Part 14 out of 34
Next day, having been invited by the count, Prince Andrew dined with
the Rostovs and spent the rest of the day there.
Everyone in the house realized for whose sake Prince Andrew came,
and without concealing it he tried to be with Natasha all day. Not
only in the soul of the frightened yet happy and enraptured Natasha,
but in the whole house, there was a feeling of awe at something
important that was bound to happen. The countess looked with sad and
sternly serious eyes at Prince Andrew when he talked to Natasha and
timidly started some artificial conversation about trifles as soon
as he looked her way. Sonya was afraid to leave Natasha and afraid
of being in the way when she was with them. Natasha grew pale, in a
panic of expectation, when she remained alone with him for a moment.
Prince Andrew surprised her by his timidity. She felt that he wanted
to say something to her but could not bring himself to do so.
In the evening, when Prince Andrew had left, the countess went up to
Natasha and whispered: "Well, what?"
"Mamma! For heaven's sake don't ask me anything now! One can't
talk about that," said Natasha.
But all the same that night Natasha, now agitated and now
frightened, lay long time in her mother's bed gazing straight before
her. She told her how he had complimented her, how he told her he
was going abroad, asked her where they were going to spend the summer,
and then how he had asked her about Boris.
"But such a... such a... never happened to me before!" she said.
"Only I feel afraid in his presence. I am always afraid when I'm
with him. What does that mean? Does it mean that it's the real
thing? Yes? Mamma, are you asleep?"
"No, my love; I am frightened myself," answered her mother. "Now
"All the same I shan't sleep. What silliness, to sleep! Mummy!
Mummy! such a thing never happened to me before," she said,
surprised and alarmed at the feeling she was aware of in herself. "And
could we ever have thought!..."
It seemed to Natasha that even at the time she first saw Prince
Andrew at Otradnoe she had fallen in love with him. It was as if she
feared this strange, unexpected happiness of meeting again the very
man she had then chosen (she was firmly convinced she had done so) and
of finding him, as it seemed, not indifferent to her.
"And it had to happen that he should come specially to Petersburg
while we are here. And it had to happen that we should meet at that
ball. It is fate. Clearly it is fate that everything led up to this!
Already then, directly I saw him I felt something peculiar."
"What else did he say to you? What are those verses? Read them..."
said her mother, thoughtfully, referring to some verses Prince
Andrew had written in Natasha's album.
"Mamma, one need not be ashamed of his being a widower?"
"Don't, Natasha! Pray to God. 'Marriages are made in heaven,'"
said her mother.
"Darling Mummy, how I love you! How happy I am!" cried Natasha,
shedding tears of joy and excitement and embracing her mother.
At that very time Prince Andrew was sitting with Pierre and
telling him of his love for Natasha and his firm resolve to make her
That day Countess Helene had a reception at her house. The French
ambassador was there, and a foreign prince of the blood who had of
late become a frequent visitor of hers, and many brilliant ladies
and gentlemen. Pierre, who had come downstairs, walked through the
rooms and struck everyone by his preoccupied, absent-minded, and
Since the ball he had felt the approach of a fit of nervous
depression and had made desperate efforts to combat it. Since the
intimacy of his wife with the royal prince, Pierre had unexpectedly
been made a gentleman of the bedchamber, and from that time he had
begun to feel oppressed and ashamed in court society, and dark
thoughts of the vanity of all things human came to him oftener than
before. At the same time the feeling he had noticed between his
protegee Natasha and Prince Andrew accentuated his gloom by the
contrast between his own position and his friend's. He tried equally
to avoid thinking about his wife, and about Natasha and Prince Andrew;
and again everything seemed to him insignificant in comparison with
eternity; again the question: for what? presented itself; and he
forced himself to work day and night at Masonic labors, hoping to
drive away the evil spirit that threatened him. Toward midnight, after
he had left the countess' apartments, he was sitting upstairs in a
shabby dressing gown, copying out the original transaction of the
Scottish lodge of Freemasons at a table in his low room cloudy with
tobacco smoke, when someone came in. It was Prince Andrew.
"Ah, it's you!" said Pierre with a preoccupied, dissatisfied air.
"And I, you see, am hard at it." He pointed to his manuscript book
with that air of escaping from the ills of life with which unhappy
people look at their work.
Prince Andrew, with a beaming, ecstatic expression of renewed life
on his face, paused in front of Pierre and, not noticing his sad look,
smiled at him with the egotism of joy.
