Part 7 out of 34
merrily began to devise and carry out a plan of how Princess Mary
should be dressed. Princess Mary's self-esteem was wounded by the fact
that the arrival of a suitor agitated her, and still more so by both
her companions' not having the least conception that it could be
otherwise. To tell them that she felt ashamed for herself and for them
would be to betray her agitation, while to decline their offers to
dress her would prolong their banter and insistence. She flushed,
her beautiful eyes grew dim, red blotches came on her face, and it
took on the unattractive martyrlike expression it so often wore, as
she submitted herself to Mademoiselle Bourienne and Lise. Both these
women quite sincerely tried to make her look pretty. She was so
plain that neither of them could think of her as a rival, so they
began dressing her with perfect sincerity, and with the naive and firm
conviction women have that dress can make a face pretty.
"No really, my dear, this dress is not pretty," said Lise, looking
sideways at Princess Mary from a little distance. "You have a maroon
dress, have it fetched. Really! You know the fate of your whole life
may be at stake. But this one is too light, it's not becoming!"
It was not the dress, but the face and whole figure of Princess Mary
that was not pretty, but neither Mademoiselle Bourienne nor the little
princess felt this; they still thought that if a blue ribbon were
placed in the hair, the hair combed up, and the blue scarf arranged
lower on the best maroon dress, and so on, all would be well. They
forgot that the frightened face and the figure could not be altered,
and that however they might change the setting and adornment of that
face, it would still remain piteous and plain. After two or three
changes to which Princess Mary meekly submitted, just as her hair
had been arranged on the top of her head (a style that quite altered
and spoiled her looks) and she had put on a maroon dress with a
pale-blue scarf, the little princess walked twice round her, now
adjusting a fold of the dress with her little hand, now arranging
the scarf and looking at her with her head bent first on one side
and then on the other.
"No, it will not do," she said decidedly, clasping her hands. "No,
Mary, really this dress does not suit you. I prefer you in your little
gray everyday dress. Now please, do it for my sake. Katie," she said
to the maid, "bring the princess her gray dress, and you'll see,
Mademoiselle Bourienne, how I shall arrange it," she added, smiling
with a foretaste of artistic pleasure.
But when Katie brought the required dress, Princess Mary remained
sitting motionless before the glass, looking at her face, and saw in
the mirror her eyes full of tears and her mouth quivering, ready to
burst into sobs.
"Come, dear princess," said Mademoiselle Bourienne, "just one more
The little princess, taking the dress from the maid, came up to
"Well, now we'll arrange something quite simple and becoming," she
The three voices, hers, Mademoiselle Bourienne's, and Katie's, who
was laughing at something, mingled in a merry sound, like the chirping
"No, leave me alone," said Princess Mary.
Her voice sounded so serious and so sad that the chirping of the
birds was silenced at once. They looked at the beautiful, large,
thoughtful eyes full of tears and of thoughts, gazing shiningly and
imploringly at them, and understood that it was useless and even cruel
"At least, change your coiffure," said the little princess.
"Didn't I tell you," she went on, turning reproachfully to
Mademoiselle Bourienne, "Mary's is a face which such a coiffure does
not suit in the least. Not in the least! Please change it."
"Leave me alone, please leave me alone! It is all quite the same
to me," answered a voice struggling with tears.
Mademoiselle Bourienne and the little princess had to own to
themselves that Princess Mary in this guise looked very plain, worse
than usual, but it was too late. She was looking at them with an
expression they both knew, an expression thoughtful and sad. This
expression in Princess Mary did not frighten them (she never
inspired fear in anyone), but they knew that when it appeared on her
face, she became mute and was not to be shaken in her determination.
"You will change it, won't you?" said Lise. And as Princess Mary
gave no answer, she left the room.
Princess Mary was left alone. She did not comply with Lise's
request, she not only left her hair as it was, but did not even look
in her glass. Letting her arms fall helplessly, she sat with
downcast eyes and pondered. A husband, a man, a strong dominant and
strangely attractive being rose in her imagination, and carried her
into a totally different happy world of his own. She fancied a
child, her own- such as she had seen the day before in the arms of her
nurse's daughter- at her own breast, the husband standing by and
gazing tenderly at her and the child. "But no, it is impossible, I
am too ugly," she thought.
"Please come to tea. The prince will be out in a moment," came the
maid's voice at the door.
She roused herself, and felt appalled at what she had been thinking,
and before going down she went into the room where the icons hung and,
her eyes fixed on the dark face of a large icon of the Saviour lit
by a lamp, she stood before it with folded hands for a few moments.
A painful doubt filled her soul. Could the joy of love, of earthly
love for a man, be for her? In her thoughts of marriage Princess
Mary dreamed of happiness and of children, but her strongest, most
deeply hidden longing was for earthly love. The more she tried to hide
this feeling from others and even from herself, the stronger it
grew. "O God," she said, "how am I to stifle in my heart these
temptations of the devil? How am I to renounce forever these vile
fancies, so as peacefully to fulfill Thy will?" And scarcely had she
put that question than God gave her the answer in her own heart.
"Desire nothing for thyself, seek nothing, be not anxious or
envious. Man's future and thy own fate must remain hidden from thee,
but live so that thou mayest be ready for anything. If it be God's
will to prove thee in the duties of marriage, be ready to fulfill
His will." With this consoling thought (but yet with a hope for the
fulfillment of her forbidden earthly longing) Princess Mary sighed,
and having crossed herself went down, thinking neither of her gown and
coiffure nor of how she would go in nor of what she would say. What
could all that matter in comparison with the will of God, without
Whose care not a hair of man's head can fall?
When Princess Mary came down, Prince Vasili and his son were already
in the drawing room, talking to the little princess and Mademoiselle
Bourienne. When she entered with her heavy step, treading on her
heels, the gentlemen and Mademoiselle Bourienne rose and the little
princess, indicating her to the gentlemen, said: "Voila Marie!"
Princess Mary saw them all and saw them in detail. She saw Prince
Vasili's face, serious for an instant at the sight of her, but
immediately smiling again, and the little princess curiously noting
the impression "Marie" produced on the visitors. And she saw
Mademoiselle Bourienne, with her ribbon and pretty face, and her
unusually animated look which was fixed on him, but him she could
not see, she only saw something large, brilliant, and handsome
moving toward her as she entered the room. Prince Vasili approached
first, and she kissed the bold forehead that bent over her hand and
answered his question by saying that, on the contrary, she
remembered him quite well. Then Anatole came up to her. She still
could not see him. She only felt a soft hand taking hers firmly, and
she touched with her lips a white forehead, over which was beautiful
light-brown hair smelling of pomade. When she looked up at him she was
struck by his beauty. Anatole stood with his right thumb under a
button of his uniform, his chest expanded and his back drawn in,
slightly swinging one foot, and, with his head a little bent, looked
with beaming face at the princess without speaking and evidently not
thinking about her at all. Anatole was not quick-witted, nor ready
or eloquent in conversation, but he had the faculty, so invaluable
in society, of composure and imperturbable self-possession. If a man
lacking in self-confidence remains dumb on a first introduction and
betrays a consciousness of the impropriety of such silence and an
anxiety to find something to say, the effect is bad. But Anatole was
dumb, swung his foot, and smilingly examined the princess' hair. It
was evident that he could be silent in this way for a very long
time. "If anyone finds this silence inconvenient, let him talk, but
I don't want to"' he seemed to say. Besides this, in his behavior to
women Anatole had a manner which particularly inspires in them
curiosity, awe, and even love- a supercilious consciousness of his own
superiority. It was was as if he said to them: "I know you, I know
you, but why should I bother about you? You'd be only too glad, of
course." Perhaps he did not really think this when he met women-
even probably he did not, for in general he thought very little- but
his looks and manner gave that impression. The princess felt this, and
as if wishing to show him that she did not even dare expect to
interest him, she turned to his father. The conversation was general
and animated, thanks to Princess Lise's voice and little downy lip
that lifted over her white teeth. She met Prince Vasili with that
playful manner often employed by lively chatty people, and
consisting in the assumption that between the person they so address
and themselves there are some semi-private, long-established jokes and
amusing reminiscences, though no such reminiscences really exist- just
as none existed in this case. Prince Vasili readily adopted her tone
and the little princess also drew Anatole, whom she hardly knew,
into these amusing recollections of things that had never occurred.
Mademoiselle Bourienne also shared them and even Princess Mary felt
herself pleasantly made to share in these merry reminiscences.
"Here at least we shall have the benefit of your company all to
ourselves, dear prince," said the little princess (of course, in
French) to Prince Vasili. "It's not as at Annette's* receptions
where you always ran away; you remember cette chere Annette!"
"Ah, but you won't talk politics to me like Annette!"
"And our little tea table?"
"Why is it you were never at Annette's?" the little princess asked
Anatole. "Ah, I know, I know," she said with a sly glance, "your
brother Hippolyte told me about your goings on. Oh!" and she shook her
finger at him, "I have even heard of your doings in Paris!"
"And didn't Hippolyte tell you?" asked Prince Vasili, turning to his
son and seizing the little princess' arm as if she would have run away
and he had just managed to catch her, "didn't he tell you how he
himself was pining for the dear princess, and how she showed him the
door? Oh, she is a pearl among women, Princess," he added, turning
to Princess Mary.
When Paris was mentioned, Mademoiselle Bourienne for her part seized
the opportunity of joining in the general current of recollections.
She took the liberty of inquiring whether it was long since
Anatole had left Paris and how he had liked that city. Anatole
answered the Frenchwoman very readily and, looking at her with a
smile, talked to her about her native land. When he saw the pretty
little Bourienne, Anatole came to the conclusion that he would not
find Bald Hills dull either. "Not at all bad!" he thought, examining
her, "not at all bad, that little companion! I hope she will bring her
along with her when we're married, la petite est gentille."*
*The little one is charming.
The old prince dressed leisurely in his study, frowning and
considering what he was to do. The coming of these visitors annoyed
him. "What are Prince Vasili and that son of his to me? Prince
Vasili is a shallow braggart and his son, no doubt, is a fine
specimen," he grumbled to himself. What angered him was that the
coming of these visitors revived in his mind an unsettled question
he always tried to stifle, one about which he always deceived himself.
