Part 6 out of 34
our right. Below the height on which the Kiev regiment was
stationed, in the hollow where the rivulet flowed, the soul-stirring
rolling and crackling of musketry was heard, and much farther to the
right beyond the dragoons, the officer of the suite pointed out to
Bagration a French column that was outflanking us. To the left the
horizon bounded by the adjacent wood. Prince Bagration ordered two
battalions from the center to be sent to reinforce the right flank.
The officer of the suite ventured to remark to the prince that if
these battalions went away, the guns would remain without support.
Prince Bagration turned to the officer and with his dull eyes looked
at him in silence. It seemed to Prince Andrew that the officer's
remark was just and that really no answer could be made to it. But
at that moment an adjutant galloped up with a message from the
commander of the regiment in the hollow and news that immense masses
of the French were coming down upon them and that his regiment was
in disorder and was retreating upon the Kiev grenadiers. Prince
Bagration bowed his head in sign of assent and approval. He rode off
at a walk to the right and sent an adjutant to the dragoons with
orders to attack the French. But this adjutant returned half an hour
later with the news that the commander of the dragoons had already
retreated beyond the dip in the ground, as a heavy fire had been
opened on him and he was losing men uselessly, and so had hastened
to throw some sharpshooters into the wood.
"Very good!" said Bagration.
As he was leaving the battery, firing was heard on the left also,
and as it was too far to the left flank for him to have time to go
there himself, Prince Bagration sent Zherkov to tell the general in
command (the one who had paraded his regiment before Kutuzov at
Braunau) that he must retreat as quickly as possible behind the hollow
in the rear, as the right flank would probably not be able to
withstand the enemy's attack very long. About Tushin and the battalion
that had been in support of his battery all was forgotten. Prince
Andrew listened attentively to Bagration's colloquies with the
commanding officers and the orders he gave them and, to his
surprise, found that no orders were really given, but that Prince
Bagration tried to make it appear that everything done by necessity,
by accident, or by the will of subordinate commanders was done, if not
by his direct command, at least in accord with his intentions.
Prince Andrew noticed, however, that though what happened was due to
chance and was independent of the commander's will, owing to the
tact Bagration showed, his presence was very valuable. Officers who
approached him with disturbed countenances became calm; soldiers and
officers greeted him gaily, grew more cheerful in his presence, and
were evidently anxious to display their courage before him.
Prince Bagration, having reached the highest point of our right
flank, began riding downhill to where the roll of musketry was heard
but where on account of the smoke nothing could be seen. The nearer
they got to the hollow the less they could see but the more they
felt the nearness of the actual battlefield. They began to meet
wounded men. One with a bleeding head and no cap was being dragged
along by two soldiers who supported him under the arms. There was a
gurgle in his throat and he was spitting blood. A bullet had evidently
hit him in the throat or mouth. Another was walking sturdily by
himself but without his musket, groaning aloud and swinging his arm
which had just been hurt, while blood from it was streaming over his
greatcoat as from a bottle. He had that moment been wounded and his
face showed fear rather than suffering. Crossing a road they descended
a steep incline and saw several men lying on the ground; they also met
a crowd of soldiers some of whom were unwounded. The soldiers were
ascending the hill breathing heavily, and despite the general's
presence were talking loudly and gesticulating. In front of them
rows of gray cloaks were already visible through the smoke, and an
officer catching sight of Bagration rushed shouting after the crowd of
retreating soldiers, ordering them back. Bagration rode up to the
ranks along which shots crackled now here and now there, drowning
the sound of voices and the shouts of command. The whole air reeked
with smoke. The excited faces of the soldiers were blackened with
it. Some were using their ramrods, others putting powder on the
touchpans or taking charges from their pouches, while others were
firing, though who they were firing at could not be seen for the smoke
which there was no wind to carry away. A pleasant humming and
whistling of bullets were often heard. "What is this?" thought
Prince Andrew approaching the crowd of soldiers. "It can't be an
attack, for they are not moving; it can't be a square- for they are
not drawn up for that."
The commander of the regiment, a thin, feeble-looking old man with a
pleasant smile- his eyelids drooping more than half over his old eyes,
giving him a mild expression, rode up to Bagration and welcomed him as
a host welcomes an honored guest. He reported that his regiment had
been attacked by French cavalry and that, though the attack had been
repulsed, he had lost more than half his men. He said the attack had
been repulsed, employing this military term to describe what had
occurred to his regiment, but in reality he did not himself know
what had happened during that half-hour to the troops entrusted to
him, and could not say with certainty whether the attack had been
repulsed or his regiment had been broken up. All he knew was that at
the commencement of the action balls and shells began flying all
over his regiment and hitting men and that afterwards someone had
shouted "Cavalry!" and our men had begun firing. They were still
firing, not at the cavalry which had disappeared, but at French
infantry who had come into the hollow and were firing at our men.
Prince Bagration bowed his head as a sign that this was exactly what
he had desired and expected. Turning to his adjutant he ordered him to
bring down the two battalions of the Sixth Chasseurs whom they had
just passed. Prince Andrew was struck by the changed expression on
Prince Bagration's face at this moment. It expressed the
concentrated and happy resolution you see on the face of a man who
on a hot day takes a final run before plunging into the water. The
dull, sleepy expression was no longer there, nor the affectation of
profound thought. The round, steady, hawk's eyes looked before him
eagerly and rather disdainfully, not resting on anything although
his movements were still slow and measured.
The commander of the regiment turned to Prince Bagration, entreating
him to go back as it was too dangerous to remain where they were.
"Please, your excellency, for God's sake!" he kept saying, glancing
for support at an officer of the suite who turned away from him.
"There, you see!" and he drew attention to the bullets whistling,
singing, and hissing continually around them. He spoke in the tone
of entreaty and reproach that a carpenter uses to a gentleman who
has picked up an ax: "We are used to it, but you, sir, will blister
your hands." He spoke as if those bullets could not kill him, and
his half-closed eyes gave still more persuasiveness to his words.
The staff officer joined in the colonel's appeals, but Bagration did
not reply; he only gave an order to cease firing and re-form, so as to
give room for the two approaching battalions. While he was speaking,
the curtain of smoke that had concealed the hollow, driven by a rising
wind, began to move from right to left as if drawn by an invisible
hand, and the hill opposite, with the French moving about on it,
opened out before them. All eyes fastened involuntarily on this French
column advancing against them and winding down over the uneven ground.
One could already see the soldiers' shaggy caps, distinguish the
officers from the men, and see the standard flapping against its
"They march splendidly," remarked someone in Bagration's suite.
The head of the column had already descended into the hollow. The
clash would take place on this side of it...
The remains of our regiment which had been in action rapidly
formed up and moved to the right; from behind it, dispersing the
laggards, came two battalions of the Sixth Chasseurs in fine order.
Before they had reached Bagration, the weighty tread of the mass of
men marching in step could be heard. On their left flank, nearest to
Bagration, marched a company commander, a fine round-faced man, with a
stupid and happy expression- the same man who had rushed out of the
wattle shed. At that moment he was clearly thinking of nothing but how
dashing a fellow he would appear as he passed the commander.
With the self-satisfaction of a man on parade, he stepped lightly
with his muscular legs as if sailing along, stretching himself to
his full height without the smallest effort, his ease contrasting with
the heavy tread of the soldiers who were keeping step with him. He
carried close to his leg a narrow unsheathed sword (small, curved, and
not like a real weapon) and looked now at the superior officers and
now back at the men without losing step, his whole powerful body
turning flexibly. It was as if all the powers of his soul were
concentrated on passing the commander in the best possible manner, and
feeling that he was doing it well he was happy. "Left... left...
left..." he seemed to repeat to himself at each alternate step; and in
time to this, with stern but varied faces, the wall of soldiers
burdened with knapsacks and muskets marched in step, and each one of
these hundreds of soldiers seemed to be repeating to himself at each
alternate step, "Left... left... left..." A fat major skirted a
bush, puffing and falling out of step; a soldier who had fallen
behind, his face showing alarm at his defection, ran at a trot,
panting to catch up with his company. A cannon ball, cleaving the air,
flew over the heads of Bagration and his suite, and fell into the
column to the measure of "Left... left!" "Close up!" came the
company commander's voice in jaunty tones. The soldiers passed in a
semicircle round something where the ball had fallen, and an old
trooper on the flank, a noncommissioned officer who had stopped beside
the dead men, ran to catch up his line and, falling into step with a
hop, looked back angrily, and through the ominous silence and the
regular tramp of feet beating the ground in unison, one seemed to hear
left... left... left.
"Well done, lads!" said Prince Bagration.
"Glad to do our best, your ex'len-lency!" came a confused shout from
the ranks. A morose soldier marching on the left turned his eyes on
Bagration as he shouted, with an expression that seemed to say: "We
know that ourselves!" Another, without looking round, as though
fearing to relax, shouted with his mouth wide open and passed on.
The order was given to halt and down knapsacks.
Bagration rode round the ranks that had marched past him and
dismounted. He gave the reins to a Cossack, took off and handed over
his felt coat, stretched his legs, and set his cap straight. The
head of the French column, with its officers leading, appeared from
below the hill.
"Forward, with God!" said Bagration, in a resolute, sonorous
voice, turning for a moment to the front line, and slightly swinging
his arms, he went forward uneasily over the rough field with the
awkward gait of a cavalryman. Prince Andrew felt that an invisible
power was leading him forward, and experienced great happiness.
The French were already near. Prince Andrew, walking beside
Bagration, could clearly distinguish their bandoliers, red epaulets,
and even their faces. (He distinctly saw an old French officer who,
with gaitered legs and turned-out toes, climbed the hill with
difficulty.) Prince Bagration gave no further orders and silently
continued to walk on in front of the ranks. Suddenly one shot after
another rang out from the French, smoke appeared all along their
uneven ranks, and musket shots sounded. Several of our men fell, among
them the round-faced officer who had marched so gaily and
complacently. But at the moment the first report was heard,
Bagration looked round and shouted, "Hurrah!"
"Hurrah- ah!- ah!" rang a long-drawn shout from our ranks, and
passing Bagration and racing one another they rushed in an irregular
but joyous and eager crowd down the hill at their disordered foe.
The attack of the Sixth Chasseurs secured the retreat of our right
flank. In the center Tushin's forgotten battery, which had managed
to set fire to the Schon Grabern village, delayed the French
advance. The French were putting out the fire which the wind was
spreading, and thus gave us time to retreat. The retirement of the
center to the other side of the dip in the ground at the rear was
hurried and noisy, but the different companies did not get mixed.
