Part 17 out of 34
Natasha looked at Sonya with astonishment. Evidently this question
presented itself to her mind for the first time and she did not know
how to answer it.
"I don't know what the reasons are. But there must be reasons!"
Sonya sighed and shook her head incredulously.
"If there were reasons..." she began.
But Natasha, guessing her doubts, interrupted her in alarm.
"Sonya, one can't doubt him! One can't, one can't! Don't you
understand?" she cried.
"Does he love you?"
"Does he love me?" Natasha repeated with a smile of pity at her
friend's lack of comprehension. "Why, you have read his letter and you
have seen him."
"But if he is dishonorable?"
"He! dishonorable? If you only knew!" exclaimed Natasha.
"If he is an honorable man he should either declare his intentions
or cease seeing you; and if you won't do this, I will. I will write to
him, and I will tell Papa!" said Sonya resolutely.
"But I can't live without him!" cried Natasha.
"Natasha, I don't understand you. And what are you saying! Think
of your father and of Nicholas."
"I don't want anyone, I don't love anyone but him. How dare you
say he is dishonorable? Don't you know that I love him?" screamed
Natasha. "Go away, Sonya! I don't want to quarrel with you, but go,
for God's sake go! You see how I am suffering!" Natasha cried angrily,
in a voice of despair and repressed irritation. Sonya burst into
sobs and ran from the room.
Natasha went to the table and without a moment's reflection wrote
that answer to Princess Mary which she had been unable to write all
the morning. In this letter she said briefly that all their
misunderstandings were at an end; that availing herself of the
magnanimity of Prince Andrew who when he went abroad had given her her
she begged Princess Mary to forget everything and forgive her if she
had been to blame toward her, but that she could not be his wife. At
that moment this all seemed quite easy, simple, and clear to Natasha.
On Friday the Rostovs were to return to the country, but on
Wednesday the count went with the prospective purchaser to his
estate near Moscow.
On the day the count left, Sonya and Natasha were invited to a big
dinner party at the Karagins', and Marya Dmitrievna took them there.
At that party Natasha again met Anatole, and Sonya noticed that she
spoke to him, trying not to be overheard, and that all through
dinner she was more agitated than ever. When they got home Natasha was
the first to begin the explanation Sonya expected.
"There, Sonya, you were talking all sorts of nonsense about him,"
Natasha began in a mild voice such as children use when they wish to
be praised. "We have had an explanation today."
"Well, what happened? What did he say? Natasha, how glad I am you're
not angry with me! Tell me everything- the whole truth. What did he
Natasha became thoughtful.
"Oh, Sonya, if you knew him as I do! He said... He asked me what I
had promised Bolkonski. He was glad I was free to refuse him."
Sonya sighed sorrowfully.
"But you haven't refused Bolkonski?" said she.
"Perhaps I have. Perhaps all is over between me and Bolkonski. Why
do you think so badly of me?"
"I don't think anything, only I don't understand this..."
"Wait a bit, Sonya, you'll understand everything. You'll see what
a man he is! Now don't think badly of me or of him. I don't think
badly of anyone: I love and pity everybody. But what am I to do?"
Sonya did not succumb to the tender tone Natasha used toward her.
The more emotional and ingratiating the expression of Natasha's face
became, the more serious and stern grew Sonya's.
"Natasha," said she, "you asked me not to speak to you, and I
haven't spoken, but now you yourself have begun. I don't trust him,
Natasha. Why this secrecy?"
"Again, again!" interrupted Natasha.
"Natasha, I am afraid for you!"
"Afraid of what?"
"I am afraid you're going to your ruin," said Sonya resolutely,
and was herself horrified at what she had said.
Anger again showed in Natasha's face.
"And I'll go to my ruin, I will, as soon as possible! It's not
your business! It won't be you, but I, who'll suffer. Leave me
alone, leave me alone! I hate you!"
Natasha!" moaned Sonya, aghast.
"I hate you, I hate you! You're my enemy forever!" And Natasha ran
out of the room.
Natasha did not speak to Sonya again and avoided her. With the
same expression of agitated surprise and guilt she went about the
house, taking up now one occupation, now another, and at once
Hard as it was for Sonya, she watched her friend and did not let her
out of her sight.
The day before the count was to return, Sonya noticed that Natasha
sat by the drawingroom window all the morning as if expecting
something and that she made a sign to an officer who drove past,
whom Sonya took to be Anatole.
Sonya began watching her friend still more attentively and noticed
that at dinner and all that evening Natasha was in a strange and
unnatural state. She answered questions at random, began sentences she
did not finish, and laughed at everything.
After tea Sonya noticed a housemaid at Natasha's door timidly
waiting to let her pass. She let the girl go in, and then listening at
the door learned that another letter had been delivered.
Then suddenly it became clear to Sonya that Natasha had some
dreadful plan for that evening. Sonya knocked at her door. Natasha did
not let her in.
"She will run away with him!" thought Sonya. "She is capable of
anything. There was something particularly pathetic and resolute in
her face today. She cried as she said good-by to Uncle," Sonya
remembered. "Yes, that's it, she means to elope with him, but what
am I to do?" thought she, recalling all the signs that clearly
indicated that Natasha had some terrible intention. "The count is
away. What am I to do? Write to Kuragin demanding an explanation?
But what is there to oblige him to reply? Write to Pierre, as Prince
Andrew asked me to in case of some misfortune?... But perhaps she
really has already refused Bolkonski- she sent a letter to Princess
Mary yesterday. And Uncle is away...." To tell Marya Dmitrievna who
had such faith in Natasha seemed to Sonya terrible. "Well, anyway,"
thought Sonya as she stood in the dark passage, "now or never I must
prove that I remember the family's goodness to me and that I love
Nicholas. Yes! If I don't sleep for three nights I'll not leave this
passage and will hold her back by force and will and not let the
family be disgraced," thought she.
Anatole had lately moved to Dolokhov's. The plan for Natalie
Rostova's abduction had been arranged and the preparations made by
Dolokhov a few days before, and on the day that Sonya, after listening
at Natasha's door, resolved to safeguard her, it was to have been
put into execution. Natasha had promised to come out to Kuragin at the
back porch at ten that evening. Kuragin was to put her into a troyka
he would have ready and to drive her forty miles to the village of
Kamenka, where an unfrocked priest was in readiness to perform a
marriage ceremony over them. At Kamenka a relay of horses was to
wait which would take them to the Warsaw highroad, and from there they
would hasten abroad with post horses.
Anatole had a passport, an order for post horses, ten thousand
rubles he had taken from his sister and another ten thousand
borrowed with Dolokhov's help.
Two witnesses for the mock marriage- Khvostikov, a retired petty
official whom Dolokhov made use of in his gambling transactions, and
Makarin, a retired hussar, a kindly, weak fellow who had an
unbounded affection for Kuragin- were sitting at tea in Dolokhov's
In his large study, the walls of which were hung to the ceiling with
Persian rugs, bearskins, and weapons, sat Dolokhov in a traveling
cloak and high boots, at an open desk on which lay abacus and some
bundles of paper money. Anatole, with uniform unbuttoned, walked to
and fro from the room where the witnesses were sitting, through the
study to the room behind, where his French valet and others were
packing the last of his things. Dolokhov was counting the money and
noting something down.
"Well," he said, "Khvostikov must have two thousand."
"Give it to him, then," said Anatole.
"Makarka" (their name for Makarin) "will go through fire and water
for you for nothing. So here are our accounts all settled," said
Dolokhov, showing him the memorandum. "Is that right?"
"Yes, of course," returned Anatole, evidently not listening to
Dolokhov and looking straight before him with a smile that did not
leave his face.
Dolokhov banged down the or of his and turned to Anatole with an
"Do you know? You'd really better drop it all. There's still time!"
"Fool," retorted Anatole. "Don't talk nonsense! If you only
knew... it's the devil knows what!"
"No, really, give it up!" said Dolokhov. "I am speaking seriously.
It's no joke, this plot you've hatched."
"What, teasing again? Go to the devil! Eh?" said Anatole, making a
grimace. "Really it's no time for your stupid jokes," and he left
Dolokhov smiled contemptuously and condescendingly when Anatole
had gone out.
"You wait a bit," he called after him. "I'm not joking, I'm
talking sense. Come here, come here!"
Anatole returned and looked at Dolokhov, trying to give him his
attention and evidently submitting to him involuntarily.
"Now listen to me. I'm telling you this for the last time. Why
should I joke about it? Did I hinder you? Who arranged everything
for you? Who found the priest and got the passport? Who raised the
money? I did it all."
"Well, thank you for it. Do you think I am not grateful?" And
Anatole sighed and embraced Dolokhov.
"I helped you, but all the same I must tell you the truth; it is a
dangerous business, and if you think about it- a stupid business.
Well, you'll carry her off- all right! Will they let it stop at
that? It will come out that you're already married. Why, they'll
have you in the criminal court...."
"Oh, nonsense, nonsense!" Anatole ejaculated and again made a
grimace. "Didn't I explain to you? What?" And Anatole, with the
partiality dull-witted people have for any conclusion they have
reached by their own reasoning, repeated the argument he had already
put to Dolokhov a hundred times. "Didn't I explain to you that I
have come to this conclusion: if this marriage is invalid," he went
on, crooking one finger, "then I have nothing to answer for; but if it
is valid, no matter! Abroad no one will know anything about it.
Isn't that so? And don't talk to me, don't, don't."
"Seriously, you'd better drop it! You'll only get yourself into a
"Go to the devil!" cried Anatole and, clutching his hair, left the
room, but returned at once and dropped into an armchair in front of
Dolokhov with his feet turned under him. "It's the very devil! What?