The question was whether he could ever bring himself to part from
his daughter and give her to a husband. The prince never directly
asked himself that question, knowing beforehand that he would have
to answer it justly, and justice clashed not only with his feelings
but with the very possibility of life. Life without Princess Mary,
little as he seemed to value her, was unthinkable to him. "And why
should she marry?" he thought. "To be unhappy for certain. There's
Lise, married to Andrew- a better husband one would think could hardly
be found nowadays- but is she contented with her lot? And who would
marry Marie for love? Plain and awkward! They'll take her for her
connections and wealth. Are there no women living unmarried, and
even the happier for it?" So thought Prince Bolkonski while
dressing, and yet the question he was always putting off demanded an
immediate answer. Prince Vasili had brought his son with the evident
intention of proposing, and today or tomorrow he would probably ask
for an answer. His birth and position in society were not bad.
"Well, I've nothing against it," the prince said to himself, "but he
must be worthy of her. And that is what we shall see."
"That is what we shall see! That is what we shall see!" he added
He entered the drawing room with his usual alert step, glancing
rapidly round the company. He noticed the change in the little
princess' dress, Mademoiselle Bourienne's ribbon, Princess Mary's
unbecoming coiffure, Mademoiselle Bourienne's and Anatole's smiles,
and the loneliness of his daughter amid the general conversation. "Got
herself up like a fool!" he thought, looking irritably at her. "She is
shameless, and he ignores her!"
He went straight up to Prince Vasili.
"Well! How d'ye do? How d'ye do? Glad to see you!"
"Friendship laughs at distance," began Prince Vasili in his usual
rapid, self-confident, familiar tone. "Here is my second son; please
love and befriend him."
Prince Bolkonski surveyed Anatole.
"Fine young fellow! Fine young fellow!" he said. "Well, come and
kiss me," and he offered his cheek.
Anatole kissed the old man, and looked at him with curiosity and
perfect composure, waiting for a display of the eccentricities his
father had told him to expect.
Prince Bolkonski sat down in his usual place in the corner of the
sofa and, drawing up an armchair for Prince Vasili, pointed to it
and began questioning him about political affairs and news. He
seemed to listen attentively to what Prince Vasili said, but kept
glancing at Princess Mary.
"And so they are writing from Potsdam already?" he said, repeating
Prince Vasili's last words. Then rising, he suddenly went up to his
"Is it for visitors you've got yourself up like that, eh?" said
he. "Fine, very fine! You have done up your hair in this new way for
the visitors, and before the visitors I tell you that in future you
are never to dare to change your way of dress without my consent."
"It was my fault, mon pere," interceded the little princess, with
"You must do as you please," said Prince Bolkonski, bowing to his
daughter-in-law, "but she need not make a fool of herself, she's plain
enough as it is."
And he sat down again, paying no more attention to his daughter, who
was reduced to tears.
"On the contrary, that coiffure suits the princess very well,"
said Prince Vasili.
"Now you, young prince, what's your name?" said Prince Bolkonski,
turning to Anatole, "come here, let us talk and get acquainted."
"Now the fun begins," thought Anatole, sitting down with a smile
beside the old prince.
"Well, my dear boy, I hear you've been educated abroad, not taught
to read and write by the deacon, like your father and me. Now tell me,
my dear boy, are you serving in the Horse Guards?" asked the old
man, scrutinizing Anatole closely and intently.
"No, I have been transferred to the line," said Anatole, hardly able
to restrain his laughter.
"Ah! That's a good thing. So, my dear boy, you wish to serve the
Tsar and the country? It is wartime. Such a fine fellow must serve.
Well, are you off to the front?"
"No, Prince, our regiment has gone to the front, but I am
attached... what is it I am attached to, Papa?" said Anatole,
turning to his father with a laugh.
"A splendid soldier, splendid! 'What am I attached to!' Ha, ha, ha!"
laughed Prince Bolkonski, and Anatole laughed still louder. Suddenly
Prince Bolkonski frowned.
"You may go," he said to Anatole.
Anatole returned smiling to the ladies.
"And so you've had him educated abroad, Prince Vasili, haven't you?"
said the old prince to Prince Vasili.
"I have done my best for him, and I can assure you the education
there is much better than ours."
"Yes, everything is different nowadays, everything is changed. The
lad's a fine fellow, a fine fellow! Well, come with me now." He took
Prince Vasili's arm and led him to his study. As soon as they were
alone together, Prince Vasili announced his hopes and wishes to the
"Well, do you think I shall prevent her, that I can't part from
her?" said the old prince angrily. "What an idea! I'm ready for it
tomorrow! Only let me tell you, I want to know my son-in-law better.
You know my principles- everything aboveboard? I will ask her tomorrow
in your presence; if she is willing, then he can stay on. He can
stay and I'll see." The old prince snorted. "Let her marry, it's all
the same to me!" he screamed in the same piercing tone as when parting
from his son.
"I will tell you frankly," said Prince Vasili in the tone of a
crafty man convinced of the futility of being cunning with so
keen-sighted companion. "You know, you see right through people.
Anatole is no genius, but he is an honest, goodhearted lad; an
excellent son or kinsman."
"All right, all right, we'll see!"
As always happens when women lead lonely lives for any length of
time without male society, on Anatole's appearance all the three women
of Prince Bolkonski's household felt that their life had not been real
till then. Their powers of reasoning, feeling, and observing
immediately increased tenfold, and their life, which seemed to have
been passed in darkness, was suddenly lit up by a new brightness, full
Princess Mary grew quite unconscious of her face and coiffure. The
handsome open face of the man who might perhaps be her husband
absorbed all her attention. He seemed to her kind, brave,
determined, manly, and magnanimous. She felt convinced of that.
Thousands of dreams of a future family life continually rose in her
imagination. She drove them away and tried to conceal them.
"But am I not too cold with him?" thought the princess. "I try to be
reserved because in the depth of my soul I feel too near to him
already, but then he cannot know what I think of him and may imagine
that I do not like him."
And Princess Mary tried, but could not manage, to be cordial to
her new guest. "Poor girl, she's devilish ugly!" thought Anatole.
Mademoiselle Bourienne, also roused to great excitement by Anatole's
arrival, thought in another way. Of course, she, a handsome young
woman without any definite position, without relations or even a
country, did not intend to devote her life to serving Prince
Bolkonski, to reading aloud to him and being friends with Princess
Mary. Mademoiselle Bourienne had long been waiting for a Russian
prince who, able to appreciate at a glance her superiority to the
plain, badly dressed, ungainly Russian princesses, would fall in
love with her and carry her off; and here at last was a Russian
prince. Mademoiselle Bourienne knew a story, heard from her aunt but
finished in her own way, which she liked to repeat to herself. It
was the story of a girl who had been seduced, and to whom her poor
mother (sa pauvre mere) appeared, and reproached her for yielding to a
man without being married. Mademoiselle Bourienne was often touched to
tears as in imagination she told this story to him, her seducer. And
now he, a real Russian prince, had appeared. He would carry her away
and then sa pauvre mere would appear and he would marry her. So her
future shaped itself in Mademoiselle Bourienne's head at the very time
she was talking to Anatole about Paris. It was not calculation that
guided her (she did not even for a moment consider what she should
do), but all this had long been familiar to her, and now that
Anatole had appeared it just grouped itself around him and she
wished and tried to please him as much as possible.
The little princess, like an old war horse that hears the trumpet,
unconsciously and quite forgetting her condition, prepared for the
familiar gallop of coquetry, without any ulterior motive or any
struggle, but with naive and lighthearted gaiety.
Although in female society Anatole usually assumed the role of a man
tired of being run after by women, his vanity was flattered by the
spectacle of his power over these three women. Besides that, he was
beginning to feel for the pretty and provocative Mademoiselle
Bourienne that passionate animal feeling which was apt to master him
with great suddenness and prompt him to the coarsest and most reckless
After tea, the company went into the sitting room and Princess
Mary was asked to play on the clavichord. Anatole, laughing and in
high spirits, came and leaned on his elbows, facing her and beside
Mademoiselle Bourienne. Princess Mary felt his look with a painfully
joyous emotion. Her favorite sonata bore her into a most intimately
poetic world and the look she felt upon her made that world still more
poetic. But Anatole's expression, though his eyes were fixed on her,
referred not to her but to the movements of Mademoiselle Bourienne's
little foot, which he was then touching with his own under the
clavichord. Mademoiselle Bourienne was also looking at Princess
Mary, and in her lovely eyes there was a look of fearful joy and
hope that was also new to the princess.
"How she loves me!" thought Princess Mary. "How happy I am now,
and how happy I may be with such a friend and such a husband! Husband?
Can it be possible?" she thought, not daring to look at his face,
but still feeling his eyes gazing at her.
In the evening, after supper, when all were about to retire, Anatole
kissed Princess Mary's hand. She did not know how she found the
courage, but she looked straight into his handsome face as it came
near to her shortsighted eyes. Turning from Princess Mary he went up
and kissed Mademoiselle Bourienne's hand. (This was not etiquette, but
then he did everything so simply and with such assurance!)
Mademoiselle Bourienne flushed, and gave the princess a frightened
"What delicacy! " thought the princess. "Is it possible that Amelie"
(Mademoiselle Bourienne) "thinks I could be jealous of her, and not
value her pure affection and devotion to me?" She went up to her and
kissed her warmly. Anatole went up to kiss the little princess' hand.
"No! No! No! When your father writes to tell me that you are
behaving well I will give you my hand to kiss. Not till then!" she
said. And smilingly raising a finger at him, she left the room.
They all separated, but, except Anatole who fell asleep as soon as
he got into bed, all kept awake a long time that night.
"Is he really to be my husband, this stranger who is so kind- yes,
kind, that is the chief thing," thought Princess Mary; and fear, which
she had seldom experienced, came upon her. She feared to look round,
it seemed to her that someone was there standing behind the screen
in the dark corner. And this someone was he- the devil- and he was
also this man with the white forehead, black eyebrows, and red lips.
She rang for her maid and asked her to sleep in her room.
Mademoiselle Bourienne walked up and down the conservatory for a
long time that evening, vainly expecting someone, now smiling at
someone, now working herself up to tears with the imaginary words of
her pauvre mere rebuking her for her fall.