"Well, dear heart," said he, "I wanted to tell you about it
yesterday and I have come to do so today. I never experienced anything
like it before. I am in love, my friend!"
Suddenly Pierre heaved a deep sigh and dumped his heavy person
down on the sofa beside Prince Andrew.
"With Natasha Rostova, yes?" said he.
"Yes, yes! Who else should it be? I should never have believed it,
but the feeling is stronger than I. Yesterday I tormented myself and
suffered, but I would not exchange even that torment for anything in
the world, I have not lived till now. At last I live, but I can't live
without her! But can she love me?... I am too old for her.... Why
don't you speak?"
"I? I? What did I tell you?" said Pierre suddenly, rising and
beginning to pace up and down the room. "I always thought it....
That girl is such a treasure... she is a rare girl.... My dear friend,
I entreat you, don't philosophize, don't doubt, marry, marry,
marry.... And I am sure there will not be a happier man than you."
"But what of her?"
"She loves you."
"Don't talk rubbish..." said Prince Andrew, smiling and looking into
"She does, I know," Pierre cried fiercely.
"But do listen," returned Prince Andrew, holding him by the arm. "Do
you know the condition I am in? I must talk about it to someone."
"Well, go on, go on. I am very glad," said Pierre, and his face
really changed, his brow became smooth, and he listened gladly to
Prince Andrew. Prince Andrew seemed, and really was, quite a
different, quite a new man. Where was his spleen, his contempt for
life, his disillusionment? Pierre was the only person to whom he
made up his mind to speak openly; and to him he told all that was in
his soul. Now he boldly and lightly made plans for an extended future,
said he could not sacrifice his own happiness to his father's caprice,
and spoke of how he would either make his father consent to this
marriage and love her, or would do without his consent; then he
marveled at the feeling that had mastered him as at something strange,
apart from and independent of himself.
"I should not have believed anyone who told me that I was capable of
such love," said Prince Andrew. "It is not at all the same feeling
that I knew in the past. The whole world is now for me divided into
two halves: one half is she, and there all is joy, hope, light: the
other half is everything where she is not, and there is all gloom
"Darkness and gloom," reiterated Pierre: "yes, yes, I understand
"I cannot help loving the light, it is not my fault. And I am very
happy! You understand me? I know you are glad for my sake."
"Yes, yes," Pierre assented, looking at his friend with a touched
and sad expression in his eyes. The brighter Prince Andrew's lot
appeared to him, the gloomier seemed his own.
Prince Andrew needed his father's consent to his marriage, and to
obtain this he started for the country next day.
His father received his son's communication with external composure,
but inward wrath. He could not comprehend how anyone could wish to
alter his life or introduce anything new into it, when his own life
was already ending. "If only they would let me end my days as I want
to," thought the old man, "then they might do as they please." With
his son, however, he employed the diplomacy he reserved for
important occasions and, adopting a quiet tone, discussed the whole
In the first place the marriage was not a brilliant one as regards
birth, wealth, or rank. Secondly, Prince Andrew was no longer as young
as he had been and his health was poor (the old man laid special
stress on this), while she was very young. Thirdly, he had a son
whom it would be a pity to entrust to a chit of a girl. "Fourthly
and finally," the father said, looking ironically at his son, "I beg
you to put it off for a year: go abroad, take a cure, look out as
you wanted to for a German tutor for Prince Nicholas. Then if your
love or passion or obstinacy- as you please- is still as great, marry!
And that's my last word on it. Mind, the last..." concluded the
prince, in a tone which showed that nothing would make him alter his
Prince Andrew saw clearly that the old man hoped that his
feelings, or his fiancee's, would not stand a year's test, or that
he (the old prince himself) would die before then, and he decided to
conform to his father's wish- to propose, and postpone the wedding for
Three weeks after the last evening he had spent with the Rostovs,
Prince Andrew returned to Petersburg.
Next day after her talk with her mother Natasha expected Bolkonski
all day, but he did not come. On the second and third day it was the
same. Pierre did not come either and Natasha, not knowing that
Prince Andrew had gone to see his father, could not explain his
absence to herself.
Three weeks passed in this way. Natasha had no desire to go out
anywhere and wandered from room to room like a shadow, idle and
listless; she wept secretly at night and did not go to her mother in
the evenings. She blushed continually and was irritable. It seemed
to her that everybody knew about her disappointment and was laughing
at her and pitying her. Strong as was her inward grief, this wound
to her vanity intensified her misery.