But our left- which consisted of the Azov and Podolsk infantry and the
Pavlograd hussars- was simultaneously attacked and outflanked by
superior French forces under Lannes and was thrown into confusion.
Bagration had sent Zherkov to the general commanding that left flank
with orders to retreat immediately.
Zherkov, not removing his hand from his cap, turned his horse
about and galloped off. But no sooner had he left Bagration than his
courage failed him. He was seized by panic and could not go where it
Having reached the left flank, instead of going to the front where
the firing was, he began to look for the general and his staff where
they could not possibly be, and so did not deliver the order.
The command of the left flank belonged by seniority to the commander
of the regiment Kutuzov had reviewed at Braunau and in which
Dolokhov was serving as a private. But the command of the extreme left
flank had been assigned to the commander of the Pavlograd regiment
in which Rostov was serving, and a misunderstanding arose. The two
commanders were much exasperated with one another and, long after
the action had begun on the right flank and the French were already
advancing, were engaged in discussion with the sole object of
offending one another. But the regiments, both cavalry and infantry,
were by no means ready for the impending action. From privates to
general they were not expecting a battle and were engaged in
peaceful occupations, the cavalry feeding the horses and the
infantry collecting wood.
"He higher iss dan I in rank," said the German colonel of the
hussars, flushing and addressing an adjutant who had ridden up, "so
let him do what he vill, but I cannot sacrifice my hussars...
Bugler, sount ze retreat!"
But haste was becoming imperative. Cannon and musketry, mingling
together, thundered on the right and in the center, while the
capotes of Lannes' sharpshooters were already seen crossing the
milldam and forming up within twice the range of a musket shot. The
general in command of the infantry went toward his horse with jerky
steps, and having mounted drew himself up very straight and tall and
rode to the Pavlograd commander. The commanders met with polite bows
but with secret malevolence in their hearts.
"Once again, Colonel," said the general, "I can't leave half my
men in the wood. I beg of you, I beg of you," he repeated, "to
occupy the position and prepare for an attack."
"I peg of you yourself not to mix in vot is not your business!"
suddenly replied the irate colonel. "If you vere in the cavalry..."
"I am not in the cavalry, Colonel, but I am a Russian general and if
you are not aware of the fact..."
"Quite avare, your excellency," suddenly shouted the colonel,
touching his horse and turning purple in the face. "Vill you be so
goot to come to ze front and see dat zis position iss no goot? I don't
vish to destroy my men for your pleasure!"
"You forget yourself, Colonel. I am not considering my own
pleasure and I won't allow it to be said!"
Taking the colonel's outburst as a challenge to his courage, the
general expanded his chest and rode, frowning, beside him to the front
line, as if their differences would be settled there amongst the
bullets. They reached the front, several bullets sped over them, and
they halted in silence. There was nothing fresh to be seen from the
line, for from where they had been before it had been evident that
it was impossible for cavalry to act among the bushes and broken
ground, as well as that the French were outflanking our left. The
general and colonel looked sternly and significantly at one another
like two fighting cocks preparing for battle, each vainly trying to
detect signs of cowardice in the other. Both passed the examination
successfully. As there was nothing to said, and neither wished to give
occasion for it to be alleged that he had been the first to leave
the range of fire, they would have remained there for a long time
testing each other's courage had it not been that just then they heard
the rattle of musketry and a muffled shout almost behind them in the
wood. The French had attacked the men collecting wood in the copse. It
was no longer possible for the hussars to retreat with the infantry.
They were cut off from the line of retreat on the left by the
French. However inconvenient the position, it was now necessary to
attack in order to cut away through for themselves.
The squadron in which Rostov was serving had scarcely time to
mount before it was halted facing the enemy. Again, as at the Enns
bridge, there was nothing between the squadron and the enemy, and
again that terrible dividing line of uncertainty and fear-
resembling the line separating the living from the dead- lay between
them. All were conscious of this unseen line, and the question whether
they would cross it or not, and how they would cross it,
agitated them all.
The colonel rode to the front, angrily gave some reply to
questions put to him by the officers, and, like a man desperately
insisting on having his own way, gave an order. No one said anything
definite, but the rumor of an attack spread through the squadron.
The command to form up rang out and the sabers whizzed as they were
drawn from their scabbards. Still no one moved. The troops of the left
flank, infantry and hussars alike, felt that the commander did not
himself know what to do, and this irresolution communicated itself
to the men.
"If only they would be quick!" thought Rostov, feeling that at
last the time had come to experience the joy of an attack of which
he had so often heard from his fellow hussars.
"Fo'ward, with God, lads!" rang out Denisov's voice. "At a twot
The horses' croups began to sway in the front line. Rook pulled at
the reins and started of his own accord.
Before him, on the right, Rostov saw the front lines of his
hussars and still farther ahead a dark line which he could not see
distinctly but took to be the enemy. Shots could be heard, but some
"Faster!" came the word of command, and Rostov felt Rook's flanks
drooping as he broke into a gallop.
Rostov anticipated his horse's movements and became more and more
elated. He had noticed a solitary tree ahead of him. This tree had
been in the middle of the line that had seemed so terrible- and now he
had crossed that line and not only was there nothing terrible, but
everything was becoming more and more happy and animated. "Oh, how I
will slash at him!" thought Rostov, gripping the hilt of his saber.
"Hur-a-a-a-ah!" came a roar of voices. "Let anyone come my way now,"
thought Rostov driving his spurs into Rook and letting him go at a
full gallop so that he outstripped the others. Ahead, the enemy was
already visible. Suddenly something like a birch broom seemed to sweep
over the squadron. Rostov raised his saber, ready to strike, but at
that instant the trooper Nikitenko, who was galloping ahead, shot away
from him, and Rostov felt as in a dream that he continued to be
carried forward with unnatural speed but yet stayed on the same
spot. From behind him Bondarchuk, an hussar he knew, jolted against
him and looked angrily at him. Bondarchuk's horse swerved and galloped
"How is it I am not moving? I have fallen, I am killed!" Rostov
asked and answered at the same instant. He was alone in the middle
of a field. Instead of the moving horses and hussars' backs, he saw
nothing before him but the motionless earth and the stubble around
him. There was warm blood under his arm. "No, I am wounded and the
horse is killed." Rook tried to rise on his forelegs but fell back,
pinning his rider's leg. Blood was flowing from his head; he struggled
but could not rise. Rostov also tried to rise but fell back, his
sabretache having become entangled in the saddle. Where our men
were, and where the French, he did not know. There was no one near.
Having disentangled his leg, he rose. "Where, on which side, was now
the line that had so sharply divided the two armies?" he asked himself
and could not answer. "Can something bad have happened to me?" he
wondered as he got up: and at that moment he felt that something
superfluous was hanging on his benumbed left arm. The wrist felt as if
it were not his. He examined his hand carefully, vainly trying to find
blood on it. "Ah, here are people coming," he thought joyfully, seeing
some men running toward him. "They will help me!" In front came a
man wearing a strange shako and a blue cloak, swarthy, sunburned,
and with a hooked nose. Then came two more, and many more running
behind. One of them said something strange, not in Russian. In among
the hindmost of these men wearing similar shakos was a Russian hussar.
He was being held by the arms and his horse was being led behind him.
"It must be one of ours, a prisoner. Yes. Can it be that they will
take me too? Who are these men?" thought Rostov, scarcely believing
his eyes. "Can they be French?" He looked at the approaching
Frenchmen, and though but a moment before he had been galloping to get
at them and hack them to pieces, their proximity now seemed so awful
that he could not believe his eyes. "Who are they? Why are they
running? Can they be coming at me? And why? To kill me? Me whom
everyone is so fond of?" He remembered his mother's love for him,
and his family's, and his friends', and the enemy's intention to
kill him seemed impossible. "But perhaps they may do it!" For more
than ten seconds he stood not moving from the spot or realizing the
situation. The foremost Frenchman, the one with the hooked nose, was
already so close that the expression of his face could be seen. And
the excited, alien face of that man, his bayonet hanging down, holding
his breath, and running so lightly, frightened Rostov. He seized his
pistol and, instead of firing it, flung it at the Frenchman and ran
with all his might toward the bushes. He did not now run with the
feeling of doubt and conflict with which he had trodden the Enns
bridge, but with the feeling of a hare fleeing from the hounds. One
single sentiment, that of fear for his young and happy life, possessed
his whole being. Rapidly leaping the furrows, he fled across the field
with the impetuosity he used to show at catchplay, now and then
turning his good-natured, pale, young face to look back. A shudder
of terror went through him: "No, better not look," he thought, but
having reached the bushes he glanced round once more. The French had
fallen behind, and just as he looked round the first man changed his
run to a walk and, turning, shouted something loudly to a comrade
farther back. Rostov paused. "No, there's some mistake," thought he.
"They can't have wanted to kill me." But at the same time, his left
arm felt as heavy as if a seventy-pound weight were tied to it. He
could run no more. The Frenchman also stopped and took aim. Rostov
closed his eyes and stooped down. One bullet and then another whistled
past him. He mustered his last remaining strength, took hold of his
left hand with his right, and reached the bushes. Behind these were
some Russian sharpshooters.
The infantry regiments that had been caught unawares in the
outskirts of the wood ran out of it, the different companies getting
mixed, and retreated as a disorderly crowd. One soldier, in his
fear, uttered the senseless cry, "Cut off!" that is so terrible in
battle, and that word infected the whole crowd with a feeling of
"Surrounded! Cut off? We're lost!" shouted the fugitives.
The moment he heard the firing and the cry from behind, the
general realized that something dreadful had happened to his regiment,
and the thought that he, an exemplary officer of many years' service
who had never been to blame, might be held responsible at headquarters
for negligence or inefficiency so staggered him that, forgetting the
recalcitrant cavalry colonel, his own dignity as a general, and
above all quite forgetting the danger and all regard for
self-preservation, he clutched the crupper of his saddle and, spurring
his horse, galloped to the regiment under a hail of bullets which fell
around, but fortunately missed him. His one desire was to know what
was happening and at any cost correct, or remedy, the mistake if he
had made one, so that he, an exemplary officer of twenty-two years'
service, who had never been censured, should not be held to blame.
Having galloped safely through the French, he reached a field behind
the copse across which our men, regardless of orders, were running and
descending the valley. That moment of moral hesitation which decides
the fate of battles had arrived. Would this disorderly crowd of
soldiers attend to the voice of their commander, or would they,
disregarding him, continue their flight? Despite his desperate
shouts that used to seem so terrible to the soldiers, despite his
furious purple countenance distorted out of all likeness to his former
self, and the flourishing of his saber, the soldiers all continued
to run, talking, firing into the air, and disobeying orders. The moral
hesitation which decided the fate of battles was evidently culminating
in a panic.