The little princess grumbled to her maid that her bed was badly
made. She could not lie either on her face or on her side. Every
position was awkward and uncomfortable, and her burden oppressed her
now more than ever because Anatole's presence had vividly recalled
to her the time when she was not like that and when everything was
light and gay. She sat in an armchair in her dressing jacket and
nightcap and Katie, sleepy and disheveled, beat and turned the heavy
feather bed for the third time, muttering to herself.
"I told you it was all lumps and holes!" the little princess
repeated. "I should be glad enough to fall asleep, so it's not my
fault!" and her voice quivered like that of a child about to cry.
The old prince did not sleep either. Tikhon, half asleep, heard
him pacing angrily about and snorting. The old prince felt as though
he had been insulted through his daughter. The insult was the more
pointed because it concerned not himself but another, his daughter,
whom he loved more than himself. He kept telling himself that he would
consider the whole matter and decide what was right and how he
should act, but instead of that he only excited himself more and more.
"The first man that turns up- she forgets her father and
everything else, runs upstairs and does up her hair and wags her
tail and is unlike herself! Glad to throw her father over! And she
knew I should notice it. Fr... fr... fr! And don't I see that that
idiot had eyes only for Bourienne- I shall have to get rid of her. And
how is it she has not pride enough to see it? If she has no pride
for herself she might at least have some for my sake! She must be
shown that the blockhead thinks nothing of her and looks only at
Bourienne. No, she has no pride... but I'll let her see...."
The old prince knew that if he told his daughter she was making a
mistake and that Anatole meant to flirt with Mademoiselle Bourienne,
Princess Mary's self-esteem would be wounded and his point (not to
be parted from her) would be gained, so pacifying himself with this
thought, he called Tikhon and began to undress.
"What devil brought them here?" thought he, while Tikhon was putting
the nightshirt over his dried-up old body and gray-haired chest. "I
never invited them. They came to disturb my life- and there is not
much of it left."
"Devil take 'em!" he muttered, while his head was still covered by
Tikhon knew his master's habit of sometimes thinking aloud, and
therefore met with unaltered looks the angrily inquisitive
expression of the face that emerged from the shirt.
"Gone to bed?" asked the prince.
Tikhon, like all good valets, instinctively knew the direction of
his master's thoughts. He guessed that the question referred to Prince
Vasili and his son.
"They have gone to bed and put out their lights, your excellency."
"No good... no good..." said the prince rapidly, and thrusting his
feet into his slippers and his arms into the sleeves of his dressing
gown, he went to the couch on which he slept.
Though no words had passed between Anatole and Mademoiselle
Bourienne, they quite understood one another as to the first part of
their romance, up to the appearance of the pauvre mere; they
understood that they had much to say to one another in private and
so they had been seeking an opportunity since morning to meet one
another alone. When Princess Mary went to her father's room at the
usual hour, Mademoiselle Bourienne and Anatole met in the
Princess Mary went to the door of the study with special
trepidation. It seemed to her that not only did everybody know that
her fate would be decided that day, but that they also knew what she
thought about it. She read this in Tikhon's face and in that of Prince
Vasili's valet, who made her a low bow when she met him in the
corridor carrying hot water.
The old prince was very affectionate and careful in his treatment of
his daughter that morning. Princess Mary well knew this painstaking
expression of her father's. His face wore that expression when his dry
hands clenched with vexation at her not understanding a sum in
arithmetic, when rising from his chair he would walk away from her,
repeating in a low voice the same words several times over.
He came to the point at once, treating her ceremoniously.
"I have had a proposition made me concerning you," he said with an
unnatural smile. "I expect you have guessed that Prince Vasili has not
come and brought his pupil with him" (for some reason Prince Bolkonski
referred to Anatole as a "pupil") "for the sake of my beautiful
eyes. Last night a proposition was made me on your account and, as you
know my principles, I refer it to you."
"How am I to understand you, mon pere?" said the princess, growing
pale and then blushing.
"How understand me!" cried her father angrily. "Prince Vasili
finds you to his taste as a daughter-in-law and makes a proposal to
you on his pupil's behalf. That's how it's to be understood! 'How
understand it'!... And I ask you!"
"I do not know what you think, Father," whispered the princess.
"I? I? What of me? Leave me out of the question. I'm not going to
get married. What about you? That's what I want to know."
The princess saw that her father regarded the matter with
disapproval, but at that moment the thought occurred to her that her
fate would be decided now or never. She lowered her eyes so as not
to see the gaze under which she felt that she could not think, but
would only be able to submit from habit, and she said: "I wish only to
do your will, but if I had to express my own desire..." She had no
time to finish. The old prince interrupted her.
"That's admirable!" he shouted. "He will take you with your dowry
and take Mademoiselle Bourienne into the bargain. She'll be the
wife, while you..."
The prince stopped. He saw the effect these words had produced on
his daughter. She lowered her head and was ready to burst into tears.
"Now then, now then, I'm only joking!" he said. "Remember this,
Princess, I hold to the principle that a maiden has a full right to
choose. I give you freedom. Only remember that your life's happiness
depends on your decision. Never mind me!"
"But I do not know, Father!"
"There's no need to talk! He receives his orders and will marry
you or anybody; but you are free to choose.... Go to your room,
think it over, and come back in an hour and tell me in his presence:
yes or no. I know you will pray over it. Well, pray if you like, but
you had better think it over. Go! Yes or no, yes or no, yes or no!" he
still shouted when the princess, as if lost in a fog, had already
staggered out of the study.
Her fate was decided and happily decided. But what her father had
said about Mademoiselle Bourienne was dreadful. It was untrue to be
sure, but still it was terrible, and she could not help thinking of
it. She was going straight on through the conservatory, neither seeing
nor hearing anything, when suddenly the well-known whispering of
Mademoiselle Bourienne aroused her. She raised her eyes, and two steps
away saw Anatole embracing the Frenchwoman and whispering something to
her. With a horrified expression on his handsome face, Anatole
looked at Princess Mary, but did not at once take his arm from the
waist of Mademoiselle Bourienne who had not yet seen her.
"Who's that? Why? Wait a moment!" Anatole's face seemed to say.
Princess Mary looked at them in silence. She could not understand
it. At last Mademoiselle Bourienne gave a scream and ran away. Anatole
bowed to Princess Mary with a gay smile, as if inviting her to join in
a laugh at this strange incident, and then shrugging his shoulders
went to the door that led to his own apartments.
An hour later, Tikhon came to call Princess Mary to the old
prince; he added that Prince Vasili was also there. When Tikhon came
to her Princess Mary was sitting on the sofa in her room, holding
the weeping Mademoiselle Bourienne in her arms and gently stroking her
hair. The princess' beautiful eyes with all their former calm radiance
were looking with tender affection and pity at Mademoiselle
Bourienne's pretty face.
"No, Princess, I have lost your affection forever!" said
"Why? I love you more than ever," said Princess Mary, "and I will
try to do all I can for your happiness."
"But you despise me. You who are so pure can never understand
being so carried away by passion. Oh, only my poor mother..."
"I quite understand," answered Princess Mary, with a sad smile.
"Calm yourself, my dear. I will go to my father," she said, and went
Prince Vasili, with one leg thrown high over the other and a
snuffbox in his hand, was sitting there with a smile of deep emotion
on his face, as if stirred to his heart's core and himself
regretting and laughing at his own sensibility, when Princess Mary
entered. He hurriedly took a pinch of snuff.
"Ah, my dear, my dear!" he began, rising and taking her by both
hands. Then, sighing, he added: "My son's fate is in your hands.
Decide, my dear, good, gentle Marie, whom I have always loved as a
He drew back and a real tear appeared in his eye.
"Fr... fr..." snorted Prince Bolkonski. "The prince is making a
proposition to you in his pupil's- I mean, his son's- name. Do you
wish or not to be Prince Anatole Kuragin's wife? Reply: yes or no," he
shouted, "and then I shall reserve the right to state my opinion also.
Yes, my opinion, and only my opinion," added Prince Bolkonski, turning
to Prince Vasili and answering his imploring look. "Yes, or no?"
"My desire is never to leave you, Father, never to separate my
life from yours. I don't wish to marry," she answered positively,
glancing at Prince Vasili and at her father with her beautiful eyes.
"Humbug! Nonsense! Humbug, humbug, humbug!" cried Prince
Bolkonski, frowning and taking his daughter's hand; he did not kiss
her, but only bending his forehead to hers just touched it, and
pressed her hand so that she winced and uttered a cry.
Prince Vasili rose.
"My dear, I must tell you that this is a moment I shall never, never
forget. But, my dear, will you not give us a little hope of touching
this heart, so kind and generous? Say 'perhaps'... The future is so
long. Say 'perhaps.'"
"Prince, what I have said is all there is in my heart. I thank you
for the honor, but I shall never be your son's wife."
"Well, so that's finished, my dear fellow! I am very glad to have
seen you. Very glad! Go back to your rooms, Princess. Go!" said the
old prince. "Very, very glad to have seen you," repeated he,
embracing Prince Vasili.
"My vocation is a different one," thought Princess Mary. "My
vocation is to be happy with another kind of happiness, the
happiness of love and self-sacrifice. And cost what it may, I will
arrange poor Amelie's happiness, she loves him so passionately, and so
passionately repents. I will do all I can to arrange the match between
them. If he is not rich I will give her the means; I will ask my
father and Andrew. I shall be so happy when she is his wife. She is so
unfortunate, a stranger, alone, helpless! And, oh God, how
passionately she must love him if she could so far forget herself!
Perhaps I might have done the same!..." thought Princess Mary.
It was long since the Rostovs had news of Nicholas. Not till
midwinter was the count at last handed a letter addressed in his son's
handwriting. On receiving it, he ran on tiptoe to his study in alarm
and haste, trying to escape notice, closed the door, and began to read
Anna Mikhaylovna, who always knew everything that passed in the
house, on hearing of the arrival of the letter went softly into the
room and found the count with it in his hand, sobbing and laughing
at the same time.
Anna Mikhaylovna, though her circumstances had improved, was still
living with the Rostovs.
"My dear friend?" said she, in a tone of pathetic inquiry,
prepared to sympathize in any way.
The count sobbed yet more.