Feel how it beats!" He took Dolokhov's hand and put it on his heart.
"What a foot, my dear fellow! What a glance! A goddess!" he added in
Dolokhov with a cold smile and a gleam in his handsome insolent eyes
looked at him- evidently wishing to get some more amusement out of
"Well and when the money's gone, what then?"
"What then? Eh?" repeated Anatole, sincerely perplexed by a
thought of the future. "What then?... Then, I don't know.... But why
talk nonsense!" He glanced at his watch. "It's time!"
Anatole went into the back room.
"Now then! Nearly ready? You're dawdling!" he shouted to the
Dolokhov put away the money, called a footman whom he ordered to
bring something for them to eat and drink before the journey, and went
into the room where Khvostikov and Makarin were sitting.
Anatole lay on the sofa in the study leaning on his elbow and
smiling pensively, while his handsome lips muttered tenderly to
"Come and eat something. Have a drink!" Dolokhov shouted to him from
the other room.
"I don't want to," answered Anatole continuing to smile.
"Come! Balaga is here."
Anatole rose and went into the dining room. Balaga was a famous
troyka driver who had known Dolokhov and Anatole some six years and
had given them good service with his troykas. More than once when
Anatole's regiment was stationed at Tver he had taken him from Tver in
the evening, brought him to Moscow by daybreak, and driven him back
again the next night. More than once he had enabled Dolokhov to escape
when pursued. More than once he had driven them through the town
with gypsies and "ladykins" as he called the cocottes. More than
once in their service he had run over pedestrians and upset vehicles
in the streets of Moscow and had always been protected from the
consequences by "my gentlemen" as he called them. He had ruined more
than one horse in their service. More than once they had beaten him,
and more than once they had made him drunk on champagne and Madeira,
which he loved; and he knew more than one thing about each of them
which would long ago have sent an ordinary man to Siberia. They
often called Balaga into their orgies and made him drink and dance
at the gypsies', and more than one thousand rubles of their money
had passed through his hands. In their service he risked his skin
and his life twenty times a year, and in their service had lost more
horses than the money he had from them would buy. But he liked them;
liked that mad driving at twelve miles an hour, liked upsetting a
driver or running down a pedestrian, and flying at full gallop through
the Moscow streets. He liked to hear those wild, tipsy shouts behind
him: "Get on! Get on!" when it was impossible to go any faster. He
liked giving a painful lash on the neck to some peasant who, more dead
than alive, was already hurrying out of his way. "Real gentlemen!"
he considered them.
Anatole and Dolokhov liked Balaga too for his masterly driving and
because he liked the things they liked. With others Balaga
bargained, charging twenty-five rubles for a two hours' drive, and
rarely drove himself, generally letting his young men do so. But
with "his gentlemen" he always drove himself and never demanded
anything for his work. Only a couple of times a year- when he knew
from their valets that they had money in hand- he would turn up of a
morning quite sober and with a deep bow would ask them to help him.
The gentlemen always made him sit down.
"Do help me out, Theodore Ivanych, sir," or "your excellency," he
would say. "I am quite out of horses. Let me have what you can to go
to the fair."
And Anatole and Dolokhov, when they had money, would give him a
thousand or a couple of thousand rubles.
Balaga was a fair-haired, short, and snub-nosed peasant of about
twenty-seven; red-faced, with a particularly red thick neck,
glittering little eyes, and a small beard. He wore a fine,
dark-blue, silk-lined cloth coat over a sheepskin.
On entering the room now he crossed himself, turning toward the
front corner of the room, and went up to Dolokhov, holding out a
small, black hand.
"Theodore Ivanych!" he said, bowing.
"How d'you do, friend? Well, here he is!"
"Good day, your excellency!" he said, again holding out his hand
to Anatole who had just come in.
"I say, Balaga," said Anatole, putting his hands on the man's
shoulders, "do you care for me or not? Eh? Now, do me a service....
What horses have you come with? Eh?"
"As your messenger ordered, your special beasts," replied Balaga.
"Well, listen, Balaga! Drive all three to death but get me there
in three hours. Eh?"
"When they are dead, what shall I drive?" said Balaga with a wink.
"Mind, I'll smash your face in! Don't make jokes!" cried Anatole,
suddenly rolling his eyes.
"Why joke?" said the driver, laughing. "As if I'd grudge my
gentlemen anything! As fast as ever the horses can gallop, so fast
"Ah!" said Anatole. "Well, sit down."
"Yes, sit down!" said Dolokhov.
"I'll stand, Theodore Ivanych."
"Sit down; nonsense! Have a drink!" said Anatole, and filled a large
glass of Madeira for him.
The driver's eyes sparkled at the sight of the wine. After
refusing it for manners' sake, he drank it and wiped his mouth with
a red silk handkerchief he took out of his cap.
"And when are we to start, your excellency?"
"Well..." Anatole looked at his watch. "We'll start at once. Mind,
Balaga! You'll get there in time? Eh?"
"That depends on our luck in starting, else why shouldn't we be
there in time?" replied Balaga. "Didn't we get you to Tver in seven
hours? I think you remember that, your excellency?"
"Do you know, one Christmas I drove from Tver," said Anatole,
smilingly at the recollection and turning to Makarin who gazed
rapturously at him with wide-open eyes. "Will you believe it, Makarka,
it took one's breath away, the rate we flew. We came across a train of
loaded sleighs and drove right over two of them. Eh?"
"Those were horses!" Balaga continued the tale. "That time I'd
harnessed two young side horses with the bay in the shafts," he went
on, turning to Dolokhov. "Will you believe it, Theodore Ivanych, those
animals flew forty miles? I couldn't hold them in, my hands grew
numb in the sharp frost so that I threw down the reins- 'Catch hold
yourself, your excellency!' says I, and I just tumbled on the bottom
of the sleigh and sprawled there. It wasn't a case of urging them
on, there was no holding them in till we reached the place. The devils
took us there in three hours! Only the near one died of it."
Anatole went out of the room and returned a few minutes later
wearing a fur coat girt with a silver belt, and a sable cap jauntily
set on one side and very becoming to his handsome face. Having
looked in a mirror, and standing before Dolokhov in the same pose he
had assumed before it, he lifted a glass of wine.
"Well, good-by, Theodore. Thank you for everything and farewell!"
said Anatole. "Well, comrades and friends..." he considered for a
moment "...of my youth, farewell!" he said, turning to Makarin and the
Though they were all going with him, Anatole evidently wished to
make something touching and solemn out of this address to his
comrades. He spoke slowly in a loud voice and throwing out his chest
slightly swayed one leg.
"All take glasses; you too, Balaga. Well, comrades and friends of my
youth, we've had our fling and lived and reveled. Eh? And now, when
shall we meet again? I am going abroad. We have had a good time- now
farewell, lads! To our health! Hurrah!..." he cried, and emptying
his glass flung it on the floor.
"To your health!" said Balaga who also emptied his glass, and
wiped his mouth with his handkerchief.
Makarin embraced Anatole with tears in his eyes.
"Ah, Prince, how sorry I am to part from you!
"Let's go. Let's go!" cried Anatole.
Balaga was about to leave the room.
"No, stop!" said Anatole. "Shut the door; we have first to sit down.
That's the way."
They shut the door and all sat down.
"Now, quick march, lads!" said Anatole, rising.
Joseph, his valet, handed him his sabretache and saber, and they all
went out into the vestibule.
"And where's the fur cloak?" asked Dolokhov. "Hey, Ignatka! Go to
Matrena Matrevna and ask her for the sable cloak. I have heard what
elopements are like," continued Dolokhov with a wink. "Why, she'll
rush out more dead than alive just in the things she is wearing; if
you delay at all there'll be tears and 'Papa' and 'Mamma,' and she's
frozen in a minute and must go back- but you wrap the fur cloak
round her first thing and carry her to the sleigh."
The valet brought a woman's fox-lined cloak.
"Fool, I told you the sable one! Hey, Matrena, the sable!" he
shouted so that his voice rang far through the rooms.
A handsome, slim, and pale-faced gypsy girl with glittering black
eyes and curly blue-black hair, wearing a red shawl, ran out with a
sable mantle on her arm.
"Here, I don't grudge it- take it!" she said, evidently afraid of
her master and yet regretful of her cloak.
Dolokhov, without answering, took the cloak, threw it over
Matrena, and wrapped her up in it.
"That's the way," said Dolokhov, "and then so!" and he turned the
collar up round her head, leaving only a little of the face uncovered.
"And then so, do you see?" and he pushed Anatole's head forward to
meet the gap left by the collar, through which Matrena's brilliant
smile was seen.
"Well, good-by, Matrena," said Anatole, kissing her. "Ah, my
revels here are over. Remember me to Steshka. There, good-by! Good-by,
Matrena, wish me luck!"
"Well, Prince, may God give you great luck!" said Matrena in her
Two troykas were standing before the porch and two young drivers
were holding the horses. Balaga took his seat in the front one and
holding his elbows high arranged the reins deliberately. Anatole and
Dolokhov got in with him. Makarin, Khvostikov, and a valet seated
themselves in the other sleigh.
"Well, are you ready?" asked Balaga.
"Go!" he cried, twisting the reins round his hands, and the troyka
tore down the Nikitski Boulevard.
"Tproo! Get out of the way! Hi!... Tproo!..." The shouting of Balaga
and of the sturdy young fellow seated on the box was all that could be
heard. On the Arbat Square the troyka caught against a carriage;
something cracked, shouts were heard, and the troyka flew along the
After taking a turn along the Podnovinski Boulevard, Balaga began to
rein in, and turning back drew up at the crossing of the old
The young fellow on the box jumped down to hold the horses and
Anatole and Dolokhov went along the pavement. When they reached the
gate Dolokhov whistled. The whistle was answered, and a maidservant
"Come into the courtyard or you'll be seen; she'll come out
directly," said she.
