BOOK TEN: 1812
Napoleon began the war with Russia because he could not resist going to Dresden, could not help having his head turned by the homage he received, could not help donning a Polish uniform and yielding to the stimulating influence of a June morning, and could not refrain from bursts of anger in the presence of Kurakin and then of Balashev.
Alexander refused negotiations because he felt himself to be personally insulted. Barclay de Tolly tried to command the army in the best way, because he wished to fulfill his duty and earn fame as a great commander. Rostov charged the French because he could not restrain his wish for a gallop across a level field; and in the same way the innumerable people who took part in the war acted in accord with their personal characteristics, habits, circumstances, and aims. They were moved by fear or vanity, rejoiced or were indignant, reasoned, imagining that they knew what they were doing and did it of their own free will, but they all were involuntary tools of history, carrying on a work concealed from them but comprehensible to us. Such is the inevitable fate of men of action, and the higher they stand in the social hierarchy the less are they free.
The actors of 1812 have long since left the stage, their personal interests have vanished leaving no trace, and nothing remains of that time but its historic results.
Providence compelled all these men, striving to attain personal aims, to further the accomplishment of a stupendous result no one of them at all expected—neither Napoleon, nor Alexander, nor still less any of those who did the actual fighting.
The cause of the destruction of the French army in 1812 is clear to us now. No one will deny that that cause was, on the one hand, its advance into the heart of Russia late in the season without any preparation for a winter campaign and, on the other, the character given to the war by the burning of Russian towns and the hatred of the foe this aroused among the Russian people. But no one at the time foresaw (what now seems so evident) that this was the only way an army of eight hundred thousand men—the best in the world and led by the best general—could be destroyed in conflict with a raw army of half its numerical strength, and led by inexperienced commanders as the Russian army was. Not only did no one see this, but on the Russian side every effort was made to hinder the only thing that could save Russia, while on the French side, despite Napoleon's experience and so-called military genius, every effort was directed to pushing on to Moscow at the end of the summer, that is, to doing the very thing that was bound to lead to destruction.
In historical works on the year 1812 French writers are very fond of saying that Napoleon felt the danger of extending his line, that he sought a battle and that his marshals advised him to stop at Smolensk, and of making similar statements to show that the danger of the campaign was even then understood. Russian authors are still fonder of telling us that from the commencement of the campaign a Scythian war plan was adopted to lure Napoleon into the depths of Russia, and this plan some of them attribute to Pfuel, others to a certain Frenchman, others to Toll, and others again to Alexander himself—pointing to notes, projects, and letters which contain hints of such a line of action. But all these hints at what happened, both from the French side and the Russian, are advanced only because they fit in with the event. Had that event not occurred these hints would have been forgotten, as we have forgotten the thousands and millions of hints and expectations to the contrary which were current then but have now been forgotten because the event falsified them. There are always so many conjectures as to the issue of any event that however it may end there will always be people to say: "I said then that it would be so," quite forgetting that amid their innumerable conjectures many were to quite the contrary effect.
Conjectures as to Napoleon's awareness of the danger of extending his line, and (on the Russian side) as to luring the enemy into the depths of Russia, are evidently of that kind, and only by much straining can historians attribute such conceptions to Napoleon and his marshals, or such plans to the Russian commanders. All the facts are in flat contradiction to such conjectures. During the whole period of the war not only was there no wish on the Russian side to draw the French into the heart of the country, but from their first entry into Russia everything was done to stop them. And not only was Napoleon not afraid to extend his line, but he welcomed every step forward as a triumph and did not seek battle as eagerly as in former campaigns, but very lazily.
At the very beginning of the war our armies were divided, and our sole aim was to unite them, though uniting the armies was no advantage if we meant to retire and lure the enemy into the depths of the country. Our Emperor joined the army to encourage it to defend every inch of Russian soil and not to retreat. The enormous Drissa camp was formed on Pfuel's plan, and there was no intention of retiring farther. The Emperor reproached the commanders in chief for every step they retired. He could not bear the idea of letting the enemy even reach Smolensk, still less could he contemplate the burning of Moscow, and when our armies did unite he was displeased that Smolensk was abandoned and burned without a general engagement having been fought under its walls.
