Part 10 out of 34
"Yes, Count," she would say, "he is too noble and pure-souled for
our present, depraved world. No one now loves virtue; it seems like
a reproach to everyone. Now tell me, Count, was it right, was it
honorable, of Bezukhov? And Fedya, with his noble spirit, loved him
and even now never says a word against him. Those pranks in Petersburg
when they played some tricks on a policeman, didn't they do it
together? And there! Bezukhov got off scotfree, while Fedya had to
bear the whole burden on his shoulders. Fancy what he had to go
through! It's true he has been reinstated, but how could they fail
to do that? I think there were not many such gallant sons of the
fatherland out there as he. And now- this duel! Have these people no
feeling, or honor? Knowing him to be an only son, to challenge him and
shoot so straight! It's well God had mercy on us. And what was it for?
Who doesn't have intrigues nowadays? Why, if he was so jealous, as I
see things he should have shown it sooner, but he lets it go on for
months. And then to call him out, reckoning on Fedya not fighting
because he owed him money! What baseness! What meanness! I know you
understand Fedya, my dear count; that, believe me, is why I am so fond
of you. Few people do understand him. He is such a lofty, heavenly
Dolokhov himself during his convalescence spoke to Rostov in a way
no one would have expected of him.
"I know people consider me a bad man!" he said. "Let them! I don't
care a straw about anyone but those I love; but those I love, I love
so that I would give my life for them, and the others I'd throttle
if they stood in my way. I have an adored, a priceless mother, and two
or three friends- you among them- and as for the rest I only care
about them in so far as they are harmful or useful. And most of them
are harmful, especially the women. Yes, dear boy," he continued, "I
have met loving, noble, high-minded men, but I have not yet met any
women- countesses or cooks- who were not venal. I have not yet met
that divine purity and devotion I look for in women. If I found such a
one I'd give my life for her! But those!... and he made a gesture of
contempt. "And believe me, if I still value my life it is only because
I still hope to meet such a divine creature, who will regenerate,
purify, and elevate me. But you don't understand it."
"Oh, yes, I quite understand, "answered Rostov, who was under his
new friend's influence.
In the autumn the Rostovs returned to Moscow. Early in the winter
Denisov also came back and stayed with them. The first half of the
winter of 1806, which Nicholas Rostov spent in Moscow, was one of
the happiest, merriest times for him and the whole family. Nicholas
brought many young men to his parents' house. Vera was a handsome girl
of twenty; Sonya a girl of sixteen with all the charm of an opening
flower; Natasha, half grown up and half child, was now childishly
amusing, now girlishly enchanting.
At that time in the Rostovs' house there prevailed an amorous
atmosphere characteristic of homes where there are very young and very
charming girls. Every young man who came to the house- seeing those
impressionable, smiling young faces (smiling probably at their own
happiness), feeling the eager bustle around him, and hearing the
fitful bursts of song and music and the inconsequent but friendly
prattle of young girls ready for anything and full of hope-
experienced the same feeling; sharing with the young folk of the
Rostovs' household a readiness to fall in love and an expectation of
Among the young men introduced by Rostov one of the first was
Dolokhov, whom everyone in the house liked except Natasha. She
almost quarreled with her brother about him. She insisted that he
was a bad man, and that in the duel with Bezukhov, Pierre was right
and Dolokhov wrong, and further that he was disagreeable and
"There's nothing for me to understand," cried out with resolute
self-will, "he is wicked and heartless. There now, I like your Denisov
though he is a rake and all that, still I like him; so you see I do
understand. I don't know how to put it... with this one everything
is calculated, and I don't like that. But Denisov..."
"Oh, Denisov is quite different," replied Nicholas, implying that
even Denisov was nothing compared to Dolokhov- "you must understand
what a soul there is in Dolokhov, you should see him with his
mother. What a heart!"
"Well, I don't know about that, but I am uncomfortable with him. And
do you know he has fallen in love with Sonya?"
"I'm certain of it; you'll see."
Natasha's prediction proved true. Dolokhov, who did not usually care
for the society of ladies, began to come often to the house, and the
question for whose sake he came (though no one spoke of it) was soon
settled. He came because of Sonya. And Sonya, though she would never
have dared to say so, knew it and blushed scarlet every time
Dolokhov often dined at the Rostovs', never missed a performance
at which they were present, and went to Iogel's balls for young people
which the Rostovs always attended. He was pointedly attentive to Sonya
and looked at her in such a way that not only could she not bear his
glances without coloring, but even the old countess and Natasha
blushed when they saw his looks.
It was evident that this strange, strong man was under the
irresistible influence of the dark, graceful girl who loved another.
Rostov noticed something new in Dolokhov's relations with Sonya, but
he did not explain to himself what these new relations were.
"They're always in love with someone," he thought of Sonya and
Natasha. But he was not as much at ease with Sonya and Dolokhov as
before and was less frequently at home.
In the autumn of 1806 everybody had again begun talking of the war
with Napoleon with even greater warmth than the year before. Orders
were given to raise recruits, ten men in every thousand for the
regular army, and besides this, nine men in every thousand for the
militia. Everywhere Bonaparte was anathematized and in Moscow
nothing but the coming war was talked of. For the Rostov family the
whole interest of these preparations for war lay in the fact that
Nicholas would not hear of remaining in Moscow, and only awaited the
termination of Denisov's furlough after Christmas to return with him
to their regiment. His approaching departure did not prevent his
amusing himself, but rather gave zest to his pleasures. He spent the
greater part of his time away from home, at dinners, parties, and
On the third day after Christmas Nicholas dined at home, a thing
he had rarely done of late. It was a grand farewell dinner, as he
and Denisov were leaving to join their regiment after Epiphany.
About twenty people were present, including Dolokhov and Denisov.
Never had love been so much in the air, and never had the amorous
atmosphere made itself so strongly felt in the Rostovs' house as at
this holiday time. "Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved!
That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the
one thing we are interested in here," said the spirit of the place.
Nicholas, having as usual exhausted two pairs of horses, without
visiting all the places he meant to go to and where he had been
invited, returned home just before dinner. As soon as he entered he
noticed and felt the tension of the amorous air in the house, and also
noticed a curious embarrassment among some of those present. Sonya,
Dolokhov, and the old countess were especially disturbed, and to a
lesser degree Natasha. Nicholas understood that something must have
happened between Sonya and Dolokhov before dinner, and with the kindly
sensitiveness natural to him was very gentle and wary with them both
at dinner. On that same evening there was to be one of the balls
that Iogel (the dancing master) gave for his pupils durings the
"Nicholas, will you come to Iogel's? Please do!" said Natasha. "He
asked you, and Vasili Dmitrich* is also going."
"Where would I not go at the countess' command!" said Denisov, who
at the Rostovs' had jocularly assumed the role of Natasha's knight.
"I'm even weady to dance the pas de chale."
"If I have time," answered Nicholas. "But I promised the
Arkharovs; they have a party."
"And you?" he asked Dolokhov, but as soon as he had asked the
question he noticed that it should not have been put.
"Perhaps," coldly and angrily replied Dolokhov, glancing at Sonya,
and, scowling, he gave Nicholas just such a look as he had given
Pierre at the Club dinner.
"There is something up," thought Nicholas, and he was further
confirmed in this conclusion by the fact that Dolokhov left
immediately after dinner. He called Natasha and asked her what was the
"And I was looking for you," said Natasha running out to him. "I
told you, but you would not believe it," she said triumphantly. "He
has proposed to Sonya!"
Little as Nicholas had occupied himself with Sonya of late,
something seemed to give way within him at this news. Dolokhov was a
suitable and in some respects a brilliant match for the dowerless,
orphan girl. From the point of view of the old countess and of society
it was out of the question for her to refuse him. And therefore
Nicholas' first feeling on hearing the news was one of anger with
Sonya.... He tried to say, "That's capital; of course she'll forget
her childish promises and accept the offer," but before he had time to
say it Natasha began again.
"And fancy! she refused him quite definitely!" adding, after a
pause, "she told him she loved another."
"Yes, my Sonya could not have done otherwise!" thought Nicholas.
"Much as Mamma pressed her, she refused, and I know she won't change
once she has said..."
"And Mamma pressed her!" said Nicholas reproachfully.
"Yes," said Natasha. "Do you know, Nicholas- don't be angry- but I
know you will not marry her. I know, heaven knows how, but I know
for certain that you won't marry her."
"Now don't know that at all!" said Nicholas. "But I must talk to
her. What a darling Sonya is!" he added with a smile.
"Ah, she is indeed a darling! I'll send her to you."
And Natasha kissed her brother and ran away.
A minute later Sonya came in with a frightened, guilty, and scared
look. Nicholas went up to her and kissed her hand. This was the
first time since his return that they had talked alone and about their
"Sophie," he began, timidly at first and then more and more
boldly, "if you wish to refuse one who is not only a brilliant and
advantageous match but a splendid, noble fellow... he is my friend..."
Sonya interrupted him.
"I have already refused," she said hurriedly.
"If you are refusing for my sake, I am afraid that I..."
Sonya again interrupted. She gave him an imploring, frightened look.
"Nicholas, don't tell me that!" she said.
"No, but I must. It may be arrogant of me, but still it is best to
say it. If you refuse him on my account, I must tell you the whole
truth. I love you, and I think I love you more than anyone else...."
"That is enough for me," said Sonya, blushing.
"No, but I have been in love a thousand times and shall fall in love
again, though for no one have I such a feeling of friendship,
confidence, and love as I have for you. Then I am young. Mamma does
not wish it. In a word, I make no promise. And I beg you to consider
Dolokhov's offer," he said, articulating his friend's name with
"Don't say that to me! I want nothing. I love you as a brother and
always shall, and I want nothing more."