Dolokhov stayed by the gate. Anatole followed the maid into the
courtyard, turned the corner, and ran up into the porch.
He was met by Gabriel, Marya Dmitrievna's gigantic footman.
"Come to the mistress, please," said the footman in his deep bass,
intercepting any retreat.
"To what Mistress? Who are you?" asked Anatole in a breathless
"Kindly step in, my orders are to bring you in."
"Kuragin! Come back!" shouted Dolokhov. "Betrayed! Back!"
Dolokhov, after Anatole entered, had remained at the wicket gate and
was struggling with the yard porter who was trying to lock it. With
a last desperate effort Dolokhov pushed the porter aside, and when
Anatole ran back seized him by the arm, pulled him through the wicket,
and ran back with him to the troyka.
Marya Dmitrievna, having found Sonya weeping in the corridor, made
her confess everything, and intercepting the note to Natasha she
read it and went into Natasha's room with it in her hand.
"You shameless good-for-nothing!" said she. "I won't hear a word."
Pushing back Natasha who looked at her with astonished but
tearless eyes, she locked her in; and having given orders to the
yard porter to admit the persons who would be coming that evening, but
not to let them out again, and having told the footman to bring them
up to her, she seated herself in the drawing room to await the
When Gabriel came to inform her that the men who had come had run
away again, she rose frowning, and clasping her hands behind her paced
through the rooms a long time considering what she should do. Toward
midnight she went to Natasha's room fingering the key in her pocket.
Sonya was sitting sobbing in the corridor. "Marya Dmitrievna, for
God's sake let me in to her!" she pleaded, but Marya Dmitrievna
unlocked the door and went in without giving her an answer....
"Disgusting, abominable... In my house... horrid girl, hussy! I'm only
sorry for her father!" thought she, trying to restrain her wrath.
"Hard as it may be, I'll tell them all to hold their tongues and
will hide it from the count." She entered the room with resolute
steps. Natasha lying on the sofa, her head hidden in her hands, and
she did not stir. She was in just the same position in which Marya
Dmitrievna had left her.
"A nice girl! Very nice!" said Marya Dmitrievna. "Arranging meetings
with lovers in my house! It's no use pretending: you listen when I
speak to you!" And Marya Dmitrievna touched her arm. "Listen when when
I speak! You've disgraced yourself like the lowest of hussies. I'd
treat you differently, but I'm sorry for your father, so I will
Natasha did not change her position, but her whole body heaved
with noiseless, convulsive sobs which choked her. Marya Dmitrievna
glanced round at Sonya and seated herself on the sofa beside Natasha.
"It's lucky for him that he escaped me; but I'll find him!" she said
in her rough voice. "Do you hear what I am saying or not?" she added.
She put her large hand under Natasha's face and turned it toward
her. Both Marya Dmitrievna and Sonya were amazed when they saw how
Natasha looked. Her eyes were dry and glistening, her lips compressed,
her cheeks sunken.
"Let me be!... What is it to me?... I shall die!" she muttered,
wrenching herself from Marya Dmitrievna's hands with a vicious
effort and sinking down again into her former position.
"Natalie!" said Marya Dmitrievna. "I wish for your good. Lie
still, stay like that then, I won't touch you. But listen. I won't
tell you how guilty you are. You know that yourself. But when your
father comes back tomorrow what am I to tell him? Eh?"
Again Natasha's body shook with sobs.
"Suppose he finds out, and your brother, and your betrothed?"
"I have no betrothed: I have refused him!" cried Natasha.
"That's all the same," continued Dmitrievna. "If they hear of
this, will they let it pass? He, your father, I know him... if he
challenges him to a duel will that be all right? Eh?"
"Oh, let me be! Why have you interfered at all? Why? Why? Who
asked you to?" shouted Natasha, raising herself on the sofa and
looking malignantly at Marya Dmitrievna.
"But what did you want?" cried Marya Dmitrievna, growing angry
again. "Were you kept under lock and key? Who hindered his coming to
the house? Why carry you off as if you were some gypsy singing
girl?... Well, if he had carried you off... do you think they wouldn't
have found him? Your father, or brother, or your betrothed? And he's a
scoundrel, a wretch- that's a fact!"
"He is better than any of you!" exclaimed Natasha getting up. "If
you hadn't interfered... Oh, my God! What is it all? What is it?
Sonya, why?... Go away!"
And she burst into sobs with the despairing vehemence with which
people bewail disasters they feel they have themselves occasioned.
Marya Dmitrievna was to speak again but Natasha cried out:
"Go away! Go away! You all hate and despise me!" and she threw
herself back on the sofa.
Marya Dmitrievna went on admonishing her for some time, enjoining on
her that it must all be kept from her father and assuring her that
nobody would know anything about it if only Natasha herself would
undertake to forget it all and not let anyone see that something had
happened. Natasha did not reply, nor did she sob any longer, but she
grew cold and had a shivering fit. Marya Dmitrievna put a pillow under
her head, covered her with two quilts, and herself brought her some
lime-flower water, but Natasha did not respond to her.
"Well, let her sleep," said Marya Dmitrievna as she went of the room
supposing Natasha to be asleep.
But Natasha was not asleep; with pale face and fixed wide-open
eyes she looked straight before her. All that night she did not
sleep or weep and did not speak to Sonya who got up and went to her
Next day Count Rostov returned from his estate near Moscow in time
for lunch as he had promised. He was in very good spirits; the
affair with the purchaser was going on satisfactorily, and there was
nothing to keep him any longer in Moscow, away from the countess
whom he missed. Marya Dmitrievna met him and told him that Natasha had
been very unwell the day before and that they had sent for the doctor,
but that she was better now. Natasha had not left her room that
morning. With compressed and parched lips and dry fixed eyes, she
sat at the window, uneasily watching the people who drove past and
hurriedly glancing round at anyone who entered the room. She was
evidently expecting news of him and that he would come or would
write to her.
When the count came to see her she turned anxiously round at the
sound of a man's footstep, and then her face resumed its cold and
malevolent expression. She did not even get up to greet him. "What
is the matter with you, my angel? Are you ill?" asked the count.
After a moment's silence Natasha answered: "Yes, ill."
In reply to the count's anxious inquiries as to why she was so
dejected and whether anything had happened to her betrothed, she
assured him that nothing had happened and asked him not to worry.
Marya Dmitrievna confirmed Natasha's assurances that nothing had
happened. From the pretense of illness, from his daughter's
distress, and by the embarrassed faces of Sonya and Marya
Dmitrievna, the count saw clearly that something had gone wrong during
his absence, but it was so terrible for him to think that anything
disgraceful had happened to his beloved daughter, and he so prized his
own cheerful tranquillity, that he avoided inquiries and tried to
assure himself that nothing particularly had happened; and he was only
dissatisfied that her indisposition delayed their return to the
From the day his wife arrived in Moscow Pierre had been intending to
go away somewhere, so as not to be near her. Soon after the Rostovs
came to Moscow the effect Natasha had on him made him hasten to
carry out his intention. He went to Tver to see Joseph Alexeevich's
widow, who had long since promised to hand over to him some papers
of her deceased husband's.
When he returned to Moscow Pierre was handed a letter from Marya
Dmitrievna asking him to come and see her on a matter of great
importance relating to Andrew Bolkonski and his betrothed. Pierre
had been avoiding Natasha because it seemed to him that his feeling
for her was stronger than a married man's should be for his friend's
fiancee. Yet some fate constantly threw them together.
"What can have happened? And what can they want with me?" thought he
as he dressed to go to Marya Dmitrievna's. "If only Prince Andrew
would hurry up and come and marry her!" thought he on his way to the
On the Tverskoy Boulevard a familiar voice called to him.
"Pierre! Been back long?" someone shouted. Pierre raised his head.
In a sleigh drawn by two gray trotting-horses that were bespattering
the dashboard with snow, Anatole and his constant companion Makarin
dashed past. Anatole was sitting upright in the classic pose of
military dandies, the lower part of his face hidden by his beaver
collar and his head slightly bent. His face was fresh and rosy, his
white-plumed hat, tilted to one side, disclosed his curled and pomaded
hair besprinkled with powdery snow.
"Yes, indeed, that's a true sage," thought Pierre. "He sees
nothing beyond the pleasure of the moment, nothing troubles him and so
he is always cheerful, satisfied, and serene. What wouldn't I give
to be like him!" he thought enviously.
In Marya Dmitrievna's anteroom the footman who helped him off with
his fur coat said that the mistress asked him to come to her bedroom.
When he opened the ballroom door Pierre saw Natasha sitting at the
window, with a thin, pale, and spiteful face. She glanced round at
him, frowned, and left the room with an expression of cold dignity.
"What has happened?" asked Pierre, entering Marya Dmitrievna's room.
"Fine doings!" answered Dmitrievna. "For fifty-eight years have I
lived in this world and never known anything so disgraceful!"
And having put him on his honor not to repeat anything she told him,
Marya Dmitrievna informed him that Natasha had refused Prince Andrew
without her parents' knowledge and that the cause of this was
Anatole Kuragin into whose society Pierre's wife had thrown her and
with whom Natasha had tried to elope during her father's absence, in
order to be married secretly.
Pierre raised his shoulders and listened open-mouthed to what was
told him, scarcely able to believe his own ears. That Prince
Andrew's deeply loved affianced wife- the same Natasha Rostova who
used to be so charming- should give up Bolkonski for that fool Anatole
who was already secretly married (as Pierre knew), and should be so in
love with him as to agree to run away with him, was something Pierre
could not conceive and could not imagine.
