to remain, but ordered the venerable old postmaster Klyucharev to be arrested and exiled for no particular offense; now assembled the people at the Three Hills to fight the French and now, to get rid of them, handed over to them a man to be killed and himself drove away by a back gate; now declared that he would not survive the fall of Moscow, and now wrote French verses in albums concerning his share in the affair- this man did not understand the meaning of what was happening but merely wanted to do something himself that would astonish people, to perform some patriotically heroic feat; and like a child he made sport of the momentous, and unavoidable event- the abandonment and burning of Moscow- and tried with his puny hand now to speed and now to stay the enormous, popular tide that bore him along with it.
Helene, having returned with the court from Vilna to Petersburg, found herself in a difficult position.
In Petersburg she had enjoyed the special protection of a grandee who occupied one of the highest posts in the Empire. In Vilna she had formed an intimacy with a young foreign prince. When she returned to Petersburg both the magnate and the prince were there, and both claimed their rights. Helene was faced by a new problem- how to preserve her intimacy with both without offending either.
What would have seemed difficult or even impossible to another woman did not cause the least embarrassment to Countess Bezukhova, who evidently deserved her reputation of being a very clever woman. Had she attempted concealment, or tried to extricate herself from her awkward position by cunning, she would have spoiled her case by acknowledging herself guilty. But Helene, like a really great man who can do whatever he pleases, at once assumed her own position to be correct, as she sincerely believed it to be, and that everyone else was to blame.
The first time the young foreigner allowed himself to reproach her, she lifted her beautiful head and, half turning to him, said firmly: “That’s just like a man- selfish and cruel! I expected nothing else. A woman sacrifices herself for you, she suffers, and this is her reward! What right have you, monseigneur, to demand an account of my attachments and friendships? He is a man who has been more than a father to me!” The prince was about to say something, but Helene interrupted him.
“Well, yes,” said she, “it may be that he has other sentiments for me than those of a father, but that is not a reason for me to shut my door on him. I am not a man, that I should repay kindness with ingratitude! Know, monseigneur, that in all that relates to my intimate feelings I render account only to God and to my conscience,” she concluded, laying her hand on her beautiful, fully expanded bosom and looking up to heaven.
“But for heaven’s sake listen to me!”
“Marry me, and I will be your slave!”
“But that’s impossible.”
“You won’t deign to demean yourself by marrying me, you…” said Helene, beginning to cry.
The prince tried to comfort her, but Helene, as if quite distraught, said through her tears that there was nothing to prevent her marrying, that there were precedents (there were up to that time very few, but she mentioned Napoleon and some other exalted personages), that she had never been her husband’s wife, and that she had been sacrificed.
“But the law, religion…” said the prince, already yielding.
“The law, religion… What have they been invented for if they can’t arrange that?” said Helene.
The prince was surprised that so simple an idea had not occurred to him, and he applied for advice to the holy brethren of the Society of Jesus, with whom he was on intimate terms.
A few days later at one of those enchanting fetes which Helene gave at her country house on the Stone Island, the charming Monsieur de Jobert, a man no longer young, with snow white hair and brilliant black eyes, a Jesuit a robe courte* was presented to her, and in the garden by the light of the illuminations and to the sound of music talked to her for a long time of the love of God, of Christ, of the Sacred Heart, and of the consolations the one true Catholic religion affords in this world and the next. Helene was touched, and more than once tears rose to her eyes and to those of Monsieur de Jobert and their voices trembled. A dance, for which her partner came to seek her, put an end to her discourse with her future directeur de conscience, but the next evening Monsieur de Jobert came to see Helene when she was alone, and after that often came again.
*Lay member of the Society of Jesus.
One day he took the countess to a Roman Catholic church, where she knelt down before the altar to which she was led. The enchanting, middle-aged Frenchman laid his hands on her head and, as she herself afterward described it, she felt something like a fresh breeze wafted into her soul. It was explained to her that this was la grace.
After that a long-frocked abbe was brought to her. She confessed to him, and he absolved her from her sins. Next day she received a box containing the Sacred Host, which was left at her house for her to partake of. A few days later Helene learned with pleasure that she had now been admitted to the true Catholic Church and that in a few days the Pope himself would hear of her and would send her a certain document.
All that was done around her and to her at this time, all the attention devoted to her by so many clever men and expressed in such pleasant, refined ways, and the state of dove-like purity she was now in (she wore only white dresses and white ribbons all that time) gave her pleasure, but her pleasure did not cause her for a moment to forget her aim. And as it always happens in contests of cunning that a stupid person gets the better of cleverer ones, Helene- having realized that the main object of all these words and all this trouble was, after converting her to Catholicism, to obtain money from her for Jesuit institutions (as to which she received indications)- before parting with her money insisted that the various operations necessary to free her from her husband should be performed. In her view the aim of every religion was merely to preserve certain proprieties while affording satisfaction to human desires. And with this aim, in one of her talks with her Father Confessor, she insisted on an answer to the question, in how far was she bound by her marriage?
They were sitting in the twilight by a window in the drawing room. The scent of flowers came in at the window. Helene was wearing a white dress, transparent over her shoulders and bosom. The abbe, a well-fed man with a plump, clean-shaven chin, a pleasant firm mouth, and white hands meekly folded on his knees, sat close to Helene and, with a subtle smile on his lips and a peaceful look of delight at her beauty, occasionally glanced at her face as he explained his opinion on the subject. Helene with an uneasy smile looked at his curly hair and his plump, clean-shaven, blackish cheeks and every moment expected the conversation to take a fresh turn. But the abbe, though he evidently enjoyed the beauty of his companion, was absorbed in his mastery of the matter.
The course of the Father Confessor’s arguments ran as follows: “Ignorant of the import of what you were undertaking, you made a vow of conjugal fidelity to a man who on his part, by entering the married state without faith in the religious significance of marriage, committed an act of sacrilege. That marriage lacked the dual significance it should have had. Yet in spite of this your vow was binding. You swerved from it. What did you commit by so acting? A venial, or a mortal, sin? A venial sin, for you acted without evil intention. If now you married again with the object of bearing children, your sin might be forgiven. But the question is again a twofold one: firstly…”
But suddenly Helene, who was getting bored, said with one of her bewitching smiles: “But I think that having espoused the true religion I cannot be bound by what a false religion laid upon me.”
The director of her conscience was astounded at having the case presented to him thus with the simplicity of Columbus’ egg. He was delighted at the unexpected rapidity of his pupil’s progress, but could not abandon the edifice of argument he had laboriously constructed.
“Let us understand one another, Countess,” said he with a smile, and began refuting his spiritual daughter’s arguments.
Helene understood that the question was very simple and easy from the ecclesiastical point of view, and that her directors were making difficulties only because they were apprehensive as to how the matter would be regarded by the secular authorities.
So she decided that it was necessary to prepare the opinion of society. She provoked the jealousy of the elderly magnate and told him what she had told her other suitor; that is, she put the matter so that the only way for him to obtain a right over her was to marry her. The elderly magnate was at first as much taken aback by this suggestion of marriage with a woman whose husband was alive, as the younger man had been, but Helene’s imperturbable conviction that it was as simple and natural as marrying a maiden had its effect on him too. Had Helene herself shown the least sign of hesitation, shame, or secrecy, her cause would certainly have been lost; but not only did she show no signs of secrecy or shame, on the contrary, with good-natured naivete she told her intimate friends (and these were all Petersburg) that both the prince and the magnate had proposed to her and that she loved both and was afraid of grieving either.
A rumor immediately spread in Petersburg, not that Helene wanted to be divorced from her husband (had such a report spread many would have opposed so illegal an intention) but simply that the unfortunate and interesting Helene was in doubt which of the two men she should marry. The question was no longer whether this was possible, but only which was the better match and how the matter would be regarded at court. There were, it is true, some rigid individuals unable to rise to the height of such a question, who saw in the project a desecration of the sacrament of marriage, but there were not many such and they remained silent, while the majority were interested in Helene’s good fortune and in the question which match would be the more advantageous. Whether it was right or wrong to remarry while one had a husband living they did not discuss, for that question had evidently been settled by people “wiser than you or me,” as they said, and to doubt the correctness of that decision would be to risk exposing one’s stupidity and incapacity to live in society.
Only Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimova, had come to Petersburg that summer to see one of her sons, allowed herself plainly to express an opinion contrary to the general one. Meeting Helene at a ball she stopped her in the middle of the room and, amid general silence, said in her gruff voice: “So wives of living men have started marrying again! Perhaps you think you have invented a novelty? You have been forestalled, my dear! It was thought of long ago. It is done in all the brothels,” and with these words Marya Dmitrievna, turning up her wide sleeves with her usual threatening gesture and glancing sternly round, moved across the room.
Though people were afraid of Marya Dmitrievna she was regarded in Petersburg as a buffoon, and so of what she had said they only noticed, and repeated in a whisper, the one coarse word she had used, supposing the whole sting of her remark to lie in that word.
Prince Vasili, who of late very often forgot what he had said and repeated one and the same thing a hundred times, remarked to his daughter whenever he chanced to see her:
“Helene, I have a word to say to you,” and he would lead her aside, drawing her hand downward. “I have heard of certain projects concerning… you know. Well my dear child, you know how your father’s heart rejoices to know that you… You have suffered so much…. But, my dear child, consult only your own heart. That is all I have to say,” and concealing his unvarying emotion he would press his cheek against his daughter’s and move away.
