrified he would have been seven years before, when he first arrived from abroad, had he been told that there was no need for him to seek or plan anything, that his rut had long been shaped, eternally predetermined, and that wriggle as he might, he would be what all in his position were. He could not have believed it! Had he not at one time longed with all his heart to establish a republic in Russia; then himself to be a Napoleon; then to be a philosopher; and then a strategist and the conqueror of Napoleon? Had he not seen the possibility of, and passionately desired, the regeneration of the sinful human race, and his own progress to the highest degree of perfection? Had he not established schools and hospitals and liberated his serfs?
But instead of all that—here he was, the wealthy husband of an unfaithful wife, a retired gentleman-in-waiting, fond of eating and drinking and, as he unbuttoned his waistcoat, of abusing the government a bit, a member of the Moscow English Club, and a universal favorite in Moscow society. For a long time he could not reconcile himself to the idea that he was one of those same retired Moscow gentlemen-in-waiting he had so despised seven years before.
Sometimes he consoled himself with the thought that he was only living this life temporarily; but then he was shocked by the thought of how many, like himself, had entered that life and that club temporarily, with all their teeth and hair, and had only left it when not a single tooth or hair remained.
In moments of pride, when he thought of his position it seemed to him that he was quite different and distinct from those other retired gentlemen-in-waiting he had formerly despised: they were empty, stupid, contented fellows, satisfied with their position, "while I am still discontented and want to do something for mankind. But perhaps all these comrades of mine struggled just like me and sought something new, a path in life of their own, and like me were brought by force of circumstances, society, and race—by that elemental force against which man is powerless—to the condition I am in," said he to himself in moments of humility; and after living some time in Moscow he no longer despised, but began to grow fond of, to respect, and to pity his comrades in destiny, as he pitied himself.
Pierre no longer suffered moments of despair, hypochondria, and disgust with life, but the malady that had formerly found expression in such acute attacks was driven inwards and never left him for a moment. "What for? Why? What is going on in the world?" he would ask himself in perplexity several times a day, involuntarily beginning to reflect anew on the meaning of the phenomena of life; but knowing by experience that there were no answers to these questions he made haste to turn away from them, and took up a book, or hurried off to the club or to Apollon Nikolaevich's, to exchange the gossip of the town.
"Helene, who has never cared for anything but her own body and is one of the stupidest women in the world," thought Pierre, "is regarded by people as the acme of intelligence and refinement, and they pay homage to her. Napoleon Bonaparte was despised by all as long as he was great, but now that he has become a wretched comedian the Emperor Francis wants to offer him his daughter in an illegal marriage. The Spaniards, through the Catholic clergy, offer praise to God for their victory over the French on the fourteenth of June, and the French, also through the Catholic clergy, offer praise because on that same fourteenth of June they defeated the Spaniards. My brother Masons swear by the blood that they are ready to sacrifice everything for their neighbor, but they do not give a ruble each to the collections for the poor, and they intrigue, the Astraea Lodge against the Manna Seekers, and fuss about an authentic Scotch carpet and a charter that nobody needs, and the meaning of which the very man who wrote it does not understand. We all profess the Christian law of forgiveness of injuries and love of our neighbors, the law in honor of which we have built in Moscow forty times forty churches—but yesterday a deserter was knouted to death and a minister of that same law of love and forgiveness, a priest, gave the soldier a cross to kiss before his execution." So thought Pierre, and the whole of this general deception which everyone accepts, accustomed as he was to it, astonished him each time as if it were something new. "I understand the deception and confusion," he thought, "but how am I to tell them all that I see? I have tried, and have always found that they too in the depths of their souls understand it as I do, and only try not to see it. So it appears that it must be so! But I—what is to become of me?" thought he. He had the unfortunate capacity many men, especially Russians, have of seeing and believing in the possibility of goodness and truth, but of seeing the evil and falsehood of life too clearly to be able to take a serious part in it. Every sphere of work was connected, in his eyes, with evil and deception. Whatever he tried to be, whatever he engaged in, the evil and falsehood of it repulsed him and blocked every path of activity. Yet he had to live and to find occupation. It was too dreadful to be under the burden of these insoluble problems, so he abandoned himself to any distraction in order to forget them. He frequented every kind of society, drank much, bought pictures, engaged in building, and above all—read.
He read, and read everything that came to hand. On coming home, while his valets were still taking off his things, he picked up a book and began to read. From reading he passed to sleeping, from sleeping to gossip in drawing rooms of the club, from gossip to carousals and women; from carousals back to gossip, reading, and wine. Drinking became more and more a physical and also a moral necessity. Though the doctors warned him that with his corpulence wine was dangerous for him, he drank a great deal. He was only quite at ease when having poured several glasses of wine mechanically into his large mouth he felt a pleasant warmth in his body, an amiability toward all his fellows, and a readiness to respond superficially to every idea without probing it deeply. Only after emptying a bottle or two did he feel dimly that the terribly tangled skein of life which previously had terrified him was not as dreadful as he had thought. He was always conscious of some aspect of that skein, as with a buzzing in his head after dinner or supper he chatted or listened to conversation or read. But under the influence of wine he said to himself: "It doesn't matter. I'll get it unraveled. I have a solution ready, but have no time now—I'll think it all out later on!" But the later on never came.
In the morning, on an empty stomach, all the old questions appeared as insoluble and terrible as ever, and Pierre hastily picked up a book, and if anyone came to see him he was glad.
Sometimes he remembered how he had heard that soldiers in war when entrenched under the enemy's fire, if they have nothing to do, try hard to find some occupation the more easily to bear the danger. To Pierre all men seemed like those soldiers, seeking refuge from life: some in ambition, some in cards, some in framing laws, some in women, some in toys, some in horses, some in politics, some in sport, some in wine, and some in governmental affairs. "Nothing is trivial, and nothing is important, it's all the same—only to save oneself from it as best one can," thought Pierre. "Only not to see it, that dreadful it!"
At the beginning of winter Prince Nicholas Bolkonski and his daughter moved to Moscow. At that time enthusiasm for the Emperor Alexander's regime had weakened and a patriotic and anti-French tendency prevailed there, and this, together with his past and his intellect and his originality, at once made Prince Nicholas Bolkonski an object of particular respect to the Moscovites and the center of the Moscow opposition to the government.
The prince had aged very much that year. He showed marked signs of senility by a tendency to fall asleep, forgetfulness of quite recent events, remembrance of remote ones, and the childish vanity with which he accepted the role of head of the Moscow opposition. In spite of this the old man inspired in all his visitors alike a feeling of respectful veneration—especially of an evening when he came in to tea in his old-fashioned coat and powdered wig and, aroused by anyone, told his abrupt stories of the past, or uttered yet more abrupt and scathing criticisms of the present. For them all, that old-fashioned house with its gigantic mirrors, pre-Revolution furniture, powdered footmen, and the stern shrewd old man (himself a relic of the past century) with his gentle daughter and the pretty Frenchwoman who were reverently devoted to him presented a majestic and agreeable spectacle. But the visitors did not reflect that besides the couple of hours during which they saw their host, there were also twenty-two hours in the day during which the private and intimate life of the house continued.
Latterly that private life had become very trying for Princess Mary. There in Moscow she was deprived of her greatest pleasures—talks with the pilgrims and the solitude which refreshed her at Bald Hills—and she had none of the advantages and pleasures of city life. She did not go out into society; everyone knew that her father would not let her go anywhere without him, and his failing health prevented his going out himself, so that she was not invited to dinners and evening parties. She had quite abandoned the hope of getting married. She saw the coldness and malevolence with which the old prince received and dismissed the young men, possible suitors, who sometimes appeared at their house. She had no friends: during this visit to Moscow she had been disappointed in the two who had been nearest to her. Mademoiselle Bourienne, with whom she had never been able to be quite frank, had now become unpleasant to her, and for various reasons Princess Mary avoided her. Julie, with whom she had corresponded for the last five years, was in Moscow, but proved to be quite alien to her when they met. Just then Julie, who by the death of her brothers had become one of the richest heiresses in Moscow, was in the full whirl of society pleasures. She was surrounded by young men who, she fancied, had suddenly learned to appreciate her worth. Julie was at that stage in the life of a society woman when she feels that her last chance of marrying has come and that her fate must be decided now or never. On Thursdays Princess Mary remembered with a mournful smile that she now had no one to write to, since Julie—whose presence gave her no pleasure was here and they met every week. Like the old emigre who declined to marry the lady with whom he had spent his evenings for years, she regretted Julie's presence and having no one to write to. In Moscow Princess Mary had no one to talk to, no one to whom to confide her sorrow, and much sorrow fell to her lot just then. The time for Prince Andrew's return and marriage was approaching, but his request to her to prepare his father for it had not been carried out; in fact, it seemed as if matters were quite hopeless, for at every mention of the young Countess Rostova the old prince (who apart from that was usually in a bad temper) lost control of himself. Another lately added sorrow arose from the lessons she gave her six year-old nephew. To her consternation she detected in herself in relation to little Nicholas some symptoms of her father's irritability. However often she told herself that she must not get irritable when teaching her nephew, almost every time that, pointer in hand, she sat down to show him the French alphabet, she so longed to pour her own knowledge quickly and easily into the child—who was already afraid that Auntie might at any moment get angry—that at his slightest inattention she trembled, became flustered and heated, raised her voice, and sometimes pulled him by the arm and put him in the corner. Having put him in the corner she would herself begin to cry over her cruel, evil nature, and little Nicholas, following her example, would sob, and without permission would leave his corner, come to her, pull her wet hands from her face, and comfort her. But what distressed the princess most of all was her father's irritability, which was always directed against her and had of late amounted to cruelty. Had he forced her to prostrate herself to the ground all night, had he beaten her or made her fetch wood or water, it would never have entered her mind to think her position hard; but this loving despot—the more cruel because he loved her and for that reason tormented himself and her—knew how not merely to hurt and humiliate her deliberately, but to show her that she was always to blame for everything. Of late he had exhibited a new trait that tormented Princess Mary more than anything else; this was his ever-increasing intimacy with Mademoiselle Bourienne. The idea that at the first moment of receiving the news of his son's intentions had occurred to him in jest—that if Andrew got married he himself would marry Bourienne—had evidently pleased him, and latterly he had persistently, and as it seemed to Princess Mary merely to offend her, shown special endearments to the companion and expressed his dissatisfaction with his daughter by demonstrations of love of Bourienne.
One day in Moscow in Princess Mary's presence (she thought her father did it purposely when she was there) the old prince kissed Mademoiselle Bourienne's hand and, drawing her to him, embraced her affectionately. Princess Mary flushed and ran out of the room. A few minutes later Mademoiselle Bourienne came into Princess Mary's room smiling and making cheerful remarks in her agreeable voice. Princess Mary hastily wiped away her tears, went resolutely up to Mademoiselle Bourienne, and evidently unconscious of what she was doing began shouting in angry haste at the Frenchwoman, her voice breaking: "It's horrible, vile, inhuman, to take advantage of the weakness..." She did not finish. "Leave my room," she exclaimed, and burst into sobs.
Next day the prince did not say a word to his daughter, but she noticed that at dinner he gave orders that Mademoiselle Bourienne should be served first. After dinner, when the footman handed coffee and from habit began with the princess, the prince suddenly grew furious, threw his stick at Philip, and instantly gave instructions to have him conscripted for the army.
"He doesn't obey... I said it twice... and he doesn't obey! She is the first person in this house; she's my best friend," cried the prince. "And if you allow yourself," he screamed in a fury, addressing Princess Mary for the first time, "to forget yourself again before her as you dared to do yesterday, I will show you who is master in this house. Go! Don't let me set eyes on you; beg her pardon!"
Princess Mary asked Mademoiselle Bourienne's pardon, and also her father's pardon for herself and for Philip the footman, who had begged for her intervention.
At such moments something like a pride of sacrifice gathered in her soul. And suddenly that father whom she had judged would look for his spectacles in her presence, fumbling near them and not seeing them, or would forget something that had just occurred, or take a false step with his failing legs and turn to see if anyone had noticed his feebleness, or, worst of all, at dinner when there were no visitors to excite him would suddenly fall asleep, letting his napkin drop and his shaking head sink over his plate. "He is old and feeble, and I dare to condemn him!" she thought at such moments, with a feeling of revulsion against herself.
In 1811 there was living in Moscow a French doctor—Metivier—who had rapidly become the fashion. He was enormously tall, handsome, amiable as Frenchmen are, and was, as all Moscow said, an extraordinarily clever doctor. He was received in the best houses not merely as a doctor, but as an equal.
Prince Nicholas had always ridiculed medicine, but latterly on Mademoiselle Bourienne's advice had allowed this doctor to visit him and had grown accustomed to him. Metivier came to see the prince about twice a week.
On December 6—St. Nicholas' Day and the prince's name day—all Moscow came to the prince's front door but he gave orders to admit no one and to invite to dinner only a small number, a list of whom he gave to Princess Mary.
Metivier, who came in the morning with his felicitations, considered it proper in his quality of doctor de forcer la consigne, * as he told Princess Mary, and went in to see the prince. It happened that on that morning of his name day the prince was in one of his worst moods. He had been going about the house all the morning finding fault with everyone and pretending not to understand what was said to him and not to be understood himself. Princess Mary well knew this mood of quiet absorbed querulousness, which generally culminated in a burst of rage, and she went about all that morning as though facing a cocked and loaded gun and awaited the inevitable explosion. Until the doctor's arrival the morning had passed off safely. After admitting the doctor, Princess Mary sat down with a book in the drawing room near the door through which she could hear all that passed in the study.
* To force the guard.
At first she heard only Metivier's voice, then her father's, then both voices began speaking at the same time, the door was flung open, and on the threshold appeared the handsome figure of the terrified Metivier with his shock of black hair, and the prince in his dressing gown and fez, his face distorted with fury and the pupils of his eyes rolled downwards.
"You don't understand?" shouted the prince, "but I do! French spy, slave of Buonaparte, spy, get out of my house! Be off, I tell you..."
Metivier, shrugging his shoulders, went up to Mademoiselle Bourienne who at the sound of shouting had run in from an adjoining room.
"The prince is not very well: bile and rush of blood to the head. Keep calm, I will call again tomorrow," said Metivier; and putting his fingers to his lips he hastened away.
Through the study door came the sound of slippered feet and the cry: "Spies, traitors, traitors everywhere! Not a moment's peace in my own house!"
After Metivier's departure the old prince called his daughter in, and the whole weight of his wrath fell on her. She was to blame that a spy had been admitted. Had he not told her, yes, told her to make a list, and not to admit anyone who was not on that list? Then why was that scoundrel admitted? She was the cause of it all. With her, he said, he could not have a moment's peace and could not die quietly.
"No, ma'am! We must part, we must part! Understand that, understand it! I cannot endure any more," he said, and left the room. Then, as if afraid she might find some means of consolation, he returned and trying to appear calm added: "And don't imagine I have said this in a moment of anger. I am calm. I have thought it over, and it will be carried out—we must part; so find some place for yourself...." But he could not restrain himself and with the virulence of which only one who loves is capable, evidently suffering himself, he shook his fists at her and screamed:
"If only some fool would marry her!" Then he slammed the door, sent for Mademoiselle Bourienne, and subsided into his study.
At two o'clock the six chosen guests assembled for dinner.
These guests—the famous Count Rostopchin, Prince Lopukhin with his nephew, General Chatrov an old war comrade of the prince's, and of the younger generation Pierre and Boris Drubetskoy—awaited the prince in the drawing room.
Boris, who had come to Moscow on leave a few days before, had been anxious to be presented to Prince Nicholas Bolkonski, and had contrived to ingratiate himself so well that the old prince in his case made an exception to the rule of not receiving bachelors in his house.
The prince's house did not belong to what is known as fashionable society, but his little circle—though not much talked about in town—was one it was more flattering to be received in than any other. Boris had realized this the week before when the commander-in-chief in his presence invited Rostopchin to dinner on St. Nicholas' Day, and Rostopchin had replied that he could not come:
"On that day I always go to pay my devotions to the relics of Prince Nicholas Bolkonski."
"Oh, yes, yes!" replied the commander-in-chief. "How is he?..."
The small group that assembled before dinner in the lofty old-fashioned drawing room with its old furniture resembled the solemn gathering of a court of justice. All were silent or talked in low tones. Prince Nicholas came in serious and taciturn. Princess Mary seemed even quieter and more diffident than usual. The guests were reluctant to address her, feeling that she was in no mood for their conversation. Count Rostopchin alone kept the conversation going, now relating the latest town news, and now the latest political gossip.
Lopukhin and the old general occasionally took part in the conversation. Prince Bolkonski listened as a presiding judge receives a report, only now and then, silently or by a brief word, showing that he took heed of what was being reported to him. The tone of the conversation was such as indicated that no one approved of what was being done in the political world. Incidents were related evidently confirming the opinion that everything was going from bad to worse, but whether telling a story or giving an opinion the speaker always stopped, or was stopped, at the point beyond which his criticism might touch the sovereign himself.
At dinner the talk turned on the latest political news: Napoleon's seizure of the Duke of Oldenburg's territory, and the Russian Note, hostile to Napoleon, which had been sent to all the European courts.
"Bonaparte treats Europe as a pirate does a captured vessel," said Count Rostopchin, repeating a phrase he had uttered several times before. "One only wonders at the long-suffering or blindness of the crowned heads. Now the Pope's turn has come and Bonaparte doesn't scruple to depose the head of the Catholic Church—yet all keep silent! Our sovereign alone has protested against the seizure of the Duke of Oldenburg's territory, and even..." Count Rostopchin paused, feeling that he had reached the limit beyond which censure was impossible.
"Other territories have been offered in exchange for the Duchy of Oldenburg," said Prince Bolkonski. "He shifts the Dukes about as I might move my serfs from Bald Hills to Bogucharovo or my Ryazan estates."
"The Duke of Oldenburg bears his misfortunes with admirable strength of character and resignation," remarked Boris, joining in respectfully.
He said this because on his journey from Petersburg he had had the honor of being presented to the Duke. Prince Bolkonski glanced at the young man as if about to say something in reply, but changed his mind, evidently considering him too young.
"I have read our protests about the Oldenburg affair and was surprised how badly the Note was worded," remarked Count Rostopchin in the casual tone of a man dealing with a subject quite familiar to him.
Pierre looked at Rostopchin with naive astonishment, not understanding why he should be disturbed by the bad composition of the Note.
"Does it matter, Count, how the Note is worded," he asked, "so long as its substance is forcible?"
"My dear fellow, with our five hundred thousand troops it should be easy to have a good style," returned Count Rostopchin.
Pierre now understood the count's dissatisfaction with the wording of the Note.
"One would have thought quill drivers enough had sprung up," remarked the old prince. "There in Petersburg they are always writing—not notes only but even new laws. My Andrew there has written a whole volume of laws for Russia. Nowadays they are always writing!" and he laughed unnaturally.
There was a momentary pause in the conversation; the old general cleared his throat to draw attention.
"Did you hear of the last event at the review in Petersburg? The figure cut by the new French ambassador."
"Eh? Yes, I heard something: he said something awkward in His Majesty's presence."
"His Majesty drew attention to the Grenadier division and to the march past," continued the general, "and it seems the ambassador took no notice and allowed himself to reply that: 'We in France pay no attention to such trifles!' The Emperor did not condescend to reply. At the next review, they say, the Emperor did not once deign to address him."
All were silent. On this fact relating to the Emperor personally, it was impossible to pass any judgment.
"Impudent fellows!" said the prince. "You know Metivier? I turned him out of my house this morning. He was here; they admitted him in spite of my request that they should let no one in," he went on, glancing angrily at his daughter.
And he narrated his whole conversation with the French doctor and the reasons that convinced him that Metivier was a spy. Though these reasons were very insufficient and obscure, no one made any rejoinder.
After the roast, champagne was served. The guests rose to congratulate the old prince. Princess Mary, too, went round to him.
He gave her a cold, angry look and offered her his wrinkled, clean-shaven cheek to kiss. The whole expression of his face told her that he had not forgotten the morning's talk, that his decision remained in force, and only the presence of visitors hindered his speaking of it to her now.
When they went into the drawing room where coffee was served, the old men sat together.
Prince Nicholas grew more animated and expressed his views on the impending war.
He said that our wars with Bonaparte would be disastrous so long as we sought alliances with the Germans and thrust ourselves into European affairs, into which we had been drawn by the Peace of Tilsit. "We ought not to fight either for or against Austria. Our political interests are all in the East, and in regard to Bonaparte the only thing is to have an armed frontier and a firm policy, and he will never dare to cross the Russian frontier, as was the case in 1807!"
"How can we fight the French, Prince?" said Count Rostopchin. "Can we arm ourselves against our teachers and divinities? Look at our youths, look at our ladies! The French are our Gods: Paris is our Kingdom of Heaven."
He began speaking louder, evidently to be heard by everyone.
"French dresses, French ideas, French feelings! There now, you turned Metivier out by the scruff of his neck because he is a Frenchman and a scoundrel, but our ladies crawl after him on their knees. I went to a party last night, and there out of five ladies three were Roman Catholics and had the Pope's indulgence for doing woolwork on Sundays. And they themselves sit there nearly naked, like the signboards at our Public Baths if I may say so. Ah, when one looks at our young people, Prince, one would like to take Peter the Great's old cudgel out of the museum and belabor them in the Russian way till all the nonsense jumps out of them."
All were silent. The old prince looked at Rostopchin with a smile and wagged his head approvingly.
"Well, good-by, your excellency, keep well!" said Rostopchin, getting up with characteristic briskness and holding out his hand to the prince.
"Good-bye, my dear fellow.... His words are music, I never tire of hearing him!" said the old prince, keeping hold of the hand and offering his cheek to be kissed.
Following Rostopchin's example the others also rose.
Princess Mary as she sat listening to the old men's talk and faultfinding, understood nothing of what she heard; she only wondered whether the guests had all observed her father's hostile attitude toward her. She did not even notice the special attentions and amiabilities shown her during dinner by Boris Drubetskoy, who was visiting them for the third time already.
Princess Mary turned with absent-minded questioning look to Pierre, who hat in hand and with a smile on his face was the last of the guests to approach her after the old prince had gone out and they were left alone in the drawing room.
"May I stay a little longer?" he said, letting his stout body sink into an armchair beside her.
"Oh yes," she answered. "You noticed nothing?" her look asked.
Pierre was in an agreeable after-dinner mood. He looked straight before him and smiled quietly.
"Have you known that young man long, Princess?" he asked.
"No, not long..."
"Do you like him?"
"Yes, he is an agreeable young man.... Why do you ask me that?" said Princess Mary, still thinking of that morning's conversation with her father.
"Because I have noticed that when a young man comes on leave from Petersburg to Moscow it is usually with the object of marrying an heiress."
"You have observed that?" said Princess Mary.
"Yes," returned Pierre with a smile, "and this young man now manages matters so that where there is a wealthy heiress there he is too. I can read him like a book. At present he is hesitating whom to lay siege to—you or Mademoiselle Julie Karagina. He is very attentive to her."
"He visits them?"
"Yes, very often. And do you know the new way of courting?" said Pierre with an amused smile, evidently in that cheerful mood of good humored raillery for which he so often reproached himself in his diary.
"No," replied Princess Mary.
"To please Moscow girls nowadays one has to be melancholy. He is very melancholy with Mademoiselle Karagina," said Pierre.
"Really?" asked Princess Mary, looking into Pierre's kindly face and still thinking of her own sorrow. "It would be a relief," thought she, "if I ventured to confide what I am feeling to someone. I should like to tell everything to Pierre. He is kind and generous. It would be a relief. He would give me advice."
"Would you marry him?"
"Oh, my God, Count, there are moments when I would marry anybody!" she cried suddenly to her own surprise and with tears in her voice. "Ah, how bitter it is to love someone near to you and to feel that..." she went on in a trembling voice, "that you can do nothing for him but grieve him, and to know that you cannot alter this. Then there is only one thing left—to go away, but where could I go?"
"What is wrong? What is it, Princess?"
But without finishing what she was saying, Princess Mary burst into tears.
"I don't know what is the matter with me today. Don't take any notice—forget what I have said!"
Pierre's gaiety vanished completely. He anxiously questioned the princess, asked her to speak out fully and confide her grief to him; but she only repeated that she begged him to forget what she had said, that she did not remember what she had said, and that she had no trouble except the one he knew of—that Prince Andrew's marriage threatened to cause a rupture between father and son.
"Have you any news of the Rostovs?" she asked, to change the subject. "I was told they are coming soon. I am also expecting Andrew any day. I should like them to meet here."
"And how does he now regard the matter?" asked Pierre, referring to the old prince.
Princess Mary shook her head.
"What is to be done? In a few months the year will be up. The thing is impossible. I only wish I could spare my brother the first moments. I wish they would come sooner. I hope to be friends with her. You have known them a long time," said Princess Mary. "Tell me honestly the whole truth: what sort of girl is she, and what do you think of her?—The real truth, because you know Andrew is risking so much doing this against his father's will that I should like to know..."
An undefined instinct told Pierre that these explanations, and repeated requests to be told the whole truth, expressed ill-will on the princess' part toward her future sister-in-law and a wish that he should disapprove of Andrew's choice; but in reply he said what he felt rather than what he thought.
"I don't know how to answer your question," he said, blushing without knowing why. "I really don't know what sort of girl she is; I can't analyze her at all. She is enchanting, but what makes her so I don't know. That is all one can say about her."
Princess Mary sighed, and the expression on her face said: "Yes, that's what I expected and feared."
"Is she clever?" she asked.
"I think not," he said, "and yet—yes. She does not deign to be clever.... Oh no, she is simply enchanting, and that is all."
Princess Mary again shook her head disapprovingly.
"Ah, I so long to like her! Tell her so if you see her before I do."
"I hear they are expected very soon," said Pierre.
Princess Mary told Pierre of her plan to become intimate with her future sister-in-law as soon as the Rostovs arrived and to try to accustom the old prince to her.
Boris had not succeeded in making a wealthy match in Petersburg, so with the same object in view he came to Moscow. There he wavered between the two richest heiresses, Julie and Princess Mary. Though Princess Mary despite her plainness seemed to him more attractive than Julie, he, without knowing why, felt awkward about paying court to her. When they had last met on the old prince's name day, she had answered at random all his attempts to talk sentimentally, evidently not listening to what he was saying.
Julie on the contrary accepted his attentions readily, though in a manner peculiar to herself.
She was twenty-seven. After the death of her brothers she had become very wealthy. She was by now decidedly plain, but thought herself not merely as good-looking as before but even far more attractive. She was confirmed in this delusion by the fact that she had become a very wealthy heiress and also by the fact that the older she grew the less dangerous she became to men, and the more freely they could associate with her and avail themselves of her suppers, soirees, and the animated company that assembled at her house, without incurring any obligation. A man who would have been afraid ten years before of going every day to the house when there was a girl of seventeen there, for fear of compromising her and committing himself, would now go boldly every day and treat her not as a marriageable girl but as a sexless acquaintance.
That winter the Karagins' house was the most agreeable and hospitable in Moscow. In addition to the formal evening and dinner parties, a large company, chiefly of men, gathered there every day, supping at midnight and staying till three in the morning. Julie never missed a ball, a promenade, or a play. Her dresses were always of the latest fashion. But in spite of that she seemed to be disillusioned about everything and told everyone that she did not believe either in friendship or in love, or any of the joys of life, and expected peace only "yonder." She adopted the tone of one who has suffered a great disappointment, like a girl who has either lost the man she loved or been cruelly deceived by him. Though nothing of the kind had happened to her she was regarded in that light, and had even herself come to believe that she had suffered much in life. This melancholy, which did not prevent her amusing herself, did not hinder the young people who came to her house from passing the time pleasantly. Every visitor who came to the house paid his tribute to the melancholy mood of the hostess, and then amused himself with society gossip, dancing, intellectual games, and bouts rimes, which were in vogue at the Karagins'. Only a few of these young men, among them Boris, entered more deeply into Julie's melancholy, and with these she had prolonged conversations in private on the vanity of all worldly things, and to them she showed her albums filled with mournful sketches, maxims, and verses.
To Boris, Julie was particularly gracious: she regretted his early disillusionment with life, offered him such consolation of friendship as she who had herself suffered so much could render, and showed him her album. Boris sketched two trees in the album and wrote: "Rustic trees, your dark branches shed gloom and melancholy upon me."
On another page he drew a tomb, and wrote:
La mort est secourable et la mort est tranquille.
Ah! contre les douleurs il n'y a pas d'autre asile. *
* Death gives relief and death is peaceful.
Ah! from suffering there is no other refuge.
Julie said this was charming
"There is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy," she said to Boris, repeating word for word a passage she had copied from a book. "It is a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness and despair, showing the possibility of consolation."
In reply Boris wrote these lines:
Aliment de poison d'une ame trop sensible,
Toi, sans qui le bonheur me serait impossible,
Tendre melancholie, ah, viens me consoler,
Viens calmer les tourments de ma sombre retraite,
Et mele une douceur secrete
A ces pleurs que je sens couler. *
*Poisonous nourishment of a too sensitive soul,
Thou, without whom happiness would for me be impossible,
Tender melancholy, ah, come to console me,
Come to calm the torments of my gloomy retreat,
And mingle a secret sweetness
With these tears that I feel to be flowing.
For Boris, Julie played most doleful nocturnes on her harp. Boris read 'Poor Liza' aloud to her, and more than once interrupted the reading because of the emotions that choked him. Meeting at large gatherings Julie and Boris looked on one another as the only souls who understood one another in a world of indifferent people.
Anna Mikhaylovna, who often visited the Karagins, while playing cards with the mother made careful inquiries as to Julie's dowry (she was to have two estates in Penza and the Nizhegorod forests). Anna Mikhaylovna regarded the refined sadness that united her son to the wealthy Julie with emotion, and resignation to the Divine will.
"You are always charming and melancholy, my dear Julie," she said to the daughter. "Boris says his soul finds repose at your house. He has suffered so many disappointments and is so sensitive," said she to the mother. "Ah, my dear, I can't tell you how fond I have grown of Julie latterly," she said to her son. "But who could help loving her? She is an angelic being! Ah, Boris, Boris!"—she paused. "And how I pity her mother," she went on; "today she showed me her accounts and letters from Penza (they have enormous estates there), and she, poor thing, has no one to help her, and they do cheat her so!"
Boris smiled almost imperceptibly while listening to his mother. He laughed blandly at her naive diplomacy but listened to what she had to say, and sometimes questioned her carefully about the Penza and Nizhegorod estates.
Julie had long been expecting a proposal from her melancholy adorer and was ready to accept it; but some secret feeling of repulsion for her, for her passionate desire to get married, for her artificiality, and a feeling of horror at renouncing the possibility of real love still restrained Boris. His leave was expiring. He spent every day and whole days at the Karagins', and every day on thinking the matter over told himself that he would propose tomorrow. But in Julie's presence, looking at her red face and chin (nearly always powdered), her moist eyes, and her expression of continual readiness to pass at once from melancholy to an unnatural rapture of married bliss, Boris could not utter the decisive words, though in imagination he had long regarded himself as the possessor of those Penza and Nizhegorod estates and had apportioned the use of the income from them. Julie saw Boris' indecision, and sometimes the thought occurred to her that she was repulsive to him, but her feminine self-deception immediately supplied her with consolation, and she told herself that he was only shy from love. Her melancholy, however, began to turn to irritability, and not long before Boris' departure she formed a definite plan of action. Just as Boris' leave of absence was expiring, Anatole Kuragin made his appearance in Moscow, and of course in the Karagins' drawing room, and Julie, suddenly abandoning her melancholy, became cheerful and very attentive to Kuragin.
"My dear," said Anna Mikhaylovna to her son, "I know from a reliable source that Prince Vasili has sent his son to Moscow to get him married to Julie. I am so fond of Julie that I should be sorry for her. What do you think of it, my dear?"
The idea of being made a fool of and of having thrown away that whole month of arduous melancholy service to Julie, and of seeing all the revenue from the Penza estates which he had already mentally apportioned and put to proper use fall into the hands of another, and especially into the hands of that idiot Anatole, pained Boris. He drove to the Karagins' with the firm intention of proposing. Julie met him in a gay, careless manner, spoke casually of how she had enjoyed yesterday's ball, and asked when he was leaving. Though Boris had come intentionally to speak of his love and therefore meant to be tender, he began speaking irritably of feminine inconstancy, of how easily women can turn from sadness to joy, and how their moods depend solely on who happens to be paying court to them. Julie was offended and replied that it was true that a woman needs variety, and the same thing over and over again would weary anyone.
"Then I should advise you..." Boris began, wishing to sting her; but at that instant the galling thought occurred to him that he might have to leave Moscow without having accomplished his aim, and have vainly wasted his efforts—which was a thing he never allowed to happen.
He checked himself in the middle of the sentence, lowered his eyes to avoid seeing her unpleasantly irritated and irresolute face, and said:
"I did not come here at all to quarrel with you. On the contrary..."
He glanced at her to make sure that he might go on. Her irritability had suddenly quite vanished, and her anxious, imploring eyes were fixed on him with greedy expectation. "I can always arrange so as not to see her often," thought Boris. "The affair has been begun and must be finished!" He blushed hotly, raised his eyes to hers, and said:
"You know my feelings for you!"
There was no need to say more: Julie's face shone with triumph and self-satisfaction; but she forced Boris to say all that is said on such occasions—that he loved her and had never loved any other woman more than her. She knew that for the Penza estates and Nizhegorod forests she could demand this, and she received what she demanded.
The affianced couple, no longer alluding to trees that shed gloom and melancholy upon them, planned the arrangements of a splendid house in Petersburg, paid calls, and prepared everything for a brilliant wedding.
At the end of January old Count Rostov went to Moscow with Natasha and Sonya. The countess was still unwell and unable to travel but it was impossible to wait for her recovery. Prince Andrew was expected in Moscow any day, the trousseau had to be ordered and the estate near Moscow had to be sold, besides which the opportunity of presenting his future daughter-in-law to old Prince Bolkonski while he was in Moscow could not be missed. The Rostovs' Moscow house had not been heated that winter and, as they had come only for a short time and the countess was not with them, the count decided to stay with Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova, who had long been pressing her hospitality on them.
Late one evening the Rostovs' four sleighs drove into Marya Dmitrievna's courtyard in the old Konyusheny street. Marya Dmitrievna lived alone. She had already married off her daughter, and her sons were all in the service.
She held herself as erect, told everyone her opinion as candidly, loudly, and bluntly as ever, and her whole bearing seemed a reproach to others for any weakness, passion, or temptation—the possibility of which she did not admit. From early in the morning, wearing a dressing jacket, she attended to her household affairs, and then she drove out: on holy days to church and after the service to jails and prisons on affairs of which she never spoke to anyone. On ordinary days, after dressing, she received petitioners of various classes, of whom there were always some. Then she had dinner, a substantial and appetizing meal at which there were always three or four guests; after dinner she played a game of boston, and at night she had the newspapers or a new book read to her while she knitted. She rarely made an exception and went out to pay visits, and then only to the most important persons in the town.
She had not yet gone to bed when the Rostovs arrived and the pulley of the hall door squeaked from the cold as it let in the Rostovs and their servants. Marya Dmitrievna, with her spectacles hanging down on her nose and her head flung back, stood in the hall doorway looking with a stern, grim face at the new arrivals. One might have thought she was angry with the travelers and would immediately turn them out, had she not at the same time been giving careful instructions to the servants for the accommodation of the visitors and their belongings.
"The count's things? Bring them here," she said, pointing to the portmanteaus and not greeting anyone. "The young ladies'? There to the left. Now what are you dawdling for?" she cried to the maids. "Get the samovar ready!... You've grown plumper and prettier," she remarked, drawing Natasha (whose cheeks were glowing from the cold) to her by the hood. "Foo! You are cold! Now take off your things, quick!" she shouted to the count who was going to kiss her hand. "You're half frozen, I'm sure! Bring some rum for tea!... Bonjour, Sonya dear!" she added, turning to Sonya and indicating by this French greeting her slightly contemptuous though affectionate attitude toward her.
When they came in to tea, having taken off their outdoor things and tidied themselves up after their journey, Marya Dmitrievna kissed them all in due order.
"I'm heartily glad you have come and are staying with me. It was high time," she said, giving Natasha a significant look. "The old man is here and his son's expected any day. You'll have to make his acquaintance. But we'll speak of that later on," she added, glancing at Sonya with a look that showed she did not want to speak of it in her presence. "Now listen," she said to the count. "What do you want tomorrow? Whom will you send for? Shinshin?" she crooked one of her fingers. "The sniveling Anna Mikhaylovna? That's two. She's here with her son. The son is getting married! Then Bezukhov, eh? He is here too, with his wife. He ran away from her and she came galloping after him. He dined with me on Wednesday. As for them"—and she pointed to the girls—"tomorrow I'll take them first to the Iberian shrine of the Mother of God, and then we'll drive to the Super-Rogue's. I suppose you'll have everything new. Don't judge by me: sleeves nowadays are this size! The other day young Princess Irina Vasilevna came to see me; she was an awful sight—looked as if she had put two barrels on her arms. You know not a day passes now without some new fashion.... And what have you to do yourself?" she asked the count sternly.
"One thing has come on top of another: her rags to buy, and now a purchaser has turned up for the Moscow estate and for the house. If you will be so kind, I'll fix a time and go down to the estate just for a day, and leave my lassies with you."
"All right. All right. They'll be safe with me, as safe as in Chancery! I'll take them where they must go, scold them a bit, and pet them a bit," said Marya Dmitrievna, touching her goddaughter and favorite, Natasha, on the cheek with her large hand.
Next morning Marya Dmitrievna took the young ladies to the Iberian shrine of the Mother of God and to Madame Suppert-Roguet, who was so afraid of Marya Dmitrievna that she always let her have costumes at a loss merely to get rid of her. Marya Dmitrievna ordered almost the whole trousseau. When they got home she turned everybody out of the room except Natasha, and then called her pet to her armchair.
"Well, now we'll talk. I congratulate you on your betrothed. You've hooked a fine fellow! I am glad for your sake and I've known him since he was so high." She held her hand a couple of feet from the ground. Natasha blushed happily. "I like him and all his family. Now listen! You know that old Prince Nicholas much dislikes his son's marrying. The old fellow's crotchety! Of course Prince Andrew is not a child and can shift without him, but it's not nice to enter a family against a father's will. One wants to do it peacefully and lovingly. You're a clever girl and you'll know how to manage. Be kind, and use your wits. Then all will be well."