"You are an angel: I am not worthy of you, but I am afraid of
And Nicholas again kissed her hand.
Iogel's were the most enjoyable balls in Moscow. So said the mothers
as they watched their young people executing their newly learned
steps, and so said the youths and maidens themselves as they danced
till they were ready to drop, and so said the grown-up young men and
women who came to these balls with an air of condescension and found
them most enjoyable. That year two marriages had come of these
balls. The two pretty young Princesses Gorchakov met suitors there and
were married and so further increased the fame of these dances. What
distinguished them from others was the absence of host or hostess
and the presence of the good-natured Iogel, flying about like a
feather and bowing according to the rules of his art, as he
collected the tickets from all his visitors. There was the fact that
only those came who wished to dance and amuse themselves as girls of
thirteen and fourteen do who are wearing long dresses for the first
time. With scarcely any exceptions they all were, or seemed to be,
pretty- so rapturous were their smiles and so sparkling their eyes.
Sometimes the best of the pupils, of whom Natasha, who was
exceptionally graceful, was first, even danced the pas de chale, but
at this last ball only the ecossaise, the anglaise, and the mazurka,
which was just coming into fashion, were danced. Iogel had taken a
ballroom in Bezukhov's house, and the ball, as everyone said, was a
great success. There were many pretty girls and the Rostov girls
were among the prettiest. They were both particularly happy and gay.
That evening, proud of Dolokhov's proposal, her refusal, and her
explanation with Nicholas, Sonya twirled about before she left home so
that the maid could hardly get her hair plaited, and she was
transparently radiant with impulsive joy.
Natasha no less proud of her first long dress and of being at a real
ball was even happier. They were both dressed in white muslin with
Natasha fell in love the very moment she entered the ballroom. She
was not in love with anyone in particular, but with everyone. Whatever
person she happened to look at she was in love with for that moment.
"Oh, how delightful it is!" she kept saying, running up to Sonya.
Nicholas and Denisov were walking up and down, looking with kindly
patronage at the dancers.
"How sweet she is- she will be a weal beauty!" said Denisov.
"Countess Natasha," answered Denisov.
"And how she dances! What gwace!" he said again after a pause.
"Who are you talking about?"
"About your sister," ejaculated Denisov testily.
"My dear count, you were one of my best pupils- you must dance,"
said little Iogel coming up to Nicholas. "Look how many charming young
ladies-" He turned with the same request to Denisov who was also a
former pupil of his.
"No, my dear fellow, I'll be a wallflower," said Denisov. "Don't you
wecollect what bad use I made of your lessons?"
"Oh no!" said Iogel, hastening to reassure him. "You were only
inattentive, but you had talent- oh yes, you had talent!"
The band struck up the newly introduced mazurka. Nicholas could not
refuse Iogel and asked Sonya to dance. Denisov sat down by the old
ladies and, leaning on his saber and beating time with his foot,
told them something funny and kept them amused, while he watched the
young people dancing, Iogel with Natasha, his pride and his best
pupil, were the first couple. Noiselessly, skillfully stepping with
his little feet in low shoes, Iogel flew first across the hall with
Natasha, who, though shy, went on carefully executing her steps.
Denisov did not take his eyes off her and beat time with his saber
in a way that clearly indicated that if he was not dancing it was
because he would not and not because he could not. In the middle of
a figure he beckoned to Rostov who was passing:
"This is not at all the thing," he said. "What sort of Polish
mazuwka is this? But she does dance splendidly."
Knowing that Denisov had a reputation even in Poland for the
masterly way in which he danced the mazurka, Nicholas ran up to
"Go and choose Denisov. He is a real dancer, a wonder!" he said.
When it came to Natasha's turn to choose a partner, she rose and,
tripping rapidly across in her little shoes trimmed with bows, ran
timidly to the corner where Denisov sat. She saw that everybody was
looking at her and waiting. Nicholas saw that Denisov was refusing
though he smiled delightedly. He ran up to them.
"Please, Vasili Dmitrich," Natasha was saying, "do come!"
"Oh no, let me off, Countess," Denisov replied.
"Now then, Vaska," said Nicholas.
"They coax me as if I were Vaska the cat!" said Denisov jokingly.
"I'll sing for you a whole evening," said Natasha.
"Oh, the faiwy! She can do anything with me!" said Denisov, and he
unhooked his saber. He came out from behind the chairs, clasped his
partner's hand firmly, threw back his head, and advanced his foot,
waiting for the beat. Only on horse back and in the mazurka was
Denisov's short stature not noticeable and he looked the fine fellow
he felt himself to be. At the right beat of the music he looked
sideways at his partner with a merry and triumphant air, suddenly
stamped with one foot, bounded from the floor like a ball, and flew
round the room taking his partner with him. He glided silently on
one foot half across the room, and seeming not to notice the chairs
was dashing straight at them, when suddenly, clinking his spurs and
spreading out his legs, he stopped short on his heels, stood so a
second, stamped on the spot clanking his spurs, whirled rapidly round,
and, striking his left heel against his right, flew round again in a
circle. Natasha guessed what he meant to do, and abandoning herself to
him followed his lead hardly knowing how. First he spun her round,
holding her now with his left, now with his right hand, then falling
on one knee he twirled her round him, and again jumping up, dashed
so impetuously forward that it seemed as if he would rush through
the whole suite of rooms without drawing breath, and then he
suddenly stopped and performed some new and unexpected steps. When
at last, smartly whirling his partner round in front of her chair,
he drew up with a click of his spurs and bowed to her, Natasha did not
even make him a curtsy. She fixed her eyes on him in amazement,
smiling as if she did not recognize him.
"What does this mean?" she brought out.
Although Iogel did not acknowledge this to be the real mazurka,
everyone was delighted with Denisov's skill, he was asked again and
again as a partner, and the old men began smilingly to talk about
Poland and the good old days. Denisov, flushed after the mazurka and
mopping himself with his handkerchief, sat down by Natasha and did not
leave her for the rest of the evening.
For two days after that Rostov did not see Dolokhov at his own or at
Dolokhov's home: on the third day he received a note from him:
As I do not intend to be at your house again for reasons you know
of, and am going to rejoin my regiment, I am giving a farewell
supper tonight to my friends- come to the English Hotel.
About ten o'clock Rostov went to the English Hotel straight from the
theater, where he had been with his family and Denisov. He was at once
shown to the best room, which Dolokhov had taken for that evening.
Some twenty men were gathered round a table at which Dolokhov sat
between two candles. On the table was a pile of gold and paper
money, and he was keeping the bank. Rostov had not seen him since
his proposal and Sonya's refusal and felt uncomfortable at the thought
of how they would meet.
Dolokhov's clear, cold glance met Rostov as soon as he entered the
door, as though he had long expected him.
"It's a long time since we met," he said. "Thanks for coming. I'll
just finish dealing, and then Ilyushka will come with his chorus."
"I called once or twice at your house," said Rostov, reddening.
Dolokhov made no reply.
"You may punt," he said.
Rostov recalled at that moment a strange conversation he had once
had with Dolokhov. "None but fools trust to luck in play," Dolokhov
had then said.
"Or are you afraid to play with me?" Dolokhov now asked as if
guessing Rostov's thought.
Beneath his smile Rostov saw in him the mood he had shown at the
Club dinner and at other times, when as if tired of everyday life he
had felt a need to escape from it by some strange, and usually
Rostov felt ill at ease. He tried, but failed, to find some joke
with which to reply to Dolokhov's words. But before he had thought
of anything, Dolokhov, looking straight in his face, said slowly and
deliberately so that everyone could hear:
"Do you remember we had a talk about cards... 'He's a fool who
trusts to luck, one should make certain,' and I want to try."
"To try his luck or the certainty?" Rostov asked himself.
"Well, you'd better not play," Dolokhov added, and springing a new
pack of cards said: "Bank, gentlemen!"
Moving the money forward he prepared to deal. Rostov sat down by his
side and at first did not play. Dolokhov kept glancing at him.
"Why don't you play?" he asked.
And strange to say Nicholas felt that he could not help taking up
a card, putting a small stake on it, and beginning to play.
"I have no money with me," he said.
"I'll trust you."
Rostov staked five rubles on a card and lost, staked again, and
again lost. Dolokhov "killed," that is, beat, ten cards of Rostov's
"Gentlemen," said Dolokhov after he had dealt for some time. "Please
place your money on the cards or I may get muddled in the reckoning."
One of the players said he hoped he might be trusted.
"Yes, you might, but I am afraid of getting the accounts mixed. So I
ask you to put the money on your cards," replied Dolokhov. "Don't
stint yourself, we'll settle afterwards," he added, turning to Rostov.
The game continued; a waiter kept handing round champagne.
All Rostov's cards were beaten and he had eight hundred rubles
scored up against him. He wrote "800 rubles" on a card, but while
the waiter filled his glass he changed his mind and altered it to
his usual stake of twenty rubles.
"Leave it," said Dolokhov, though he did not seem to be even looking
at Rostov, "you'll win it back all the sooner. I lose to the others
but win from you. Or are you afraid of me?" he asked again.
Rostov submitted. He let the eight hundred remain and laid down a
seven of hearts with a torn corner, which he had picked up from the
floor. He well remembered that seven afterwards. He laid down the
seven of hearts, on which with a broken bit of chalk he had written
"800 rubles" in clear upright figures; he emptied the glass of warm
champagne that was handed him, smiled at Dolokhov's words, and with
a sinking heart, waiting for a seven to turn up, gazed at Dolokhov's
hands which held the pack. Much depended on Rostov's winning or losing
on that seven of hearts. On the previous Sunday the old count had
given his son two thousand rubles, and though he always disliked
speaking of money difficulties had told Nicholas that this was all
he could let him have till May, and asked him to be more economical
this time. Nicholas had replied that it would be more than enough
for him and that he gave his word of honor not to take anything more
till the spring. Now only twelve hundred rubles was left of that
money, so that this seven of hearts meant for him not only the loss of
sixteen hundred rubles, but the necessity of going back on his word.