So thought the Emperor, and the Russian commanders and people were still more provoked at the thought that our forces were retreating into the depths of the country.
Napoleon having cut our armies apart advanced far into the country and missed several chances of forcing an engagement. In August he was at Smolensk and thought only of how to advance farther, though as we now see that advance was evidently ruinous to him.
The facts clearly show that Napoleon did not foresee the danger of the advance on Moscow, nor did Alexander and the Russian commanders then think of luring Napoleon on, but quite the contrary. The luring of Napoleon into the depths of the country was not the result of any plan, for no one believed it to be possible; it resulted from a most complex interplay of intrigues, aims, and wishes among those who took part in the war and had no perception whatever of the inevitable, or of the one way of saving Russia. Everything came about fortuitously. The armies were divided at the commencement of the campaign. We tried to unite them, with the evident intention of giving battle and checking the enemy's advance, and by this effort to unite them while avoiding battle with a much stronger enemy, and necessarily withdrawing the armies at an acute angle—we led the French on to Smolensk. But we withdrew at an acute angle not only because the French advanced between our two armies; the angle became still more acute and we withdrew still farther, because Barclay de Tolly was an unpopular foreigner disliked by Bagration (who would come under his command), and Bagration—being in command of the second army—tried to postpone joining up and coming under Barclay's command as long as he could. Bagration was slow in effecting the junction—though that was the chief aim of all at headquarters—because, as he alleged, he exposed his army to danger on this march, and it was best for him to retire more to the left and more to the south, worrying the enemy from flank and rear and securing from the Ukraine recruits for his army; and it looks as if he planned this in order not to come under the command of the detested foreigner Barclay, whose rank was inferior to his own.
The Emperor was with the army to encourage it, but his presence and ignorance of what steps to take, and the enormous number of advisers and plans, destroyed the first army's energy and it retired.
The intention was to make a stand at the Drissa camp, but Paulucci, aiming at becoming commander in chief, unexpectedly employed his energy to influence Alexander, and Pfuel's whole plan was abandoned and the command entrusted to Barclay. But as Barclay did not inspire confidence his power was limited. The armies were divided, there was no unity of command, and Barclay was unpopular; but from this confusion, division, and the unpopularity of the foreign commander in chief, there resulted on the one hand indecision and the avoidance of a battle (which we could not have refrained from had the armies been united and had someone else, instead of Barclay, been in command) and on the other an ever-increasing indignation against the foreigners and an increase in patriotic zeal.
At last the Emperor left the army, and as the most convenient and indeed the only pretext for his departure it was decided that it was necessary for him to inspire the people in the capitals and arouse the nation in general to a patriotic war. And by this visit of the Emperor to Moscow the strength of the Russian army was trebled.
He left in order not to obstruct the commander in chief's undivided control of the army, and hoping that more decisive action would then be taken, but the command of the armies became still more confused and enfeebled. Bennigsen, the Tsarevich, and a swarm of adjutants general remained with the army to keep the commander in chief under observation and arouse his energy, and Barclay, feeling less free than ever under the observation of all these "eyes of the Emperor," became still more cautious of undertaking any decisive action and avoided giving battle.
Barclay stood for caution. The Tsarevich hinted at treachery and demanded a general engagement. Lubomirski, Bronnitski, Wlocki, and the others of that group stirred up so much trouble that Barclay, under pretext of sending papers to the Emperor, dispatched these Polish adjutants general to Petersburg and plunged into an open struggle with Bennigsen and the Tsarevich.
At Smolensk the armies at last reunited, much as Bagration disliked it.
Bagration drove up in a carriage to the house occupied by Barclay. Barclay donned his sash and came out to meet and report to his senior officer Bagration.
Despite his seniority in rank Bagration, in this contest of magnanimity, took his orders from Barclay, but, having submitted, agreed with him less than ever. By the Emperor's orders Bagration reported direct to him. He wrote to Arakcheev, the Emperor's confidant: "It must be as my sovereign pleases, but I cannot work with the Minister (meaning Barclay). For God's sake send me somewhere else if only in command of a regiment. I cannot stand it here. Headquarters are so full of Germans that a Russian cannot exist and there is no sense in anything. I thought I was really serving my sovereign and the Fatherland, but it turns out that I am serving Barclay. I confess I do not want to."