Bilibin, who had not lost his reputation of an exceedingly clever man, and who was one of the disinterested friends so brilliant a woman as Helene always has- men friends who can never change into lovers- once gave her his view of the matter at a small and intimate gathering.
“Listen, Bilibin,” said Helene (she always called friends of that sort by their surnames), and she touched his coat sleeve with her white, beringed fingers. “Tell me, as you would a sister, what I ought to do. Which of the two?”
Bilibin wrinkled up the skin over his eyebrows and pondered, with a smile on his lips.
“You are not taking me unawares, you know,” said he. “As a true friend, I have thought and thought again about your affair. You see, if you marry the prince”- he meant the younger man- and he crooked one finger, “you forever lose the chance of marrying the other, and you will displease the court besides. (You know there is some kind of connection.) But if you marry the old count you will make his last days happy, and as widow of the Grand… the prince would no longer be making a mesalliance by marrying you,” and Bilibin smoothed out his forehead.
“That’s a true friend!” said Helene beaming, and again touching Bilibin’s sleeve. “But I love them, you know, and don’t want to distress either of them. I would give my life for the happiness of them both.”
Bilibin shrugged his shoulders, as much as to say that not even he could help in that difficulty.
“Une maitresse-femme!* That’s what is called putting things squarely. She would like to be married to all three at the same time,” thought he.
*A masterly woman.
“But tell me, how will your husband look at the matter?” Bilibin asked, his reputation being so well established that he did not fear to ask so naive a question. “Will he agree?”
“Oh, he loves me so!” said Helene, who for some reason imagined that Pierre too loved her. “He will do anything for me.”
Bilibin puckered his skin in preparation for something witty.
“Even divorce you?” said he.
Among those who ventured to doubt the justifiability of the proposed marriage was Helene’s mother, Princess Kuragina. She was continually tormented by jealousy of her daughter, and now that jealousy concerned a subject near to her own heart, she could not reconcile herself to the idea. She consulted a Russian priest as to the possibility of divorce and remarriage during a husband’s lifetime, and the priest told her that it was impossible, and to her delight showed her a text in the Gospel which (as it seemed to him) plainly remarriage while the husband is alive.
Armed with these arguments, which appeared to her unanswerable, she drove to her daughter’s early one morning so as to find her alone.
Having listened to her mother’s objections, Helene smiled blandly and ironically.
“But it says plainly: ‘Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced…'” said the old princess.
“Ah, Maman, ne dites pas de betises. Vous ne comprenez rein. Dans ma position j’ai des devoirs,”* said Helene changing from Russian, in which language she always felt that her case did not sound quite clear, into French which suited it better.
*”Oh, Mamma, don’t talk nonsense! You don’t understand anything. In my position I have obligations.
“But, my dear….”
“Oh, Mamma, how is it you don’t understand that the Holy Father, who has the right to grant dispensations…”
Just then the lady companion who lived with Helene came in to announce that His Highness was in the ballroom and wished to see her.
“Non, dites-lui que je ne veux pas le voir, que je suis furieuse contre lui, parce qu’il m’ a manque parole.”*
*”No, tell him I don’t wish to see him, I am furious with him for not keeping his word to me.”
“Comtesse, a tout peche misericorde,”* said a fair-haired young man with a long face and nose, as he entered the room.
*”Countess, there is mercy for every sin.”
The old princess rose respectfully and curtsied. The young man who had entered took no notice of her. The princess nodded to her daughter and sidled out of the room.
“Yes, she is right,” thought the old princess, all her convictions dissipated by the appearance of His Highness. “She is right, but how is it that we in our irrecoverable youth did not know it? Yet it is so simple,” she thought as she got into her carriage.
By the beginning of August Helene’s affairs were clearly defined and she wrote a letter to her husband- who, as she imagined, loved her very much- informing him of her intention to marry N.N. and of her having embraced the one true faith, and asking him to carry out all the formalities necessary for a divorce, which would be explained to him by the bearer of the letter.
And so I pray God to have you, my friend, in His holy and powerful keeping- Your friend Helene.
This letter was brought to Pierre’s house when he was on the field of Borodino.
Toward the end of the battle of Borodino, Pierre, having run down from Raevski’s battery a second time, made his way through a gully to Knyazkovo with a crowd of soldiers, reached the dressing station, and seeing blood and hearing cries and groans hurried on, still entangled in the crowds of soldiers.
The one thing he now desired with his whole soul was to get away quickly from the terrible sensations amid which he had lived that day and return to ordinary conditions of life and sleep quietly in a room in his own bed. He felt that only in the ordinary conditions of life would he be able to understand himself and all he had seen and felt. But such ordinary conditions of life were nowhere to be found.
Though shells and bullets did not whistle over the road along which he was going, still on all sides there was what there had been on the field of battle. There were still the same suffering, exhausted, and sometimes strangely indifferent faces, the same blood, the same soldiers’ overcoats, the same sounds of firing which, though distant now, still aroused terror, and besides this there were the foul air and the dust.
Having gone a couple of miles along the Mozhaysk road, Pierre sat down by the roadside.
Dusk had fallen, and the roar of guns died away. Pierre lay leaning on his elbow for a long time, gazing at the shadows that moved past him in the darkness. He was continually imagining that a cannon ball was flying toward him with a terrific whizz, and then he shuddered and sat up. He had no idea how long he had been there. In the middle of the night three soldiers, having brought some firewood, settled down near him and began lighting a fire.
The soldiers, who threw sidelong glances at Pierre, got the fire to burn and placed an iron pot on it into which they broke some dried bread and put a little dripping. The pleasant odor of greasy viands mingled with the smell of smoke. Pierre sat up and sighed. The three soldiers were eating and talking among themselves, taking no notice of him.
“And who may you be?” one of them suddenly asked Pierre, evidently meaning what Pierre himself had in mind, namely: “If you want to eat we’ll give you some food, only let us know whether you are an honest man.”
“I, I…” said Pierre, feeling it necessary to minimize his social position as much as possible so as to be nearer to the soldiers and better understood by them. “By rights I am a militia officer, but my men are not here. I came to the battle and have lost them.”
“There now!” said one of the soldiers.
Another shook his head.
“Would you like a little mash?” the first soldier asked, and handed Pierre a wooden spoon after licking it clean.
Pierre sat down by the fire and began eating the mash, as they called the food in the cauldron, and he thought it more delicious than any food he had ever tasted. As he sat bending greedily over it, helping himself to large spoonfuls and chewing one after another, his was lit up by the fire and the soldiers looked at him in silence.
“Where have you to go to? Tell us!” said one of them.
“You’re a gentleman, aren’t you?”
“And what’s your name?”
“Well then, Peter Kirilych, come along with us, we’ll take you there.”
In the total darkness the soldiers walked with Pierre to Mozhaysk.
By the time they got near Mozhaysk and began ascending the steep hill into the town, the cocks were already crowing. Pierre went on with the soldiers, quite forgetting that his inn was at the bottom of the hill and that he had already passed it. He would not soon have remembered this, such was his state of forgetfulness, had he not halfway up the hill stumbled upon his groom, who had been to look for him in the town and was returning to the inn. The groom recognized Pierre in the darkness by his white hat.
“Your excellency!” he said. “Why, we were beginning to despair! How is it you are on foot? And where are you going, please?”
“Oh, yes!” said Pierre.
The soldiers stopped.
“So you’ve found your folk?” said one of them. “Well, good-by, Peter Kirilych- isn’t it?”
“Good-by, Peter Kirilych!” Pierre heard the other voices repeat.
“Good-by!” he said and turned with his groom toward the inn.
“I ought to give them something!” he thought, and felt in his pocket. “No, better not!” said another, inner voice.
There was not a room to be had at the inn, they were all occupied. Pierre went out into the yard and, covering himself up head and all, lay down in his carriage.
Scarcely had Pierre laid his head on the pillow before he felt himself falling asleep, but suddenly, almost with the distinctness of reality, he heard the boom, boom, boom of firing, the thud of projectiles, groans and cries, and smelled blood and powder, and a feeling of horror and dread of death seized him. Filled with fright he opened his eyes and lifted his head from under his cloak. All was tranquil in the yard. Only someone’s orderly passed through the gateway, splashing through the mud, and talked to the innkeeper. Above Pierre’s head some pigeons, disturbed by the movement he had made in sitting up, fluttered under the dark roof of the penthouse. The whole courtyard was permeated by a strong peaceful smell of stable yards, delightful to Pierre at that moment. He could see the clear starry sky between the dark roofs of two penthouses.
“Thank God, there is no more of that!” he thought, covering up his head again. “Oh, what a terrible thing is fear, and how shamefully I yielded to it! But they… they were steady and calm all the time, to the end…” thought he.
They, in Pierre’s mind, were the soldiers, those who had been at the battery, those who had given him food, and those who had prayed before the icon. They, those strange men he had not previously known, stood out clearly and sharply from everyone else.