With a sinking heart he watched Dolokhov's hands and thought, "Now
then, make haste and let me have this card and I'll take my cap and
drive home to supper with Denisov, Natasha, and Sonya, and will
certainly never touch a card again." At that moment his home life,
jokes with Petya, talks with Sonya, duets with Natasha, piquet with
his father, and even his comfortable bed in the house on the
Povarskaya rose before him with such vividness, clearness, and charm
that it seemed as if it were all a lost and unappreciated bliss,
long past. He could not conceive that a stupid chance, letting the
seven be dealt to the right rather than to the left, might deprive him
of all this happiness, newly appreciated and newly illumined, and
plunge him into the depths of unknown and undefined misery. That could
not be, yet he awaited with a sinking heart the movement of Dolokhov's
hands. Those broad, reddish hands, with hairy wrists visible from
under the shirt cuffs, laid down the pack and took up a glass and a
pipe that were handed him.
"So you are not afraid to play with me?" repeated Dolokhov, and as
if about to tell a good story he put down the cards, leaned back in
his chair, and began deliberately with a smile:
"Yes, gentlemen, I've been told there's a rumor going about Moscow
that I'm a sharper, so I advise you to be careful."
"Come now, deal!" exclaimed Rostov.
"Oh, those Moscow gossips!" said Dolokhov, and he took up the
cards with a smile.
"Aah!" Rostov almost screamed lifting both hands to his head. The
seven he needed was lying uppermost, the first card in the pack. He
had lost more than he could pay.
"Still, don't ruin yourself!" said Dolokhov with a side glance at
Rostov as he continued to deal.
An hour and a half later most of the players were but little
interested in their own play.
The whole interest was concentrated on Rostov. Instead of sixteen
hundred rubles he had a long column of figures scored against him,
which he had reckoned up to ten thousand, but that now, as he
vaguely supposed, must have risen to fifteen thousand. In reality it
already exceeded twenty thousand rubles. Dolokhov was no longer
listening to stories or telling them, but followed every movement of
Rostov's hands and occasionally ran his eyes over the score against
him. He had decided to play until that score reached forty-three
thousand. He had fixed on that number because forty-three was the
sum of his and Sonya's joint ages. Rostov, leaning his head on both
hands, sat at the table which was scrawled over with figures, wet with
spilled wine, and littered with cards. One tormenting impression did
not leave him: that those broad-boned reddish hands with hairy
wrists visible from under the shirt sleeves, those hands which he
loved and hated, held him in their power.
"Six hundred rubles, ace, a corner, a nine... winning it back's
impossible... Oh, how pleasant it was at home!... The knave, double or
quits... it can't be!... And why is he doing this to me?" Rostov
pondered. Sometimes he staked a large sum, but Dolokhov refused to
accept it and fixed the stake himself. Nicholas submitted to him,
and at one moment prayed to God as he had done on the battlefield at
the bridge over the Enns, and then guessed that the card that came
first to hand from the crumpled heap under the table would save him,
now counted the cords on his coat and took a card with that number and
tried staking the total of his losses on it, then he looked round
for aid from the other players, or peered at the now cold face of
Dolokhov and tried to read what was passing in his mind.
"He knows of course what this loss means to me. He can't want my
ruin. Wasn't he my friend? Wasn't I fond of him? But it's not his
fault. What's he to do if he has such luck?... And it's not my fault
either," he thought to himself, "I have done nothing wrong. Have I
killed anyone, or insulted or wished harm to anyone? Why such a
terrible misfortune? And when did it begin? Such a little while ago
I came to this table with the thought of winning a hundred rubles to
buy that casket for Mamma's name day and then going home. I was so
happy, so free, so lighthearted! And I did not realize how happy I
was! When did that end and when did this new, terrible state of things
begin? What marked the change? I sat all the time in this same place
at this table, chose and placed cards, and watched those broad-boned
agile hands in the same way. When did it happen and what has happened?
I am well and strong and still the same and in the same place. No,
it can't be! Surely it will all end in nothing!"
He was flushed and bathed in perspiration, though the room was not
hot. His face was terrible and piteous to see, especially from its
helpless efforts to seem calm.
The score against him reached the fateful sum of forty-three
thousand. Rostov had just prepared a card, by bending the corner of
which he meant to double the three thousand just put down to his
score, when Dolokhov, slamming down the pack of cards, put it aside
and began rapidly adding up the total of Rostov's debt, breaking the
chalk as he marked the figures in his clear, bold hand.
"Supper, it's time for supper! And here are the gypsies!"
Some swarthy men and women were really entering from the cold
outside and saying something in their gypsy accents. Nicholas
understood that it was all over; but he said in an indifferent tone:
"Well, won't you go on? I had a splendid card all ready," as if it
were the fun of the game which interested him most.
"It's all up! I'm lost!" thought he. "Now a bullet through my brain-
that's all that's left me! " And at the same time he said in a
"Come now, just this one more little card!"
"All right!" said Dolokhov, having finished the addition. "All
right! Twenty-one rubles," he said, pointing to the figure
twenty-one by which the total exceeded the round sum of forty-three
thousand; and taking up a pack he prepared to deal. Rostov
submissively unbent the corner of his card and, instead of the six
thousand he had intended, carefully wrote twenty-one.
"It's all the same to me," he said. "I only want to see whether
you will let me win this ten, or beat it."
Dolokhov began to deal seriously. Oh, how Rostov detested at that
moment those hands with their short reddish fingers and hairy
wrists, which held him in their power.... The ten fell to him.
"You owe forty-three thousand, Count," said Dolokhov, and stretching
himself he rose from the table. "One does get tired sitting so
long," he added.
"Yes, I'm tired too," said Rostov.
Dolokhov cut him short, as if to remind him that it was not for
him to jest.
"When am I to receive the money, Count?"
Rostov, flushing, drew Dolokhov into the next room.
"I cannot pay it all immediately. Will you take an I.O.U.?" he said.
"I say, Rostov," said Dolokhov clearly, smiling and looking Nicholas
straight in the eyes, "you know the saying, 'Lucky in love, unlucky at
cards.' Your cousin is in love with you, I know."
"Oh, it's terrible to feel oneself so in this man's power,"
thought Rostov. He knew what a shock he would inflict on his father
and mother by the news of this loss, he knew what a relief it would be
to escape it all, and felt that Dolokhov knew that he could save him
from all this shame and sorrow, but wanted now to play with him as a
cat does with a mouse.
"Your cousin..." Dolokhov started to say, but Nicholas interrupted
"My cousin has nothing to do with this and it's not necessary to
mention her!" he exclaimed fiercely.
"Then when am I to have it?"
"Tomorrow," replied Rostov and left the room.
To say "tomorrow" and keep up a dignified tone was not difficult,
but to go home alone, see his sisters, brother, mother, and father,
confess and ask for money he had no right to after giving his word
of honor, was terrible.
At home, they had not yet gone to bed. The young people, after
returning from the theater, had had supper and were grouped round
the clavichord. As soon as Nicholas entered, he was enfolded in that
poetic atmosphere of love which pervaded the Rostov household that
winter and, now after Dolokhov's proposal and Iogel's ball, seemed
to have grown thicker round Sonya and Natasha as the air does before a
thunderstorm. Sonya and Natasha, in the light-blue dresses they had
worn at the theater, looking pretty and conscious of it, were standing
by the clavichord, happy and smiling. Vera was playing chess with
Shinshin in the drawing room. The old countess, waiting for the return
of her husband and son, sat playing patience with the old
gentlewoman who lived in their house. Denisov, with sparkling eyes and
ruffled hair, sat at the clavichord striking chords with his short
fingers, his legs thrown back and his eyes rolling as he sang, with
his small, husky, but true voice, some verses called "Enchantress,"
which he had composed, and to which he was trying to fit music:
Enchantress, say, to my forsaken lyre
What magic power is this recalls me still?
What spark has set my inmost soul on fire,
What is this bliss that makes my fingers thrill?
He was singing in passionate tones, gazing with his
sparkling black-agate eyes at the frightened and happy Natasha.
"Splendid! Excellent!" exclaimed Natasha. "Another verse, she
said, without noticing Nicholas.
"Everything's still the same with them," thought Nicholas,
glancing into the drawing room, where he saw Vera and his mother
with the old lady.
"Ah, and here's Nicholas!" cried Natasha, running up to him.
"Is Papa at home?" he asked.
"I am so glad you've come!" said Natasha, without answering him. "We
are enjoying ourselves! Vasili Dmitrich is staying a day longer for my
sake! Did you know?"
"No, Papa is not back yet," said Sonya.
"Nicholas, have you come? Come here, dear!" called the old
countess from the drawing room.
Nicholas went to her, kissed her hand, and sitting down silently
at her table began to watch her hands arranging the cards. From the
dancing room, they still heard the laughter and merry voices trying to
persuade Natasha to sing.
"All wight! All wight!" shouted Denisov. "It's no good making
excuses now! It's your turn to sing the ba'cawolla- I entweat you!"
The countess glanced at her silent son.
"What is the matter?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing," said he, as if weary of being continually asked the
same question. "Will Papa be back soon?"
"I expect so."
"Everything's the same with them. They know nothing about it!
Where am I to go?" thought Nicholas, and went again into the dancing
room where the clavichord stood.
Sonya was sitting at the clavichord, playing the prelude to
Denisov's favorite barcarolle. Natasha was preparing to sing.
Denisov was looking at her with enraptured eyes.
Nicholas began pacing up and down the room.
"Why do they want to make her sing? How can she sing? There's
nothing to be happy about!" thought he.