"Nikolenka... a letter... wa... a... s... wounded... my darling
boy... the countess... promoted to be an officer... thank God... How
tell the little countess!"
Anna Mikhaylovna sat down beside him, with her own handkerchief
wiped the tears from his eyes and from the letter, then having dried
her own eyes she comforted the count, and decided that at dinner and
till teatime she would prepare the countess, and after tea, with God's
help, would inform her.
At dinner Anna Mikhaylovna talked the whole time about the war
news and about Nikolenka, twice asked when the last letter had been
received from him, though she knew that already, and remarked that
they might very likely be getting a letter from him that day. Each
time that these hints began to make the countess anxious and she
glanced uneasily at the count and at Anna Mikhaylovna, the latter very
adroitly turned the conversation to insignificant matters. Natasha,
who, of the whole family, was the most gifted with a capacity to
feel any shades of intonation, look, and expression, pricked up her
ears from the beginning of the meal and was certain that there was
some secret between her father and Anna Mikhaylovna, that it had
something to do with her brother, and that Anna Mikhaylovna was
preparing them for it. Bold as she was, Natasha, who knew how
sensitive her mother was to anything relating to Nikolenka, did not
venture to ask any questions at dinner, but she was too excited to eat
anything and kept wriggling about on her chair regardless of her
governess' remarks. After dinner, she rushed head long after Anna
Mikhaylovna and, dashing at her, flung herself on her neck as soon
as she overtook her in the sitting room.
"Auntie, darling, do tell me what it is!"
"Nothing, my dear."
"No, dearest, sweet one, honey, I won't give up- I know you know
Anna Mikhaylovna shook her head.
"You are a little slyboots," she said.
"A letter from Nikolenka! I'm sure of it!" exclaimed Natasha,
reading confirmation in Anna Mikhaylovna's face.
"But for God's sake, be careful, you know how it may affect your
"I will, I will, only tell me! You won't? Then I will go and tell at
Anna Mikhaylovna, in a few words, told her the contents of the
letter, on condition that she should tell no one.
"No, on my true word of honor," said Natasha,crossing herself, "I
won't tell anyone!" and she ran off at once to Sonya.
"Nikolenka... wounded... a letter," she announced in gleeful
"Nicholas!" was all Sonya said, instantly turning white.
Natasha, seeing the impression the of her brother's wound produced
on Sonya, felt for the first time the sorrowful side of the news.
She rushed to Sonya, hugged her, and began to cry.
"A little wound, but he has been made an officer; he is well now, he
wrote himself," said she through her tears.
"There now! It's true that all you women are crybabies," remarked
Petya, pacing the room with large, resolute strides. "Now I'm very
glad, very glad indeed, that my brother has distinguished himself
so. You are all blubberers and understand nothing."
Natasha smiled through her tears.
"You haven't read the letter?" asked Sonya.
"No, but she said that it was all over and that he's now an
"Thank God!" said Sonya, crossing herself. "But perhaps she deceived
you. Let us go to Mamma."
Petya paced the room in silence for a time.
"If I'd been in Nikolenka's place I would have killed even more of
those Frenchmen," he said. "What nasty brutes they are! I'd have
killed so many that there'd have been a heap of them."
"Hold your tongue, Petya, what a goose you are!"
"I'm not a goose, but they are who cry about trifles," said Petya.
"Do you remember him?" Natasha suddenly asked, after a moment's
"Do I remember Nicholas?"
"No, Sonya, but do you remember so that you remember him
perfectly, remember everything?" said Natasha, with an expressive
gesture, evidently wishing to give her words a very definite
meaning. "I remember Nikolenka too, I remember him well," she said.
"But I don't remember Boris. I don't remember him a bit."
"What! You don't remember Boris?" asked Sonya in surprise.
"It's not that I don't remember- I know what he is like, but not
as I remember Nikolenka. Him- I just shut my eyes and remember, but
Boris... No!" (She shut her eyes.)"No! there's nothing at all."
"Oh, Natasha!" said Sonya, looking ecstatically and earnestly at her
friend as if she did not consider her worthy to hear what she meant to
say and as if she were saying it to someone else, with whom joking was
out of the question, "I am in love with your brother once for all and,
whatever may happen to him or to me, shall never cease to love him
as long as I live."
Natasha looked at Sonya with wondering and inquisitive eyes, and
said nothing. She felt that Sonya was speaking the truth, that there
was such love as Sonya was speaking of. But Natasha had not yet felt
anything like it. She believed it could be, but did not understand it.
"Shall you write to him?" she asked.
Sonya became thoughtful. The question of how to write to Nicholas,
and whether she ought to write, tormented her. Now that he was already
an officer and a wounded hero, would it be right to remind him of
herself and, as it might seem, of the obligations to her he had
taken on himself?
"I don't know. I think if he writes, I will write too," she said,
"And you won't feel ashamed to write to him?"
"And I should be ashamed to write to Boris. I'm not going to."
"Why should you be ashamed?"
"Well, I don't know. It's awkward and would make me ashamed."
"And I know why she'd be ashamed," said Petya, offended by Natasha's
previous remark. "It's because she was in love with that fat one in
spectacles" (that was how Petya described his namesake, the new
Count Bezukhov) "and now she's in love with that singer" (he meant
Natasha's Italian singing master), "that's why she's ashamed!"
"Petya, you're a stupid!" said Natasha.
"Not more stupid than you, madam," said the nine-year-old Petya,
with the air of an old brigadier.
The countess had been prepared by Anna Mikhaylovna's hints at
dinner. On retiring to her own room, she sat in an armchair, her
eyes fixed on a miniature portrait of her son on the lid of a
snuffbox, while the tears kept coming into her eyes. Anna Mikhaylovna,
with the letter, came on tiptoe to the countess' door and paused.
"Don't come in," she said to the old count who was following her.
"Come later." And she went in, closing the door behind her.
The count put his ear to the keyhole and listened.
At first he heard the sound of indifferent voices, then Anna
Mikhaylovna's voice alone in a long speech, then a cry, then
silence, then both voices together with glad intonations, and then
footsteps. Anna Mikhaylovna opened the door. Her face wore the proud
expression of a surgeon who has just performed a difficult operation
and admits the public to appreciate his skill.
"It is done!" she said to the count, pointing triumphantly to the
countess, who sat holding in one hand the snuffbox with its portrait
and in the other the letter, and pressing them alternately to her
When she saw the count, she stretched out her arms to him,
embraced his bald head, over which she again looked at the letter
and the portrait, and in order to press them again to her lips, she
slightly pushed away the bald head. Vera, Natasha, Sonya, and Petya
now entered the room, and the reading of the letter began. After a
brief description of the campaign and the two battles in which he
had taken part, and his promotion, Nicholas said that he kissed his
father's and mother's hands asking for their blessing, and that he
kissed Vera, Natasha, and Petya. Besides that, he sent greetings to
Monsieur Schelling, Madame Schoss, and his old nurse, and asked them
to kiss for him "dear Sonya, whom he loved and thought of just the
same as ever." When she heard this Sonya blushed so that tears came
into her eyes and, unable to bear the looks turned upon her, ran
away into the dancing hall, whirled round it at full speed with her
dress puffed out like a balloon, and, flushed and smiling, plumped
down on the floor. The countess was crying.
"Why are you crying, Mamma?" asked Vera. "From all he says one
should be glad and not cry."
This was quite true, but the count, the countess, and Natasha looked
at her reproachfully. "And who is it she takes after?" thought the
Nicholas' letter was read over hundreds of times, and those who were
considered worthy to hear it had to come to the countess, for she
did not let it out of her hands. The tutors came, and the nurses,
and Dmitri, and several acquaintances, and the countess reread the
letter each time with fresh pleasure and each time discovered in it
fresh proofs of Nikolenka's virtues. How strange, how extraordinary,
how joyful it seemed, that her son, the scarcely perceptible motion of
whose tiny limbs she had felt twenty years ago within her, that son
about whom she used to have quarrels with the too indulgent count,
that son who had first learned to say "pear" and then "granny," that
this son should now be away in a foreign land amid strange
surroundings, a manly warrior doing some kind of man's work of his
own, without help or guidance. The universal experience of ages,
showing that children do grow imperceptibly from the cradle to
manhood, did not exist for the countess. Her son's growth toward
manhood, at each of its stages, had seemed as extraordinary to her
as if there had never existed the millions of human beings who grew up
in the same way. As twenty years before, it seemed impossible that the
little creature who lived somewhere under her heart would ever cry,
suck her breast, and begin to speak, so now she could not believe that
that little creature could be this strong, brave man, this model son
and officer that, judging by this letter, he now was.
"What a style! How charmingly he describes!" said she, reading the
descriptive part of the letter. "And what a soul! Not a word about
himself.... Not a word! About some Denisov or other, though he
himself, I dare say, is braver than any of them. He says nothing about
his sufferings. What a heart! How like him it is! And how he has
remembered everybody! Not forgetting anyone. I always said when he was
only so high- I always said...."
For more than a week preparations were being made, rough drafts of
letters to Nicholas from all the household were written and copied
out, while under the supervision of the countess and the solicitude of
the count, money and all things necessary for the uniform and
equipment of the newly commissioned officer were collected. Anna
Mikhaylovna, practical woman that she was, had even managed by favor
with army authorities to secure advantageous means of communication
for herself and her son. She had opportunities of sending her
letters to the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, who commanded the
Guards. The Rostovs supposed that The Russian Guards, Abroad, was
quite a definite address, and that if a letter reached the Grand
Duke in command of the Guards there was no reason why it should not
reach the Pavlograd regiment, which was presumably somewhere in the
same neighborhood. And so it was decided to send the letters and money
by the Grand Duke's courier to Boris and Boris was to forward them
to Nicholas. The letters were from the old count, the countess, Petya,
Vera, Natasha, and Sonya, and finally there were six thousand rubles
for his outfit and various other things the old count sent to his son.
On the twelfth of November, Kutuzov's active army, in camp before
Olmutz, was preparing to be reviewed next day by the two Emperors- the
Russian and the Austrian. The Guards, just arrived from Russia,
spent the night ten miles from Olmutz and next morning were to come
straight to the review, reaching the field at Olmutz by ten o'clock.