The general had a fit of coughing as a result of shouting and of the
powder smoke and stopped in despair. Everything seemed lost. But at
that moment the French who were attacking, suddenly and without any
apparent reason, ran back and disappeared from the outskirts, and
Russian sharpshooters showed themselves in the copse. It was
Timokhin's company, which alone had maintained its order in the wood
and, having lain in ambush in a ditch, now attacked the French
unexpectedly. Timokhin, armed only with a sword, had rushed at the
enemy with such a desperate cry and such mad, drunken determination
that, taken by surprise, the French had thrown down their muskets
and run. Dolokhov, running beside Timokhin, killed a Frenchman at
close quarters and was the first to seize the surrendering French
officer by his collar. Our fugitives returned, the battalions
re-formed, and the French who had nearly cut our left flank in half
were for the moment repulsed. Our reserve units were able to join
up, and the fight was at an end. The regimental commander and Major
Ekonomov had stopped beside a bridge, letting the retreating companies
pass by them, when a soldier came up and took hold of the
commander's stirrup, almost leaning against him. The man was wearing a
bluish coat of broadcloth, he had no knapsack or cap, his head was
bandaged, and over his shoulder a French munition pouch was slung.
He had an officer's sword in his hand. The soldier was pale, his
blue eyes looked impudently into the commander's face, and his lips
were smiling. Though the commander was occupied in giving instructions
to Major Ekonomov, he could not help taking notice of the soldier.
"Your excellency, here are two trophies," said Dolokhov, pointing to
the French sword and pouch. "I have taken an officer prisoner. I
stopped the company." Dolokhov breathed heavily from weariness and
spoke in abrupt sentences. "The whole company can bear witness. I
beg you will remember this, your excellency!"
"All right, all right," replied the commander, and turned to Major
But Dolokhov did not go away; he untied the handkerchief around
his head, pulled it off, and showed the blood congealed on his hair.
"A bayonet wound. I remained at the front. Remember, your
Tushin's battery had been forgotten and only at the very end of
the action did Prince Bagration, still hearing the cannonade in the
center, send his orderly staff officer, and later Prince Andrew
also, to order the battery to retire as quickly as possible. When
the supports attached to Tushin's battery had been moved away in the
middle of the action by someone's order, the battery had continued
firing and was only not captured by the French because the enemy could
not surmise that anyone could have the effrontery to continue firing
from four quite undefended guns. On the contrary, the energetic action
of that battery led the French to suppose that here- in the center-
the main Russian forces were concentrated. Twice they had attempted to
attack this point, but on each occasion had been driven back by
grapeshot from the four isolated guns on the hillock.
Soon after Prince Bagration had left him, Tushin had succeeded in
setting fire to Schon Grabern.
"Look at them scurrying! It's burning! Just see the smoke! Fine!
Grand! Look at the smoke, the smoke!" exclaimed the artillerymen,
All the guns, without waiting for orders, were being fired in the
direction of the conflagration. As if urging each other on, the
soldiers cried at each shot: "Fine! That's good! Look at it... Grand!"
The fire, fanned by the breeze, was rapidly spreading. The French
columns that had advanced beyond the village went back; but as
though in revenge for this failure, the enemy placed ten guns to the
right of the village and began firing them at Tushin's battery.
In their childlike glee, aroused by the fire and their luck in
successfully cannonading the French, our artillerymen only noticed
this battery when two balls, and then four more, fell among our
guns, one knocking over two horses and another tearing off a
munition-wagon driver's leg. Their spirits once roused were,
however, not diminished, but only changed character. The horses were
replaced by others from a reserve gun carriage, the wounded were
carried away, and the four guns were turned against the ten-gun
battery. Tushin's companion officer had been killed at the beginning
of the engagement and within an hour seventeen of the forty men of the
guns' crews had been disabled, but the artillerymen were still as
merry and lively as ever. Twice they noticed the French appearing
below them, and then they fired grapeshot at them.
Little Tushin, moving feebly and awkwardly, kept telling his orderly
to "refill my pipe for that one!" and then, scattering sparks from it,
ran forward shading his eyes with his small hand to look at the
"Smack at 'em, lads!" he kept saying, seizing the guns by the wheels
and working the screws himself.
Amid the smoke, deafened by the incessant reports which always
made him jump, Tushin not taking his pipe from his mouth ran from
gun to gun, now aiming, now counting the charges, now giving orders
about replacing dead or wounded horses and harnessing fresh ones,
and shouting in his feeble voice, so high pitched and irresolute.
His face grew more and more animated. Only when a man was killed or
wounded did he frown and turn away from the sight, shouting angrily at
the men who, as is always the case, hesitated about lifting the
injured or dead. The soldiers, for the most part handsome fellows and,
as is always the case in an artillery company, a head and shoulders
taller and twice as broad as their officer- all looked at their
commander like children in an embarrassing situation, and the
expression on his face was invariably reflected on theirs.
Owing to the terrible uproar and the necessity for concentration and
activity, Tushin did not experience the slightest unpleasant sense
of fear, and the thought that he might be killed or badly wounded
never occurred to him. On the contrary, he became more and more
elated. It seemed to him that it was a very long time ago, almost a
day, since he had first seen the enemy and fired the first shot, and
that the corner of the field he stood on was well-known and familiar
ground. Though he thought of everything, considered everything, and
did everything the best of officers could do in his position, he was
in a state akin to feverish delirium or drunkenness.
From the deafening sounds of his own guns around him, the whistle
and thud of the enemy's cannon balls, from the flushed and
perspiring faces of the crew bustling round the guns, from the sight
of the blood of men and horses, from the little puffs of smoke on
the enemy's side (always followed by a ball flying past and striking
the earth, a man, a gun, a horse), from the sight of all these
things a fantastic world of his own had taken possession of his
brain and at that moment afforded him pleasure. The enemy's guns
were in his fancy not guns but pipes from which occasional puffs
were blown by an invisible smoker.
"There... he's puffing again," muttered Tushin to himself, as a
small cloud rose from the hill and was borne in a streak to the left
by the wind.
"Now look out for the ball... we'll throw it back."
"What do you want, your honor?" asked an artilleryman, standing
close by, who heard him muttering.
"Nothing... only a shell..." he answered.
"Come along, our Matvevna!" he said to himself. "Matvevna"* was
the name his fancy gave to the farthest gun of the battery, which
was large and of an old pattern. The French swarming round their
guns seemed to him like ants. In that world, the handsome drunkard
Number One of the second gun's crew was "uncle"; Tushin looked at
him more often than at anyone else and took delight in his every
movement. The sound of musketry at the foot of the hill, now
diminishing, now increasing, seemed like someone's breathing. He
listened intently to the ebb and flow of these sounds.
*Daughter of Matthew.
"Ah! Breathing again, breathing!" he muttered to himself.
He imagined himself as an enormously tall, powerful man who was
throwing cannon balls at the French with both hands.
"Now then, Matvevna, dear old lady, don't let me down!" he was
saying as he moved from the gun, when a strange, unfamiliar voice
called above his head: "Captain Tushin! Captain!"
Tushin turned round in dismay. It was the staff officer who had
turned him out of the booth at Grunth. He was shouting in a gasping
"Are you mad? You have twice been ordered to retreat, and you..."
"Why are they down on me?" thought Tushin, looking in alarm at his
"I... don't..." he muttered, holding up two fingers to his cap.
But the staff officer did not finish what he wanted to say. A cannon
ball, flying close to him, caused him to duck and bend over his horse.
He paused, and just as he was about to say something more, another
ball stopped him. He turned his horse and galloped off.
"Retire! All to retire!" he shouted from a distance.
The soldiers laughed. A moment later, an adjutant arrived with the
It was Prince Andrew. The first thing he saw on riding up to the
space where Tushin's guns were stationed was an unharnessed horse with
a broken leg, that lay screaming piteously beside the harnessed
horses. Blood was gushing from its leg as from a spring. Among the
limbers lay several dead men. One ball after another passed over as he
approached and he felt a nervous shudder run down his spine. But the
mere thought of being afraid roused him again. "I cannot be afraid,"
thought he, and dismounted slowly among the guns. He delivered the
order and did not leave the battery. He decided to have the guns
removed from their positions and withdrawn in his presence. Together
with Tushin, stepping across the bodies and under a terrible fire from
the French, he attended to the removal of the guns.
"A staff officer was here a minute ago, but skipped off," said an
artilleryman to Prince Andrew. "Not like your honor!"
Prince Andrew said nothing to Tushin. They were both so busy as to
seem not to notice one another. When having limbered up the only two
cannon that remained uninjured out of the four, they began moving down
the hill (one shattered gun and one unicorn were left behind),
Prince Andrew rode up to Tushin.
"Well, till we meet again..." he said, holding out his hand to
"Good-by, my dear fellow," said Tushin. "Dear soul! Good-by, my dear
fellow!" and for some unknown reason tears suddenly filled his eyes.
The wind had fallen and black clouds, merging with the powder smoke,
hung low over the field of battle on the horizon. It was growing
dark and the glow of two conflagrations was the more conspicuous.
The cannonade was dying down, but the rattle of musketry behind and on
the right sounded oftener and nearer. As soon as Tushin with his guns,
continually driving round or coming upon wounded men, was out of range
of fire and had descended into the dip, he was met by some of the
staff, among them the staff officer and Zherkov, who had been twice
sent to Tushin's battery but had never reached it. Interrupting one
another, they all gave, and transmitted, orders as to how to
proceed, reprimanding and reproaching him. Tushin gave no orders, and,
silently- fearing to speak because at every word he felt ready to weep
without knowing why- rode behind on his artillery nag. Though the
orders were to abandon the wounded, many of them dragged themselves
after troops and begged for seats on the gun carriages. The jaunty
infantry officer who just before the battle had rushed out of Tushin's
wattle shed was laid, with a bullet in his stomach, on "Matvevna's"
carriage. At the foot of the hill, a pale hussar cadet, supporting one
hand with the other, came up to Tushin and asked for a seat.
"Captain, for God's sake! I've hurt my arm," he said timidly. "For
God's sake... I can't walk. For God's sake!"
It was plain that this cadet had already repeatedly asked for a lift
and been refused. He asked in a hesitating, piteous voice.
"Tell them to give me a seat, for God's sake!"
"Give him a seat," said Tushin. "Lay a cloak for him to sit on,
lad," he said, addressing his favorite soldier. "And where is the
"He has been set down. He died," replied someone.