Natasha remained silent, from shyness Marya Dmitrievna supposed, but really because she disliked anyone interfering in what touched her love of Prince Andrew, which seemed to her so apart from all human affairs that no one could understand it. She loved and knew Prince Andrew, he loved her only, and was to come one of these days and take her. She wanted nothing more.
"You see I have known him a long time and am also fond of Mary, your future sister-in-law. 'Husbands' sisters bring up blisters,' but this one wouldn't hurt a fly. She has asked me to bring you two together. Tomorrow you'll go with your father to see her. Be very nice and affectionate to her: you're younger than she. When he comes, he'll find you already know his sister and father and are liked by them. Am I right or not? Won't that be best?"
"Yes, it will," Natasha answered reluctantly.
Next day, by Marya Dmitrievna's advice, Count Rostov took Natasha to call on Prince Nicholas Bolkonski. The count did not set out cheerfully on this visit, at heart he felt afraid. He well remembered the last interview he had had with the old prince at the time of the enrollment, when in reply to an invitation to dinner he had had to listen to an angry reprimand for not having provided his full quota of men. Natasha, on the other hand, having put on her best gown, was in the highest spirits. "They can't help liking me," she thought. "Everybody always has liked me, and I am so willing to do anything they wish, so ready to be fond of him—for being his father—and of her—for being his sister—that there is no reason for them not to like me..."
They drove up to the gloomy old house on the Vozdvizhenka and entered the vestibule.
"Well, the Lord have mercy on us!" said the count, half in jest, half in earnest; but Natasha noticed that her father was flurried on entering the anteroom and inquired timidly and softly whether the prince and princess were at home.
When they had been announced a perturbation was noticeable among the servants. The footman who had gone to announce them was stopped by another in the large hall and they whispered to one another. Then a maidservant ran into the hall and hurriedly said something, mentioning the princess. At last an old, cross looking footman came and announced to the Rostovs that the prince was not receiving, but that the princess begged them to walk up. The first person who came to meet the visitors was Mademoiselle Bourienne. She greeted the father and daughter with special politeness and showed them to the princess' room. The princess, looking excited and nervous, her face flushed in patches, ran in to meet the visitors, treading heavily, and vainly trying to appear cordial and at ease. From the first glance Princess Mary did not like Natasha. She thought her too fashionably dressed, frivolously gay and vain. She did not at all realize that before having seen her future sister-in-law she was prejudiced against her by involuntary envy of her beauty, youth, and happiness, as well as by jealousy of her brother's love for her. Apart from this insuperable antipathy to her, Princess Mary was agitated just then because on the Rostovs' being announced, the old prince had shouted that he did not wish to see them, that Princess Mary might do so if she chose, but they were not to be admitted to him. She had decided to receive them, but feared lest the prince might at any moment indulge in some freak, as he seemed much upset by the Rostovs' visit.
"There, my dear princess, I've brought you my songstress," said the count, bowing and looking round uneasily as if afraid the old prince might appear. "I am so glad you should get to know one another... very sorry the prince is still ailing," and after a few more commonplace remarks he rose. "If you'll allow me to leave my Natasha in your hands for a quarter of an hour, Princess, I'll drive round to see Anna Semenovna, it's quite near in the Dogs' Square, and then I'll come back for her."
The count had devised this diplomatic ruse (as he afterwards told his daughter) to give the future sisters-in-law an opportunity to talk to one another freely, but another motive was to avoid the danger of encountering the old prince, of whom he was afraid. He did not mention this to his daughter, but Natasha noticed her father's nervousness and anxiety and felt mortified by it. She blushed for him, grew still angrier at having blushed, and looked at the princess with a bold and defiant expression which said that she was not afraid of anybody. The princess told the count that she would be delighted, and only begged him to stay longer at Anna Semenovna's, and he departed.
Despite the uneasy glances thrown at her by Princess Mary—who wished to have a tête-à-tête with Natasha—Mademoiselle Bourienne remained in the room and persistently talked about Moscow amusements and theaters. Natasha felt offended by the hesitation she had noticed in the anteroom, by her father's nervousness, and by the unnatural manner of the princess who—she thought—was making a favor of receiving her, and so everything displeased her. She did not like Princess Mary, whom she thought very plain, affected, and dry. Natasha suddenly shrank into herself and involuntarily assumed an offhand air which alienated Princess Mary still more. After five minutes of irksome, constrained conversation, they heard the sound of slippered feet rapidly approaching. Princess Mary looked frightened.
The door opened and the old prince, in a dressing gown and a white nightcap, came in.
"Ah, madam!" he began. "Madam, Countess... Countess Rostova, if I am not mistaken... I beg you to excuse me, to excuse me... I did not know, madam. God is my witness, I did not know you had honored us with a visit, and I came in such a costume only to see my daughter. I beg you to excuse me... God is my witness, I didn't know-" he repeated, stressing the word "God" so unnaturally and so unpleasantly that Princess Mary stood with downcast eyes not daring to look either at her father or at Natasha.
Nor did the latter, having risen and curtsied, know what to do. Mademoiselle Bourienne alone smiled agreeably.
"I beg you to excuse me, excuse me! God is my witness, I did not know," muttered the old man, and after looking Natasha over from head to foot he went out.
Mademoiselle Bourienne was the first to recover herself after this apparition and began speaking about the prince's indisposition. Natasha and Princess Mary looked at one another in silence, and the longer they did so without saying what they wanted to say, the greater grew their antipathy to one another.
When the count returned, Natasha was impolitely pleased and hastened to get away: at that moment she hated the stiff, elderly princess, who could place her in such an embarrassing position and had spent half an hour with her without once mentioning Prince Andrew. "I couldn't begin talking about him in the presence of that Frenchwoman," thought Natasha. The same thought was meanwhile tormenting Princess Mary. She knew what she ought to have said to Natasha, but she had been unable to say it because Mademoiselle Bourienne was in the way, and because, without knowing why, she felt it very difficult to speak of the marriage. When the count was already leaving the room, Princess Mary went up hurriedly to Natasha, took her by the hand, and said with a deep sigh:
"Wait, I must..."
Natasha glanced at her ironically without knowing why.
"Dear Natalie," said Princess Mary, "I want you to know that I am glad my brother has found happiness...."
She paused, feeling that she was not telling the truth. Natasha noticed this and guessed its reason.
"I think, Princess, it is not convenient to speak of that now," she said with external dignity and coldness, though she felt the tears choking her.
"What have I said and what have I done?" thought she, as soon as she was out of the room.
They waited a long time for Natasha to come to dinner that day. She sat in her room crying like a child, blowing her nose and sobbing. Sonya stood beside her, kissing her hair.
"Natasha, what is it about?" she asked. "What do they matter to you? It will all pass, Natasha."
"But if you only knew how offensive it was... as if I..."
"Don't talk about it, Natasha. It wasn't your fault so why should you mind? Kiss me," said Sonya.
Natasha raised her head and, kissing her friend on the lips, pressed her wet face against her.
"I can't tell you, I don't know. No one's to blame," said Natasha—"It's my fault. But it all hurts terribly. Oh, why doesn't he come?..."
She came in to dinner with red eyes. Marya Dmitrievna, who knew how the prince had received the Rostovs, pretended not to notice how upset Natasha was and jested resolutely and loudly at table with the count and the other guests.
That evening the Rostovs went to the Opera, for which Marya Dmitrievna had taken a box.
Natasha did not want to go, but could not refuse Marya Dmitrievna's kind offer which was intended expressly for her. When she came ready dressed into the ballroom to await her father, and looking in the large mirror there saw that she was pretty, very pretty, she felt even more sad, but it was a sweet, tender sadness.
"O God, if he were here now I would not behave as I did then, but differently. I would not be silly and afraid of things, I would simply embrace him, cling to him, and make him look at me with those searching inquiring eyes with which he has so often looked at me, and then I would make him laugh as he used to laugh. And his eyes—how I see those eyes!" thought Natasha. "And what do his father and sister matter to me? I love him alone, him, him, with that face and those eyes, with his smile, manly and yet childlike.... No, I had better not think of him; not think of him but forget him, quite forget him for the present. I can't bear this waiting and I shall cry in a minute!" and she turned away from the glass, making an effort not to cry. "And how can Sonya love Nicholas so calmly and quietly and wait so long and so patiently?" thought she, looking at Sonya, who also came in quite ready, with a fan in her hand. "No, she's altogether different. I can't!"
Natasha at that moment felt so softened and tender that it was not enough for her to love and know she was beloved, she wanted now, at once, to embrace the man she loved, to speak and hear from him words of love such as filled her heart. While she sat in the carriage beside her father, pensively watching the lights of the street lamps flickering on the frozen window, she felt still sadder and more in love, and forgot where she was going and with whom. Having fallen into the line of carriages, the Rostovs' carriage drove up to the theater, its wheels squeaking over the snow. Natasha and Sonya, holding up their dresses, jumped out quickly. The count got out helped by the footmen, and, passing among men and women who were entering and the program sellers, they all three went along the corridor to the first row of boxes. Through the closed doors the music was already audible.
"Natasha, your hair!..." whispered Sonya.
An attendant deferentially and quickly slipped before the ladies and opened the door of their box. The music sounded louder and through the door rows of brightly lit boxes in which ladies sat with bare arms and shoulders, and noisy stalls brilliant with uniforms, glittered before their eyes. A lady entering the next box shot a glance of feminine envy at Natasha. The curtain had not yet risen and the overture was being played. Natasha, smoothing her gown, went in with Sonya and sat down, scanning the brilliant tiers of boxes opposite. A sensation she had not experienced for a long time—that of hundreds of eyes looking at her bare arms and neck—suddenly affected her both agreeably and disagreeably and called up a whole crowd of memories, desires and emotions associated with that feeling.
The two remarkably pretty girls, Natasha and Sonya, with Count Rostov who had not been seen in Moscow for a long time, attracted general attention. Moreover, everybody knew vaguely of Natasha's engagement to Prince Andrew, and knew that the Rostovs had lived in the country ever since, and all looked with curiosity at a fiancee who was making one of the best matches in Russia.
Natasha's looks, as everyone told her, had improved in the country, and that evening thanks to her agitation she was particularly pretty. She struck those who saw her by her fullness of life and beauty, combined with her indifference to everything about her. Her black eyes looked at the crowd without seeking anyone, and her delicate arm, bare to above the elbow, lay on the velvet edge of the box, while, evidently unconsciously, she opened and closed her hand in time to the music, crumpling her program. "Look, there's Alenina," said Sonya, "with her mother, isn't it?"
"Dear me, Michael Kirilovich has grown still stouter!" remarked the count.
"Look at our Anna Mikhaylovna—what a headdress she has on!"
"The Karagins, Julie—and Boris with them. One can see at once that they're engaged...."
"Drubetskoy has proposed?"
"Oh yes, I heard it today," said Shinshin, coming into the Rostovs' box.
Natasha looked in the direction in which her father's eyes were turned and saw Julie sitting beside her mother with a happy look on her face and a string of pearls round her thick red neck—which Natasha knew was covered with powder. Behind them, wearing a smile and leaning over with an ear to Julie's mouth, was Boris' handsome smoothly brushed head. He looked at the Rostovs from under his brows and said something, smiling, to his betrothed.
"They are talking about us, about me and him!" thought Natasha. "And he no doubt is calming her jealousy of me. They needn't trouble themselves! If only they knew how little I am concerned about any of them."
Behind them sat Anna Mikhaylovna wearing a green headdress and with a happy look of resignation to the will of God on her face. Their box was pervaded by that atmosphere of an affianced couple which Natasha knew so well and liked so much. She turned away and suddenly remembered all that had been so humiliating in her morning's visit.
"What right has he not to wish to receive me into his family? Oh, better not think of it—not till he comes back!" she told herself, and began looking at the faces, some strange and some familiar, in the stalls. In the front, in the very center, leaning back against the orchestra rail, stood Dolokhov in a Persian dress, his curly hair brushed up into a huge shock. He stood in full view of the audience, well aware that he was attracting everyone's attention, yet as much at ease as though he were in his own room. Around him thronged Moscow's most brilliant young men, whom he evidently dominated.
The count, laughing, nudged the blushing Sonya and pointed to her former adorer.
"Do you recognize him?" said he. "And where has he sprung from?" he asked, turning to Shinshin. "Didn't he vanish somewhere?"
"He did," replied Shinshin. "He was in the Caucasus and ran away from there. They say he has been acting as minister to some ruling prince in Persia, where he killed the Shah's brother. Now all the Moscow ladies are mad about him! It's 'Dolokhov the Persian' that does it! We never hear a word but Dolokhov is mentioned. They swear by him, they offer him to you as they would a dish of choice sterlet. Dolokhov and Anatole Kuragin have turned all our ladies' heads."
A tall, beautiful woman with a mass of plaited hair and much exposed plump white shoulders and neck, round which she wore a double string of large pearls, entered the adjoining box rustling her heavy silk dress and took a long time settling into her place.
Natasha involuntarily gazed at that neck, those shoulders, and pearls and coiffure, and admired the beauty of the shoulders and the pearls. While Natasha was fixing her gaze on her for the second time the lady looked round and, meeting the count's eyes, nodded to him and smiled. She was the Countess Bezukhova, Pierre's wife, and the count, who knew everyone in society, leaned over and spoke to her.
"Have you been here long, Countess?" he inquired. "I'll call, I'll call to kiss your hand. I'm here on business and have brought my girls with me. They say Semenova acts marvelously. Count Pierre never used to forget us. Is he here?"
"Yes, he meant to look in," answered Helene, and glanced attentively at Natasha.
Count Rostov resumed his seat.
"Handsome, isn't she?" he whispered to Natasha.
"Wonderful!" answered Natasha. "She's a woman one could easily fall in love with."
Just then the last chords of the overture were heard and the conductor tapped with his stick. Some latecomers took their seats in the stalls, and the curtain rose.
As soon as it rose everyone in the boxes and stalls became silent, and all the men, old and young, in uniform and evening dress, and all the women with gems on their bare flesh, turned their whole attention with eager curiosity to the stage. Natasha too began to look at it.
The floor of the stage consisted of smooth boards, at the sides was some painted cardboard representing trees, and at the back was a cloth stretched over boards. In the center of the stage sat some girls in red bodices and white skirts. One very fat girl in a white silk dress sat apart on a low bench, to the back of which a piece of green cardboard was glued. They all sang something. When they had finished their song the girl in white went up to the prompter's box and a man with tight silk trousers over his stout legs, and holding a plume and a dagger, went up to her and began singing, waving his arms about.
First the man in the tight trousers sang alone, then she sang, then they both paused while the orchestra played and the man fingered the hand of the girl in white, obviously awaiting the beat to start singing with her. They sang together and everyone in the theater began clapping and shouting, while the man and woman on the stage—who represented lovers—began smiling, spreading out their arms, and bowing.
After her life in the country, and in her present serious mood, all this seemed grotesque and amazing to Natasha. She could not follow the opera nor even listen to the music; she saw only the painted cardboard and the queerly dressed men and women who moved, spoke, and sang so strangely in that brilliant light. She knew what it was all meant to represent, but it was so pretentiously false and unnatural that she first felt ashamed for the actors and then amused at them. She looked at the faces of the audience, seeking in them the same sense of ridicule and perplexity she herself experienced, but they all seemed attentive to what was happening on the stage, and expressed delight which to Natasha seemed feigned. "I suppose it has to be like this!" she thought. She kept looking round in turn at the rows of pomaded heads in the stalls and then at the seminude women in the boxes, especially at Helene in the next box, who—apparently quite unclothed—sat with a quiet tranquil smile, not taking her eyes off the stage. And feeling the bright light that flooded the whole place and the warm air heated by the crowd, Natasha little by little began to pass into a state of intoxication she had not experienced for a long while. She did not realize who and where she was, nor what was going on before her. As she looked and thought, the strangest fancies unexpectedly and disconnectedly passed through her mind: the idea occurred to her of jumping onto the edge of the box and singing the air the actress was singing, then she wished to touch with her fan an old gentleman sitting not far from her, then to lean over to Helene and tickle her.
At a moment when all was quiet before the commencement of a song, a door leading to the stalls on the side nearest the Rostovs' box creaked, and the steps of a belated arrival were heard. "There's Kuragin!" whispered Shinshin. Countess Bezukhova turned smiling to the newcomer, and Natasha, following the direction of that look, saw an exceptionally handsome adjutant approaching their box with a self-assured yet courteous bearing. This was Anatole Kuragin whom she had seen and noticed long ago at the ball in Petersburg. He was now in an adjutant's uniform with one epaulet and a shoulder knot. He moved with a restrained swagger which would have been ridiculous had he not been so good-looking and had his handsome face not worn such an expression of good-humored complacency and gaiety. Though the performance was proceeding, he walked deliberately down the carpeted gangway, his sword and spurs slightly jingling and his handsome perfumed head held high. Having looked at Natasha he approached his sister, laid his well gloved hand on the edge of her box, nodded to her, and leaning forward asked a question, with a motion toward Natasha.
"Mais charmante!" said he, evidently referring to Natasha, who did not exactly hear his words but understood them from the movement of his lips. Then he took his place in the first row of the stalls and sat down beside Dolokhov, nudging with his elbow in a friendly and offhand way that Dolokhov whom others treated so fawningly. He winked at him gaily, smiled, and rested his foot against the orchestra screen.
"How like the brother is to the sister," remarked the count. "And how handsome they both are!"
Shinshin, lowering his voice, began to tell the count of some intrigue of Kuragin's in Moscow, and Natasha tried to overhear it just because he had said she was "charmante."
The first act was over. In the stalls everyone began moving about, going out and coming in.
Boris came to the Rostovs' box, received their congratulations very simply, and raising his eyebrows with an absent-minded smile conveyed to Natasha and Sonya his fiancee's invitation to her wedding, and went away. Natasha with a gay, coquettish smile talked to him, and congratulated on his approaching wedding that same Boris with whom she had formerly been in love. In the state of intoxication she was in, everything seemed simple and natural.
The scantily clad Helene smiled at everyone in the same way, and Natasha gave Boris a similar smile.
Helene's box was filled and surrounded from the stalls by the most distinguished and intellectual men, who seemed to vie with one another in their wish to let everyone see that they knew her.
During the whole of that entr'acte Kuragin stood with Dolokhov in front of the orchestra partition, looking at the Rostovs' box. Natasha knew he was talking about her and this afforded her pleasure. She even turned so that he should see her profile in what she thought was its most becoming aspect. Before the beginning of the second act Pierre appeared in the stalls. The Rostovs had not seen him since their arrival. His face looked sad, and he had grown still stouter since Natasha last saw him. He passed up to the front rows, not noticing anyone. Anatole went up to him and began speaking to him, looking at and indicating the Rostovs' box. On seeing Natasha Pierre grew animated and, hastily passing between the rows, came toward their box. When he got there he leaned on his elbows and, smiling, talked to her for a long time. While conversing with Pierre, Natasha heard a man's voice in Countess Bezukhova's box and something told her it was Kuragin. She turned and their eyes met. Almost smiling, he gazed straight into her eyes with such an enraptured caressing look that it seemed strange to be so near him, to look at him like that, to be so sure he admired her, and not to be acquainted with him.
In the second act there was scenery representing tombstones, there was a round hole in the canvas to represent the moon, shades were raised over the footlights, and from horns and contrabass came deep notes while many people appeared from right and left wearing black cloaks and holding things like daggers in their hands. They began waving their arms. Then some other people ran in and began dragging away the maiden who had been in white and was now in light blue. They did not drag her away at once, but sang with her for a long time and then at last dragged her off, and behind the scenes something metallic was struck three times and everyone knelt down and sang a prayer. All these things were repeatedly interrupted by the enthusiastic shouts of the audience.
During this act every time Natasha looked toward the stalls she saw Anatole Kuragin with an arm thrown across the back of his chair, staring at her. She was pleased to see that he was captivated by her and it did not occur to her that there was anything wrong in it.
When the second act was over Countess Bezukhova rose, turned to the Rostovs' box—her whole bosom completely exposed—beckoned the old count with a gloved finger, and paying no attention to those who had entered her box began talking to him with an amiable smile.
"Do make me acquainted with your charming daughters," said she. "The whole town is singing their praises and I don't even know them!"
Natasha rose and curtsied to the splendid countess. She was so pleased by praise from this brilliant beauty that she blushed with pleasure.
"I want to become a Moscovite too, now," said Helene. "How is it you're not ashamed to bury such pearls in the country?"
Countess Bezukhova quite deserved her reputation of being a fascinating woman. She could say what she did not think—especially what was flattering—quite simply and naturally.
"Dear count, you must let me look after your daughters! Though I am not staying here long this time—nor are you—I will try to amuse them. I have already heard much of you in Petersburg and wanted to get to know you," said she to Natasha with her stereotyped and lovely smile. "I had heard about you from my page, Drubetskoy. Have you heard he is getting married? And also from my husband's friend Bolkonski, Prince Andrew Bolkonski," she went on with special emphasis, implying that she knew of his relation to Natasha. To get better acquainted she asked that one of the young ladies should come into her box for the rest of the performance, and Natasha moved over to it.
The scene of the third act represented a palace in which many candles were burning and pictures of knights with short beards hung on the walls. In the middle stood what were probably a king and a queen. The king waved his right arm and, evidently nervous, sang something badly and sat down on a crimson throne. The maiden who had been first in white and then in light blue, now wore only a smock, and stood beside the throne with her hair down. She sang something mournfully, addressing the queen, but the king waved his arm severely, and men and women with bare legs came in from both sides and began dancing all together. Then the violins played very shrilly and merrily and one of the women with thick bare legs and thin arms, separating from the others, went behind the wings, adjusted her bodice, returned to the middle of the stage, and began jumping and striking one foot rapidly against the other. In the stalls everyone clapped and shouted "bravo!" Then one of the men went into a corner of the stage. The cymbals and horns in the orchestra struck up more loudly, and this man with bare legs jumped very high and waved his feet about very rapidly. (He was Duport, who received sixty thousand rubles a year for this art.) Everybody in the stalls, boxes, and galleries began clapping and shouting with all their might, and the man stopped and began smiling and bowing to all sides. Then other men and women danced with bare legs. Then the king again shouted to the sound of music, and they all began singing. But suddenly a storm came on, chromatic scales and diminished sevenths were heard in the orchestra, everyone ran off, again dragging one of their number away, and the curtain dropped. Once more there was a terrible noise and clatter among the audience, and with rapturous faces everyone began shouting: "Duport! Duport! Duport!" Natasha no longer thought this strange. She looked about with pleasure, smiling joyfully.
"Isn't Duport delightful?" Helene asked her.
"Oh, yes," replied Natasha.
During the entr'acte a whiff of cold air came into Helene's box, the door opened, and Anatole entered, stooping and trying not to brush against anyone.
"Let me introduce my brother to you," said Helene, her eyes shifting uneasily from Natasha to Anatole.
Natasha turned her pretty little head toward the elegant young officer and smiled at him over her bare shoulder. Anatole, who was as handsome at close quarters as at a distance, sat down beside her and told her he had long wished to have this happiness—ever since the Naryshkins' ball in fact, at which he had had the well-remembered pleasure of seeing her. Kuragin was much more sensible and simple with women than among men. He talked boldly and naturally, and Natasha was strangely and agreeably struck by the fact that there was nothing formidable in this man about whom there was so much talk, but that on the contrary his smile was most naive, cheerful, and good-natured.
Kuragin asked her opinion of the performance and told her how at a previous performance Semenova had fallen down on the stage.
"And do you know, Countess," he said, suddenly addressing her as an old, familiar acquaintance, "we are getting up a costume tournament; you ought to take part in it! It will be great fun. We shall all meet at the Karagins'! Please come! No! Really, eh?" said he.
While saying this he never removed his smiling eyes from her face, her neck, and her bare arms. Natasha knew for certain that he was enraptured by her. This pleased her, yet his presence made her feel constrained and oppressed. When she was not looking at him she felt that he was looking at her shoulders, and she involuntarily caught his eye so that he should look into hers rather than this. But looking into his eyes she was frightened, realizing that there was not that barrier of modesty she had always felt between herself and other men. She did not know how it was that within five minutes she had come to feel herself terribly near to this man. When she turned away she feared he might seize her from behind by her bare arm and kiss her on the neck. They spoke of most ordinary things, yet she felt that they were closer to one another than she had ever been to any man. Natasha kept turning to Helene and to her father, as if asking what it all meant, but Helene was engaged in conversation with a general and did not answer her look, and her father's eyes said nothing but what they always said: "Having a good time? Well, I'm glad of it!"
During one of these moments of awkward silence when Anatole's prominent eyes were gazing calmly and fixedly at her, Natasha, to break the silence, asked him how he liked Moscow. She asked the question and blushed. She felt all the time that by talking to him she was doing something improper. Anatole smiled as though to encourage her.
"At first I did not like it much, because what makes a town pleasant ce sont les jolies femmes, * isn't that so? But now I like it very much indeed," he said, looking at her significantly. "You'll come to the costume tournament, Countess? Do come!" and putting out his hand to her bouquet and dropping his voice, he added, "You will be the prettiest there. Do come, dear countess, and give me this flower as a pledge!"
* Are the pretty women.
Natasha did not understand what he was saying any more than he did himself, but she felt that his incomprehensible words had an improper intention. She did not know what to say and turned away as if she had not heard his remark. But as soon as she had turned away she felt that he was there, behind, so close behind her.
"How is he now? Confused? Angry? Ought I to put it right?" she asked herself, and she could not refrain from turning round. She looked straight into his eyes, and his nearness, self-assurance, and the good-natured tenderness of his smile vanquished her. She smiled just as he was doing, gazing straight into his eyes. And again she felt with horror that no barrier lay between him and her.
The curtain rose again. Anatole left the box, serene and gay. Natasha went back to her father in the other box, now quite submissive to the world she found herself in. All that was going on before her now seemed quite natural, but on the other hand all her previous thoughts of her betrothed, of Princess Mary, or of life in the country did not once recur to her mind and were as if belonging to a remote past.
In the fourth act there was some sort of devil who sang waving his arm about, till the boards were withdrawn from under him and he disappeared down below. That was the only part of the fourth act that Natasha saw. She felt agitated and tormented, and the cause of this was Kuragin whom she could not help watching. As they were leaving the theater Anatole came up to them, called their carriage, and helped them in. As he was putting Natasha in he pressed her arm above the elbow. Agitated and flushed she turned round. He was looking at her with glittering eyes, smiling tenderly.
Only after she had reached home was Natasha able clearly to think over what had happened to her, and suddenly remembering Prince Andrew she was horrified, and at tea to which all had sat down after the opera, she gave a loud exclamation, flushed, and ran out of the room.
"O God! I am lost!" she said to herself. "How could I let him?" She sat for a long time hiding her flushed face in her hands trying to realize what had happened to her, but was unable either to understand what had happened or what she felt. Everything seemed dark, obscure, and terrible. There in that enormous, illuminated theater where the bare-legged Duport, in a tinsel-decorated jacket, jumped about to the music on wet boards, and young girls and old men, and the nearly naked Helene with her proud, calm smile, rapturously cried "bravo!"—there in the presence of that Helene it had all seemed clear and simple; but now, alone by herself, it was incomprehensible. "What is it? What was that terror I felt of him? What is this gnawing of conscience I am feeling now?" she thought.
Only to the old countess at night in bed could Natasha have told all she was feeling. She knew that Sonya with her severe and simple views would either not understand it at all or would be horrified at such a confession. So Natasha tried to solve what was torturing her by herself.
"Am I spoiled for Andrew's love or not?" she asked herself, and with soothing irony replied: "What a fool I am to ask that! What did happen to me? Nothing! I have done nothing, I didn't lead him on at all. Nobody will know and I shall never see him again," she told herself. "So it is plain that nothing has happened and there is nothing to repent of, and Andrew can love me still. But why 'still?' O God, why isn't he here?" Natasha quieted herself for a moment, but again some instinct told her that though all this was true, and though nothing had happened, yet the former purity of her love for Prince Andrew had perished. And again in imagination she went over her whole conversation with Kuragin, and again saw the face, gestures, and tender smile of that bold handsome man when he pressed her arm.
Anatole Kuragin was staying in Moscow because his father had sent him away from Petersburg, where he had been spending twenty thousand rubles a year in cash, besides running up debts for as much more, which his creditors demanded from his father.
His father announced to him that he would now pay half his debts for the last time, but only on condition that he went to Moscow as adjutant to the commander-in-chief—a post his father had procured for him—and would at last try to make a good match there. He indicated to him Princess Mary and Julie Karagina.
Anatole consented and went to Moscow, where he put up at Pierre's house. Pierre received him unwillingly at first, but got used to him after a while, sometimes even accompanied him on his carousals, and gave him money under the guise of loans.
As Shinshin had remarked, from the time of his arrival Anatole had turned the heads of the Moscow ladies, especially by the fact that he slighted them and plainly preferred the gypsy girls and French actresses—with the chief of whom, Mademoiselle George, he was said to be on intimate relations. He had never missed a carousal at Danilov's or other Moscow revelers', drank whole nights through, outvying everyone else, and was at all the balls and parties of the best society. There was talk of his intrigues with some of the ladies, and he flirted with a few of them at the balls. But he did not run after the unmarried girls, especially the rich heiresses who were most of them plain. There was a special reason for this, as he had got married two years before—a fact known only to his most intimate friends. At that time while with his regiment in Poland, a Polish landowner of small means had forced him to marry his daughter. Anatole had very soon abandoned his wife and, for a payment which he agreed to send to his father-in-law, had arranged to be free to pass himself off as a bachelor.
Anatole was always content with his position, with himself, and with others. He was instinctively and thoroughly convinced that it was impossible for him to live otherwise than as he did and that he had never in his life done anything base. He was incapable of considering how his actions might affect others or what the consequences of this or that action of his might be. He was convinced that, as a duck is so made that it must live in water, so God had made him such that he must spend thirty thousand rubles a year and always occupy a prominent position in society. He believed this so firmly that others, looking at him, were persuaded of it too and did not refuse him either a leading place in society or money, which he borrowed from anyone and everyone and evidently would not repay.
He was not a gambler, at any rate he did not care about winning. He was not vain. He did not mind what people thought of him. Still less could he be accused of ambition. More than once he had vexed his father by spoiling his own career, and he laughed at distinctions of all kinds. He was not mean, and did not refuse anyone who asked of him. All he cared about was gaiety and women, and as according to his ideas there was nothing dishonorable in these tastes, and he was incapable of considering what the gratification of his tastes entailed for others, he honestly considered himself irreproachable, sincerely despised rogues and bad people, and with a tranquil conscience carried his head high.
Rakes, those male Magdalenes, have a secret feeling of innocence similar to that which female Magdalenes have, based on the same hope of forgiveness. "All will be forgiven her, for she loved much; and all will be forgiven him, for he enjoyed much."
Dolokhov, who had reappeared that year in Moscow after his exile and his Persian adventures, and was leading a life of luxury, gambling, and dissipation, associated with his old Petersburg comrade Kuragin and made use of him for his own ends.
Anatole was sincerely fond of Dolokhov for his cleverness and audacity. Dolokhov, who needed Anatole Kuragin's name, position, and connections as a bait to draw rich young men into his gambling set, made use of him and amused himself at his expense without letting the other feel it. Apart from the advantage he derived from Anatole, the very process of dominating another's will was in itself a pleasure, a habit, and a necessity to Dolokhov.
Natasha had made a strong impression on Kuragin. At supper after the opera he described to Dolokhov with the air of a connoisseur the attractions of her arms, shoulders, feet, and hair and expressed his intention of making love to her. Anatole had no notion and was incapable of considering what might come of such love-making, as he never had any notion of the outcome of any of his actions.
"She's first-rate, my dear fellow, but not for us," replied Dolokhov.
"I will tell my sister to ask her to dinner," said Anatole. "Eh?"
"You'd better wait till she's married...."
"You know, I adore little girls, they lose their heads at once," pursued Anatole.
"You have been caught once already by a 'little girl,'" said Dolokhov who knew of Kuragin's marriage. "Take care!"
"Well, that can't happen twice! Eh?" said Anatole, with a good-humored laugh.
The day after the opera the Rostovs went nowhere and nobody came to see them. Marya Dmitrievna talked to the count about something which they concealed from Natasha. Natasha guessed they were talking about the old prince and planning something, and this disquieted and offended her. She was expecting Prince Andrew any moment and twice that day sent a manservant to the Vozdvizhenka to ascertain whether he had come. He had not arrived. She suffered more now than during her first days in Moscow. To her impatience and pining for him were now added the unpleasant recollection of her interview with Princess Mary and the old prince, and a fear and anxiety of which she did not understand the cause. She continually fancied that either he would never come or that something would happen to her before he came. She could no longer think of him by herself calmly and continuously as she had done before. As soon as she began to think of him, the recollection of the old prince, of Princess Mary, of the theater, and of Kuragin mingled with her thoughts. The question again presented itself whether she was not guilty, whether she had not already broken faith with Prince Andrew, and again she found herself recalling to the minutest detail every word, every gesture, and every shade in the play of expression on the face of the man who had been able to arouse in her such an incomprehensible and terrifying feeling. To the family Natasha seemed livelier than usual, but she was far less tranquil and happy than before.
On Sunday morning Marya Dmitrievna invited her visitors to Mass at her parish church—the Church of the Assumption built over the graves of victims of the plague.
"I don't like those fashionable churches," she said, evidently priding herself on her independence of thought. "God is the same everywhere. We have an excellent priest, he conducts the service decently and with dignity, and the deacon is the same. What holiness is there in giving concerts in the choir? I don't like it, it's just self-indulgence!"
Marya Dmitrievna liked Sundays and knew how to keep them. Her whole house was scrubbed and cleaned on Saturdays; neither she nor the servants worked, and they all wore holiday dress and went to church. At her table there were extra dishes at dinner, and the servants had vodka and roast goose or suckling pig. But in nothing in the house was the holiday so noticeable as in Marya Dmitrievna's broad, stern face, which on that day wore an invariable look of solemn festivity.
After Mass, when they had finished their coffee in the dining room where the loose covers had been removed from the furniture, a servant announced that the carriage was ready, and Marya Dmitrievna rose with a stern air. She wore her holiday shawl, in which she paid calls, and announced that she was going to see Prince Nicholas Bolkonski to have an explanation with him about Natasha.
After she had gone, a dressmaker from Madame Suppert-Roguet waited on the Rostovs, and Natasha, very glad of this diversion, having shut herself into a room adjoining the drawing room, occupied herself trying on the new dresses. Just as she had put on a bodice without sleeves and only tacked together, and was turning her head to see in the glass how the back fitted, she heard in the drawing room the animated sounds of her father's voice and another's—a woman's—that made her flush. It was Helene. Natasha had not time to take off the bodice before the door opened and Countess Bezukhova, dressed in a purple velvet gown with a high collar, came into the room beaming with good-humored amiable smiles.
"Oh, my enchantress!" she cried to the blushing Natasha. "Charming! No, this is really beyond anything, my dear count," said she to Count Rostov who had followed her in. "How can you live in Moscow and go nowhere? No, I won't let you off! Mademoiselle George will recite at my house tonight and there'll be some people, and if you don't bring your lovely girls—who are prettier than Mademoiselle George—I won't know you! My husband is away in Tver or I would send him to fetch you. You must come. You positively must! Between eight and nine."
She nodded to the dressmaker, whom she knew and who had curtsied respectfully to her, and seated herself in an armchair beside the looking glass, draping the folds of her velvet dress picturesquely. She did not cease chattering good-naturedly and gaily, continually praising Natasha's beauty. She looked at Natasha's dresses and praised them, as well as a new dress of her own made of "metallic gauze," which she had received from Paris, and advised Natasha to have one like it.
"But anything suits you, my charmer!" she remarked.
A smile of pleasure never left Natasha's face. She felt happy and as if she were blossoming under the praise of this dear Countess Bezukhova who had formerly seemed to her so unapproachable and important and was now so kind to her. Natasha brightened up and felt almost in love with this woman, who was so beautiful and so kind. Helene for her part was sincerely delighted with Natasha and wished to give her a good time. Anatole had asked her to bring him and Natasha together, and she was calling on the Rostovs for that purpose. The idea of throwing her brother and Natasha together amused her.
Though at one time, in Petersburg, she had been annoyed with Natasha for drawing Boris away, she did not think of that now, and in her own way heartily wished Natasha well. As she was leaving the Rostovs she called her protegee aside.
"My brother dined with me yesterday—we nearly died of laughter—he ate nothing and kept sighing for you, my charmer! He is madly, quite madly, in love with you, my dear."
Natasha blushed scarlet when she heard this.
"How she blushes, how she blushes, my pretty!" said Helene. "You must certainly come. If you love somebody, my charmer, that is not a reason to shut yourself up. Even if you are engaged, I am sure your fiance would wish you to go into society rather than be bored to death."
"So she knows I am engaged, and she and her husband Pierre—that good Pierre—have talked and laughed about this. So it's all right." And again, under Helene's influence, what had seemed terrible now seemed simple and natural. "And she is such a grande dame, so kind, and evidently likes me so much. And why not enjoy myself?" thought Natasha, gazing at Helene with wide-open, wondering eyes.
Marya Dmitrievna came back to dinner taciturn and serious, having evidently suffered a defeat at the old prince's. She was still too agitated by the encounter to be able to talk of the affair calmly. In answer to the count's inquiries she replied that things were all right and that she would tell about it next day. On hearing of Countess Bezukhova's visit and the invitation for that evening, Marya Dmitrievna remarked:
"I don't care to have anything to do with Bezukhova and don't advise you to; however, if you've promised—go. It will divert your thoughts," she added, addressing Natasha.
Count Rostov took the girls to Countess Bezukhova's. There were a good many people there, but nearly all strangers to Natasha. Count Rostov was displeased to see that the company consisted almost entirely of men and women known for the freedom of their conduct. Mademoiselle George was standing in a corner of the drawing room surrounded by young men. There were several Frenchmen present, among them Metivier who from the time Helene reached Moscow had been an intimate in her house. The count decided not to sit down to cards or let his girls out of his sight and to get away as soon as Mademoiselle George's performance was over.
Anatole was at the door, evidently on the lookout for the Rostovs. Immediately after greeting the count he went up to Natasha and followed her. As soon as she saw him she was seized by the same feeling she had had at the opera—gratified vanity at his admiration of her and fear at the absence of a moral barrier between them.