“To be a soldier, just a soldier!” thought Pierre as he fell asleep, “to enter communal life completely, to be imbued by what makes them what they are. But how cast off all the superfluous, devilish burden of my outer man? There was a time when I could have done it. I could have run away from my father, as I wanted to. Or I might have been sent to serve as a soldier after the duel with Dolokhov.” And the memory of the dinner at the English Club when he had challenged Dolokhov flashed through Pierre’s mind, and then he remembered his benefactor at Torzhok. And now a picture of a solemn meeting of the lodge presented itself to his mind. It was taking place at the English Club and someone near and dear to him sat at the end of the table. “Yes, that is he! It is my benefactor. But he died!” thought Pierre. “Yes, he died, and I did not know he was alive. How sorry I am that he died, and how glad I am that he is alive again!” On one side of the table sat Anatole, Dolokhov, Nesvitski, Denisov, and others like them (in his dream the category to which these men belonged was as clearly defined in his mind as the category of those he termed they), and he heard those people, Anatole and Dolokhov, shouting and singing loudly; yet through their shouting the voice of his benefactor was heard speaking all the time and the sound of his words was as weighty and uninterrupted as the booming on the battlefield, but pleasant and comforting. Pierre did not understand what his benefactor was saying, but he knew (the categories of thoughts were also quite distinct in his dream) that he was talking of goodness and the possibility of being what they were. And they with their simple, kind, firm faces surrounded his benefactor on all sides. But though they were kindly they did not look at Pierre and did not know him. Wishing to speak and to attract their attention, he got up, but at that moment his legs grew cold and bare. He felt ashamed, and with one arm covered his legs from which his cloak had in fact slipped. For a moment as he was rearranging his cloak Pierre opened his eyes and saw the same penthouse roofs, posts, and yard, but now they were all bluish, lit up, and glittering with frost or dew.
“It is dawn,” thought Pierre. “But that’s not what I want. I want to hear and understand my benefactor’s words.” Again he covered himself up with his cloak, but now neither the lodge nor his benefactor was there. There were only thoughts clearly expressed in words, thoughts that someone was uttering or that he himself was formulating.
Afterwards when he recalled those thoughts Pierre was convinced that someone outside himself had spoken them, though the impressions of that day had evoked them. He had never, it seemed to him, been able to think and express his thoughts like that when awake.
“To endure war is the most difficult subordination of man’s freedom to the law of God,” the voice had said. “Simplicity is submission to the will of God; you cannot escape from Him. And they are simple. They do not talk, but act. The spoken word is silver but the unspoken is golden. Man can be master of nothing while he fears death, but he who does not fear it possesses all. If there were no suffering, man would not know his limitations, would not know himself. The hardest thing [Pierre went on thinking, or hearing, in his dream] is to be able in your soul to unite the meaning of all. To unite all?” he asked himself. “No, not to unite. Thoughts cannot be united, but to harness all these thoughts together is what we need! Yes, one must harness them, must harness them!” he repeated to himself with inward rapture, feeling that these words and they alone expressed what he wanted to say and solved the question that tormented him.
“Yes, one must harness, it is time to harness.”
“Time to harness, time to harness, your excellency! Your excellency!” some voice was repeating. “We must harness, it is time to harness….”
It was the voice of the groom, trying to wake him. The sun shone straight into Pierre’s face. He glanced at the dirty innyard in the middle of which soldiers were watering their lean horses at the pump while carts were passing out of the gate. Pierre turned away with repugnance, and closing his eyes quickly fell back on the carriage seat. “No, I don’t want that, I don’t want to see and understand that. I want to understand what was revealing itself to me in my dream. One second more and I should have understood it all! But what am I to do? Harness, but how can I harness everything?” and Pierre felt with horror that the meaning of all he had seen and thought in the dream had been destroyed.
The groom, the coachman, and the innkeeper told Pierre that an officer had come with news that the French were already near Mozhaysk and that our men were leaving it.
Pierre got up and, having told them to harness and overtake him, went on foot through the town.
The troops were moving on, leaving about ten thousand wounded behind them. There were wounded in the yards, at the windows of the houses, and the streets were crowded with them. In the streets, around carts that were to take some of the wounded away, shouts, curses, and blows could be heard. Pierre offered the use of his carriage, which had overtaken him, to a wounded general he knew, and drove with him to Moscow. On the way Pierre was told of the death of his brother-in-law Anatole and of that of Prince Andrew.
On the thirteenth of August Pierre reached Moscow. Close to the gates of the city he was met by Count Rostopchin’s adjutant.
“We have been looking for you everywhere,” said the adjutant. “The count wants to see you particularly. He asks you to come to him at once on a very important matter.”
Without going home, Pierre took a cab and drove to see the Moscow commander in chief.
Count Rostopchin had only that morning returned to town from his summer villa at Sokolniki. The anteroom and reception room of his house were full of officials who had been summoned or had come for orders. Vasilchikov and Platov had already seen the count and explained to him that it was impossible to defend Moscow and that it would have to be surrendered. Though this news was being concealed from the inhabitants, the officials- the heads of the various government departments- knew that Moscow would soon be in the enemy’s hands, just as Count Rostopchin himself knew it, and to escape personal responsibility they had all come to the governor to ask how they were to deal with their various departments.
As Pierre was entering the reception room a courier from the army came out of Rostopchin’s private room.
In answer to questions with which he was greeted, the courier made a despairing gesture with his hand and passed through the room.
While waiting in the reception room Pierre with weary eyes watched the various officials, old and young, military and civilian, who were there. They all seemed dissatisfied and uneasy. Pierre went up to a group of men, one of whom he knew. After greeting Pierre they continued their conversation.
“If they’re sent out and brought back again later on it will do no harm, but as things are now one can’t answer for anything.”
“But you see what he writes…” said another, pointing to a printed sheet he held in his hand.
“That’s another matter. That’s necessary for the people,” said the first.
“What is it?” asked Pierre.
“Oh, it’s a fresh broadsheet.”
Pierre took it and began reading.
His Serene Highness has passed through Mozhaysk in order to join up with the troops moving toward him and has taken up a strong position where the enemy will not soon attack him. Forty eight guns with ammunition have been sent him from here, and his Serene Highness says he will defend Moscow to the last drop of blood and is even ready to fight in the streets. Do not be upset, brothers, that the law courts are closed; things have to be put in order, and we will deal with villains in our own way! When the time comes I shall want both town and peasant lads and will raise the cry a day or two beforehand, but they are not wanted yet so I hold my peace. An ax will be useful, a hunting spear not bad, but a three-pronged fork will be best of all: a Frenchman is no heavier than a sheaf of rye. Tomorrow after dinner I shall take the Iberian icon of the Mother of God to the wounded in the Catherine Hospital where we will have some water blessed. That will help them to get well quicker. I, too, am well now: one of my eyes was sore but now I am on the lookout with both.
“But military men have told me that it is impossible to fight in the town,” said Pierre, “and that the position…”
“Well, of course! That’s what we were saying,” replied the first speaker.
“And what does he mean by ‘One of my eyes was sore but now I am on the lookout with both’?” asked Pierre.
“The count had a sty,” replied the adjutant smiling, “and was very much upset when I told him people had come to ask what was the matter with him. By the by, Count,” he added suddenly, addressing Pierre with a smile, “we heard that you have family troubles and that the countess, your wife…”
“I have heard nothing,” Pierre replied unconcernedly. “But what have you heard?”
“Oh, well, you know people often invent things. I only say what I heard.”
“But what did you hear?”
“Well, they say,” continued the adjutant with the same smile, “that the countess, your wife, is preparing to go abroad. I expect it’s nonsense….”
“Possibly,” remarked Pierre, looking about him absent-mindedly. “And who is that?” he asked, indicating a short old man in a clean blue peasant overcoat, with a big snow-white beard and eyebrows and a ruddy face.
“He? That’s a tradesman, that is to say, he’s the restaurant keeper, Vereshchagin. Perhaps you have heard of that affair with the proclamation.”
“Oh, so that is Vereshchagin!” said Pierre, looking at the firm, calm face of the old man and seeking any indication of his being a traitor.
“That’s not he himself, that’s the father of the fellow who wrote the proclamation,” said the adjutant. “The young man is in prison and I expect it will go hard with him.”
An old gentleman wearing a star and another official, a German wearing a cross round his neck, approached the speaker.
“It’s a complicated story, you know,” said the adjutant. “That proclamation appeared about two months ago. The count was informed of it. He gave orders to investigate the matter. Gabriel Ivanovich here made the inquiries. The proclamation had passed through exactly sixty-three hands. He asked one, ‘From whom did you get it?’ ‘From so-and-so.’ He went to the next one. ‘From whom did you get it?’ and so on till he reached Vereshchagin, a half educated tradesman, you know, ‘a pet of a trader,'” said the adjutant smiling. “They asked him, ‘Who gave it you?’ And the point is that we knew whom he had it from. He could only have had it from the Postmaster. But evidently they had come to some understanding. He replied: ‘From no one; I made it up myself.’ They threatened and questioned him, but he stuck to that: ‘I made it up myself.’ And so it was reported to the count, who sent for the man. ‘From whom did you get the proclamation?’ ‘I wrote it myself.’ Well, you know the count,” said the adjutant cheerfully, with a smile of pride, “he flared up dreadfully- and just think of the fellow’s audacity, lying, and obstinacy!”
“And the count wanted him to say it was from Klyucharev? I understand!” said Pierre.