"Help him up. Sit down, dear fellow, sit down! Spread out the cloak,
The cadet was Rostov. With one hand he supported the other; he was
pale and his jaw trembled, shivering feverishly. He was placed on
"Matvevna," the gun from which they had removed the dead officer.
The cloak they spread under him was wet with blood which stained his
breeches and arm.
"What, are you wounded, my lad?" said Tushin, approaching the gun on
which Rostov sat.
"No, it's a sprain."
"Then what is this blood on the gun carriage?" inquired Tushin.
"It was the officer, your honor, stained it," answered the
artilleryman, wiping away the blood with his coat sleeve, as if
apologizing for the state of his gun.
It was all that they could do to get the guns up the rise aided by
the infantry, and having reached the village of Gruntersdorf they
halted. It had grown so dark that one could not distinguish the
uniforms ten paces off, and the firing had begun to subside. Suddenly,
near by on the right, shouting and firing were again heard. Flashes of
shot gleamed in the darkness. This was the last French attack and
was met by soldiers who had sheltered in the village houses. They
all rushed out of the village again, but Tushin's guns could not move,
and the artillerymen, Tushin, and the cadet exchanged silent glances
as they awaited their fate. The firing died down and soldiers, talking
eagerly, streamed out of a side street.
"Not hurt, Petrov?" asked one.
"We've given it 'em hot, mate! They won't make another push now,"
"You couldn't see a thing. How they shot at their own fellows!
Nothing could be seen. Pitch-dark, brother! Isn't there something to
The French had been repulsed for the last time. And again and
again in the complete darkness Tushin's guns moved forward, surrounded
by the humming infantry as by a frame.
In the darkness, it seemed as though a gloomy unseen river was
flowing always in one direction, humming with whispers and talk and
the sound of hoofs and wheels. Amid the general rumble, the groans and
voices of the wounded were more distinctly heard than any other
sound in the darkness of the night. The gloom that enveloped the
army was filled with their groans, which seemed to melt into one
with the darkness of the night. After a while the moving mass became
agitated, someone rode past on a white horse followed by his suite,
and said something in passing: "What did he say? Where to, now?
Halt, is it? Did he thank us?" came eager questions from all sides.
The whole moving mass began pressing closer together and a report
spread that they were ordered to halt: evidently those in front had
halted. All remained where they were in the middle of the muddy road.
Fires were lighted and the talk became more audible. Captain Tushin,
having given orders to his company, sent a soldier to find a
dressing station or a doctor for the cadet, and sat down by a
bonfire the soldiers had kindled on the road. Rostov, too, dragged
himself to the fire. From pain, cold, and damp, a feverish shivering
shook his whole body. Drowsiness was irresistibly mastering him, but
he kept awake by an excruciating pain in his arm, for which
he could find no satisfactory position. He kept closing his eyes and
then again looking at the fire, which seemed to him dazzlingly red,
and at the feeble, round-shouldered figure of Tushin who was sitting
cross-legged like a Turk beside him. Tushin's large, kind, intelligent
eyes were fixed with sympathy and commiseration on Rostov, who saw
that Tushin with his whole heart wished to help him but could not.
From all sides were heard the footsteps and talk of the infantry,
who were walking, driving past, and settling down all around. The
sound of voices, the tramping feet, the horses' hoofs moving in mud,
the crackling of wood fires near and afar, merged into one tremulous
It was no longer, as before, a dark, unseen river flowing through
the gloom, but a dark sea swelling and gradually subsiding after a
storm. Rostov looked at and listened listlessly to what passed
before and around him. An infantryman came to the fire, squatted on
his heels, held his hands to the blaze, and turned away his face.
"You don't mind your honor?" he asked Tushin. "I've lost my company,
your honor. I don't know where... such bad luck!"
With the soldier, an infantry officer with a bandaged cheek came
up to the bonfire, and addressing Tushin asked him to have the guns
moved a trifle to let a wagon go past. After he had gone, two soldiers
rushed to the campfire. They were quarreling and fighting desperately,
each trying to snatch from the other a boot they were both holding
"You picked it up?... I dare say! You're very smart!" one of them
Then a thin, pale soldier, his neck bandaged with a bloodstained leg
band, came up and in angry tones asked the artillerymen for water.
"Must one die like a dog?" said he.
Tushin told them to give the man some water. Then a cheerful soldier
ran up, begging a little fire for the infantry.
"A nice little hot torch for the infantry! Good luck to you,
fellow countrymen. Thanks for the fire- we'll return it with
interest," said he, carrying away into the darkness a glowing stick.
Next came four soldiers, carrying something heavy on a cloak, and
passed by the fire. One of them stumbled.
"Who the devil has put the logs on the road?" snarled he.
"He's dead- why carry him?" said another.
And they disappeared into the darkness with with their load.
"Still aching?" Tushin asked Rostov in a whisper.
"Your honor, you're wanted by the general. He is in the hut here,"
said a gunner, coming up to Tushin.
Tushin rose and, buttoning his greatcoat and pulling it straight,
walked away from the fire.
Not far from the artillery campfire, in a hut that had been prepared
for him, Prince Bagration sat at dinner, talking with some
commanding officers who had gathered at his quarters. The little old
man with the half-closed eyes was there greedily gnawing a mutton
bone, and the general who had served blamelessly for twenty-two years,
flushed by a glass of vodka and the dinner; and the staff officer with
the signet ring, and Zherkov, uneasily glancing at them all, and
Prince Andrew, pale, with compressed lips and feverishly glittering
In a corner of the hut stood a standard captured from the French,
and the accountant with the naive face was feeling its texture,
shaking his head in perplexity- perhaps because the banner really
interested him, perhaps because it was hard for him, hungry as he was,
to look on at a dinner where there was no place for him. In the next
hut there was a French colonel who had been taken prisoner by our
dragoons. Our officers were flocking in to look at him. Prince
Bagration was thanking the individual commanders and inquiring into
details of the action and our losses. The general whose regiment had
been inspected at Braunau was informing the prince that as soon as the
action began he had withdrawn from the wood, mustered the men who were
woodcutting, and, allowing the French to pass him, had made a
bayonet charge with two battalions and had broken up the French
"When I saw, your excellency, that their first battalion was
disorganized, I stopped in the road and thought: 'I'll let them come
on and will meet them with the fire of the whole battalion'- and
that's what I did."
The general had so wished to do this and was so sorry he had not
managed to do it that it seemed to him as if it had really happened.
Perhaps it might really have been so? Could one possibly make out amid
all that confusion what did or did not happen?
"By the way, your excellency, I should inform you," he continued-
remembering Dolokhov's conversation with Kutuzov and his last
interview with the gentleman-ranker- "that Private Dolokhov, who was
reduced to the ranks, took a French officer prisoner in my presence
and particularly distinguished himself."
"I saw the Pavlograd hussars attack there, your excellency,"
chimed in Zherkov, looking uneasily around. He had not seen the
hussars all that day, but had heard about them from an infantry
officer. "They broke up two squares, your excellency."
Several of those present smiled at Zherkov's words, expecting one of
his usual jokes, but noticing that what he was saying redounded to the
glory of our arms and of the day's work, they assumed a serious
expression, though many of them knew that what he was saying was a lie
devoid of any foundation. Prince Bagration turned to the old colonel:
"Gentlemen, I thank you all; all arms have behaved heroically:
infantry, cavalry, and artillery. How was it that two guns were
abandoned in the center?" he inquired, searching with his eyes for
someone. (Prince Bagration did not ask about the guns on the left
flank; he knew that all the guns there had been abandoned at the
very beginning of the action.) "I think I sent you?" he added, turning
to the staff officer on duty.
"One was damaged," answered the staff officer, "and the other I
can't understand. I was there all the time giving orders and had
only just left.... It is true that it was hot there," he added,
Someone mentioned that Captain Tushin was bivouacking close to the
village and had already been sent for.
"Oh, but you were there?" said Prince Bagration, addressing Prince
"Of course, we only just missed one another," said the staff
officer, with a smile to Bolkonski.
"I had not the pleasure of seeing you," said Prince Andrew, coldly
All were silent. Tushin appeared at the threshold and made his way
timidly from behind the backs of the generals. As he stepped past
the generals in the crowded hut, feeling embarrassed as he always
was by the sight of his superiors, he did not notice the staff of
the banner and stumbled over it. Several of those present laughed.
"How was it a gun was abandoned?" asked Bagration, frowning, not
so much at the captain as at those who were laughing, among whom
Zherkov laughed loudest.
Only now, when he was confronted by the stern authorities, did his
guilt and the disgrace of having lost two guns and yet remaining alive
present themselves to Tushin in all their horror. He had been so
excited that he had not thought about it until that moment. The
officers' laughter confused him still more. He stood before
Bagration with his lower jaw trembling and was hardly able to
mutter: "I don't know... your excellency... I had no men... your
"You might have taken some from the covering troops."
Tushin did not say that there were no covering troops, though that
was perfectly true. He was afraid of getting some other officer into
trouble, and silently fixed his eyes on Bagration as a schoolboy who
has blundered looks at an examiner.
The silence lasted some time. Prince Bagration, apparently not
wishing to be severe, found nothing to say; the others did not venture
to intervene. Prince Andrew looked at Tushin from under his brows
and his fingers twitched nervously.
"Your excellency!" Prince Andrew broke the silence with his abrupt
voice," you were pleased to send me to Captain Tushin's battery. I
went there and found two thirds of the men and horses knocked out, two
guns smashed, and no supports at all."
Prince Bagration and Tushin looked with equal intentness at
Bolkonski, who spoke with suppressed agitation.
"And, if your excellency will allow me to express my opinion," he
continued, "we owe today's success chiefly to the action of that
battery and the heroic endurance of Captain Tushin and his company,"
and without awaiting a reply, Prince Andrew rose and left the table.
Prince Bagration looked at Tushin, evidently reluctant to show
distrust in Bolkonski's emphatic opinion yet not feeling able fully to
credit it, bent his head, and told Tushin that he could go. Prince
Andrew went out with him.
"Thank you; you saved me, my dear fellow!" said Tushin.
Prince Andrew gave him a look, but said nothing and went away. He
felt sad and depressed. It was all so strange, so unlike what he had
"Who are they? Why are they here? What do they want? And when will
all this end?" thought Rostov, looking at the changing shadows
before him. The pain in his arm became more and more intense.
Irresistible drowsiness overpowered him, red rings danced before his
eyes, and the impression of those voices and faces and a sense of
loneliness merged with the physical pain. It was they, these soldiers-
wounded and unwounded- it was they who were crushing, weighing down,
and twisting the sinews and scorching the flesh of his sprained arm
and shoulder. To rid himself of them he closed his eyes.