He could not reconcile the charming impression he had of Natasha,
whom he had known from a child, with this new conception of her
baseness, folly, and cruelty. He thought of his wife. "They are all
alike!" he said to himself, reflecting that he was not the only man
unfortunate enough to be tied to a bad woman. But still he pitied
Prince Andrew to the point of tears and sympathized with his wounded
pride, and the more he pitied his friend the more did he think with
contempt and even with disgust of that Natasha who had just passed him
in the ballroom with such a look of cold dignity. He did not know that
Natasha's soul was overflowing with despair, shame, and humiliation,
and that it was not her fault that her face happened to assume an
expression of calm dignity and severity.
"But how get married?" said Pierre, in answer to Marya Dmitrievna.
"He could not marry- he is married!"
"Things get worse from hour to hour!" ejaculated Marya Dmitrievna.
"A nice youth! What a scoundrel! And she's expecting him- expecting
him since yesterday. She must be told! Then at least she won't go on
After hearing the details of Anatole's marriage from Pierre, and
giving vent to her anger against Anatole in words of abuse, Marya
Dmitrievna told Pierre why she had sent for him. She was afraid that
the count or Bolkonski, who might arrive at any moment, if they knew
of this affair (which she hoped to hide from them) might challenge
Anatole to a duel, and she therefore asked Pierre to tell his
brother-in-law in her name to leave Moscow and not dare to let her set
eyes on him again. Pierre- only now realizing the danger to the old
count, Nicholas, and Prince Andrew- promised to do as she wished.
Having briefly and exactly explained her wishes to him, she let him go
to the drawing room.
"Mind, the count knows nothing. Behave as if you know nothing
either," she said. "And I will go and tell her it is no use
expecting him! And stay to dinner if you care to!" she called after
Pierre met the old count, who seemed nervous and upset. That morning
Natasha had told him that she had rejected Bolkonski.
"Troubles, troubles, my dear fellow!" he said to Pierre. "What
troubles one has with these girls without their mother! I do so regret
having come here.... I will be frank with you. Have you heard she
has broken off her engagement without consulting anybody? It's true
this engagement never was much to my liking. Of course he is an
excellent man, but still, with his father's disapproval they
wouldn't have been happy, and Natasha won't lack suitors. Still, it
has been going on so long, and to take such a step without father's or
mother's consent! And now she's ill, and God knows what! It's hard,
Count, hard to manage daughters in their mother's absence...."
Pierre saw that the count was much upset and tried to change the
subject, but the count returned to his troubles.
Sonya entered the room with an agitated face.
"Natasha is not quite well; she's in her room and would like to
see you. Marya Dmitrievna is with her and she too asks you to come."
"Yes, you are a great friend of Bolkonski's, no doubt she wants to
send him a message," said the count. "Oh dear! Oh dear! How happy it
And clutching the spare gray locks on his temples the count left the
When Marya Dmitrievna told Natasha that Anatole was married, Natasha
did not wish to believe it and insisted on having it confirmed by
Pierre himself. Sonya told Pierre this as she led him along the
corridor to Natasha's room.
Natasha, pale and stern, was sitting beside Marya Dmitrievna, and
her eyes, glittering feverishly, met Pierre with a questioning look
the moment he entered. She did not smile or nod, but only gazed
fixedly at him, and her look asked only one thing: was he a friend, or
like the others an enemy in regard to Anatole? As for Pierre, he
evidently did not exist for her.
"He knows all about it," said Marya Dmitrievna pointing to Pierre
and addressing Natasha. "Let him tell you whether I have told the
Natasha looked from one to the other as a hunted and wounded
animal looks at the approaching dogs and sportsmen.
"Natalya Ilynichna," Pierre began, dropping his eyes with a
feeling of pity for her and loathing for the thing he had to do,
"whether it is true or not should make no difference to you,
"Then it is not true that he's married!"
"Yes, it is true."
"Has he been married long?" she asked. "On your honor?..."
Pierre gave his word of honor.
"Is he still here?" she asked, quickly.
"Yes, I have just seen him."
She was evidently unable to speak and made a sign with her hands
that they should leave her alone.
Pierre did not stay for dinner, but left the room and went away at
once. He drove through the town seeking Anatole Kuragin, at the
thought of whom now the blood rushed to his heart and he felt a
difficulty in breathing. He was not at the ice hills, nor at the
gypsies', nor at Komoneno's. Pierre drove to the Club. In the Club all
was going on as usual. The members who were assembling for dinner were
sitting about in groups; they greeted Pierre and spoke of the town
news. The footman having greeted him, knowing his habits and his
acquaintances, told him there was a place left for him in the small
dining room and that Prince Michael Zakharych was in the library,
but Paul Timofeevich had not yet arrived. One of Pierre's
acquaintances, while they were talking about the weather, asked if
he had heard of Kuragin's abduction of Rostova which was talked of
in the town, and was it true? Pierre laughed and said it was
nonsense for he had just come from the Rostovs'. He asked everyone
about Anatole. One man told him he had not come yet, and another
that he was coming to dinner. Pierre felt it strange to see this calm,
indifferent crowd of people unaware of what was going on in his
soul. He paced through the ballroom, waited till everyone had come,
and as Anatole had not turned up did not stay for dinner but drove
Anatole, for whom Pierre was looking, dined that day with
Dolokhov, consulting him as to how to remedy this unfortunate
affair. It seemed to him essential to see Natasha. In the evening he
drove to his sister's to discuss with her how to arrange a meeting.
When Pierre returned home after vainly hunting all over Moscow, his
valet informed him that Prince Anatole was with the countess. The
countess' drawing room was full of guests.
Pierre without greeting his wife whom he had not seen since his
return- at that moment she was more repulsive to him than ever-
entered the drawing room and seeing Anatole went up to him.
"Ah, Pierre," said the countess going up to her husband. "You
don't know what a plight our Anatole..."
She stopped, seeing in the forward thrust of her husband's head,
in his glowing eyes and his resolute gait, the terrible indications of
that rage and strength which she knew and had herself experienced
after his duel with Dolokhov.
"Where you are, there is vice and evil!" said Pierre to his wife.
"Anatole, come with me! I must speak to you," he added in French.
Anatole glanced round at his sister and rose submissively, ready
to follow Pierre. Pierre, taking him by the arm, pulled him toward
himself and was leading him from the room.
"If you allow yourself in my drawing room..." whispered Helene,
but Pierre did not reply and went out of the room.
Anatole followed him with his usual jaunty step but his face
Having entered his study Pierre closed the door and addressed
Anatole without looking at him.
"You promised Countess Rostova to marry her and were about to
elope with her, is that so?"
"Mon cher," answered Anatole (their whole conversation was in
French), "I don't consider myself bound to answer questions put to
me in that tone."
Pierre's face, already pale, became distorted by fury. He seized
Anatole by the collar of his uniform with his big hand and shook him
from side to side till Anatole's face showed a sufficient degree of
"When I tell you that I must talk to you!..." repeated Pierre.
"Come now, this is stupid. What?" said Anatole, fingering a button
of his collar that had been wrenched loose with a bit of the cloth.
"You're a scoundrel and a blackguard, and I don't know what deprives
me from the pleasure of smashing your head with this!" said Pierre,
expressing himself so artificially because he was talking French.
He took a heavy paperweight and lifted it threateningly, but at once
put it back in its place.
"Did you promise to marry her?"
"I... I didn't think of it. I never promised, because..."
Pierre interrupted him.
"Have you any letters of hers? Any letters?" he said, moving
Anatole glanced at him and immediately thrust his hand into his
pocket and drew out his pocketbook.
Pierre took the letter Anatole handed him and, pushing aside a table
that stood in his way, threw himself on the sofa.
"I shan't be violent, don't be afraid!" said Pierre in answer to a
frightened gesture of Anatole's. "First, the letters," said he, as
if repeating a lesson to himself. "Secondly," he continued after a
short pause, again rising and again pacing the room, "tomorrow you
must get out of Moscow."
"But how can I?..."
"Thirdly," Pierre continued without listening to him, "you must
never breathe a word of what has passed between you and Countess
Rostova. I know I can't prevent your doing so, but if you have a spark
of conscience..." Pierre paced the room several times in silence.
Anatole sat at a table frowning and biting his lips.
"After all, you must understand that besides your pleasure there
is such a thing as other people's happiness and peace, and that you
are ruining a whole life for the sake of amusing yourself! Amuse
yourself with women like my wife- with them you are within your
rights, for they know what you want of them. They are armed against
you by the same experience of debauchery; but to promise a maid to
marry her... to deceive, to kidnap.... Don't you understand that it is
as mean as beating an old man or a child?..."
Pierre paused and looked at Anatole no longer with an angry but with
a questioning look.
"I don't know about that, eh?" said Anatole, growing more
confident as Pierre mastered his wrath. "I don't know that and don't
want to," he said, not looking at Pierre and with a slight tremor of
his lower jaw, "but you have used such words to me- 'mean' and so
on- which as a man of honor I can't allow anyone to use."
Pierre glanced at him with amazement, unable to understand what he
"Though it was tete-a-tete," Anatole continued, "still I can't..."
"Is it satisfaction you want?" said Pierre ironically.
"You could at least take back your words. What? If you want me to do
as you wish, eh?"
"I take them back, I take them back!" said Pierre, "and I ask you to
forgive me." Pierre involuntarily glanced at the loose button. "And if
you require money for your journey..."
Anatole smiled. The expression of that base and cringing smile,
which Pierre knew so well in his wife, revolted him.
"Oh, vile and heartless brood!" he exclaimed, and left the room.