“Not at all,” rejoined the adjutant in dismay. “Klyucharev had his own sins to answer for without that and that is why he has been banished. But the point is that the count was much annoyed. ‘How could you have written it yourself?’ said he, and he took up the Hamburg Gazette that was lying on the table. ‘Here it is! You did not write it yourself but translated it, and translated it abominably, because you don’t even know French, you fool.’ And what do you think? ‘No,’ said he, ‘I have not read any papers, I made it up myself.’ ‘If that’s so, you’re a traitor and I’ll have you tried, and you’ll be hanged! Say from whom you had it.’ ‘I have seen no papers, I made it up myself.’ And that was the end of it. The count had the father fetched, but the fellow stuck to it. He was sent for trial and condemned to hard labor, I believe. Now the father has come to intercede for him. But he’s a good-for-nothing lad! You know that sort of tradesman’s son, a dandy and lady-killer. He attended some lectures somewhere and imagines that the devil is no match for him. That’s the sort of fellow he is. His father keeps a cookshop here by the Stone Bridge, and you know there was a large icon of God Almighty painted with a scepter in one hand and an orb in the other. Well, he took that icon home with him for a few days and what did he do? He found some scoundrel of a painter…”
In the middle of this fresh tale Pierre was summoned to the commander in chief.
When he entered the private room Count Rostopchin, puckering his face, was rubbing his forehead and eyes with his hand. A short man was saying something, but when Pierre entered he stopped speaking and went out.
“Ah, how do you do, great warrior?” said Rostopchin as soon as the short man had left the room. “We have heard of your prowess. But that’s not the point. Between ourselves, mon cher, do you belong to the Masons?” he went on severely, as though there were something wrong about it which he nevertheless intended to pardon. Pierre remained silent. “I am well informed, my friend, but I am aware that there are Masons and I hope that you are not one of those who on pretense of saving mankind wish to ruin Russia.”
“Yes, I am a Mason,” Pierre replied.
“There, you see, mon cher! I expect you know that Messrs. Speranski and Magnitski have been deported to their proper place. Mr. Klyucharev has been treated in the same way, and so have others who on the plea of building up the temple of Solomon have tried to destroy the temple of their fatherland. You can understand that there are reasons for this and that I could not have exiled the Postmaster had he not been a harmful person. It has now come to my knowledge that you lent him your carriage for his removal from town, and that you have even accepted papers from him for safe custody. I like you and don’t wish you any harm and- as you are only half my age- I advise you, as a father would, to cease all communication with men of that stamp and to leave here as soon as possible.”
“But what did Klyucharev do wrong, Count?” asked Pierre.
“That is for me to know, but not for you to ask,” shouted Rostopchin.
“If he is accused of circulating Napoleon’s proclamation it is not proved that he did so,” said Pierre without looking at Rostopchin, “and Vereshchagin…”
“There we are!” Rostopchin shouted at Pierre louder than before, frowning suddenly. “Vereshchagin is a renegade and a traitor who will be punished as he deserves,” said he with the vindictive heat with which people speak when recalling an insult. “But I did not summon you to discuss my actions, but to give you advice- or an order if you prefer it. I beg you to leave the town and break off all communication with such men as Klyucharev. And I will knock the nonsense out of anybody”- but probably realizing that he was shouting at Bezukhov who so far was not guilty of anything, he added, taking Pierre’s hand in a friendly manner, “We are on the eve of a public disaster and I haven’t time to be polite to everybody who has business with me. My head is sometimes in a whirl. Well, mon cher, what are you doing personally?”
“Why, nothing,” answered Pierre without raising his eyes or changing the thoughtful expression of his face.
The count frowned.
“A word of friendly advice, mon cher. Be off as soon as you can, that’s all I have to tell you. Happy he who has ears to hear. Good-by, my dear fellow. Oh, by the by!” he shouted through the doorway after Pierre, “is it true that the countess has fallen into the clutches of the holy fathers of the Society of Jesus?”
Pierre did not answer and left Rostopchin’s room more sullen and angry than he had ever before shown himself.
When he reached home it was already getting dark. Some eight people had come to see him that evening: the secretary of a committee, the colonel of his battalion, his steward, his major-domo, and various petitioners. They all had business with Pierre and wanted decisions from him. Pierre did not understand and was not interested in any of these questions and only answered them in order to get rid of these people. When left alone at last he opened and read his wife’s letter.
“They, the soldiers at the battery, Prince Andrew killed… that old man… Simplicity is submission to God. Suffering is necessary… the meaning of all… one must harness… my wife is getting married… One must forget and understand…” And going to his bed he threw himself on it without undressing and immediately fell asleep.
When he awoke next morning the major-domo came to inform him that a special messenger, a police officer, had come from Count Rostopchin to know whether Count Bezukhov had left or was leaving the town.
A dozen persons who had business with Pierre were awaiting him in the drawing room. Pierre dressed hurriedly and, instead of going to see them, went to the back porch and out through the gate.
From that time till the end of the destruction of Moscow no one of Bezukhov’s household, despite all the search they made, saw Pierre again or knew where he was.
The Rostovs remained in Moscow till the first of September, that is, till the eve of the enemy’s entry into the city.
After Petya had joined Obolenski’s regiment of Cossacks and left for Belaya Tserkov where that regiment was forming, the countess was seized with terror. The thought that both her sons were at the war, had both gone from under her wing, that today or tomorrow either or both of them might be killed like the three sons of one of her acquaintances, struck her that summer for the first time with cruel clearness. She tried to get Nicholas back and wished to go herself to join Petya, or to get him an appointment somewhere in Petersburg, but neither of these proved possible. Petya could not return unless his regiment did so or unless he was transferred to another regiment on active service. Nicholas was somewhere with the army and had not sent a word since his last letter, in which he had given a detailed account of his meeting with Princess Mary. The countess did not sleep at night, or when she did fall asleep dreamed that she saw her sons lying dead. After many consultations and conversations, the count at last devised means to tranquillize her. He got Petya transferred from Obolenski’s regiment to Bezukhov’s, which was in training near Moscow. Though Petya would remain in the service, this transfer would give the countess the consolation of seeing at least one of her sons under her wing, and she hoped to arrange matters for her Petya so as not to let him go again, but always get him appointed to places where he could not possibly take part in a battle. As long as Nicholas alone was in danger the countess imagined that she loved her first-born more than all her other children and even reproached herself for it; but when her youngest: the scapegrace who had been bad at lessons, was always breaking things in the house and making himself a nuisance to everybody, that snub-nosed Petya with his merry black eyes and fresh rosy cheeks where soft down was just beginning to show- when he was thrown amid those big, dreadful, cruel men who were fighting somewhere about something and apparently finding pleasure in it- then his mother thought she loved him more, much more, than all her other children. The nearer the time came for Petya to return, the more uneasy grew the countess. She began to think she would never live to see such happiness. The presence of Sonya, of her beloved Natasha, or even of her husband irritated her. “What do I want with them? I want no one but Petya,” she thought.
At the end of August the Rostovs received another letter from Nicholas. He wrote from the province of Voronezh where he had been sent to procure remounts, but that letter did not set the countess at ease. Knowing that one son was out of danger she became the more anxious about Petya.
Though by the twentieth of August nearly all the Rostovs’ acquaintances had left Moscow, and though everybody tried to persuade the countess to get away as quickly as possible, she would not bear of leaving before her treasure, her adored Petya, returned. On the twenty-eighth of August he arrived. The passionate tenderness with which his mother received him did not please the sixteen-year-old officer. Though she concealed from him her intention of keeping him under her wing, Petya guessed her designs, and instinctively fearing that he might give way to emotion when with her- might “become womanish” as he termed it to himself- he treated her coldly, avoided her, and during his stay in Moscow attached himself exclusively to Natasha for whom he had always had a particularly brotherly tenderness, almost lover-like.
Owing to the count’s customary carelessness nothing was ready for their departure by the twenty-eighth of August and the carts that were to come from their Ryazan and Moscow estates to remove their household belongings did not arrive till the thirtieth.
From the twenty-eighth till the thirty-first all Moscow was in a bustle and commotion. Every day thousands of men wounded at Borodino were brought in by the Dorogomilov gate and taken to various parts of Moscow, and thousands of carts conveyed the inhabitants and their possessions out by the other gates. In spite of Rostopchin’s broadsheets, or because of them or independently of them, the strangest and most contradictory rumors were current in the town. Some said that no one was to be allowed to leave the city, others on the contrary said that all the icons had been taken out of the churches and everybody was to be ordered to leave. Some said there had been another battle after Borodino at which the French had been routed, while others on the contrary reported that the Russian army bad been destroyed. Some talked about the Moscow militia which, preceded by the clergy, would go to the Three Hills; others whispered that Augustin had been forbidden to leave, that traitors had been seized, that the peasants were rioting and robbing people on their way from Moscow, and so on. But all this was only talk; in reality (though the Council of Fili, at which it was decided to abandon Moscow, had not yet been held) both those who went away and those who remained behind felt, though they did not show it, that Moscow would certainly be abandoned, and that they ought to get away as quickly as possible and save their belongings. It was felt that everything would suddenly break up and change, but up to the first of September nothing had done so. As a criminal who is being led to execution knows that he must die immediately, but yet looks about him and straightens the cap that is awry on his head, so Moscow involuntarily continued its wonted life, though it knew that the time of its destruction was near when the conditions of life to which its people were accustomed to submit would be completely upset.