Helene welcomed Natasha delightedly and was loud in admiration of her beauty and her dress. Soon after their arrival Mademoiselle George went out of the room to change her costume. In the drawing room people began arranging the chairs and taking their seats. Anatole moved a chair for Natasha and was about to sit down beside her, but the count, who never lost sight of her, took the seat himself. Anatole sat down behind her.
Mademoiselle George, with her bare, fat, dimpled arms, and a red shawl draped over one shoulder, came into the space left vacant for her, and assumed an unnatural pose. Enthusiastic whispering was audible.
Mademoiselle George looked sternly and gloomily at the audience and began reciting some French verses describing her guilty love for her son. In some places she raised her voice, in others she whispered, lifting her head triumphantly; sometimes she paused and uttered hoarse sounds, rolling her eyes.
"Adorable! divine! delicious!" was heard from every side.
Natasha looked at the fat actress, but neither saw nor heard nor understood anything of what went on before her. She only felt herself again completely borne away into this strange senseless world—so remote from her old world—a world in which it was impossible to know what was good or bad, reasonable or senseless. Behind her sat Anatole, and conscious of his proximity she experienced a frightened sense of expectancy.
After the first monologue the whole company rose and surrounded Mademoiselle George, expressing their enthusiasm.
"How beautiful she is!" Natasha remarked to her father who had also risen and was moving through the crowd toward the actress.
"I don't think so when I look at you!" said Anatole, following Natasha. He said this at a moment when she alone could hear him. "You are enchanting... from the moment I saw you I have never ceased..."
"Come, come, Natasha!" said the count, as he turned back for his daughter. "How beautiful she is!" Natasha without saying anything stepped up to her father and looked at him with surprised inquiring eyes.
After giving several recitations, Mademoiselle George left, and Countess Bezukhova asked her visitors into the ballroom.
The count wished to go home, but Helene entreated him not to spoil her improvised ball, and the Rostovs stayed on. Anatole asked Natasha for a valse and as they danced he pressed her waist and hand and told her she was bewitching and that he loved her. During the ecossaise, which she also danced with him, Anatole said nothing when they happened to be by themselves, but merely gazed at her. Natasha lifted her frightened eyes to him, but there was such confident tenderness in his affectionate look and smile that she could not, whilst looking at him, say what she had to say. She lowered her eyes.
"Don't say such things to me. I am betrothed and love another," she said rapidly.... She glanced at him.
Anatole was not upset or pained by what she had said.
"Don't speak to me of that! What can I do?" said he. "I tell you I am madly, madly, in love with you! Is it my fault that you are enchanting?... It's our turn to begin."
Natasha, animated and excited, looked about her with wide-open frightened eyes and seemed merrier than usual. She understood hardly anything that went on that evening. They danced the ecossaise and the Grossvater. Her father asked her to come home, but she begged to remain. Wherever she went and whomever she was speaking to, she felt his eyes upon her. Later on she recalled how she had asked her father to let her go to the dressing room to rearrange her dress, that Helene had followed her and spoken laughingly of her brother's love, and that she again met Anatole in the little sitting room. Helene had disappeared leaving them alone, and Anatole had taken her hand and said in a tender voice:
"I cannot come to visit you but is it possible that I shall never see you? I love you madly. Can I never...?" and, blocking her path, he brought his face close to hers.
His large, glittering, masculine eyes were so close to hers that she saw nothing but them.
"Natalie?" he whispered inquiringly while she felt her hands being painfully pressed. "Natalie?"
"I don't understand. I have nothing to say," her eyes replied.
Burning lips were pressed to hers, and at the same instant she felt herself released, and Helene's footsteps and the rustle of her dress were heard in the room. Natasha looked round at her, and then, red and trembling, threw a frightened look of inquiry at Anatole and moved toward the door.
"One word, just one, for God's sake!" cried Anatole.
She paused. She so wanted a word from him that would explain to her what had happened and to which she could find no answer.
"Natalie, just a word, only one!" he kept repeating, evidently not knowing what to say and he repeated it till Helene came up to them.
Helene returned with Natasha to the drawing room. The Rostovs went away without staying for supper.
After reaching home Natasha did not sleep all night. She was tormented by the insoluble question whether she loved Anatole or Prince Andrew. She loved Prince Andrew—she remembered distinctly how deeply she loved him. But she also loved Anatole, of that there was no doubt. "Else how could all this have happened?" thought she. "If, after that, I could return his smile when saying good-by, if I was able to let it come to that, it means that I loved him from the first. It means that he is kind, noble, and splendid, and I could not help loving him. What am I to do if I love him and the other one too?" she asked herself, unable to find an answer to these terrible questions.
Morning came with its cares and bustle. Everyone got up and began to move about and talk, dressmakers came again. Marya Dmitrievna appeared, and they were called to breakfast. Natasha kept looking uneasily at everybody with wide-open eyes, as if wishing to intercept every glance directed toward her, and tried to appear the same as usual.
After breakfast, which was her best time, Marya Dmitrievna sat down in her armchair and called Natasha and the count to her.
"Well, friends, I have now thought the whole matter over and this is my advice," she began. "Yesterday, as you know, I went to see Prince Bolkonski. Well, I had a talk with him.... He took it into his head to begin shouting, but I am not one to be shouted down. I said what I had to say!"
"Well, and he?" asked the count.
"He? He's crazy... he did not want to listen. But what's the use of talking? As it is we have worn the poor girl out," said Marya Dmitrievna. "My advice to you is finish your business and go back home to Otradnoe... and wait there."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Natasha.
"Yes, go back," said Marya Dmitrievna, "and wait there. If your betrothed comes here now—there will be no avoiding a quarrel; but alone with the old man he will talk things over and then come on to you."
Count Rostov approved of this suggestion, appreciating its reasonableness. If the old man came round it would be all the better to visit him in Moscow or at Bald Hills later on; and if not, the wedding, against his wishes, could only be arranged at Otradnoe.
"That is perfectly true. And I am sorry I went to see him and took her," said the old count.
"No, why be sorry? Being here, you had to pay your respects. But if he won't—that's his affair," said Marya Dmitrievna, looking for something in her reticule. "Besides, the trousseau is ready, so there is nothing to wait for; and what is not ready I'll send after you. Though I don't like letting you go, it is the best way. So go, with God's blessing!"
Having found what she was looking for in the reticule she handed it to Natasha. It was a letter from Princess Mary.
"She has written to you. How she torments herself, poor thing! She's afraid you might think that she does not like you."
"But she doesn't like me," said Natasha.
"Don't talk nonsense!" cried Marya Dmitrievna.
"I shan't believe anyone, I know she doesn't like me," replied Natasha boldly as she took the letter, and her face expressed a cold and angry resolution that caused Marya Dmitrievna to look at her more intently and to frown.
"Don't answer like that, my good girl!" she said. "What I say is true! Write an answer!" Natasha did not reply and went to her own room to read Princess Mary's letter.
Princess Mary wrote that she was in despair at the misunderstanding that had occurred between them. Whatever her father's feelings might be, she begged Natasha to believe that she could not help loving her as the one chosen by her brother, for whose happiness she was ready to sacrifice everything.
"Do not think, however," she wrote, "that my father is ill-disposed toward you. He is an invalid and an old man who must be forgiven; but he is good and magnanimous and will love her who makes his son happy." Princess Mary went on to ask Natasha to fix a time when she could see her again.
After reading the letter Natasha sat down at the writing table to answer it. "Dear Princess," she wrote in French quickly and mechanically, and then paused. What more could she write after all that had happened the evening before? "Yes, yes! All that has happened, and now all is changed," she thought as she sat with the letter she had begun before her. "Must I break off with him? Must I really? That's awful..." and to escape from these dreadful thoughts she went to Sonya and began sorting patterns with her.
After dinner Natasha went to her room and again took up Princess Mary's letter. "Can it be that it is all over?" she thought. "Can it be that all this has happened so quickly and has destroyed all that went before?" She recalled her love for Prince Andrew in all its former strength, and at the same time felt that she loved Kuragin. She vividly pictured herself as Prince Andrew's wife, and the scenes of happiness with him she had so often repeated in her imagination, and at the same time, aglow with excitement, recalled every detail of yesterday's interview with Anatole.
"Why could that not be as well?" she sometimes asked herself in complete bewilderment. "Only so could I be completely happy; but now I have to choose, and I can't be happy without either of them. Only," she thought, "to tell Prince Andrew what has happened or to hide it from him are both equally impossible. But with that one nothing is spoiled. But am I really to abandon forever the joy of Prince Andrew's love, in which I have lived so long?"
"Please, Miss!" whispered a maid entering the room with a mysterious air. "A man told me to give you this-" and she handed Natasha a letter.
"Only, for Christ's sake..." the girl went on, as Natasha, without thinking, mechanically broke the seal and read a love letter from Anatole, of which, without taking in a word, she understood only that it was a letter from him—from the man she loved. Yes, she loved him, or else how could that have happened which had happened? And how could she have a love letter from him in her hand?
With trembling hands Natasha held that passionate love letter which Dolokhov had composed for Anatole, and as she read it she found in it an echo of all that she herself imagined she was feeling.
"Since yesterday evening my fate has been sealed; to be loved by you or to die. There is no other way for me," the letter began. Then he went on to say that he knew her parents would not give her to him—for this there were secret reasons he could reveal only to her—but that if she loved him she need only say the word yes, and no human power could hinder their bliss. Love would conquer all. He would steal her away and carry her off to the ends of the earth.
"Yes, yes! I love him!" thought Natasha, reading the letter for the twentieth time and finding some peculiarly deep meaning in each word of it.
That evening Marya Dmitrievna was going to the Akharovs' and proposed to take the girls with her. Natasha, pleading a headache, remained at home.
On returning late in the evening Sonya went to Natasha's room, and to her surprise found her still dressed and asleep on the sofa. Open on the table, beside her lay Anatole's letter. Sonya picked it up and read it.
As she read she glanced at the sleeping Natasha, trying to find in her face an explanation of what she was reading, but did not find it. Her face was calm, gentle, and happy. Clutching her breast to keep herself from choking, Sonya, pale and trembling with fear and agitation, sat down in an armchair and burst into tears.
"How was it I noticed nothing? How could it go so far? Can she have left off loving Prince Andrew? And how could she let Kuragin go to such lengths? He is a deceiver and a villain, that's plain! What will Nicholas, dear noble Nicholas, do when he hears of it? So this is the meaning of her excited, resolute, unnatural look the day before yesterday, yesterday, and today," thought Sonya. "But it can't be that she loves him! She probably opened the letter without knowing who it was from. Probably she is offended by it. She could not do such a thing!"
Sonya wiped away her tears and went up to Natasha, again scanning her face.
"Natasha!" she said, just audibly.
Natasha awoke and saw Sonya.
"Ah, you're back?"
And with the decision and tenderness that often come at the moment of awakening, she embraced her friend, but noticing Sonya's look of embarrassment, her own face expressed confusion and suspicion.
"Sonya, you've read that letter?" she demanded.
"Yes," answered Sonya softly.
Natasha smiled rapturously.
"No, Sonya, I can't any longer!" she said. "I can't hide it from you any longer. You know, we love one another! Sonya, darling, he writes... Sonya..."
Sonya stared open-eyed at Natasha, unable to believe her ears.
"And Bolkonski?" she asked.
"Ah, Sonya, if you only knew how happy I am!" cried Natasha. "You don't know what love is...."
"But, Natasha, can that be all over?"
Natasha looked at Sonya with wide-open eyes as if she could not grasp the question.
"Well, then, are you refusing Prince Andrew?" said Sonya.
"Oh, you don't understand anything! Don't talk nonsense, just listen!" said Natasha, with momentary vexation.
"But I can't believe it," insisted Sonya. "I don't understand. How is it you have loved a man for a whole year and suddenly... Why, you have only seen him three times! Natasha, I don't believe you, you're joking! In three days to forget everything and so..."
"Three days?" said Natasha. "It seems to me I've loved him a hundred years. It seems to me that I have never loved anyone before. You can't understand it.... Sonya, wait a bit, sit here," and Natasha embraced and kissed her.
"I had heard that it happens like this, and you must have heard it too, but it's only now that I feel such love. It's not the same as before. As soon as I saw him I felt he was my master and I his slave, and that I could not help loving him. Yes, his slave! Whatever he orders I shall do. You don't understand that. What can I do? What can I do, Sonya?" cried Natasha with a happy yet frightened expression.
"But think what you are doing," cried Sonya. "I can't leave it like this. This secret correspondence... How could you let him go so far?" she went on, with a horror and disgust she could hardly conceal.
"I told you that I have no will," Natasha replied. "Why can't you understand? I love him!"
"Then I won't let it come to that... I shall tell!" cried Sonya, bursting into tears.
"What do you mean? For God's sake... If you tell, you are my enemy!" declared Natasha. "You want me to be miserable, you want us to be separated...."
When she saw Natasha's fright, Sonya shed tears of shame and pity for her friend.
"But what has happened between you?" she asked. "What has he said to you? Why doesn't he come to the house?"
Natasha did not answer her questions.
"For God's sake, Sonya, don't tell anyone, don't torture me," Natasha entreated. "Remember no one ought to interfere in such matters! I have confided in you...."
"But why this secrecy? Why doesn't he come to the house?" asked Sonya. "Why doesn't he openly ask for your hand? You know Prince Andrew gave you complete freedom—if it is really so; but I don't believe it! Natasha, have you considered what these secret reasons can be?"
Natasha looked at Sonya with astonishment. Evidently this question presented itself to her mind for the first time and she did not know how to answer it.
"I don't know what the reasons are. But there must be reasons!"
Sonya sighed and shook her head incredulously.
"If there were reasons..." she began.
But Natasha, guessing her doubts, interrupted her in alarm.
"Sonya, one can't doubt him! One can't, one can't! Don't you understand?" she cried.
"Does he love you?"
"Does he love me?" Natasha repeated with a smile of pity at her friend's lack of comprehension. "Why, you have read his letter and you have seen him."
"But if he is dishonorable?"
"He! dishonorable? If you only knew!" exclaimed Natasha.
"If he is an honorable man he should either declare his intentions or cease seeing you; and if you won't do this, I will. I will write to him, and I will tell Papa!" said Sonya resolutely.
"But I can't live without him!" cried Natasha.
"Natasha, I don't understand you. And what are you saying! Think of your father and of Nicholas."
"I don't want anyone, I don't love anyone but him. How dare you say he is dishonorable? Don't you know that I love him?" screamed Natasha. "Go away, Sonya! I don't want to quarrel with you, but go, for God's sake go! You see how I am suffering!" Natasha cried angrily, in a voice of despair and repressed irritation. Sonya burst into sobs and ran from the room.
Natasha went to the table and without a moment's reflection wrote that answer to Princess Mary which she had been unable to write all the morning. In this letter she said briefly that all their misunderstandings were at an end; that availing herself of the magnanimity of Prince Andrew who when he went abroad had given her her freedom, she begged Princess Mary to forget everything and forgive her if she had been to blame toward her, but that she could not be his wife. At that moment this all seemed quite easy, simple, and clear to Natasha.
On Friday the Rostovs were to return to the country, but on Wednesday the count went with the prospective purchaser to his estate near Moscow.
On the day the count left, Sonya and Natasha were invited to a big dinner party at the Karagins', and Marya Dmitrievna took them there. At that party Natasha again met Anatole, and Sonya noticed that she spoke to him, trying not to be overheard, and that all through dinner she was more agitated than ever. When they got home Natasha was the first to begin the explanation Sonya expected.
"There, Sonya, you were talking all sorts of nonsense about him," Natasha began in a mild voice such as children use when they wish to be praised. "We have had an explanation today."
"Well, what happened? What did he say? Natasha, how glad I am you're not angry with me! Tell me everything—the whole truth. What did he say?"
Natasha became thoughtful.
"Oh, Sonya, if you knew him as I do! He said... He asked me what I had promised Bolkonski. He was glad I was free to refuse him."
Sonya sighed sorrowfully.
"But you haven't refused Bolkonski?" said she.
"Perhaps I have. Perhaps all is over between me and Bolkonski. Why do you think so badly of me?"
"I don't think anything, only I don't understand this..."
"Wait a bit, Sonya, you'll understand everything. You'll see what a man he is! Now don't think badly of me or of him. I don't think badly of anyone: I love and pity everybody. But what am I to do?"
Sonya did not succumb to the tender tone Natasha used toward her. The more emotional and ingratiating the expression of Natasha's face became, the more serious and stern grew Sonya's.
"Natasha," said she, "you asked me not to speak to you, and I haven't spoken, but now you yourself have begun. I don't trust him, Natasha. Why this secrecy?"
"Again, again!" interrupted Natasha.
"Natasha, I am afraid for you!"
"Afraid of what?"
"I am afraid you're going to your ruin," said Sonya resolutely, and was herself horrified at what she had said.
Anger again showed in Natasha's face.
"And I'll go to my ruin, I will, as soon as possible! It's not your business! It won't be you, but I, who'll suffer. Leave me alone, leave me alone! I hate you!"
"Natasha!" moaned Sonya, aghast.
"I hate you, I hate you! You're my enemy forever!" And Natasha ran out of the room.
Natasha did not speak to Sonya again and avoided her. With the same expression of agitated surprise and guilt she went about the house, taking up now one occupation, now another, and at once abandoning them.
Hard as it was for Sonya, she watched her friend and did not let her out of her sight.
The day before the count was to return, Sonya noticed that Natasha sat by the drawing-room window all the morning as if expecting something and that she made a sign to an officer who drove past, whom Sonya took to be Anatole.
Sonya began watching her friend still more attentively and noticed that at dinner and all that evening Natasha was in a strange and unnatural state. She answered questions at random, began sentences she did not finish, and laughed at everything.
After tea Sonya noticed a housemaid at Natasha's door timidly waiting to let her pass. She let the girl go in, and then listening at the door learned that another letter had been delivered.
Then suddenly it became clear to Sonya that Natasha had some dreadful plan for that evening. Sonya knocked at her door. Natasha did not let her in.
"She will run away with him!" thought Sonya. "She is capable of anything. There was something particularly pathetic and resolute in her face today. She cried as she said good-by to Uncle," Sonya remembered. "Yes, that's it, she means to elope with him, but what am I to do?" thought she, recalling all the signs that clearly indicated that Natasha had some terrible intention. "The count is away. What am I to do? Write to Kuragin demanding an explanation? But what is there to oblige him to reply? Write to Pierre, as Prince Andrew asked me to in case of some misfortune?... But perhaps she really has already refused Bolkonski—she sent a letter to Princess Mary yesterday. And Uncle is away...." To tell Marya Dmitrievna who had such faith in Natasha seemed to Sonya terrible. "Well, anyway," thought Sonya as she stood in the dark passage, "now or never I must prove that I remember the family's goodness to me and that I love Nicholas. Yes! If I don't sleep for three nights I'll not leave this passage and will hold her back by force and will and not let the family be disgraced," thought she.
Anatole had lately moved to Dolokhov's. The plan for Natalie Rostova's abduction had been arranged and the preparations made by Dolokhov a few days before, and on the day that Sonya, after listening at Natasha's door, resolved to safeguard her, it was to have been put into execution. Natasha had promised to come out to Kuragin at the back porch at ten that evening. Kuragin was to put her into a troyka he would have ready and to drive her forty miles to the village of Kamenka, where an unfrocked priest was in readiness to perform a marriage ceremony over them. At Kamenka a relay of horses was to wait which would take them to the Warsaw highroad, and from there they would hasten abroad with post horses.
Anatole had a passport, an order for post horses, ten thousand rubles he had taken from his sister and another ten thousand borrowed with Dolokhov's help.
Two witnesses for the mock marriage—Khvostikov, a retired petty official whom Dolokhov made use of in his gambling transactions, and Makarin, a retired hussar, a kindly, weak fellow who had an unbounded affection for Kuragin—were sitting at tea in Dolokhov's front room.
In his large study, the walls of which were hung to the ceiling with Persian rugs, bearskins, and weapons, sat Dolokhov in a traveling cloak and high boots, at an open desk on which lay an abacus and some bundles of paper money. Anatole, with uniform unbuttoned, walked to and fro from the room where the witnesses were sitting, through the study to the room behind, where his French valet and others were packing the last of his things. Dolokhov was counting the money and noting something down.
"Well," he said, "Khvostikov must have two thousand."
"Give it to him, then," said Anatole.
"Makarka" (their name for Makarin) "will go through fire and water for you for nothing. So here are our accounts all settled," said Dolokhov, showing him the memorandum. "Is that right?"
"Yes, of course," returned Anatole, evidently not listening to Dolokhov and looking straight before him with a smile that did not leave his face.
Dolokhov banged down the lid of his desk and turned to Anatole with an ironic smile:
"Do you know? You'd really better drop it all. There's still time!"
"Fool," retorted Anatole. "Don't talk nonsense! If you only knew... it's the devil knows what!"
"No, really, give it up!" said Dolokhov. "I am speaking seriously. It's no joke, this plot you've hatched."
"What, teasing again? Go to the devil! Eh?" said Anatole, making a grimace. "Really it's no time for your stupid jokes," and he left the room.
Dolokhov smiled contemptuously and condescendingly when Anatole had gone out.
"You wait a bit," he called after him. "I'm not joking, I'm talking sense. Come here, come here!"
Anatole returned and looked at Dolokhov, trying to give him his attention and evidently submitting to him involuntarily.
"Now listen to me. I'm telling you this for the last time. Why should I joke about it? Did I hinder you? Who arranged everything for you? Who found the priest and got the passport? Who raised the money? I did it all."
"Well, thank you for it. Do you think I am not grateful?" And Anatole sighed and embraced Dolokhov.
"I helped you, but all the same I must tell you the truth; it is a dangerous business, and if you think about it—a stupid business. Well, you'll carry her off—all right! Will they let it stop at that? It will come out that you're already married. Why, they'll have you in the criminal court...."
"Oh, nonsense, nonsense!" Anatole ejaculated and again made a grimace. "Didn't I explain to you? What?" And Anatole, with the partiality dull-witted people have for any conclusion they have reached by their own reasoning, repeated the argument he had already put to Dolokhov a hundred times. "Didn't I explain to you that I have come to this conclusion: if this marriage is invalid," he went on, crooking one finger, "then I have nothing to answer for; but if it is valid, no matter! Abroad no one will know anything about it. Isn't that so? And don't talk to me, don't, don't."
"Seriously, you'd better drop it! You'll only get yourself into a mess!"
"Go to the devil!" cried Anatole and, clutching his hair, left the room, but returned at once and dropped into an armchair in front of Dolokhov with his feet turned under him. "It's the very devil! What? Feel how it beats!" He took Dolokhov's hand and put it on his heart. "What a foot, my dear fellow! What a glance! A goddess!" he added in French. "What?"
Dolokhov with a cold smile and a gleam in his handsome insolent eyes looked at him—evidently wishing to get some more amusement out of him.
"Well and when the money's gone, what then?"
"What then? Eh?" repeated Anatole, sincerely perplexed by a thought of the future. "What then?... Then, I don't know.... But why talk nonsense!" He glanced at his watch. "It's time!"
Anatole went into the back room.
"Now then! Nearly ready? You're dawdling!" he shouted to the servants.
Dolokhov put away the money, called a footman whom he ordered to bring something for them to eat and drink before the journey, and went into the room where Khvostikov and Makarin were sitting.
Anatole lay on the sofa in the study leaning on his elbow and smiling pensively, while his handsome lips muttered tenderly to himself.
"Come and eat something. Have a drink!" Dolokhov shouted to him from the other room.
"I don't want to," answered Anatole continuing to smile.
"Come! Balaga is here."
Anatole rose and went into the dining room. Balaga was a famous troyka driver who had known Dolokhov and Anatole some six years and had given them good service with his troykas. More than once when Anatole's regiment was stationed at Tver he had taken him from Tver in the evening, brought him to Moscow by daybreak, and driven him back again the next night. More than once he had enabled Dolokhov to escape when pursued. More than once he had driven them through the town with gypsies and "ladykins" as he called the cocottes. More than once in their service he had run over pedestrians and upset vehicles in the streets of Moscow and had always been protected from the consequences by "my gentlemen" as he called them. He had ruined more than one horse in their service. More than once they had beaten him, and more than once they had made him drunk on champagne and Madeira, which he loved; and he knew more than one thing about each of them which would long ago have sent an ordinary man to Siberia. They often called Balaga into their orgies and made him drink and dance at the gypsies', and more than one thousand rubles of their money had passed through his hands. In their service he risked his skin and his life twenty times a year, and in their service had lost more horses than the money he had from them would buy. But he liked them; liked that mad driving at twelve miles an hour, liked upsetting a driver or running down a pedestrian, and flying at full gallop through the Moscow streets. He liked to hear those wild, tipsy shouts behind him: "Get on! Get on!" when it was impossible to go any faster. He liked giving a painful lash on the neck to some peasant who, more dead than alive, was already hurrying out of his way. "Real gentlemen!" he considered them.
Anatole and Dolokhov liked Balaga too for his masterly driving and because he liked the things they liked. With others Balaga bargained, charging twenty-five rubles for a two hours' drive, and rarely drove himself, generally letting his young men do so. But with "his gentlemen" he always drove himself and never demanded anything for his work. Only a couple of times a year—when he knew from their valets that they had money in hand—he would turn up of a morning quite sober and with a deep bow would ask them to help him. The gentlemen always made him sit down.
"Do help me out, Theodore Ivanych, sir," or "your excellency," he would say. "I am quite out of horses. Let me have what you can to go to the fair."
And Anatole and Dolokhov, when they had money, would give him a thousand or a couple of thousand rubles.
Balaga was a fair-haired, short, and snub-nosed peasant of about twenty-seven; red-faced, with a particularly red thick neck, glittering little eyes, and a small beard. He wore a fine, dark-blue, silk-lined cloth coat over a sheepskin.
On entering the room now he crossed himself, turning toward the front corner of the room, and went up to Dolokhov, holding out a small, black hand.
"Theodore Ivanych!" he said, bowing.
"How d'you do, friend? Well, here he is!"
"Good day, your excellency!" he said, again holding out his hand to Anatole who had just come in.
"I say, Balaga," said Anatole, putting his hands on the man's shoulders, "do you care for me or not? Eh? Now, do me a service.... What horses have you come with? Eh?"
"As your messenger ordered, your special beasts," replied Balaga.
"Well, listen, Balaga! Drive all three to death but get me there in three hours. Eh?"
"When they are dead, what shall I drive?" said Balaga with a wink.
"Mind, I'll smash your face in! Don't make jokes!" cried Anatole, suddenly rolling his eyes.
"Why joke?" said the driver, laughing. "As if I'd grudge my gentlemen anything! As fast as ever the horses can gallop, so fast we'll go!"
"Ah!" said Anatole. "Well, sit down."
"Yes, sit down!" said Dolokhov.
"I'll stand, Theodore Ivanych."
"Sit down; nonsense! Have a drink!" said Anatole, and filled a large glass of Madeira for him.
The driver's eyes sparkled at the sight of the wine. After refusing it for manners' sake, he drank it and wiped his mouth with a red silk handkerchief he took out of his cap.
"And when are we to start, your excellency?"
"Well..." Anatole looked at his watch. "We'll start at once. Mind, Balaga! You'll get there in time? Eh?"
"That depends on our luck in starting, else why shouldn't we be there in time?" replied Balaga. "Didn't we get you to Tver in seven hours? I think you remember that, your excellency?"
"Do you know, one Christmas I drove from Tver," said Anatole, smilingly at the recollection and turning to Makarin who gazed rapturously at him with wide-open eyes. "Will you believe it, Makarka, it took one's breath away, the rate we flew. We came across a train of loaded sleighs and drove right over two of them. Eh?"
"Those were horses!" Balaga continued the tale. "That time I'd harnessed two young side horses with the bay in the shafts," he went on, turning to Dolokhov. "Will you believe it, Theodore Ivanych, those animals flew forty miles? I couldn't hold them in, my hands grew numb in the sharp frost so that I threw down the reins—'Catch hold yourself, your excellency!' says I, and I just tumbled on the bottom of the sleigh and sprawled there. It wasn't a case of urging them on, there was no holding them in till we reached the place. The devils took us there in three hours! Only the near one died of it."
Anatole went out of the room and returned a few minutes later wearing a fur coat girt with a silver belt, and a sable cap jauntily set on one side and very becoming to his handsome face. Having looked in a mirror, and standing before Dolokhov in the same pose he had assumed before it, he lifted a glass of wine.
"Well, good-by, Theodore. Thank you for everything and farewell!" said Anatole. "Well, comrades and friends..." he considered for a moment "...of my youth, farewell!" he said, turning to Makarin and the others.
Though they were all going with him, Anatole evidently wished to make something touching and solemn out of this address to his comrades. He spoke slowly in a loud voice and throwing out his chest slightly swayed one leg.
"All take glasses; you too, Balaga. Well, comrades and friends of my youth, we've had our fling and lived and reveled. Eh? And now, when shall we meet again? I am going abroad. We have had a good time—now farewell, lads! To our health! Hurrah!..." he cried, and emptying his glass flung it on the floor.
"To your health!" said Balaga who also emptied his glass, and wiped his mouth with his handkerchief.
Makarin embraced Anatole with tears in his eyes.
"Ah, Prince, how sorry I am to part from you!
"Let's go. Let's go!" cried Anatole.
Balaga was about to leave the room.
"No, stop!" said Anatole. "Shut the door; we have first to sit down. That's the way."
They shut the door and all sat down.
"Now, quick march, lads!" said Anatole, rising.
Joseph, his valet, handed him his sabretache and saber, and they all went out into the vestibule.
"And where's the fur cloak?" asked Dolokhov. "Hey, Ignatka! Go to Matrena Matrevna and ask her for the sable cloak. I have heard what elopements are like," continued Dolokhov with a wink. "Why, she'll rush out more dead than alive just in the things she is wearing; if you delay at all there'll be tears and 'Papa' and 'Mamma,' and she's frozen in a minute and must go back—but you wrap the fur cloak round her first thing and carry her to the sleigh."
The valet brought a woman's fox-lined cloak.
"Fool, I told you the sable one! Hey, Matrena, the sable!" he shouted so that his voice rang far through the rooms.
A handsome, slim, and pale-faced gypsy girl with glittering black eyes and curly blue-black hair, wearing a red shawl, ran out with a sable mantle on her arm.
"Here, I don't grudge it—take it!" she said, evidently afraid of her master and yet regretful of her cloak.
Dolokhov, without answering, took the cloak, threw it over Matrena, and wrapped her up in it.
"That's the way," said Dolokhov, "and then so!" and he turned the collar up round her head, leaving only a little of the face uncovered. "And then so, do you see?" and he pushed Anatole's head forward to meet the gap left by the collar, through which Matrena's brilliant smile was seen.
"Well, good-by, Matrena," said Anatole, kissing her. "Ah, my revels here are over. Remember me to Steshka. There, good-by! Good-bye, Matrena, wish me luck!"
"Well, Prince, may God give you great luck!" said Matrena in her gypsy accent.
Two troykas were standing before the porch and two young drivers were holding the horses. Balaga took his seat in the front one and holding his elbows high arranged the reins deliberately. Anatole and Dolokhov got in with him. Makarin, Khvostikov, and a valet seated themselves in the other sleigh.
"Well, are you ready?" asked Balaga.
"Go!" he cried, twisting the reins round his hands, and the troyka tore down the Nikitski Boulevard.
"Tproo! Get out of the way! Hi!... Tproo!..." The shouting of Balaga and of the sturdy young fellow seated on the box was all that could be heard. On the Arbat Square the troyka caught against a carriage; something cracked, shouts were heard, and the troyka flew along the Arbat Street.
After taking a turn along the Podnovinski Boulevard, Balaga began to rein in, and turning back drew up at the crossing of the old Konyusheny Street.
The young fellow on the box jumped down to hold the horses and Anatole and Dolokhov went along the pavement. When they reached the gate Dolokhov whistled. The whistle was answered, and a maidservant ran out.
"Come into the courtyard or you'll be seen; she'll come out directly," said she.
Dolokhov stayed by the gate. Anatole followed the maid into the courtyard, turned the corner, and ran up into the porch.
He was met by Gabriel, Marya Dmitrievna's gigantic footman.
"Come to the mistress, please," said the footman in his deep bass, intercepting any retreat.
"To what Mistress? Who are you?" asked Anatole in a breathless whisper.
"Kindly step in, my orders are to bring you in."
"Kuragin! Come back!" shouted Dolokhov. "Betrayed! Back!"
Dolokhov, after Anatole entered, had remained at the wicket gate and was struggling with the yard porter who was trying to lock it. With a last desperate effort Dolokhov pushed the porter aside, and when Anatole ran back seized him by the arm, pulled him through the wicket, and ran back with him to the troyka.
Marya Dmitrievna, having found Sonya weeping in the corridor, made her confess everything, and intercepting the note to Natasha she read it and went into Natasha's room with it in her hand.
"You shameless good-for-nothing!" said she. "I won't hear a word."
Pushing back Natasha who looked at her with astonished but tearless eyes, she locked her in; and having given orders to the yard porter to admit the persons who would be coming that evening, but not to let them out again, and having told the footman to bring them up to her, she seated herself in the drawing room to await the abductors.
When Gabriel came to inform her that the men who had come had run away again, she rose frowning, and clasping her hands behind her paced through the rooms a long time considering what she should do. Toward midnight she went to Natasha's room fingering the key in her pocket. Sonya was sitting sobbing in the corridor. "Marya Dmitrievna, for God's sake let me in to her!" she pleaded, but Marya Dmitrievna unlocked the door and went in without giving her an answer.... "Disgusting, abominable... In my house... horrid girl, hussy! I'm only sorry for her father!" thought she, trying to restrain her wrath. "Hard as it may be, I'll tell them all to hold their tongues and will hide it from the count." She entered the room with resolute steps. Natasha lying on the sofa, her head hidden in her hands, and she did not stir. She was in just the same position in which Marya Dmitrievna had left her.
"A nice girl! Very nice!" said Marya Dmitrievna. "Arranging meetings with lovers in my house! It's no use pretending: you listen when I speak to you!" And Marya Dmitrievna touched her arm. "Listen when I speak! You've disgraced yourself like the lowest of hussies. I'd treat you differently, but I'm sorry for your father, so I will conceal it."
Natasha did not change her position, but her whole body heaved with noiseless, convulsive sobs which choked her. Marya Dmitrievna glanced round at Sonya and seated herself on the sofa beside Natasha.
"It's lucky for him that he escaped me; but I'll find him!" she said in her rough voice. "Do you hear what I am saying or not?" she added.
She put her large hand under Natasha's face and turned it toward her. Both Marya Dmitrievna and Sonya were amazed when they saw how Natasha looked. Her eyes were dry and glistening, her lips compressed, her cheeks sunken.
"Let me be!... What is it to me?... I shall die!" she muttered, wrenching herself from Marya Dmitrievna's hands with a vicious effort and sinking down again into her former position.
"Natalie!" said Marya Dmitrievna. "I wish for your good. Lie still, stay like that then, I won't touch you. But listen. I won't tell you how guilty you are. You know that yourself. But when your father comes back tomorrow what am I to tell him? Eh?"
Again Natasha's body shook with sobs.
"Suppose he finds out, and your brother, and your betrothed?"
"I have no betrothed: I have refused him!" cried Natasha.
"That's all the same," continued Marya Dmitrievna. "If they hear of this, will they let it pass? He, your father, I know him... if he challenges him to a duel will that be all right? Eh?"
"Oh, let me be! Why have you interfered at all? Why? Why? Who asked you to?" shouted Natasha, raising herself on the sofa and looking malignantly at Marya Dmitrievna.
"But what did you want?" cried Marya Dmitrievna, growing angry again. "Were you kept under lock and key? Who hindered his coming to the house? Why carry you off as if you were some gypsy singing girl?... Well, if he had carried you off... do you think they wouldn't have found him? Your father, or brother, or your betrothed? And he's a scoundrel, a wretch—that's a fact!"
"He is better than any of you!" exclaimed Natasha getting up. "If you hadn't interfered... Oh, my God! What is it all? What is it? Sonya, why?... Go away!"
And she burst into sobs with the despairing vehemence with which people bewail disasters they feel they have themselves occasioned. Marya Dmitrievna was to speak again but Natasha cried out:
"Go away! Go away! You all hate and despise me!" and she threw herself back on the sofa.
Marya Dmitrievna went on admonishing her for some time, enjoining on her that it must all be kept from her father and assuring her that nobody would know anything about it if only Natasha herself would undertake to forget it all and not let anyone see that something had happened. Natasha did not reply, nor did she sob any longer, but she grew cold and had a shivering fit. Marya Dmitrievna put a pillow under her head, covered her with two quilts, and herself brought her some lime-flower water, but Natasha did not respond to her.
"Well, let her sleep," said Marya Dmitrievna as she went out of the room supposing Natasha to be asleep.
But Natasha was not asleep; with pale face and fixed wide-open eyes she looked straight before her. All that night she did not sleep or weep and did not speak to Sonya who got up and went to her several times.
Next day Count Rostov returned from his estate near Moscow in time for lunch as he had promised. He was in very good spirits; the affair with the purchaser was going on satisfactorily, and there was nothing to keep him any longer in Moscow, away from the countess whom he missed. Marya Dmitrievna met him and told him that Natasha had been very unwell the day before and that they had sent for the doctor, but that she was better now. Natasha had not left her room that morning. With compressed and parched lips and dry fixed eyes, she sat at the window, uneasily watching the people who drove past and hurriedly glancing round at anyone who entered the room. She was evidently expecting news of him and that he would come or would write to her.
When the count came to see her she turned anxiously round at the sound of a man's footstep, and then her face resumed its cold and malevolent expression. She did not even get up to greet him. "What is the matter with you, my angel? Are you ill?" asked the count.
After a moment's silence Natasha answered: "Yes, ill."
In reply to the count's anxious inquiries as to why she was so dejected and whether anything had happened to her betrothed, she assured him that nothing had happened and asked him not to worry. Marya Dmitrievna confirmed Natasha's assurances that nothing had happened. From the pretense of illness, from his daughter's distress, and by the embarrassed faces of Sonya and Marya Dmitrievna, the count saw clearly that something had gone wrong during his absence, but it was so terrible for him to think that anything disgraceful had happened to his beloved daughter, and he so prized his own cheerful tranquillity, that he avoided inquiries and tried to assure himself that nothing particularly had happened; and he was only dissatisfied that her indisposition delayed their return to the country.