The swarm of Bronnitskis and Wintzingerodes and their like still further embittered the relations between the commanders in chief, and even less unity resulted. Preparations were made to fight the French before Smolensk. A general was sent to survey the position. This general, hating Barclay, rode to visit a friend of his own, a corps commander, and, having spent the day with him, returned to Barclay and condemned, as unsuitable from every point of view, the battleground he had not seen.
While disputes and intrigues were going on about the future field of battle, and while we were looking for the French—having lost touch with them—the French stumbled upon Neverovski's division and reached the walls of Smolensk.
It was necessary to fight an unexpected battle at Smolensk to save our lines of communication. The battle was fought and thousands were killed on both sides.
Smolensk was abandoned contrary to the wishes of the Emperor and of the whole people. But Smolensk was burned by its own inhabitants-who had been misled by their governor. And these ruined inhabitants, setting an example to other Russians, went to Moscow thinking only of their own losses but kindling hatred of the foe. Napoleon advanced farther and we retired, thus arriving at the very result which caused his destruction.
The day after his son had left, Prince Nicholas sent for Princess Mary to come to his study.
"Well? Are you satisfied now?" said he. "You've made me quarrel with my son! Satisfied, are you? That's all you wanted! Satisfied?... It hurts me, it hurts. I'm old and weak and this is what you wanted. Well then, gloat over it! Gloat over it!"
After that Princess Mary did not see her father for a whole week. He was ill and did not leave his study.
Princess Mary noticed to her surprise that during this illness the old prince not only excluded her from his room, but did not admit Mademoiselle Bourienne either. Tikhon alone attended him.
At the end of the week the prince reappeared and resumed his former way of life, devoting himself with special activity to building operations and the arrangement of the gardens and completely breaking off his relations with Mademoiselle Bourienne. His looks and cold tone to his daughter seemed to say: "There, you see? You plotted against me, you lied to Prince Andrew about my relations with that Frenchwoman and made me quarrel with him, but you see I need neither her nor you!"
Princess Mary spent half of every day with little Nicholas, watching his lessons, teaching him Russian and music herself, and talking to Dessalles; the rest of the day she spent over her books, with her old nurse, or with "God's folk" who sometimes came by the back door to see her.
Of the war Princess Mary thought as women do think about wars. She feared for her brother who was in it, was horrified by and amazed at the strange cruelty that impels men to kill one another, but she did not understand the significance of this war, which seemed to her like all previous wars. She did not realize the significance of this war, though Dessalles with whom she constantly conversed was passionately interested in its progress and tried to explain his own conception of it to her, and though the "God's folk" who came to see her reported, in their own way, the rumors current among the people of an invasion by Antichrist, and though Julie (now Princess Drubetskaya), who had resumed correspondence with her, wrote patriotic letters from Moscow.
"I write you in Russian, my good friend," wrote Julie in her Frenchified Russian, "because I have a detestation for all the French, and the same for their language which I cannot support to hear spoken.... We in Moscow are elated by enthusiasm for our adored Emperor.
"My poor husband is enduring pains and hunger in Jewish taverns, but the news which I have inspires me yet more.
"You heard probably of the heroic exploit of Raevski, embracing his two sons and saying: 'I will perish with them but we will not be shaken!' And truly though the enemy was twice stronger than we, we were unshakable. We pass the time as we can, but in war as in war! The princesses Aline and Sophie sit whole days with me, and we, unhappy widows of live men, make beautiful conversations over our charpie, only you, my friend, are missing..." and so on.
The chief reason Princess Mary did not realize the full significance of this war was that the old prince never spoke of it, did not recognize it, and laughed at Dessalles when he mentioned it at dinner. The prince's tone was so calm and confident that Princess Mary unhesitatingly believed him.
All that July the old prince was exceedingly active and even animated. He planned another garden and began a new building for the domestic serfs. The only thing that made Princess Mary anxious about him was that he slept very little and, instead of sleeping in his study as usual, changed his sleeping place every day. One day he would order his camp bed to be set up in the glass gallery, another day he remained on the couch or on the lounge chair in the drawing room and dozed there without undressing, while—instead of Mademoiselle Bourienne—a serf boy read to him. Then again he would spend a night in the dining room.