Once she came to her mother, tried to say something, and suddenly
began to cry. Her tears were those of an offended child who does not
know why it is being punished.
The countess began to soothe Natasha, who after first listening to
her mother's words, suddenly interrupted her:
"Leave off, Mamma! I don't think, and don't want to think about
it! He just came and then left off, left off..."
Her voice trembled, and she again nearly cried, but recovered and
went on quietly:
"And I don't at all want to get married. And I am afraid of him; I
have now become quite calm, quite calm."
The day after this conversation Natasha put on the old dress which
she knew had the peculiar property of conducing to cheerfulness in the
mornings, and that day she returned to the old way of life which she
had abandoned since the ball. Having finished her morning tea she went
to the ballroom, which she particularly liked for its loud
resonance, and began singing her solfeggio. When she had finished
her first exercise she stood still in the middle of the room and
sang a musical phrase that particularly pleased her. She listened
joyfully (as though she had not expected it) to the charm of the notes
reverberating, filling the whole empty ballroom, and slowly dying
away; and all at once she felt cheerful. "What's the good of making so
much of it? Things are nice as it is," she said to herself, and she
began walking up and down the room, not stepping simply on the
resounding parquet but treading with each step from the heel to the
toe (she had on a new and favorite pair of shoes) and listening to the
regular tap of the heel and creak of the toe as gladly as she had to
the sounds of her own voice. Passing a mirror she glanced into it.
"There, that's me!" the expression of her face seemed to say as she
caught sight of herself. "Well, and very nice too! I need nobody."
A footman wanted to come in to clear away something in the room
but she would not let him, and having closed the door behind him
continued her walk. That morning she had returned to her favorite
mood- love of, and delight in, herself. "How charming that Natasha
is!" she said again, speaking as some third, collective, male
person. "Pretty, a good voice, young, and in nobody's way if only they
leave her in peace." But however much they left her in peace she could
not now be at peace, and immediately felt this.
In the hall the porch door opened, and someone asked, "At home?" and
then footsteps were heard. Natasha was looking at the mirror, but
did not see herself. She listened to the sounds in the hall. When
she saw herself, her face was pale. It was he. She knew this for
certain, though she hardly heard his voice through the closed doors.
Pale and agitated, Natasha ran into the drawing room.
"Mamma! Bolkonski has come!" she said. "Mamma, it is awful, it is
unbearable! I don't want... to be tormented? What am I to do?..."
Before the countess could answer, Prince Andrew entered the room
with an agitated and serious face. As soon as he saw Natasha his
face brightened. He kissed the countess' hand and Natasha's, and sat
down beside the sofa.
"It is long since we had the pleasure..." began the countess, but
Prince Andrew interrupted her by answering her intended question,
obviously in haste to say what he had to.
"I have not been to see all this time because I have been at my
father's. I had to talk over a very important matter with him. I
only got back last night," he said glancing at Natasha; "I want to
have a talk with you, Countess," he added after a moment's pause.
The countess lowered her eyes, sighing deeply.
"I am at your disposal," she murmured.
Natasha knew that she ought to go away, but was unable to do so:
something gripped her throat, and regardless of manners she stared
straight at Prince Andrew with wide-open eyes.
"At once? This instant!... No, it can't be!" she thought.
Again he glanced at her, and that glance convinced her that she
was not mistaken. Yes, at once, that very instant, her fate would be
"Go, Natasha! I will call you," said the countess in a whisper.
Natasha glanced with frightened imploring eyes at Prince Andrew
and at her mother and went out.
"I have come, Countess, to ask for your daughter's hand," said
The countess' face flushed hotly, but she said nothing.
"Your offer..." she began at last sedately. He remained silent,
looking into her eyes. "Your offer..." (she grew confused) "is
agreeable to us, and I accept your offer. I am glad. And my husband...
I hope... but it will depend on her...."
"I will speak to her when I have your consent.... Do you give it
to me?" said Prince Andrew.
"Yes," replied the countess. She held out her hand to him, and
with a mixed feeling of estrangement and tenderness pressed her lips
to his forehead as he stooped to kiss her hand. She wished to love him
as a son, but felt that to her he was a stranger and a terrifying man.
"I am sure my husband will consent," said the countess, "but your
"My father, to whom I have told my plans, has made it an express
condition of his consent that the wedding is not to take place for a
year. And I wished to tell you of that," said Prince Andrew.