During the three days preceding the occupation of Moscow the whole Rostov family was absorbed in various activities. The head of the family, Count Ilya Rostov, continually drove about the city collecting the current rumors from all sides and gave superficial and hasty orders at home about the preparations for their departure.
The countess watched the things being packed, was dissatisfied with everything, was constantly in pursuit of Petya who was always running away from her, and was jealous of Natasha with whom he spent all his time. Sonya alone directed the practical side of matters by getting things packed. But of late Sonya had been particularly sad and silent. Nicholas’ letter in which he mentioned Princess Mary had elicited, in her presence, joyous comments from the countess, who saw an intervention of Providence in this meeting of the princess and Nicholas.
“I was never pleased at Bolkonski’s engagement to Natasha,” said the countess, “but I always wanted Nicholas to marry the princess, and had a presentiment that it would happen. What a good thing it would be!”
Sonya felt that this was true: that the only possibility of retrieving the Rostovs’ affairs was by Nicholas marrying a rich woman, and that the princess was a good match. It was very bitter for her. But despite her grief, or perhaps just because of it, she took on herself all the difficult work of directing the storing and packing of their things and was busy for whole days. The count and countess turned to her when they had any orders to give. Petya and Natasha on the contrary, far from helping their parents, were generally a nuisance and a hindrance to everyone. Almost all day long the house resounded with their running feet, their cries, and their spontaneous laughter. They laughed and were gay not because there was any reason to laugh, but because gaiety and mirth were in their hearts and so everything that happened was a cause for gaiety and laughter to them. Petya was in high spirits because having left home a boy he had returned (as everybody told him) a fine young man, because he was at home, because he had left Belaya Tserkov where there was no hope of soon taking part in a battle and had come to Moscow where there was to be fighting in a few days, and chiefly because Natasha, whose lead he always followed, was in high spirits. Natasha was gay because she had been sad too long and now nothing reminded her of the cause of her sadness, and because she was feeling well. She was also happy because she had someone to adore her: the adoration of others was a lubricant the wheels of her machine needed to make them run freely- and Petya adored her. Above all, they were gay because there was a war near Moscow, there would be fighting at the town gates, arms were being given out, everybody was escaping- going away somewhere, and in general something extraordinary was happening, and that is always exciting, especially to the young.
On Saturday, the thirty-first of August, everything in the Rostovs’ house seemed topsy-turvy. All the doors were open, all the furniture was being carried out or moved about, and the mirrors and pictures had been taken down. There were trunks in the rooms, and hay, wrapping paper, and ropes were scattered about. The peasants and house serfs carrying out the things were treading heavily on the parquet floors. The yard was crowded with peasant carts, some loaded high and already corded up, others still empty.
The voices and footsteps of the many servants and of the peasants who had come with the carts resounded as they shouted to one another in the yard and in the house. The count bad been out since morning. The countess had a headache brought on by all the noise and turmoil and was lying down in the new sitting room with a vinegar compress on her head. Petya was not at home, he had gone to visit a friend with whom he meant to obtain a transfer from the militia to the active army. Sonya was in the ballroom looking after the packing of the glass and china. Natasha was sitting on the floor of her dismantled room with dresses, ribbons, and scarves strewn all about her, gazing fixedly at the floor and holding in her hands the old ball dress (already out of fashion) which she had worn at her first Petersburg ball.
Natasha was ashamed of doing nothing when everyone else was so busy, and several times that morning had tried to set to work, but her heart was not in it, and she could not and did not know how to do anything except with all her heart and all her might. For a while she had stood beside Sonya while the china was being packed and tried to help, but soon gave it up and went to her room to pack her own things. At first she found it amusing to give away dresses and ribbons to the maids, but when that was done and what was left had still to be packed, she found it dull.
“Dunyasha, you pack! You will, won’t you, dear?” And when Dunyasha willingly promised to do it all for her, Natasha sat down on the floor, took her old ball dress, and fell into a reverie quite unrelated to what ought to have occupied her thoughts now. She was roused from her reverie by the talk of the maids in the next room (which was theirs) and by the sound of their hurried footsteps going to the back porch. Natasha got up and looked out of the window. An enormously long row of carts full of wounded men had stopped in the street.
The housekeeper, the old nurse, the cooks, coachmen, maids, footmen, postilions, and scullions stood at the gate, staring at the wounded.
Natasha, throwing a clean pocket handkerchief over her hair and holding an end of it in each hand, went out into the street.
The former housekeeper, old Mavra Kuzminichna, had stepped out of the crowd by the gate, gone up to a cart with a hood constructed of bast mats, and was speaking to a pale young officer who lay inside. Natasha moved a few steps forward and stopped shyly, still holding her handkerchief, and listened to what the housekeeper was saying.
“Then you have nobody in Moscow?” she was saying. “You would be more comfortable somewhere in a house… in ours, for instance… the family are leaving.”
“I don’t know if it would be allowed,” replied the officer in a weak voice. “Here is our commanding officer… ask him,” and he pointed to a stout major who was walking back along the street past the row of carts.
Natasha glanced with frightened eyes at the face of the wounded officer and at once went to meet the major.
“May the wounded men stay in our house?” she asked.
The major raised his hand to his cap with a smile.
“Which one do you want, Ma’am’selle?” said he, screwing up his eyes and smiling.
Natasha quietly repeated her question, and her face and whole manner were so serious, though she was still holding the ends of her handkerchief, that the major ceased smiling and after some reflection- as if considering in how far the thing was possible- replied in the affirmative.
“Oh yes, why not? They may,” he said.
With a slight inclination of her head, Natasha stepped back quickly to Mavra Kuzminichna, who stood talking compassionately to the officer.
“They may. He says they may!” whispered Natasha.
The cart in which the officer lay was turned into the Rostovs’ yard, and dozens of carts with wounded men began at the invitation of the townsfolk to turn into the yards and to draw up at the entrances of the houses in Povarskaya Street. Natasha was evidently pleased to be dealing with new people outside the ordinary routine of her life. She and Mavra Kuzminichna tried to get as many of the wounded as possible into their yard.
“Your Papa must be told, though,” said Mavra Kuzminichna.
“Never mind, never mind, what does it matter? For one day we can move into the drawing room. They can have all our half of the house.”
“There now, young lady, you do take things into your head! Even if we put them into the wing, the men’s room, or the nurse’s room, we must ask permission.”
“Well, I’ll ask.”
Natasha ran into the house and went on tiptoe through the half-open door into the sitting room, where there was a smell of vinegar and Hoffman’s drops.
“Are you asleep, Mamma?”
“Oh, what sleep-?” said the countess, waking up just as she was dropping into a doze.
“Mamma darling!” said Natasha, kneeling by her mother and bringing her face close to her mother’s, “I am sorry, forgive me, I’ll never do it again; I woke you up! Mavra Kuzminichna has sent me: they have brought some wounded here- officers. Will you let them come? They have nowhere to go. I knew you’d let them come!” she said quickly all in one breath.
“What officers? Whom have they brought? I don’t understand anything about it,” said the countess.
Natasha laughed, and the countess too smiled slightly.
“I knew you’d give permission… so I’ll tell them,” and, having kissed her mother, Natasha got up and went to the door.
In the hall she met her father, who had returned with bad news.
“We’ve stayed too long!” said the count with involuntary vexation. “The Club is closed and the police are leaving.”
“Papa, is it all right- I’ve invited some of the wounded into the house?” said Natasha.
“Of course it is,” he answered absently. “That’s not the point. I beg you not to indulge in trifles now, but to help to pack, and tomorrow we must go, go, go!….”
And the count gave a similar order to the major-domo and the servants.
At dinner Petya having returned home told them the news he had heard. He said the people had been getting arms in the Kremlin, and that though Rostopchin’s broadsheet had said that he would sound a call two or three days in advance, the order had certainly already been given for everyone to go armed to the Three Hills tomorrow, and that there would be a big battle there.
The countess looked with timid horror at her son’s eager, excited face as he said this. She realized that if she said a word about his not going to the battle (she knew he enjoyed the thought of the impending engagement) he would say something about men, honor, and the fatherland- something senseless, masculine, and obstinate which there would be no contradicting, and her plans would be spoiled; and so, hoping to arrange to leave before then and take Petya with her as their protector and defender, she did not answer him, but after dinner called the count aside and implored him with tears to take her away quickly, that very night if possible. With a woman’s involuntary loving cunning she, who till then had not shown any alarm, said that she would die of fright if they did not leave that very night. Without any pretense she was now afraid of everything.
Madame Schoss, who had been out to visit her daughter, increased the countess’ fears still more by telling what she had seen at a spirit dealer’s in Myasnitski Street. When returning by that street she had been unable to pass because of a drunken crowd rioting in front of the shop. She had taken a cab and driven home by a side street and the cabman had told her that the people were breaking open the barrels at the drink store, having received orders to do so.