That day Nicholas Rostov received a letter from Boris, telling him
that the Ismaylov regiment was quartered for the night ten miles
from Olmutz and that he wanted to see him as he had a letter and money
for him. Rostov was particularly in need of money now that the troops,
after their active service, were stationed near Olmutz and the camp
swarmed with well-provisioned sutlers and Austrian Jews offering all
sorts of tempting wares. The Pavlograds held feast after feast,
celebrating awards they had received for the campaign, and made
expeditions to Olmutz to visit a certain Caroline the Hungarian, who
had recently opened a restaurant there with girls as waitresses.
Rostov, who had just celebrated his promotion to a cornetcy and bought
Denisov's horse, Bedouin, was in debt all round, to his comrades and
the sutlers. On receiving Boris' letter he rode with a fellow
officer to Olmutz, dined there, drank a bottle of wine, and then set
off alone to the Guards' camp to find his old playmate. Rostov had not
yet had time to get his uniform. He had on a shabby cadet jacket,
decorated with a soldier's cross, equally shabby cadet's riding
breeches lined with worn leather, and an officer's saber with a
sword knot. The Don horse he was riding was one he had bought from a
Cossack during the campaign, and he wore a crumpled hussar cap stuck
jauntily back on one side of his head. As he rode up to the camp he
thought how he would impress Boris and all his comrades of the
Guards by his appearance- that of a fighting hussar who had been under
The Guards had made their whole march as if on a pleasure trip,
parading their cleanliness and discipline. They had come by easy
stages, their knapsacks conveyed on carts, and the Austrian
authorities had provided excellent dinners for the officers at every
halting place. The regiments had entered and left the town with
their bands playing, and by the Grand Duke's orders the men had
marched all the way in step (a practice on which the Guards prided
themselves), the officers on foot and at their proper posts. Boris had
been quartered, and had marched all the way, with Berg who was already
in command of a company. Berg, who had obtained his captaincy during
the campaign, had gained the confidence of his superiors by his
promptitude and accuracy and had arranged his money matters very
satisfactorily. Boris, during the campaign, had made the
acquaintance of many persons who might prove useful to him, and by a
letter of recommendation he had brought from Pierre had become
acquainted with Prince Andrew Bolkonski, through whom he hoped to
obtain a post on the commander in chief's staff. Berg and Boris,
having rested after yesterday's march, were sitting, clean and
neatly dressed, at a round table in the clean quarters allotted to
them, playing chess. Berg held a smoking pipe between his knees.
Boris, in the accurate way characteristic of him, was building a
little pyramid of chessmen with his delicate white fingers while
awaiting Berg's move, and watched his opponent's face, evidently
thinking about the game as he always thought only of whatever he was
"Well, how are you going to get out of that?" he remarked.
"We'll try to," replied Berg, touching a pawn and then removing
At that moment the door opened.
"Here he is at last!" shouted Rostov. "And Berg too! Oh, you
petisenfans, allay cushay dormir!" he exclaimed, imitating his Russian
nurse's French, at which he and Boris used to laugh long ago.
"Dear me, how you have changed!"
Boris rose to meet Rostov, but in doing so did not omit to steady
and replace some chessmen that were falling. He was about to embrace
his friend, but Nicholas avoided him. With that peculiar feeling of
youth, that dread of beaten tracks, and wish to express itself in a
manner different from that of its elders which is often insincere,
Nicholas wished to do something special on meeting his friend. He
wanted to pinch him, push him, do anything but kiss him- a thing
everybody did. But notwithstanding this, Boris embraced him in a
quiet, friendly way and kissed him three times.
They had not met for nearly half a year and, being at the age when
young men take their first steps on life's road, each saw immense
changes in the other, quite a new reflection of the society in which
they had taken those first steps. Both had changed greatly since
they last met and both were in a hurry to show the changes that had
taken place in them.
"Oh, you damned dandies! Clean and fresh as if you'd been to a fete,
not like us sinners of the line," cried Rostov, with martial swagger
and with baritone notes in his voice, new to Boris, pointing to his
own mud-bespattered breeches. The German landlady, hearing Rostov's
loud voice, popped her head in at the door.
"Eh, is she pretty?" he asked with a wink.
"Why do you shout so? You'll frighten them!" said Boris. "I did
not expect you today," he added. "I only sent you the note yesterday
by Bolkonski- an adjutant of Kutuzov's, who's a friend of mine. I
did not think he would get it to you so quickly.... Well, how are you?
Been under fire already?" asked Boris.
Without answering, Rostov shook the soldier's Cross of St. George
fastened to the cording of his uniform and, indicating a bandaged arm,
glanced at Berg with a smile.
"As you see," he said.
"Indeed? Yes, yes!" said Boris, with a smile. "And we too have had a
splendid march. You know, of course, that His Imperial Highness rode
with our regiment all the time, so that we had every comfort and every
advantage. What receptions we had in Poland! What dinners and balls! I
can't tell you. And the Tsarevich was very gracious to all our
And the two friends told each other of their doings, the one of
his hussar revels and life in the fighting line, the other of the
pleasures and advantages of service under members of the Imperial
"Oh, you Guards!" said Rostov. "I say, send for some wine."
Boris made a grimace.
"If you really want it," said he.
He went to his bed, drew a purse from under the clean pillow, and
sent for wine.
"Yes, and I have some money and a letter to give you," he added.
Rostov took the letter and, throwing the money on the sofa, put both
arms on the table and began to read. After reading a few lines, he
glanced angrily at Berg, then, meeting his eyes, hid his face behind
"Well, they've sent you a tidy sum," said Berg, eying the heavy
purse that sank into the sofa. "As for us, Count, we get along on
our pay. I can tell you for myself..."
"I say, Berg, my dear fellow," said Rostov, "when you get a letter
from home and meet one of your own people whom you want to talk
everything over with, and I happen to be there, I'll go at once, to be
out of your way! Do go somewhere, anywhere... to the devil!" he
exclaimed, and immediately seizing him by the shoulder and looking
amiably into his face, evidently wishing to soften the rudeness of his
words, he added, "Don't be hurt, my dear fellow; you know I speak from
my heart as to an old acquaintance."
"Oh, don't mention it, Count! I quite understand," said Berg,
getting up and speaking in a muffled and guttural voice.
"Go across to our hosts: they invited you," added Boris.
Berg put on the cleanest of coats, without a spot or speck of
dust, stood before a looking glass and brushed the hair on his temples
upwards, in the way affected by the Emperor Alexander, and, having
assured himself from the way Rostov looked at it that his coat had
been noticed, left the room with a pleasant smile.
"Oh dear, what a beast I am!" muttered Rostov, as he read the
"Oh, what a pig I am, not to have written and to have given them
such a fright! Oh, what a pig I am!" he repeated, flushing suddenly.
"Well, have you sent Gabriel for some wine? All right let's have
In the letter from his parents was enclosed a letter of
recommendation to Bagration which the old countess at Anna
Mikhaylovna's advice had obtained through an acquaintance and sent
to her son, asking him to take it to its destination and make use of
"What nonsense! Much I need it!" said Rostov, throwing the letter
under the table.
"Why have you thrown that away?" asked Boris.
"It is some letter of recommendation... what the devil do I want
"Why 'What the devil'?" said Boris, picking it up and reading the
address. "This letter would be of great use to you."
"I want nothing, and I won't be anyone's adjutant."
"Why not?" inquired Boris.
"It's a lackey's job!"
"You are still the same dreamer, I see," remarked Boris, shaking his
"And you're still the same diplomatist! But that's not the
point... Come, how are you?" asked Rostov.
"Well, as you see. So far everything's all right, but I confess I
should much like to be an adjutant and not remain at the front."
"Because when once a man starts on military service, he should try
to make as successful a career of it as possible."
"Oh, that's it!" said Rostov, evidently thinking of something else.
He looked intently and inquiringly into his friend's eyes, evidently
trying in vain to find the answer to some question.
Old Gabriel brought in the wine.
"Shouldn't we now send for Berg?" asked Boris. "He would drink
with you. I can't."
"Well, send for him... and how do you get on with that German?"
asked Rostov, with a contemptuous smile.
"He is a very, very nice, honest, and pleasant fellow," answered
Again Rostov looked intently into Boris' eyes and sighed. Berg
returned, and over the bottle of wine conversation between the three
officers became animated. The Guardsmen told Rostov of their march and
how they had been made much of in Russia, Poland, and abroad. They
spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the Grand Duke,
and told stories of his kindness and irascibility. Berg, as usual,
kept silent when the subject did not relate to himself, but in
connection with the stories of the Grand Duke's quick temper he
related with gusto how in Galicia he had managed to deal with the
Grand Duke when the latter made a tour of the regiments and was
annoyed at the irregularity of a movement. With a pleasant smile
Berg related how the Grand Duke had ridden up to him in a violent
passion, shouting: "Arnauts!" ("Arnauts" was the Tsarevich's
favorite expression when he was in a rage) and called for the
"Would you believe it, Count, I was not at all alarmed, because I
knew I was right. Without boasting, you know, I may say that I know
the Army Orders by heart and know the Regulations as well as I do
the Lord's Prayer. So, Count, there never is any negligence in my
company, and so my conscience was at ease. I came forward...." (Berg
stood up and showed how he presented himself, with his hand to his
cap, and really it would have been difficult for a face to express
greater respect and self-complacency than his did.) "Well, he
stormed at me, as the saying is, stormed and stormed and stormed! It
was not a matter of life but rather of death, as the saying is.
'Albanians!' and 'devils!' and 'To Siberia!'" said Berg with a
sagacious smile. "I knew I was in the right so I kept silent; was
not that best, Count?... 'Hey, are you dumb?' he shouted. Still I
remained silent. And what do you think, Count? The next day it was not
even mentioned in the Orders of the Day. That's what keeping one's
head means. That's the way, Count," said Berg, lighting his pipe and
emitting rings of smoke.
"Yes, that was fine," said Rostov, smiling.