Sonya struck the first chord of the prelude.
"My God, I'm a ruined and dishonored man! A bullet through my
brain is the only thing left me- not singing! " his thoughts ran on.
"Go away? But where to? It's one- let them sing!"
He continued to pace the room, looking gloomily at Denisov and the
girls and avoiding their eyes.
"Nikolenka, what is the matter?" Sonya's eyes fixed on him seemed to
ask. She noticed at once that something had happened to him.
Nicholas turned away from her. Natasha too, with her quick instinct,
had instantly noticed her brother's condition. But, though she noticed
it, she was herself in such high spirits at that moment, so far from
sorrow, sadness, or self-reproach, that she purposely deceived herself
as young people often do. "No, I am too happy now to spoil my
enjoyment by sympathy with anyone's sorrow," she felt, and she said to
herself: "No, I must be mistaken, he must be feeling happy, just as
"Now, Sonya!" she said, going to the very middle of the room,
where she considered the resonance was best.
Having lifted her head and let her arms droop lifelessly, as
ballet dancers do, Natasha, rising energetically from her heels to her
toes, stepped to the middle of the room and stood still.
"Yes, that's me!" she seemed to say, answering the rapt gaze with
which Denisov followed her.
"And what is she so pleased about?" thought Nicholas, looking at his
sister. "Why isn't she dull and ashamed?"
Natasha took the first note, her throat swelled, her chest rose, her
eyes became serious. At that moment she was oblivious of her
surroundings, and from her smiling lips flowed sounds which anyone may
produce at the same intervals hold for the same time, but which
leave you cold a thousand times and the thousand and first time thrill
you and make you weep.
Natasha, that winter, had for the first time begun to sing
seriously, mainly because Denisov so delighted in her singing. She
no longer sang as a child, there was no longer in her singing that
comical, childish, painstaking effect that had been in it before;
but she did not yet sing well, as all the connoisseurs who heard her
said: "It is not trained, but it is a beautiful voice that must be
trained." Only they generally said this some time after she had
finished singing. While that untrained voice, with its incorrect
breathing and labored transitions, was sounding, even the connoisseurs
said nothing, but only delighted in it and wished to hear it again. In
her voice there was a virginal freshness, an unconsciousness of her
own powers, and an as yet untrained velvety softness, which so mingled
with her lack of art in singing that it seemed as if nothing in that
voice could be altered without spoiling it.
"What is this?" thought Nicholas, listening to her with widely
opened eyes. "What has happened to her? How she is singing today!" And
suddenly the whole world centered for him on anticipation of the
next note, the next phrase, and everything in the world was divided
into three beats: "Oh mio crudele affetto."... One, two, three... one,
two, three... One... "Oh mio crudele affetto."... One, two, three...
One. "Oh, this senseless life of ours!" thought Nicholas. "All this
misery, and money, and Dolokhov, and anger, and honor- it's all
nonsense... but this is real.... Now then, Natasha, now then, dearest!
Now then, darling! How will she take that si? She's taken it! Thank
God!" And without noticing that he was singing, to strengthen the si
he sung a second, a third below the high note. "Ah, God! How fine! Did
I really take it? How fortunate!" he thought.
Oh, how that chord vibrated, and how moved was something that was
finest in Rostov's soul! And this something was apart from
everything else in the world and above everything in the world.
"What were losses, and Dolokhov, and words of honor?... All
nonsense! One might kill and rob and yet be happy..."
It was long since Rostov had felt such enjoyment from music as he
did that day. But no sooner had Natasha finished her barcarolle than
reality again presented itself. He got up without saying a word and
went downstairs to his own room. A quarter of an hour later the old
count came in from his Club, cheerful and contented. Nicholas, hearing
him drive up, went to meet him.
"Well- had a good time?" said the old count, smiling gaily and
proudly at his son.
Nicholas tried to say "Yes," but could not: and he nearly burst into
sobs. The count was lighting his pipe and did not notice his son's
"Ah, it can't be avoided!" thought Nicholas, for the first and
last time. And suddenly, in the most casual tone, which made him
feel ashamed feel of himself, he said, as if merely asking his
father to let him have the carriage to drive to town:
"Papa, I have come on a matter of business. I was nearly forgetting.
I need some money."
"Dear me!" said his father, who was in a specially good humor. "I
told you it would not be enough. How much?"
"Very much," said Nicholas flushing, and with a stupid careless
smile, for which he was long unable to forgive himself, "I have lost a
little, I mean a good deal, a great deal- forty three thousand."
"What! To whom?... Nonsense!" cried the count, suddenly reddening
with an apoplectic flush over neck and nape as old people do.
"I promised to pay tomorrow," said Nicholas.
"Well!..." said the old count, spreading out his arms and sinking
helplessly on the sofa.
"It can't be helped It happens to everyone!" said the son, with a
bold, free, and easy tone, while in his soul he regarded himself as
a worthless scoundrel whose whole life could not atone for his
crime. He longed to kiss his father's hands and kneel to beg his
forgiveness, but said, in a careless and even rude voice, that it
happens to everyone!
The old count cast down his eyes on hearing his son's words and
began bustlingly searching for something.
"Yes, yes," he muttered, "it will be difficult, I fear, difficult to
raise... happens to everybody! Yes, who has not done it?"
And with a furtive glance at his son's face, the count went out of
the room.... Nicholas had been prepared for resistance, but had not at
all expected this.
"Papa! Pa-pa!" he called after him, sobbing, "forgive me!" And
seizing his father's hand, he pressed it to his lips and burst into
While father and son were having their explanation, the mother and
daughter were having one not less important. Natasha came running to
her mother, quite excited.
"Mamma!... Mamma!... He has made me..."
"Made, made me an offer, Mamma! Mamma!" she exclaimed.
The countess did not believe her ears. Denisov had proposed. To
whom? To this chit of a girl, Natasha, who not so long ago was playing
with dolls and who was still having lessons.
"Don't, Natasha! What nonsense!" she said, hoping it was a joke.
"Nonsense, indeed! I am telling you the fact," said Natasha
indignantly. "I come to ask you what to do, and you call it
The countess shrugged her shoulders.
"If it true that Monsieur Denisov has made you a proposal, tell
him he is a fool, that's all!"
"No, he's not a fool!" replied Natasha indignantly and seriously.
"Well then, what do you want? You're all in love nowadays. Well,
if you are in love, marry him!" said the countess, with a laugh of
annoyance. "Good luck to you!"
"No, Mamma, I'm not in love with him, I suppose I'm not in love with
"Well then, tell him so."
"Mamma, are you cross? Don't be cross, dear! Is it my fault?"
"No, but what is it, my dear? Do you want me to go and tell him?"
said the countess smiling.
"No, I will do it myself, only tell me what to say. It's all very
well for you," said Natasha, with a responsive smile. "You should have
seen how he said it! I know he did not mean to say it, but it came out
"Well, all the same, you must refuse him."
"No, I mustn't. I am so sorry for him! He's so nice."
"Well then, accept his offer. It's high time for you to be married,"
answered the countess sharply and sarcastically.
"No, Mamma, but I'm so sorry for him. I don't know how I'm to say
"And there's nothing for you to say. I shall speak to him myself,"
said the countess, indignant that they should have dared to treat this
little Natasha as grown up.
"No, not on any account! I will tell him myself, and you'll listen
at the door," and Natasha ran across the drawing room to the dancing
hall, where Denisov was sitting on the same chair by the clavichord
with his face in his hands.
He jumped up at the sound of her light step.
"Nataly," he said, moving with rapid steps toward her, "decide my
fate. It is in your hands."
"Vasili Dmitrich, I'm so sorry for you!... No, but you are so
nice... but it won't do...not that... but as a friend, I shall
always love you."
Denisov bent over her hand and she heard strange sounds she did
not understand. She kissed his rough curly black head. At this
instant, they heard the quick rustle of the countess' dress. She
came up to them.
"Vasili Dmitrich, I thank you for the honor," she said, with an
embarrassed voice, though it sounded severe to Denisov- "but my
daughter is so young, and I thought that, as my son's friend, you
would have addressed yourself first to me. In that case you would
not have obliged me to give this refusal."
"Countess..." said Denisov, with downcast eyes and a guilty face. He
tried to say more, but faltered.
Natasha could not remain calm, seeing him in such a plight. She
began to sob aloud.
"Countess, I have done w'ong," Denisov went on in an unsteady voice,
"but believe me, I so adore your daughter and all your family that I
would give my life twice over..." He looked at the countess, and
seeing her severe face said: "Well, good-by, Countess," and kissing
her hand, he left the room with quick resolute strides, without
looking at Natasha.
Next day Rostov saw Denisov off. He not wish to stay another day
in Moscow. All Denisov's Moscow friends gave him a farewell
entertainment at the gypsies', with the result that he had no
recollection of how he was put in the sleigh or of the first three
stages of his journey.
After Denisov's departure, Rostov spent another fortnight in Moscow,
without going out of the house, waiting for the money his father could
not at once raise, and he spent most of his time in the girls' room.
Sonya was more tender and devoted to him than ever. It was as if she
wanted to show him that his losses were an achievement that made her
love him all the more, but Nicholas now considered himself unworthy of
He filled the girls' albums with verses and music, and having at
last sent Dolokhov the whole forty-three thousand rubles and
received his receipt, he left at the end of November, without taking
leave of any of his acquaintances, to overtake his regiment which
was already in Poland.
BOOK FIVE: 1806 - 07
After his interview with his wife Pierre left for Petersburg. At the
Torzhok post station, either there were no horses or the postmaster
would not supply them. Pierre was obliged to wait. Without undressing,
he lay down on the leather sofa in front of a round table, put his big
feet in their overboots on the table, and began to reflect.