From the day his wife arrived in Moscow Pierre had been intending to go away somewhere, so as not to be near her. Soon after the Rostovs came to Moscow the effect Natasha had on him made him hasten to carry out his intention. He went to Tver to see Joseph Alexeevich's widow, who had long since promised to hand over to him some papers of her deceased husband's.
When he returned to Moscow Pierre was handed a letter from Marya Dmitrievna asking him to come and see her on a matter of great importance relating to Andrew Bolkonski and his betrothed. Pierre had been avoiding Natasha because it seemed to him that his feeling for her was stronger than a married man's should be for his friend's fiancee. Yet some fate constantly threw them together.
"What can have happened? And what can they want with me?" thought he as he dressed to go to Marya Dmitrievna's. "If only Prince Andrew would hurry up and come and marry her!" thought he on his way to the house.
On the Tverskoy Boulevard a familiar voice called to him.
"Pierre! Been back long?" someone shouted. Pierre raised his head. In a sleigh drawn by two gray trotting-horses that were bespattering the dashboard with snow, Anatole and his constant companion Makarin dashed past. Anatole was sitting upright in the classic pose of military dandies, the lower part of his face hidden by his beaver collar and his head slightly bent. His face was fresh and rosy, his white-plumed hat, tilted to one side, disclosed his curled and pomaded hair besprinkled with powdery snow.
"Yes, indeed, that's a true sage," thought Pierre. "He sees nothing beyond the pleasure of the moment, nothing troubles him and so he is always cheerful, satisfied, and serene. What wouldn't I give to be like him!" he thought enviously.
In Marya Dmitrievna's anteroom the footman who helped him off with his fur coat said that the mistress asked him to come to her bedroom.
When he opened the ballroom door Pierre saw Natasha sitting at the window, with a thin, pale, and spiteful face. She glanced round at him, frowned, and left the room with an expression of cold dignity.
"What has happened?" asked Pierre, entering Marya Dmitrievna's room.
"Fine doings!" answered Dmitrievna. "For fifty-eight years have I lived in this world and never known anything so disgraceful!"
And having put him on his honor not to repeat anything she told him, Marya Dmitrievna informed him that Natasha had refused Prince Andrew without her parents' knowledge and that the cause of this was Anatole Kuragin into whose society Pierre's wife had thrown her and with whom Natasha had tried to elope during her father's absence, in order to be married secretly.
Pierre raised his shoulders and listened open-mouthed to what was told him, scarcely able to believe his own ears. That Prince Andrew's deeply loved affianced wife—the same Natasha Rostova who used to be so charming—should give up Bolkonski for that fool Anatole who was already secretly married (as Pierre knew), and should be so in love with him as to agree to run away with him, was something Pierre could not conceive and could not imagine.
He could not reconcile the charming impression he had of Natasha, whom he had known from a child, with this new conception of her baseness, folly, and cruelty. He thought of his wife. "They are all alike!" he said to himself, reflecting that he was not the only man unfortunate enough to be tied to a bad woman. But still he pitied Prince Andrew to the point of tears and sympathized with his wounded pride, and the more he pitied his friend the more did he think with contempt and even with disgust of that Natasha who had just passed him in the ballroom with such a look of cold dignity. He did not know that Natasha's soul was overflowing with despair, shame, and humiliation, and that it was not her fault that her face happened to assume an expression of calm dignity and severity.
"But how get married?" said Pierre, in answer to Marya Dmitrievna. "He could not marry—he is married!"
"Things get worse from hour to hour!" ejaculated Marya Dmitrievna. "A nice youth! What a scoundrel! And she's expecting him—expecting him since yesterday. She must be told! Then at least she won't go on expecting him."
After hearing the details of Anatole's marriage from Pierre, and giving vent to her anger against Anatole in words of abuse, Marya Dmitrievna told Pierre why she had sent for him. She was afraid that the count or Bolkonski, who might arrive at any moment, if they knew of this affair (which she hoped to hide from them) might challenge Anatole to a duel, and she therefore asked Pierre to tell his brother-in-law in her name to leave Moscow and not dare to let her set eyes on him again. Pierre—only now realizing the danger to the old count, Nicholas, and Prince Andrew—promised to do as she wished. Having briefly and exactly explained her wishes to him, she let him go to the drawing room.
"Mind, the count knows nothing. Behave as if you know nothing either," she said. "And I will go and tell her it is no use expecting him! And stay to dinner if you care to!" she called after Pierre.
Pierre met the old count, who seemed nervous and upset. That morning Natasha had told him that she had rejected Bolkonski.
"Troubles, troubles, my dear fellow!" he said to Pierre. "What troubles one has with these girls without their mother! I do so regret having come here.... I will be frank with you. Have you heard she has broken off her engagement without consulting anybody? It's true this engagement never was much to my liking. Of course he is an excellent man, but still, with his father's disapproval they wouldn't have been happy, and Natasha won't lack suitors. Still, it has been going on so long, and to take such a step without father's or mother's consent! And now she's ill, and God knows what! It's hard, Count, hard to manage daughters in their mother's absence...."
Pierre saw that the count was much upset and tried to change the subject, but the count returned to his troubles.
Sonya entered the room with an agitated face.
"Natasha is not quite well; she's in her room and would like to see you. Marya Dmitrievna is with her and she too asks you to come."
"Yes, you are a great friend of Bolkonski's, no doubt she wants to send him a message," said the count. "Oh dear! Oh dear! How happy it all was!"
And clutching the spare gray locks on his temples the count left the room.
When Marya Dmitrievna told Natasha that Anatole was married, Natasha did not wish to believe it and insisted on having it confirmed by Pierre himself. Sonya told Pierre this as she led him along the corridor to Natasha's room.
Natasha, pale and stern, was sitting beside Marya Dmitrievna, and her eyes, glittering feverishly, met Pierre with a questioning look the moment he entered. She did not smile or nod, but only gazed fixedly at him, and her look asked only one thing: was he a friend, or like the others an enemy in regard to Anatole? As for Pierre, he evidently did not exist for her.
"He knows all about it," said Marya Dmitrievna pointing to Pierre and addressing Natasha. "Let him tell you whether I have told the truth."
Natasha looked from one to the other as a hunted and wounded animal looks at the approaching dogs and sportsmen.
"Natalya Ilynichna," Pierre began, dropping his eyes with a feeling of pity for her and loathing for the thing he had to do, "whether it is true or not should make no difference to you, because..."
"Then it is not true that he's married!"
"Yes, it is true."
"Has he been married long?" she asked. "On your honor?..."
Pierre gave his word of honor.
"Is he still here?" she asked, quickly.
"Yes, I have just seen him."
She was evidently unable to speak and made a sign with her hands that they should leave her alone.
Pierre did not stay for dinner, but left the room and went away at once. He drove through the town seeking Anatole Kuragin, at the thought of whom now the blood rushed to his heart and he felt a difficulty in breathing. He was not at the ice hills, nor at the gypsies', nor at Komoneno's. Pierre drove to the club. In the club all was going on as usual. The members who were assembling for dinner were sitting about in groups; they greeted Pierre and spoke of the town news. The footman having greeted him, knowing his habits and his acquaintances, told him there was a place left for him in the small dining room and that Prince Michael Zakharych was in the library, but Paul Timofeevich had not yet arrived. One of Pierre's acquaintances, while they were talking about the weather, asked if he had heard of Kuragin's abduction of Rostova which was talked of in the town, and was it true? Pierre laughed and said it was nonsense for he had just come from the Rostovs'. He asked everyone about Anatole. One man told him he had not come yet, and another that he was coming to dinner. Pierre felt it strange to see this calm, indifferent crowd of people unaware of what was going on in his soul. He paced through the ballroom, waited till everyone had come, and as Anatole had not turned up did not stay for dinner but drove home.
Anatole, for whom Pierre was looking, dined that day with Dolokhov, consulting him as to how to remedy this unfortunate affair. It seemed to him essential to see Natasha. In the evening he drove to his sister's to discuss with her how to arrange a meeting. When Pierre returned home after vainly hunting all over Moscow, his valet informed him that Prince Anatole was with the countess. The countess' drawing room was full of guests.
Pierre without greeting his wife whom he had not seen since his return—at that moment she was more repulsive to him than ever—entered the drawing room and seeing Anatole went up to him.
"Ah, Pierre," said the countess going up to her husband. "You don't know what a plight our Anatole..."
She stopped, seeing in the forward thrust of her husband's head, in his glowing eyes and his resolute gait, the terrible indications of that rage and strength which she knew and had herself experienced after his duel with Dolokhov.
"Where you are, there is vice and evil!" said Pierre to his wife. "Anatole, come with me! I must speak to you," he added in French.
Anatole glanced round at his sister and rose submissively, ready to follow Pierre. Pierre, taking him by the arm, pulled him toward himself and was leading him from the room.
"If you allow yourself in my drawing room..." whispered Helene, but Pierre did not reply and went out of the room.
Anatole followed him with his usual jaunty step but his face betrayed anxiety.
Having entered his study Pierre closed the door and addressed Anatole without looking at him.
"You promised Countess Rostova to marry her and were about to elope with her, is that so?"
"Mon cher," answered Anatole (their whole conversation was in French), "I don't consider myself bound to answer questions put to me in that tone."
Pierre's face, already pale, became distorted by fury. He seized Anatole by the collar of his uniform with his big hand and shook him from side to side till Anatole's face showed a sufficient degree of terror.
"When I tell you that I must talk to you!..." repeated Pierre.
"Come now, this is stupid. What?" said Anatole, fingering a button of his collar that had been wrenched loose with a bit of the cloth.
"You're a scoundrel and a blackguard, and I don't know what deprives me from the pleasure of smashing your head with this!" said Pierre, expressing himself so artificially because he was talking French.
He took a heavy paperweight and lifted it threateningly, but at once put it back in its place.
"Did you promise to marry her?"
"I... I didn't think of it. I never promised, because..."
Pierre interrupted him.
"Have you any letters of hers? Any letters?" he said, moving toward Anatole.
Anatole glanced at him and immediately thrust his hand into his pocket and drew out his pocketbook.
Pierre took the letter Anatole handed him and, pushing aside a table that stood in his way, threw himself on the sofa.
"I shan't be violent, don't be afraid!" said Pierre in answer to a frightened gesture of Anatole's. "First, the letters," said he, as if repeating a lesson to himself. "Secondly," he continued after a short pause, again rising and again pacing the room, "tomorrow you must get out of Moscow."
"But how can I?..."
"Thirdly," Pierre continued without listening to him, "you must never breathe a word of what has passed between you and Countess Rostova. I know I can't prevent your doing so, but if you have a spark of conscience..." Pierre paced the room several times in silence.
Anatole sat at a table frowning and biting his lips.
"After all, you must understand that besides your pleasure there is such a thing as other people's happiness and peace, and that you are ruining a whole life for the sake of amusing yourself! Amuse yourself with women like my wife—with them you are within your rights, for they know what you want of them. They are armed against you by the same experience of debauchery; but to promise a maid to marry her... to deceive, to kidnap.... Don't you understand that it is as mean as beating an old man or a child?..."
Pierre paused and looked at Anatole no longer with an angry but with a questioning look.
"I don't know about that, eh?" said Anatole, growing more confident as Pierre mastered his wrath. "I don't know that and don't want to," he said, not looking at Pierre and with a slight tremor of his lower jaw, "but you have used such words to me—'mean' and so on—which as a man of honor I can't allow anyone to use."
Pierre glanced at him with amazement, unable to understand what he wanted.
"Though it was tête-à-tête," Anatole continued, "still I can't..."
"Is it satisfaction you want?" said Pierre ironically.
"You could at least take back your words. What? If you want me to do as you wish, eh?"
"I take them back, I take them back!" said Pierre, "and I ask you to forgive me." Pierre involuntarily glanced at the loose button. "And if you require money for your journey..."
Anatole smiled. The expression of that base and cringing smile, which Pierre knew so well in his wife, revolted him.
"Oh, vile and heartless brood!" he exclaimed, and left the room.
Next day Anatole left for Petersburg.
Pierre drove to Marya Dmitrievna's to tell her of the fulfillment of her wish that Kuragin should be banished from Moscow. The whole house was in a state of alarm and commotion. Natasha was very ill, having, as Marya Dmitrievna told him in secret, poisoned herself the night after she had been told that Anatole was married, with some arsenic she had stealthily procured. After swallowing a little she had been so frightened that she woke Sonya and told her what she had done. The necessary antidotes had been administered in time and she was now out of danger, though still so weak that it was out of the question to move her to the country, and so the countess had been sent for. Pierre saw the distracted count, and Sonya, who had a tear-stained face, but he could not see Natasha.
Pierre dined at the club that day and heard on all sides gossip about the attempted abduction of Rostova. He resolutely denied these rumors, assuring everyone that nothing had happened except that his brother-in-law had proposed to her and been refused. It seemed to Pierre that it was his duty to conceal the whole affair and re-establish Natasha's reputation.
He was awaiting Prince Andrew's return with dread and went every day to the old prince's for news of him.
Old Prince Bolkonski heard all the rumors current in the town from Mademoiselle Bourienne and had read the note to Princess Mary in which Natasha had broken off her engagement. He seemed in better spirits than usual and awaited his son with great impatience.
Some days after Anatole's departure Pierre received a note from Prince Andrew, informing him of his arrival and asking him to come to see him.
As soon as he reached Moscow, Prince Andrew had received from his father Natasha's note to Princess Mary breaking off her engagement (Mademoiselle Bourienne had purloined it from Princess Mary and given it to the old prince), and he heard from him the story of Natasha's elopement, with additions.
Prince Andrew had arrived in the evening and Pierre came to see him next morning. Pierre expected to find Prince Andrew in almost the same state as Natasha and was therefore surprised on entering the drawing room to hear him in the study talking in a loud animated voice about some intrigue going on in Petersburg. The old prince's voice and another now and then interrupted him. Princess Mary came out to meet Pierre. She sighed, looking toward the door of the room where Prince Andrew was, evidently intending to express her sympathy with his sorrow, but Pierre saw by her face that she was glad both at what had happened and at the way her brother had taken the news of Natasha's faithlessness.
"He says he expected it," she remarked. "I know his pride will not let him express his feelings, but still he has taken it better, far better, than I expected. Evidently it had to be...."
"But is it possible that all is really ended?" asked Pierre.
Princess Mary looked at him with astonishment. She did not understand how he could ask such a question. Pierre went into the study. Prince Andrew, greatly changed and plainly in better health, but with a fresh horizontal wrinkle between his brows, stood in civilian dress facing his father and Prince Meshcherski, warmly disputing and vigorously gesticulating. The conversation was about Speranski—the news of whose sudden exile and alleged treachery had just reached Moscow.
"Now he is censured and accused by all who were enthusiastic about him a month ago," Prince Andrew was saying, "and by those who were unable to understand his aims. To judge a man who is in disfavor and to throw on him all the blame of other men's mistakes is very easy, but I maintain that if anything good has been accomplished in this reign it was done by him, by him alone."
He paused at the sight of Pierre. His face quivered and immediately assumed a vindictive expression.
"Posterity will do him justice," he concluded, and at once turned to Pierre.
"Well, how are you? Still getting stouter?" he said with animation, but the new wrinkle on his forehead deepened. "Yes, I am well," he said in answer to Pierre's question, and smiled.
To Pierre that smile said plainly: "I am well, but my health is now of no use to anyone."
After a few words to Pierre about the awful roads from the Polish frontier, about people he had met in Switzerland who knew Pierre, and about M. Dessalles, whom he had brought from abroad to be his son's tutor, Prince Andrew again joined warmly in the conversation about Speranski which was still going on between the two old men.
"If there were treason, or proofs of secret relations with Napoleon, they would have been made public," he said with warmth and haste. "I do not, and never did, like Speranski personally, but I like justice!"
Pierre now recognized in his friend a need with which he was only too familiar, to get excited and to have arguments about extraneous matters in order to stifle thoughts that were too oppressive and too intimate. When Prince Meshcherski had left, Prince Andrew took Pierre's arm and asked him into the room that had been assigned him. A bed had been made up there, and some open portmanteaus and trunks stood about. Prince Andrew went to one and took out a small casket, from which he drew a packet wrapped in paper. He did it all silently and very quickly. He stood up and coughed. His face was gloomy and his lips compressed.
"Forgive me for troubling you..."
Pierre saw that Prince Andrew was going to speak of Natasha, and his broad face expressed pity and sympathy. This expression irritated Prince Andrew, and in a determined, ringing, and unpleasant tone he continued:
"I have received a refusal from Countess Rostova and have heard reports of your brother-in-law having sought her hand, or something of that kind. Is that true?"
"Both true and untrue," Pierre began; but Prince Andrew interrupted him.
"Here are her letters and her portrait," said he.
He took the packet from the table and handed it to Pierre.
"Give this to the countess... if you see her."
"She is very ill," said Pierre.
"Then she is here still?" said Prince Andrew. "And Prince Kuragin?" he added quickly.
"He left long ago. She has been at death's door."
"I much regret her illness," said Prince Andrew; and he smiled like his father, coldly, maliciously, and unpleasantly.
"So Monsieur Kuragin has not honored Countess Rostova with his hand?" said Prince Andrew, and he snorted several times.
"He could not marry, for he was married already," said Pierre.
Prince Andrew laughed disagreeably, again reminding one of his father.
"And where is your brother-in-law now, if I may ask?" he said.
"He has gone to Peters... But I don't know," said Pierre.
"Well, it doesn't matter," said Prince Andrew. "Tell Countess Rostova that she was and is perfectly free and that I wish her all that is good."
Pierre took the packet. Prince Andrew, as if trying to remember whether he had something more to say, or waiting to see if Pierre would say anything, looked fixedly at him.
"I say, do you remember our discussion in Petersburg?" asked Pierre, "about..."
"Yes," returned Prince Andrew hastily. "I said that a fallen woman should be forgiven, but I didn't say I could forgive her. I can't."
"But can this be compared...?" said Pierre.
Prince Andrew interrupted him and cried sharply: "Yes, ask her hand again, be magnanimous, and so on?... Yes, that would be very noble, but I am unable to follow in that gentleman's footsteps. If you wish to be my friend never speak to me of that... of all that! Well, good-by. So you'll give her the packet?"
Pierre left the room and went to the old prince and Princess Mary.
The old man seemed livelier than usual. Princess Mary was the same as always, but beneath her sympathy for her brother, Pierre noticed her satisfaction that the engagement had been broken off. Looking at them Pierre realized what contempt and animosity they all felt for the Rostovs, and that it was impossible in their presence even to mention the name of her who could give up Prince Andrew for anyone else.
At dinner the talk turned on the war, the approach of which was becoming evident. Prince Andrew talked incessantly, arguing now with his father, now with the Swiss tutor Dessalles, and showing an unnatural animation, the cause of which Pierre so well understood.
That same evening Pierre went to the Rostovs' to fulfill the commission entrusted to him. Natasha was in bed, the count at the club, and Pierre, after giving the letters to Sonya, went to Marya Dmitrievna who was interested to know how Prince Andrew had taken the news. Ten minutes later Sonya came to Marya Dmitrievna.
"Natasha insists on seeing Count Peter Kirilovich," said she.
"But how? Are we to take him up to her? The room there has not been tidied up."
"No, she has dressed and gone into the drawing room," said Sonya.
Marya Dmitrievna only shrugged her shoulders.
"When will her mother come? She has worried me to death! Now mind, don't tell her everything!" said she to Pierre. "One hasn't the heart to scold her, she is so much to be pitied, so much to be pitied."
Natasha was standing in the middle of the drawing room, emaciated, with a pale set face, but not at all shamefaced as Pierre expected to find her. When he appeared at the door she grew flurried, evidently undecided whether to go to meet him or to wait till he came up.
Pierre hastened to her. He thought she would give him her hand as usual; but she, stepping up to him, stopped, breathing heavily, her arms hanging lifelessly just in the pose she used to stand in when she went to the middle of the ballroom to sing, but with quite a different expression of face.
"Peter Kirilovich," she began rapidly, "Prince Bolkonski was your friend—is your friend," she corrected herself. (It seemed to her that everything that had once been must now be different.) "He told me once to apply to you..."
Pierre sniffed as he looked at her, but did not speak. Till then he had reproached her in his heart and tried to despise her, but he now felt so sorry for her that there was no room in his soul for reproach.
"He is here now: tell him... to for... forgive me!" She stopped and breathed still more quickly, but did not shed tears.
"Yes... I will tell him," answered Pierre; "but..."
He did not know what to say.
Natasha was evidently dismayed at the thought of what he might think she had meant.
"No, I know all is over," she said hurriedly. "No, that can never be. I'm only tormented by the wrong I have done him. Tell him only that I beg him to forgive, forgive, forgive me for everything...."
She trembled all over and sat down on a chair.
A sense of pity he had never before known overflowed Pierre's heart.
"I will tell him, I will tell him everything once more," said Pierre. "But... I should like to know one thing...."
"Know what?" Natasha's eyes asked.
"I should like to know, did you love..." Pierre did not know how to refer to Anatole and flushed at the thought of him—"did you love that bad man?"
"Don't call him bad!" said Natasha. "But I don't know, don't know at all...."
She began to cry and a still greater sense of pity, tenderness, and love welled up in Pierre. He felt the tears trickle under his spectacles and hoped they would not be noticed.
"We won't speak of it any more, my dear," said Pierre, and his gentle, cordial tone suddenly seemed very strange to Natasha.
"We won't speak of it, my dear—I'll tell him everything; but one thing I beg of you, consider me your friend and if you want help, advice, or simply to open your heart to someone—not now, but when your mind is clearer think of me!" He took her hand and kissed it. "I shall be happy if it's in my power..."
Pierre grew confused.
"Don't speak to me like that. I am not worth it!" exclaimed Natasha and turned to leave the room, but Pierre held her hand.
He knew he had something more to say to her. But when he said it he was amazed at his own words.
"Stop, stop! You have your whole life before you," said he to her.
"Before me? No! All is over for me," she replied with shame and
"All over?" he repeated. "If I were not myself, but the handsomest,
cleverest, and best man in the world, and were free, I would this moment
ask on my knees for your hand and your love!"
For the first time for many days Natasha wept tears of gratitude and tenderness, and glancing at Pierre she went out of the room.
Pierre too when she had gone almost ran into the anteroom, restraining tears of tenderness and joy that choked him, and without finding the sleeves of his fur cloak threw it on and got into his sleigh.
"Where to now, your excellency?" asked the coachman.
"Where to?" Pierre asked himself. "Where can I go now? Surely not to the club or to pay calls?" All men seemed so pitiful, so poor, in comparison with this feeling of tenderness and love he experienced: in comparison with that softened, grateful, last look she had given him through her tears.
"Home!" said Pierre, and despite twenty-two degrees of frost Fahrenheit he threw open the bearskin cloak from his broad chest and inhaled the air with joy.
It was clear and frosty. Above the dirty, ill-lit streets, above the black roofs, stretched the dark starry sky. Only looking up at the sky did Pierre cease to feel how sordid and humiliating were all mundane things compared with the heights to which his soul had just been raised. At the entrance to the Arbat Square an immense expanse of dark starry sky presented itself to his eyes. Almost in the center of it, above the Prechistenka Boulevard, surrounded and sprinkled on all sides by stars but distinguished from them all by its nearness to the earth, its white light, and its long uplifted tail, shone the enormous and brilliant comet of 1812—the comet which was said to portend all kinds of woes and the end of the world. In Pierre, however, that comet with its long luminous tail aroused no feeling of fear. On the contrary he gazed joyfully, his eyes moist with tears, at this bright comet which, having traveled in its orbit with inconceivable velocity through immeasurable space, seemed suddenly—like an arrow piercing the earth—to remain fixed in a chosen spot, vigorously holding its tail erect, shining and displaying its white light amid countless other scintillating stars. It seemed to Pierre that this comet fully responded to what was passing in his own softened and uplifted soul, now blossoming into a new life.
From the close of the year 1811 intensified arming and concentrating of the forces of Western Europe began, and in 1812 these forces—millions of men, reckoning those transporting and feeding the army—moved from the west eastwards to the Russian frontier, toward which since 1811 Russian forces had been similarly drawn. On the twelfth of June, 1812, the forces of Western Europe crossed the Russian frontier and war began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and to human nature. Millions of men perpetrated against one another such innumerable crimes, frauds, treacheries, thefts, forgeries, issues of false money, burglaries, incendiarisms, and murders as in whole centuries are not recorded in the annals of all the law courts of the world, but which those who committed them did not at the time regard as being crimes.
What produced this extraordinary occurrence? What were its causes? The historians tell us with naive assurance that its causes were the wrongs inflicted on the Duke of Oldenburg, the nonobservance of the Continental System, the ambition of Napoleon, the firmness of Alexander, the mistakes of the diplomatists, and so on.
Consequently, it would only have been necessary for Metternich, Rumyantsev, or Talleyrand, between a levee and an evening party, to have taken proper pains and written a more adroit note, or for Napoleon to have written to Alexander: "My respected Brother, I consent to restore the duchy to the Duke of Oldenburg"—and there would have been no war.
We can understand that the matter seemed like that to contemporaries. It naturally seemed to Napoleon that the war was caused by England's intrigues (as in fact he said on the island of St. Helena). It naturally seemed to members of the English Parliament that the cause of the war was Napoleon's ambition; to the Duke of Oldenburg, that the cause of the war was the violence done to him; to businessmen that the cause of the war was the Continental System which was ruining Europe; to the generals and old soldiers that the chief reason for the war was the necessity of giving them employment; to the legitimists of that day that it was the need of re-establishing les bons principes, and to the diplomatists of that time that it all resulted from the fact that the alliance between Russia and Austria in 1809 had not been sufficiently well concealed from Napoleon, and from the awkward wording of Memorandum No. 178. It is natural that these and a countless and infinite quantity of other reasons, the number depending on the endless diversity of points of view, presented themselves to the men of that day; but to us, to posterity who view the thing that happened in all its magnitude and perceive its plain and terrible meaning, these causes seem insufficient. To us it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other either because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England's policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk and Moscow and were killed by them.
To us, their descendants, who are not historians and are not carried away by the process of research and can therefore regard the event with unclouded common sense, an incalculable number of causes present themselves. The deeper we delve in search of these causes the more of them we find; and each separate cause or whole series of causes appears to us equally valid in itself and equally false by its insignificance compared to the magnitude of the events, and by its impotence—apart from the cooperation of all the other coincident causes—to occasion the event. To us, the wish or objection of this or that French corporal to serve a second term appears as much a cause as Napoleon's refusal to withdraw his troops beyond the Vistula and to restore the duchy of Oldenburg; for had he not wished to serve, and had a second, a third, and a thousandth corporal and private also refused, there would have been so many less men in Napoleon's army and the war could not have occurred.
Had Napoleon not taken offense at the demand that he should withdraw beyond the Vistula, and not ordered his troops to advance, there would have been no war; but had all his sergeants objected to serving a second term then also there could have been no war. Nor could there have been a war had there been no English intrigues and no Duke of Oldenburg, and had Alexander not felt insulted, and had there not been an autocratic government in Russia, or a Revolution in France and a subsequent dictatorship and Empire, or all the things that produced the French Revolution, and so on. Without each of these causes nothing could have happened. So all these causes—myriads of causes—coincided to bring it about. And so there was no one cause for that occurrence, but it had to occur because it had to. Millions of men, renouncing their human feelings and reason, had to go from west to east to slay their fellows, just as some centuries previously hordes of men had come from the east to the west, slaying their fellows.
The actions of Napoleon and Alexander, on whose words the event seemed to hang, were as little voluntary as the actions of any soldier who was drawn into the campaign by lot or by conscription. This could not be otherwise, for in order that the will of Napoleon and Alexander (on whom the event seemed to depend) should be carried out, the concurrence of innumerable circumstances was needed without any one of which the event could not have taken place. It was necessary that millions of men in whose hands lay the real power—the soldiers who fired, or transported provisions and guns—should consent to carry out the will of these weak individuals, and should have been induced to do so by an infinite number of diverse and complex causes.
We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of irrational events (that is to say, events the reasonableness of which we do not understand). The more we try to explain such events in history reasonably, the more unreasonable and incomprehensible do they become to us.
Each man lives for himself, using his freedom to attain his personal aims, and feels with his whole being that he can now do or abstain from doing this or that action; but as soon as he has done it, that action performed at a certain moment in time becomes irrevocable and belongs to history, in which it has not a free but a predestined significance.
There are two sides to the life of every man, his individual life, which is the more free the more abstract its interests, and his elemental hive life in which he inevitably obeys laws laid down for him.
Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity. A deed done is irrevocable, and its result coinciding in time with the actions of millions of other men assumes an historic significance. The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the more people he is connected with and the more power he has over others, the more evident is the predestination and inevitability of his every action.
"The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord."
A king is history's slave.
History, that is, the unconscious, general, hive life of mankind, uses every moment of the life of kings as a tool for its own purposes.
Though Napoleon at that time, in 1812, was more convinced than ever that it depended on him, verser (ou ne pas verser) le sang de ses peuples *—as Alexander expressed it in the last letter he wrote him—he had never been so much in the grip of inevitable laws, which compelled him, while thinking that he was acting on his own volition, to perform for the hive life—that is to say, for history—whatever had to be performed.
* "To shed (or not to shed) the blood of his peoples."
The people of the west moved eastwards to slay their fellow men, and by the law of coincidence thousands of minute causes fitted in and co-ordinated to produce that movement and war: reproaches for the nonobservance of the Continental System, the Duke of Oldenburg's wrongs, the movement of troops into Prussia—undertaken (as it seemed to Napoleon) only for the purpose of securing an armed peace, the French Emperor's love and habit of war coinciding with his people's inclinations, allurement by the grandeur of the preparations, and the expenditure on those preparations and the need of obtaining advantages to compensate for that expenditure, the intoxicating honors he received in Dresden, the diplomatic negotiations which, in the opinion of contemporaries, were carried on with a sincere desire to attain peace, but which only wounded the self-love of both sides, and millions of other causes that adapted themselves to the event that was happening or coincided with it.
When an apple has ripened and falls, why does it fall? Because of its attraction to the earth, because its stalk withers, because it is dried by the sun, because it grows heavier, because the wind shakes it, or because the boy standing below wants to eat it?
Nothing is the cause. All this is only the coincidence of conditions in which all vital organic and elemental events occur. And the botanist who finds that the apple falls because the cellular tissue decays and so forth is equally right with the child who stands under the tree and says the apple fell because he wanted to eat it and prayed for it. Equally right or wrong is he who says that Napoleon went to Moscow because he wanted to, and perished because Alexander desired his destruction, and he who says that an undermined hill weighing a million tons fell because the last navvy struck it for the last time with his mattock. In historic events the so-called great men are labels giving names to events, and like labels they have but the smallest connection with the event itself.
Every act of theirs, which appears to them an act of their own will, is in an historical sense involuntary and is related to the whole course of history and predestined from eternity.
On the twenty-ninth of May Napoleon left Dresden, where he had spent three weeks surrounded by a court that included princes, dukes, kings, and even an emperor. Before leaving, Napoleon showed favor to the emperor, kings, and princes who had deserved it, reprimanded the kings and princes with whom he was dissatisfied, presented pearls and diamonds of his own—that is, which he had taken from other kings—to the Empress of Austria, and having, as his historian tells us, tenderly embraced the Empress Marie Louise—who regarded him as her husband, though he had left another wife in Paris—left her grieved by the parting which she seemed hardly able to bear. Though the diplomatists still firmly believed in the possibility of peace and worked zealously to that end, and though the Emperor Napoleon himself wrote a letter to Alexander, calling him Monsieur mon frere, and sincerely assured him that he did not want war and would always love and honor him—yet he set off to join his army, and at every station gave fresh orders to accelerate the movement of his troops from west to east. He went in a traveling coach with six horses, surrounded by pages, aides-de-camp, and an escort, along the road to Posen, Thorn, Danzig, and Konigsberg. At each of these towns thousands of people met him with excitement and enthusiasm.
The army was moving from west to east, and relays of six horses carried him in the same direction. On the tenth of June, * coming up with the army, he spent the night in apartments prepared for him on the estate of a Polish count in the Vilkavisski forest.
* Old style.
Next day, overtaking the army, he went in a carriage to the Niemen, and, changing into a Polish uniform, he drove to the riverbank in order to select a place for the crossing.
Seeing, on the other side, some Cossacks (les Cosaques) and the wide-spreading steppes in the midst of which lay the holy city of Moscow (Moscou, la ville sainte), the capital of a realm such as the Scythia into which Alexander the Great had marched—Napoleon unexpectedly, and contrary alike to strategic and diplomatic considerations, ordered an advance, and the next day his army began to cross the Niemen.
Early in the morning of the twelfth of June he came out of his tent, which was pitched that day on the steep left bank of the Niemen, and looked through a spyglass at the streams of his troops pouring out of the Vilkavisski forest and flowing over the three bridges thrown across the river. The troops, knowing of the Emperor's presence, were on the lookout for him, and when they caught sight of a figure in an overcoat and a cocked hat standing apart from his suite in front of his tent on the hill, they threw up their caps and shouted: "Vive l'Empereur!" and one after another poured in a ceaseless stream out of the vast forest that had concealed them and, separating, flowed on and on by the three bridges to the other side.
"Now we'll go into action. Oh, when he takes it in hand himself, things get hot... by heaven!... There he is!... Vive l'Empereur! So these are the steppes of Asia! It's a nasty country all the same. Au revoir, Beauche; I'll keep the best palace in Moscow for you! Au revoir. Good luck!... Did you see the Emperor? Vive l'Empereur!... preur!—If they make me Governor of India, Gerard, I'll make you Minister of Kashmir—that's settled. Vive l'Empereur! Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! The Cossacks—those rascals—see how they run! Vive l'Empereur! There he is, do you see him? I've seen him twice, as I see you now. The little corporal... I saw him give the cross to one of the veterans.... Vive l'Empereur!" came the voices of men, old and young, of most diverse characters and social positions. On the faces of all was one common expression of joy at the commencement of the long-expected campaign and of rapture and devotion to the man in the gray coat who was standing on the hill.
On the thirteenth of June a rather small, thoroughbred Arab horse was brought to Napoleon. He mounted it and rode at a gallop to one of the bridges over the Niemen, deafened continually by incessant and rapturous acclamations which he evidently endured only because it was impossible to forbid the soldiers to express their love of him by such shouting, but the shouting which accompanied him everywhere disturbed him and distracted him from the military cares that had occupied him from the time he joined the army. He rode across one of the swaying pontoon bridges to the farther side, turned sharply to the left, and galloped in the direction of Kovno, preceded by enraptured, mounted chasseurs of the Guard who, breathless with delight, galloped ahead to clear a path for him through the troops. On reaching the broad river Viliya, he stopped near a regiment of Polish uhlans stationed by the river.
"Vivat!" shouted the Poles, ecstatically, breaking their ranks and pressing against one another to see him.
Napoleon looked up and down the river, dismounted, and sat down on a log that lay on the bank. At a mute sign from him, a telescope was handed him which he rested on the back of a happy page who had run up to him, and he gazed at the opposite bank. Then he became absorbed in a map laid out on the logs. Without lifting his head he said something, and two of his aides-de-camp galloped off to the Polish uhlans.
"What? What did he say?" was heard in the ranks of the Polish uhlans when one of the aides-de-camp rode up to them.
The order was to find a ford and to cross the river. The colonel of the Polish uhlans, a handsome old man, flushed and, fumbling in his speech from excitement, asked the aide-de-camp whether he would be permitted to swim the river with his uhlans instead of seeking a ford. In evident fear of refusal, like a boy asking for permission to get on a horse, he begged to be allowed to swim across the river before the Emperor's eyes. The aide-de-camp replied that probably the Emperor would not be displeased at this excess of zeal.
As soon as the aide-de-camp had said this, the old mustached officer, with happy face and sparkling eyes, raised his saber, shouted "Vivat!" and, commanding the uhlans to follow him, spurred his horse and galloped into the river. He gave an angry thrust to his horse, which had grown restive under him, and plunged into the water, heading for the deepest part where the current was swift. Hundreds of uhlans galloped in after him. It was cold and uncanny in the rapid current in the middle of the stream, and the uhlans caught hold of one another as they fell off their horses. Some of the horses were drowned and some of the men; the others tried to swim on, some in the saddle and some clinging to their horses' manes. They tried to make their way forward to the opposite bank and, though there was a ford one third of a mile away, were proud that they were swimming and drowning in this river under the eyes of the man who sat on the log and was not even looking at what they were doing. When the aide-de-camp, having returned and choosing an opportune moment, ventured to draw the Emperor's attention to the devotion of the Poles to his person, the little man in the gray overcoat got up and, having summoned Berthier, began pacing up and down the bank with him, giving him instructions and occasionally glancing disapprovingly at the drowning uhlans who distracted his attention.
For him it was no new conviction that his presence in any part of the world, from Africa to the steppes of Muscovy alike, was enough to dumfound people and impel them to insane self-oblivion. He called for his horse and rode to his quarters.
Some forty uhlans were drowned in the river, though boats were sent to their assistance. The majority struggled back to the bank from which they had started. The colonel and some of his men got across and with difficulty clambered out on the further bank. And as soon as they had got out, in their soaked and streaming clothes, they shouted "Vivat!" and looked ecstatically at the spot where Napoleon had been but where he no longer was and at that moment considered themselves happy.
That evening, between issuing one order that the forged Russian paper money prepared for use in Russia should be delivered as quickly as possible and another that a Saxon should be shot, on whom a letter containing information about the orders to the French army had been found, Napoleon also gave instructions that the Polish colonel who had needlessly plunged into the river should be enrolled in the Legion d'honneur of which Napoleon was himself the head.
Quos vult perdere dementat. *
* Those whom (God) wishes to destroy he drives mad.
The Emperor of Russia had, meanwhile, been in Vilna for more than a month, reviewing troops and holding maneuvers. Nothing was ready for the war that everyone expected and to prepare for which the Emperor had come from Petersburg. There was no general plan of action. The vacillation between the various plans that were proposed had even increased after the Emperor had been at headquarters for a month. Each of the three armies had its own commander-in-chief, but there was no supreme commander of all the forces, and the Emperor did not assume that responsibility himself.
The longer the Emperor remained in Vilna the less did everybody—tired of waiting—prepare for the war. All the efforts of those who surrounded the sovereign seemed directed merely to making him spend his time pleasantly and forget that war was impending.