But Boris noticed that he was preparing to make fun of Berg, and
skillfully changed the subject. He asked him to tell them how and
where he got his wound. This pleased Rostov and he began talking about
it, and as he went on became more and more animated. He told them of
his Schon Grabern affair, just as those who have taken part in a
battle generally do describe it, that is, as they would like it to
have been, as they have heard it described by others, and as sounds
well, but not at all as it really was. Rostov was a truthful young man
and would on no account have told a deliberate lie. He began his story
meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly,
involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. If he had told
the truth to his hearers- who like himself had often heard stories
of attacks and had formed a definite idea of what an attack was and
were expecting to hear just such a story- they would either not have
believed him or, still worse, would have thought that Rostov was
himself to blame since what generally happens to the narrators of
cavalry attacks had not happened to him. He could not tell them simply
that everyone went at a trot and that he fell off his horse and
sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman
into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened, it
would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only
what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young
people are rarely capable of it. His hearers expected a story of how
beside himself and all aflame with excitement, he had flown like a
storm at the square, cut his way in, slashed right and left, how his
saber had tasted flesh and he had fallen exhausted, and so on. And
so he told them all that.
In the middle of his story, just as he was saying: "You cannot
imagine what a strange frenzy one experiences during an attack,"
Prince Andrew, whom Boris was expecting, entered the room. Prince
Andrew, who liked to help young men, was flattered by being asked
for his assistance and being well disposed toward Boris, who had
managed to please him the day before, he wished to do what the young
man wanted. Having been sent with papers from Kutuzov to the
Tsarevich, he looked in on Boris, hoping to find him alone. When he
came in and saw an hussar of the line recounting his military exploits
(Prince Andrew could not endure that sort of man), he gave Boris a
pleasant smile, frowned as with half-closed eyes he looked at
Rostov, bowed slightly and wearily, and sat down languidly on the
sofa: he felt it unpleasant to have dropped in on bad company.
Rostov flushed up on noticing this, but he did not care, this was a
mere stranger. Glancing, however, at Boris, he saw that he too
seemed ashamed of the hussar of the line.
In spite of Prince Andrew's disagreeable, ironical tone, in spite of
the contempt with which Rostov, from his fighting army point of
view, regarded all these little adjutants on the staff of whom the
newcomer was evidently one, Rostov felt confused, blushed, and
became silent. Boris inquired what news there might be on the staff,
and what, without indiscretion, one might ask about our plans.
"We shall probably advance," replied Bolkonski, evidently
reluctant to say more in the presence of a stranger.
Berg took the opportunity to ask, with great politeness, whether, as
was rumored, the allowance of forage money to captains of companies
would be doubled. To this Prince Andrew answered with a smile that
he could give no opinion on such an important government order, and
Berg laughed gaily.
"As to your business," Prince Andrew continued, addressing Boris,
"we will talk of it later" (and he looked round at Rostov). "Come to
me after the review and we will do what is possible."
And, having glanced round the room, Prince Andrew turned to
Rostov, whose state of unconquerable childish embarrassment now
changing to anger he did not condescend to notice, and said: "I
think you were talking of the Schon Grabern affair? Were you there?"
"I was there," said Rostov angrily, as if intending to insult the
Bolkonski noticed the hussar's state of mind, and it amused him.
With a slightly contemptuous smile, he said: "Yes, there are many
stories now told about that affair!"
"Yes, stories!" repeated Rostov loudly, looking with eyes suddenly
grown furious, now at Boris, now at Bolkonski. "Yes, many stories! But
our stories are the stories of men who have been under the enemy's
fire! Our stories have some weight, not like the stories of those
fellows on the staff who get rewards without doing anything!"
"Of whom you imagine me to be one?" said Prince Andrew, with a quiet
and particularly amiable smile.
A strange feeling of exasperation and yet of respect for this
man's self-possession mingled at that moment in Rostov's soul.
"I am not talking about you," he said, "I don't know you and,
frankly, I don't want to. I am speaking of the staff in general."
"And I will tell you this," Prince Andrew interrupted in a tone of
quiet authority, "you wish to insult me, and I am ready to agree
with you that it would be very easy to do so if you haven't sufficient
self-respect, but admit that the time and place are very badly chosen.
In a day or two we shall all have to take part in a greater and more
serious duel, and besides, Drubetskoy, who says he is an old friend of
yours, is not at all to blame that my face has the misfortune to
displease you. However," he added rising, "you know my name and
where to find me, but don't forget that I do not regard either
myself or you as having been at all insulted, and as a man older
than you, my advice is to let the matter drop. Well then, on Friday
after the review I shall expect you, Drubetskoy. Au revoir!" exclaimed
Prince Andrew, and with a bow to them both he went out.
Only when Prince Andrew was gone did Rostov think of what he ought
to have said. And he was still more angry at having omitted to say it.
He ordered his horse at once and, coldly taking leave of Boris, rode
home. Should he go to headquarters next day and challenge that
affected adjutant, or really let the matter drop, was the question
that worried him all the way. He thought angrily of the pleasure he
would have at seeing the fright of that small and frail but proud
man when covered by his pistol, and then he felt with surprise that of
all the men he knew there was none he would so much like to have for a
friend as that very adjutant whom he so hated.
The day after Rostov had been to see Boris, a review was held of the
Austrian and Russian troops, both those freshly arrived from Russia
and those who had been campaigning under Kutuzov. The two Emperors,
the Russian with his heir the Tsarevich, and the Austrian with the
Archduke, inspected the allied army of eighty thousand men.
From early morning the smart clean troops were on the move,
forming up on the field before the fortress. Now thousands of feet and
bayonets moved and halted at the officers' command, turned with
banners flying, formed up at intervals, and wheeled round other
similar masses of infantry in different uniforms; now was heard the
rhythmic beat of hoofs and the jingling of showy cavalry in blue, red,
and green braided uniforms, with smartly dressed bandsmen in front
mounted on black, roan, or gray horses; then again, spreading out with
the brazen clatter of the polished shining cannon that quivered on the
gun carriages and with the smell of linstocks, came the artillery
which crawled between the infantry and cavalry and took up its
appointed position. Not only the generals in full parade uniforms,
with their thin or thick waists drawn in to the utmost, their red
necks squeezed into their stiff collars, and wearing scarves and all
their decorations, not only the elegant, pomaded officers, but every
soldier with his freshly washed and shaven face and his weapons
clean and polished to the utmost, and every horse groomed till its
coat shone like satin and every hair of its wetted mane lay smooth-
felt that no small matter was happening, but an important and solemn
affair. Every general and every soldier was conscious of his own
insignificance, aware of being but a drop in that ocean of men, and
yet at the same time was conscious of his strength as a part of that
From early morning strenuous activities and efforts had begun and by
ten o'clock all had been brought into due order. The ranks were
drown up on the vast field. The whole army was extended in three
lines: the cavalry in front, behind it the artillery, and behind
that again the infantry.
A space like a street was left between each two lines of troops. The
three parts of that army were sharply distinguished: Kutuzov's
fighting army (with the Pavlograds on the right flank of the front);
those recently arrived from Russia, both Guards and regiments of the
line; and the Austrian troops. But they all stood in the same lines,
under one command, and in a like order.
Like wind over leaves ran an excited whisper: "They're coming!
They're coming!" Alarmed voices were heard, and a stir of final
preparation swept over all the troops.
From the direction of Olmutz in front of them, a group was seen
approaching. And at that moment, though the day was still, a light
gust of wind blowing over the army slightly stirred the streamers on
the lances and the unfolded standards fluttered against their
staffs. It looked as if by that slight motion the army itself was
expressing its joy at the approach of the Emperors. One voice was
heard shouting: "Eyes front!" Then, like the crowing of cocks at
sunrise, this was repeated by others from various sides and all became
In the deathlike stillness only the tramp of horses was heard.
This was the Emperors' suites. The Emperors rode up to the flank,
and the trumpets of the first cavalry regiment played the general
march. It seemed as though not the trumpeters were playing, but as
if the army itself, rejoicing at the Emperors' approach, had naturally
burst into music. Amid these sounds, only the youthful kindly voice of
the Emperor Alexander was clearly heard. He gave the words of
greeting, and the first regiment roared "Hurrah!" so deafeningly,
continuously, and joyfully that the men themselves were awed by
their multitude and the immensity of the power they constituted.
Rostov, standing in the front lines of Kutuzov's army which the Tsar
approached first, experienced the same feeling as every other man in
that army: a feeling of self-forgetfulness, a proud consciousness of
might, and a passionate attraction to him who was the cause of this
He felt that at a single word from that man all this vast mass
(and he himself an insignificant atom in it) would go through fire and
water, commit crime, die, or perform deeds of highest heroism, and
so he could not but tremble and his heart stand still at the imminence
of that word.
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" thundered from all sides, one regiment
after another greeting the Tsar with the strains of the march, and
then "Hurrah!"... Then the general march, and again "Hurrah!
Hurrah!" growing ever stronger and fuller and merging into a deafening
Till the Tsar reached it, each regiment in its silence and
immobility seemed like a lifeless body, but as soon as he came up it
became alive, its thunder joining the roar of the whole line along
which he had already passed. Through the terrible and deafening roar
of those voices, amid the square masses of troops standing
motionless as if turned to stone, hundreds of riders composing the
suites moved carelessly but symmetrically and above all freely, and in
front of them two men- the Emperors. Upon them the undivided,
tensely passionate attention of that whole mass of men was
The handsome young Emperor Alexander, in the uniform of the Horse
Guards, wearing a cocked hat with its peaks front and back, with his
pleasant face and resonant though not loud voice, attracted everyone's
Rostov was not far from the trumpeters, and with his keen sight
had recognized the Tsar and watched his approach. When he was within
twenty paces, and Nicholas could clearly distinguish every detail of
his handsome, happy young face, he experienced a feeling tenderness
and ecstasy such as he had never before known. Every trait and every
movement of the Tsar's seemed to him enchanting.
Stopping in front of the Pavlograds, the Tsar said something in
French to the Austrian Emperor and smiled.
Seeing that smile, Rostov involuntarily smiled himself and felt a
still stronger flow of love for his sovereign. He longed to show
that love in some way and knowing that this was impossible was ready
to cry. The Tsar called the colonel of the regiment and said a few
words to him.
"Oh God, what would happen to me if the Emperor spoke to me?"
thought Rostov. "I should die of happiness!"
The Tsar addressed the officers also: "I thank you all, gentlemen, I
thank you with my whole heart." To Rostov every word sounded like a
voice from heaven. How gladly would he have died at once for his Tsar!