Next day Anatole left for Petersburg.
Pierre drove to Marya Dmitrievna's to tell her of the fulfillment of
her wish that Kuragin should be banished from Moscow. The whole
house was in a state of alarm and commotion. Natasha was very ill,
having, as Marya Dmitrievna told him in secret, poisoned herself the
night after she had been told that Anatole was married, with some
arsenic she had stealthily procured. After swallowing a little she had
been so frightened that she woke Sonya and told her what she had done.
The necessary antidotes had been administered in time and she was
now out of danger, though still so weak that it was out of the
question to move her to the country, and so the countess had been sent
for. Pierre saw the distracted count, and Sonya, who had a
tear-stained face, but he could not see Natasha.
Pierre dined at the club that day and heard on all sides gossip
about the attempted abduction of Rostova. He resolutely denied these
rumors, assuring everyone that nothing had happened except that his
brother-in-law had proposed to her and been refused. It seemed to
Pierre that it was his duty to conceal the whole affair and
re-establish Natasha's reputation.
He was awaiting Prince Andrew's return with dread and went every day
to the old prince's for news of him.
Old Prince Bolkonski heard all the rumors current in the town from
Mademoiselle Bourienne and had read the note to Princess Mary in which
Natasha had broken off her engagement. He seemed in better spirits
than usual and awaited his son with great impatience.
Some days after Anatole's departure Pierre received a note from
Prince Andrew, informing him of his arrival and asking him to come
to see him.
As soon as he reached Moscow, Prince Andrew had received from his
father Natasha's note to Princess Mary breaking off her engagement
(Mademoiselle Bourienne had purloined it from Princess Mary and
given it to the old prince), and he heard from him the story of
Natasha's elopement, with additions.
Prince Andrew had arrived in the evening and Pierre came to see
him next morning. Pierre expected to find Prince Andrew in almost
the same state as Natasha and was therefore surprised on entering
the drawing room to hear him in the study talking in a loud animated
voice about some intrigue going on in Petersburg. The old prince's
voice and another now and then interrupted him. Princess Mary came out
to meet Pierre. She sighed, looking toward the door of the room
where Prince Andrew was, evidently intending to express her sympathy
with his sorrow, but Pierre saw by her face that she was glad both
at what had happened and at the way her brother had taken the news
of Natasha's faithlessness.
"He says he expected it," she remarked. "I know his pride will not
let him express his feelings, but still he has taken it better, far
better, than I expected. Evidently it had to be...."
"But is it possible that all is really ended?" asked Pierre.
Princess Mary looked at him with astonishment. She did not
understand how he could ask such a question. Pierre went into the
study. Prince Andrew, greatly changed and plainly in better health,
but with a fresh horizontal wrinkle between his brows, stood in
civilian dress facing his father and Prince Meshcherski, warmly
disputing and vigorously gesticulating. The conversation was about
Speranski- the news of whose sudden exile and alleged treachery had
just reached Moscow.
"Now he is censured and accused by all who were enthusiastic about
him a month ago," Prince Andrew was saying, "and by those who were
unable to understand his aims. To judge a man who is in disfavor and
to throw on him all the blame of other men's mistakes is very easy,
but I maintain that if anything good has been accomplished in this
reign it was done by him, by him alone."
He paused at the sight of Pierre. His face quivered and
immediately assumed a vindictive expression.
"Posterity will do him justice," he concluded, and at once turned to
"Well, how are you? Still getting stouter?" he said with
animation, but the new wrinkle on his forehead deepened. "Yes, I am
well," he said in answer to Pierre's question, and smiled.
To Pierre that smile said plainly: "I am well, but my health is
now of no use to anyone."
After a few words to Pierre about the awful roads from the Polish
frontier, about people he had met in Switzerland who knew Pierre,
and about M. Dessalles, whom he had brought from abroad to be his
son's tutor, Prince Andrew again joined warmly in the conversation
about Speranski which was still going on between the two old men.
"If there were treason, or proofs of secret relations with Napoleon,
they would have been made public," he said with warmth and haste. "I
do not, and never did, like Speranski personally, but I like justice!"
Pierre now recognized in his friend a need with which he was only
too familiar, to get excited and to have arguments about extraneous
matters in order to stifle thoughts that were too oppressive and too
intimate. When Prince Meshcherski had left, Prince Andrew took
Pierre's arm and asked him into the room that had been assigned him. A
bed had been made up there, and some open portmanteaus and trunks
stood about. Prince Andrew went to one and took out a small casket,
from which he drew a packet wrapped in paper. He did it all silently
and very quickly. He stood up and coughed. His face was gloomy and his
"Forgive me for troubling you..."
Pierre saw that Prince Andrew was going to speak of Natasha, and his
broad face expressed pity and sympathy. This expression irritated
Prince Andrew, and in a determined, ringing, and unpleasant tone he
"I have received a refusal from Countess Rostova and have heard
reports of your brother-in-law having sought her hand, or something of
that kind. Is that true?"
"Both true and untrue," Pierre began; but Prince Andrew
"Here are her letters and her portrait," said he.
He took the packet from the table and handed it to Pierre.
"Give this to the countess... if you see her."
"She is very ill," said Pierre.
"Then she is here still?" said Prince Andrew. "And Prince
Kuragin?" he added quickly.
"He left long ago. She has been at death's door."
"I much regret her illness," said Prince Andrew; and he smiled
like his father, coldly, maliciously, and unpleasantly.
"So Monsieur Kuragin has not honored Countess Rostova with his
hand?" said Prince Andrew, and he snorted several times.
"He could not marry, for he was married already," said Pierre.
Prince Andrew laughed disagreeably, again reminding one of his
"And where is your brother-in-law now, if I may ask?" he said.
"He has gone to Peters... But I don't know," said Pierre.
"Well, it doesn't matter," said Prince Andrew. "Tell Countess
Rostova that she was and is perfectly free and that I wish her all
that is good."
Pierre took the packet. Prince Andrew, as if trying to remember
whether he had something more to say, or waiting to see if Pierre
would say anything, looked fixedly at him.
"I say, do you remember our discussion in Petersburg?" asked Pierre,
"Yes," returned Prince Andrew hastily. "I said that a fallen woman
should be forgiven, but I didn't say I could forgive her. I can't."
"But can this be compared...?" said Pierre.
Prince Andrew interrupted him and cried sharply: "Yes, ask her
hand again, be magnanimous, and so on?... Yes, that would be very
noble, but I am unable to follow in that gentleman's footsteps. If you
wish to be my friend never speak to me of that... of all that! Well,
good-by. So you'll give her the packet?"
Pierre left the room and went to the old prince and Princess Mary.
The old man seemed livelier than usual. Princess Mary was the same
as always, but beneath her sympathy for her brother, Pierre noticed
her satisfaction that the engagement had been broken off. Looking at
them Pierre realized what contempt and animosity they all felt for the
Rostovs, and that it was impossible in their presence even to
mention the name of her who could give up Prince Andrew for anyone
At dinner the talk turned on the war, the approach of which was
becoming evident. Prince Andrew talked incessantly, arguing now with
his father, now with the Swiss tutor Dessalles, and showing an
unnatural animation, the cause of which Pierre so well understood.
That same evening Pierre went to the Rostovs' to fulfill the
commission entrusted to him. Natasha was in bed, the count at the
Club, and Pierre, after giving the letters to Sonya, went to Marya
Dmitrievna who was interested to know how Prince Andrew had taken
the news. Ten minutes later Sonya came to Marya Dmitrievna.
"Natasha insists on seeing Count Peter Kirilovich," said she.
"But how? Are we to take him up to her? The room there has not
been tidied up."
"No, she has dressed and gone into the drawing room," said Sonya.
Marya Dmitrievna only shrugged her shoulders.
"When will her mother come? She has worried me to death! Now mind,
don't tell her everything!" said she to Pierre. "One hasn't the
heart to scold her, she is so much to be pitied, so much to be
Natasha was standing in the middle of the drawing room, emaciated,
with a pale set face, but not at all shamefaced as Pierre expected
to find her. When he appeared at the door she grew flurried, evidently
undecided whether to go to meet him or to wait till he came up.
Pierre hastened to her. He thought she would give him her hand as
usual; but she, stepping up to him, stopped, breathing heavily, her
arms hanging lifelessly just in the pose she used to stand in when she
went to the middle of the ballroom to sing, but with quite a different
expression of face.
"Peter Kirilovich," she began rapidly, "Prince Bolkonski was your
friend- is your friend," she corrected herself. (It seemed to her that
everything that had once been must now be different.) "He told me once
to apply to you..."
Pierre sniffed as he looked at her, but did not speak. Till then
he had reproached her in his heart and tried to despise her, but he
now felt so sorry for her that there was no room in his soul for
"He is here now: tell him... to for... forgive me!" She stopped
and breathed still more quickly, but did not shed tears.
"Yes... I will tell him," answered Pierre; "but..."
He did not know what to say.
Natasha was evidently dismayed at the thought of what he might think
she had meant.
"No, I know all is over," she said hurriedly. "No, that can never
be. I'm only tormented by the wrong I have done him. Tell him only
that I beg him to forgive, forgive, forgive me for everything...."
She trembled all over and sat down on a chair.
A sense of pity he had never before known overflowed Pierre's heart.
"I will tell him, I will tell him everything once more," said
Pierre. "But... I should like to know one thing...."
"Know what?" Natasha's eyes asked.
"I should like to know, did you love..." Pierre did not know how
to refer to Anatole and flushed at the thought of him- "did you love
that bad man?"
"Don't call him bad!" said Natasha. "But I don't know, don't know at
She began to cry and a still greater sense of pity, tenderness,
and love welled up in Pierre. He felt the tears trickle under his
spectacles and hoped they would not be noticed.