"Will you have the portmanteaus brought in? And a bed got ready, and
tea?" asked his valet.
Pierre gave no answer, for he neither heard nor saw anything. He had
begun to think of the last station and was still pondering on the same
question- one so important that he took no notice of what went on
around him. Not only was he indifferent as to whether he got to
Petersburg earlier or later, or whether he secured accommodation at
this station, but compared to the thoughts that now occupied him it
was a matter of indifference whether he remained there for a few hours
or for the rest of his life.
The postmaster, his wife, the valet, and a peasant woman selling
Torzhok embroidery came into the room offering their services. Without
changing his careless attitude, Pierre looked at them over his
spectacles unable to understand what they wanted or how they could
go on living without having solved the problems that so absorbed
him. He had been engrossed by the same thoughts ever since the day
he returned from Sokolniki after the duel and had spent that first
agonizing, sleepless night. But now, in the solitude of the journey,
they seized him with special force. No matter what he thought about,
he always returned to these same questions which he could not solve
and yet could not cease to ask himself. It was as if the thread of the
chief screw which held his life together were stripped, so that the
screw could not get in or out, but went on turning uselessly in the
The postmaster came in and began obsequiously to beg his
excellency to wait only two hours, when, come what might, he would let
his excellency have the courier horses. It was plain that he was lying
and only wanted to get more money from the traveler.
"Is this good or bad?" Pierre asked himself. "It is good for me, bad
for another traveler, and for himself it's unavoidable, because he
needs money for food; the man said an officer had once given him a
thrashing for letting a private traveler have the courier horses.
But the officer thrashed him because he had to get on as quickly as
possible. And I," continued Pierre, "shot Dolokhov because I
considered myself injured, and Louis XVI was executed because they
considered him a criminal, and a year later they executed those who
executed him- also for some reason. What is bad? What is good? What
should one love and what hate? What does one live for? And what am
I? What is life, and what is death? What power governs all?"
There was no answer to any of these questions, except one, and
that not a logical answer and not at all a reply to them. The answer
was: "You'll die and all will end. You'll die and know all, or cease
asking." But dying was also dreadful.
The Torzhok peddler woman, in a whining voice, went on offering
her wares, especially a pair of goatskin slippers. "I have hundreds of
rubles I don't know what to do with, and she stands in her tattered
cloak looking timidly at me," he thought. "And what does she want
the money for? As if that money could add a hair's breadth to
happiness or peace of mind. Can anything in the world make her or me
less a prey to evil and death?- death which ends all and must come
today or tomorrow- at any rate, in an instant as compared with
eternity." And again he twisted the screw with the stripped thread,
and again it turned uselessly in the same place.
His servant handed him a half-cut novel, in the form of letters,
by Madame de Souza. He began reading about the sufferings and virtuous
struggles of a certain Emilie de Mansfeld. "And why did she resist her
seducer when she loved him?" he thought. "God could not have put
into her heart an impulse that was against His will. My wife- as she
once was- did not struggle, and perhaps she was right. Nothing has
been found out, nothing discovered," Pierre again said to himself.
"All we can know is that we know nothing. And that's the height of
Everything within and around him seemed confused, senseless, and
repellent. Yet in this very repugnance to all his circumstances Pierre
found a kind of tantalizing satisfaction.
"I make bold to ask your excellency to move a little for this
gentleman," said the postmaster, entering the room followed by another
traveler, also detained for lack of horses.
The newcomer was a short, large-boned, yellow-faced, wrinkled old
man, with gray bushy eyebrows overhanging bright eyes of an indefinite
Pierre took his feet off the table, stood up, and lay down on a
bed that had been got ready for him, glancing now and then at the
newcomer, who, with a gloomy and tired face, was wearily taking off
his wraps with the aid of his servant, and not looking at Pierre. With
a pair of felt boots on his thin bony legs, and keeping on a worn,
nankeen-covered, sheepskin coat, the traveler sat down on the sofa,
leaned back his big head with its broad temples and close-cropped
hair, and looked at Bezukhov. The stern, shrewd, and penetrating
expression of that look struck Pierre. He felt a wish to speak to
the stranger, but by the time he had made up his mind to ask him a
question about the roads, the traveler had closed his eyes. His
shriveled old hands were folded and on the finger of one of them
Pierre noticed a large cast iron ring with a seal representing a
death's head. The stranger sat without stirring, either resting or, as
it seemed to Pierre, sunk in profound and calm meditation. His servant
was also a yellow, wrinkled old man, without beard or mustache,
evidently not because he was shaven but because they had never
grown. This active old servant was unpacking the traveler's canteen
and preparing tea. He brought in a boiling samovar. When everything
was ready, the stranger opened his eyes, moved to the table, filled
a tumbler with tea for himself and one for the beardless old man to
whom he passed it. Pierre began to feel a sense of uneasiness, and the
need, even the inevitability, of entering into conversation with
The servant brought back his tumbler turned upside down,* with an
unfinished bit of nibbled sugar, and asked if anything more would be
*To indicate he did not want more tea.
"No. Give me the book," said the stranger.
The servant handed him a book which Pierre took to be a devotional
work, and the traveler became absorbed in it. Pierre looked at him.
All at once the stranger closed the book, putting in a marker, and
again, leaning with his arms on the back of the sofa, sat in his
former position with his eyes shut. Pierre looked at him and had not
time to turn away when the old man, opening his eyes, fixed his steady
and severe gaze straight on Pierre's face.
Pierre felt confused and wished to avoid that look, but the bright
old eyes attracted him irresistibly.
"I have the pleasure of addressing Count Bezukhov, if I am not
mistaken," said the stranger in a deliberate and loud voice.
Pierre looked silently and inquiringly at him over his spectacles.
"I have heard of you, my dear sir, "continued the stranger, "and
of your misfortune." He seemed to emphasize the last word, as if to
say- "Yes, misfortune! Call it what you please, I know that what
happened to you in Moscow was a misfortune."- "I regret it very
much, my dear sir."
Pierre flushed and, hurriedly putting his legs down from the bed,
bent forward toward the old man with a forced and timid smile.
"I have not referred to this out of curiosity, my dear sir, but
for greater reasons."
He paused, his gaze still on Pierre, and moved aside on the sofa
by way of inviting the other to take a seat beside him. Pierre felt
reluctant to enter into conversation with this old man, but,
submitting to him involuntarily, came up and sat down beside him.
"You are unhappy, my dear sir," the stranger continued. "You are
young and I am old. I should like to help you as far as lies in my
"Oh, yes!" said Pierre, with a forced smile. "I am very grateful
to you. Where are you traveling from?"
The stranger's face was not genial, it was even cold and severe, but
in spite of this, both the face and words of his new acquaintance were
irresistibly attractive to Pierre.
"But if for reason you don't feel inclined to talk to me," said
the old man, "say so, my dear sir." And he suddenly smiled, in an
unexpected and tenderly paternal way.
"Oh no, not at all! On the contrary, I am very glad to make your
acquaintance," said Pierre. And again, glancing at the stranger's
hands, he looked more closely at the ring, with its skull- a Masonic
"Allow me to ask," he said, "are you a Mason?"
"Yes, I belong to the Brotherhood of the Freemasons," said the
stranger, looking deeper and deeper into Pierre's eyes. "And in
their name and my own I hold out a brotherly hand to you."
"I am afraid," said Pierre, smiling, and wavering between the
confidence the personality of the Freemason inspired in him and his
own habit of ridiculing the Masonic beliefs- "I am afraid I am very
far from understanding- how am I to put it?- I am afraid my way of
looking at the world is so opposed to yours that we shall not
understand one another."
"I know your outlook," said the Mason, "and the view of life you
mention, and which you think is the result of your own mental efforts,
is the one held by the majority of people, and is the invariable fruit
of pride, indolence, and ignorance. Forgive me, my dear sir, but if
I had not known it I should not have addressed you. Your view of
life is a regrettable delusion."
"Just as I may suppose you to be deluded," said Pierre, with a faint
"I should never dare to say that I know the truth," said the
Mason, whose words struck Pierre more and more by their precision
and firmness. "No one can attain to truth by himself. Only by laying
stone on stone with the cooperation of all, by the millions of
generations from our forefather Adam to our own times, is that
temple reared which is to be a worthy dwelling place of the Great
God," he added, and closed his eyes.
"I ought to tell you that I do not believe... do not believe in God,
said Pierre, regretfully and with an effort, feeling it essential to
speak the whole truth.
The Mason looked intently at Pierre and smiled as a rich man with
millions in hand might smile at a poor fellow who told him that he,
poor man, had not the five rubles that would make him happy.
"Yes, you do not know Him, my dear sir," said the Mason. "You cannot
know Him. You do not know Him and that is why you are unhappy."
"Yes, yes, I am unhappy," assented Pierre. "But what am I to do?"
"You know Him not, my dear sir, and so you are very unhappy. You
do not know Him, but He is here, He is in me, He is in my words, He is
in thee, and even in those blasphemous words thou hast just
uttered!" pronounced the Mason in a stern and tremulous voice.
He paused and sighed, evidently trying to calm himself.
"If He were not," he said quietly, "you and I would not be
speaking of Him, my dear sir. Of what, of whom, are we speaking?
Whom hast thou denied?" he suddenly asked with exulting austerity
and authority in his voice. "Who invented Him, if He did not exist?
Whence came thy conception of the existence of such an
incomprehensible Being? didst thou, and why did the whole world,
conceive the idea of the existence of such an incomprehensible
Being, a Being all-powerful, eternal, and infinite in all His
He stopped and remained silent for a long time.
Pierre could not and did not wish to break this silence.