On August 1, a second letter was received from Prince Andrew. In his first letter which came soon after he had left home, Prince Andrew had dutifully asked his father's forgiveness for what he had allowed himself to say and begged to be restored to his favor. To this letter the old prince had replied affectionately, and from that time had kept the Frenchwoman at a distance. Prince Andrew's second letter, written near Vitebsk after the French had occupied that town, gave a brief account of the whole campaign, enclosed for them a plan he had drawn and forecasts as to the further progress of the war. In this letter Prince Andrew pointed out to his father the danger of staying at Bald Hills, so near the theater of war and on the army's direct line of march, and advised him to move to Moscow.
At dinner that day, on Dessalles' mentioning that the French were said to have already entered Vitebsk, the old prince remembered his son's letter.
"There was a letter from Prince Andrew today," he said to Princess Mary—"Haven't you read it?"
"No, Father," she replied in a frightened voice.
She could not have read the letter as she did not even know it had arrived.
"He writes about this war," said the prince, with the ironic smile that had become habitual to him in speaking of the present war.
"That must be very interesting," said Dessalles. "Prince Andrew is in a position to know..."
"Oh, very interesting!" said Mademoiselle Bourienne.
"Go and get it for me," said the old prince to Mademoiselle Bourienne. "You know—under the paperweight on the little table."
Mademoiselle Bourienne jumped up eagerly.
"No, don't!" he exclaimed with a frown. "You go, Michael Ivanovich."
Michael Ivanovich rose and went to the study. But as soon as he had left the room the old prince, looking uneasily round, threw down his napkin and went himself.
"They can't do anything... always make some muddle," he muttered.
While he was away Princess Mary, Dessalles, Mademoiselle Bourienne, and even little Nicholas exchanged looks in silence. The old prince returned with quick steps, accompanied by Michael Ivanovich, bringing the letter and a plan. These he put down beside him—not letting anyone read them at dinner.
On moving to the drawing room he handed the letter to Princess Mary and, spreading out before him the plan of the new building and fixing his eyes upon it, told her to read the letter aloud. When she had done so Princess Mary looked inquiringly at her father. He was examining the plan, evidently engrossed in his own ideas.
"What do you think of it, Prince?" Dessalles ventured to ask.
"I? I?..." said the prince as if unpleasantly awakened, and not taking his eyes from the plan of the building.
"Very possibly the theater of war will move so near to us that..."
"Ha ha ha! The theater of war!" said the prince. "I have said and still say that the theater of war is Poland and the enemy will never get beyond the Niemen."
Dessalles looked in amazement at the prince, who was talking of the Niemen when the enemy was already at the Dnieper, but Princess Mary, forgetting the geographical position of the Niemen, thought that what her father was saying was correct.
"When the snow melts they'll sink in the Polish swamps. Only they could fail to see it," the prince continued, evidently thinking of the campaign of 1807 which seemed to him so recent. "Bennigsen should have advanced into Prussia sooner, then things would have taken a different turn..."
"But, Prince," Dessalles began timidly, "the letter mentions Vitebsk...."
"Ah, the letter? Yes..." replied the prince peevishly. "Yes... yes..." His face suddenly took on a morose expression. He paused. "Yes, he writes that the French were beaten at... at... what river is it?"
Dessalles dropped his eyes.
"The prince says nothing about that," he remarked gently.
"Doesn't he? But I didn't invent it myself."
No one spoke for a long time.
"Yes... yes... Well, Michael Ivanovich," he suddenly went on, raising his head and pointing to the plan of the building, "tell me how you mean to alter it...."
Michael Ivanovich went up to the plan, and the prince after speaking to him about the building looked angrily at Princess Mary and Dessalles and went to his own room.
Princess Mary saw Dessalles' embarrassed and astonished look fixed on her father, noticed his silence, and was struck by the fact that her father had forgotten his son's letter on the drawing-room table; but she was not only afraid to speak of it and ask Dessalles the reason of his confusion and silence, but was afraid even to think about it.