"It is true that Natasha is still young, but- so long as that?..."
"It is unavoidable," said Prince Andrew with a sigh.
"I will send her to you," said the countess, and left the room.
"Lord have mercy upon us!" she repeated while seeking her daughter.
Sonya said that Natasha was in her bedroom. Natasha was sitting on
the bed, pale and dry eyed, and was gazing at the icons and whispering
something as she rapidly crossed herself. Seeing her mother she jumped
up and flew to her.
"Well, Mamma?... Well?..."
"Go, go to him. He is asking for your hand," said the countess,
coldly it seemed to Natasha. "Go... go," said the mother, sadly and
reproachfully, with a deep sigh, as her daughter ran away.
Natasha never remembered how she entered the drawing room. When
she came in and saw him she paused. "Is it possible that this stranger
has now become everything to me?" she asked herself, and immediately
answered, "Yes, everything! He alone is now dearer to me than
everything in the world." Prince Andrew came up to her with downcast
"I have loved you from the very first moment I saw you. May I hope?"
He looked at her and was struck by the serious impassioned
expression of her face. Her face said: "Why ask? Why doubt what you
cannot but know? Why speak, when words cannot express what one feels?"
She drew near to him and stopped. He took her hand and kissed it.
"Do you love me?"
"Yes, yes!" Natasha murmured as if in vexation. Then she sighed
loudly and, catching her breath more and more quickly, began to sob.
"What is it? What's the matter?"
"Oh, I am so happy!" she replied, smiled through her tears, bent
over closer to him, paused for an instant as if asking herself whether
she might, and then kissed him.
Prince Andrew held her hands, looked into her eyes, and did not find
in his heart his former love for her. Something in him had suddenly
changed; there was no longer the former poetic and mystic charm of
desire, but there was pity for her feminine and childish weakness,
fear at her devotion and trustfulness, and an oppressive yet joyful
sense of the duty that now bound him to her forever. The present
feeling, though not so bright and poetic as the former, was stronger
and more serious.
"Did your mother tell you that it cannot be for a year?" asked
Prince Andrew, still looking into her eyes.
"Is it possible that I- the 'chit of a girl,' as everybody called
me," thought Natasha- "is it possible that I am now to be the wife and
the equal of this strange, dear, clever man whom even my father
looks up to? Can it be true? Can it be true that there can be no
more playing with life, that now I am grown up, that on me now lies
a responsibility for my every word and deed? Yes, but what did he
"No," she replied, but she had not understood his question.
"Forgive me!" he said. "But you are so young, and I have already
been through so much in life. I am afraid for you, you do not yet know
Natasha listened with concentrated attention, trying but failing
to take in the meaning of his words.
"Hard as this year which delays my happiness will be," continued
Prince Andrew, "it will give you time to be sure of yourself. I ask
you to make me happy in a year, but you are free: our engagement shall
remain a secret, and should you find that you do not love me, or
should you come to love..." said Prince Andrew with an unnatural
"Why do you say that?" Natasha interrupted him. "You know that
from the very day you first came to Otradnoe I have loved you," she
cried, quite convinced that she spoke the truth.
"In a year you will learn to know yourself...."
"A whole year!" Natasha repeated suddenly, only now realizing that
the marriage was to be postponed for a year. "But why a year? Why a
Prince Andrew began to explain to her the reasons for this delay.
Natasha did not hear him.
"And can't it be helped?" she asked. Prince Andrew did not reply,
but his face expressed the impossibility of altering that decision.
"It's awful! Oh, it's awful! awful!" Natasha suddenly cried, and
again burst into sobs. "I shall die, waiting a year: it's
impossible, it's awful!" She looked into her lover's face and saw in
it a look of commiseration and perplexity.
"No, no! I'll do anything!" she said, suddenly checking her tears.
"I am so happy."
The father and mother came into the room and gave the betrothed
couple their blessing.
From that day Prince Andrew began to frequent the Rostovs' as
Natasha's affianced lover.
No betrothal ceremony took place and Natasha's engagement to
Bolkonski was not announced; Prince Andrew insisted on that. He said
that as he was responsible for the delay he ought to bear the whole
burden of it; that he had given his word and bound himself forever,
but that he did not wish to bind Natasha and gave her perfect freedom.