"You have earned the St. George's standards and will be worthy of
"Oh, to die, to die for him " thought Rostov.
The Tsar said something more which Rostov did not hear, and the
soldiers, straining their lungs, shouted "Hurrah!"
Rostov too, bending over his saddle, shouted "Hurrah!" with all
his might, feeling that he would like to injure himself by that shout,
if only to express his rapture fully.
The Tsar stopped a few minutes in front of the hussars as if
"How can the Emperor be undecided?" thought Rostov, but then even
this indecision appeared to him majestic and enchanting, like
everything else the Tsar did.
That hesitation lasted only an instant. The Tsar's foot, in the
narrow pointed boot then fashionable, touched the groin of the
bobtailed bay mare he rode, his hand in a white glove gathered up
the reins, and he moved off accompanied by an irregularly swaying
sea of aides-de-camp. Farther and farther he rode away, stopping at
other regiments, till at last only his white plumes were visible to
Rostov from amid the suites that surrounded the Emperors.
Among the gentlemen of the suite, Rostov noticed Bolkonski,
sitting his horse indolently and carelessly. Rostov recalled their
quarrel of yesterday and the question presented itself whether he
ought or ought not to challenge Bolkonski. "Of course not!" he now
thought. "Is it worth thinking or speaking of it at such a moment?
At a time of such love, such rapture, and such self-sacrifice, what do
any of our quarrels and affronts matter? I love and forgive
When the Emperor had passed nearly all the regiments, the troops
began a ceremonial march past him, and Rostov on Bedouin, recently
purchased from Denisov, rode past too, at the rear of his squadron-
that is, alone and in full view of the Emperor.
Before he reached him, Rostov, who was a splendid horseman,
spurred Bedouin twice and successfully put him to the showy trot in
which the animal went when excited. Bending his foaming muzzle to
his chest, his tail extended, Bedouin, as if also conscious of the
Emperor's eye upon him, passed splendidly, lifting his feet with a
high and graceful action, as if flying through the air without
touching the ground.
Rostov himself, his legs well back and his stomach drawn in and
feeling himself one with his horse, rode past the Emperor with a
frowning but blissful face "like a vewy devil," as Denisov expressed
"Fine fellows, the Pavlograds!" remarked the Emperor.
"My God, how happy I should be if he ordered me to leap into the
fire this instant!" thought Rostov.
When the review was over, the newly arrived officers, and also
Kutuzov's, collected in groups and began to talk about the awards,
about the Austrians and their uniforms, about their lines, about
Bonaparte, and how badly the latter would fare now, especially if
the Essen corps arrived and Prussia took our side.
But the talk in every group was chiefly about the Emperor Alexander.
His every word and movement was described with ecstasy.
They all had but one wish: to advance as soon as possible against
the enemy under the Emperor's command. Commanded by the Emperor
himself they could not fail to vanquish anyone, be it whom it might:
so thought Rostov and most of the officers after the review.
All were then more confident of victory than the winning of two
battles would have made them.
The day after the review, Boris, in his best uniform and with his
comrade Berg's best wishes for success, rode to Olmutz to see
Bolkonski, wishing to profit by his friendliness and obtain for
himself the best post he could- preferably that of adjutant to some
important personage, a position in the army which seemed to him most
attractive. "It is all very well for Rostov, whose father sends him
ten thousand rubles at a time, to talk about not wishing to cringe
to anybody and not be anyone's lackey, but I who have nothing but my
brains have to make a career and must not miss opportunities, but must
avail myself of them!" he reflected.
He did not find Prince Andrew in Olmutz that day, but the appearance
of the town where the headquarters and the diplomatic corps were
stationed and the two Emperors were living with their suites,
households, and courts only strengthened his desire to belong to
that higher world.
He knew no one, and despite his smart Guardsman's uniform, all these
exalted personages passing in the streets in their elegant carriages
with their plumes, ribbons, and medals, both courtiers and military
men, seemed so immeasurably above him, an insignificant officer of the
Guards, that they not only did not wish to, but simply could not, be
aware of his existence. At the quarters of the commander in chief,
Kutuzov, where he inquired for Bolkonski, all the adjutants and even
the orderlies looked at him as if they wished to impress on him that a
great many officers like him were always coming there and that
everybody was heartily sick of them. In spite of this, or rather
because of it, next day, November 15, after dinner he again went to
Olmutz and, entering the house occupied by Kutuzov, asked for
Bolkonski. Prince Andrew was in and Boris was shown into a large
hall probably formerly used for dancing, but in which five beds now
stood, and furniture of various kinds: a table, chairs, and a
clavichord. One adjutant, nearest the door, was sitting at the table
in a Persian dressing gown, writing. Another, the red, stout
Nesvitski, lay on a bed with his arms under his head, laughing with an
officer who had sat down beside him. A third was playing a Viennese
waltz on the clavichord, while a fourth, lying on the clavichord, sang
the tune. Bolkonski was not there. None of these gentlemen changed his
position on seeing Boris. The one who was writing and whom Boris
addressed turned round crossly and told him Bolkonski was on duty
and that he should go through the door on the left into the
reception room if he wished to see him. Boris thanked him and went
to the reception room, where he found some ten officers and generals.
When he entered, Prince Andrew, his eyes drooping contemptuously
(with that peculiar expression of polite weariness which plainly says,
"If it were not my duty I would not talk to you for a moment"), was
listening to an old Russian general with decorations, who stood very
erect, almost on tiptoe, with a soldier's obsequious expression on his
purple face, reporting something.
"Very well, then, be so good as to wait," said Prince Andrew to
the general, in Russian, speaking with the French intonation he
affected when he wished to speak contemptuously, and noticing Boris,
Prince Andrew, paying no more heed to the general who ran after him
imploring him to hear something more, nodded and turned to him with
a cheerful smile.
At that moment Boris clearly realized what he had before surmised,
that in the army, besides the subordination and discipline
prescribed in the military code, which he and the others knew in the
regiment, there was another, more important, subordination, which made
this tight-laced, purple-faced general wait respectfully while Captain
Prince Andrew, for his own pleasure, chose to chat with Lieutenant
Drubetskoy. More than ever was Boris resolved to serve in future not
according to the written code, but under this unwritten law. He felt
now that merely by having been recommended to Prince Andrew he had
already risen above the general who at the front had the power to
annihilate him, a lieutenant of the Guards. Prince Andrew came up to
him and took his hand.
"I am very sorry you did not find me in yesterday. I was fussing
about with Germans all day. We went with Weyrother to survey the
dispositions. When Germans start being accurate, there's no end to
Boris smiled, as if he understood what Prince Andrew was alluding to
as something generally known. But it the first time he had heard
Weyrother's name, or even the term "dispositions."
"Well, my dear fellow, so you still want to be an adjutant? I have
been thinking about you."
"Yes, I was thinking"- for some reason Boris could not help
blushing- "of asking the commander in chief. He has had a letter
from Prince Kuragin about me. I only wanted to ask because I fear
the Guards won't be in action," he added as if in apology.
"All right, all right. We'll talk it over," replied Prince Andrew.
"Only let me report this gentleman's business, and I shall be at
While Prince Andrew went to report about the purple-faced general,
that gentleman- evidently not sharing Boris' conception of the
advantages of the unwritten code of subordination- looked so fixedly
at the presumptuous lieutenant who had prevented his finishing what he
had to say to the adjutant that Boris felt uncomfortable. He turned
away and waited impatiently for Prince Andrew's return from the
commander in chief's room.
"You see, my dear fellow, I have been thinking about you," said
Prince Andrew when they had gone into the large room where the
clavichord was. "It's no use your going to the commander in chief.
He would say a lot of pleasant things, ask you to dinner" ("That would
not be bad as regards the unwritten code," thought Boris), "but
nothing more would come of it. There will soon be a battalion of us
aides-de-camp and adjutants! But this is what we'll do: I have a
good friend, an adjutant general and an excellent fellow, Prince
Dolgorukov; and though you may not know it, the fact is that now
Kutuzov with his staff and all of us count for nothing. Everything
is now centered round the Emperor. So we will go to Dolgorukov; I have
to go there anyhow and I have already spoken to him about you. We
shall see whether he cannot attach you to himself or find a place
for you somewhere nearer the sun."
Prince Andrew always became specially keen when he had to guide a
young man and help him to worldly success. Under cover of obtaining
help of this kind for another, which from pride he would never
accept for himself, he kept in touch with the circle which confers
success and which attracted him. He very readily took up Boris'
cause and went with him to Dolgorukov.
It was late in the evening when they entered the palace at Olmutz
occupied by the Emperors and their retinues.
That same day a council of war had been held in which all the
members of the Hofkriegsrath and both Emperors took part. At that
council, contrary to the views of the old generals Kutuzov and
Prince Schwartzenberg, it had been decided to advance immediately
and give battle to Bonaparte. The council of war was just over when
Prince Andrew accompanied by Boris arrived at the palace to find
Dolgorukov. Everyone at headquarters was still under the spell of
the day's council, at which the party of the young had triumphed.
The voices of those who counseled delay and advised waiting for
something else before advancing had been so completely silenced and
their arguments confuted by such conclusive evidence of the advantages
of attacking that what had been discussed at the council- the coming
battle and the victory that would certainly result from it- no
longer seemed to be in the future but in the past. All the
advantages were on our side. Our enormous forces, undoubtedly superior
to Napoleon's, were concentrated in one place, the troops inspired
by the Emperors' presence were eager for action. The strategic
position where the operations would take place was familiar in all its
details to the Austrian General Weyrother: a lucky accident had
ordained that the Austrian army should maneuver the previous year on
the very fields where the French had now to be fought; the adjacent
locality was known and shown in every detail on the maps, and
Bonaparte, evidently weakened, was undertaking nothing.
Dolgorukov, one of the warmest advocates of an attack, had just
returned from the council, tired and exhausted but eager and proud
of the victory that had been gained. Prince Andrew introduced his
protege, but Prince Dolgorukov politely and firmly pressing his hand
said nothing to Boris and, evidently unable to suppress the thoughts
which were uppermost in his mind at that moment, addressed Prince
Andrew in French.
