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