If after six months she felt that she did not love him she would
have full right to reject him. Naturally neither Natasha nor her
parents wished to hear of this, but Prince Andrew was firm. He came
every day to the Rostovs', but did not behave to Natasha as an
affianced lover: he did not use the familiar thou, but said you to
her, and kissed only her hand. After their engagement, quite
different, intimate, and natural relations sprang up between them.
It was as if they had not known each other till now. Both liked to
recall how they had regarded each other when as yet they were
nothing to one another; they felt themselves now quite different
beings: then they were artificial, now natural and sincere. At first
the family felt some constraint in intercourse with Prince Andrew;
he seemed a man from another world, and for a long time Natasha
trained the family to get used to him, proudly assuring them all
that he only appeared to be different, but was really just like all of
them, and that she was not afraid of him and no one else ought to
be. After a few days they grew accustomed to him, and without
restraint in his presence pursued their usual way of life, in which he
took his part. He could talk about rural economy with the count,
fashions with the countess and Natasha, and about albums and fancywork
with Sonya. Sometimes the household both among themselves and in his
presence expressed their wonder at how it had all happened, and at the
evident omens there had been of it: Prince Andrew's coming to Otradnoe
and their coming to Petersburg, and the likeness between Natasha and
Prince Andrew which her nurse had noticed on his first visit, and
Andrew's encounter with Nicholas in 1805, and many other incidents
betokening that it had to be.
In the house that poetic dullness and quiet reigned which always
accompanies the presence of a betrothed couple. Often when all sitting
together everyone kept silent. Sometimes the others would get up and
go away and the couple, left alone, still remained silent. They rarely
spoke of their future life. Prince Andrew was afraid and ashamed to
speak of it. Natasha shared this as she did all his feelings, which
she constantly divined. Once she began questioning him about his
son. Prince Andrew blushed, as he often did now- Natasha
particularly liked it in him- and said that his son would not live
"Why not?" asked Natasha in a frightened tone.
"I cannot take him away from his grandfather, and besides..."
"How I should have loved him!" said Natasha, immediately guessing
his thought; "but I know you wish to avoid any pretext for finding
fault with us."
Sometimes the old count would come up, kiss Prince Andrew, and ask
his advice about Petya's education or Nicholas' service. The old
countess sighed as she looked at them; Sonya was always getting
frightened lest she should be in the way and tried to find excuses for
leaving them alone, even when they did not wish it. When Prince Andrew
spoke (he could tell a story very well), Natasha listened to him
with pride; when she spoke she noticed with fear and joy that he gazed
attentively and scrutinizingly at her. She asked herself in
perplexity: "What does he look for in me? He is trying to discover
something by looking at me! What if what he seeks in me is not there?"
Sometimes she fell into one of the mad, merry moods characteristic
of her, and then she particularly loved to hear and see how Prince
Andrew laughed. He seldom laughed, but when he did he abandoned
himself entirely to his laughter, and after such a laugh she always
felt nearer to him. Natasha would have been completely happy if the
thought of the separation awaiting her and drawing near had not
terrified her, just as the mere thought of it made him turn pale and
On the eve of his departure from Petersburg Prince Andrew brought
with him Pierre, who had not been to the Rostovs' once since the ball.
Pierre seemed disconcerted and embarrassed. He was talking to the
countess, and Natasha sat down beside a little chess table with Sonya,
thereby inviting Prince Andrew to come too. He did so.
"You have known Bezukhov a long time?" he asked. "Do you like him?"
"Yes, he's a dear, but very absurd."
And as usual when speaking of Pierre, she began to tell anecdotes of
his absent-mindedness, some of which had even been invented about him.
"Do you know I have entrusted him with our secret? I have known
him from childhood. He has a heart of gold. I beg you, Natalie,"
Prince Andrew said with sudden seriousness- "I am going away and
heaven knows what may happen. You may cease to... all right, I know
I am not to say that. Only this, then: whatever may happen to you when
I am not here..."
"What can happen?"
"Whatever trouble may come," Prince Andrew continued, "I beg you,
Mademoiselle Sophie, whatever may happen, to turn to him alone for
advice and help! He is a most absent-minded and absurd fellow, but
he has a heart of gold."