In the evening Michael Ivanovich, sent by the prince, came to Princess Mary for Prince Andrew's letter which had been forgotten in the drawing room. She gave it to him and, unpleasant as it was to her to do so, ventured to ask him what her father was doing.
"Always busy," replied Michael Ivanovich with a respectfully ironic smile which caused Princess Mary to turn pale. "He's worrying very much about the new building. He has been reading a little, but now"—Michael Ivanovich went on, lowering his voice—"now he's at his desk, busy with his will, I expect." (One of the prince's favorite occupations of late had been the preparation of some papers he meant to leave at his death and which he called his "will.")
"And Alpatych is being sent to Smolensk?" asked Princess Mary.
"Oh, yes, he has been waiting to start for some time."
When Michael Ivanovich returned to the study with the letter, the old prince, with spectacles on and a shade over his eyes, was sitting at his open bureau with screened candles, holding a paper in his outstretched hand, and in a somewhat dramatic attitude was reading his manuscript—his "Remarks" as he termed it—which was to be transmitted to the Emperor after his death.
When Michael Ivanovich went in there were tears in the prince's eyes evoked by the memory of the time when the paper he was now reading had been written. He took the letter from Michael Ivanovich's hand, put it in his pocket, folded up his papers, and called in Alpatych who had long been waiting.
The prince had a list of things to be bought in Smolensk and, walking up and down the room past Alpatych who stood by the door, he gave his instructions.
"First, notepaper—do you hear? Eight quires, like this sample, gilt-edged... it must be exactly like the sample. Varnish, sealing wax, as in Michael Ivanovich's list."
He paced up and down for a while and glanced at his notes.
"Then hand to the governor in person a letter about the deed."
Next, bolts for the doors of the new building were wanted and had to be of a special shape the prince had himself designed, and a leather case had to be ordered to keep the "will" in.
The instructions to Alpatych took over two hours and still the prince did not let him go. He sat down, sank into thought, closed his eyes, and dozed off. Alpatych made a slight movement.
"Well, go, go! If anything more is wanted I'll send after you."
Alpatych went out. The prince again went to his bureau, glanced into it, fingered his papers, closed the bureau again, and sat down at the table to write to the governor.
It was already late when he rose after sealing the letter. He wished to sleep, but he knew he would not be able to and that most depressing thoughts came to him in bed. So he called Tikhon and went through the rooms with him to show him where to set up the bed for that night.
He went about looking at every corner. Every place seemed unsatisfactory, but worst of all was his customary couch in the study. That couch was dreadful to him, probably because of the oppressive thoughts he had had when lying there. It was unsatisfactory everywhere, but the corner behind the piano in the sitting room was better than other places: he had never slept there yet.
With the help of a footman Tikhon brought in the bedstead and began putting it up.
"That's not right! That's not right!" cried the prince, and himself pushed it a few inches from the corner and then closer in again.
"Well, at last I've finished, now I'll rest," thought the prince, and let Tikhon undress him.
Frowning with vexation at the effort necessary to divest himself of his coat and trousers, the prince undressed, sat down heavily on the bed, and appeared to be meditating as he looked contemptuously at his withered yellow legs. He was not meditating, but only deferring the moment of making the effort to lift those legs up and turn over on the bed. "Ugh, how hard it is! Oh, that this toil might end and you would release me!" thought he. Pressing his lips together he made that effort for the twenty-thousandth time and lay down. But hardly had he done so before he felt the bed rocking backwards and forwards beneath him as if it were breathing heavily and jolting. This happened to him almost every night. He opened his eyes as they were closing.
"No peace, damn them!" he muttered, angry he knew not with whom. "Ah yes, there was something else important, very important, that I was keeping till I should be in bed. The bolts? No, I told him about them. No, it was something, something in the drawing room. Princess Mary talked some nonsense. Dessalles, that fool, said something. Something in my pocket—can't remember..."
"Tikhon, what did we talk about at dinner?"
"About Prince Michael..."
"Be quiet, quiet!" The prince slapped his hand on the table. "Yes, I know, Prince Andrew's letter! Princess Mary read it. Dessalles said something about Vitebsk. Now I'll read it."