For a moment he dozed, but in that short interval innumerable things
appeared to him in a dream: his mother and her large white hand,
Sonya's thin little shoulders, Natasha's eyes and laughter, Denisov
with his voice and mustache, and Telyanin and all that affair with
Telyanin and Bogdanich. That affair was the same thing as this soldier
with the harsh voice, and it was that affair and this soldier that
were so agonizingly, incessantly pulling and pressing his arm and
always dragging it in one direction. He tried to get away from them,
but they would not for an instant let his shoulder move a hair's
breadth. It would not ache- it would be well- if only they did not
pull it, but it was immpossible to get rid of them.
He opened his eyes and looked up. The black canopy of night hung
less than a yard above the glow of the charcoal. Flakes of falling
snow were fluttering in that light. Tushin had not returned, the
doctor had not come. He was alone now, except for a soldier who was
sitting naked at the other side of the fire, warming his thin yellow
"Nobody wants me!" thought Rostov. "There is no one to help me or
pity me. Yet I was once at home, strong, happy, and loved." He
sighed and, doing so, groaned involuntarily.
"Eh, is anything hurting you?" asked the soldier, shaking his
shirt out over the fire, and not waiting for an answer he gave a grunt
and added: "What a lot of men have been crippled today- frightful!"
Rostov did not listen to the soldier. He looked at the snowflakes
fluttering above the fire and remembered a Russian winter at his warm,
bright home, his fluffy fur coat, his quickly gliding sleigh, his
healthy body, and all the affection and care of his family. "And why
did I come here?" he wondered.
Next day the French army did not renew their attack, and the remnant
of Bagration's detachment was reunited to Kutuzov's army.
BOOK THREE: 1805
Prince Vasili was not a man who deliberately thought out his
plans. Still less did he think of injuring anyone for his own
advantage. He was merely a man of the world who had got on and to whom
getting on had become a habit. Schemes and devices for which he
never rightly accounted to himself, but which formed the whole
interest of his life, were constantly shaping themselves in his
mind, arising from the circumstances and persons he met. Of these
plans he had not merely one or two in his head but dozens, some only
beginning to form themselves, some approaching achievement, and some
in course of disintegration. He did not, for instance, say to himself:
"This man now has influence, I must gain his confidence and friendship
and through him obtain a special grant." Nor did he say to himself:
"Pierre is a rich man, I must entice him to marry my daughter and lend
me the forty thousand rubles I need." But when he came across
a man of position his instinct immediately told him that this
man could be useful, and without any premeditation Prince Vasili
took the first opportunity to gain his confidence, flatter him, become
intimate with him, and finally make his request.
He had Pierre at hand in Moscow and procured for him an
appointment as Gentleman of the Bedchamber, which at that time
conferred the status of Councilor of State, and insisted on the
young man accompanying him to Petersburg and staying at his house.
With apparent absent-mindedness, yet with unhesitating assurance
that he was doing the right thing, Prince Vasili did everything to get
Pierre to marry his daughter. Had he thought out his plans
beforehand he could not have been so natural and shown such unaffected
familiarity in intercourse with everybody both above and below him
in social standing. Something always drew him toward those richer
and more powerful than himself and he had rare skill in seizing the
most opportune moment for making use of people.
Pierre, on unexpectedly becoming Count Bezukhov and a rich man, felt
himself after his recent loneliness and freedom from cares so beset
and preoccupied that only in bed was he able to be by himself. He
had to sign papers, to present himself at government offices, the
purpose of which was not clear to him, to question his chief
steward, to visit his estate near Moscow, and to receive many people
who formerly did not even wish to know of his existence but would
now have been offended and grieved had he chosen not to see them.
These different people- businessmen, relations, and acquaintances
alike- were all disposed to treat the young heir in the most
friendly and flattering manner: they were all evidently firmly
convinced of Pierre's noble qualities. He was always hearing such
words as: "With your remarkable kindness," or, "With your excellent
heart," "You are yourself so honorable Count," or, "Were he as
clever as you," and so on, till he began sincerely to believe in his
own exceptional kindness and extraordinary intelligence, the more so
as in the depth of his heart it had always seemed to him that he
really was very kind and intelligent. Even people who had formerly
been spiteful toward him and evidently unfriendly now became gentle
and affectionate. The angry eldest princess, with the long waist and
hair plastered down like a doll's, had come into Pierre's room after
the funeral. With drooping eyes and frequent blushes she told him
she was very sorry about their past misunderstandings and did not
now feel she had a right to ask him for anything, except only for
permission, after the blow she had received, to remain for a few weeks
longer in the house she so loved and where she had sacrificed so much.
She could not refrain from weeping at these words. Touched that this
statuesque princess could so change, Pierre took her hand and begged
her forgiveness, without knowing what for. From that day the eldest
princess quite changed toward Pierre and began knitting a striped
scarf for him.
"Do this for my sake, mon cher; after all, she had to put up with
a great deal from the deceased," said Prince Vasili to him, handing
him a deed to sign for the princess' benefit.
Prince Vasili had come to the conclusion that it was necessary to
throw this bone- a bill for thirty thousand rubles- to the poor
princess that it might not occur to her to speak of his share in the
affair of the inlaid portfolio. Pierre signed the deed and after
that the princess grew still kinder. The younger sisters also became
affectionate to him, especially the youngest, the pretty one with
the mole, who often made him feel confused by her smiles and her own
confusion when meeting him.
It seemed so natural to Pierre that everyone should like him, and it
would have seemed so unnatural had anyone disliked him, that he
could not but believe in the sincerity of those around him. Besides,
he had no time to ask himself whether these people were sincere or
not. He was always busy and always felt in a state of mild and
cheerful intoxication. He felt as though he were the center of some
important and general movement; that something was constantly expected
of him, that if he did not do it he would grieve and disappoint many
people, but if he did this and that, all would be well; and he did
what was demanded of him, but still that happy result always
remained in the future.
More than anyone else, Prince Vasili took possession of Pierre's
affairs and of Pierre himself in those early days. From the death of
Count Bezukhov he did not let go his hold of the lad. He had the air
of a man oppressed by business, weary and suffering, who yet would
not, for pity's sake, leave this helpless youth who, after all, was
the son of his old friend and the possessor of such enormous wealth,
to the caprice of fate and the designs of rogues. During the few
days he spent in Moscow after the death of Count Bezukhov, he would
call Pierre, or go to him himself, and tell him what ought to be
done in a tone of weariness and assurance, as if he were adding
every time: "You know I am overwhelmed with business and it is
purely out of charity that I trouble myself about you, and you also
know quite well that what I propose is the only thing possible."
"Well, my dear fellow, tomorrow we are off at last," said Prince
Vasili one day, closing his eyes and fingering Pierre's elbow,
speaking as if he were saying something which had long since been
agreed upon and could not now be altered. "We start tomorrow and I'm
giving you a place in my carriage. I am very glad. All our important
business here is now settled, and I ought to have been off long ago.
Here is something I have received from the chancellor. I asked him for
you, and you have been entered in the diplomatic corps and made a
Gentleman of the Bedchamber. The diplomatic career now lies open
Notwithstanding the tone of wearied assurance with which these words
were pronounced, Pierre, who had so long been considering his
career, wished to make some suggestion. But Prince Vasili
interrupted him in the special deep cooing tone, precluding the
possibility of interrupting his speech, which he used in extreme cases
when special persuasion was needed.
"Mais, mon cher, I did this for my own sake, to satisfy my
conscience, and there is nothing to thank me for. No one has ever
complained yet of being too much loved; and besides, you are free, you
could throw it up tomorrow. But you will see everything for yourself
when you get to Petersburg. It is high time for you to get away from
these terrible recollections." Prince Vasili sighed. "Yes, yes, my
boy. And my valet can go in your carriage. Ah! I was nearly
forgetting," he added. "You know, mon cher, your father and I had some
accounts to settle, so I have received what was due from the Ryazan
estate and will keep it; you won't require it. We'll go into the
By "what was due from the Ryazan estate" Prince Vasili meant several
thousand rubles quitrent received from Pierre's peasants, which the
prince had retained for himself.
In Petersburg, as in Moscow, Pierre found the same atmosphere of
gentleness and affection. He could not refuse the post, or rather
the rank (for he did nothing), that Prince Vasili had procured for
him, and acquaintances, invitations, and social occupations were so
numerous that, even more than in Moscow, he felt a sense of
bewilderment, bustle, and continual expectation of some good, always
in front of him but never attained.
Of his former bachelor acquaintances many were no longer in
Petersburg. The Guards had gone to the front; Dolokhov had been
reduced to the ranks; Anatole was in the army somewhere in the
provinces; Prince Andrew was abroad; so Pierre had not the opportunity
to spend his nights as he used to like to spend them, or to open his
mind by intimate talks with a friend older than himself and whom he
respected. His whole time was taken up with dinners and balls and
was spent chiefly at Prince Vasili's house in the company of the stout
princess, his wife, and his beautiful daughter Helene.
Like the others, Anna Pavlovna Scherer showed Pierre the change of
attitude toward him that had taken place in society.
Formerly in Anna Pavlovna's presence, Pierre had always felt that
what he was saying was out of place, tactless and unsuitable, that
remarks which seemed to him clever while they formed in his mind
became foolish as soon as he uttered them, while on the contrary
Hippolyte's stupidest remarks came out clever and apt. Now
everything Pierre said was charmant. Even if Anna Pavlovna did not say
so, he could see that she wished to and only refrained out of regard
for his modesty.
In the beginning of the winter of 1805-6 Pierre received one of Anna
Pavlovna's usual pink notes with an invitation to which was added:
"You will find the beautiful Helene here, whom it is always delightful
When he read that sentence, Pierre felt for the first time that some
link which other people recognized had grown up between himself and
Helene, and that thought both alarmed him, as if some obligation
were being imposed on him which he could not fulfill, and pleased
him as an entertaining supposition.
Anna Pavlovna's "At Home" was like the former one, only the
novelty she offered her guests this time was not Mortemart, but a
diplomatist fresh from Berlin with the very latest details of the
Emperor Alexander's visit to Potsdam, and of how the two august
friends had pledged themselves in an indissoluble alliance to uphold
the cause of justice against the enemy of the human race. Anna
Pavlovna received Pierre with a shade of melancholy, evidently
relating to the young man's recent loss by the death of Count Bezukhov
(everyone constantly considered it a duty to assure Pierre that he was
greatly afflicted by the death of the father he had hardly known), and
her melancholy was just like the august melancholy she showed at the
mention of her most august Majesty the Empress Marya Fedorovna. Pierre
felt flattered by this. Anna Pavlovna arranged the different groups in
her drawing room with her habitual skill. The large group, in which
were Prince Vasili and the generals, had the benefit of the
diplomat. Another group was at the tea table. Pierre wished to join
the former, but Anna Pavlovna- who was in the excited condition of a
commander on a battlefield to whom thousands of new and brilliant
ideas occur which there is hardly time to put in action- seeing
Pierre, touched his sleeve with her finger, saying:
"Wait a bit, I have something in view for you this evening." (She
glanced at Helene and smiled at her.) "My dear Helene, be charitable
to my poor aunt who adores you. Go and keep her company for ten
minutes. And that it will not be too dull, here is the dear count
who will not refuse to accompany you."