After dinner the whole Rostov household set to work with enthusiastic haste packing their belongings and preparing for their departure. The old count, suddenly setting to work, kept passing from the yard to the house and back again, shouting confused instructions to the hurrying people, and flurrying them still more. Petya directed things in the yard. Sonya, owing to the count’s contradictory orders, lost her head and did not know what to do. The servants ran noisily about the house and yard, shouting and disputing. Natasha, with the ardor characteristic of all she did suddenly set to work too. At first her intervention in the business of packing was received skeptically. Everybody expected some prank from her and did not wish to obey her; but she resolutely and passionately demanded obedience, grew angry and nearly cried because they did not heed her, and at last succeeded in making them believe her. Her first exploit, which cost her immense effort and established her authority, was the packing of the carpets. The count had valuable Gobelin tapestries and Persian carpets in the house. When Natasha set to work two cases were standing open in the ballroom, one almost full up with crockery, the other with carpets. There was also much china standing on the tables, and still more was being brought in from the storeroom. A third case was needed and servants had gone to fetch it.
“Sonya, wait a bit- we’ll pack everything into these,” said Natasha.
“You can’t, Miss, we have tried to,” said the butler’s assistant.
“No, wait a minute, please.”
And Natasha began rapidly taking out of the case dishes and plates wrapped in paper.
“The dishes must go in here among the carpets,” said she.
“Why, it’s a mercy if we can get the carpets alone into three cases,” said the butler’s assistant.
“Oh, wait, please!” And Natasha began rapidly and deftly sorting out the things. “These aren’t needed,” said she, putting aside some plates of Kiev ware. “These- yes, these must go among the carpets,” she said, referring to the Saxony china dishes.
“Don’t, Natasha! Leave it alone! We’ll get it all packed,” urged Sonya reproachfully.
“What a young lady she is!” remarked the major-domo.
But Natasha would not give in. She turned everything out and began quickly repacking, deciding that the inferior Russian carpets and unnecessary crockery should not be taken at all. When everything had been taken out of the cases, they recommenced packing, and it turned out that when the cheaper things not worth taking had nearly all been rejected, the valuable ones really did all go into the two cases. Only the lid of the case containing the carpets would not shut down. A few more things might have been taken out, but Natasha insisted on having her own way. She packed, repacked, pressed, made the butler’s assistant and Petya- whom she had drawn into the business of packing- press on the lid, and made desperate efforts herself.
“That’s enough, Natasha,” said Sonya. “I see you were right, but just take out the top one.”
“I won’t!” cried Natasha, with one hand bolding back the hair that hung over her perspiring face, while with the other she pressed down the carpets. “Now press, Petya! Press, Vasilich, press hard!” she cried.
The carpets yielded and the lid closed; Natasha, clapping her hands, screamed with delight and tears fell from her eyes. But this only lasted a moment. She at once set to work afresh and they now trusted her completely. The count was not angry even when they told him that Natasha had countermanded an order of his, and the servants now came to her to ask whether a cart was sufficiently loaded, and whether it might be corded up. Thanks to Natasha’s directions the work now went on expeditiously, unnecessary things were left, and the most valuable packed as compactly as possible.
But hard as they all worked till quite late that night, they could not get everything packed. The countess had fallen asleep and the count, having put off their departure till next morning, went to bed.
Sonya and Natasha slept in the sitting room without undressing.
That night another wounded man was driven down the Povarskaya, and Mavra Kuzminichna, who was standing at the gate, had him brought into the Rostovs’ yard. Mavra Kuzminichna concluded that he was a very important man. He was being conveyed in a caleche with a raised hood, and was quite covered by an apron. On the box beside the driver sat a venerable old attendant. A doctor and two soldiers followed the carriage in a cart.
“Please come in here. The masters are going away and the whole house will be empty,” said the old woman to the old attendant.
“Well, perhaps,” said he with a sigh. “We don’t expect to get him home alive! We have a house of our own in Moscow, but it’s a long way from here, and there’s nobody living in it.”
“Do us the honor to come in, there’s plenty of everything in the master’s house. Come in,” said Mavra Kuzminichna. “Is he very ill?” she asked.
The attendant made a hopeless gesture.
“We don’t expect to get him home! We must ask the doctor.”
And the old servant got down from the box and went up to the cart.
“All right!” said the doctor.
The old servant returned to the caleche, looked into it, shook his head disconsolately, told the driver to turn into the yard, and stopped beside Mavra Kuzminichna.
“O, Lord Jesus Christ!” she murmured.
She invited them to take the wounded man into the house.
“The masters won’t object…” she said.
But they had to avoid carrying the man upstairs, and so they took him into the wing and put him in the room that had been Madame Schoss’.
This wounded man was Prince Andrew Bolkonski.
Moscow’s last day had come. It was a clear bright autumn day, a Sunday. The church bells everywhere were ringing for service, just as usual on Sundays. Nobody seemed yet to realize what awaited the city.
Only two things indicated the social condition of Moscow- the rabble, that is the poor people, and the price of commodities. An enormous crowd of factory hands, house serfs, and peasants, with whom some officials, seminarists, and gentry were mingled, had gone early that morning to the Three Hills. Having waited there for Rostopchin who did not turn up, they became convinced that Moscow would be surrendered, and then dispersed all about the town to the public houses and cookshops. Prices too that day indicated the state of affairs. The price of weapons, of gold, of carts and horses, kept rising, but the value of paper money and city articles kept falling, so that by midday there were instances of carters removing valuable goods, such as cloth, and receiving in payment a half of what they carted, while peasant horses were fetching five hundred rubles each, and furniture, mirrors, and bronzes were being given away for nothing.
In the Rostovs’ staid old-fashioned house the dissolution of former conditions of life was but little noticeable. As to the serfs the only indication was that three out of their huge retinue disappeared during the night, but nothing was stolen; and as to the value of their possessions, the thirty peasant carts that had come in from their estates and which many people envied proved to be extremely valuable and they were offered enormous sums of money for them. Not only were huge sums offered for the horses and carts, but on the previous evening and early in the morning of the first of September, orderlies and servants sent by wounded officers came to the Rostovs’ and wounded men dragged themselves there from the Rostovs’ and from neighboring houses where they were accommodated, entreating the servants to try to get them a lift out of Moscow. The major-domo to whom these entreaties were addressed, though he was sorry for the wounded, resolutely refused, saying that he dare not even mention the matter to the count. Pity these wounded men as one might, it was evident that if they were given one cart there would be no reason to refuse another, or all the carts and one’s own carriages as well. Thirty carts could not save all the wounded and in the general catastrophe one could not disregard oneself and one’s own family. So thought the major-domo on his master’s behalf.
On waking up that morning Count Ilya Rostov left his bedroom softly, so as not to wake the countess who had fallen asleep only toward morning, and came out to the porch in his lilac silk dressing gown. In the yard stood the carts ready corded. The carriages were at the front porch. The major-domo stood at the porch talking to an elderly orderly and to a pale young officer with a bandaged arm. On seeing the count the major-domo made a significant and stern gesture to them both to go away.
“Well, Vasilich, is everything ready?” asked the count, and stroking his bald head he looked good-naturedly at the officer and the orderly and nodded to them. (He liked to see new faces.)
“We can harness at once, your excellency.”
“Well, that’s right. As soon as the countess wakes we’ll be off, God willing! What is it, gentlemen?” he added, turning to the officer. “Are you staying in my house?”
The officer came nearer and suddenly his face flushed crimson.
“Count, be so good as to allow me… for God’s sake, to get into some corner of one of your carts! I have nothing here with me…. I shall be all right on a loaded cart…”
Before the officer had finished speaking the orderly made the same request on behalf of his master.
“Oh, yes, yes,yes!” said the count hastily. “I shall be very pleased, very pleased. Vasilich, you’ll see to it. Just unload one or two carts. Well, what of it… do what’s necessary…” said the count, muttering some indefinite order.
But at the same moment an expression of warm gratitude on the officer’s face had already sealed the order. The count looked around him. In the yard, at the gates, at the window of the wings, wounded officers and their orderlies were to be seen. They were all looking at the count and moving toward the porch.
“Please step into the gallery, your excellency,” said the major-domo. “What are your orders about the pictures?”
The count went into the house with him, repeating his order not to refuse the wounded who asked for a lift.
“Well, never mind, some of the things can be unloaded,” he added in a soft, confidential voice, as though afraid of being overheard.
At nine o’clock the countess woke up, and Matrena Timofeevna, who had been her lady’s maid before her marriage and now performed a sort of chief gendarme’s duty for her, came to say that Madame Schoss was much offended and the young ladies’ summer dresses could not be left behind. On inquiry, the countess learned that Madame Schoss was offended because her trunk had been taken down from its cart, and all the loads were being uncorded and the luggage taken out of the carts to make room for wounded men whom the count in the simplicity of his heart had ordered that they should take with them. The countess sent for her husband.
“What is this, my dear? I hear that the luggage is being unloaded.”
“You know, love, I wanted to tell you… Countess dear… an officer came to me to ask for a few carts for the wounded. After all, ours are things that can be bought but think what being left behind means to them!… Really now, in our own yard- we asked them in ourselves and there are officers among them…. You know, I think, my dear… let them be taken… where’s the hurry?”
The count spoke timidly, as he always did when talking of money matters. The countess was accustomed to this tone as a precursor of news of something detrimental to the children’s interests, such as the building of a new gallery or conservatory, the inauguration of a private theater or an orchestra. She was accustomed always to oppose anything announced in that timid tone and considered it her duty to do so.