In June, after many balls and fetes given by the Polish magnates, by the courtiers, and by the Emperor himself, it occurred to one of the Polish aides-de-camp in attendance that a dinner and ball should be given for the Emperor by his aides-de-camp. This idea was eagerly received. The Emperor gave his consent. The aides-de-camp collected money by subscription. The lady who was thought to be most pleasing to the Emperor was invited to act as hostess. Count Bennigsen, being a landowner in the Vilna province, offered his country house for the fete, and the thirteenth of June was fixed for a ball, dinner, regatta, and fireworks at Zakret, Count Bennigsen's country seat.
The very day that Napoleon issued the order to cross the Niemen, and his vanguard, driving off the Cossacks, crossed the Russian frontier, Alexander spent the evening at the entertainment given by his aides-de-camp at Bennigsen's country house.
It was a gay and brilliant fete. Connoisseurs of such matters declared that rarely had so many beautiful women been assembled in one place. Countess Bezukhova was present among other Russian ladies who had followed the sovereign from Petersburg to Vilna and eclipsed the refined Polish ladies by her massive, so-called Russian type of beauty. The Emperor noticed her and honored her with a dance.
Boris Drubetskoy, having left his wife in Moscow and being for the present en garcon (as he phrased it), was also there and, though not an aide-de-camp, had subscribed a large sum toward the expenses. Boris was now a rich man who had risen to high honors and no longer sought patronage but stood on an equal footing with the highest of those of his own age. He was meeting Helene in Vilna after not having seen her for a long time and did not recall the past, but as Helene was enjoying the favors of a very important personage and Boris had only recently married, they met as good friends of long standing.
At midnight dancing was still going on. Helene, not having a suitable partner, herself offered to dance the mazurka with Boris. They were the third couple. Boris, coolly looking at Helene's dazzling bare shoulders which emerged from a dark, gold-embroidered, gauze gown, talked to her of old acquaintances and at the same time, unaware of it himself and unnoticed by others, never for an instant ceased to observe the Emperor who was in the same room. The Emperor was not dancing, he stood in the doorway, stopping now one pair and now another with gracious words which he alone knew how to utter.
As the mazurka began, Boris saw that Adjutant General Balashev, one of those in closest attendance on the Emperor, went up to him and contrary to court etiquette stood near him while he was talking to a Polish lady. Having finished speaking to her, the Emperor looked inquiringly at Balashev and, evidently understanding that he only acted thus because there were important reasons for so doing, nodded slightly to the lady and turned to him. Hardly had Balashev begun to speak before a look of amazement appeared on the Emperor's face. He took Balashev by the arm and crossed the room with him, unconsciously clearing a path seven yards wide as the people on both sides made way for him. Boris noticed Arakcheev's excited face when the sovereign went out with Balashev. Arakcheev looked at the Emperor from under his brow and, sniffing with his red nose, stepped forward from the crowd as if expecting the Emperor to address him. (Boris understood that Arakcheev envied Balashev and was displeased that evidently important news had reached the Emperor otherwise than through himself.)
But the Emperor and Balashev passed out into the illuminated garden without noticing Arakcheev who, holding his sword and glancing wrathfully around, followed some twenty paces behind them.
All the time Boris was going through the figures of the mazurka, he was worried by the question of what news Balashev had brought and how he could find it out before others. In the figure in which he had to choose two ladies, he whispered to Helene that he meant to choose Countess Potocka who, he thought, had gone out onto the veranda, and glided over the parquet to the door opening into the garden, where, seeing Balashev and the Emperor returning to the veranda, he stood still. They were moving toward the door. Boris, fluttering as if he had not had time to withdraw, respectfully pressed close to the doorpost with bowed head.
The Emperor, with the agitation of one who has been personally affronted, was finishing with these words:
"To enter Russia without declaring war! I will not make peace as long as a single armed enemy remains in my country!" It seemed to Boris that it gave the Emperor pleasure to utter these words. He was satisfied with the form in which he had expressed his thoughts, but displeased that Boris had overheard it.
"Let no one know of it!" the Emperor added with a frown.
Boris understood that this was meant for him and, closing his eyes, slightly bowed his head. The Emperor re-entered the ballroom and remained there about another half-hour.
Boris was thus the first to learn the news that the French army had crossed the Niemen and, thanks to this, was able to show certain important personages that much that was concealed from others was usually known to him, and by this means he rose higher in their estimation.
The unexpected news of the French having crossed the Niemen was particularly startling after a month of unfulfilled expectations, and at a ball. On first receiving the news, under the influence of indignation and resentment the Emperor had found a phrase that pleased him, fully expressed his feelings, and has since become famous. On returning home at two o'clock that night he sent for his secretary, Shishkov, and told him to write an order to the troops and a rescript to Field Marshal Prince Saltykov, in which he insisted on the words being inserted that he would not make peace so long as a single armed Frenchman remained on Russian soil.
Next day the following letter was sent to Napoleon:
Monsieur mon frere,
Yesterday I learned that, despite the loyalty with which I have kept my engagements with Your Majesty, your troops have crossed the Russian frontier, and I have this moment received from Petersburg a note, in which Count Lauriston informs me, as a reason for this aggression, that Your Majesty has considered yourself to be in a state of war with me from the time Prince Kuragin asked for his passports. The reasons on which the Duc de Bassano based his refusal to deliver them to him would never have led me to suppose that that could serve as a pretext for aggression. In fact, the ambassador, as he himself has declared, was never authorized to make that demand, and as soon as I was informed of it I let him know how much I disapproved of it and ordered him to remain at his post. If Your Majesty does not intend to shed the blood of our peoples for such a misunderstanding, and consents to withdraw your troops from Russian territory, I will regard what has passed as not having occurred and an understanding between us will be possible. In the contrary case, Your Majesty, I shall see myself forced to repel an attack that nothing on my part has provoked. It still depends on Your Majesty to preserve humanity from the calamity of another war. I am, etc.,
At two in the morning of the fourteenth of June, the Emperor, having sent for Balashev and read him his letter to Napoleon, ordered him to take it and hand it personally to the French Emperor. When dispatching Balashev, the Emperor repeated to him the words that he would not make peace so long as a single armed enemy remained on Russian soil and told him to transmit those words to Napoleon. Alexander did not insert them in his letter to Napoleon, because with his characteristic tact he felt it would be injudicious to use them at a moment when a last attempt at reconciliation was being made, but he definitely instructed Balashev to repeat them personally to Napoleon.
Having set off in the small hours of the fourteenth, accompanied by a bugler and two Cossacks, Balashev reached the French outposts at the village of Rykonty, on the Russian side of the Niemen, by dawn. There he was stopped by French cavalry sentinels.
A French noncommissioned officer of hussars, in crimson uniform and a shaggy cap, shouted to the approaching Balashev to halt. Balashev did not do so at once, but continued to advance along the road at a walking pace.
The noncommissioned officer frowned and, muttering words of abuse, advanced his horse's chest against Balashev, put his hand to his saber, and shouted rudely at the Russian general, asking: was he deaf that he did not do as he was told? Balashev mentioned who he was. The noncommissioned officer began talking with his comrades about regimental matters without looking at the Russian general.
After living at the seat of the highest authority and power, after conversing with the Emperor less than three hours before, and in general being accustomed to the respect due to his rank in the service, Balashev found it very strange here on Russian soil to encounter this hostile, and still more this disrespectful, application of brute force to himself.
The sun was only just appearing from behind the clouds, the air was fresh and dewy. A herd of cattle was being driven along the road from the village, and over the fields the larks rose trilling, one after another, like bubbles rising in water.
Balashev looked around him, awaiting the arrival of an officer from the village. The Russian Cossacks and bugler and the French hussars looked silently at one another from time to time.
A French colonel of hussars, who had evidently just left his bed, came riding from the village on a handsome sleek gray horse, accompanied by two hussars. The officer, the soldiers, and their horses all looked smart and well kept.
It was that first period of a campaign when troops are still in full trim, almost like that of peacetime maneuvers, but with a shade of martial swagger in their clothes, and a touch of the gaiety and spirit of enterprise which always accompany the opening of a campaign.
The French colonel with difficulty repressed a yawn, but was polite and evidently understood Balashev's importance. He led him past his soldiers and behind the outposts and told him that his wish to be presented to the Emperor would most likely be satisfied immediately, as the Emperor's quarters were, he believed, not far off.
They rode through the village of Rykonty, past tethered French hussar horses, past sentinels and men who saluted their colonel and stared with curiosity at a Russian uniform, and came out at the other end of the village. The colonel said that the commander of the division was a mile and a quarter away and would receive Balashev and conduct him to his destination.
The sun had by now risen and shone gaily on the bright verdure.
They had hardly ridden up a hill, past a tavern, before they saw a group of horsemen coming toward them. In front of the group, on a black horse with trappings that glittered in the sun, rode a tall man with plumes in his hat and black hair curling down to his shoulders. He wore a red mantle, and stretched his long legs forward in French fashion. This man rode toward Balashev at a gallop, his plumes flowing and his gems and gold lace glittering in the bright June sunshine.
Balashev was only two horses' length from the equestrian with the bracelets, plumes, necklaces, and gold embroidery, who was galloping toward him with a theatrically solemn countenance, when Julner, the French colonel, whispered respectfully: "The King of Naples!" It was, in fact, Murat, now called "King of Naples." Though it was quite incomprehensible why he should be King of Naples, he was called so, and was himself convinced that he was so, and therefore assumed a more solemn and important air than formerly. He was so sure that he really was the King of Naples that when, on the eve of his departure from that city, while walking through the streets with his wife, some Italians called out to him: "Viva il re!" * he turned to his wife with a pensive smile and said: "Poor fellows, they don't know that I am leaving them tomorrow!"
* "Long live the king."
But though he firmly believed himself to be King of Naples and pitied the grief felt by the subjects he was abandoning, latterly, after he had been ordered to return to military service—and especially since his last interview with Napoleon in Danzig, when his august brother-in-law had told him: "I made you King that you should reign in my way, but not in yours!"—he had cheerfully taken up his familiar business, and—like a well-fed but not overfat horse that feels himself in harness and grows skittish between the shafts—he dressed up in clothes as variegated and expensive as possible, and gaily and contentedly galloped along the roads of Poland, without himself knowing why or whither.
On seeing the Russian general he threw back his head, with its long hair curling to his shoulders, in a majestically royal manner, and looked inquiringly at the French colonel. The colonel respectfully informed His Majesty of Balashev's mission, whose name he could not pronounce.
"De Bal-macheve!" said the King (overcoming by his assurance the difficulty that had presented itself to the colonel). "Charmed to make your acquaintance, General!" he added, with a gesture of kingly condescension.
As soon as the King began to speak loud and fast his royal dignity instantly forsook him, and without noticing it he passed into his natural tone of good-natured familiarity. He laid his hand on the withers of Balashev's horse and said:
"Well, General, it all looks like war," as if regretting a circumstance of which he was unable to judge.
"Your Majesty," replied Balashev, "my master, the Emperor, does not desire war and as Your Majesty sees..." said Balashev, using the words Your Majesty at every opportunity, with the affectation unavoidable in frequently addressing one to whom the title was still a novelty.
Murat's face beamed with stupid satisfaction as he listened to "Monsieur de Bal-macheve." But royaute oblige! * and he felt it incumbent on him, as a king and an ally, to confer on state affairs with Alexander's envoy. He dismounted, took Balashev's arm, and moving a few steps away from his suite, which waited respectfully, began to pace up and down with him, trying to speak significantly. He referred to the fact that the Emperor Napoleon had resented the demand that he should withdraw his troops from Prussia, especially when that demand became generally known and the dignity of France was thereby offended.
* "Royalty has its obligations."
Balashev replied that there was "nothing offensive in the demand, because..." but Murat interrupted him.
"Then you don't consider the Emperor Alexander the aggressor?" he asked unexpectedly, with a kindly and foolish smile.
Balashev told him why he considered Napoleon to be the originator of the war.
"Oh, my dear general!" Murat again interrupted him, "with all my heart I wish the Emperors may arrange the affair between them, and that the war begun by no wish of mine may finish as quickly as possible!" said he, in the tone of a servant who wants to remain good friends with another despite a quarrel between their masters.
And he went on to inquiries about the Grand Duke and the state of his health, and to reminiscences of the gay and amusing times he had spent with him in Naples. Then suddenly, as if remembering his royal dignity, Murat solemnly drew himself up, assumed the pose in which he had stood at his coronation, and, waving his right arm, said:
"I won't detain you longer, General. I wish success to your mission," and with his embroidered red mantle, his flowing feathers, and his glittering ornaments, he rejoined his suite who were respectfully awaiting him.
Balashev rode on, supposing from Murat's words that he would very soon be brought before Napoleon himself. But instead of that, at the next village the sentinels of Davout's infantry corps detained him as the pickets of the vanguard had done, and an adjutant of the corps commander, who was fetched, conducted him into the village to Marshal Davout.
Davout was to Napoleon what Arakcheev was to Alexander—though not a coward like Arakcheev, he was as precise, as cruel, and as unable to express his devotion to his monarch except by cruelty.
In the organism of states such men are necessary, as wolves are necessary in the organism of nature, and they always exist, always appear and hold their own, however incongruous their presence and their proximity to the head of the government may be. This inevitability alone can explain how the cruel Arakcheev, who tore out a grenadier's mustache with his own hands, whose weak nerves rendered him unable to face danger, and who was neither an educated man nor a courtier, was able to maintain his powerful position with Alexander, whose own character was chivalrous, noble, and gentle.
Balashev found Davout seated on a barrel in the shed of a peasant's hut, writing—he was auditing accounts. Better quarters could have been found him, but Marshal Davout was one of those men who purposely put themselves in most depressing conditions to have a justification for being gloomy. For the same reason they are always hard at work and in a hurry. "How can I think of the bright side of life when, as you see, I am sitting on a barrel and working in a dirty shed?" the expression of his face seemed to say. The chief pleasure and necessity of such men, when they encounter anyone who shows animation, is to flaunt their own dreary, persistent activity. Davout allowed himself that pleasure when Balashev was brought in. He became still more absorbed in his task when the Russian general entered, and after glancing over his spectacles at Balashev's face, which was animated by the beauty of the morning and by his talk with Murat, he did not rise or even stir, but scowled still more and sneered malevolently.
When he noticed in Balashev's face the disagreeable impression this reception produced, Davout raised his head and coldly asked what he wanted.
Thinking he could have been received in such a manner only because Davout did not know that he was adjutant general to the Emperor Alexander and even his envoy to Napoleon, Balashev hastened to inform him of his rank and mission. Contrary to his expectation, Davout, after hearing him, became still surlier and ruder.
"Where is your dispatch?" he inquired. "Give it to me. I will send it to the Emperor."
Balashev replied that he had been ordered to hand it personally to the Emperor.
"Your Emperor's orders are obeyed in your army, but here," said Davout, "you must do as you're told."
And, as if to make the Russian general still more conscious of his dependence on brute force, Davout sent an adjutant to call the officer on duty.
Balashev took out the packet containing the Emperor's letter and laid it on the table (made of a door with its hinges still hanging on it, laid across two barrels). Davout took the packet and read the inscription.
"You are perfectly at liberty to treat me with respect or not," protested Balashev, "but permit me to observe that I have the honor to be adjutant general to His Majesty...."
Davout glanced at him silently and plainly derived pleasure from the signs of agitation and confusion which appeared on Balashev's face.
"You will be treated as is fitting," said he and, putting the packet in his pocket, left the shed.
A minute later the marshal's adjutant, de Castres, came in and conducted Balashev to the quarters assigned him.
That day he dined with the marshal, at the same board on the barrels.
Next day Davout rode out early and, after asking Balashev to come to him, peremptorily requested him to remain there, to move on with the baggage train should orders come for it to move, and to talk to no one except Monsieur de Castres.
After four days of solitude, ennui, and consciousness of his impotence and insignificance—particularly acute by contrast with the sphere of power in which he had so lately moved—and after several marches with the marshal's baggage and the French army, which occupied the whole district, Balashev was brought to Vilna—now occupied by the French—through the very gate by which he had left it four days previously.
Next day the imperial gentleman-in-waiting, the Comte de Turenne, came to Balashev and informed him of the Emperor Napoleon's wish to honor him with an audience.
Four days before, sentinels of the Preobrazhensk regiment had stood in front of the house to which Balashev was conducted, and now two French grenadiers stood there in blue uniforms unfastened in front and with shaggy caps on their heads, and an escort of hussars and uhlans and a brilliant suite of aides-de-camp, pages, and generals, who were waiting for Napoleon to come out, were standing at the porch, round his saddle horse and his Mameluke, Rustan. Napoleon received Balashev in the very house in Vilna from which Alexander had dispatched him on his mission.
Though Balashev was used to imperial pomp, he was amazed at the luxury and magnificence of Napoleon's court.
The Comte de Turenne showed him into a big reception room where many generals, gentlemen-in-waiting, and Polish magnates—several of whom Balashev had seen at the court of the Emperor of Russia—were waiting. Duroc said that Napoleon would receive the Russian general before going for his ride.
After some minutes, the gentleman-in-waiting who was on duty came into the great reception room and, bowing politely, asked Balashev to follow him.
Balashev went into a small reception room, one door of which led into a study, the very one from which the Russian Emperor had dispatched him on his mission. He stood a minute or two, waiting. He heard hurried footsteps beyond the door, both halves of it were opened rapidly; all was silent and then from the study the sound was heard of other steps, firm and resolute—they were those of Napoleon. He had just finished dressing for his ride, and wore a blue uniform, opening in front over a white waistcoat so long that it covered his rotund stomach, white leather breeches tightly fitting the fat thighs of his short legs, and Hessian boots. His short hair had evidently just been brushed, but one lock hung down in the middle of his broad forehead. His plump white neck stood out sharply above the black collar of his uniform, and he smelled of Eau de Cologne. His full face, rather young-looking, with its prominent chin, wore a gracious and majestic expression of imperial welcome.
He entered briskly, with a jerk at every step and his head slightly thrown back. His whole short corpulent figure with broad thick shoulders, and chest and stomach involuntarily protruding, had that imposing and stately appearance one sees in men of forty who live in comfort. It was evident, too, that he was in the best of spirits that day.
He nodded in answer to Balashav's low and respectful bow, and coming up to him at once began speaking like a man who values every moment of his time and does not condescend to prepare what he has to say but is sure he will always say the right thing and say it well.
"Good day, General!" said he. "I have received the letter you brought from the Emperor Alexander and am very glad to see you." He glanced with his large eyes into Balashav's face and immediately looked past him.
It was plain that Balashev's personality did not interest him at all. Evidently only what took place within his own mind interested him. Nothing outside himself had any significance for him, because everything in the world, it seemed to him, depended entirely on his will.
"I do not, and did not, desire war," he continued, "but it has been forced on me. Even now" (he emphasized the word) "I am ready to receive any explanations you can give me."
And he began clearly and concisely to explain his reasons for dissatisfaction with the Russian government. Judging by the calmly moderate and amicable tone in which the French Emperor spoke, Balashev was firmly persuaded that he wished for peace and intended to enter into negotiations.
When Napoleon, having finished speaking, looked inquiringly at the Russian envoy, Balashev began a speech he had prepared long before: "Sire! The Emperor, my master..." but the sight of the Emperor's eyes bent on him confused him. "You are flurried—compose yourself!" Napoleon seemed to say, as with a scarcely perceptible smile he looked at Balashev's uniform and sword.
Balashev recovered himself and began to speak. He said that the Emperor Alexander did not consider Kurakin's demand for his passports a sufficient cause for war; that Kurakin had acted on his own initiative and without his sovereign's assent, that the Emperor Alexander did not desire war, and had no relations with England.
"Not yet!" interposed Napoleon, and, as if fearing to give vent to his feelings, he frowned and nodded slightly as a sign that Balashev might proceed.
After saying all he had been instructed to say, Balashev added that the Emperor Alexander wished for peace, but would not enter into negotiations except on condition that... Here Balashev hesitated: he remembered the words the Emperor Alexander had not written in his letter, but had specially inserted in the rescript to Saltykov and had told Balashev to repeat to Napoleon. Balashev remembered these words, "So long as a single armed foe remains on Russian soil," but some complex feeling restrained him. He could not utter them, though he wished to do so. He grew confused and said: "On condition that the French army retires beyond the Niemen."
Napoleon noticed Balashev's embarrassment when uttering these last words; his face twitched and the calf of his left leg began to quiver rhythmically. Without moving from where he stood he began speaking in a louder tone and more hurriedly than before. During the speech that followed, Balashev, who more than once lowered his eyes, involuntarily noticed the quivering of Napoleon's left leg which increased the more Napoleon raised his voice.
"I desire peace, no less than the Emperor Alexander," he began. "Have I not for eighteen months been doing everything to obtain it? I have waited eighteen months for explanations. But in order to begin negotiations, what is demanded of me?" he said, frowning and making an energetic gesture of inquiry with his small white plump hand.
"The withdrawal of your army beyond the Niemen, sire," replied Balashev.
"The Niemen?" repeated Napoleon. "So now you want me to retire beyond the Niemen—only the Niemen?" repeated Napoleon, looking straight at Balashev.
The latter bowed his head respectfully.
Instead of the demand of four months earlier to withdraw from Pomerania, only a withdrawal beyond the Niemen was now demanded. Napoleon turned quickly and began to pace the room.
"You say the demand now is that I am to withdraw beyond the Niemen before commencing negotiations, but in just the same way two months ago the demand was that I should withdraw beyond the Vistula and the Oder, and yet you are willing to negotiate."
He went in silence from one corner of the room to the other and again stopped in front of Balashev. Balashev noticed that his left leg was quivering faster than before and his face seemed petrified in its stern expression. This quivering of his left leg was a thing Napoleon was conscious of. "The vibration of my left calf is a great sign with me," he remarked at a later date.
"Such demands as to retreat beyond the Vistula and Oder may be made to a Prince of Baden, but not to me!" Napoleon almost screamed, quite to his own surprise. "If you gave me Petersburg and Moscow I could not accept such conditions. You say I have begun this war! But who first joined his army? The Emperor Alexander, not I! And you offer me negotiations when I have expended millions, when you are in alliance with England, and when your position is a bad one. You offer me negotiations! But what is the aim of your alliance with England? What has she given you?" he continued hurriedly, evidently no longer trying to show the advantages of peace and discuss its possibility, but only to prove his own rectitude and power and Alexander's errors and duplicity.
The commencement of his speech had obviously been made with the intention of demonstrating the advantages of his position and showing that he was nevertheless willing to negotiate. But he had begun talking, and the more he talked the less could he control his words.
The whole purport of his remarks now was evidently to exalt himself and insult Alexander—just what he had least desired at the commencement of the interview.
"I hear you have made peace with Turkey?"
Balashev bowed his head affirmatively.
"Peace has been concluded..." he began.
But Napoleon did not let him speak. He evidently wanted to do all the talking himself, and continued to talk with the sort of eloquence and unrestrained irritability to which spoiled people are so prone.
"Yes, I know you have made peace with the Turks without obtaining Moldavia and Wallachia; I would have given your sovereign those provinces as I gave him Finland. Yes," he went on, "I promised and would have given the Emperor Alexander Moldavia and Wallachia, and now he won't have those splendid provinces. Yet he might have united them to his empire and in a single reign would have extended Russia from the Gulf of Bothnia to the mouths of the Danube. Catherine the Great could not have done more," said Napoleon, growing more and more excited as he paced up and down the room, repeating to Balashev almost the very words he had used to Alexander himself at Tilsit. "All that, he would have owed to my friendship. Oh, what a splendid reign!" he repeated several times, then paused, drew from his pocket a gold snuffbox, lifted it to his nose, and greedily sniffed at it.
"What a splendid reign the Emperor Alexander's might have been!"
He looked compassionately at Balashev, and as soon as the latter tried to make some rejoinder hastily interrupted him.
"What could he wish or look for that he would not have obtained through my friendship?" demanded Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders in perplexity. "But no, he has preferred to surround himself with my enemies, and with whom? With Steins, Armfeldts, Bennigsens, and Wintzingerodes! Stein, a traitor expelled from his own country; Armfeldt, a rake and an intriguer; Wintzingerode, a fugitive French subject; Bennigsen, rather more of a soldier than the others, but all the same an incompetent who was unable to do anything in 1807 and who should awaken terrible memories in the Emperor Alexander's mind.... Granted that were they competent they might be made use of," continued Napoleon—hardly able to keep pace in words with the rush of thoughts that incessantly sprang up, proving how right and strong he was (in his perception the two were one and the same)—"but they are not even that! They are neither fit for war nor peace! Barclay is said to be the most capable of them all, but I cannot say so, judging by his first movements. And what are they doing, all these courtiers? Pfuel proposes, Armfeldt disputes, Bennigsen considers, and Barclay, called on to act, does not know what to decide on, and time passes bringing no result. Bagration alone is a military man. He's stupid, but he has experience, a quick eye, and resolution.... And what role is your young monarch playing in that monstrous crowd? They compromise him and throw on him the responsibility for all that happens. A sovereign should not be with the army unless he is a general!" said Napoleon, evidently uttering these words as a direct challenge to the Emperor. He knew how Alexander desired to be a military commander.
"The campaign began only a week ago, and you haven't even been able to defend Vilna. You are cut in two and have been driven out of the Polish provinces. Your army is grumbling."
"On the contrary, Your Majesty," said Balashev, hardly able to remember what had been said to him and following these verbal fireworks with difficulty, "the troops are burning with eagerness..."
"I know everything!" Napoleon interrupted him. "I know everything. I know the number of your battalions as exactly as I know my own. You have not two hundred thousand men, and I have three times that number. I give you my word of honor," said Napoleon, forgetting that his word of honor could carry no weight—"I give you my word of honor that I have five hundred and thirty thousand men this side of the Vistula. The Turks will be of no use to you; they are worth nothing and have shown it by making peace with you. As for the Swedes—it is their fate to be governed by mad kings. Their king was insane and they changed him for another—Bernadotte, who promptly went mad—for no Swede would ally himself with Russia unless he were mad."
Napoleon grinned maliciously and again raised his snuffbox to his nose.
Balashev knew how to reply to each of Napoleon's remarks, and would have done so; he continually made the gesture of a man wishing to say something, but Napoleon always interrupted him. To the alleged insanity of the Swedes, Balashev wished to reply that when Russia is on her side Sweden is practically an island: but Napoleon gave an angry exclamation to drown his voice. Napoleon was in that state of irritability in which a man has to talk, talk, and talk, merely to convince himself that he is in the right. Balashev began to feel uncomfortable: as envoy he feared to demean his dignity and felt the necessity of replying; but, as a man, he shrank before the transport of groundless wrath that had evidently seized Napoleon. He knew that none of the words now uttered by Napoleon had any significance, and that Napoleon himself would be ashamed of them when he came to his senses. Balashev stood with downcast eyes, looking at the movements of Napoleon's stout legs and trying to avoid meeting his eyes.
"But what do I care about your allies?" said Napoleon. "I have allies—the Poles. There are eighty thousand of them and they fight like lions. And there will be two hundred thousand of them."
And probably still more perturbed by the fact that he had uttered this obvious falsehood, and that Balashev still stood silently before him in the same attitude of submission to fate, Napoleon abruptly turned round, drew close to Balashev's face, and, gesticulating rapidly and energetically with his white hands, almost shouted:
"Know that if you stir up Prussia against me, I'll wipe it off the map of Europe!" he declared, his face pale and distorted by anger, and he struck one of his small hands energetically with the other. "Yes, I will throw you back beyond the Dvina and beyond the Dnieper, and will re-erect against you that barrier which it was criminal and blind of Europe to allow to be destroyed. Yes, that is what will happen to you. That is what you have gained by alienating me!" And he walked silently several times up and down the room, his fat shoulders twitching.
He put his snuffbox into his waistcoat pocket, took it out again, lifted it several times to his nose, and stopped in front of Balashev. He paused, looked ironically straight into Balashev's eyes, and said in a quiet voice:
"And yet what a splendid reign your master might have had!"
Balashev, feeling it incumbent on him to reply, said that from the Russian side things did not appear in so gloomy a light. Napoleon was silent, still looking derisively at him and evidently not listening to him. Balashev said that in Russia the best results were expected from the war. Napoleon nodded condescendingly, as if to say, "I know it's your duty to say that, but you don't believe it yourself. I have convinced you."
When Balashev had ended, Napoleon again took out his snuffbox, sniffed at it, and stamped his foot twice on the floor as a signal. The door opened, a gentleman-in-waiting, bending respectfully, handed the Emperor his hat and gloves; another brought him a pocket handkerchief. Napoleon, without giving them a glance, turned to Balashev:
"Assure the Emperor Alexander from me," said he, taking his hat, "that I am as devoted to him as before: I know him thoroughly and very highly esteem his lofty qualities. I will detain you no longer, General; you shall receive my letter to the Emperor."
And Napoleon went quickly to the door. Everyone in the reception room rushed forward and descended the staircase.
After all that Napoleon had said to him—those bursts of anger and the last dryly spoken words: "I will detain you no longer, General; you shall receive my letter," Balashev felt convinced that Napoleon would not wish to see him, and would even avoid another meeting with him—an insulted envoy—especially as he had witnessed his unseemly anger. But, to his surprise, Balashev received, through Duroc, an invitation to dine with the Emperor that day.
Bessieres, Caulaincourt, and Berthier were present at that dinner.
Napoleon met Balashev cheerfully and amiably. He not only showed no sign of constraint or self-reproach on account of his outburst that morning, but, on the contrary, tried to reassure Balashev. It was evident that he had long been convinced that it was impossible for him to make a mistake, and that in his perception whatever he did was right, not because it harmonized with any idea of right and wrong, but because he did it.
The Emperor was in very good spirits after his ride through Vilna, where crowds of people had rapturously greeted and followed him. From all the windows of the streets through which he rode, rugs, flags, and his monogram were displayed, and the Polish ladies, welcoming him, waved their handkerchiefs to him.
At dinner, having placed Balashev beside him, Napoleon not only treated him amiably but behaved as if Balashev were one of his own courtiers, one of those who sympathized with his plans and ought to rejoice at his success. In the course of conversation he mentioned Moscow and questioned Balashev about the Russian capital, not merely as an interested traveler asks about a new city he intends to visit, but as if convinced that Balashev, as a Russian, must be flattered by his curiosity.
"How many inhabitants are there in Moscow? How many houses? Is it true that Moscow is called 'Holy Moscow'? How many churches are there in Moscow?" he asked.
And receiving the reply that there were more than two hundred churches, he remarked:
"Why such a quantity of churches?"
"The Russians are very devout," replied Balashev.
"But a large number of monasteries and churches is always a sign of the backwardness of a people," said Napoleon, turning to Caulaincourt for appreciation of this remark.
Balashev respectfully ventured to disagree with the French Emperor.
"Every country has its own character," said he.
"But nowhere in Europe is there anything like that," said Napoleon.
"I beg your Majesty's pardon," returned Balashev, "besides Russia there is Spain, where there are also many churches and monasteries."
This reply of Balashev's, which hinted at the recent defeats of the French in Spain, was much appreciated when he related it at Alexander's court, but it was not much appreciated at Napoleon's dinner, where it passed unnoticed.
The uninterested and perplexed faces of the marshals showed that they were puzzled as to what Balashev's tone suggested. "If there is a point we don't see it, or it is not at all witty," their expressions seemed to say. So little was his rejoinder appreciated that Napoleon did not notice it at all and naively asked Balashev through what towns the direct road from there to Moscow passed. Balashev, who was on the alert all through the dinner, replied that just as "all roads lead to Rome," so all roads lead to Moscow: there were many roads, and "among them the road through Poltava, which Charles XII chose." Balashev involuntarily flushed with pleasure at the aptitude of this reply, but hardly had he uttered the word Poltava before Caulaincourt began speaking of the badness of the road from Petersburg to Moscow and of his Petersburg reminiscences.
After dinner they went to drink coffee in Napoleon's study, which four days previously had been that of the Emperor Alexander. Napoleon sat down, toying with his Sevres coffee cup, and motioned Balashev to a chair beside him.
Napoleon was in that well-known after-dinner mood which, more than any reasoned cause, makes a man contented with himself and disposed to consider everyone his friend. It seemed to him that he was surrounded by men who adored him: and he felt convinced that, after his dinner, Balashev too was his friend and worshiper. Napoleon turned to him with a pleasant, though slightly ironic, smile.
"They tell me this is the room the Emperor Alexander occupied? Strange, isn't it, General?" he said, evidently not doubting that this remark would be agreeable to his hearer since it went to prove his, Napoleon's, superiority to Alexander.
Balashev made no reply and bowed his head in silence.
"Yes. Four days ago in this room, Wintzingerode and Stein were deliberating," continued Napoleon with the same derisive and self-confident smile. "What I can't understand," he went on, "is that the Emperor Alexander has surrounded himself with my personal enemies. That I do not... understand. Has he not thought that I may do the same?" and he turned inquiringly to Balashev, and evidently this thought turned him back on to the track of his morning's anger, which was still fresh in him.
"And let him know that I will do so!" said Napoleon, rising and pushing his cup away with his hand. "I'll drive all his Wurttemberg, Baden, and Weimar relations out of Germany.... Yes. I'll drive them out. Let him prepare an asylum for them in Russia!"
Balashev bowed his head with an air indicating that he would like to make his bow and leave, and only listened because he could not help hearing what was said to him. Napoleon did not notice this expression; he treated Balashev not as an envoy from his enemy, but as a man now fully devoted to him and who must rejoice at his former master's humiliation.
"And why has the Emperor Alexander taken command of the armies? What is the good of that? War is my profession, but his business is to reign and not to command armies! Why has he taken on himself such a responsibility?"
Again Napoleon brought out his snuffbox, paced several times up and down the room in silence, and then, suddenly and unexpectedly, went up to Balashev and with a slight smile, as confidently, quickly, and simply as if he were doing something not merely important but pleasing to Balashev, he raised his hand to the forty-year-old Russian general's face and, taking him by the ear, pulled it gently, smiling with his lips only.
To have one's ear pulled by the Emperor was considered the greatest honor and mark of favor at the French court.
"Well, adorer and courtier of the Emperor Alexander, why don't you say anything?" said he, as if it was ridiculous, in his presence, to be the adorer and courtier of anyone but himself, Napoleon. "Are the horses ready for the general?" he added, with a slight inclination of his head in reply to Balashev's bow. "Let him have mine, he has a long way to go!"
The letter taken by Balashev was the last Napoleon sent to Alexander. Every detail of the interview was communicated to the Russian monarch, and the war began...
After his interview with Pierre in Moscow, Prince Andrew went to Petersburg, on business as he told his family, but really to meet Anatole Kuragin whom he felt it necessary to encounter. On reaching Petersburg he inquired for Kuragin but the latter had already left the city. Pierre had warned his brother-in-law that Prince Andrew was on his track. Anatole Kuragin promptly obtained an appointment from the Minister of War and went to join the army in Moldavia. While in Petersburg Prince Andrew met Kutuzov, his former commander who was always well disposed toward him, and Kutuzov suggested that he should accompany him to the army in Moldavia, to which the old general had been appointed commander-in-chief. So Prince Andrew, having received an appointment on the headquarters staff, left for Turkey.
Prince Andrew did not think it proper to write and challenge Kuragin. He thought that if he challenged him without some fresh cause it might compromise the young Countess Rostova and so he wanted to meet Kuragin personally in order to find a fresh pretext for a duel. But he again failed to meet Kuragin in Turkey, for soon after Prince Andrew arrived, the latter returned to Russia. In a new country, amid new conditions, Prince Andrew found life easier to bear. After his betrothed had broken faith with him—which he felt the more acutely the more he tried to conceal its effects—the surroundings in which he had been happy became trying to him, and the freedom and independence he had once prized so highly were still more so. Not only could he no longer think the thoughts that had first come to him as he lay gazing at the sky on the field of Austerlitz and had later enlarged upon with Pierre, and which had filled his solitude at Bogucharovo and then in Switzerland and Rome, but he even dreaded to recall them and the bright and boundless horizons they had revealed. He was now concerned only with the nearest practical matters unrelated to his past interests, and he seized on these the more eagerly the more those past interests were closed to him. It was as if that lofty, infinite canopy of heaven that had once towered above him had suddenly turned into a low, solid vault that weighed him down, in which all was clear, but nothing eternal or mysterious.
Of the activities that presented themselves to him, army service was the simplest and most familiar. As a general on duty on Kutuzov's staff, he applied himself to business with zeal and perseverance and surprised Kutuzov by his willingness and accuracy in work. Not having found Kuragin in Turkey, Prince Andrew did not think it necessary to rush back to Russia after him, but all the same he knew that however long it might be before he met Kuragin, despite his contempt for him and despite all the proofs he deduced to convince himself that it was not worth stooping to a conflict with him—he knew that when he did meet him he would not be able to resist calling him out, any more than a ravenous man can help snatching at food. And the consciousness that the insult was not yet avenged, that his rancor was still unspent, weighed on his heart and poisoned the artificial tranquillity which he managed to obtain in Turkey by means of restless, plodding, and rather vainglorious and ambitious activity.
In the year 1812, when news of the war with Napoleon reached Bucharest—where Kutuzov had been living for two months, passing his days and nights with a Wallachian woman—Prince Andrew asked Kutuzov to transfer him to the Western Army. Kutuzov, who was already weary of Bolkonski's activity which seemed to reproach his own idleness, very readily let him go and gave him a mission to Barclay de Tolly.
Before joining the Western Army which was then, in May, encamped at Drissa, Prince Andrew visited Bald Hills which was directly on his way, being only two miles off the Smolensk highroad. During the last three years there had been so many changes in his life, he had thought, felt, and seen so much (having traveled both in the east and the west), that on reaching Bald Hills it struck him as strange and unexpected to find the way of life there unchanged and still the same in every detail. He entered through the gates with their stone pillars and drove up the avenue leading to the house as if he were entering an enchanted, sleeping castle. The same old stateliness, the same cleanliness, the same stillness reigned there, and inside there was the same furniture, the same walls, sounds, and smell, and the same timid faces, only somewhat older. Princess Mary was still the same timid, plain maiden getting on in years, uselessly and joylessly passing the best years of her life in fear and constant suffering. Mademoiselle Bourienne was the same coquettish, self-satisfied girl, enjoying every moment of her existence and full of joyous hopes for the future. She had merely become more self-confident, Prince Andrew thought. Dessalles, the tutor he had brought from Switzerland, was wearing a coat of Russian cut and talking broken Russian to the servants, but was still the same narrowly intelligent, conscientious, and pedantic preceptor. The old prince had changed in appearance only by the loss of a tooth, which left a noticeable gap on one side of his mouth; in character he was the same as ever, only showing still more irritability and skepticism as to what was happening in the world. Little Nicholas alone had changed. He had grown, become rosier, had curly dark hair, and, when merry and laughing, quite unconsciously lifted the upper lip of his pretty little mouth just as the little princess used to do. He alone did not obey the law of immutability in the enchanted, sleeping castle. But though externally all remained as of old, the inner relations of all these people had changed since Prince Andrew had seen them last. The household was divided into two alien and hostile camps, who changed their habits for his sake and only met because he was there. To the one camp belonged the old prince, Mademoiselle Bourienne, and the architect; to the other Princess Mary, Dessalles, little Nicholas, and all the old nurses and maids.