"We won't speak of it any more, my dear," said Pierre, and his
gentle, cordial tone suddenly seemed very strange to Natasha.
"We won't speak of it, my dear- I'll tell him everything; but one
thing I beg of you, consider me your friend and if you want help,
advice, or simply to open your heart to someone- not now, but when
your mind is clearer think of me!" He took her hand and kissed it.
"I shall be happy if it's in my power..."
Pierre grew confused.
"Don't speak to me like that. I am not worth it!" exclaimed
Natasha and turned to leave the room, but Pierre held her hand.
He knew he had something more to say to her. But when he said it
he was amazed at his own words.
"Stop, stop! You have your whole life before you," said he to her.
"Before me? No! All is over for me," she replied with shame and
"All over?" he repeated. "If I were not myself, but the handsomest,
cleverest, and best man in the world, and were free, I would this
moment ask on my knees for your hand and your love!"
For the first time for many days Natasha wept tears of gratitude and
tenderness, and glancing at Pierre she went out of the room.
Pierre too when she had gone almost ran into the anteroom,
restraining tears of tenderness and joy that choked him, and without
finding the sleeves of his fur cloak threw it on and got into his
"Where to now, your excellency?" asked the coachman.
"Where to?" Pierre asked himself. "Where can I go now? Surely not to
the Club or to pay calls?" All men seemed so pitiful, so poor, in
comparison with this feeling of tenderness and love he experienced: in
comparison with that softened, grateful, last look she had given him
through her tears.
"Home!" said Pierre, and despite twenty-two degrees of frost
Fahrenheit he threw open the bearskin cloak from his broad chest and
inhaled the air with joy.
It was clear and frosty. Above the dirty, ill-lit streets, above the
black roofs, stretched the dark starry sky. Only looking up at the sky
did Pierre cease to feel how sordid and humiliating were all mundane
things compared with the heights to which his soul had just been
raised. At the entrance to the Arbat Square an immense expanse of dark
starry sky presented itself to his eyes. Almost in the center of it,
above the Prechistenka Boulevard, surrounded and sprinkled on all
sides by stars but distinguished from them all by its nearness to
the earth, its white light, and its long uplifted tail, shone the
enormous and brilliant comet of 18l2- the comet which was said to
portend all kinds of woes and the end of the world. In Pierre,
however, that comet with its long luminous tail aroused no feeling
of fear. On the contrary he gazed joyfully, his eyes moist with tears,
at this bright comet which, having traveled in its orbit with
inconceivable velocity through immeasurable space, seemed suddenly-
like an arrow piercing the earth- to remain fixed in a chosen spot,
vigorously holding its tail erect, shining and displaying its white
light amid countless other scintillating stars. It seemed to Pierre
that this comet fully responded to what was passing in his own
softened and uplifted soul, now blossoming into a new life.
BOOK NINE: 1812
From the close of the year 1811 intensified arming and concentrating
of the forces of Western Europe began, and in 1812 these forces-
millions of men, reckoning those transporting and feeding the army-
moved from the west eastwards to the Russian frontier, toward which
since 1811 Russian forces had been similarly drawn. On the twelfth
of June, 1812, the forces of Western Europe crossed the Russian
frontier and war began, that is, an event took place opposed to
human reason and to human nature. Millions of men perpetrated
against one another such innumerable crimes, frauds, treacheries,
thefts, forgeries, issues of false money, burglaries, incendiarisms,
and murders as in whole centuries are not recorded in the annals of
all the law courts of the world, but which those who committed them
did not at the time regard as being crimes.
What produced this extraordinary occurrence? What were its causes?
The historians tell us with naive assurance that its causes were the
wrongs inflicted on the Duke of Oldenburg, the nonobservance of the
Continental System, the ambition of Napoleon, the firmness of
Alexander, the mistakes of the diplomatists, and so on.
Consequently, it would only have been necessary for Metternich,
Rumyantsev, or Talleyrand, between a levee and an evening party, to
have taken proper pains and written a more adroit note, or for
Napoleon to have written to Alexander: "My respected Brother, I
consent to restore the duchy to the Duke of Oldenburg"- and there
would have been no war.
We can understand that the matter seemed like that to
contemporaries. It naturally seemed to Napoleon that the war was
caused by England's intrigues (as in fact he said on the island of St.
Helena). It naturally seemed to members of the English Parliament that
the cause of the war was Napoleon's ambition; to the Duke of
Oldenburg, that the cause of the war was the violence done to him;
to businessmen that the cause of the way was the Continental System
which was ruining Europe; to the generals and old soldiers that the
chief reason for the war was the necessity of giving them
employment; to the legitimists of that day that it was the need of
re-establishing les bons principes, and to the diplomatists of that
time that it all resulted from the fact that the alliance between
Russia and Austria in 1809 had not been sufficiently well concealed
from Napoleon, and from the awkward wording of Memorandum No. 178.
It is natural that these and a countless and infinite quantity of
other reasons, the number depending on the endless diversity of points
of view, presented themselves to the men of that day; but to us, to
posterity who view the thing that happened in all its magnitude and
perceive its plain and terrible meaning, these causes seem
insufficient. To us it is incomprehensible that millions of
Christian men killed and tortured each other either because Napoleon
was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England's policy was
astute or the Duke of Oldenburg wronged. We cannot grasp what
connection such circumstances have with the actual fact of slaughter
and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men
from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk
and Moscow and were killed by them.
To us, their descendants, who are not historians and are not carried
away by the process of research and can therefore regard the event
with unclouded common sense, an incalculable number of causes
present themselves. The deeper we delve in search of these causes
the more of them we find; and each separate cause or whole series of
causes appears to us equally valid in itself and equally false by
its insignificance compared to the magnitude of the events, and by its
impotence- apart from the cooperation of all the other coincident
causes- to occasion the event. To us, the wish or objection of this or
that French corporal to serve a second term appears as much a cause as
Napoleon's refusal to withdraw his troops beyond the Vistula and to
restore the duchy of Oldenburg; for had he not wished to serve, and
had a second, a third, and a thousandth corporal and private also
refused, there would have been so many less men in Napoleon's army and
the war could not have occurred.
Had Napoleon not taken offense at the demand that he should withdraw
beyond the Vistula, and not ordered his troops to advance, there would
have been no war; but had all his sergeants objected to serving a
second term then also there could have been no war. Nor could there
have been a war had there been no English intrigues and no Duke of
Oldenburg, and had Alexander not felt insulted, and had there not been
an autocratic government in Russia, or a Revolution in France and a
subsequent dictatorship and Empire, or all the things that produced
the French Revolution, and so on. Without each of these causes nothing
could have happened. So all these causes- myriads of causes- coincided
to bring it about. And so there was no one cause for that
occurrence, but it had to occur because it had to. Millions of men,
renouncing their human feelings and reason, had to go from west to
east to slay their fellows, just as some centuries previously hordes
of men had come from the east to the west, slaying their fellows.
The actions of Napoleon and Alexander, on whose words the event
seemed to hang, were as little voluntary as the actions of any soldier
who was drawn into the campaign by lot or by conscription. This
could not be otherwise, for in order that the will of Napoleon and
Alexander (on whom the event seemed to depend) should be carried
out, the concurrence of innumerable circumstances was needed without
any one of which the event could not have taken place. It was
necessary that millions of men in whose hands lay the real power-
the soldiers who fired, or transported provisions and guns- should
consent to carry out the will of these weak individuals, and should
have been induced to do so by an infinite number of diverse and
We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of
irrational events (that is to say, events the reasonableness of
which we do not understand). The more we try to explain such events in
history reasonably, the more unreasonable and incomprehensible do they
become to us.
Each man lives for himself, using his freedom to attain his personal
aims, and feels with his whole being that he can now do or abstain
from doing this or that action; but as soon as he has done it, that
action performed at a certain moment in time becomes irrevocable and
belongs to history, in which it has not a free but a predestined
There are two sides to the life of every man, his individual life,
which is the more free the more abstract its interests, and his
elemental hive life in which he inevitably obeys laws laid down for
Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious
instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of
humanity. A deed done is irrevocable, and its result coinciding in
time with the actions of millions of other men assumes an historic
significance. The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the more
people he is connected with and the more power he has over others, the
more evident is the predestination and inevitability of his every
"The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord."
A king is history's slave.
History, that is, the unconscious, general, hive life of mankind,
uses every moment of the life of kings as a tool for its own purposes.
Though Napoleon at that time, in 1812, was more convinced than
ever that it depended on him, verser (ou ne pas verser) le sang de ses
peuples*- as Alexander expressed it in the last letter he wrote him-
he had never been so much in the grip of inevitable laws, which
compelled him, while thinking that he was acting on his own
volition, to perform for the hive life- that is to say, for history-
whatever had to be performed.
*"To shed (or not to shed) the blood of his peoples."
The people of the west moved eastwards to slay their fellow men, and
by the law of coincidence thousands of minute causes fitted in and
co-ordinated to produce that movement and war: reproaches for the
nonobservance of the Continental System, the Duke of Oldenburg's
wrongs, the movement of troops into Prussia- undertaken (as it
seemed to Napoleon) only for the purpose of securing an armed peace,
the French Emperor's love and habit of war coinciding with his
people's inclinations, allurement by the grandeur of the preparations,
and the expenditure on those preparations and the need of obtaining
advantages to compensate for that expenditure, the intoxicating honors
he received in Dresden, the diplomatic negotiations which, in the
opinion of contemporaries, were carried on with a sincere desire to
attain peace, but which only wounded the self-love of both sides,
and millions of other causes that adapted themselves to
the event that was happening or coincided with it.