The beauty went to the aunt, but Anna Pavlovna detained Pierre,
looking as if she had to give some final necessary instructions.
"Isn't she exquisite?" she said to Pierre, pointing to the stately
beauty as she glided away. "And how she carries herself! For so
young a girl, such tact, such masterly perfection of manner! It
comes from her heart. Happy the man who wins her! With her the least
worldly of men would occupy a most brilliant position in society.
Don't you think so? I only wanted to know your opinion," and Anna
Pavlovna let Pierre go.
Pierre, in reply, sincerely agreed with her as to Helene's
perfection of manner. If he ever thought of Helene, it was just of her
beauty and her remarkable skill in appearing silently dignified in
The old aunt received the two young people in her corner, but seemed
desirous of hiding her adoration for Helene and inclined rather to
show her fear of Anna Pavlovna. She looked at her niece, as if
inquiring what she was to do with these people. On leaving them,
Anna Pavlovna again touched Pierre's sleeve, saying: "I hope you won't
say that it is dull in my house again," and she glanced at Helene.
Helene smiled, with a look implying that she did not admit the
possibility of anyone seeing her without being enchanted. The aunt
coughed, swallowed, and said in French that she was very pleased to
see Helene, then she turned to Pierre with the same words of welcome
and the same look. In the middle of a dull and halting conversation,
Helene turned to Pierre with the beautiful bright smile that she
gave to everyone. Pierre was so used to that smile, and it had so
little meaning for him, that he paid no attention to it. The aunt
was just speaking of a collection of snuffboxes that had belonged to
Pierre's father, Count Bezukhov, and showed them her own box. Princess
Helene asked to see the portrait of the aunt's husband on the box lid.
"That is probably the work of Vinesse," said Pierre, mentioning a
celebrated miniaturist, and he leaned over the table to take the
snuffbox while trying to hear what was being said at the other table.
He half rose, meaning to go round, but the aunt handed him the
snuffbox, passing it across Helene's back. Helene stooped forward to
make room, and looked round with a smile. She was, as always at
evening parties, wearing a dress such as was then fashionable, cut
very low at front and back. Her bust, which had always seemed like
marble to Pierre, was so close to him that his shortsighted eyes could
not but perceive the living charm of her neck and shoulders, so near
to his lips that he need only have bent his head a little to have
touched them. He was conscious of the warmth of her body, the scent of
perfume, and the creaking of her corset as she moved. He did not see
her marble beauty forming a complete whole with her dress, but all the
charm of her body only covered by her garments. And having once seen
this he could not help being aware it, just as we cannot renew an
illusion we have once seen through.
"So you have never noticed before how beautiful I am?" Helene seemed
to say. "You had not noticed that I am a woman? Yes, I am a woman
who may belong to anyone- to you too," said her glance. And at that
moment Pierre felt that Helene not only could, but must, be his
wife, and that it could not be otherwise.
He knew this at that moment as surely as if he had been standing
at the altar with her. How and when this would be he did not know,
he did not even know if it would be a good thing (he even felt, he
knew not why, that it would be a bad thing), but he knew it would
Pierre dropped his eyes, lifted them again, and wished once more
to see her as a distant beauty far removed from him, as he had seen
her every day until then, but he could no longer do it. He could
not, any more than a man who has been looking at a tuft of steppe
grass through the mist and taking it for a tree can again take it
for a tree after he has once recognized it to be a tuft of grass.
She was terribly close to him. She already had power over him, and
between them there was no longer any barrier except the barrier of his
"Well, I will leave you in your little corner," came Anna Pavlovna's
voice, "I see you are all right there."
And Pierre, anxiously trying to remember whether he had done
anything reprehensible, looked round with a blush. It seemed to him
that everyone knew what had happened to him as he knew it himself.
A little later when he went up to the large circle, Anna Pavlovna
said to him: "I hear you are refitting your Petersburg house?"
This was true. The architect had told him that it was necessary, and
Pierre, without knowing why, was having his enormous Petersburg
house done up.
"That's a good thing, but don't move from Prince Vasili's. It is
good to have a friend like the prince," she said, smiling at Prince
Vasili. "I know something about that. Don't I? And you are still so
young. You need advice. Don't be angry with me for exercising an old
She paused, as women always do, expecting something after they
have mentioned their age. "If you marry it will be a different thing,"
she continued, uniting them both in one glance. Pierre did not look at
Helene nor she at him. But she was just as terribly close to him. He
muttered something and colored.
When he got home he could not sleep for a long time for thinking
of what had happened. What had happened? Nothing. He had merely
understood that the woman he had known as a child, of whom when her
beauty was mentioned he had said absent-mindedly: "Yes, she's good
looking," he had understood that this woman might belong to him.
"But she's stupid. I have myself said she is stupid," he thought.
"There is something nasty, something wrong, in the feeling she excites
in me. I have been told that her brother Anatole was in love with
her and she with him, that there was quite a scandal and that that's
why he was sent away. Hippolyte is her brother... Prince Vasili is her
father... It's bad...." he reflected, but while he was thinking this
(the reflection was still incomplete), he caught himself smiling and
was conscious that another line of thought had sprung up, and while
thinking of her worthlessness he was also dreaming of how she would be
his wife, how she would love him become quite different, and how all
he had thought and heard of her might be false. And he again saw her
not as the daughter of Prince Vasili, but visualized her whole body
only veiled by its gray dress. "But no! Why did this thought never
occur to me before?" and again he told himself that it was impossible,
that there would be something unnatural, and as it seemed to him
dishonorable, in this marriage. He recalled her former words and looks
and the words and looks of those who had seen them together. He
recalled Anna Pavlovna's words and looks when she spoke to him about
his house, recalled thousands of such hints from Prince Vasili and
others, and was seized by terror lest he had already, in some way,
bound himself to do something that was evidently wrong and that he
ought not to do. But at the very time he was expressing this
conviction to himself, in another part of his mind her image rose in
all its womanly beauty.
In November, 1805, Prince Vasili had to go on a tour of inspection
in four different provinces. He had arranged this for himself so as to
visit his neglected estates at the same time and pick up his son
Anatole where his regiment was stationed, and take him to visit Prince
Nicholas Bolkonski in order to arrange a match for him with the
daughter of that rich old man. But before leaving home and undertaking
these new affairs, Prince Vasili had to settle matters with Pierre,
who, it is true, had latterly spent whole days at home, that is, in
Prince Vasili's house where he was staying, and had been absurd,
excited, and foolish in Helene's presence (as a lover should be),
but had not yet proposed to her.
"This is all very fine, but things must be settled," said Prince
Vasili to himself, with a sorrowful sigh, one morning, feeling that
Pierre who was under such obligations to him ("But never mind that")
was not behaving very well in this matter. "Youth, frivolity...
well, God be with him," thought he, relishing his own goodness of
heart, "but it must be brought to a head. The day after tomorrow
will be Lelya's name day. I will invite two or three people, and if he
does not understand what he ought to do then it will be my affair-
yes, my affair. I am her father."
Six weeks after Anna Pavlovna's "At Home" and after the sleepless
night when he had decided that to marry Helene would be a calamity and
that he ought to avoid her and go away, Pierre, despite that decision,
had not left Prince Vasili's and felt with terror that in people's
eyes he was every day more and more connected with her, that it was
impossible for him to return to his former conception of her, that
he could not break away from her, and that though it would be a
terrible thing he would have to unite his fate with hers. He might
perhaps have been able to free himself but that Prince Vasili (who had
rarely before given receptions) now hardly let a day go by without
having an evening party at which Pierre had to be present unless he
wished to spoil the general pleasure and disappoint everyone's
expectation. Prince Vasili, in the rare moments when he was at home,
would take Pierre's hand in passing and draw it downwards, or
absent-mindedly hold out his wrinkled, clean-shaven cheek for Pierre
to kiss and would say: "Till tomorrow," or, "Be in to dinner or I
shall not see you," or, "I am staying in for your sake," and so on.
And though Prince Vasili, when he stayed in (as he said) for
Pierre's sake, hardly exchanged a couple of words with him, Pierre
felt unable to disappoint him. Every day he said to himself one and
the same thing: "It is time I understood her and made up my mind
what she really is. Was I mistaken before, or am I mistaken now? No,
she is not stupid, she is an excellent girl," he sometimes said to
himself "she never makes a mistake, never says anything stupid. She
says little, but what she does say is always clear and simple, so
she is not stupid. She never was abashed and is not abashed now, so
she cannot be a bad woman!" He had often begun to make reflections
or think aloud in her company, and she had always answered him
either by a brief but appropriate remark- showing that it did not
interest her- or by a silent look and smile which more palpably than
anything else showed Pierre her superiority. She was right in
regarding all arguments as nonsense in comparison with that smile.
She always addressed him with a radiantly confiding smile meant
for him alone, in which there was something more significant than in
the general smile that usually brightened her face. Pierre knew that
everyone was waiting for him to say a word and cross a certain line,
and he knew that sooner or later he would step across it, but an
incomprehensible terror seized him at the thought of that dreadful
step. A thousand times during that month and a half while he felt
himself drawn nearer and nearer to that dreadful abyss, Pierre said to
himself: "What am I doing? I need resolution. Can it be that I have
He wished to take a decision, but felt with dismay that in this
matter he lacked that strength of will which he had known in himself
and really possessed. Pierre was one of those who are only strong when
they feel themselves quite innocent, and since that day when he was
overpowered by a feeling of desire while stooping over the snuffbox at
Anna Pavlovna's, an unacknowledged sense of the guilt of that desire
paralyzed his will.
On Helene's name day, a small party of just their own people- as his
wife said- met for supper at Prince Vasili's. All these friends and
relations had been given to understand that the fate of the young girl
would be decided that evening. The visitors were seated at supper.