Neither her father, nor her mother, nor Sonya, nor Prince Andrew
himself could have foreseen how the separation from her lover would
act on Natasha. Flushed and agitated she went about the house all that
day, dry-eyed, occupied with most trivial matters as if not
understanding what awaited her. She did not even cry when, on taking
leave, he kissed her hand for the last time. "Don't go!" she said in a
tone that made him wonder whether he really ought not to stay and
which he remembered long afterwards. Nor did she cry when he was gone;
but for several days she sat in her room dry-eyed, taking no
interest in anything and only saying now and then, "Oh, why did he
But a fortnight after his departure, to the surprise of those around
her, she recovered from her mental sickness just as suddenly and
became her old self again, but with a change in her moral physiognomy,
as a child gets up after a long illness with a changed expression of
During that year after his son's departure, Prince Nicholas
Bolkonski's health and temper became much worse. He grew still more
irritable, and it was Princess Mary who generally bore the brunt of
his frequent fits of unprovoked anger. He seemed carefully to seek out
her tender spots so as to torture her mentally as harshly as possible.
Princess Mary had two passions and consequently two joys- her
nephew, little Nicholas, and religion- and these were the favorite
subjects of the prince's attacks and ridicule. Whatever was spoken
of he would bring round to the superstitiousness of old maids, or
the petting and spoiling of children. "You want to make him"- little
Nicholas- "into an old maid like yourself! A pity! Prince Andrew wants
a son and not an old maid," he would say. Or, turning to
Mademoiselle Bourienne, he would ask her in Princess Mary's presence
how she liked our village priests and icons and would joke about them.
He continually hurt Princess Mary's feelings and tormented her,
but it cost her no effort to forgive him. Could he be to blame
toward her, or could her father, whom she knew loved her in spite of
it all, be unjust? And what is justice? The princess never thought
of that proud word "justice." All the complex laws of man centered for
her in one clear and simple law- the law of love and self-sacrifice
taught us by Him who lovingly suffered for mankind though He Himself
was God. What had she to do with the justice or injustice of other
people? She had to endure and love, and that she did.
During the winter Prince Andrew had come to Bald Hills and had
been gay, gentle, and more affectionate than Princess Mary had known
him for a long time past. She felt that something had happened to him,
but he said nothing to her about his love. Before he left he had a
long talk with his father about something, and Princess Mary noticed
that before his departure they were dissatisfied with one another.
Soon after Prince Andrew had gone, Princess Mary wrote to her friend
Julie Karagina in Petersburg, whom she had dreamed (as all girls
dream) of marrying to her brother, and who was at that time in
mourning for her own brother, killed in Turkey.
Sorrow, it seems, is our common lot, my dear, tender friend Julie.
Your loss is so terrible that I can only explain it to myself as a
special providence of God who, loving you, wishes to try you and
your excellent mother. Oh, my friend! Religion, and religion alone,
can- I will not say comfort us- but save us from despair. Religion
alone can explain to us what without its help man cannot comprehend:
why, for what cause, kind and noble beings able to find happiness in
life- not merely harming no one but necessary to the happiness of
others- are called away to God, while cruel, useless, harmful persons,
or such as are a burden to themselves and to others, are left
living. The first death I saw, and one I shall never forget- that of
my dear sister-in-law- left that impression on me. Just as you ask
destiny why your splendid brother had to die, so I asked why that
angel Lise, who not only never wronged anyone, but in whose soul there
were never any unkind thoughts, had to die. And what do you think,
dear friend? Five years have passed since then, and already I, with my
petty understanding, begin to see clearly why she had to die, and in
what way that death was but an expression of the infinite goodness
of the Creator, whose every action, though generally
incomprehensible to us, is but a manifestation of His infinite love
for His creatures. Perhaps, I often think, she was too angelically
innocent to have the strength to perform all a mother's duties. As a
young wife she was irreproachable; perhaps she could not have been
so as a mother. As it is, not only has she left us, and particularly
Prince Andrew, with the purest regrets and memories, but probably
she will there receive a place I dare not hope for myself. But not
to speak of her alone, that early and terrible death has had the
most beneficent influence on me and on my brother in spite of all
our grief. Then, at the moment of our loss, these thoughts could not
occur to me; I should then have dismissed them with horror, but now
they are very clear and certain. I write all this to you, dear friend,
only to convince you of the Gospel truth which has become for me a
principle of life: not a single hair of our heads will fall without
His will. And His will is governed only by infinite love for us, and
so whatever befalls us is for our good.
You ask whether we shall spend next winter in Moscow. In spite of my
wish to see you, I do not think so and do not want to do so. You
will be surprised to hear that the reason for this is Buonaparte!
The case is this: my father's health is growing noticeably worse, he
cannot stand any contradiction and is becoming irritable. This
irritability is, as you know, chiefly directed to political questions.