During his stay at Bald Hills all the family dined together, but they were ill at ease and Prince Andrew felt that he was a visitor for whose sake an exception was being made and that his presence made them all feel awkward. Involuntarily feeling this at dinner on the first day, he was taciturn, and the old prince noticing this also became morosely dumb and retired to his apartments directly after dinner. In the evening, when Prince Andrew went to him and, trying to rouse him, began to tell him of the young Count Kamensky's campaign, the old prince began unexpectedly to talk about Princess Mary, blaming her for her superstitions and her dislike of Mademoiselle Bourienne, who, he said, was the only person really attached to him.
The old prince said that if he was ill it was only because of Princess Mary: that she purposely worried and irritated him, and that by indulgence and silly talk she was spoiling little Prince Nicholas. The old prince knew very well that he tormented his daughter and that her life was very hard, but he also knew that he could not help tormenting her and that she deserved it. "Why does Prince Andrew, who sees this, say nothing to me about his sister? Does he think me a scoundrel, or an old fool who, without any reason, keeps his own daughter at a distance and attaches this Frenchwoman to himself? He doesn't understand, so I must explain it, and he must hear me out," thought the old prince. And he began explaining why he could not put up with his daughter's unreasonable character.
"If you ask me," said Prince Andrew, without looking up (he was censuring his father for the first time in his life), "I did not wish to speak about it, but as you ask me I will give you my frank opinion. If there is any misunderstanding and discord between you and Mary, I can't blame her for it at all. I know how she loves and respects you. Since you ask me," continued Prince Andrew, becoming irritable—as he was always liable to do of late—"I can only say that if there are any misunderstandings they are caused by that worthless woman, who is not fit to be my sister's companion."
The old man at first stared fixedly at his son, and an unnatural smile disclosed the fresh gap between his teeth to which Prince Andrew could not get accustomed.
"What companion, my dear boy? Eh? You've already been talking it over! Eh?"
"Father, I did not want to judge," said Prince Andrew, in a hard and bitter tone, "but you challenged me, and I have said, and always shall say, that Mary is not to blame, but those to blame—the one to blame—is that Frenchwoman."
"Ah, he has passed judgment... passed judgement!" said the old man in a low voice and, as it seemed to Prince Andrew, with some embarrassment, but then he suddenly jumped up and cried: "Be off, be off! Let not a trace of you remain here!..."
Prince Andrew wished to leave at once, but Princess Mary persuaded him to stay another day. That day he did not see his father, who did not leave his room and admitted no one but Mademoiselle Bourienne and Tikhon, but asked several times whether his son had gone. Next day, before leaving, Prince Andrew went to his son's rooms. The boy, curly-headed like his mother and glowing with health, sat on his knee, and Prince Andrew began telling him the story of Bluebeard, but fell into a reverie without finishing the story. He thought not of this pretty child, his son whom he held on his knee, but of himself. He sought in himself either remorse for having angered his father or regret at leaving home for the first time in his life on bad terms with him, and was horrified to find neither. What meant still more to him was that he sought and did not find in himself the former tenderness for his son which he had hoped to reawaken by caressing the boy and taking him on his knee.
"Well, go on!" said his son.
Prince Andrew, without replying, put him down from his knee and went out of the room.
As soon as Prince Andrew had given up his daily occupations, and especially on returning to the old conditions of life amid which he had been happy, weariness of life overcame him with its former intensity, and he hastened to escape from these memories and to find some work as soon as possible.
"So you've decided to go, Andrew?" asked his sister.
"Thank God that I can," replied Prince Andrew. "I am very sorry you can't."
"Why do you say that?" replied Princess Mary. "Why do you say that, when you are going to this terrible war, and he is so old? Mademoiselle Bourienne says he has been asking about you...."
As soon as she began to speak of that, her lips trembled and her tears began to fall. Prince Andrew turned away and began pacing the room.
"Ah, my God! my God! When one thinks who and what—what trash—can cause people misery!" he said with a malignity that alarmed Princess Mary.
She understood that when speaking of "trash" he referred not only to Mademoiselle Bourienne, the cause of her misery, but also to the man who had ruined his own happiness.
"Andrew! One thing I beg, I entreat of you!" she said, touching his elbow and looking at him with eyes that shone through her tears. "I understand you" (she looked down). "Don't imagine that sorrow is the work of men. Men are His tools." She looked a little above Prince Andrew's head with the confident, accustomed look with which one looks at the place where a familiar portrait hangs. "Sorrow is sent by Him, not by men. Men are His instruments, they are not to blame. If you think someone has wronged you, forget it and forgive! We have no right to punish. And then you will know the happiness of forgiving."
"If I were a woman I would do so, Mary. That is a woman's virtue. But a man should not and cannot forgive and forget," he replied, and though till that moment he had not been thinking of Kuragin, all his unexpended anger suddenly swelled up in his heart.
"If Mary is already persuading me to forgive, it means that I ought long ago to have punished him," he thought. And giving her no further reply, he began thinking of the glad vindictive moment when he would meet Kuragin who he knew was now in the army.
Princess Mary begged him to stay one day more, saying that she knew how unhappy her father would be if Andrew left without being reconciled to him, but Prince Andrew replied that he would probably soon be back again from the army and would certainly write to his father, but that the longer he stayed now the more embittered their differences would become.
"Good-bye, Andrew! Remember that misfortunes come from God, and men are never to blame," were the last words he heard from his sister when he took leave of her.
"Then it must be so!" thought Prince Andrew as he drove out of the avenue from the house at Bald Hills. "She, poor innocent creature, is left to be victimized by an old man who has outlived his wits. The old man feels he is guilty, but cannot change himself. My boy is growing up and rejoices in life, in which like everybody else he will deceive or be deceived. And I am off to the army. Why? I myself don't know. I want to meet that man whom I despise, so as to give him a chance to kill and laugh at me!"
These conditions of life had been the same before, but then they were all connected, while now they had all tumbled to pieces. Only senseless things, lacking coherence, presented themselves one after another to Prince Andrew's mind.
Prince Andrew reached the general headquarters of the army at the end of June. The first army, with which was the Emperor, occupied the fortified camp at Drissa; the second army was retreating, trying to effect a junction with the first one from which it was said to be cut off by large French forces. Everyone was dissatisfied with the general course of affairs in the Russian army, but no one anticipated any danger of invasion of the Russian provinces, and no one thought the war would extend farther than the western, the Polish, provinces.
Prince Andrew found Barclay de Tolly, to whom he had been assigned, on the bank of the Drissa. As there was not a single town or large village in the vicinity of the camp, the immense number of generals and courtiers accompanying the army were living in the best houses of the villages on both sides of the river, over a radius of six miles. Barclay de Tolly was quartered nearly three miles from the Emperor. He received Bolkonski stiffly and coldly and told him in his foreign accent that he would mention him to the Emperor for a decision as to his employment, but asked him meanwhile to remain on his staff. Anatole Kuragin, whom Prince Andrew had hoped to find with the army, was not there. He had gone to Petersburg, but Prince Andrew was glad to hear this. His mind was occupied by the interests of the center that was conducting a gigantic war, and he was glad to be free for a while from the distraction caused by the thought of Kuragin. During the first four days, while no duties were required of him, Prince Andrew rode round the whole fortified camp and, by the aid of his own knowledge and by talks with experts, tried to form a definite opinion about it. But the question whether the camp was advantageous or disadvantageous remained for him undecided. Already from his military experience and what he had seen in the Austrian campaign, he had come to the conclusion that in war the most deeply considered plans have no significance and that all depends on the way unexpected movements of the enemy—that cannot be foreseen—are met, and on how and by whom the whole matter is handled. To clear up this last point for himself, Prince Andrew, utilizing his position and acquaintances, tried to fathom the character of the control of the army and of the men and parties engaged in it, and he deduced for himself the following of the state of affairs.
While the Emperor had still been at Vilna, the forces had been divided into three armies. First, the army under Barclay de Tolly, secondly, the army under Bagration, and thirdly, the one commanded by Tormasov. The Emperor was with the first army, but not as commander-in-chief. In the orders issued it was stated, not that the Emperor would take command, but only that he would be with the army. The Emperor, moreover, had with him not a commander-in-chief's staff but the imperial headquarters staff. In attendance on him was the head of the imperial staff, Quartermaster General Prince Volkonski, as well as generals, imperial aides-de-camp, diplomatic officials, and a large number of foreigners, but not the army staff. Besides these, there were in attendance on the Emperor without any definite appointments: Arakcheev, the ex-Minister of War; Count Bennigsen, the senior general in rank; the Grand Duke Tsarevich Constantine Pavlovich; Count Rumyantsev, the Chancellor; Stein, a former Prussian minister; Armfeldt, a Swedish general; Pfuel, the chief author of the plan of campaign; Paulucci, an adjutant general and Sardinian emigre; Wolzogen—and many others. Though these men had no military appointment in the army, their position gave them influence, and often a corps commander, or even the commander-in-chief, did not know in what capacity he was questioned by Bennigsen, the Grand Duke, Arakcheev, or Prince Volkonski, or was given this or that advice and did not know whether a certain order received in the form of advice emanated from the man who gave it or from the Emperor and whether it had to be executed or not. But this was only the external condition; the essential significance of the presence of the Emperor and of all these people, from a courtier's point of view (and in an Emperor's vicinity all became courtiers), was clear to everyone. It was this: the Emperor did not assume the title of commander-in-chief, but disposed of all the armies; the men around him were his assistants. Arakcheev was a faithful custodian to enforce order and acted as the sovereign's bodyguard. Bennigsen was a landlord in the Vilna province who appeared to be doing the honors of the district, but was in reality a good general, useful as an adviser and ready at hand to replace Barclay. The Grand Duke was there because it suited him to be. The ex-Minister Stein was there because his advice was useful and the Emperor Alexander held him in high esteem personally. Armfeldt virulently hated Napoleon and was a general full of self-confidence, a quality that always influenced Alexander. Paulucci was there because he was bold and decided in speech. The adjutants general were there because they always accompanied the Emperor, and lastly and chiefly Pfuel was there because he had drawn up the plan of campaign against Napoleon and, having induced Alexander to believe in the efficacy of that plan, was directing the whole business of the war. With Pfuel was Wolzogen, who expressed Pfuel's thoughts in a more comprehensible way than Pfuel himself (who was a harsh, bookish theorist, self-confident to the point of despising everyone else) was able to do.
Besides these Russians and foreigners who propounded new and unexpected ideas every day—especially the foreigners, who did so with a boldness characteristic of people employed in a country not their own—there were many secondary personages accompanying the army because their principals were there.
Among the opinions and voices in this immense, restless, brilliant, and proud sphere, Prince Andrew noticed the following sharply defined subdivisions of tendencies and parties:
The first party consisted of Pfuel and his adherents—military theorists who believed in a science of war with immutable laws—laws of oblique movements, outflankings, and so forth. Pfuel and his adherents demanded a retirement into the depths of the country in accordance with precise laws defined by a pseudo-theory of war, and they saw only barbarism, ignorance, or evil intention in every deviation from that theory. To this party belonged the foreign nobles, Wolzogen, Wintzingerode, and others, chiefly Germans.
The second party was directly opposed to the first; one extreme, as always happens, was met by representatives of the other. The members of this party were those who had demanded an advance from Vilna into Poland and freedom from all prearranged plans. Besides being advocates of bold action, this section also represented nationalism, which made them still more one-sided in the dispute. They were Russians: Bagration, Ermolov (who was beginning to come to the front), and others. At that time a famous joke of Ermolov's was being circulated, that as a great favor he had petitioned the Emperor to make him a German. The men of that party, remembering Suvorov, said that what one had to do was not to reason, or stick pins into maps, but to fight, beat the enemy, keep him out of Russia, and not let the army get discouraged.
To the third party—in which the Emperor had most confidence—belonged the courtiers who tried to arrange compromises between the other two. The members of this party, chiefly civilians and to whom Arakcheev belonged, thought and said what men who have no convictions but wish to seem to have some generally say. They said that undoubtedly war, particularly against such a genius as Bonaparte (they called him Bonaparte now), needs most deeply devised plans and profound scientific knowledge and in that respect Pfuel was a genius, but at the same time it had to be acknowledged that the theorists are often one-sided, and therefore one should not trust them absolutely, but should also listen to what Pfuel's opponents and practical men of experience in warfare had to say, and then choose a middle course. They insisted on the retention of the camp at Drissa, according to Pfuel's plan, but on changing the movements of the other armies. Though, by this course, neither one aim nor the other could be attained, yet it seemed best to the adherents of this third party.
Of a fourth opinion the most conspicuous representative was the Tsarevich, who could not forget his disillusionment at Austerlitz, where he had ridden out at the head of the Guards, in his casque and cavalry uniform as to a review, expecting to crush the French gallantly; but unexpectedly finding himself in the front line had narrowly escaped amid the general confusion. The men of this party had both the quality and the defect of frankness in their opinions. They feared Napoleon, recognized his strength and their own weakness, and frankly said so. They said: "Nothing but sorrow, shame, and ruin will come of all this! We have abandoned Vilna and Vitebsk and shall abandon Drissa. The only reasonable thing left to do is to conclude peace as soon as possible, before we are turned out of Petersburg."
This view was very general in the upper army circles and found support also in Petersburg and from the chancellor, Rumyantsev, who, for other reasons of state, was in favor of peace.
The fifth party consisted of those who were adherents of Barclay de Tolly, not so much as a man but as minister of war and commander-in-chief. "Be he what he may" (they always began like that), "he is an honest, practical man and we have nobody better. Give him real power, for war cannot be conducted successfully without unity of command, and he will show what he can do, as he did in Finland. If our army is well organized and strong and has withdrawn to Drissa without suffering any defeats, we owe this entirely to Barclay. If Barclay is now to be superseded by Bennigsen all will be lost, for Bennigsen showed his incapacity already in 1807."
The sixth party, the Bennigsenites, said, on the contrary, that at any rate there was no one more active and experienced than Bennigsen: "and twist about as you may, you will have to come to Bennigsen eventually. Let the others make mistakes now!" said they, arguing that our retirement to Drissa was a most shameful reverse and an unbroken series of blunders. "The more mistakes that are made the better. It will at any rate be understood all the sooner that things cannot go on like this. What is wanted is not some Barclay or other, but a man like Bennigsen, who made his mark in 1807, and to whom Napoleon himself did justice—a man whose authority would be willingly recognized, and Bennigsen is the only such man."
The seventh party consisted of the sort of people who are always to be found, especially around young sovereigns, and of whom there were particularly many round Alexander—generals and imperial aides-de-camp passionately devoted to the Emperor, not merely as a monarch but as a man, adoring him sincerely and disinterestedly, as Rostov had done in 1805, and who saw in him not only all the virtues but all human capabilities as well. These men, though enchanted with the sovereign for refusing the command of the army, yet blamed him for such excessive modesty, and only desired and insisted that their adored sovereign should abandon his diffidence and openly announce that he would place himself at the head of the army, gather round him a commander-in-chief's staff, and, consulting experienced theoreticians and practical men where necessary, would himself lead the troops, whose spirits would thereby be raised to the highest pitch.
The eighth and largest group, which in its enormous numbers was to the others as ninety-nine to one, consisted of men who desired neither peace nor war, neither an advance nor a defensive camp at the Drissa or anywhere else, neither Barclay nor the Emperor, neither Pfuel nor Bennigsen, but only the one most essential thing—as much advantage and pleasure for themselves as possible. In the troubled waters of conflicting and intersecting intrigues that eddied about the Emperor's headquarters, it was possible to succeed in many ways unthinkable at other times. A man who simply wished to retain his lucrative post would today agree with Pfuel, tomorrow with his opponent, and the day after, merely to avoid responsibility or to please the Emperor, would declare that he had no opinion at all on the matter. Another who wished to gain some advantage would attract the Emperor's attention by loudly advocating the very thing the Emperor had hinted at the day before, and would dispute and shout at the council, beating his breast and challenging those who did not agree with him to duels, thereby proving that he was prepared to sacrifice himself for the common good. A third, in the absence of opponents, between two councils would simply solicit a special gratuity for his faithful services, well knowing that at that moment people would be too busy to refuse him. A fourth while seemingly overwhelmed with work would often come accidentally under the Emperor's eye. A fifth, to achieve his long-cherished aim of dining with the Emperor, would stubbornly insist on the correctness or falsity of some newly emerging opinion and for this object would produce arguments more or less forcible and correct.
All the men of this party were fishing for rubles, decorations, and promotions, and in this pursuit watched only the weathercock of imperial favor, and directly they noticed it turning in any direction, this whole drone population of the army began blowing hard that way, so that it was all the harder for the Emperor to turn it elsewhere. Amid the uncertainties of the position, with the menace of serious danger giving a peculiarly threatening character to everything, amid this vortex of intrigue, egotism, conflict of views and feelings, and the diversity of race among these people—this eighth and largest party of those preoccupied with personal interests imparted great confusion and obscurity to the common task. Whatever question arose, a swarm of these drones, without having finished their buzzing on a previous theme, flew over to the new one and by their hum drowned and obscured the voices of those who were disputing honestly.
From among all these parties, just at the time Prince Andrew reached the army, another, a ninth party, was being formed and was beginning to raise its voice. This was the party of the elders, reasonable men experienced and capable in state affairs, who, without sharing any of those conflicting opinions, were able to take a detached view of what was going on at the staff at headquarters and to consider means of escape from this muddle, indecision, intricacy, and weakness.
The men of this party said and thought that what was wrong resulted chiefly from the Emperor's presence in the army with his military court and from the consequent presence there of an indefinite, conditional, and unsteady fluctuation of relations, which is in place at court but harmful in an army; that a sovereign should reign but not command the army, and that the only way out of the position would be for the Emperor and his court to leave the army; that the mere presence of the Emperor paralyzed the action of fifty thousand men required to secure his personal safety, and that the worst commander-in-chief, if independent, would be better than the very best one trammeled by the presence and authority of the monarch.
Just at the time Prince Andrew was living unoccupied at Drissa, Shishkov, the Secretary of State and one of the chief representatives of this party, wrote a letter to the Emperor which Arakcheev and Balashev agreed to sign. In this letter, availing himself of permission given him by the Emperor to discuss the general course of affairs, he respectfully suggested—on the plea that it was necessary for the sovereign to arouse a warlike spirit in the people of the capital—that the Emperor should leave the army.
That arousing of the people by their sovereign and his call to them to defend their country—the very incitement which was the chief cause of Russia's triumph in so far as it was produced by the Tsar's personal presence in Moscow—was suggested to the Emperor, and accepted by him, as a pretext for quitting the army.
This letter had not yet been presented to the Emperor when Barclay, one day at dinner, informed Bolkonski that the sovereign wished to see him personally, to question him about Turkey, and that Prince Andrew was to present himself at Bennigsen's quarters at six that evening.
News was received at the Emperor's quarters that very day of a fresh movement by Napoleon which might endanger the army—news subsequently found to be false. And that morning Colonel Michaud had ridden round the Drissa fortifications with the Emperor and had pointed out to him that this fortified camp constructed by Pfuel, and till then considered a chef-d'oeuvre of tactical science which would ensure Napoleon's destruction, was an absurdity, threatening the destruction of the Russian army.
Prince Andrew arrived at Bennigsen's quarters—a country gentleman's house of moderate size, situated on the very banks of the river. Neither Bennigsen nor the Emperor was there, but Chernyshev, the Emperor's aide-de-camp, received Bolkonski and informed him that the Emperor, accompanied by General Bennigsen and Marquis Paulucci, had gone a second time that day to inspect the fortifications of the Drissa camp, of the suitability of which serious doubts were beginning to be felt.
Chernyshev was sitting at a window in the first room with a French novel in his hand. This room had probably been a music room; there was still an organ in it on which some rugs were piled, and in one corner stood the folding bedstead of Bennigsen's adjutant. This adjutant was also there and sat dozing on the rolled-up bedding, evidently exhausted by work or by feasting. Two doors led from the room, one straight on into what had been the drawing room, and another, on the right, to the study. Through the first door came the sound of voices conversing in German and occasionally in French. In that drawing room were gathered, by the Emperor's wish, not a military council (the Emperor preferred indefiniteness), but certain persons whose opinions he wished to know in view of the impending difficulties. It was not a council of war, but, as it were, a council to elucidate certain questions for the Emperor personally. To this semicouncil had been invited the Swedish General Armfeldt, Adjutant General Wolzogen, Wintzingerode (whom Napoleon had referred to as a renegade French subject), Michaud, Toll, Count Stein who was not a military man at all, and Pfuel himself, who, as Prince Andrew had heard, was the mainspring of the whole affair. Prince Andrew had an opportunity of getting a good look at him, for Pfuel arrived soon after himself and, in passing through to the drawing room, stopped a minute to speak to Chernyshev.
At first sight, Pfuel, in his ill-made uniform of a Russian general, which fitted him badly like a fancy costume, seemed familiar to Prince Andrew, though he saw him now for the first time. There was about him something of Weyrother, Mack, and Schmidt, and many other German theorist-generals whom Prince Andrew had seen in 1805, but he was more typical than any of them. Prince Andrew had never yet seen a German theorist in whom all the characteristics of those others were united to such an extent.
Pfuel was short and very thin but broad-boned, of coarse, robust build, broad in the hips, and with prominent shoulder blades. His face was much wrinkled and his eyes deep set. His hair had evidently been hastily brushed smooth in front of the temples, but stuck up behind in quaint little tufts. He entered the room, looking restlessly and angrily around, as if afraid of everything in that large apartment. Awkwardly holding up his sword, he addressed Chernyshev and asked in German where the Emperor was. One could see that he wished to pass through the rooms as quickly as possible, finish with the bows and greetings, and sit down to business in front of a map, where he would feel at home. He nodded hurriedly in reply to Chernyshev, and smiled ironically on hearing that the sovereign was inspecting the fortifications that he, Pfuel, had planned in accord with his theory. He muttered something to himself abruptly and in a bass voice, as self-assured Germans do—it might have been "stupid fellow"... or "the whole affair will be ruined," or "something absurd will come of it."... Prince Andrew did not catch what he said and would have passed on, but Chernyshev introduced him to Pfuel, remarking that Prince Andrew was just back from Turkey where the war had terminated so fortunately. Pfuel barely glanced—not so much at Prince Andrew as past him—and said, with a laugh: "That must have been a fine tactical war"; and, laughing contemptuously, went on into the room from which the sound of voices was heard.
Pfuel, always inclined to be irritably sarcastic, was particularly disturbed that day, evidently by the fact that they had dared to inspect and criticize his camp in his absence. From this short interview with Pfuel, Prince Andrew, thanks to his Austerlitz experiences, was able to form a clear conception of the man. Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion—science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth—science—which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
Pfuel was evidently of that sort. He had a science—the theory of oblique movements deduced by him from the history of Frederick the Great's wars, and all he came across in the history of more recent warfare seemed to him absurd and barbarous—monstrous collisions in which so many blunders were committed by both sides that these wars could not be called wars, they did not accord with the theory, and therefore could not serve as material for science.
In 1806 Pfuel had been one of those responsible, for the plan of campaign that ended in Jena and Auerstadt, but he did not see the least proof of the fallibility of his theory in the disasters of that war. On the contrary, the deviations made from his theory were, in his opinion, the sole cause of the whole disaster, and with characteristically gleeful sarcasm he would remark, "There, I said the whole affair would go to the devil!" Pfuel was one of those theoreticians who so love their theory that they lose sight of the theory's object—its practical application. His love of theory made him hate everything practical, and he would not listen to it. He was even pleased by failures, for failures resulting from deviations in practice from the theory only proved to him the accuracy of his theory.
He said a few words to Prince Andrew and Chernyshev about the present war, with the air of a man who knows beforehand that all will go wrong, and who is not displeased that it should be so. The unbrushed tufts of hair sticking up behind and the hastily brushed hair on his temples expressed this most eloquently.
He passed into the next room, and the deep, querulous sounds of his voice were at once heard from there.
Prince Andrew's eyes were still following Pfuel out of the room when Count Bennigsen entered hurriedly, and nodding to Bolkonski, but not pausing, went into the study, giving instructions to his adjutant as he went. The Emperor was following him, and Bennigsen had hastened on to make some preparations and to be ready to receive the sovereign. Chernyshev and Prince Andrew went out into the porch, where the Emperor, who looked fatigued, was dismounting. Marquis Paulucci was talking to him with particular warmth and the Emperor, with his head bent to the left, was listening with a dissatisfied air. The Emperor moved forward evidently wishing to end the conversation, but the flushed and excited Italian, oblivious of decorum, followed him and continued to speak.
"And as for the man who advised forming this camp—the Drissa camp," said Paulucci, as the Emperor mounted the steps and noticing Prince Andrew scanned his unfamiliar face, "as to that person, sire..." continued Paulucci, desperately, apparently unable to restrain himself, "the man who advised the Drissa camp—I see no alternative but the lunatic asylum or the gallows!"
Without heeding the end of the Italian's remarks, and as though not hearing them, the Emperor, recognizing Bolkonski, addressed him graciously.
"I am very glad to see you! Go in there where they are meeting, and wait for me."
The Emperor went into the study. He was followed by Prince Peter Mikhaylovich Volkonski and Baron Stein, and the door closed behind them. Prince Andrew, taking advantage of the Emperor's permission, accompanied Paulucci, whom he had known in Turkey, into the drawing room where the council was assembled.
Prince Peter Mikhaylovich Volkonski occupied the position, as it were, of chief of the Emperor's staff. He came out of the study into the drawing room with some maps which he spread on a table, and put questions on which he wished to hear the opinion of the gentlemen present. What had happened was that news (which afterwards proved to be false) had been received during the night of a movement by the French to outflank the Drissa camp.
The first to speak was General Armfeldt who, to meet the difficulty that presented itself, unexpectedly proposed a perfectly new position away from the Petersburg and Moscow roads. The reason for this was inexplicable (unless he wished to show that he, too, could have an opinion), but he urged that at this point the army should unite and there await the enemy. It was plain that Armfeldt had thought out that plan long ago and now expounded it not so much to answer the questions put—which, in fact, his plan did not answer—as to avail himself of the opportunity to air it. It was one of the millions of proposals, one as good as another, that could be made as long as it was quite unknown what character the war would take. Some disputed his arguments, others defended them. Young Count Toll objected to the Swedish general's views more warmly than anyone else, and in the course of the dispute drew from his side pocket a well-filled notebook, which he asked permission to read to them. In these voluminous notes Toll suggested another scheme, totally different from Armfeldt's or Pfuel's plan of campaign. In answer to Toll, Paulucci suggested an advance and an attack, which, he urged, could alone extricate us from the present uncertainty and from the trap (as he called the Drissa camp) in which we were situated.
During all these discussions Pfuel and his interpreter, Wolzogen (his "bridge" in court relations), were silent. Pfuel only snorted contemptuously and turned away, to show that he would never demean himself by replying to such nonsense as he was now hearing. So when Prince Volkonski, who was in the chair, called on him to give his opinion, he merely said:
"Why ask me? General Armfeldt has proposed a splendid position with an exposed rear, or why not this Italian gentleman's attack—very fine, or a retreat, also good! Why ask me?" said he. "Why, you yourselves know everything better than I do."
But when Volkonski said, with a frown, that it was in the Emperor's name that he asked his opinion, Pfuel rose and, suddenly growing animated, began to speak:
"Everything has been spoiled, everything muddled, everybody thought they knew better than I did, and now you come to me! How mend matters? There is nothing to mend! The principles laid down by me must be strictly adhered to," said he, drumming on the table with his bony fingers. "What is the difficulty? Nonsense, childishness!"
He went up to the map and speaking rapidly began proving that no eventuality could alter the efficiency of the Drissa camp, that everything had been foreseen, and that if the enemy were really going to outflank it, the enemy would inevitably be destroyed.
Paulucci, who did not know German, began questioning him in French. Wolzogen came to the assistance of his chief, who spoke French badly, and began translating for him, hardly able to keep pace with Pfuel, who was rapidly demonstrating that not only all that had happened, but all that could happen, had been foreseen in his scheme, and that if there were now any difficulties the whole fault lay in the fact that his plan had not been precisely executed. He kept laughing sarcastically, he demonstrated, and at last contemptuously ceased to demonstrate, like a mathematician who ceases to prove in various ways the accuracy of a problem that has already been proved. Wolzogen took his place and continued to explain his views in French, every now and then turning to Pfuel and saying, "Is it not so, your excellency?" But Pfuel, like a man heated in a fight who strikes those on his own side, shouted angrily at his own supporter, Wolzogen:
"Well, of course, what more is there to explain?"
Paulucci and Michaud both attacked Wolzogen simultaneously in French. Armfeldt addressed Pfuel in German. Toll explained to Volkonski in Russian. Prince Andrew listened and observed in silence.
Of all these men Prince Andrew sympathized most with Pfuel, angry, determined, and absurdly self-confident as he was. Of all those present, evidently he alone was not seeking anything for himself, nursed no hatred against anyone, and only desired that the plan, formed on a theory arrived at by years of toil, should be carried out. He was ridiculous, and unpleasantly sarcastic, but yet he inspired involuntary respect by his boundless devotion to an idea. Besides this, the remarks of all except Pfuel had one common trait that had not been noticeable at the council of war in 1805: there was now a panic fear of Napoleon's genius, which, though concealed, was noticeable in every rejoinder. Everything was assumed to be possible for Napoleon, they expected him from every side, and invoked his terrible name to shatter each other's proposals. Pfuel alone seemed to consider Napoleon a barbarian like everyone else who opposed his theory. But besides this feeling of respect, Pfuel evoked pity in Prince Andrew. From the tone in which the courtiers addressed him and the way Paulucci had allowed himself to speak of him to the Emperor, but above all from a certain desperation in Pfuel's own expressions, it was clear that the others knew, and Pfuel himself felt, that his fall was at hand. And despite his self-confidence and grumpy German sarcasm he was pitiable, with his hair smoothly brushed on the temples and sticking up in tufts behind. Though he concealed the fact under a show of irritation and contempt, he was evidently in despair that the sole remaining chance of verifying his theory by a huge experiment and proving its soundness to the whole world was slipping away from him.
The discussions continued a long time, and the longer they lasted the more heated became the disputes, culminating in shouts and personalities, and the less was it possible to arrive at any general conclusion from all that had been said. Prince Andrew, listening to this polyglot talk and to these surmises, plans, refutations, and shouts, felt nothing but amazement at what they were saying. A thought that had long since and often occurred to him during his military activities—the idea that there is not and cannot be any science of war, and that therefore there can be no such thing as a military genius—now appeared to him an obvious truth. "What theory and science is possible about a matter the conditions and circumstances of which are unknown and cannot be defined, especially when the strength of the acting forces cannot be ascertained? No one was or is able to foresee in what condition our or the enemy's armies will be in a day's time, and no one can gauge the force of this or that detachment. Sometimes—when there is not a coward at the front to shout, 'We are cut off!' and start running, but a brave and jolly lad who shouts, 'Hurrah!'—a detachment of five thousand is worth thirty thousand, as at Schon Grabern, while at times fifty thousand run from eight thousand, as at Austerlitz. What science can there be in a matter in which, as in all practical matters, nothing can be defined and everything depends on innumerable conditions, the significance of which is determined at a particular moment which arrives no one knows when? Armfeldt says our army is cut in half, and Paulucci says we have got the French army between two fires; Michaud says that the worthlessness of the Drissa camp lies in having the river behind it, and Pfuel says that is what constitutes its strength; Toll proposes one plan, Armfeldt another, and they are all good and all bad, and the advantages of any suggestions can be seen only at the moment of trial. And why do they all speak of a 'military genius'? Is a man a genius who can order bread to be brought up at the right time and say who is to go to the right and who to the left? It is only because military men are invested with pomp and power and crowds of sychophants flatter power, attributing to it qualities of genius it does not possess. The best generals I have known were, on the contrary, stupid or absent-minded men. Bagration was the best, Napoleon himself admitted that. And of Bonaparte himself! I remember his limited, self-satisfied face on the field of Austerlitz. Not only does a good army commander not need any special qualities, on the contrary he needs the absence of the highest and best human attributes—love, poetry, tenderness, and philosophic inquiring doubt. He should be limited, firmly convinced that what he is doing is very important (otherwise he will not have sufficient patience), and only then will he be a brave leader. God forbid that he should be humane, should love, or pity, or think of what is just and unjust. It is understandable that a theory of their 'genius' was invented for them long ago because they have power! The success of a military action depends not on them, but on the man in the ranks who shouts, 'We are lost!' or who shouts, 'Hurrah!' And only in the ranks can one serve with assurance of being useful."
So thought Prince Andrew as he listened to the talking, and he roused himself only when Paulucci called him and everyone was leaving.
At the review next day the Emperor asked Prince Andrew where he would like to serve, and Prince Andrew lost his standing in court circles forever by not asking to remain attached to the sovereign's person, but for permission to serve in the army.
Before the beginning of the campaign, Rostov had received a letter from his parents in which they told him briefly of Natasha's illness and the breaking off of her engagement to Prince Andrew (which they explained by Natasha's having rejected him) and again asked Nicholas to retire from the army and return home. On receiving this letter, Nicholas did not even make any attempt to get leave of absence or to retire from the army, but wrote to his parents that he was sorry Natasha was ill and her engagement broken off, and that he would do all he could to meet their wishes. To Sonya he wrote separately.
"Adored friend of my soul!" he wrote. "Nothing but honor could keep me from returning to the country. But now, at the commencement of the campaign, I should feel dishonored, not only in my comrades' eyes but in my own, if I preferred my own happiness to my love and duty to the Fatherland. But this shall be our last separation. Believe me, directly the war is over, if I am still alive and still loved by you, I will throw up everything and fly to you, to press you forever to my ardent breast."
It was, in fact, only the commencement of the campaign that prevented Rostov from returning home as he had promised and marrying Sonya. The autumn in Otradnoe with the hunting, and the winter with the Christmas holidays and Sonya's love, had opened out to him a vista of tranquil rural joys and peace such as he had never known before, and which now allured him. "A splendid wife, children, a good pack of hounds, a dozen leashes of smart borzois, agriculture, neighbors, service by election..." thought he. But now the campaign was beginning, and he had to remain with his regiment. And since it had to be so, Nicholas Rostov, as was natural to him, felt contented with the life he led in the regiment and was able to find pleasure in that life.
On his return from his furlough Nicholas, having been joyfully welcomed by his comrades, was sent to obtain remounts and brought back from the Ukraine excellent horses which pleased him and earned him commendation from his commanders. During his absence he had been promoted captain, and when the regiment was put on war footing with an increase in numbers, he was again allotted his old squadron.
The campaign began, the regiment was moved into Poland on double pay, new officers arrived, new men and horses, and above all everybody was infected with the merrily excited mood that goes with the commencement of a war, and Rostov, conscious of his advantageous position in the regiment, devoted himself entirely to the pleasures and interests of military service, though he knew that sooner or later he would have to relinquish them.
The troops retired from Vilna for various complicated reasons of state, political and strategic. Each step of the retreat was accompanied by a complicated interplay of interests, arguments, and passions at headquarters. For the Pavlograd hussars, however, the whole of this retreat during the finest period of summer and with sufficient supplies was a very simple and agreeable business.
It was only at headquarters that there was depression, uneasiness, and intriguing; in the body of the army they did not ask themselves where they were going or why. If they regretted having to retreat, it was only because they had to leave billets they had grown accustomed to, or some pretty young Polish lady. If the thought that things looked bad chanced to enter anyone's head, he tried to be as cheerful as befits a good soldier and not to think of the general trend of affairs, but only of the task nearest to hand. First they camped gaily before Vilna, making acquaintance with the Polish landowners, preparing for reviews and being reviewed by the Emperor and other high commanders. Then came an order to retreat to Sventsyani and destroy any provisions they could not carry away with them. Sventsyani was remembered by the hussars only as the drunken camp, a name the whole army gave to their encampment there, and because many complaints were made against the troops, who, taking advantage of the order to collect provisions, took also horses, carriages, and carpets from the Polish proprietors. Rostov remembered Sventsyani, because on the first day of their arrival at that small town he changed his sergeant major and was unable to manage all the drunken men of his squadron who, unknown to him, had appropriated five barrels of old beer. From Sventsyani they retired farther and farther to Drissa, and thence again beyond Drissa, drawing near to the frontier of Russia proper.
On the thirteenth of July the Pavlograds took part in a serious action for the first time.
On the twelfth of July, on the eve of that action, there was a heavy storm of rain and hail. In general, the summer of 1812 was remarkable for its storms.
The two Pavlograd squadrons were bivouacking on a field of rye, which was already in ear but had been completely trodden down by cattle and horses. The rain was descending in torrents, and Rostov, with a young officer named Ilyin, his protege, was sitting in a hastily constructed shelter. An officer of their regiment, with long mustaches extending onto his cheeks, who after riding to the staff had been overtaken by the rain, entered Rostov's shelter.
"I have come from the staff, Count. Have you heard of Raevski's exploit?"
And the officer gave them details of the Saltanov battle, which he had heard at the staff.
Rostov, smoking his pipe and turning his head about as the water trickled down his neck, listened inattentively, with an occasional glance at Ilyin, who was pressing close to him. This officer, a lad of sixteen who had recently joined the regiment, was now in the same relation to Nicholas that Nicholas had been to Denisov seven years before. Ilyin tried to imitate Rostov in everything and adored him as a girl might have done.