She assumed her dolefully submissive manner and said to her husband: “Listen to me, Count, you have managed matters so that we are getting nothing for the house, and now you wish to throw away all our- all the children’s property! You said yourself that we have a hundred thousand rubles’ worth of things in the house. I don’t consent, my dear, I don’t! Do as you please! It’s the government’s business to look after the wounded; they know that. Look at the Lopukhins opposite, they cleared out everything two days ago. That’s what other people do. It’s only we who are such fools. If you have no pity on me, have some for the children.”
Flourishing his arms in despair the count left the room without replying.
“Papa, what are you doing that for?” asked Natasha, who had followed him into her mother’s room.
“Nothing! What business is it of yours?” muttered the count angrily.
“But I heard,” said Natasha. “Why does Mamma object?”
“What business is it of yours?” cried the count.
Natasha stepped up to the window and pondered.
“Papa! Here’s Berg coming to see us,” said she, looking out of the window.
Berg, the Rostovs’ son-in-law, was already a colonel wearing the orders of Vladimir and Anna, and he still filled the quiet and agreeable post of assistant to the head of the staff of the assistant commander of the first division of the Second Army.
On the first of September he had come to Moscow from the army.
He had nothing to do in Moscow, but he had noticed that everyone in the army was asking for leave to visit Moscow and had something to do there. So he considered it necessary to ask for leave of absence for family and domestic reasons.
Berg drove up to his father-in-law’s house in his spruce little trap with a pair of sleek roans, exactly like those of a certain prince. He looked attentively at the carts in the yard and while going up to the porch took out a clean pocket handkerchief and tied a knot in it.
From the anteroom Berg ran with smooth though impatient steps into the drawing room, where he embraced the count, kissed the hands of Natasha and Sonya, and hastened to inquire after “Mamma’s” health.
“Health, at a time like this?” said the count. “Come, tell us the news! Is the army retreating or will there be another battle?”
“God Almighty alone can decide the fate of our fatherland, Papa,” said Berg. “The army is burning with a spirit of heroism and the leaders, so to say, have now assembled in council. No one knows what is coming. But in general I can tell you, Papa, that such a heroic spirit, the truly antique valor of the Russian army, which they- which it” (he corrected himself) “has shown or displayed in the battle of the twenty-sixth- there are no words worthy to do it justice! I tell you, Papa” (he smote himself on the breast as a general he had heard speaking had done, but Berg did it a trifle late for he should have struck his breast at the words “Russian army”), “I tell you frankly that we, the commanders, far from having to urge the men on or anything of that kind, could hardly restrain those… those… yes, those exploits of antique valor,” he went on rapidly. “General Barclay de Tolly risked his life everywhere at the head of the troops, I can assure you. Our corps was stationed on a hillside. You can imagine!”
And Berg related all that he remembered of the various tales he had heard those days. Natasha watched him with an intent gaze that confused him, as if she were trying to find in his face the answer to some question.
“Altogether such heroism as was displayed by the Russian warriors cannot be imagined or adequately praised!” said Berg, glancing round at Natasha, and as if anxious to conciliate her, replying to her intent look with a smile. “‘Russia is not in Moscow, she lives in the hearts of her sons!’ Isn’t it so, Papa?” said he.
Just then the countess came in from the sitting room with a weary and dissatisfied expression. Berg hurriedly jumped up, kissed her hand, asked about her health, and, swaying his head from side to side to express sympathy, remained standing beside her.
“Yes, Mamma, I tell you sincerely that these are hard and sad times for every Russian. But why are you so anxious? You have still time to get away….”
“I can’t think what the servants are about,” said the countess, turning to her husband. “I have just been told that nothing is ready yet. Somebody after all must see to things. One misses Mitenka at such times. There won’t be any end to it.”
The count was about to say something, but evidently restrained himself. He got up from his chair and went to the door.
At that moment Berg drew out his handkerchief as if to blow his nose and, seeing the knot in it, pondered, shaking his head sadly and significantly.
“And I have a great favor to ask of you, Papa,” said he.
“Hm…” said the count, and stopped.
“I was driving past Yusupov’s house just now,” said Berg with a laugh, “when the steward, a man I know, ran out and asked me whether I wouldn’t buy something. I went in out of curiosity, you know, and there is a small chiffonier and a dressing table. You know how dear Vera wanted a chiffonier like that and how we had a dispute about it.” (At the mention of the chiffonier and dressing table Berg involuntarily changed his tone to one of pleasure at his admirable domestic arrangements.) “And it’s such a beauty! It pulls out and has a secret English drawer, you know! And dear Vera has long wanted one. I wish to give her a surprise, you see. I saw so many of those peasant carts in your yard. Please let me have one, I will pay the man well, and…”
The count frowned and coughed.
“Ask the countess, I don’t give orders.”
“If it’s inconvenient, please don’t,” said Berg. “Only I so wanted it, for dear Vera’s sake.”
“Oh, go to the devil, all of you! To the devil, the devil, the devil…” cried the old count. “My head’s in a whirl!”
And he left the room. The countess began to cry.
“Yes, Mamma! Yes, these are very hard times!” said Berg.
Natasha left the room with her father and, as if finding it difficult to reach some decision, first followed him and then ran downstairs.
Petya was in the porch, engaged in giving out weapons to the servants who were to leave Moscow. The loaded carts were still standing in the yard. Two of them had been uncorded and a wounded officer was climbing into one of them helped by an orderly.
“Do you know what it’s about?” Petya asked Natasha.
She understood that he meant what were their parents quarreling about. She did not answer.
“It’s because Papa wanted to give up all the carts to the wounded,” said Petya. “Vasilich told me. I consider…”
“I consider,” Natasha suddenly almost shouted, turning her angry face to Petya, “I consider it so horrid, so abominable, so… I don’t know what. Are we despicable Germans?”
Her throat quivered with convulsive sobs and, afraid of weakening and letting the force of her anger run to waste, she turned and rushed headlong up the stairs.
Berg was sitting beside the countess consoling her with the respectful attention of a relative. The count, pipe in hand, was pacing up and down the room, when Natasha, her face distorted by anger, burst in like a tempest and approached her mother with rapid steps.
“It’s horrid! It’s abominable! she screamed. “You can’t possibly have ordered it!”
Berg and the countess looked at her, perplexed and frightened. The count stood still at the window and listened.
“Mamma, it’s impossible: see what is going on in the yard!” she cried. “They will be left!…”
“What’s the matter with you? Who are ‘they’? What do you want?”
“Why, the wounded! It’s impossible, Mamma. It’s monstrous!… No, Mamma darling, it’s not the thing. Please forgive me, darling…. Mamma, what does it matter what we take away? Only look what is going on in the yard… Mamma!… It’s impossible!”
The count stood by the window and listened without turning round. Suddenly he sniffed and put his face closer to the window.
The countess glanced at her daughter, saw her face full of shame for her mother, saw her agitation, and understood why her husband did not turn to look at her now, and she glanced round quite disconcerted.
“Oh, do as you like! Am I hindering anyone?” she said, not surrendering at once.
“Mamma, darling, forgive me!”
But the countess pushed her daughter away and went up to her husband.
“My dear, you order what is right…. You know I don’t understand about it,” said she, dropping her eyes shamefacedly.
“The eggs… the eggs are teaching the hen,” muttered the count through tears of joy, and he embraced his wife who was glad to hide her look of shame on his breast.
“Papa! Mamma! May I see to it? May I?…” asked Natasha. “We will still take all the most necessary things.”
The count nodded affirmatively, and Natasha, at the rapid pace at which she used to run when playing at tag, ran through the ballroom to the anteroom and downstairs into the yard.
The servants gathered round Natasha, but could not believe the strange order she brought them until the count himself, in his wife’s name, confirmed the order to give up all the carts to the wounded and take the trunks to the storerooms. When they understood that order the servants set to work at this new task with pleasure and zeal. It no longer seemed strange to them but on the contrary it seemed the only thing that could be done, just as a quarter of an hour before it had not seemed strange to anyone that the wounded should be left behind and the goods carted away but that had seemed the only thing to do.
The whole household, as if to atone for not having done it sooner, set eagerly to work at the new task of placing the wounded in the carts. The wounded dragged themselves out of their rooms and stood with pale but happy faces round the carts. The news that carts were to be had spread to the neighboring houses, from which wounded men began to come into the Rostovs’ yard. Many of the wounded asked them not to unload the carts but only to let them sit on the top of the things. But the work of unloading, once started, could not be arrested. It seemed not to matter whether all or only half the things were left behind. Cases full of china, bronzes, pictures, and mirrors that had been so carefully packed the night before now lay about the yard, and still they went on searching for and finding possibilities of unloading this or that and letting the wounded have another and yet another cart.
“We can take four more men,” said the steward. “They can have my trap, or else what is to become of them?”
“Let them have my wardrobe cart,” said the countess. “Dunyasha can go with me in the carriage.”
They unloaded the wardrobe cart and sent it to take wounded men from a house two doors off. The whole household, servants included, was bright and animated. Natasha was in a state of rapturous excitement such as she had not known for a long time.
“What could we fasten this onto?” asked the servants, trying to fix a trunk on the narrow footboard behind a carriage. “We must keep at least one cart.”