When an apple has ripened and falls, why does it fall? Because of
its attraction to the earth, because its stalk withers, because it
is dried by the sun, because it grows heavier, because the wind shakes
it, or because the boy standing below wants to eat it?
Nothing is the cause. All this is only the coincidence of conditions
in which all vital organic and elemental events occur. And the
botanist who finds that the apple falls because the cellular tissue
decays and so forth is equally right with the child who stands under
the tree and says the apple fell because he wanted to eat it and
prayed for it. Equally right or wrong is he who says that Napoleon
went to Moscow because he wanted to, and perished because Alexander
desired his destruction, and he who says that an undermined hill
weighing a million tons fell because the last navvy struck it for
the last time with his mattock. In historic events the so-called great
men are labels giving names to events, and like labels they have but
the smallest connection with the event itself.
Every act of theirs, which appears to them an act of their own will,
is in an historical sense involuntary and is related to the whole
course of history and predestined from eternity.
On the twenty-ninth of May Napoleon left Dresden, where he had spent
three weeks surrounded by a court that included princes, dukes, kings,
and even an emperor. Before leaving, Napoleon showed favor to the
emperor, kings, and princes who had deserved it, reprimanded the kings
and princes with whom he was dissatisfied, presented pearls and
diamonds of his own- that is, which he had taken from other kings-
to the Empress of Austria, and having, as his historian tells us,
tenderly embraced the Empress Marie Louise- who regarded him as her
husband, though he had left another wife in Paris- left her grieved by
the parting which she seemed hardly able to bear. Though the
diplomatists still firmly believed in the possibility of peace and
worked zealously to that end, and though the Emperor Napoleon
himself wrote a letter to Alexander, calling him Monsieur mon frere,
and sincerely assured him that he did not want war and would always
love and honor him- yet he set off to join his army, and at every
station gave fresh orders to accelerate the movement of his troops
from west to east. He went in a traveling coach with six horses,
surrounded by pages, aides-de-camp, and an escort, along the road to
Posen, Thorn, Danzig, and Konigsberg. At each of these towns thousands
of people met him with excitement and enthusiasm.
The army was moving from west to east, and relays of six horses
carried him in the same direction. On the tenth of June,* coming up
with the army, he spent the night in apartments prepared for him on
the estate of a Polish count in the Vilkavisski forest.
Next day, overtaking the army, he went in a carriage to the
Niemen, and, changing into a Polish uniform, he drove to the riverbank
in order to select a place for the crossing.
Seeing, on the other side, some Cossacks (les Cosaques) and the
wide-spreading steppes in the midst of which lay the holy city of
Moscow (Moscou, la ville sainte), the capital of a realm such as the
Scythia into which Alexander the Great had marched- Napoleon
unexpectedly, and contrary alike to strategic and diplomatic
considerations, ordered an advance, and the next day his army began to
cross the Niemen.
Early in the morning of the twelfth of June he came out of his tent,
which was pitched that day on the steep left bank of the Niemen, and
looked through a spyglass at the streams of his troops pouring out
of the Vilkavisski forest and flowing over the three bridges thrown
across the river. The troops, knowing of the Emperor's presence,
were on the lookout for him, and when they caught sight of a figure in
an overcoat and a cocked hat standing apart from his suite in front of
his tent on the hill, they threw up their caps and shouted: "Vive
l'Empereur!" and one after another poured in a ceaseless stream out of
the vast forest that had concealed them and, separating, flowed on and
on by the three bridges to the other side.
"Now we'll go into action. Oh, when he takes it in hand himself,
things get hot... by heaven!... There he is!... Vive l'Empereur! So
these are the steppes of Asia! It's a nasty country all the same. Au
revoir, Beauche; I'll keep the best palace in Moscow for you! Au
revoir. Good luck!... Did you see the Emperor? Vive l'Empereur!...
preur!- If they make me Governor of India, Gerard, I'll make you
Minister of Kashmir- that's settled. Vive l'Empereur! Hurrah!
hurrah! hurrah! The Cossacks- those rascals- see how they run! Vive
l'Empereur! There he is, do you see him? I've seen him twice, as I see
you now. The little corporal... I saw him give the cross to one of the
veterans.... Vive l'Empereur!" came the voices of men, old and
young, of most diverse characters and social positions. On the faces
of all was one common expression of joy at the commencement of the
long-expected campaign and of rapture and devotion to the man in the
gray coat who was standing on the hill.
On the thirteenth of June a rather small, thoroughbred Arab horse
was brought to Napoleon. He mounted it and rode at a gallop to one
of the bridges over the Niemen, deafened continually by incessant
and rapturous acclamations which he evidently endured only because
it was impossible to forbid the soldiers to express their love of
him by such shouting, but the shouting which accompanied him
everywhere disturbed him and distracted him from the military cares
that had occupied him from the time he joined the army. He rode across
one of the swaying pontoon bridges to the farther side, turned sharply
to the left, and galloped in the direction of Kovno, preceded by
enraptured, mounted chasseurs of the Guard who, breathless with
delight, galloped ahead to clear a path for him through the troops. On
reaching the broad river Viliya, he stopped near a regiment of
Polish Uhlans stationed by the river.
"Vivat!" shouted the Poles, ecstatically, breaking their ranks and
pressing against one another to see him.
Napoleon looked up and down the river, dismounted, and sat down on a
log that lay on the bank. At a mute sign from him, a telescope was
handed him which he rested on the back of a happy page who had run
up to him, and he gazed at the opposite bank. Then he became
absorbed in a map laid out on the logs. Without lifting his head he
said something, and two of his aides-de-camp galloped off to the
"What? What did he say?" was heard in the ranks of the Polish Uhlans
when one of the aides-de-camp rode up to them.
The order was to find a ford and to cross the river. The colonel
of the Polish Uhlans, a handsome old man, flushed and, fumbling in his
speech from excitement, asked the aide-de-camp whether he would be
permitted to swim the river with his Uhlans instead of seeking a ford.
In evident fear of refusal, like a boy asking for permission to get on
a horse, he begged to be allowed to swim across the river before the
Emperor's eyes. The aide-de-camp replied that probably the Emperor
would not be displeased at this excess of zeal.
As soon as the aide-de-camp had said this, the old mustached
officer, with happy face and sparkling eyes, raised his saber, shouted
"Vivat!" and, commanding the Uhlans to follow him, spurred his horse
and galloped into the river. He gave an angry thrust to his horse,
which had grown restive under him, and plunged into the water, heading
for the deepest part where the current was swift. Hundreds of Uhlans
galloped in after him. It was cold and uncanny in the rapid current in
the middle of the stream, and the Uhlans caught hold of one another as
they fell off their horses. Some of the horses were drowned and some
of the men; the others tried to swim on, some in the saddle and some
clinging to their horses' manes. They tried to make their way
forward to the opposite bank and, though there was a ford one third of
a mile away, were proud that they were swimming and drowning in this
river under the eyes of the man who sat on the log and was not even
looking at what they were doing. When the aide-de-camp, having
returned and choosing an opportune moment, ventured to draw the
Emperor's attention to the devotion of the Poles to his person, the
little man in the gray overcoat got up and, having summoned
Berthier, began pacing up and down the bank with him, giving him
instructions and occasionally glancing disapprovingly at the
drowning Uhlans who distracted his attention.
For him it was no new conviction that his presence in any part of
the world, from Africa to the steppes of Muscovy alike, was enough
to dumfound people and impel them to insane self-oblivion. He called
for his horse and rode to his quarters.
Some forty Uhlans were drowned in the river, though boats were
sent to their assistance. The majority struggled back to the bank from
which they had started. The colonel and some of his men got across and
with difficulty clambered out on the further bank. And as soon as they
had got out, in their soaked and streaming clothes, they shouted
"Vivat!" and looked ecstatically at the spot where Napoleon had been
but where he no longer was and at that moment considered themselves
That evening, between issuing one order that the forged Russian
paper money prepared for use in Russia should be delivered as
quickly as possible and another that a Saxon should be shot, on whom a
letter containing information about the orders to the French army
had been found, Napoleon also gave instructions that the Polish
colonel who had needlessly plunged into the river should be enrolled
in the Legion d'honneur of which Napoleon was himself the head.
Quos vult perdere dementat.*
*Those whom (God) wishes to destroy he drives mad.
The Emperor of Russia had, meanwhile, been in Vilna for more than
a month. reviewing troops and holding maneuvers. Nothing was ready for
the war that everyone expected and to prepare for which the Emperor
had come from Petersburg. There was no general plan of action. The
vacillation between the various plans that were proposed had even
increased after the Emperor had been at headquarters for a month. Each
of the three armies had its own commander in chief, but there was no
supreme commander of all the forces, and the Emperor did not assume
that responsibility himself.
The longer the Emperor remained in Vilna the less did everybody-
tired of waiting- prepare for the war. All the efforts of those who
surrounded the sovereign seemed directed merely to making him spend
his time pleasantly and forget that war was impending.
In June, after many balls and fetes given by the Polish magnates, by
the courtiers, and by the Emperor himself, it occurred to one of the
Polish aides-de-camp in attendance that a dinner and ball should be
given for the Emperor by his aides-de-camp. This idea was eagerly
received. The Emperor gave his consent. The aides-de-camp collected
money by subscription. The lady who was thought to be most pleasing to
the Emperor was invited to act as hostess. Count Bennigsen, being a
landowner in the Vilna province, offered his country house for the
fete, and the thirteenth of June was fixed for a ball, dinner,
regatta, and fireworks at Zakret, Count Bennigsen's country seat.