Princess Kuragina, a portly imposing woman who had once been handsome,
was sitting at the head of the table. On either side of her sat the
more important guests- an old general and his wife, and Anna
Pavlovna Scherer. At the other end sat the younger and less
important guests, and there too sat the members of the family, and
Pierre and Helene, side by side. Prince Vasili was not having any
supper: he went round the table in a merry mood, sitting down now by
one, now by another, of the guests. To each of them he made some
careless and agreeable remark except to Pierre and Helene, whose
presence he seemed not to notice. He enlivened the whole party. The
wax candles burned brightly, the silver and crystal gleamed, so did
the ladies' toilets and the gold and silver of the men's epaulets;
servants in scarlet liveries moved round the table, the clatter of
plates, knives, and glasses mingled with the animated hum of several
conversations. At one end of the table, the old chamberlain was
heard assuring an old baroness that he loved her passionately, at
which she laughed; at the other could be heard the story of the
misfortunes of some Mary Viktorovna or other. At the center of the
table, Prince Vasili attracted everybody's attention. With a facetious
smile on his face, he was telling the ladies about last Wednesday's
meeting of the Imperial Council, at which Sergey Kuzmich
Vyazmitinov, the new military governor general of Petersburg, had
received and read the then famous rescript of the Emperor Alexander
from the army to Sergey Kuzmich, in which the Emperor said that he was
receiving from all sides declarations of the people's loyalty, that
the declaration from Petersburg gave him particular pleasure, and that
he was proud to be at the head of such a nation and would endeavor
to be worthy of it. This rescript began with the words: "Sergey
Kuzmich, From all sides reports reach me," etc.
"Well, and so he never got farther than: 'Sergey Kuzmich'?" asked
one of the ladies.
"Exactly, not a hair's breadth farther," answered Prince Vasili,
laughing, "'Sergey Kuzmich... From all sides... From all sides...
Sergey Kuzmich...' Poor Vyazmitinov could not get any farther! He
began the rescript again and again, but as soon as he uttered 'Sergey'
he sobbed, 'Kuz-mi-ch,' tears, and 'From all sides' was smothered in
sobs and he could get no farther. And again his handkerchief, and
again: 'Sergey Kuzmich, From all sides,'... and tears, till at last
somebody else was asked to read it."
"Kuzmich... From all sides... and then tears," someone repeated
"Don't be unkind," cried Anna Pavlovna from her end of the table
holding up a threatening finger. "He is such a worthy and excellent
man, our dear Vyazmitinov...."
Everybody laughed a great deal. At the head of the table, where
the honored guests sat, everyone seemed to be in high spirits and
under the influence of a variety of exciting sensations. Only Pierre
and Helene sat silently side by side almost at the bottom of the
table, a suppressed smile brightening both their faces, a smile that
had nothing to do with Sergey Kuzmich- a smile of bashfulness at their
own feelings. But much as all the rest laughed, talked, and joked,
much as they enjoyed their Rhine wine, saute, and ices, and however
they avoided looking at the young couple, and heedless and unobservant
as they seemed of them, one could feel by the occasional glances
they gave that the story about Sergey Kuzmich, the laughter, and the
food were all a pretense, and that the whole attention of that company
was directed to- Pierre and Helene. Prince Vasili mimicked the sobbing
of Sergey Kuzmich and at the same time his eyes glanced toward his
daughter, and while he laughed the expression on his face clearly
said: "Yes... it's getting on, it will all be settled today." Anna
Pavlovna threatened him on behalf of "our dear Vyazmitinov," and in
her eyes, which, for an instant, glanced at Pierre, Prince Vasili read
a congratulation on his future son-in-law and on his daughter's
happiness. The old princess sighed sadly as she offered some wine to
the old lady next to her and glanced angrily at her daughter, and
her sigh seemed to say: "Yes, there's nothing left for you and me
but to sip sweet wine, my dear, now that the time has come for these
young ones to be thus boldly, provocatively happy." "And what nonsense
all this is that I am saying!" thought a diplomatist, glancing at
the happy faces of the lovers. "That's happiness!"
Into the insignificant, trifling, and artificial interests uniting
that society had entered the simple feeling of the attraction of a
healthy and handsome young man and woman for one another. And this
human feeling dominated everything else and soared above all their
affected chatter. Jests fell flat, news was not interesting, and the
animation was evidently forced. Not only the guests but even the
footmen waiting at table seemed to feel this, and they forgot their
duties as they looked at the beautiful Helene with her radiant face
and at the red, broad, and happy though uneasy face of Pierre. It
seemed as if the very light of the candles was focused on those two
happy faces alone.
Pierre felt that he the center of it all, and this both pleased
and embarrassed him. He was like a man entirely absorbed in some
occupation. He did not see, hear, or understand anything clearly. Only
now and then detached ideas and impressions from the world of
reality shot unexpectedly through his mind.
"So it is all finished!" he thought. "And how has it all happened?
How quickly! Now I know that not because of her alone, nor of myself
alone, but because of everyone, it must inevitably come about. They
are all expecting it, they are so sure that it will happen that I
cannot, I cannot, disappoint them. But how will it be? I do not
know, but it will certainly happen!" thought Pierre, glancing at those
dazzling shoulders close to his eyes.
Or he would suddenly feel ashamed of he knew not what. He felt it
awkward to attract everyone's attention and to be considered a lucky
man and, with his plain face, to be looked on as a sort of Paris
possessed of a Helen. "But no doubt it always is and must be so!" he
consoled himself. "And besides, what have I done to bring it about?
How did it begin? I traveled from Moscow with Prince Vasili. Then
there was nothing. So why should I not stay at his house? Then I
played cards with her and picked up her reticule and drove out with
her. How did it begin, when did it all come about?" And here he was
sitting by her side as her betrothed, seeing, hearing, feeling her
nearness, her breathing, her movements, her beauty. Then it would
suddenly seem to him that it was not she but he was so unusually
beautiful, and that that was why they all looked so at him, and
flattered by this general admiration he would expand his chest,
raise his head, and rejoice at his good fortune. Suddenly he heard a
familiar voice repeating something to him a second time. But Pierre
was so absorbed that he did not understand what was said.
"I am asking you when you last heard from Bolkonski," repeated
Prince Vasili a third time. "How absent-minded you are, my dear
Prince Vasili smiled, and Pierre noticed that everyone was smiling
at him and Helene. "Well, what of it, if you all know it?" thought
Pierre. "What of it? It's the truth!" and he himself smiled his gentle
childlike smile, and Helene smiled too.
"When did you get the letter? Was it from Olmutz?" repeated Prince
Vasili, who pretended to want to know this in order to settle a
"How can one talk or think of such trifles?" thought Pierre.
"Yes, from Olmutz," he answered, with a sigh.
After supper Pierre with his partner followed the others into the
drawing room. The guests began to disperse, some without taking
leave of Helene. Some, as if unwilling to distract her from an
important occupation, came up to her for a moment and made haste to go
away, refusing to let her see them off. The diplomatist preserved a
mournful silence as he left the drawing room. He pictured the vanity
of his diplomatic career in comparison with Pierre's happiness. The
old general grumbled at his wife when she asked how his leg was.
"Oh, the old fool," he thought. "That Princess Helene will be
beautiful still when she's fifty."
"I think I may congratulate you," whispered Anna Pavlovna to the old
princess, kissing her soundly. "If I hadn't this headache I'd have
The old princess did not reply, she was tormented by jealousy of her
While the guests were taking their leave Pierre remained for a
long time alone with Helene in the little drawing room where they were
sitting. He had often before, during the last six weeks, remained
alone with her, but had never spoken to her of love. Now he felt
that it was inevitable, but he could not make up his mind to take
the final step. He felt ashamed; he felt that he was occupying someone
else's place here beside Helene. "This happiness is not for you," some
inner voice whispered to him. "This happiness is for those who have
not in them what there is in you."
But, as he had to say something, he began by asking her whether
she was satisfied with the party. She replied in her usual simple
manner that this name day of hers had been one of the pleasantest
she had ever had.
Some of the nearest relatives had not yet left. They were sitting in
the large drawing room. Prince Vasili came up to Pierre with languid
footsteps. Pierre rose and said it was getting late. Prince Vasili
gave him a look of stern inquiry, as though what Pierre had just
said was so strange that one could not take it in. But then the
expression of severity changed, and he drew Pierre's hand downwards,
made him sit down, and smiled affectionately.
"Well, Lelya?" he asked, turning instantly to his daughter and
addressing her with the careless tone of habitual tenderness natural
to parents who have petted their children from babyhood, but which
Prince Vasili had only acquired by imitating other parents.
And he again turned to Pierre.
"Sergey Kuzmich- From all sides-" he said, unbuttoning the top
button of his waistcoat.
Pierre smiled, but his smile showed that he knew it was not the
story about Sergey Kuzmich that interested Prince Vasili just then,
and Prince Vasili saw that Pierre knew this. He suddenly muttered
something and went away. It seemed to Pierre that even the prince
was disconcerted. The sight of the discomposure of that old man of the
world touched Pierre: he looked at Helene and she too seemed
disconcerted, and her look seemed to say: "Well, it is your own
"The step must be taken but I cannot, I cannot!" thought Pierre, and
he again began speaking about indifferent matters, about Sergey
Kuzmich, asking what the point of the story was as he had not heard it
properly. Helene answered with a smile that she too had missed it.
When Prince Vasili returned to the drawing room, the princess, his
wife, was talking in low tones to the elderly lady about Pierre.
"Of course, it is a very brilliant match, but happiness, my dear..."
"Marriages are made in heaven," replied the elderly lady.
Prince Vasili passed by, seeming not to hear the ladies, and sat
down on a sofa in a far corner of the room. He closed his eyes and
seemed to be dozing. His head sank forward and then he roused himself.
"Aline," he said to his wife, "go and see what they are about."
The princess went up to the door, passed by it with a dignified
and indifferent air, and glanced into the little drawing room.
Pierre and Helene still sat talking just as before.
"Still the same," she said to her husband.
Prince Vasili frowned, twisting his mouth, his cheeks quivered and
his face assumed the coarse, unpleasant expression peculiar to him.
Shaking himself, he rose, threw back his head, and with resolute steps
went past the ladies into the little drawing room. With quick steps he
went joyfully up to Pierre. His face was so unusually triumphant
that Pierre rose in alarm on seeing it.
"Thank God!" said Prince Vasili. "My wife has told me everything!-
(He put one arm around Pierre and the other around his daughter.)- "My
dear boy... Lelya... I am very pleased." (His voice trembled.) "I
loved your father... and she will make you a good wife... God bless
He embraced his daughter, and then again Pierre, and kissed him with
his malodorous mouth. Tears actually moistened his cheeks.
"Princess, come here!" he shouted.
The old princess came in and also wept. The elderly lady was using
her handkerchief too. Pierre was kissed, and he kissed the beautiful
Helene's hand several times. After a while they were left alone again.