"He exists, but to understand Him is hard," the Mason began again,
looking not at Pierre but straight before him, and turning the
leaves of his book with his old hands which from excitement he could
not keep still. "If it were a man whose existence thou didst doubt I
could bring him to thee, could take him by the hand and show him to
thee. But how can I, an insignificant mortal, show His omnipotence,
His infinity, and all His mercy to one who is blind, or who shuts
his eyes that he may not see or understand Him and may not see or
understand his own vileness and sinfulness?" He paused again. "Who art
thou? Thou dreamest that thou art wise because thou couldst utter
those blasphemous words," he went on, with a somber and scornful
smile. "And thou art more foolish and unreasonable than a little
child, who, playing with the parts of a skillfully made watch, dares
to say that, as he does not understand its use, he does not believe in
the master who made it. To know Him is hard.... For ages, from our
forefather Adam to our own day, we labor to attain that knowledge
and are still infinitely far from our aim; but in our lack of
understanding we see only our weakness and His greatness...."
Pierre listened with swelling heart, gazing into the Mason's face
with shining eyes, not interrupting or questioning him, but
believing with his whole soul what the stranger said. Whether he
accepted the wise reasoning contained in the Mason's words, or
believed as a child believes, in the speaker's tone of conviction
and earnestness, or the tremor of the speaker's voice- which sometimes
almost broke- or those brilliant aged eyes grown old in this
conviction, or the calm firmness and certainty of his vocation,
which radiated from his whole being (and which struck Pierre
especially by contrast with his own dejection and hopelessness)- at
any rate, Pierre longed with his whole soul to believe and he did
believe, and felt a joyful sense of comfort, regeneration, and
return to life.
"He is not to be apprehended by reason, but by life," said the
"I do not understand," said Pierre, feeling with dismay doubts
reawakening. He was afraid of any want of clearness, any weakness,
in the Mason's arguments; he dreaded not to be able to believe in him.
"I don't understand," he said, "how it is that the mind of man
cannot attain the knowledge of which you speak."
The Mason smiled with his gentle fatherly smile.
"The highest wisdom and truth are like the purest liquid we may wish
to imbibe," he said. "Can I receive that pure liquid into an impure
vessel and judge of its purity? Only by the inner purification of
myself can I retain in some degree of purity the liquid I receive."
"Yes, yes, that is so," said Pierre joyfully.
"The highest wisdom is not founded on reason alone, not on those
worldly sciences of physics, history, chemistry, and the like, into
which intellectual knowledge is divided. The highest wisdom is one.
The highest wisdom has but one science- the science of the whole-
the science explaining the whole creation and man's place in it. To
receive that science it is necessary to purify and renew one's inner
self, and so before one can know, it is necessary to believe and to
perfect one's self. And to attain this end, we have the light called
conscience that God has implanted in our souls."
"Yes, yes," assented Pierre.
"Look then at thy inner self with the eyes of the spirit, and ask
thyself whether thou art content with thyself. What hast thou attained
relying on reason only? What art thou? You are young, you are rich,
you are clever, you are well educated. And what have you done with all
these good gifts? Are you content with yourself and with your life?"
"No, I hate my life," Pierre muttered, wincing.
"Thou hatest it. Then change it, purify thyself; and as thou art
purified, thou wilt gain wisdom. Look at your life, my dear sir. How
have you spent it? In riotous orgies and debauchery, receiving
everything from society and giving nothing in return. You have
become the possessor of wealth. How have you used it? What have you
done for your neighbor? Have you ever thought of your tens of
thousands of slaves? Have you helped them physically and morally?
No! You have profited by their toil to lead a profligate life. That is
what you have done. Have you chosen a post in which you might be of
service to your neighbor? No! You have spent your life in idleness.
Then you married, my dear sir- took on yourself responsibility for the
guidance of a young woman; and what have you done? You have not helped
her to find the way of truth, my dear sir, but have thrust her into an
abyss of deceit and misery. A man offended you and you shot him, and
you say you do not know God and hate your life. There is nothing
strange in that, my dear sir!"
After these words, the Mason, as if tired by his long discourse,
again leaned his arms on the back of the sofa and closed his eyes.
Pierre looked at that aged, stern, motionless, almost lifeless face
and moved his lips without uttering a sound. He wished to say, "Yes, a
vile, idle, vicious life!" but dared not break the silence.
The Mason cleared his throat huskily, as old men do, and called
"How about the horses?" he asked, without looking at Pierre.
"The exchange horses have just come," answered the servant. "Will
you not rest here?"
"No, tell them to harness."
"Can he really be going away leaving me alone without having told me
all, and without promising to help me?" thought Pierre, rising with
downcast head; and he began to pace the room, glancing occasionally at
the Mason. "Yes, I never thought of it, but I have led a
contemptible and profligate life, though I did not like it and did not
want to," thought Pierre. "But this man knows the truth and, if he
wished to, could disclose it to me."
Pierre wished to say this to the Mason, but did not dare to. The
traveler, having packed his things with his practiced hands, began
fastening his coat. When he had finished, he turned to Bezukhov, and
said in a tone of indifferent politeness:
"Where are you going to now, my dear sir?"
"I?... I'm going to Petersburg," answered Pierre, in a childlike,
hesitating voice. "I thank you. I agree with all you have said. But do
not suppose me to be so bad. With my whole soul I wish to be what
you would have me be, but I have never had help from anyone.... But it
is I, above all, who am to blame for everything. Help me, teach me,
and perhaps I may..."
Pierre could not go on. He gulped and turned away.
The Mason remained silent for a long time, evidently considering.
"Help comes from God alone," he said, "but such measure of help as
our Order can bestow it will render you, my dear sir. You are going to
Petersburg. Hand this to Count Willarski" (he took out his notebook
and wrote a few words on a large sheet of paper folded in four).
"Allow me to give you a piece of advice. When you reach the capital,
first of all devote some time to solitude and self-examination and
do not resume your former way of life. And now I wish you a good
journey, my dear sir," he added, seeing that his servant had
entered... "and success."
The traveler was Joseph Alexeevich Bazdeev, as Pierre saw from the
postmaster's book. Bazdeev had been one of the best-known Freemasons
and Martinists, even in Novikov's time. For a long while after he
had gone, Pierre did not go to bed or order horses but paced up and
down the room, pondering over his vicious past, and with a rapturous
sense of beginning anew pictured to himself the blissful,
irreproachable, virtuous future that seemed to him so easy. It
seemed to him that he had been vicious only because he had somehow
forgotten how good it is to be virtuous. Not a trace of his former
doubts remained in his soul. He firmly believed in the possibility
of the brotherhood of men united in the aim of supporting one
another in the path of virtue, and that is how Freemasonry presented
itself to him.
On reaching Petersburg Pierre did not let anyone know of his
arrival, he went nowhere and spent whole days in reading Thomas a
Kempis, whose book had been sent him by someone unknown. One thing
he continually realized as he read that book: the joy, hitherto
unknown to him, of believing in the possibility of attaining
perfection, and in the possibility of active brotherly love among men,
which Joseph Alexeevich had revealed to him. A week after his arrival,
the young Polish count, Willarski, whom Pierre had known slightly in
Petersburg society, came into his room one evening in the official and
ceremonious manner in which Dolokhov's second had called on him,
and, having closed the door behind him and satisfied himself that
there was nobody else in the room, addressed Pierre.
"I have come to you with a message and an offer, Count," he said
without sitting down. "A person of very high standing in our
Brotherhood has made application for you to be received into our Order
before the usual term and has proposed to me to be your sponsor. I
consider it a sacred duty to fulfill that person's wishes. Do you wish
to enter the Brotherhood of Freemasons under my sponsorship?"
The cold, austere tone of this man, whom he had almost always
before met at balls, amiably smiling in the society of the most
brilliant women, surprised Pierre.
"Yes, I do wish it," said he.
Willarski bowed his head.
"One more question, Count," he said, "which beg you to answer in all
sincerity- not as a future Mason but as an honest man: have you
renounced your former convictions- do you believe in God?"
"Yes... yes, I believe in God," he said.
"In that case..." began Willarski, but Pierre interrupted him.
"Yes, I do believe in God," he repeated.
"In that case we can go," said Willarski. "My carriage is at your
Willarski was silent throughout the drive. To Pierre's inquiries
as to what he must do and how he should answer, Willarski only replied
that brothers more worthy than he would test him and that Pierre had
only to tell the truth.
Having entered the courtyard of a large house where the Lodge had
its headquarters, and having ascended a dark staircase, they entered a
small well-lit anteroom where they took off their cloaks without the
aid of a servant. From there they passed into another room. A man in
strange attire appeared at the door. Willarski, stepping toward him,
said something to him in French in an undertone and then went up to
a small wardrobe in which Pierre noticed garments such as he had never
seen before. Having taken a kerchief from the cupboard, Willarski
bound Pierre's eyes with it and tied it in a knot behind, catching
some hairs painfully in the knot. Then he drew his face down, kissed
him, and taking him by the hand led him forward. The hairs tied in the
knot hurt Pierre and there were lines of pain on his face and a
shamefaced smile. His huge figure, with arms hanging down and with a
puckered, though smiling face, moved after Willarski with uncertain,
Having led him about ten paces, Willarski stopped.
"Whatever happens to you," he said, "you must bear it all manfully
if you have firmly resolved to join our Brotherhood." (Pierre nodded
affirmatively.) "When you hear a knock at the door, you will uncover
your eyes," added Willarski. "I wish you courage and success," and,
pressing Pierre's hand, he went out.