The very day that Napoleon issued the order to cross the Niemen, and
his vanguard, driving off the Cossacks, crossed the Russian
frontier, Alexander spent the evening at the entertainment given by
his aides-de-camp at Bennigsen's country house.
It was a gay and brilliant fete. Connoisseurs of such matters
declared that rarely had so many beautiful women been assembled in one
place. Countess Bezukhova was present among other Russian ladies who
had followed the sovereign from Petersburg to Vilna and eclipsed the
refined Polish ladies by her massive, so called Russian type of
beauty. The Emperor noticed her and honored her with a dance.
Boris Drubetskoy, having left his wife in Moscow and being for the
present en garcon (as he phrased it), was also there and, though not
an aide-de-camp, had subscribed a large sum toward the expenses. Boris
was now a rich man who had risen to high honors and no longer sought
patronage but stood on an equal footing with the highest of those of
his own age. He was meeting Helene in Vilna after not having seen
her for a long time and did not recall the past, but as Helene was
enjoying the favors of a very important personage and Boris had only
recently married, they met as good friends of long standing.
At midnight dancing was still going on. Helene, not having a
suitable partner, herself offered to dance the mazurka with Boris.
They were the third couple. Boris, coolly looking at Helene's dazzling
bare shoulders which emerged from a dark, gold-embroidered, gauze
gown, talked to her of old acquaintances and at the same time, unaware
of it himself and unnoticed by others, never for an instant ceased
to observe the Emperor who was in the same room. The Emperor was not
dancing, he stood in the doorway, stopping now one pair and now
another with gracious words which he alone knew how to utter.
As the mazurka began, Boris saw that Adjutant General Balashev,
one of those in closest attendance on the Emperor, went up to him
and contrary to court etiquette stood near him while he was talking to
a Polish lady. Having finished speaking to her, the Emperor looked
inquiringly at Balashev and, evidently understanding that he only
acted thus because there were important reasons for so doing, nodded
slightly to the lady and turned to him. Hardly had Balashev begun to
speak before a look of amazement appeared on the Emperor's face. He
took Balashev by the arm and crossed the room with him,
unconsciously clearing a path seven yards wide as the people on both
sides made way for him. Boris noticed Arakcheev's excited face when
the sovereign went out with Balashev. Arakcheev looked at the
Emperor from under his brow and, sniffing with his red nose, stepped
forward from the crowd as if expecting the Emperor to address him.
(Boris understood that Arakcheev envied Balashev and was displeased
that evidently important news had reached the Emperor otherwise than
But the Emperor and Balashev passed out into the illuminated
garden without noticing Arakcheev who, holding his sword and
glancing wrathfully around, followed some twenty paces behind them.
All the time Boris was going through the figures of the mazurka,
he was worried by the question of what news Balashev had brought and
how he could find it out before others. In the figure in which he
had to choose two ladies, he whispered to Helene that he meant to
choose Countess Potocka who, he thought, had gone out onto the
veranda, and glided over the parquet to the door opening into the
garden, where, seeing Balashev and the Emperor returning to the
veranda, he stood still. They were moving toward the door. Boris,
fluttering as if he had not had time to withdraw, respectfully pressed
close to the doorpost with bowed head.
The Emperor, with the agitation of one who has been personally
affronted, was finishing with these words:
"To enter Russia without declaring war! I will not make peace as
long as a single armed enemy remains in my country!" It seemed to
Boris that it gave the Emperor pleasure to utter these words. He was
satisfied with the form in which he had expressed his thoughts, but
displeased that Boris had overheard it.
"Let no one know of it! " the Emperor added with a frown.
Boris understood that this was meant for him and, closing his
eyes, slightly bowed his head. The Emperor re-entered the ballroom and
remained there about another half-hour.
Boris was thus the first to learn the news that the French army
had crossed the Niemen and, thanks to this, was able to show certain
important personages that much that was concealed from others was
usually known to him, and by this means he rose higher in their
The unexpected news of the French having crossed the Niemen was
particularly startling after a month of unfulfilled expectations,
and at a ball. On first receiving the news, under the influence of
indignation and resentment the Emperor had found a phrase that pleased
him, fully expressed his feelings, and has since become famous. On
returning home at two o'clock that night he sent for his secretary,
Shishkov, and told him to write an order to the troops and a
rescript to Field Marshal Prince Saltykov, in which he insisted on the
words being inserted that he would not make peace so long as a
single armed Frenchman remained on Russian soil.
Next day the following letter was sent to Napoleon:
Monsieur mon frere,
Yesterday I learned that, despite the loyalty which I have kept my
engagements with Your Majesty, your troops have crossed the Russian
frontier, and I have this moment received from Petersburg a note, in
which Count Lauriston informs me, as a reason for this aggression,
that Your Majesty has considered yourself to be in a state of war with
me from the time Prince Kuragin asked for his passports. The reasons
on which the Duc de Bassano based his refusal to deliver them to him
would never have led me to suppose that that could serve as a
pretext for aggression. In fact, the ambassador, as he himself has
declared, was never authorized to make that demand, and as soon as I
was informed of it I let him know how much I disapproved of it and
ordered him to remain at his post. If Your Majesty does not intend
to shed the blood of our peoples for such a misunderstanding, and
consents to withdraw your troops from Russian territory, I will regard
what has passed as not having occurred and an understanding between us
will be possible. In the contrary case, Your Majesty, I shall see
myself forced to repel an attack that nothing on my part has provoked.
It still depends on Your Majesty to preserve humanity from the
calamity of another war. I am, etc.,
At two in the morning of the fourteenth of June, the Emperor, having
sent for Balashev and read him his letter to Napoleon, ordered him
to take it and hand it personally to the French Emperor. When
dispatching Balashev, the Emperor repeated to him the words that he
would not make peace so long as a single armed enemy remained on
Russian soil and told him to transmit those words to Napoleon.
Alexander did not insert them in his letter to Napoleon, because
with his characteristic tact he felt it would be injudicious to use
them at a moment when a last attempt at reconciliation was being made,
but he definitely instructed Balashev to repeat them personally to
Having set off in the small hours of the fourteenth, accompanied
by a bugler and two Cossacks, Balashev reached the French outposts
at the village of Rykonty, on the Russian side of the Niemen, by dawn.
There he was stopped by French cavalry sentinels.
A French noncommissioned officer of hussars, in crimson uniform
and a shaggy cap, shouted to the approaching Balashev to halt.
Balashev did not do so at once, but continued to advance along the
road at a walking pace.
The noncommissioned officer frowned and, muttering words of abuse,
advanced his horse's chest against Balashev, put his hand to his
saber, and shouted rudely at the Russian general, asking: was he
deaf that he did not do as he was told? Balashev mentioned who he was.
The noncommissioned officer began talking with his comrades about
regimental matters without looking at the Russian general.
After living at the seat of the highest authority and power, after
conversing with the Emperor less than three hours before, and in
general being accustomed to the respect due to his rank in the
service, Balashev found it very strange here on Russian soil to
encounter this hostile, and still more this disrespectful, application
of brute force to himself.
The sun was only just appearing from behind the clouds, the air
was fresh and dewy. A herd of cattle was being driven along the road
from the village, and over the fields the larks rose trilling, one
after another, like bubbles rising in water.
Balashev looked around him, awaiting the arrival of an officer
from the village. The Russian Cossacks and bugler and the French
hussars looked silently at one another from time to time.
A French colonel of hussars, who had evidently just left his bed,
came riding from the village on a handsome sleek gray horse,
accompanied by two hussars. The officer, the soldiers, and their
horses all looked smart and well kept.
It was that first period of a campaign when troops are still in full
trim, almost like that of peacetime maneuvers, but with a shade of
martial swagger in their clothes, and a touch of the gaiety and spirit
of enterprise which always accompany the opening of a campaign.
The French colonel with difficulty repressed a yawn, but was
polite and evidently understood Balashev's importance. He led him past
his soldiers and behind the outposts and told him that his wish to
be presented to the Emperor would most likely be satisfied
immediately, as the Emperor's quarters were, he believed, not far off.
They rode through the village of Rykonty, past tethered French
hussar horses, past sentinels and men who saluted their colonel and
stared with curiosity at a Russian uniform, and came out at the
other end of the village. The colonel said that the commander of the
division was a mile and a quarter away and would receive Balashev
and conduct him to his destination.
The sun had by now risen and shone gaily on the bright verdure.
They had hardly ridden up a hill, past a tavern, before they saw a
group of horsemen coming toward them. In front of the group, on a
black horse with trappings that glittered in the sun, rode a tall
man with plumes in his hat and black hair curling down to his
shoulders. He wore a red mantle, and stretched his long legs forward
in French fashion. This man rode toward Balashev at a gallop, his
plumes flowing and his gems and gold lace glittering in the bright
Balashev was only two horses' length from the equestrian with the
bracelets, plunies, necklaces, and gold embroidery, who was
galloping toward him with a theatrically solemn countenance, when
Julner, the French colonel, whispered respectfully: "The King of
Naples!" It was, in fact, Murat, now called "King of Naples." Though
it was quite incomprehensible why he should be King of Naples, he
was called so, and was himself convinced that he was so, and therefore
assumed a more solemn and important air than formerly. He was so
sure that he really was the King of Naples that when, on the eve of
his departure from that city, while walking through the streets with
his wife, some Italians called out to him: "Viva il re!"* he turned to
his wife with a pensive smile and said: "Poor fellows, they don't know
that I am leaving them tomorrow!"
*"Long live the king."
But though he firmly believed himself to be King of Naples and
pitied the grief felt by the subjects he was abandoning, latterly,
after he had been ordered to return to military service- and
especially since his last interview with Napoleon in Danzig, when
his august brother-in-law had told him: "I made you King that you