He cannot endure the notion that Buonaparte is negotiating on equal
terms with all the sovereigns of Europe and particularly with our own,
the grandson of the Great Catherine! As you know, I am quite
indifferent to politics, but from my father's remarks and his talks
with Michael Ivanovich I know all that goes on in the world and
especially about the honors conferred on Buonaparte, who only at
Bald Hills in the whole world, it seems, is not accepted as a great
man, still less as Emperor of France. And my father cannot stand this.
It seems to me that it is chiefly because of his political views
that my father is reluctant to speak of going to Moscow; for he
foresees the encounters that would result from his way of expressing
his views regardless of anybody. All the benefit he might derive
from a course of treatment he would lose as a result of the disputes
about Buonaparte which would be inevitable. In any case it will be
decided very shortly.
Our family life goes on in the old way except for my brother
Andrew's absence. He, as I wrote you before, has changed very much
of late. After his sorrow he only this year quite recovered his
spirits. He has again become as I used to know him when a child: kind,
affectionate, with that heart of gold to which I know no equal. He has
realized, it seems to me, that life is not over for him. But
together with this mental change he has grown physically much
weaker. He has become thinner and more nervous. I am anxious about him
and glad he is taking this trip abroad which the doctors recommended
long ago. I hope it will cure him. You write that in Petersburg he
is spoken of as one of the most active, cultivated, and capable of the
young men. Forgive my vanity as a relation, but I never doubted it.
The good he has done to everybody here, from his peasants up to the
gentry, is incalculable. On his arrival in Petersburg he received only
his due. I always wonder at the way rumors fly from Petersburg to
Moscow, especially such false ones as that you write about- I mean the
report of my brother's betrothal to the little Rostova. I do not think
my brother will ever marry again, and certainly not her; and this is
why: first, I know that though he rarely speaks about the wife he
has lost, the grief of that loss has gone too deep in his heart for
him ever to decide to give her a successor and our little angel a
stepmother. Secondly because, as far as I know, that girl is not the
kind of girl who could please Prince Andrew. I do not think he would
choose her for a wife, and frankly I do not wish it. But I am
running on too long and am at the end of my second sheet. Good-by,
my dear friend. May God keep you in His holy and mighty care. My
dear friend, Mademoiselle Bourienne, sends you kisses.
In the middle of the summer Princess Mary received an unexpected
letter from Prince Andrew in Switzerland in which he gave her
strange and surprising news. He informed her of his engagement to
Natasha Rostova. The whole letter breathed loving rapture for his
betrothed and tender and confiding affection for his sister. He
wrote that he had never loved as he did now and that only now did he
understand and know what life was. He asked his sister to forgive
him for not having told her of his resolve when he had last visited
Bald Hills, though he had spoken of it to his father. He had not
done so for fear Princess Mary should ask her father to give his
consent, irritating him and having to bear the brunt of his
displeasure without attaining her object. "Besides," he wrote, "the
matter was not then so definitely settled as it is now. My father then
insisted on a delay of a year and now already six months, half of that
period, have passed, and my resolution is firmer than ever. If the
doctors did not keep me here at the spas I should be back in Russia,
but as it is I have to postpone my return for three months. You know
me and my relations with Father. I want nothing from him. I have
been and always shall be independent; but to go against his will and
arouse his anger, now that he may perhaps remain with us such a
short time, would destroy half my happiness. I am now writing to him
about the same question, and beg you to choose a good moment to hand
him the letter and to let me know how he looks at the whole matter and
whether there is hope that he may consent to reduce the term by four
After long hesitations, doubts, and prayers, Princess Mary gave
the letter to her father. The next day the old prince said to her
"Write and tell your brother to wait till I am dead.... It won't
be long- I shall soon set him free."
The princess was about to reply, but her father would not let her
speak and, raising his voice more and more, cried:
"Marry, marry, my boy!... A good family!... Clever people, eh? Rich,
eh? Yes, a nice stepmother little Nicholas will have! Write and tell
him that he may marry tomorrow if he likes. She will be little
Nicholas' stepmother and I'll marry Bourienne!... Ha, ha, ha! He
mustn't be without a stepmother either! Only one thing, no more
women are wanted in my house- let him marry and live by himself.
Perhaps you will go and live with him too?" he added, turning to
Princess Mary. "Go in heavens name! Go out into the frost... the
frost... the frost!