Left alone, Pierre went on smiling in the same way. Once or twice he
shrugged his and raised his hand to the kerchief, as if wishing to
take it off, but let it drop again. The five minutes spent with his
eyes bandaged seemed to him an hour. His arms felt numb, his legs
almost gave way, it seemed to him that he was tired out. He
experienced a variety of most complex sensations. He felt afraid of
what would happen to him and still more afraid of showing his fear. He
felt curious to know what was going to happen and what would be
revealed to him; but most of all, he felt joyful that the moment had
come when he would at last start on that path of regeneration and on
the actively virtuous life of which he had been dreaming since he
met Joseph Alexeevich. Loud knocks were heard at the door. Pierre took
the bandage off his eyes and glanced around him. The room was in black
darkness, only a small lamp was burning inside something white. Pierre
went nearer and saw that the lamp stood on a black table on which
lay an open book. The book was the Gospel, and the white thing with
the lamp inside was a human skull with its cavities and teeth. After
reading the first words of the Gospel: "In the beginning was the
Word and the Word was with God," Pierre went round the table and saw a
large open box filled with something. It was a coffin with bones
inside. He was not at all surprised by what he saw. Hoping to enter on
an entirely new life quite unlike the old one, he expected
everything to be unusual, even more unusual than what he was seeing. A
skull, a coffin, the Gospel- it seemed to him that he had expected all
this and even more. Trying to stimulate his emotions he looked around.
"God, death, love, the brotherhood of man," he kept saying to himself,
associating these words with vague yet joyful ideas. The door opened
and someone came in.
By the dim light, to which Pierre had already become accustomed,
he saw rather short man. Having evidently come from the light into the
darkness, the man paused, then moved with cautious steps toward the
table and placed on it his small leather-gloved hands.
This short man had on a white leather apron which covered his
chest and part of his legs; he had on a kind of necklace above which
rose a high white ruffle, outlining his rather long face which was lit
up from below.
"For what have you come hither?" asked the newcomer, turning in
Pierre's direction at a slight rustle made by the latter. "Why have
you, who do not believe in the truth of the light and who have not
seen the light, come here? What do you seek from us? Wisdom, virtue,
At the moment the door opened and the stranger came in, Pierre
felt a sense of awe and veneration such as he had experienced in his
boyhood at confession; he felt himself in the presence of one socially
a complete stranger, yet nearer to him through the brotherhood of man.
With bated breath and beating heart he moved toward the Rhetor (by
which name the brother who prepared a seeker for entrance into the
Brotherhood was known). Drawing nearer, he recognized in the Rhetor
a man he knew, Smolyaninov, and it mortified him to think that the
newcomer was an acquaintance- he wished him simply a brother and a
virtuous instructor. For a long time he could not utter a word, so
that the Rhetor had to repeat his question.
"Yes... I... I... desire regeneration," Pierre uttered with
"Very well," said Smolyaninov, and went on at once: "Have you any
idea of the means by which our holy Order will help you to reach
your aim?" said he quietly and quickly.
"I... hope... for guidance... help... in regeneration," said Pierre,
with a trembling voice and some difficulty in utterance due to his
excitement and to being unaccustomed to speak of abstract matters in
"What is your conception of Freemasonry?"
"I imagine that Freemasonry is the fraternity and equality of men
who have virtuous aims," said Pierre, feeling ashamed of the
inadequacy of his words for the solemnity of the moment, as he
spoke. "I imagine..."
"Good!" said the Rhetor quickly, apparently satisfied with this
answer. "Have you sought for means of attaining your aim in religion?"
"No, I considered it erroneous and did not follow it," said
Pierre, so softly that the Rhetor did not hear him and asked him
what he was saying. "I have been an atheist," answered Pierre.
"You are seeking for truth in order to follow its laws in your life,
therefore you seek wisdom and virtue. Is that not so?" said the
Rhetor, after a moment's pause.
"Yes, yes," assented Pierre.
The Rhetor cleared his throat, crossed his gloved hands on his
breast, and began to speak.
"Now I must disclose to you the chief aim of our Order," he said,
"and if this aim coincides with yours, you may enter our Brotherhood
with profit. The first and chief object of our Order, the foundation
on which it rests and which no human power can destroy, is the
preservation and handing on to posterity of a certain important
mystery... which has come down to us from the remotest ages, even from
the first man- a mystery on which perhaps the fate of mankind depends.
But since this mystery is of such a nature that nobody can know or use
it unless he be prepared by long and diligent self-purification, not
everyone can hope to attain it quickly. Hence we have a secondary aim,
that of preparing our members as much as possible to reform their
hearts, to purify and enlighten their minds, by means handed on to
us by tradition from those who have striven to attain this mystery,
and thereby to render them capable of receiving it.
"By purifying and regenerating our members we try, thirdly, to
improve the whole human race, offering it in our members an example of
piety and virtue, and thereby try with all our might to combat the
evil which sways the world. Think this over and I will come to you
"To combat the evil which sways the world..." Pierre repeated, and a
mental image of his future activity in this direction rose in his
mind. He imagined men such as he had himself been a fortnight ago, and
he addressed an edifying exhortation to them. He imagined to himself
vicious and unfortunate people whom he would assist by word and
deed, imagined oppressors whose victims he would rescue. Of the
three objects mentioned by the Rhetor, this last, that of improving
mankind, especially appealed to Pierre. The important mystery
mentioned by the Rhetor, though it aroused his curiosity, did not seem
to him essential, and the second aim, that of purifying and
regenerating himself, did not much interest him because at that moment
he felt with delight that he was already perfectly cured of his former
faults and was ready for all that was good.
Half an hour later, the Rhetor returned to inform the seeker of
the seven virtues, corresponding to the seven steps of Solomon's
temple, which every Freemason should cultivate in himself. These
virtues were: 1. Discretion, the keeping of the secrets of the Order.
2. Obedience to those of higher ranks in the Order. 3. Morality. 4.
Love of mankind. 5. Courage. 6. Generosity. 7. The love of death.
"In the seventh place, try, by the frequent thought of death," the
Rhetor said, "to bring yourself to regard it not as a dreaded foe, but
as a friend that frees the soul grown weary in the labors of virtue
from this distressful life, and leads it to its place of recompense
"Yes, that must be so," thought Pierre, when after these words the
Rhetor went away, leaving him to solitary meditation. "It must be
so, but I am still so weak that I love my life, the meaning of which
is only now gradually opening before me." But five of the other
virtues which Pierre recalled, counting them on his fingers, he felt
already in his soul: courage, generosity, morality, love of mankind,
and especially obedience- which did not even seem to him a virtue, but
a joy. (He now felt so glad to be free from his own lawlessness and to
submit his will to those who knew the indubitable truth.) He forgot
what the seventh virtue was and could not recall it.
The third time the Rhetor came back more quickly and asked Pierre
whether he was still firm in his intention and determined to submit to
all that would be required of him.
"I am ready for everything," said Pierre.
"I must also inform you," said the Rhetor, "that our Order
delivers its teaching not in words only but also by other means, which
may perhaps have a stronger effect on the sincere seeker after
wisdom and virtue than mere words. This chamber with what you see
therein should already have suggested to your heart, if it is sincere,
more than words could do. You will perhaps also see in your further
initiation a like method of enlightenment. Our Order imitates the
ancient societies that explained their teaching by hieroglyphics. A
hieroglyph," said the Rhetor, "is an emblem of something not
cognizable by the senses but which possesses qualities resembling
those of the symbol."
Pierre knew very well what a hieroglyph was, but dared not speak. He
listened to the Rhetor in silence, feeling from all he said that his
ordeal was about to begin.
"If you are resolved, I must begin your initiation," said the Rhetor
coming closer to Pierre. "In token of generosity I ask you to give
me all your valuables."
"But I have nothing here," replied Pierre, supposing that he was
asked to give up all he possessed.
"What you have with you: watch, money, rings...."
Pierre quickly took out his purse and watch, but could not manage
for some time to get the wedding ring off his fat finger. When that
had been done, the Rhetor said:
"In token of obedience, I ask you to undress."
Pierre took off his coat, waistcoat, and left boot according to
the Rhetor's instructions. The Mason drew the shirt back from Pierre's
left breast, and stooping down pulled up the left leg of his
trousers to above the knee. Pierre hurriedly began taking off his
right boot also and was going to tuck up the other trouser leg to save
this stranger the trouble, but the Mason told him that was not
necessary and gave him a slipper for his left foot. With a childlike
smile of embarrassment, doubt, and self-derision, which appeared on
his face against his will, Pierre stood with his arms hanging down and
legs apart, before his brother Rhetor, and awaited his further
"And now, in token of candor, I ask you to reveal to me your chief
passion," said the latter.
"My passion! I have had so many," replied Pierre.
"That passion which more than all others caused you to waver on
the path of virtue," said the Mason.
Pierre paused, seeking a reply.
"Wine? Gluttony? Idleness? Laziness? Irritability? Anger? Women?" He
went over his vices in his mind, not knowing to which of them to
give the pre-eminence.
"Women," he said in a low, scarcely audible voice.
The Mason did not move and for a long time said nothing after this
answer. At last he moved up to Pierre and, taking the kerchief that
lay on the table, again bound his eyes.
"For the last time I say to you- turn all your attention upon
yourself, put a bridle on your senses, and seek blessedness, not in
passion but in your own heart. The source of blessedness is not
without us but within...."
Pierre had already long been feeling in himself that refreshing
source of blessedness which now flooded his heart with glad emotion.