Zdrzhinski, the officer with the long mustache, spoke grandiloquently of the Saltanov dam being "a Russian Thermopylae," and of how a deed worthy of antiquity had been performed by General Raevski. He recounted how Raevski had led his two sons onto the dam under terrific fire and had charged with them beside him. Rostov heard the story and not only said nothing to encourage Zdrzhinski's enthusiasm but, on the contrary, looked like a man ashamed of what he was hearing, though with no intention of contradicting it. Since the campaigns of Austerlitz and of 1807 Rostov knew by experience that men always lie when describing military exploits, as he himself had done when recounting them; besides that, he had experience enough to know that nothing happens in war at all as we can imagine or relate it. And so he did not like Zdrzhinski's tale, nor did he like Zdrzhinski himself who, with his mustaches extending over his cheeks, bent low over the face of his hearer, as was his habit, and crowded Rostov in the narrow shanty. Rostov looked at him in silence. "In the first place, there must have been such a confusion and crowding on the dam that was being attacked that if Raevski did lead his sons there, it could have had no effect except perhaps on some dozen men nearest to him," thought he, "the rest could not have seen how or with whom Raevski came onto the dam. And even those who did see it would not have been much stimulated by it, for what had they to do with Raevski's tender paternal feelings when their own skins were in danger? And besides, the fate of the Fatherland did not depend on whether they took the Saltanov dam or not, as we are told was the case at Thermopylae. So why should he have made such a sacrifice? And why expose his own children in the battle? I would not have taken my brother Petya there, or even Ilyin, who's a stranger to me but a nice lad, but would have tried to put them somewhere under cover," Nicholas continued to think, as he listened to Zdrzhinski. But he did not express his thoughts, for in such matters, too, he had gained experience. He knew that this tale redounded to the glory of our arms and so one had to pretend not to doubt it. And he acted accordingly.
"I can't stand this any more," said Ilyin, noticing that Rostov did not relish Zdrzhinski's conversation. "My stockings and shirt... and the water is running on my seat! I'll go and look for shelter. The rain seems less heavy."
Ilyin went out and Zdrzhinski rode away.
Five minutes later Ilyin, splashing through the mud, came running back to the shanty.
"Hurrah! Rostov, come quick! I've found it! About two hundred yards away there's a tavern where ours have already gathered. We can at least get dry there, and Mary Hendrikhovna's there."
Mary Hendrikhovna was the wife of the regimental doctor, a pretty young German woman he had married in Poland. The doctor, whether from lack of means or because he did not like to part from his young wife in the early days of their marriage, took her about with him wherever the hussar regiment went and his jealousy had become a standing joke among the hussar officers.
Rostov threw his cloak over his shoulders, shouted to Lavrushka to follow with the things, and—now slipping in the mud, now splashing right through it—set off with Ilyin in the lessening rain and the darkness that was occasionally rent by distant lightning.
"Rostov, where are you?"
"Here. What lightning!" they called to one another.
In the tavern, before which stood the doctor's covered cart, there were already some five officers. Mary Hendrikhovna, a plump little blonde German, in a dressing jacket and nightcap, was sitting on a broad bench in the front corner. Her husband, the doctor, lay asleep behind her. Rostov and Ilyin, on entering the room, were welcomed with merry shouts and laughter.
"Dear me, how jolly we are!" said Rostov laughing.
"And why do you stand there gaping?"
"What swells they are! Why, the water streams from them! Don't make our drawing room so wet."
"Don't mess Mary Hendrikhovna's dress!" cried other voices.
Rostov and Ilyin hastened to find a corner where they could change into dry clothes without offending Mary Hendrikhovna's modesty. They were going into a tiny recess behind a partition to change, but found it completely filled by three officers who sat playing cards by the light of a solitary candle on an empty box, and these officers would on no account yield their position. Mary Hendrikhovna obliged them with the loan of a petticoat to be used as a curtain, and behind that screen Rostov and Ilyin, helped by Lavrushka who had brought their kits, changed their wet things for dry ones.
A fire was made up in the dilapidated brick stove. A board was found, fixed on two saddles and covered with a horsecloth, a small samovar was produced and a cellaret and half a bottle of rum, and having asked Mary Hendrikhovna to preside, they all crowded round her. One offered her a clean handkerchief to wipe her charming hands, another spread a jacket under her little feet to keep them from the damp, another hung his coat over the window to keep out the draft, and yet another waved the flies off her husband's face, lest he should wake up.
"Leave him alone," said Mary Hendrikhovna, smiling timidly and happily. "He is sleeping well as it is, after a sleepless night."
"Oh, no, Mary Hendrikhovna," replied the officer, "one must look after the doctor. Perhaps he'll take pity on me someday, when it comes to cutting off a leg or an arm for me."
There were only three tumblers, the water was so muddy that one could not make out whether the tea was strong or weak, and the samovar held only six tumblers of water, but this made it all the pleasanter to take turns in order of seniority to receive one's tumbler from Mary Hendrikhovna's plump little hands with their short and not overclean nails. All the officers appeared to be, and really were, in love with her that evening. Even those playing cards behind the partition soon left their game and came over to the samovar, yielding to the general mood of courting Mary Hendrikhovna. She, seeing herself surrounded by such brilliant and polite young men, beamed with satisfaction, try as she might to hide it, and perturbed as she evidently was each time her husband moved in his sleep behind her.
There was only one spoon, sugar was more plentiful than anything else, but it took too long to dissolve, so it was decided that Mary Hendrikhovna should stir the sugar for everyone in turn. Rostov received his tumbler, and adding some rum to it asked Mary Hendrikhovna to stir it.
"But you take it without sugar?" she said, smiling all the time, as if everything she said and everything the others said was very amusing and had a double meaning.
"It is not the sugar I want, but only that your little hand should stir my tea."
Mary Hendrikhovna assented and began looking for the spoon which someone meanwhile had pounced on.
"Use your finger, Mary Hendrikhovna, it will be still nicer," said Rostov.
"Too hot!" she replied, blushing with pleasure.
Ilyin put a few drops of rum into the bucket of water and brought it to Mary Hendrikhovna, asking her to stir it with her finger.
"This is my cup," said he. "Only dip your finger in it and I'll drink it all up."
When they had emptied the samovar, Rostov took a pack of cards and proposed that they should play "Kings" with Mary Hendrikhovna. They drew lots to settle who should make up her set. At Rostov's suggestion it was agreed that whoever became "King" should have the right to kiss Mary Hendrikhovna's hand, and that the "Booby" should go to refill and reheat the samovar for the doctor when the latter awoke.
"Well, but supposing Mary Hendrikhovna is 'King'?" asked Ilyin.
"As it is, she is Queen, and her word is law!"
They had hardly begun to play before the doctor's disheveled head suddenly appeared from behind Mary Hendrikhovna. He had been awake for some time, listening to what was being said, and evidently found nothing entertaining or amusing in what was going on. His face was sad and depressed. Without greeting the officers, he scratched himself and asked to be allowed to pass as they were blocking the way. As soon as he had left the room all the officers burst into loud laughter and Mary Hendrikhovna blushed till her eyes filled with tears and thereby became still more attractive to them. Returning from the yard, the doctor told his wife (who had ceased to smile so happily, and looked at him in alarm, awaiting her sentence) that the rain had ceased and they must go to sleep in their covered cart, or everything in it would be stolen.
"But I'll send an orderly.... Two of them!" said Rostov. "What an idea, doctor!"
"I'll stand guard on it myself!" said Ilyin.
"No, gentlemen, you have had your sleep, but I have not slept for two nights," replied the doctor, and he sat down morosely beside his wife, waiting for the game to end.
Seeing his gloomy face as he frowned at his wife, the officers grew still merrier, and some of them could not refrain from laughter, for which they hurriedly sought plausible pretexts. When he had gone, taking his wife with him, and had settled down with her in their covered cart, the officers lay down in the tavern, covering themselves with their wet cloaks, but they did not sleep for a long time; now they exchanged remarks, recalling the doctor's uneasiness and his wife's delight, now they ran out into the porch and reported what was taking place in the covered trap. Several times Rostov, covering his head, tried to go to sleep, but some remark would arouse him and conversation would be resumed, to the accompaniment of unreasoning, merry, childlike laughter.
It was nearly three o'clock but no one was yet asleep, when the quartermaster appeared with an order to move on to the little town of Ostrovna. Still laughing and talking, the officers began hurriedly getting ready and again boiled some muddy water in the samovar. But Rostov went off to his squadron without waiting for tea. Day was breaking, the rain had ceased, and the clouds were dispersing. It felt damp and cold, especially in clothes that were still moist. As they left the tavern in the twilight of the dawn, Rostov and Ilyin both glanced under the wet and glistening leather hood of the doctor's cart, from under the apron of which his feet were sticking out, and in the middle of which his wife's nightcap was visible and her sleepy breathing audible.
"She really is a dear little thing," said Rostov to Ilyin, who was following him.
"A charming woman!" said Ilyin, with all the gravity of a boy of sixteen.
Half an hour later the squadron was lined up on the road. The command was heard to "mount" and the soldiers crossed themselves and mounted. Rostov riding in front gave the order "Forward!" and the hussars, with clanking sabers and subdued talk, their horses' hoofs splashing in the mud, defiled in fours and moved along the broad road planted with birch trees on each side, following the infantry and a battery that had gone on in front.
Tattered, blue-purple clouds, reddening in the east, were scudding before the wind. It was growing lighter and lighter. That curly grass which always grows by country roadsides became clearly visible, still wet with the night's rain; the drooping branches of the birches, also wet, swayed in the wind and flung down bright drops of water to one side. The soldiers' faces were more and more clearly visible. Rostov, always closely followed by Ilyin, rode along the side of the road between two rows of birch trees.
When campaigning, Rostov allowed himself the indulgence of riding not a regimental but a Cossack horse. A judge of horses and a sportsman, he had lately procured himself a large, fine, mettlesome, Donets horse, dun-colored, with light mane and tail, and when he rode it no one could outgallop him. To ride this horse was a pleasure to him, and he thought of the horse, of the morning, of the doctor's wife, but not once of the impending danger.
Formerly, when going into action, Rostov had felt afraid; now he had not the least feeling of fear. He was fearless, not because he had grown used to being under fire (one cannot grow used to danger), but because he had learned how to manage his thoughts when in danger. He had grown accustomed when going into action to think about anything but what would seem most likely to interest him—the impending danger. During the first period of his service, hard as he tried and much as he reproached himself with cowardice, he had not been able to do this, but with time it had come of itself. Now he rode beside Ilyin under the birch trees, occasionally plucking leaves from a branch that met his hand, sometimes touching his horse's side with his foot, or, without turning round, handing a pipe he had finished to an hussar riding behind him, with as calm and careless an air as though he were merely out for a ride. He glanced with pity at the excited face of Ilyin, who talked much and in great agitation. He knew from experience the tormenting expectation of terror and death the cornet was suffering and knew that only time could help him.
As soon as the sun appeared in a clear strip of sky beneath the clouds, the wind fell, as if it dared not spoil the beauty of the summer morning after the storm; drops still continued to fall, but vertically now, and all was still. The whole sun appeared on the horizon and disappeared behind a long narrow cloud that hung above it. A few minutes later it reappeared brighter still from behind the top of the cloud, tearing its edge. Everything grew bright and glittered. And with that light, and as if in reply to it, came the sound of guns ahead of them.
Before Rostov had had time to consider and determine the distance of that firing, Count Ostermann-Tolstoy's adjutant came galloping from Vitebsk with orders to advance at a trot along the road.
The squadron overtook and passed the infantry and the battery—which had also quickened their pace—rode down a hill, and passing through an empty and deserted village again ascended. The horses began to lather and the men to flush.
"Halt! Dress your ranks!" the order of the regimental commander was heard ahead. "Forward by the left. Walk, march!" came the order from in front.
And the hussars, passing along the line of troops on the left flank of our position, halted behind our uhlans who were in the front line. To the right stood our infantry in a dense column: they were the reserve. Higher up the hill, on the very horizon, our guns were visible through the wonderfully clear air, brightly illuminated by slanting morning sunbeams. In front, beyond a hollow dale, could be seen the enemy's columns and guns. Our advanced line, already in action, could be heard briskly exchanging shots with the enemy in the dale.
At these sounds, long unheard, Rostov's spirits rose, as at the strains of the merriest music. Trap-ta-ta-tap! cracked the shots, now together, now several quickly one after another. Again all was silent and then again it sounded as if someone were walking on detonators and exploding them.
The hussars remained in the same place for about an hour. A cannonade began. Count Ostermann with his suite rode up behind the squadron, halted, spoke to the commander of the regiment, and rode up the hill to the guns.
After Ostermann had gone, a command rang out to the uhlans.
"Form column! Prepare to charge!"
The infantry in front of them parted into platoons to allow the cavalry to pass. The uhlans started, the streamers on their spears fluttering, and trotted downhill toward the French cavalry which was seen below to the left.
As soon as the uhlans descended the hill, the hussars were ordered up the hill to support the battery. As they took the places vacated by the uhlans, bullets came from the front, whining and whistling, but fell spent without taking effect.
The sounds, which he had not heard for so long, had an even more pleasurable and exhilarating effect on Rostov than the previous sounds of firing. Drawing himself up, he viewed the field of battle opening out before him from the hill, and with his whole soul followed the movement of the uhlans. They swooped down close to the French dragoons, something confused happened there amid the smoke, and five minutes later our uhlans were galloping back, not to the place they had occupied but more to the left, and among the orange-colored uhlans on chestnut horses and behind them, in a large group, blue French dragoons on gray horses could be seen.
Rostov, with his keen sportsman's eye, was one of the first to catch sight of these blue French dragoons pursuing our uhlans. Nearer and nearer in disorderly crowds came the uhlans and the French dragoons pursuing them. He could already see how these men, who looked so small at the foot of the hill, jostled and overtook one another, waving their arms and their sabers in the air.
Rostov gazed at what was happening before him as at a hunt. He felt instinctively that if the hussars struck at the French dragoons now, the latter could not withstand them, but if a charge was to be made it must be done now, at that very moment, or it would be too late. He looked around. A captain, standing beside him, was gazing like himself with eyes fixed on the cavalry below them.
"Andrew Sevastyanych!" said Rostov. "You know, we could crush them...."
"A fine thing too!" replied the captain, "and really..."
Rostov, without waiting to hear him out, touched his horse, galloped to the front of his squadron, and before he had time to finish giving the word of command, the whole squadron, sharing his feeling, was following him. Rostov himself did not know how or why he did it. He acted as he did when hunting, without reflecting or considering. He saw the dragoons near and that they were galloping in disorder; he knew they could not withstand an attack—knew there was only that moment and that if he let it slip it would not return. The bullets were whining and whistling so stimulatingly around him and his horse was so eager to go that he could not restrain himself. He touched his horse, gave the word of command, and immediately, hearing behind him the tramp of the horses of his deployed squadron, rode at full trot downhill toward the dragoons. Hardly had they reached the bottom of the hill before their pace instinctively changed to a gallop, which grew faster and faster as they drew nearer to our uhlans and the French dragoons who galloped after them. The dragoons were now close at hand. On seeing the hussars, the foremost began to turn, while those behind began to halt. With the same feeling with which he had galloped across the path of a wolf, Rostov gave rein to his Donets horse and galloped to intersect the path of the dragoons' disordered lines. One Uhlan stopped, another who was on foot flung himself to the ground to avoid being knocked over, and a riderless horse fell in among the hussars. Nearly all the French dragoons were galloping back. Rostov, picking out one on a gray horse, dashed after him. On the way he came upon a bush, his gallant horse cleared it, and almost before he had righted himself in his saddle he saw that he would immediately overtake the enemy he had selected. That Frenchman, by his uniform an officer, was going at a gallop, crouching on his gray horse and urging it on with his saber. In another moment Rostov's horse dashed its breast against the hindquarters of the officer's horse, almost knocking it over, and at the same instant Rostov, without knowing why, raised his saber and struck the Frenchman with it.
The instant he had done this, all Rostov's animation vanished. The officer fell, not so much from the blow—which had but slightly cut his arm above the elbow—as from the shock to his horse and from fright. Rostov reined in his horse, and his eyes sought his foe to see whom he had vanquished. The French dragoon officer was hopping with one foot on the ground, the other being caught in the stirrup. His eyes, screwed up with fear as if he every moment expected another blow, gazed up at Rostov with shrinking terror. His pale and mud-stained face—fair and young, with a dimple in the chin and light-blue eyes—was not an enemy's face at all suited to a battlefield, but a most ordinary, homelike face. Before Rostov had decided what to do with him, the officer cried, "I surrender!" He hurriedly but vainly tried to get his foot out of the stirrup and did not remove his frightened blue eyes from Rostov's face. Some hussars who galloped up disengaged his foot and helped him into the saddle. On all sides, the hussars were busy with the dragoons; one was wounded, but though his face was bleeding, he would not give up his horse; another was perched up behind an hussar with his arms round him; a third was being helped by an hussar to mount his horse. In front, the French infantry were firing as they ran. The hussars galloped hastily back with their prisoners. Rostov galloped back with the rest, aware of an unpleasant feeling of depression in his heart. Something vague and confused, which he could not at all account for, had come over him with the capture of that officer and the blow he had dealt him.
Count Ostermann-Tolstoy met the returning hussars, sent for Rostov, thanked him, and said he would report his gallant deed to the Emperor and would recommend him for a St. George's Cross. When sent for by Count Ostermann, Rostov, remembering that he had charged without orders, felt sure his commander was sending for him to punish him for breach of discipline. Ostermann's flattering words and promise of a reward should therefore have struck him all the more pleasantly, but he still felt that same vaguely disagreeable feeling of moral nausea. "But what on earth is worrying me?" he asked himself as he rode back from the general. "Ilyin? No, he's safe. Have I disgraced myself in any way? No, that's not it." Something else, resembling remorse, tormented him. "Yes, oh yes, that French officer with the dimple. And I remember how my arm paused when I raised it."
Rostov saw the prisoners being led away and galloped after them to have a look at his Frenchman with the dimple on his chin. He was sitting in his foreign uniform on an hussar packhorse and looked anxiously about him; The sword cut on his arm could scarcely be called a wound. He glanced at Rostov with a feigned smile and waved his hand in greeting. Rostov still had the same indefinite feeling, as of shame.
All that day and the next his friends and comrades noticed that Rostov, without being dull or angry, was silent, thoughtful, and preoccupied. He drank reluctantly, tried to remain alone, and kept turning something over in his mind.
Rostov was always thinking about that brilliant exploit of his, which to his amazement had gained him the St. George's Cross and even given him a reputation for bravery, and there was something he could not at all understand. "So others are even more afraid than I am!" he thought. "So that's all there is in what is called heroism! And did I do it for my country's sake? And how was he to blame, with his dimple and blue eyes? And how frightened he was! He thought that I should kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand trembled. And they have given me a St. George's Cross.... I can't make it out at all."
But while Nicholas was considering these questions and still could reach no clear solution of what puzzled him so, the wheel of fortune in the service, as often happens, turned in his favor. After the affair at Ostrovna he was brought into notice, received command of an hussar battalion, and when a brave officer was needed he was chosen.
On receiving news of Natasha's illness, the countess, though not quite well yet and still weak, went to Moscow with Petya and the rest of the household, and the whole family moved from Marya Dmitrievna's house to their own and settled down in town.
Natasha's illness was so serious that, fortunately for her and for her parents, the consideration of all that had caused the illness, her conduct and the breaking off of her engagement, receded into the background. She was so ill that it was impossible for them to consider in how far she was to blame for what had happened. She could not eat or sleep, grew visibly thinner, coughed, and, as the doctors made them feel, was in danger. They could not think of anything but how to help her. Doctors came to see her singly and in consultation, talked much in French, German, and Latin, blamed one another, and prescribed a great variety of medicines for all the diseases known to them, but the simple idea never occurred to any of them that they could not know the disease Natasha was suffering from, as no disease suffered by a live man can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine—not a disease of the lungs, liver, skin, heart, nerves, and so on mentioned in medical books, but a disease consisting of one of the innumerable combinations of the maladies of those organs. This simple thought could not occur to the doctors (as it cannot occur to a wizard that he is unable to work his charms) because the business of their lives was to cure, and they received money for it and had spent the best years of their lives on that business. But, above all, that thought was kept out of their minds by the fact that they saw they were really useful, as in fact they were to the whole Rostov family. Their usefulness did not depend on making the patient swallow substances for the most part harmful (the harm was scarcely perceptible, as they were given in small doses), but they were useful, necessary, and indispensable because they satisfied a mental need of the invalid and of those who loved her—and that is why there are, and always will be, pseudo-healers, wise women, homeopaths, and allopaths. They satisfied that eternal human need for hope of relief, for sympathy, and that something should be done, which is felt by those who are suffering. They satisfied the need seen in its most elementary form in a child, when it wants to have a place rubbed that has been hurt. A child knocks itself and runs at once to the arms of its mother or nurse to have the aching spot rubbed or kissed, and it feels better when this is done. The child cannot believe that the strongest and wisest of its people have no remedy for its pain, and the hope of relief and the expression of its mother's sympathy while she rubs the bump comforts it. The doctors were of use to Natasha because they kissed and rubbed her bump, assuring her that it would soon pass if only the coachman went to the chemist's in the Arbat and got a powder and some pills in a pretty box for a ruble and seventy kopeks, and if she took those powders in boiled water at intervals of precisely two hours, neither more nor less.
What would Sonya and the count and countess have done, how would they have looked, if nothing had been done, if there had not been those pills to give by the clock, the warm drinks, the chicken cutlets, and all the other details of life ordered by the doctors, the carrying out of which supplied an occupation and consolation to the family circle? How would the count have borne his dearly loved daughter's illness had he not known that it was costing him a thousand rubles, and that he would not grudge thousands more to benefit her, or had he not known that if her illness continued he would not grudge yet other thousands and would take her abroad for consultations there, and had he not been able to explain the details of how Metivier and Feller had not understood the symptoms, but Frise had, and Mudrov had diagnosed them even better? What would the countess have done had she not been able sometimes to scold the invalid for not strictly obeying the doctor's orders?
"You'll never get well like that," she would say, forgetting her grief in her vexation, "if you won't obey the doctor and take your medicine at the right time! You mustn't trifle with it, you know, or it may turn to pneumonia," she would go on, deriving much comfort from the utterance of that foreign word, incomprehensible to others as well as to herself.
What would Sonya have done without the glad consciousness that she had not undressed during the first three nights, in order to be ready to carry out all the doctor's injunctions with precision, and that she still kept awake at night so as not to miss the proper time when the slightly harmful pills in the little gilt box had to be administered? Even to Natasha herself it was pleasant to see that so many sacrifices were being made for her sake, and to know that she had to take medicine at certain hours, though she declared that no medicine would cure her and that it was all nonsense. And it was even pleasant to be able to show, by disregarding the orders, that she did not believe in medical treatment and did not value her life.
The doctor came every day, felt her pulse, looked at her tongue, and regardless of her grief-stricken face joked with her. But when he had gone into another room, to which the countess hurriedly followed him, he assumed a grave air and thoughtfully shaking his head said that though there was danger, he had hopes of the effect of this last medicine and one must wait and see, that the malady was chiefly mental, but... And the countess, trying to conceal the action from herself and from him, slipped a gold coin into his hand and always returned to the patient with a more tranquil mind.
The symptoms of Natasha's illness were that she ate little, slept little, coughed, and was always low-spirited. The doctors said that she could not get on without medical treatment, so they kept her in the stifling atmosphere of the town, and the Rostovs did not move to the country that summer of 1812.
In spite of the many pills she swallowed and the drops and powders out of the little bottles and boxes of which Madame Schoss who was fond of such things made a large collection, and in spite of being deprived of the country life to which she was accustomed, youth prevailed. Natasha's grief began to be overlaid by the impressions of daily life, it ceased to press so painfully on her heart, it gradually faded into the past, and she began to recover physically.
Natasha was calmer but no happier. She not merely avoided all external forms of pleasure—balls, promenades, concerts, and theaters—but she never laughed without a sound of tears in her laughter. She could not sing. As soon as she began to laugh, or tried to sing by herself, tears choked her: tears of remorse, tears at the recollection of those pure times which could never return, tears of vexation that she should so uselessly have ruined her young life which might have been so happy. Laughter and singing in particular seemed to her like a blasphemy, in face of her sorrow. Without any need of self-restraint, no wish to coquet ever entered her head. She said and felt at that time that no man was more to her than Nastasya Ivanovna, the buffoon. Something stood sentinel within her and forbade her every joy. Besides, she had lost all the old interests of her carefree girlish life that had been so full of hope. The previous autumn, the hunting, "Uncle," and the Christmas holidays spent with Nicholas at Otradnoe were what she recalled oftenest and most painfully. What would she not have given to bring back even a single day of that time! But it was gone forever. Her presentiment at the time had not deceived her—that that state of freedom and readiness for any enjoyment would not return again. Yet it was necessary to live on.
It comforted her to reflect that she was not better as she had formerly imagined, but worse, much worse, than anybody else in the world. But this was not enough. She knew that, and asked herself, "What next?" But there was nothing to come. There was no joy in life, yet life was passing. Natasha apparently tried not to be a burden or a hindrance to anyone, but wanted nothing for herself. She kept away from everyone in the house and felt at ease only with her brother Petya. She liked to be with him better than with the others, and when alone with him she sometimes laughed. She hardly ever left the house and of those who came to see them was glad to see only one person, Pierre. It would have been impossible to treat her with more delicacy, greater care, and at the same time more seriously than did Count Bezukhov. Natasha unconsciously felt this delicacy and so found great pleasure in his society. But she was not even grateful to him for it; nothing good on Pierre's part seemed to her to be an effort, it seemed so natural for him to be kind to everyone that there was no merit in his kindness. Sometimes Natasha noticed embarrassment and awkwardness on his part in her presence, especially when he wanted to do something to please her, or feared that something they spoke of would awaken memories distressing to her. She noticed this and attributed it to his general kindness and shyness, which she imagined must be the same toward everyone as it was to her. After those involuntary words—that if he were free he would have asked on his knees for her hand and her love—uttered at a moment when she was so strongly agitated, Pierre never spoke to Natasha of his feelings; and it seemed plain to her that those words, which had then so comforted her, were spoken as all sorts of meaningless words are spoken to comfort a crying child. It was not because Pierre was a married man, but because Natasha felt very strongly with him that moral barrier the absence of which she had experienced with Kuragin that it never entered her head that the relations between him and herself could lead to love on her part, still less on his, or even to the kind of tender, self-conscious, romantic friendship between a man and a woman of which she had known several instances.
Before the end of the fast of St. Peter, Agrafena Ivanovna Belova, a country neighbor of the Rostovs, came to Moscow to pay her devotions at the shrines of the Moscow saints. She suggested that Natasha should fast and prepare for Holy Communion, and Natasha gladly welcomed the idea. Despite the doctor's orders that she should not go out early in the morning, Natasha insisted on fasting and preparing for the sacrament, not as they generally prepared for it in the Rostov family by attending three services in their own house, but as Agrafena Ivanovna did, by going to church every day for a week and not once missing Vespers, Matins, or Mass.
The countess was pleased with Natasha's zeal; after the poor results of the medical treatment, in the depths of her heart she hoped that prayer might help her daughter more than medicines and, though not without fear and concealing it from the doctor, she agreed to Natasha's wish and entrusted her to Belova. Agrafena Ivanovna used to come to wake Natasha at three in the morning, but generally found her already awake. She was afraid of being late for Matins. Hastily washing, and meekly putting on her shabbiest dress and an old mantilla, Natasha, shivering in the fresh air, went out into the deserted streets lit by the clear light of dawn. By Agrafena Ivanovna's advice Natasha prepared herself not in their own parish, but at a church where, according to the devout Agrafena Ivanovna, the priest was a man of very severe and lofty life. There were never many people in the church; Natasha always stood beside Belova in the customary place before an icon of the Blessed Virgin, let into the screen before the choir on the left side, and a feeling, new to her, of humility before something great and incomprehensible, seized her when at that unusual morning hour, gazing at the dark face of the Virgin illuminated by the candles burning before it and by the morning light falling from the window, she listened to the words of the service which she tried to follow with understanding. When she understood them her personal feeling became interwoven in the prayers with shades of its own. When she did not understand, it was sweeter still to think that the wish to understand everything is pride, that it is impossible to understand all, that it is only necessary to believe and to commit oneself to God, whom she felt guiding her soul at those moments. She crossed herself, bowed low, and when she did not understand, in horror at her own vileness, simply asked God to forgive her everything, everything, to have mercy upon her. The prayers to which she surrendered herself most of all were those of repentance. On her way home at an early hour when she met no one but bricklayers going to work or men sweeping the street, and everybody within the houses was still asleep, Natasha experienced a feeling new to her, a sense of the possibility of correcting her faults, the possibility of a new, clean life, and of happiness.
During the whole week she spent in this way, that feeling grew every day. And the happiness of taking communion, or "communing" as Agrafena Ivanovna, joyously playing with the word, called it, seemed to Natasha so great that she felt she should never live till that blessed Sunday.
But the happy day came, and on that memorable Sunday, when, dressed in white muslin, she returned home after communion, for the first time for many months she felt calm and not oppressed by the thought of the life that lay before her.
The doctor who came to see her that day ordered her to continue the powders he had prescribed a fortnight previously.
"She must certainly go on taking them morning and evening," said he, evidently sincerely satisfied with his success. "Only, please be particular about it.
"Be quite easy," he continued playfully, as he adroitly took the gold coin in his palm. "She will soon be singing and frolicking about. The last medicine has done her a very great deal of good. She has freshened up very much."
The countess, with a cheerful expression on her face, looked down at her nails and spat a little for luck as she returned to the drawing room.
At the beginning of July more and more disquieting reports about the war began to spread in Moscow; people spoke of an appeal by the Emperor to the people, and of his coming himself from the army to Moscow. And as up to the eleventh of July no manifesto or appeal had been received, exaggerated reports became current about them and about the position of Russia. It was said that the Emperor was leaving the army because it was in danger, it was said that Smolensk had surrendered, that Napoleon had an army of a million and only a miracle could save Russia.
On the eleventh of July, which was Saturday, the manifesto was received but was not yet in print, and Pierre, who was at the Rostovs', promised to come to dinner next day, Sunday, and bring a copy of the manifesto and appeal, which he would obtain from Count Rostopchin.
That Sunday, the Rostovs went to Mass at the Razumovskis' private chapel as usual. It was a hot July day. Even at ten o'clock, when the Rostovs got out of their carriage at the chapel, the sultry air, the shouts of hawkers, the light and gay summer clothes of the crowd, the dusty leaves of the trees on the boulevard, the sounds of the band and the white trousers of a battalion marching to parade, the rattling of wheels on the cobblestones, and the brilliant, hot sunshine were all full of that summer languor, that content and discontent with the present, which is most strongly felt on a bright, hot day in town. All the Moscow notabilities, all the Rostovs' acquaintances, were at the Razumovskis' chapel, for, as if expecting something to happen, many wealthy families who usually left town for their country estates had not gone away that summer. As Natasha, at her mother's side, passed through the crowd behind a liveried footman who cleared the way for them, she heard a young man speaking about her in too loud a whisper.
"That's Rostova, the one who..."
"She's much thinner, but all the same she's pretty!"
She heard, or thought she heard, the names of Kuragin and Bolkonski. But she was always imagining that. It always seemed to her that everyone who looked at her was thinking only of what had happened to her. With a sinking heart, wretched as she always was now when she found herself in a crowd, Natasha in her lilac silk dress trimmed with black lace walked—as women can walk—with the more repose and stateliness the greater the pain and shame in her soul. She knew for certain that she was pretty, but this no longer gave her satisfaction as it used to. On the contrary it tormented her more than anything else of late, and particularly so on this bright, hot summer day in town. "It's Sunday again—another week past," she thought, recalling that she had been here the Sunday before, "and always the same life that is no life, and the same surroundings in which it used to be so easy to live. I'm pretty, I'm young, and I know that now I am good. I used to be bad, but now I know I am good," she thought, "but yet my best years are slipping by and are no good to anyone." She stood by her mother's side and exchanged nods with acquaintances near her. From habit she scrutinized the ladies' dresses, condemned the bearing of a lady standing close by who was not crossing herself properly but in a cramped manner, and again she thought with vexation that she was herself being judged and was judging others, and suddenly, at the sound of the service, she felt horrified at her own vileness, horrified that the former purity of her soul was again lost to her.
A comely, fresh-looking old man was conducting the service with that mild solemnity which has so elevating and soothing an effect on the souls of the worshipers. The gates of the sanctuary screen were closed, the curtain was slowly drawn, and from behind it a soft mysterious voice pronounced some words. Tears, the cause of which she herself did not understand, made Natasha's breast heave, and a joyous but oppressive feeling agitated her.
"Teach me what I should do, how to live my life, how I may grow good forever, forever!" she pleaded.
The deacon came out onto the raised space before the altar screen and, holding his thumb extended, drew his long hair from under his dalmatic and, making the sign of the cross on his breast, began in a loud and solemn voice to recite the words of the prayer...
"In peace let us pray unto the Lord."
"As one community, without distinction of class, without enmity, united by brotherly love—let us pray!" thought Natasha.
"For the peace that is from above, and for the salvation of our souls."
"For the world of angels and all the spirits who dwell above us," prayed Natasha.
When they prayed for the warriors, she thought of her brother and Denisov. When they prayed for all traveling by land and sea, she remembered Prince Andrew, prayed for him, and asked God to forgive her all the wrongs she had done him. When they prayed for those who love us, she prayed for the members of her own family, her father and mother and Sonya, realizing for the first time how wrongly she had acted toward them, and feeling all the strength of her love for them. When they prayed for those who hate us, she tried to think of her enemies and people who hated her, in order to pray for them. She included among her enemies the creditors and all who had business dealings with her father, and always at the thought of enemies and those who hated her she remembered Anatole who had done her so much harm—and though he did not hate her she gladly prayed for him as for an enemy. Only at prayer did she feel able to think clearly and calmly of Prince Andrew and Anatole, as men for whom her feelings were as nothing compared with her awe and devotion to God. When they prayed for the Imperial family and the Synod, she bowed very low and made the sign of the cross, saying to herself that even if she did not understand, still she could not doubt, and at any rate loved the governing Synod and prayed for it.
When he had finished the Litany the deacon crossed the stole over his breast and said, "Let us commit ourselves and our whole lives to Christ the Lord!"
"Commit ourselves to God," Natasha inwardly repeated. "Lord God, I submit myself to Thy will!" she thought. "I want nothing, wish for nothing; teach me what to do and how to use my will! Take me, take me!" prayed Natasha, with impatient emotion in her heart, not crossing herself but letting her slender arms hang down as if expecting some invisible power at any moment to take her and deliver her from herself, from her regrets, desires, remorse, hopes, and sins.
The countess looked round several times at her daughter's softened face and shining eyes and prayed God to help her.
Unexpectedly, in the middle of the service, and not in the usual order Natasha knew so well, the deacon brought out a small stool, the one he knelt on when praying on Trinity Sunday, and placed it before the doors of the sanctuary screen. The priest came out with his purple velvet biretta on his head, adjusted his hair, and knelt down with an effort. Everybody followed his example and they looked at one another in surprise. Then came the prayer just received from the Synod—a prayer for the deliverance of Russia from hostile invasion.
"Lord God of might, God of our salvation!" began the priest in that voice, clear, not grandiloquent but mild, in which only the Slav clergy read and which acts so irresistibly on a Russian heart.
"Lord God of might, God of our salvation! Look this day in mercy and blessing on Thy humble people, and graciously hear us, spare us, and have mercy upon us! This foe confounding Thy land, desiring to lay waste the whole world, rises against us; these lawless men are gathered together to overthrow Thy kingdom, to destroy Thy dear Jerusalem, Thy beloved Russia; to defile Thy temples, to overthrow Thine altars, and to desecrate our holy shrines. How long, O Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they wield unlawful power?
"Lord God! Hear us when we pray to Thee; strengthen with Thy might our most gracious sovereign lord, the Emperor Alexander Pavlovich; be mindful of his uprightness and meekness, reward him according to his righteousness, and let it preserve us, Thy chosen Israel! Bless his counsels, his undertakings, and his work; strengthen his kingdom by Thine almighty hand, and give him victory over his enemy, even as Thou gavest Moses the victory over Amalek, Gideon over Midian, and David over Goliath. Preserve his army, put a bow of brass in the hands of those who have armed themselves in Thy Name, and gird their loins with strength for the fight. Take up the spear and shield and arise to help us; confound and put to shame those who have devised evil against us, may they be before the faces of Thy faithful warriors as dust before the wind, and may Thy mighty Angel confound them and put them to flight; may they be ensnared when they know it not, and may the plots they have laid in secret be turned against them; let them fall before Thy servants' feet and be laid low by our hosts! Lord, Thou art able to save both great and small; Thou art God, and man cannot prevail against Thee!
"God of our fathers! Remember Thy bounteous mercy and loving-kindness which are from of old; turn not Thy face from us, but be gracious to our unworthiness, and in Thy great goodness and Thy many mercies regard not our transgressions and iniquities! Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us, strengthen us all in Thy faith, fortify our hope, inspire us with true love one for another, arm us with unity of spirit in the righteous defense of the heritage Thou gavest to us and to our fathers, and let not the scepter of the wicked be exalted against the destiny of those Thou hast sanctified.
"O Lord our God, in whom we believe and in whom we put our trust, let us not be confounded in our hope of Thy mercy, and give us a token of Thy blessing, that those who hate us and our Orthodox faith may see it and be put to shame and perish, and may all the nations know that Thou art the Lord and we are Thy people. Show Thy mercy upon us this day, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation; make the hearts of Thy servants to rejoice in Thy mercy; smite down our enemies and destroy them swiftly beneath the feet of Thy faithful servants! For Thou art the defense, the succor, and the victory of them that put their trust in Thee, and to Thee be all glory, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and forever, world without end. Amen."
In Natasha's receptive condition of soul this prayer affected her strongly. She listened to every word about the victory of Moses over Amalek, of Gideon over Midian, and of David over Goliath, and about the destruction of "Thy Jerusalem," and she prayed to God with the tenderness and emotion with which her heart was overflowing, but without fully understanding what she was asking of God in that prayer. She shared with all her heart in the prayer for the spirit of righteousness, for the strengthening of the heart by faith and hope, and its animation by love. But she could not pray that her enemies might be trampled under foot when but a few minutes before she had been wishing she had more of them that she might pray for them. But neither could she doubt the righteousness of the prayer that was being read on bended knees. She felt in her heart a devout and tremulous awe at the thought of the punishment that overtakes men for their sins, and especially of her own sins, and she prayed to God to forgive them all, and her too, and to give them all, and her too, peace and happiness. And it seemed to her that God heard her prayer.