After this outburst the prince did not speak any more about the
matter. But repressed vexation at his son's poor-spirited behavior
found expression in his treatment of his daughter. To his former
pretexts for irony a fresh one was now added- allusions to stepmothers
and amiabilities to Mademoiselle Bourienne.
"Why shouldn't I marry her?" he asked his daughter. "She'll make a
And latterly, to her surprise and bewilderment, Princess Mary
noticed that her father was really associating more and more with
the Frenchwoman. She wrote to Prince Andrew about the reception of his
letter, but comforted him with hopes of reconciling their father to
Little Nicholas and his education, her brother Andrew, and
religion were Princess Mary's joys and consolations; but besides that,
since everyone must have personal hopes, Princess Mary in the
profoundest depths of her heart had a hidden dream and hope that
supplied the chief consolation of her life. This comforting dream
and hope were given her by God's folk- the half-witted and other
pilgrims who visited her without the prince's knowledge. The longer
she lived, the more experience and observation she had of life, the
greater was her wonder at the short-sightedness of men who seek
enjoyment and happiness here on earth: toiling, suffering, struggling,
and harming one another, to obtain that impossible, visionary,
sinful happiness. Prince Andrew had loved his wife, she died, but that
was not enough: he wanted to bind his happiness to another woman.
Her father objected to this because he wanted a more distinguished and
wealthier match for Andrew. And they all struggled and suffered and
tormented one another and injured their souls, their eternal souls,
for the attainment of benefits which endure but for an instant. Not
only do we know this ourselves, but Christ, the Son of God, came
down to earth and told us that this life is but for a moment and is
a probation; yet we cling to it and think to find happiness in it.
"How is it that no one realizes this?" thought Princess Mary. "No
one except these despised God's folk who, wallet on back, come to me
by the back door, afraid of being seen by the prince, not for fear
of ill-usage by him but for fear of causing him to sin. To leave
family, home, and all the cares of worldly welfare, in order without
clinging to anything to wander in hempen rags from place to place
under an assumed name, doing no one any harm but praying for all-
for those who drive one away as well as for those who protect one:
higher than that life and truth there is no life or truth!"
There was one pilgrim, a quiet pockmarked little woman of fifty
called Theodosia, who for over thirty years had gone about barefoot
and worn heavy chains. Princess Mary was particularly fond of her.
Once, when in a room with a lamp dimly lit before the icon Theodosia
was talking of her life, the thought that Theodosia alone had found
the true path of life suddenly came to Princess Mary with such force
that she resolved to become a pilgrim herself. When Theodosia had gone
to sleep Princess Mary thought about this for a long time, and at last
made up her mind that, strange as it might seem, she must go on a
pilgrimage. She disclosed this thought to no one but to her confessor,
Father Akinfi, the monk, and he approved of her intention. Under guise
of a present for the pilgrims, Princess Mary prepared a pilgrim's
complete costume for herself: a coarse smock, bast shoes, a rough
coat, and a black kerchief. Often, approaching the chest of drawers
containing this secret treasure, Princess Mary paused, uncertain
whether the time had not already come to put her project into
Often, listening to the pilgrims' tales, she was so stimulated by
their simple speech, mechanical to them but to her so full of deep
meaning, that several times she was on the point of abandoning
everything and running away from home. In imagination she already
pictured herself by Theodosia's side, dressed in coarse rags,
walking with a staff, a wallet on her back, along the dusty road,
directing her wanderings from one saint's shrine to another, free from
envy, earthly love, or desire, and reaching at last the place where
there is no more sorrow or sighing, but eternal joy and bliss.
"I shall come to a place and pray there, and before having time to
get used to it or getting to love it, I shall go farther. I will go on
till my legs fail, and I'll lie down and die somewhere, and shall at
last reach that eternal, quiet haven, where there is neither sorrow
nor sighing..." thought Princess Mary.
But afterwards, when she saw her father and especially little Koko
(Nicholas), her resolve weakened. She wept quietly, and felt that
she was a sinner who loved her father and little nephew more than God.
BOOK SEVEN: 1810 - 11
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
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
"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
"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 him 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
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
"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
"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 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
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
"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
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
"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 hunstmen 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
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
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
"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 shame-faced 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
"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
"Ah, but you are a crusty fellow, friend!" said the count.
For sole reply Daniel gave him a shy, childlike, meek, and amiable
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
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
"That's Ilagin's huntsman having a row with our Ivan," said
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
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
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
"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!"
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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 seem 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.