"All this had to be and could not be otherwise," thought Pierre, "so
it is useless to ask whether it is good or bad. It is good because
it's definite and one is rid of the old tormenting doubt." Pierre held
the hand of his betrothed in silence, looking at her beautiful bosom
as it rose and fell.
"Helene!" he said aloud and paused.
"Something special is always said in such cases," he thought, but
could not remember what it was that people say. He looked at her face.
She drew nearer to him. Her face flushed.
"Oh, take those off... those..." she said, pointing to his
Pierre took them off, and his eyes, besides the strange look eyes
have from which spectacles have just been removed, had also a
frightened and inquiring look. He was about to stoop over her hand and
kiss it, but with a rapid, almost brutal movement of her head, she
intercepted his lips and met them with her own. Her face struck
Pierre, by its altered, unpleasantly excited expression.
"It is too late now, it's done; besides I love her," thought Pierre.
"Je vous aime!"* he said, remembering what has to be said at such
moments: but his words sounded so weak that he felt ashamed of
*"I love you."
Six weeks later he was married, and settled in Count Bezukhov's
large, newly furnished Petersburg house, the happy possessor, as
people said, of a wife who was a celebrated beauty and of millions
Old Prince Nicholas Bolkonski received a letter from Prince Vasili
in November, 1805, announcing that he and his son would be paying
him a visit. "I am starting on a journey of inspection, and of
course I shall think nothing of an extra seventy miles to come and see
you at the same time, my honored benefactor," wrote Prince Vasili. "My
son Anatole is accompanying me on his way to the army, so I hope you
will allow him personally to express the deep respect that,
emulating his father, he feels for you."
"It seems that there will be no need to bring Mary out, suitors
are coming to us of their own accord," incautiously remarked the
little princess on hearing the news.
Prince Nicholas frowned, but said nothing.
A fortnight after the letter Prince Vasili's servants came one
evening in advance of him, and he and his son arrived next day.
Old Bolkonski had always had a poor opinion of Prince Vasili's
character, but more so recently, since in the new reigns of Paul and
Alexander Prince Vasili had risen to high position and honors. And
now, from the hints contained in his letter and given by the little
princess, he saw which way the wind was blowing, and his low opinion
changed into a feeling of contemptuous ill will. He snorted whenever
he mentioned him. On the day of Prince Vasili's arrival, Prince
Bolkonski was particularly discontented and out of temper. Whether
he was in a bad temper because Prince Vasili was coming, or whether
his being in a bad temper made him specially annoyed at Prince
Vasili's visit, he was in a bad temper, and in the morning Tikhon
had already advised the architect not to go the prince with his
"Do you hear how he's walking?" said Tikhon, drawing the architect's
attention to the sound of the prince's footsteps. "Stepping flat on
his heels- we know what that means...."
However, at nine o'clock the prince, in his velvet coat with a sable
collar and cap, went out for his usual walk. It had snowed the day
before and the path to the hothouse, along which the prince was in the
habit of walking, had been swept: the marks of the broom were still
visible in the snow and a shovel had been left sticking in one of
the soft snowbanks that bordered both sides of the path. The prince
went through the conservatories, the serfs' quarters, and the
outbuildings, frowning and silent.
"Can a sleigh pass?" he asked his overseer, a venerable man,
resembling his master in manners and looks, who was accompanying him
back to the house.
"The snow is deep. I am having the avenue swept, your honor."
The prince bowed his head and went up to the porch. "God be
thanked," thought the overseer, "the storm has blown over!"
"It would have been hard to drive up, your honor," he added. "I
heard, your honor, that a minister is coming to visit your honor."
The prince turned round to the overseer and fixed his eyes on him,
"What? A minister? What minister? Who gave orders?" he said in his
shrill, harsh voice. "The road is not swept for the princess my
daughter, but for a minister! For me, there are no ministers!"
"Your honor, I thought..."
"You thought!" shouted the prince, his words coming more and more
rapidly and indistinctly. "You thought!... Rascals! Blackgaurds!...
I'll teach you to think!" and lifting his stick he swung it and
would have hit Alpatych, the overseer, had not the latter
instinctively avoided the blow. "Thought... Blackguards..." shouted
the prince rapidly.
But although Alpatych, frightened at his own temerity in avoiding
the stroke, came up to the prince, bowing his bald head resignedly
before him, or perhaps for that very reason, the prince, though he
continued to shout: "Blackgaurds!... Throw the snow back on the road!"
did not lift his stick again but hurried into the house.
Before dinner, Princess Mary and Mademoiselle Bourienne, who knew
that the prince was in a bad humor, stood awaiting him; Mademoiselle
Bourienne with a radiant face that said: "I know nothing, I am the
same as usual," and Princess Mary pale, frightened, and with
downcast eyes. What she found hardest to bear was to know that on such
occasions she ought to behave like Mademoiselle Bourienne, but could
not. She thought: "If I seem not to notice he will think that I do not
sympathize with him; if I seem sad and out of spirits myself, he
will say (as he has done before) that I'm in the dumps."
The prince looked at his daughter's frightened face and snorted.
"Fool... or dummy!" he muttered.
"And the other one is not here. They've been telling tales," he
thought- referring to the little princess who was not in the dining
"Where is the princess?" he asked. "Hiding?"
"She is not very well," answered Mademoiselle Bourienne with a
bright smile, "so she won't come down. It is natural in her state."
"Hm! Hm!" muttered the prince, sitting down.
His plate seemed to him not quite clean, and pointing to a spot he
flung it away. Tikhon caught it and handed it to a footman. The little
princess was not unwell, but had such an overpowering fear of the
prince that, hearing he was in a bad humor, she had decided not to
"I am afraid for the baby," she said to Mademoiselle Bourienne:
"Heaven knows what a fright might do."
In general at Bald Hills the little princess lived in constant fear,
and with a sense of antipathy to the old prince which she did not
realize because the fear was so much the stronger feeling. The
prince reciprocated this antipathy, but it was overpowered by his
contempt for her. When the little princess had grown accustomed to
life at Bald Hills, she took a special fancy to Mademoiselle
Bourienne, spent whole days with her, asked her to sleep in her
room, and often talked with her about the old prince and criticized
"So we are to have visitors, mon prince?" remarked Mademoiselle
Bourienne, unfolding her white napkin with her rosy fingers. "His
Excellency Prince Vasili Kuragin and his son, I understand?" she
"Hm!- his excellency is a puppy.... I got him his appointment in the
service," said the prince disdainfully. "Why his son is coming I don't
understand. Perhaps Princess Elizabeth and Princess Mary know. I don't
want him." (He looked at his blushing daughter.) "Are you unwell
today? Eh? Afraid of the 'minister' as that idiot Alpatych called
him this morning?"
"No, mon pere."
Though Mademoiselle Bourienne had been so unsuccessful in her choice
of a subject, she did not stop talking, but chattered about the
conservatories and the beauty of a flower that had just opened, and
after the soup the prince became more genial.
After dinner, he went to see his daughter-in-law. The little
princess was sitting at a small table, chattering with Masha, her
maid. She grew pale on seeing her father-in-law.
She was much altered. She was now plain rather than pretty. Her
cheeks had sunk, her lip was drawn up, and her eyes drawn down.
"Yes, I feel a kind of oppression," she said in reply to the
prince's question as to how she felt.
"Do you want anything?"
"No, merci, mon pere."
"Well, all right, all right."
He left the room and went to the waiting room where Alpatych stood
with bowed head.
"Has the snow been shoveled back?"
"Yes, your excellency. Forgive me for heaven's sake... It was only
"All right, all right," interrupted the prince, and laughing his
unnatural way, he stretched out his hand for Alpatych to kiss, and
then proceeded to his study.
Prince Vasili arrived that evening. He was met in the avenue by
coachmen and footmen, who, with loud shouts, dragged his sleighs up to
one of the lodges over the road purposely laden with snow.
Prince Vasili and Anatole had separate rooms assigned to them.
Anatole, having taken off his overcoat, sat with arms akimbo
before a table on a corner of which he smilingly and absent-mindedly
fixed his large and handsome eyes. He regarded his whole life as a
continual round of amusement which someone for some reason had to
provide for him. And he looked on this visit to a churlish old man and
a rich and ugly heiress in the same way. All this might, he thought,
turn out very well and amusingly. "And why not marry her if she really
has so much money? That never does any harm," thought Anatole.
He shaved and scented himself with the care and elegance which had
become habitual to him and, his handsome head held high, entered his
father's room with the good-humored and victorious air natural to him.
Prince Vasili's two valets were busy dressing him, and he looked round
with much animation and cheerfully nodded to his son as the latter
entered, as if to say: "Yes, that's how I want you to look."
"I say, Father, joking apart, is she very hideous?" Anatole asked,
as if continuing a conversation the subject of which had often been
mentioned during the journey.
"Enough! What nonsense! Above all, try to be respectful and cautious
with the old prince."
"If he starts a row I'll go away," said Prince Anatole. "I can't
bear those old men! Eh?"
"Remember, for you everything depends on this."
In the meantime, not only was it known in the maidservants' rooms
that the minister and his son had arrived, but the appearance of
both had been minutely described. Princess Mary was sitting alone in
her room, vainly trying to master her agitation.
"Why did they write, why did Lise tell me about it? It can never
happen!" she said, looking at herself in the glass. "How shall I enter
the drawing room? Even if I like him I can't now be myself with
him." The mere thought of her father's look filled her with terror.
The little princess and Mademoiselle Bourienne had already received
from Masha, the lady's maid, the necessary report of how handsome
the minister's son was, with his rosy cheeks and dark eyebrows, and
with what difficulty the father had dragged his legs upstairs while
the son had followed him like an eagle, three steps at a time.
Having received this information, the little princess and Mademoiselle
Bourienne, whose chattering voices had reached her from the
corridor, went into Princess Mary's room.
"You know they've come, Marie?" said the little princess, waddling
in, and sinking heavily into an armchair.
She was no longer in the loose gown she generally wore in the
morning, but had on one of her best dresses. Her hair was carefully
done and her face was animated, which, however, did not conceal its
sunken and faded outlines. Dressed as she used to be in Petersburg
society, it was still more noticeable how much plainer she had become.
Some unobtrusive touch had been added to Mademoiselle Bourienne's
toilet which rendered her fresh and prettyface yet more attractive.
"What! Are you going to remain as you are, dear princess?" she
began. "They'll be announcing that the gentlemen are in the drawing
room and we shall have to go down, and you have not smartened yourself
up at all!"
The little princess got up, rang for the maid, and hurriedly and