From the day when Pierre, after leaving the Rostovs' with Natasha's grateful look fresh in his mind, had gazed at the comet that seemed to be fixed in the sky and felt that something new was appearing on his own horizon—from that day the problem of the vanity and uselessness of all earthly things, that had incessantly tormented him, no longer presented itself. That terrible question "Why?" "Wherefore?" which had come to him amid every occupation, was now replaced, not by another question or by a reply to the former question, but by her image. When he listened to, or himself took part in, trivial conversations, when he read or heard of human baseness or folly, he was not horrified as formerly, and did not ask himself why men struggled so about these things when all is so transient and incomprehensible—but he remembered her as he had last seen her, and all his doubts vanished—not because she had answered the questions that had haunted him, but because his conception of her transferred him instantly to another, a brighter, realm of spiritual activity in which no one could be justified or guilty—a realm of beauty and love which it was worth living for. Whatever worldly baseness presented itself to him, he said to himself:
"Well, supposing N. N. swindled the country and the Tsar, and the country and the Tsar confer honors upon him, what does that matter? She smiled at me yesterday and asked me to come again, and I love her, and no one will ever know it." And his soul felt calm and peaceful.
Pierre still went into society, drank as much and led the same idle and dissipated life, because besides the hours he spent at the Rostovs' there were other hours he had to spend somehow, and the habits and acquaintances he had made in Moscow formed a current that bore him along irresistibly. But latterly, when more and more disquieting reports came from the seat of war and Natasha's health began to improve and she no longer aroused in him the former feeling of careful pity, an ever-increasing restlessness, which he could not explain, took possession of him. He felt that the condition he was in could not continue long, that a catastrophe was coming which would change his whole life, and he impatiently sought everywhere for signs of that approaching catastrophe. One of his brother Masons had revealed to Pierre the following prophecy concerning Napoleon, drawn from the Revelation of St. John.
In chapter 13, verse 18, of the Apocalypse, it is said:
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
And in the fifth verse of the same chapter:
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
The French alphabet, written out with the same numerical values as the Hebrew, in which the first nine letters denote units and the others tens, will have the following significance:
a b c d e f g h i k
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
l m n o p q r s
20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
t u v w x y
100 110 120 130 140 150
Writing the words L'Empereur Napoleon in numbers, it appears that the sum of them is 666, and that Napoleon was therefore the beast foretold in the Apocalypse. Moreover, by applying the same system to the words quarante-deux, * which was the term allowed to the beast that "spoke great things and blasphemies," the same number 666 was obtained; from which it followed that the limit fixed for Napoleon's power had come in the year 1812 when the French emperor was forty-two. This prophecy pleased Pierre very much and he often asked himself what would put an end to the power of the beast, that is, of Napoleon, and tried by the same system of using letters as numbers and adding them up, to find an answer to the question that engrossed him. He wrote the words L'Empereur Alexandre, La nation russe and added up their numbers, but the sums were either more or less than 666. Once when making such calculations he wrote down his own name in French, Comte Pierre Besouhoff, but the sum of the numbers did not come right. Then he changed the spelling, substituting a z for the s and adding de and the article le, still without obtaining the desired result. Then it occurred to him: if the answer to the question were contained in his name, his nationality would also be given in the answer. So he wrote Le russe Besuhof and adding up the numbers got 671. This was only five too much, and five was represented by e, the very letter elided from the article le before the word Empereur. By omitting the e, though incorrectly, Pierre got the answer he sought. L'russe Besuhof made 666. This discovery excited him. How, or by what means, he was connected with the great event foretold in the Apocalypse he did not know, but he did not doubt that connection for a moment. His love for Natasha, Antichrist, Napoleon, the invasion, the comet, 666, L'Empereur Napoleon, and L'russe Besuhof—all this had to mature and culminate, to lift him out of that spellbound, petty sphere of Moscow habits in which he felt himself held captive and lead him to a great achievement and great happiness.
On the eve of the Sunday when the special prayer was read, Pierre had promised the Rostovs to bring them, from Count Rostopchin whom he knew well, both the appeal to the people and the news from the army. In the morning, when he went to call at Rostopchin's he met there a courier fresh from the army, an acquaintance of his own, who often danced at Moscow balls.
"Do, please, for heaven's sake, relieve me of something!" said the courier. "I have a sackful of letters to parents."
Among these letters was one from Nicholas Rostov to his father. Pierre took that letter, and Rostopchin also gave him the Emperor's appeal to Moscow, which had just been printed, the last army orders, and his own most recent bulletin. Glancing through the army orders, Pierre found in one of them, in the lists of killed, wounded, and rewarded, the name of Nicholas Rostov, awarded a St. George's Cross of the Fourth Class for courage shown in the Ostrovna affair, and in the same order the name of Prince Andrew Bolkonski, appointed to the command of a regiment of Chasseurs. Though he did not want to remind the Rostovs of Bolkonski, Pierre could not refrain from making them happy by the news of their son's having received a decoration, so he sent that printed army order and Nicholas' letter to the Rostovs, keeping the appeal, the bulletin, and the other orders to take with him when he went to dinner.
His conversation with Count Rostopchin and the latter's tone of anxious hurry, the meeting with the courier who talked casually of how badly things were going in the army, the rumors of the discovery of spies in Moscow and of a leaflet in circulation stating that Napoleon promised to be in both the Russian capitals by the autumn, and the talk of the Emperor's being expected to arrive next day—all aroused with fresh force that feeling of agitation and expectation in Pierre which he had been conscious of ever since the appearance of the comet, and especially since the beginning of the war.
He had long been thinking of entering the army and would have done so had he not been hindered, first, by his membership of the Society of Freemasons to which he was bound by oath and which preached perpetual peace and the abolition of war, and secondly, by the fact that when he saw the great mass of Muscovites who had donned uniform and were talking patriotism, he somehow felt ashamed to take the step. But the chief reason for not carrying out his intention to enter the army lay in the vague idea that he was L'russe Besuhof who had the number of the beast, 666; that his part in the great affair of setting a limit to the power of the beast that spoke great and blasphemous things had been predestined from eternity, and that therefore he ought not to undertake anything, but wait for what was bound to come to pass.
A few intimate friends were dining with the Rostovs that day, as usual on Sundays.
Pierre came early so as to find them alone.
He had grown so stout this year that he would have been abnormal had he not been so tall, so broad of limb, and so strong that he carried his bulk with evident ease.
He went up the stairs, puffing and muttering something. His coachman did not even ask whether he was to wait. He knew that when his master was at the Rostovs' he stayed till midnight. The Rostovs' footman rushed eagerly forward to help him off with his cloak and take his hat and stick. Pierre, from club habit, always left both hat and stick in the anteroom.
The first person he saw in the house was Natasha. Even before he saw her, while taking off his cloak, he heard her. She was practicing solfa exercises in the music room. He knew that she had not sung since her illness, and so the sound of her voice surprised and delighted him. He opened the door softly and saw her, in the lilac dress she had worn at church, walking about the room singing. She had her back to him when he opened the door, but when, turning quickly, she saw his broad, surprised face, she blushed and came rapidly up to him.
"I want to try to sing again," she said, adding as if by way of excuse, "it is, at least, something to do."
"How glad I am you've come! I am so happy today," she said, with the old animation Pierre had not seen in her for a long time. "You know Nicholas has received a St. George's Cross? I am so proud of him."
"Oh yes, I sent that announcement. But I don't want to interrupt you," he added, and was about to go to the drawing room.
Natasha stopped him.
"Count, is it wrong of me to sing?" she said blushing, and fixing her eyes inquiringly on him.
"No... Why should it be? On the contrary... But why do you ask me?"
"I don't know myself," Natasha answered quickly, "but I should not like to do anything you disapproved of. I believe in you completely. You don't know how important you are to me, how much you've done for me...." She spoke rapidly and did not notice how Pierre flushed at her words. "I saw in that same army order that he, Bolkonski" (she whispered the name hastily), "is in Russia, and in the army again. What do you think?"—she was speaking hurriedly, evidently afraid her strength might fail her—"Will he ever forgive me? Will he not always have a bitter feeling toward me? What do you think? What do you think?"
"I think..." Pierre replied, "that he has nothing to forgive.... If I were in his place..."
By association of ideas, Pierre was at once carried back to the day when, trying to comfort her, he had said that if he were not himself but the best man in the world and free, he would ask on his knees for her hand; and the same feeling of pity, tenderness, and love took possession of him and the same words rose to his lips. But she did not give him time to say them.
"Yes, you... you..." she said, uttering the word you rapturously—"that's a different thing. I know no one kinder, more generous, or better than you; nobody could be! Had you not been there then, and now too, I don't know what would have become of me, because..."
Tears suddenly rose in her eyes, she turned away, lifted her music before her eyes, began singing again, and again began walking up and down the room.
Just then Petya came running in from the drawing room.
Petya was now a handsome rosy lad of fifteen with full red lips and resembled Natasha. He was preparing to enter the university, but he and his friend Obolenski had lately, in secret, agreed to join the hussars.
Petya had come rushing out to talk to his namesake about this affair. He had asked Pierre to find out whether he would be accepted in the hussars.
Pierre walked up and down the drawing room, not listening to what Petya was saying.
Petya pulled him by the arm to attract his attention.
"Well, what about my plan? Peter Kirilych, for heaven's sake! You are my only hope," said Petya.
"Oh yes, your plan. To join the hussars? I'll mention it, I'll bring it all up today."
"Well, mon cher, have you got the manifesto?" asked the old count. "The countess has been to Mass at the Razumovskis' and heard the new prayer. She says it's very fine."
"Yes, I've got it," said Pierre. "The Emperor is to be here tomorrow... there's to be an Extraordinary Meeting of the nobility, and they are talking of a levy of ten men per thousand. Oh yes, let me congratulate you!"
"Yes, yes, thank God! Well, and what news from the army?"
"We are again retreating. They say we're already near Smolensk," replied Pierre.
"O Lord, O Lord!" exclaimed the count. "Where is the manifesto?"
"The Emperor's appeal? Oh yes!"
Pierre began feeling in his pockets for the papers, but could not find them. Still slapping his pockets, he kissed the hand of the countess who entered the room and glanced uneasily around, evidently expecting Natasha, who had left off singing but had not yet come into the drawing room.
"On my word, I don't know what I've done with it," he said.
"There he is, always losing everything!" remarked the countess.
Natasha entered with a softened and agitated expression of face and sat down looking silently at Pierre. As soon as she entered, Pierre's features, which had been gloomy, suddenly lighted up, and while still searching for the papers he glanced at her several times.
"No, really! I'll drive home, I must have left them there. I'll certainly..."
"But you'll be late for dinner."
"Oh! And my coachman has gone."
But Sonya, who had gone to look for the papers in the anteroom, had found them in Pierre's hat, where he had carefully tucked them under the lining. Pierre was about to begin reading.
"No, after dinner," said the old count, evidently expecting much enjoyment from that reading.
At dinner, at which champagne was drunk to the health of the new chevalier of St. George, Shinshin told them the town news, of the illness of the old Georgian princess, of Metivier's disappearance from Moscow, and of how some German fellow had been brought to Rostopchin and accused of being a French "spyer" (so Count Rostopchin had told the story), and how Rostopchin let him go and assured the people that he was "not a spire at all, but only an old German ruin."
"People are being arrested..." said the count. "I've told the countess she should not speak French so much. It's not the time for it now."
"And have you heard?" Shinshin asked. "Prince Golitsyn has engaged a master to teach him Russian. It is becoming dangerous to speak French in the streets."
"And how about you, Count Peter Kirilych? If they call up the militia, you too will have to mount a horse," remarked the old count, addressing Pierre.
Pierre had been silent and preoccupied all through dinner, seeming not to grasp what was said. He looked at the count.
"Oh yes, the war," he said. "No! What sort of warrior should I make? And yet everything is so strange, so strange! I can't make it out. I don't know, I am very far from having military tastes, but in these times no one can answer for himself."
After dinner the count settled himself comfortably in an easy chair and with a serious face asked Sonya, who was considered an excellent reader, to read the appeal.
"To Moscow, our ancient Capital!
"The enemy has entered the borders of Russia with immense forces. He comes to despoil our beloved country."
Sonya read painstakingly in her high-pitched voice. The count listened with closed eyes, heaving abrupt sighs at certain passages.
Natasha sat erect, gazing with a searching look now at her father and now at Pierre.
Pierre felt her eyes on him and tried not to look round. The countess shook her head disapprovingly and angrily at every solemn expression in the manifesto. In all these words she saw only that the danger threatening her son would not soon be over. Shinshin, with a sarcastic smile on his lips, was evidently preparing to make fun of anything that gave him the opportunity: Sonya's reading, any remark of the count's, or even the manifesto itself should no better pretext present itself.
After reading about the dangers that threatened Russia, the hopes the Emperor placed on Moscow and especially on its illustrious nobility, Sonya, with a quiver in her voice due chiefly to the attention that was being paid to her, read the last words:
"We ourselves will not delay to appear among our people in that Capital and in other parts of our realm for consultation, and for the direction of all our levies, both those now barring the enemy's path and those freshly formed to defeat him wherever he may appear. May the ruin he hopes to bring upon us recoil on his own head, and may Europe delivered from bondage glorify the name of Russia!"
"Yes, that's it!" cried the count, opening his moist eyes and sniffing repeatedly, as if a strong vinaigrette had been held to his nose; and he added, "Let the Emperor but say the word and we'll sacrifice everything and begrudge nothing."
Before Shinshin had time to utter the joke he was ready to make on the count's patriotism, Natasha jumped up from her place and ran to her father.
"What a darling our Papa is!" she cried, kissing him, and she again looked at Pierre with the unconscious coquetry that had returned to her with her better spirits.
"There! Here's a patriot for you!" said Shinshin.
"Not a patriot at all, but simply..." Natasha replied in an injured tone. "Everything seems funny to you, but this isn't at all a joke...."
"A joke indeed!" put in the count. "Let him but say the word and we'll all go.... We're not Germans!"
"But did you notice, it says, 'for consultation'?" said Pierre.
"Never mind what it's for...."
At this moment, Petya, to whom nobody was paying any attention, came up to his father with a very flushed face and said in his breaking voice that was now deep and now shrill:
"Well, Papa, I tell you definitely, and Mamma too, it's as you please, but I say definitely that you must let me enter the army, because I can't... that's all...."
The countess, in dismay, looked up to heaven, clasped her hands, and turned angrily to her husband.
"That comes of your talking!" said she.
But the count had already recovered from his excitement.
"Come, come!" said he. "Here's a fine warrior! No! Nonsense! You must study."
"It's not nonsense, Papa. Fedya Obolenski is younger than I, and he's going too. Besides, all the same I can't study now when..." Petya stopped short, flushed till he perspired, but still got out the words, "when our Fatherland is in danger."
"That'll do, that'll do—nonsense...."
"But you said yourself that we would sacrifice everything."
"Petya! Be quiet, I tell you!" cried the count, with a glance at his wife, who had turned pale and was staring fixedly at her son.
"And I tell you—Peter Kirilych here will also tell you..."
"Nonsense, I tell you. Your mother's milk has hardly dried on your lips and you want to go into the army! There, there, I tell you," and the count moved to go out of the room, taking the papers, probably to reread them in his study before having a nap.
"Well, Peter Kirilych, let's go and have a smoke," he said.
Pierre was agitated and undecided. Natasha's unwontedly brilliant eyes, continually glancing at him with a more than cordial look, had reduced him to this condition.
"No, I think I'll go home."
"Home? Why, you meant to spend the evening with us.... You don't often come nowadays as it is, and this girl of mine," said the count good-naturedly, pointing to Natasha, "only brightens up when you're here."
"Yes, I had forgotten... I really must go home... business..." said Pierre hurriedly.
"Well, then, au revoir!" said the count, and went out of the room.
"Why are you going? Why are you upset?" asked Natasha, and she looked challengingly into Pierre's eyes.
"Because I love you!" was what he wanted to say, but he did not say it, and only blushed till the tears came, and lowered his eyes.
"Because it is better for me to come less often... because... No, simply I have business...."
"Why? No, tell me!" Natasha began resolutely and suddenly stopped.
They looked at each other with dismayed and embarrassed faces. He tried to smile but could not: his smile expressed suffering, and he silently kissed her hand and went out.
Pierre made up his mind not to go to the Rostovs' any more.
After the definite refusal he had received, Petya went to his room and there locked himself in and wept bitterly. When he came in to tea, silent, morose, and with tear-stained face, everybody pretended not to notice anything.
Next day the Emperor arrived in Moscow, and several of the Rostovs' domestic serfs begged permission to go to have a look at him. That morning Petya was a long time dressing and arranging his hair and collar to look like a grown-up man. He frowned before his looking glass, gesticulated, shrugged his shoulders, and finally, without saying a word to anyone, took his cap and left the house by the back door, trying to avoid notice. Petya decided to go straight to where the Emperor was and to explain frankly to some gentleman-in-waiting (he imagined the Emperor to be always surrounded by gentlemen-in-waiting) that he, Count Rostov, in spite of his youth wished to serve his country; that youth could be no hindrance to loyalty, and that he was ready to... While dressing, Petya had prepared many fine things he meant to say to the gentleman-in-waiting.
It was on the very fact of being so young that Petya counted for success in reaching the Emperor—he even thought how surprised everyone would be at his youthfulness—and yet in the arrangement of his collar and hair and by his sedate deliberate walk he wished to appear a grown-up man. But the farther he went and the more his attention was diverted by the ever-increasing crowds moving toward the Kremlin, the less he remembered to walk with the sedateness and deliberation of a man. As he approached the Kremlin he even began to avoid being crushed and resolutely stuck out his elbows in a menacing way. But within the Trinity Gateway he was so pressed to the wall by people who probably were unaware of the patriotic intentions with which he had come that in spite of all his determination he had to give in, and stop while carriages passed in, rumbling beneath the archway. Beside Petya stood a peasant woman, a footman, two tradesmen, and a discharged soldier. After standing some time in the gateway, Petya tried to move forward in front of the others without waiting for all the carriages to pass, and he began resolutely working his way with his elbows, but the woman just in front of him, who was the first against whom he directed his efforts, angrily shouted at him:
"What are you shoving for, young lordling? Don't you see we're all standing still? Then why push?"
"Anybody can shove," said the footman, and also began working his elbows to such effect that he pushed Petya into a very filthy corner of the gateway.
Petya wiped his perspiring face with his hands and pulled up the damp collar which he had arranged so well at home to seem like a man's.
He felt that he no longer looked presentable, and feared that if he were now to approach the gentlemen-in-waiting in that plight he would not be admitted to the Emperor. But it was impossible to smarten oneself up or move to another place, because of the crowd. One of the generals who drove past was an acquaintance of the Rostovs', and Petya thought of asking his help, but came to the conclusion that that would not be a manly thing to do. When the carriages had all passed in, the crowd, carrying Petya with it, streamed forward into the Kremlin Square which was already full of people. There were people not only in the square, but everywhere—on the slopes and on the roofs. As soon as Petya found himself in the square he clearly heard the sound of bells and the joyous voices of the crowd that filled the whole Kremlin.
For a while the crowd was less dense, but suddenly all heads were bared, and everyone rushed forward in one direction. Petya was being pressed so that he could scarcely breathe, and everybody shouted, "Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" Petya stood on tiptoe and pushed and pinched, but could see nothing except the people about him.
All the faces bore the same expression of excitement and enthusiasm. A tradesman's wife standing beside Petya sobbed, and the tears ran down her cheeks.
"Father! Angel! Dear one!" she kept repeating, wiping away her tears with her fingers.
"Hurrah!" was heard on all sides.
For a moment the crowd stood still, but then it made another rush forward.
Quite beside himself, Petya, clinching his teeth and rolling his eyes ferociously, pushed forward, elbowing his way and shouting "hurrah!" as if he were prepared that instant to kill himself and everyone else, but on both sides of him other people with similarly ferocious faces pushed forward and everybody shouted "hurrah!"
"So this is what the Emperor is!" thought Petya. "No, I can't petition him myself—that would be too bold." But in spite of this he continued to struggle desperately forward, and from between the backs of those in front he caught glimpses of an open space with a strip of red cloth spread out on it; but just then the crowd swayed back—the police in front were pushing back those who had pressed too close to the procession: the Emperor was passing from the palace to the Cathedral of the Assumption—and Petya unexpectedly received such a blow on his side and ribs and was squeezed so hard that suddenly everything grew dim before his eyes and he lost consciousness. When he came to himself, a man of clerical appearance with a tuft of gray hair at the back of his head and wearing a shabby blue cassock—probably a church clerk and chanter—was holding him under the arm with one hand while warding off the pressure of the crowd with the other.
"You've crushed the young gentleman!" said the clerk. "What are you up to? Gently!... They've crushed him, crushed him!"
The Emperor entered the Cathedral of the Assumption. The crowd spread out again more evenly, and the clerk led Petya—pale and breathless—to the Tsar-cannon. Several people were sorry for Petya, and suddenly a crowd turned toward him and pressed round him. Those who stood nearest him attended to him, unbuttoned his coat, seated him on the raised platform of the cannon, and reproached those others (whoever they might be) who had crushed him.
"One might easily get killed that way! What do they mean by it? Killing people! Poor dear, he's as white as a sheet!"—various voices were heard saying.
Petya soon came to himself, the color returned to his face, the pain had passed, and at the cost of that temporary unpleasantness he had obtained a place by the cannon from where he hoped to see the Emperor who would be returning that way. Petya no longer thought of presenting his petition. If he could only see the Emperor he would be happy!
While the service was proceeding in the Cathedral of the Assumption—it was a combined service of prayer on the occasion of the Emperor's arrival and of thanksgiving for the conclusion of peace with the Turks—the crowd outside spread out and hawkers appeared, selling kvas, gingerbread, and poppyseed sweets (of which Petya was particularly fond), and ordinary conversation could again be heard. A tradesman's wife was showing a rent in her shawl and telling how much the shawl had cost; another was saying that all silk goods had now got dear. The clerk who had rescued Petya was talking to a functionary about the priests who were officiating that day with the bishop. The clerk several times used the word "plenary" (of the service), a word Petya did not understand. Two young citizens were joking with some serf girls who were cracking nuts. All these conversations, especially the joking with the girls, were such as might have had a particular charm for Petya at his age, but they did not interest him now. He sat on his elevation—the pedestal of the cannon—still agitated as before by the thought of the Emperor and by his love for him. The feeling of pain and fear he had experienced when he was being crushed, together with that of rapture, still further intensified his sense of the importance of the occasion.
Suddenly the sound of a firing of cannon was heard from the embankment, to celebrate the signing of peace with the Turks, and the crowd rushed impetuously toward the embankment to watch the firing. Petya too would have run there, but the clerk who had taken the young gentleman under his protection stopped him. The firing was still proceeding when officers, generals, and gentlemen-in-waiting came running out of the cathedral, and after them others in a more leisurely manner: caps were again raised, and those who had run to look at the cannon ran back again. At last four men in uniforms and sashes emerged from the cathedral doors. "Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted the crowd again.
"Which is he? Which?" asked Petya in a tearful voice, of those around him, but no one answered him, everybody was too excited; and Petya, fixing on one of those four men, whom he could not clearly see for the tears of joy that filled his eyes, concentrated all his enthusiasm on him—though it happened not to be the Emperor—frantically shouted "Hurrah!" and resolved that tomorrow, come what might, he would join the army.
The crowd ran after the Emperor, followed him to the palace, and began to disperse. It was already late, and Petya had not eaten anything and was drenched with perspiration, yet he did not go home but stood with that diminishing, but still considerable, crowd before the palace while the Emperor dined—looking in at the palace windows, expecting he knew not what, and envying alike the notables he saw arriving at the entrance to dine with the Emperor and the court footmen who served at table, glimpses of whom could be seen through the windows.
While the Emperor was dining, Valuev, looking out of the window, said:
"The people are still hoping to see Your Majesty again."
The dinner was nearly over, and the Emperor, munching a biscuit, rose and went out onto the balcony. The people, with Petya among them, rushed toward the balcony.
"Angel! Dear one! Hurrah! Father!..." cried the crowd, and Petya with it, and again the women and men of weaker mold, Petya among them, wept with joy.
A largish piece of the biscuit the Emperor was holding in his hand broke off, fell on the balcony parapet, and then to the ground. A coachman in a jerkin, who stood nearest, sprang forward and snatched it up. Several people in the crowd rushed at the coachman. Seeing this the Emperor had a plateful of biscuits brought him and began throwing them down from the balcony. Petya's eyes grew bloodshot, and still more excited by the danger of being crushed, he rushed at the biscuits. He did not know why, but he had to have a biscuit from the Tsar's hand and he felt that he must not give way. He sprang forward and upset an old woman who was catching at a biscuit; the old woman did not consider herself defeated though she was lying on the ground—she grabbed at some biscuits but her hand did not reach them. Petya pushed her hand away with his knee, seized a biscuit, and as if fearing to be too late, again shouted "Hurrah!" with a voice already hoarse.
The Emperor went in, and after that the greater part of the crowd began to disperse.
"There! I said if only we waited—and so it was!" was being joyfully said by various people.
Happy as Petya was, he felt sad at having to go home knowing that all the enjoyment of that day was over. He did not go straight home from the Kremlin, but called on his friend Obolenski, who was fifteen and was also entering the regiment. On returning home Petya announced resolutely and firmly that if he was not allowed to enter the service he would run away. And next day, Count Ilya Rostov—though he had not yet quite yielded—went to inquire how he could arrange for Petya to serve where there would be least danger.
Two days later, on the fifteenth of July, an immense number of carriages were standing outside the Sloboda Palace.
The great halls were full. In the first were the nobility and gentry in their uniforms, in the second bearded merchants in full-skirted coats of blue cloth and wearing medals. In the noblemen's hall there was an incessant movement and buzz of voices. The chief magnates sat on high-backed chairs at a large table under the portrait of the Emperor, but most of the gentry were strolling about the room.
All these nobles, whom Pierre met every day at the club or in their own houses, were in uniform—some in that of Catherine's day, others in that of Emperor Paul, others again in the new uniforms of Alexander's time or the ordinary uniform of the nobility, and the general characteristic of being in uniform imparted something strange and fantastic to these diverse and familiar personalities, both old and young. The old men, dim-eyed, toothless, bald, sallow, and bloated, or gaunt and wrinkled, were especially striking. For the most part they sat quietly in their places and were silent, or, if they walked about and talked, attached themselves to someone younger. On all these faces, as on the faces of the crowd Petya had seen in the Square, there was a striking contradiction: the general expectation of a solemn event, and at the same time the everyday interests in a boston card party, Peter the cook, Zinaida Dmitrievna's health, and so on.
Pierre was there too, buttoned up since early morning in a nobleman's uniform that had become too tight for him. He was agitated; this extraordinary gathering not only of nobles but also of the merchant-class—les etats generaux (States-General)—evoked in him a whole series of ideas he had long laid aside but which were deeply graven in his soul: thoughts of the Contrat Social and the French Revolution. The words that had struck him in the Emperor's appeal—that the sovereign was coming to the capital for consultation with his people—strengthened this idea. And imagining that in this direction something important which he had long awaited was drawing near, he strolled about watching and listening to conversations, but nowhere finding any confirmation of the ideas that occupied him.
The Emperor's manifesto was read, evoking enthusiasm, and then all moved about discussing it. Besides the ordinary topics of conversation, Pierre heard questions of where the marshals of the nobility were to stand when the Emperor entered, when a ball should be given in the Emperor's honor, whether they should group themselves by districts or by whole provinces... and so on; but as soon as the war was touched on, or what the nobility had been convened for, the talk became undecided and indefinite. Then all preferred listening to speaking.
A middle-aged man, handsome and virile, in the uniform of a retired naval officer, was speaking in one of the rooms, and a small crowd was pressing round him. Pierre went up to the circle that had formed round the speaker and listened. Count Ilya Rostov, in a military uniform of Catherine's time, was sauntering with a pleasant smile among the crowd, with all of whom he was acquainted. He too approached that group and listened with a kindly smile and nods of approval, as he always did, to what the speaker was saying. The retired naval man was speaking very boldly, as was evident from the expression on the faces of the listeners and from the fact that some people Pierre knew as the meekest and quietest of men walked away disapprovingly or expressed disagreement with him. Pierre pushed his way into the middle of the group, listened, and convinced himself that the man was indeed a liberal, but of views quite different from his own. The naval officer spoke in a particularly sonorous, musical, and aristocratic baritone voice, pleasantly swallowing his r's and generally slurring his consonants: the voice of a man calling out to his servant, "Heah! Bwing me my pipe!" It was indicative of dissipation and the exercise of authority.
"What if the Smolensk people have offahd to waise militia for the Empewah? Ah we to take Smolensk as our patte'n? If the noble awistocwacy of the pwovince of Moscow thinks fit, it can show its loyalty to our sov'weign the Empewah in other ways. Have we fo'gotten the waising of the militia in the yeah 'seven? All that did was to enwich the pwiests' sons and thieves and wobbahs...."
Count Ilya Rostov smiled blandly and nodded approval.
"And was our militia of any use to the Empia? Not at all! It only wuined our farming! Bettah have another conscwiption... o' ou' men will wetu'n neithah soldiers no' peasants, and we'll get only depwavity fwom them. The nobility don't gwudge theah lives—evewy one of us will go and bwing in more wecwuits, and the sov'weign" (that was the way he referred to the Emperor) "need only say the word and we'll all die fo' him!" added the orator with animation.
Count Rostov's mouth watered with pleasure and he nudged Pierre, but Pierre wanted to speak himself. He pushed forward, feeling stirred, but not yet sure what stirred him or what he would say. Scarcely had he opened his mouth when one of the senators, a man without a tooth in his head, with a shrewd though angry expression, standing near the first speaker, interrupted him. Evidently accustomed to managing debates and to maintaining an argument, he began in low but distinct tones:
"I imagine, sir," said he, mumbling with his toothless mouth, "that we have been summoned here not to discuss whether it's best for the empire at the present moment to adopt conscription or to call out the militia. We have been summoned to reply to the appeal with which our sovereign the Emperor has honored us. But to judge what is best—conscription or the militia—we can leave to the supreme authority...."
Pierre suddenly saw an outlet for his excitement. He hardened his heart against the senator who was introducing this set and narrow attitude into the deliberations of the nobility. Pierre stepped forward and interrupted him. He himself did not yet know what he would say, but he began to speak eagerly, occasionally lapsing into French or expressing himself in bookish Russian.
"Excuse me, your excellency," he began. (He was well acquainted with the senator, but thought it necessary on this occasion to address him formally.) "Though I don't agree with the gentleman..." (he hesitated: he wished to say, "Mon tres honorable preopinant"—"My very honorable opponent") "with the gentleman... whom I have not the honor of knowing, I suppose that the nobility have been summoned not merely to express their sympathy and enthusiasm but also to consider the means by which we can assist our Fatherland! I imagine," he went on, warming to his subject, "that the Emperor himself would not be satisfied to find in us merely owners of serfs whom we are willing to devote to his service, and chair a canon * we are ready to make of ourselves—and not to obtain from us any co-co-counsel."
* "Food for cannon."
Many persons withdrew from the circle, noticing the senator's sarcastic smile and the freedom of Pierre's remarks. Only Count Rostov was pleased with them as he had been pleased with those of the naval officer, the senator, and in general with whatever speech he had last heard.
"I think that before discussing these questions," Pierre continued, "we should ask the Emperor—most respectfully ask His Majesty—to let us know the number of our troops and the position in which our army and our forces now are, and then..."
But scarcely had Pierre uttered these words before he was attacked from three sides. The most vigorous attack came from an old acquaintance, a boston player who had always been well disposed toward him, Stepan Stepanovich Adraksin. Adraksin was in uniform, and whether as a result of the uniform or from some other cause Pierre saw before him quite a different man. With a sudden expression of malevolence on his aged face, Adraksin shouted at Pierre:
"In the first place, I tell you we have no right to question the Emperor about that, and secondly, if the Russian nobility had that right, the Emperor could not answer such a question. The troops are moved according to the enemy's movements and the number of men increases and decreases..."
Another voice, that of a nobleman of medium height and about forty years of age, whom Pierre had formerly met at the gypsies' and knew as a bad cardplayer, and who, also transformed by his uniform, came up to Pierre, interrupted Adraksin.
"Yes, and this is not a time for discussing," he continued, "but for acting: there is war in Russia! The enemy is advancing to destroy Russia, to desecrate the tombs of our fathers, to carry off our wives and children." The nobleman smote his breast. "We will all arise, every one of us will go, for our father the Tsar!" he shouted, rolling his bloodshot eyes. Several approving voices were heard in the crowd. "We are Russians and will not grudge our blood in defense of our faith, the throne, and the Fatherland! We must cease raving if we are sons of our Fatherland! We will show Europe how Russia rises to the defense of Russia!"
Pierre wished to reply, but could not get in a word. He felt that his words, apart from what meaning they conveyed, were less audible than the sound of his opponent's voice.
Count Rostov at the back of the crowd was expressing approval; several persons, briskly turning a shoulder to the orator at the end of a phrase, said:
"That's right, quite right! Just so!"
Pierre wished to say that he was ready to sacrifice his money, his serfs, or himself, only one ought to know the state of affairs in order to be able to improve it, but he was unable to speak. Many voices shouted and talked at the same time, so that Count Rostov had not time to signify his approval of them all, and the group increased, dispersed, re-formed, and then moved with a hum of talk into the largest hall and to the big table. Not only was Pierre's attempt to speak unsuccessful, but he was rudely interrupted, pushed aside, and people turned away from him as from a common enemy. This happened not because they were displeased by the substance of his speech, which had even been forgotten after the many subsequent speeches, but to animate it the crowd needed a tangible object to love and a tangible object to hate. Pierre became the latter. Many other orators spoke after the excited nobleman, and all in the same tone. Many spoke eloquently and with originality.
Glinka, the editor of the Russian Messenger, who was recognized (cries of "author! author!" were heard in the crowd), said that "hell must be repulsed by hell," and that he had seen a child smiling at lightning flashes and thunderclaps, but "we will not be that child."
"Yes, yes, at thunderclaps!" was repeated approvingly in the back rows of the crowd.
The crowd drew up to the large table, at which sat gray-haired or bald seventy-year-old magnates, uniformed and besashed almost all of whom Pierre had seen in their own homes with their buffoons, or playing boston at the clubs. With an incessant hum of voices the crowd advanced to the table. Pressed by the throng against the high backs of the chairs, the orators spoke one after another and sometimes two together. Those standing behind noticed what a speaker omitted to say and hastened to supply it. Others in that heat and crush racked their brains to find some thought and hastened to utter it. The old magnates, whom Pierre knew, sat and turned to look first at one and then at another, and their faces for the most part only expressed the fact that they found it very hot. Pierre, however, felt excited, and the general desire to show that they were ready to go to all lengths—which found expression in the tones and looks more than in the substance of the speeches—infected him too. He did not renounce his opinions, but felt himself in some way to blame and wished to justify himself.
"I only said that it would be more to the purpose to make sacrifices when we know what is needed!" said he, trying to be heard above the other voices.
One of the old men nearest to him looked round, but his attention was immediately diverted by an exclamation at the other side of the table.
"Yes, Moscow will be surrendered! She will be our expiation!" shouted one man.
"He is the enemy of mankind!" cried another. "Allow me to speak...." "Gentlemen, you are crushing me!..."
At that moment Count Rostopchin with his protruding chin and alert eyes, wearing the uniform of a general with sash over his shoulder, entered the room, stepping briskly to the front of the crowd of gentry.
"Our sovereign the Emperor will be here in a moment," said Rostopchin. "I am straight from the palace. Seeing the position we are in, I think there is little need for discussion. The Emperor has deigned to summon us and the merchants. Millions will pour forth from there"—he pointed to the merchants' hall—"but our business is to supply men and not spare ourselves... That is the least we can do!"
A conference took place confined to the magnates sitting at the table. The whole consultation passed more than quietly. After all the preceding noise the sound of their old voices saying one after another, "I agree," or for variety, "I too am of that opinion," and so on had even a mournful effect.
The secretary was told to write down the resolution of the Moscow nobility and gentry, that they would furnish ten men, fully equipped, out of every thousand serfs, as the Smolensk gentry had done. Their chairs made a scraping noise as the gentlemen who had conferred rose with apparent relief, and began walking up and down, arm in arm, to stretch their legs and converse in couples.
"The Emperor! The Emperor!" a sudden cry resounded through the halls and the whole throng hurried to the entrance.
The Emperor entered the hall through a broad path between two lines of nobles. Every face expressed respectful, awe-struck curiosity. Pierre stood rather far off and could not hear all that the Emperor said. From what he did hear he understood that the Emperor spoke of the danger threatening the empire and of the hopes he placed on the Moscow nobility. He was answered by a voice which informed him of the resolution just arrived at.
"Gentlemen!" said the Emperor with a quivering voice.
There was a rustling among the crowd and it again subsided, so that Pierre distinctly heard the pleasantly human voice of the Emperor saying with emotion:
"I never doubted the devotion of the Russian nobles, but today it has surpassed my expectations. I thank you in the name of the Fatherland! Gentlemen, let us act! Time is most precious..."
The Emperor ceased speaking, the crowd began pressing round him, and rapturous exclamations were heard from all sides.
"Yes, most precious... a royal word," said Count Rostov, with a sob. He stood at the back, and, though he had heard hardly anything, understood everything in his own way.
From the hall of the nobility the Emperor went to that of the merchants. There he remained about ten minutes. Pierre was among those who saw him come out from the merchants' hall with tears of emotion in his eyes. As became known later, he had scarcely begun to address the merchants before tears gushed from his eyes and he concluded in a trembling voice. When Pierre saw the Emperor he was coming out accompanied by two merchants, one of whom Pierre knew, a fat otkupshchik. The other was the mayor, a man with a thin sallow face and narrow beard. Both were weeping. Tears filled the thin man's eyes, and the fat otkupshchik sobbed outright like a child and kept repeating:
"Our lives and property—take them, Your Majesty!"
Pierre's one feeling at the moment was a desire to show that he was ready to go all lengths and was prepared to sacrifice everything. He now felt ashamed of his speech with its constitutional tendency and sought an opportunity of effacing it. Having heard that Count Mamonov was furnishing a regiment, Bezukhov at once informed Rostopchin that he would give a thousand men and their maintenance.
Old Rostov could not tell his wife of what had passed without tears, and at once consented to Petya's request and went himself to enter his name.
Next day the Emperor left Moscow. The assembled nobles all took off their uniforms and settled down again in their homes and clubs, and not without some groans gave orders to their stewards about the enrollment, feeling amazed themselves at what they had done.