“What’s in it?” asked Natasha.
“The count’s books.”
“Leave it, Vasilich will put it away. It’s not wanted.”
The phaeton was full of people and there was a doubt as to where Count Peter could sit.
“On the box. You’ll sit on the box, won’t you, Petya?” cried Natasha.
Sonya too was busy all this time, but the aim of her efforts was quite different from Natasha’s. She was putting away the things that had to be left behind and making a list of them as the countess wished, and she tried to get as much taken away with them as possible.
Before two o’clock in the afternoon the Rostovs’ four carriages, packed full and with the horses harnessed, stood at the front door. One by one the carts with the wounded had moved out of the yard.
The caleche in which Prince Andrew was being taken attracted Sonya’s attention as it passed the front porch. With the help of a maid she was arranging a seat for the countess in the huge high coach that stood at the entrance.
“Whose caleche is that?” she inquired, leaning out of the carriage window.
“Why, didn’t you know, Miss?” replied the maid. “The wounded prince: he spent the night in our house and is going with us.”
“But who is it? What’s his name?”
“It’s our intended that was- Prince Bolkonski himself! They say he is dying,” replied the maid with a sigh.
Sonya jumped out of the coach and ran to the countess. The countess, tired out and already dressed in shawl and bonnet for her journey, was pacing up and down the drawing room, waiting for the household to assemble for the usual silent prayer with closed doors before starting. Natasha was not in the room.
“Mamma,” said Sonya, “Prince Andrew is here, mortally wounded. He is going with us.”
The countess opened her eyes in dismay and, seizing Sonya’s arm, glanced around.
“Natasha?” she murmured.
At that moment this news had only one significance for both of them. They knew their Natasha, and alarm as to what would happen if she heard this news stifled all sympathy for the man they both liked.
“Natasha does not know yet, but he is going with us,” said Sonya.
“You say he is dying?”
The countess put her arms around Sonya and began to cry.
“The ways of God are past finding out!” she thought, feeling that the Almighty Hand, hitherto unseen, was becoming manifest in all that was now taking place.
“Well, Mamma? Everything is ready. What’s the matter?” asked Natasha, as with animated face she ran into the room.
“Nothing,” answered the countess. “If everything is ready let us start.”
And the countess bent over her reticule to hide her agitated face. Sonya embraced Natasha and kissed her.
Natasha looked at her inquiringly.
“What is it? What has happened?”
“Is it something very bad for me? What is it?” persisted Natasha with her quick intuition.
Sonya sighed and made no reply. The count, Petya, Madame Schoss, Mavra Kuzminichna, and Vasilich came into the drawing room and, having closed the doors, they all sat down and remained for some moments silently seated without looking at one another.
The count was the first to rise, and with a loud sigh crossed himself before the icon. All the others did the same. Then the count embraced Mavra Kuzminichna and Vasilich, who were to remain in Moscow, and while they caught at his hand and kissed his shoulder he patted their backs lightly with some vaguely affectionate and comforting words. The countess went into the oratory and there Sonya found her on her knees before the icons that had been left here and there hanging on the wall. (The most precious ones, with which some family tradition was connected, were being taken with them.)
In the porch and in the yard the men whom Petya had armed with swords and daggers, with trousers tucked inside their high boots and with belts and girdles tightened, were taking leave of those remaining behind.
As is always the case at a departure, much had been forgotten or put in the wrong place, and for a long time two menservants stood one on each side of the open door and the carriage steps waiting to help the countess in, while maids rushed with cushions and bundles from the house to the carriages, the caleche, the phaeton, and back again.
“They always will forget everything!” said the countess. “Don’t you know I can’t sit like that?”
And Dunyasha, with clenched teeth, without replying but with an aggrieved look on her face, hastily got into the coach to rearrange the seat.
“Oh, those servants!” said the count, swaying his head.
Efim, the old coachman, who was the only one the countess trusted to drive her, sat perched up high on the box and did not so much as glance round at what was going on behind him. From thirty years’ experience he knew it would be some time yet before the order, “Be off, in God’s name!” would be given him: and he knew that even when it was said he would be stopped once or twice more while they sent back to fetch something that had been forgotten, and even after that he would again be stopped and the countess herself would lean out of the window and beg him for the love of heaven to drive carefully down the hill. He knew all this and therefore waited calmly for what would happen, with more patience than the horses, especially the near one, the chestnut Falcon, who was pawing the ground and champing his bit. At last all were seated, the carriage steps were folded and pulled up, the door was shut, somebody was sent for a traveling case, and the countess leaned out and said what she had to say. Then Efim deliberately doffed his hat and began crossing himself. The postilion and all the other servants did the same. “Off, in God’s name!” said Efim, putting on his hat. “Start!” The postilion started the horses, the off pole horse tugged at his collar, the high springs creaked, and the body of the coach swayed. The footman sprang onto the box of the moving coach which jolted as it passed out of the yard onto the uneven roadway; the other vehicles jolted in their turn, and the procession of carriages moved up the street. In the carriages, the caleche, and the phaeton, all crossed themselves as they passed the church opposite the house. Those who were to remain in Moscow walked on either side of the vehicles seeing the travelers off.
Rarely had Natasha experienced so joyful a feeling as now, sitting in the carriage beside the countess and gazing at the slowly receding walls of forsaken, agitated Moscow. Occasionally she leaned out of the carriage window and looked back and then forward at the long train of wounded in front of them. Almost at the head of the line she could see the raised hood of Prince Andrew’s caleche. She did not know who was in it, but each time she looked at the procession her eyes sought that caleche. She knew it was right in front.
In Kudrino, from the Nikitski, Presnya, and Podnovinsk Streets came several other trains of vehicles similar to the Rostovs’, and as they passed along the Sadovaya Street the carriages and carts formed two rows abreast.
As they were going round the Sukharev water tower Natasha, who was inquisitively and alertly scrutinizing the people driving or walking past, suddenly cried out in joyful surprise:
“Dear me! Mamma, Sonya, look, it’s he!”
“Look! Yes, on my word, it’s Bezukhov!” said Natasha, putting her head out of the carriage and staring at a tall, stout man in a coachman’s long coat, who from his manner of walking and moving was evidently a gentleman in disguise, and who was passing under the arch of the Sukharev tower accompanied by a small, sallow-faced, beardless old man in a frieze coat.
“Yes, it really is Bezukhov in a coachman’s coat, with a queer-looking old boy. Really,” said Natasha, “look, look!”
“No, it’s not he. How can you talk such nonsense?”
“Mamma,” screamed Natasha, “I’ll stake my head it’s he! I assure you! Stop, stop!” she cried to the coachman.
But the coachman could not stop, for from the Meshchanski Street came more carts and carriages, and the Rostovs were being shouted at to move on and not block the way.
In fact, however, though now much farther off than before, the Rostovs all saw Pierre- or someone extraordinarily like him- in a coachman’s coat, going down the street with head bent and a serious face beside a small, beardless old man who looked like a footman. That old man noticed a face thrust out of the carriage window gazing at them, and respectfully touching Pierre’s elbow said something to him and pointed to the carriage. Pierre, evidently engrossed in thought, could not at first understand him. At length when he had understood and looked in the direction the old man indicated, he recognized Natasha, and following his first impulse stepped instantly and rapidly toward the coach. But having taken a dozen steps he seemed to remember something and stopped.
Natasha’s face, leaning out of the window, beamed with quizzical kindliness.
“Peter Kirilovich, come here! We have recognized you! This is wonderful!” she cried, holding out her hand to him. “What are you doing? Why are you like this?”
Pierre took her outstretched hand and kissed it awkwardly as he walked along beside her while the coach still moved on.
“What is the matter, Count?” asked the countess in a surprised and commiserating tone.
“What? What? Why? Don’t ask me,” said Pierre, and looked round at Natasha whose radiant, happy expression- of which he was conscious without looking at her- filled him with enchantment.
“Are you remaining in Moscow, then?”
“In Moscow?” he said in a questioning tone. “Yes, in Moscow. Goodby!”
“Ah, if only I were a man? I’d certainly stay with you. How splendid!” said Natasha. “Mamma, if you’ll let me, I’ll stay!”
Pierre glanced absently at Natasha and was about to say something, but the countess interrupted him.
“You were at the battle, we heard.”
“Yes, I was,” Pierre answered. “There will be another battle tomorrow…” he began, but Natasha interrupted him.
“But what is the matter with you, Count? You are not like yourself….”
“Oh, don’t ask me, don’t ask me! I don’t know myself. Tomorrow… But no! Good-by, good-by!” he muttered. “It’s an awful time!” and dropping behind the carriage he stepped onto the pavement.
Natasha continued to lean out of the window for a long time, beaming at him with her kindly, slightly quizzical, happy smile.
For the last two days, ever since leaving home, Pierre had been living in the empty house of his deceased benefactor, Bazdeev. This is how it happened.
When he woke up on the morning after his return to Moscow and his interview with Count Rostopchin, he could not for some time make out where he was and what was expected of him. When he was informed that among others awaiting him in his reception room there was a Frenchman who had brought a letter from his wife, the Countess Helene, he felt suddenly overcome by that sense of confusion and hopelessness to which he was apt to succumb. He felt that everything was now at an end, all was in confusion and crumbling to pieces,