"Ah, my dear fellow, what a battle we have gained! God grant that
the one that will result from it will be as victorious! However,
dear fellow," he said abruptly and eagerly, "I must confess to
having been unjust to the Austrians and especially to Weyrother.
What exactitude, what minuteness, what knowledge of the locality, what
foresight for every eventuality, every possibility even to the
smallest detail! No, my dear fellow, no conditions better than our
present ones could have been devised. This combination of Austrian
precision with Russian valor- what more could be wished for?"
"So the attack is definitely resolved on?" asked Bolkonski.
"And do you know, my dear fellow, it seems to me that Bonaparte
has decidedly lost bearings, you know that a letter was received
from him today for the Emperor." Dolgorukov smiled significantly.
"Is that so? And what did he say?" inquired Bolkonski.
"What can he say? Tra-di-ri-di-ra and so on... merely to gain
time. I tell you he is in our hands, that's certain! But what was most
amusing," he continued, with a sudden, good-natured laugh, "was that
we could not think how to address the reply! If not as 'Consul' and of
course not as 'Emperor,' it seemed to me it should be to 'General
"But between not recognizing him as Emperor and calling him
General Bonaparte, there is a difference," remarked Bolkonski.
"That's just it," interrupted Dolgorukov quickly, laughing. "You
know Bilibin- he's a very clever fellow. He suggested addressing him
as 'Usurper and Enemy of Mankind.'"
Dolgorukov laughed merrily.
"Only that?" said Bolkonski.
"All the same, it was Bilibin who found a suitable form for the
address. He is a wise and clever fellow."
"What was it?"
"To the Head of the French Government... Au chef du gouvernement
francais," said Dolgorukov, with grave satisfaction. "Good, wasn't
"Yes, but he will dislike it extremely," said Bolkonski.
"Oh yes, very much! My brother knows him, he's dined with him- the
present Emperor- more than once in Paris, and tells me he never met
a more cunning or subtle diplomatist- you know, a combination of
French adroitness and Italian play-acting! Do you know the tale
about him and Count Markov? Count Markov was the only man who knew how
to handle him. You know the story of the handkerchief? It is
And the talkative Dolgorukov, turning now to Boris, now to Prince
Andrew, told how Bonaparte wishing to test Markov, our ambassador,
purposely dropped a handkerchief in front of him and stood looking
at Markov, probably expecting Markov to pick it up for him, and how
Markov immediately dropped his own beside it and picked it up
without touching Bonaparte's.
"Delightful!" said Bolkonski. "But I have come to you, Prince, as
a petitioner on behalf of this young man. You see..." but before
Prince Andrew could finish, an aide-de-camp came in to summon
Dolgorukov to the Emperor.
"Oh, what a nuisance," said Dolgorukov, getting up hurriedly and
pressing the hands of Prince Andrew and Boris. "You know I should be
very glad to do all in my power both for you and for this dear young
man." Again he pressed the hand of the latter with an expression of
good-natured, sincere, and animated levity. "But you see... another
Boris was excited by the thought of being so close to the higher
powers as he felt himself to be at that moment. He was conscious
that here he was in contact with the springs that set in motion the
enormous movements of the mass of which in his regiment he felt
himself a tiny, obedient, and insignificant atom. They followed Prince
Dolgorukov out into the corridor and met- coming out of the door of
the Emperor's room by which Dolgorukov had entered- a short man in
civilian clothes with a clever face and sharply projecting jaw
which, without spoiling his face, gave him a peculiar vivacity and
shiftiness of expression. This short man nodded to Dolgorukov as to an
intimate friend and stared at Prince Andrew with cool intensity,
walking straight toward him and evidently expecting him to bow or to
step out of his way. Prince Andrew did neither: a look of animosity
appeared on his face and the other turned away and went down the
side of the corridor.
"Who was that?" asked Boris.
"He is one of the most remarkable, but to me most unpleasant of men-
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Adam Czartoryski.... It is
such men as he who decide the fate of nations," added Bolkonski with a
sigh he could not suppress, as they passed out of the palace.
Next day, the army began its campaign, and up to the very battle
of Austerlitz, Boris was unable to see either Prince Andrew or
Dolgorukov again and remained for a while with the Ismaylov regiment.
At dawn on the sixteenth of November, Denisov's squadron, in which
Nicholas Rostov served and which was in Prince Bagration's detachment,
moved from the place where it had spent the night, advancing into
action as arranged, and after going behind other columns for about two
thirds of a mile was stopped on the highroad. Rostov saw the
Cossacks and then the first and second squadrons of hussars and
infantry battalions and artillery pass by and go forward and then
Generals Bagration and Dolgorukov ride past with their adjutants.
All the fear before action which he had experienced as previously, all
the inner struggle to conquer that fear, all his dreams of
distinguishing himself as a true hussar in this battle, had been
wasted. Their squadron remained in reserve and Nicholas Rostov spent
that day in a dull and wretched mood. At nine in the morning, he heard
firing in front and shouts of hurrah, and saw wounded being brought
back (there were not many of them), and at last he saw how a whole
detachment of French cavalry was brought in, convoyed by a sontnya
of Cossacks. Evidently the affair was over and, though not big, had
been a successful engagement. The men and officers returning spoke
of a brilliant victory, of the occupation of the town of Wischau and
the capture of a whole French squadron. The day was bright and sunny
after a sharp night frost, and the cheerful glitter of that autumn day
was in keeping with the news of victory which was conveyed, not only
by the tales of those who had taken part in it, but also by the joyful
expression on the faces of soldiers, officers, generals, and
adjutants, as they passed Rostov going or coming. And Nicholas, who
had vainly suffered all the dread that precedes a battle and had spent
that happy day in inactivity, was all the more depressed.
"Come here, Wostov. Let's dwink to dwown our gwief!" shouted
Denisov, who had settled down by the roadside with a flask and some
The officers gathered round Denisov's canteen, eating and talking.
"There! They are bringing another!" cried one of the officers,
indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot
by two Cossacks.
One of them was leading by the bridle a fine large French horse he
had taken from the prisoner.
"Sell us that horse!" Denisov called out to the Cossacks.
"If you like, your honor!"
The officers got up and stood round the Cossacks and their prisoner.
The French dragoon was a young Alsatian who spoke French with a German
accent. He was breathless with agitation, his face was red, and when
he heard some French spoken he at once began speaking to the officers,
addressing first one, then another. He said he would not have been
taken, it was not his fault but the corporal's who had sent him to
seize some horsecloths, though he had told him the Russians were
there. And at every word he added: "But don't hurt my little horse!"
and stroked the animal. It was plain that he did not quite grasp where
he was. Now he excused himself for having been taken prisoner and now,
imagining himself before his own officers, insisted on his soldierly
discipline and zeal in the service. He brought with him into our
rearguard all the freshness of atmosphere of the French army, which
was so alien to us.
The Cossacks sold the horse for two gold pieces, and Rostov, being
the richest of the officers now that he had received his money, bought
"But don't hurt my little horse!" said the Alsatian good-naturedly
to Rostov when the animal was handed over to the hussar.
Rostov smilingly reassured the dragoon and gave him money.
"Alley! Alley!" said the Cossack, touching the prisoner's arm to
make him go on.
"The Emperor! The Emperor!" was suddenly heard among the hussars.
All began to run and bustle, and Rostov saw coming up the road
behind him several riders with white plumes in their hats. In a moment
everyone was in his place, waiting.
Rostov did not know or remember how he ran to his place and mounted.
Instantly his regret at not having been in action and his dejected
mood amid people of whom he was weary had gone, instantly every
thought of himself had vanished. He was filled with happiness at his
nearness to the Emperor. He felt that this nearness by itself made
up to him for the day he had lost. He was happy as a lover when the
longed-for moment of meeting arrives. Not daring to look round and
without looking round, he was ecstatically conscious of his
approach. He felt it not only from the sound of the hoofs of the
approaching cavalcade, but because as he drew near everything grew
brighter, more joyful, more significant, and more festive around
him. Nearer and nearer to Rostov came that sun shedding beams of
mild and majestic light around, and already he felt himself
enveloped in those beams, he heard his voice, that kindly, calm, and
majestic voice that was yet so simple! And as if in accord with
Rostov's feeling, there was a deathly stillness amid which was heard
the Emperor's voice.
"The Pavlograd hussars?" he inquired.
"The reserves, sire!" replied a voice, a very human one compared
to that which had said: "The Pavlograd hussars?"
The Emperor drew level with Rostov and halted. Alexander's face
was even more beautiful than it had been three days before at the
review. It shone with such gaiety and youth, such innocent youth, that
it suggested the liveliness of a fourteen-year-old boy, and yet it was
the face of the majestic Emperor. Casually, while surveying the
squadron, the Emperor's eyes met Rostov's and rested on them for not
more than two seconds. Whether or no the Emperor understood what was
going on in Rostov's soul (it seemed to Rostov that he understood
everything), at any rate his light-blue eyes gazed for about two
seconds into Rostov's face. A gentle, mild light poured from them.
Then all at once he raised his eyebrows, abruptly touched his horse
with his left foot, and galloped on.
The younger Emperor could not restrain his wish to be present at the
battle and, in spite of the remonstrances of his courtiers, at
twelve o'clock left the third column with which he had been and
galloped toward the vanguard. Before he came up with the hussars,
several adjutants met him with news of the successful result of the
This battle, which consisted in the capture of a French squadron,
was represented as a brilliant victory over the French, and so the
Emperor and the whole army, especially while the smoke hung over the
battlefield, believed that the French had been defeated and were
retreating against their will. A few minutes after the Emperor had
passed, the Pavlograd division was ordered to advance. In Wischau
itself, a petty German town, Rostov saw the Emperor again. In the
market place, where there had been some rather heavy firing before the
Emperor's arrival, lay several killed and wounded soldiers whom
there had not been time to move. The Emperor, surrounded by his
suite of officers and courtiers, was riding a bobtailed chestnut mare,
a different one from that which he had ridden at the review, and
bending to one side he gracefully held a gold lorgnette to his eyes
and looked at a soldier who lay prone, with blood on his uncovered
head. The wounded soldier was so dirty, coarse, and revolting that his
proximity to the Emperor shocked Rostov. Rostov saw how the