Soon after this there came into the dark chamber to fetch Pierre,
not the Rhetor but Pierre's sponsor, Willarski, whom he recognized
by his voice. To fresh questions as to the firmness of his
resolution Pierre replied: "Yes, yes, I agree," and with a beaming,
childlike smile, his fat chest uncovered, stepping unevenly and
timidly in one slippered and one booted foot, he advanced, while
Willarski held a sword to his bare chest. He was conducted from that
room along passages that turned backwards and forwards and was at last
brought to the doors of the Lodge. Willarski coughed, he was
answered by the Masonic knock with mallets, the doors opened before
them. A bass voice (Pierre was still blindfold) questioned him as to
who he was, when and where he was born, and so on. Then he was again
led somewhere still blindfold, and as they went along he was told
allegories of the toils of his pilgrimage, of holy friendship, of
the Eternal Architect of the universe, and of the courage with which
he should endure toils and dangers. During these wanderings, Pierre
noticed that he was spoken of now as the "Seeker," now as the
"Sufferer," and now as the "Postulant," to the accompaniment of
various knockings with mallets and swords. As he was being led up to
some object he noticed a hesitation and uncertainty among his
conductors. He heard those around him disputing in whispers and one of
them insisting that he should be led along a certain carpet. After
that they took his right hand, placed it on something, and told him to
hold a pair of compasses to his left breast with the other hand and to
repeat after someone who read aloud an oath of fidelity to the laws of
the Order. The candles were then extinguished and some spirit lighted,
as Pierre knew by the smell, and he was told that he would now see the
lesser light. The bandage was taken off his eyes and, by the faint
light of the burning spirit, Pierre, as in a dream, saw several men
standing before him, wearing aprons like the Rhetor's and holding
swords in their hands pointed at his breast. Among them stood a man
whose white shirt was stained with blood. On seeing this, Pierre moved
forward with his breast toward the swords, meaning them to pierce
it. But the swords were drawn back from him and he was at once
"Now thou hast seen the lesser light," uttered a voice. Then the
candles were relit and he was told that he would see the full light;
the bandage was again removed and more than ten voices said
together: "Sic transit gloria mundi."
Pierre gradually began to recover himself and looked about at the
room and at the people in it. Round a long table covered with black
sat some twelve men in garments like those he had already seen. Some
of them Pierre had met in Petersburg society. In the President's chair
sat a young man he did not know, with a peculiar cross hanging from
his neck. On his right sat the Italian abbe whom Pierre had met at
Anna Pavlovna's two years before. There were also present a very
distinguished dignitary and a Swiss who had formerly been tutor at the
Kuragins'. All maintained a solemn silence, listening to the words
of the President, who held a mallet in his hand. Let into the wall was
a star-shaped light. At one side of the table was a small carpet
with various figures worked upon it, at the other was something
resembling an altar on which lay a Testament and a skull. Round it
stood seven large candlesticks like those used in churches. Two of the
brothers led Pierre up to the altar, placed his feet at right
angles, and bade him lie down, saying that he must prostrate himself
at the Gates of the Temple.
"He must first receive the trowel," whispered one of the brothers.
"Oh, hush, please!" said another.
Pierre, perplexed, looked round with his shortsighted eyes without
obeying, and suddenly doubts arose in his mind. "Where am I? What am I
doing? Aren't they laughing at me? Shan't I be ashamed to remember
this?" But these doubts only lasted a moment. Pierre glanced at the
serious faces of those around, remembered all he had already gone
through, and realized that he could not stop halfway. He was aghast at
his hesitation and, trying to arouse his former devotional feeling,
prostrated himself before the Gates of the Temple. And really, the
feeling of devotion returned to him even more strongly than before.
When he had lain there some time, he was told to get up, and a white
leather apron, such as the others wore, was put on him: he was given a
trowel and three pairs of gloves, and then the Grand Master
addressed him. He told him that he should try to do nothing to stain
the whiteness of that apron, which symbolized strength and purity;
then of the unexplained trowel, he told him to toil with it to cleanse
his own heart from vice, and indulgently to smooth with it the heart
of his neighbor. As to the first pair of gloves, a man's, he said that
Pierre could not know their meaning but must keep them. The second
pair of man's gloves he was to wear at the meetings, and finally of
the third, a pair of women's gloves, he said: "Dear brother, these
woman's gloves are intended for you too. Give them to the woman whom
you shall honor most of all. This gift will be a pledge of your purity
of heart to her whom you select to be your worthy helpmeet in
Masonry." And after a pause, he added: "But beware, dear brother, that
these gloves do not deck hands that are unclean." While the Grand
Master said these last words it seemed to Pierre that he grew
embarrassed. Pierre himself grew still more confused, blushed like a
child till tears came to his eyes, began looking about him uneasily,
and an awkward pause followed.
This silence was broken by one of the brethren, who led Pierre up to
the rug and began reading to him from a manuscript book an explanation
of all the figures on it: the sun, the moon, a hammer, a plumb line, a
trowel, a rough stone and a squared stone, a pillar, three windows,
and so on. Then a place was assigned to Pierre, he was shown the signs
of the Lodge, told the password, and at last was permitted to sit
down. The Grand Master began reading the statutes. They were very
long, and Pierre, from joy, agitation, and embarrassment, was not in a
state to understand what was being read. He managed to follow only the
last words of the statutes and these remained in his mind.
"In our temples we recognize no other distinctions," read the
Grand Master, "but those between virtue and vice. Beware of making any
distinctions which may infringe equality. Fly to a brother's aid
whoever he may be, exhort him who goeth astray, raise him that
falleth, never bear malice or enmity toward thy brother. Be kindly and
courteous. Kindle in all hearts the flame of virtue. Share thy
happiness with thy neighbor, and may envy never dim the purity of that
bliss. Forgive thy enemy, do not avenge thyself except by doing him
good. Thus fulfilling the highest law thou shalt regain traces of
the ancient dignity which thou hast lost."
He finished and, getting up, embraced and kissed Pierre, who, with
tears of joy in his eyes, looked round him, not knowing how to
answer the congratulations and greetings from acquaintances that met
him on all sides. He acknowledged no acquaintances but saw in all
these men only brothers, and burned with impatience to set to work
The Grand Master rapped with his mallet. All the Masons sat down
in their places, and one of them read an exhortation on the
necessity of humility.
The Grand Master proposed that the last duty should be performed,
and the distinguished dignitary who bore the title of "Collector of
Alms" went round to all the brothers. Pierre would have liked to
subscribe all he had, but fearing that it might look like pride
subscribed the same amount as the others.
The meeting was at an end, and on reaching home Pierre felt as if he
had returned from a long journey on which he had spent dozens of
years, had become completely changed, and had quite left behind his
former habits and way of life.
The day after he had been received into the Lodge, Pierre was
sitting at home reading a book and trying to fathom the significance
of the Square, one side of which symbolized God, another moral things,
a third physical things, and the fourth a combination of these. Now
and then his attention wandered from the book and the Square and he
formed in imagination a new plan of life. On the previous evening at
the Lodge, he had heard that a rumor of his duel had reached the
Emperor and that it would be wiser for him to leave Petersburg. Pierre
proposed going to his estates in the south and there attending to
the welfare of his serfs. He was joyfully planning this new life, when
Prince Vasili suddenly entered the room.
"My dear fellow, what have you been up to in Moscow? Why have you
quarreled with Helene, mon cher? You are under a delusion," said
Prince Vasili, as he entered. "I know all about it, and I can tell you
positively that Helene is as innocent before you as Christ was
before the Jews."
Pierre was about to reply, but Prince Vasili interrupted him.
"And why didn't you simply come straight to me as to a friend? I
know all about it and understand it all," he said. "You behaved as
becomes a man values his honor, perhaps too hastily, but we won't go
into that. But consider the position in which you are placing her
and me in the eyes of society, and even of the court," he added,
lowering his voice. "She is living in Moscow and you are here.
Remember, dear boy," and he drew Pierre's arm downwards, "it is simply
a misunderstanding. I expect you feel it so yourself. Let us write her
a letter at once, and she'll come here and all will be explained, or
else, my dear boy, let me tell you it's quite likely you'll have to
suffer for it."
Prince Vasili gave Pierre a significant look.
"I know from reliable sources that the Dowager Empress is taking a
keen interest in the whole affair. You know she is very gracious to
Pierre tried several times to speak, but, on one hand, Prince Vasili
did not let him and, on the other, Pierre himself feared to begin to
speak in the tone of decided refusal and disagreement in which he
had firmly resolved to answer his father-in-law. Moreover, the words
of the Masonic statutes, "be kindly and courteous," recurred to him.
He blinked, went red, got up and sat down again, struggling with
himself to do what was for him the most difficult thing in life- to
say an unpleasant thing to a man's face, to say what the other,
whoever he might be, did not expect. He was so used to submitting to
Prince Vasili's tone of careless self-assurance that he felt he
would be unable to withstand it now, but he also felt that on what
he said now his future depended- whether he would follow the same
old road, or that new path so attractively shown him by the Masons, on
which he firmly believed he would be reborn to a new life.
"Now, dear boy," said Prince Vasili playfully, "say 'yes,' and
I'll write to her myself, and we will kill the fatted calf."
But before Prince Vasili had finished his playful speech, Pierre,
without looking at him, and with a kind of fury that made him like his
father, muttered in a whisper:
"Prince, I did not ask you here. Go, please go!" And he jumped up
and opened the door for him.
"Go!" he repeated, amazed at himself and glad to see the look of
confusion and fear that showed itself on Prince Vasili's face.
"What's the matter with you? Are you ill?"
"Go!" the quivering voice repeated. And Prince Vasili had to go
without receiving any explanation.
A week later, Pierre, having taken leave of his new friends, the
Masons, and leaving large sums of money with them for alms, went
away to his estates. His new brethren gave him letters to the Kiev and
Odessa Masons and promised to write to him and guide him in his new
The duel between Pierre and Dolokhov was hushed up and, in spite
of the Emperor's severity regarding duels at that time, neither the
principals nor their seconds suffered for it. But the story of the
duel, confirmed by Pierre's rupture with his wife, was the talk of
society. Pierre who had been regarded with patronizing condescension
when he was an illegitimate son, and petted and extolled when he was
the best match in Russia, had sunk greatly in the esteem of society
after his marriage- when the marriageable daughters and their
mothers had nothing to hope from him- especially as he did not know
how, and did not wish, to court society's favor. Now he alone was