He had the letter taken from his pocket and the table—on which stood a glass of lemonade and a spiral wax candle—moved close to the bed, and putting on his spectacles he began reading. Only now in the stillness of the night, reading it by the faint light under the green shade, did he grasp its meaning for a moment.
"The French at Vitebsk, in four days' march they may be at Smolensk; perhaps are already there! Tikhon!" Tikhon jumped up. "No, no, I don't want anything!" he shouted.
He put the letter under the candlestick and closed his eyes. And there rose before him the Danube at bright noonday: reeds, the Russian camp, and himself a young general without a wrinkle on his ruddy face, vigorous and alert, entering Potemkin's gaily colored tent, and a burning sense of jealousy of "the favorite" agitated him now as strongly as it had done then. He recalled all the words spoken at that first meeting with Potemkin. And he saw before him a plump, rather sallow-faced, short, stout woman, the Empress Mother, with her smile and her words at her first gracious reception of him, and then that same face on the catafalque, and the encounter he had with Zubov over her coffin about his right to kiss her hand.
"Oh, quicker, quicker! To get back to that time and have done with all the present! Quicker, quicker—and that they should leave me in peace!"
Bald Hills, Prince Nicholas Bolkonski's estate, lay forty miles east from Smolensk and two miles from the main road to Moscow.
The same evening that the prince gave his instructions to Alpatych, Dessalles, having asked to see Princess Mary, told her that, as the prince was not very well and was taking no steps to secure his safety, though from Prince Andrew's letter it was evident that to remain at Bald Hills might be dangerous, he respectfully advised her to send a letter by Alpatych to the Provincial Governor at Smolensk, asking him to let her know the state of affairs and the extent of the danger to which Bald Hills was exposed. Dessalles wrote this letter to the Governor for Princess Mary, she signed it, and it was given to Alpatych with instructions to hand it to the Governor and to come back as quickly as possible if there was danger.
Having received all his orders Alpatych, wearing a white beaver hat—a present from the prince—and carrying a stick as the prince did, went out accompanied by his family. Three well-fed roans stood ready harnessed to a small conveyance with a leather hood.
The larger bell was muffled and the little bells on the harness stuffed with paper. The prince allowed no one at Bald Hills to drive with ringing bells; but on a long journey Alpatych liked to have them. His satellites—the senior clerk, a countinghouse clerk, a scullery maid, a cook, two old women, a little pageboy, the coachman, and various domestic serfs—were seeing him off.
His daughter placed chintz-covered down cushions for him to sit on and behind his back. His old sister-in-law popped in a small bundle, and one of the coachmen helped him into the vehicle.
"There! There! Women's fuss! Women, women!" said Alpatych, puffing and speaking rapidly just as the prince did, and he climbed into the trap.
After giving the clerk orders about the work to be done, Alpatych, not trying to imitate the prince now, lifted the hat from his bald head and crossed himself three times.
"If there is anything... come back, Yakov Alpatych! For Christ's sake think of us!" cried his wife, referring to the rumors of war and the enemy.
"Women, women! Women's fuss!" muttered Alpatych to himself and started on his journey, looking round at the fields of yellow rye and the still-green, thickly growing oats, and at other quite black fields just being plowed a second time.
As he went along he looked with pleasure at the year's splendid crop of corn, scrutinized the strips of ryefield which here and there were already being reaped, made his calculations as to the sowing and the harvest, and asked himself whether he had not forgotten any of the prince's orders.
Having baited the horses twice on the way, he arrived at the town toward evening on the fourth of August.
Alpatych kept meeting and overtaking baggage trains and troops on the road. As he approached Smolensk he heard the sounds of distant firing, but these did not impress him. What struck him most was the sight of a splendid field of oats in which a camp had been pitched and which was being mown down by the soldiers, evidently for fodder. This fact impressed Alpatych, but in thinking about his own business he soon forgot it.
All the interests of his life for more than thirty years had been bounded by the will of the prince, and he never went beyond that limit. Everything not connected with the execution of the prince's orders did not interest and did not even exist for Alpatych.
On reaching Smolensk on the evening of the fourth of August he put up in the Gachina suburb across the Dnieper, at the inn kept by Ferapontov, where he had been in the habit of putting up for the last thirty years. Some thirty years ago Ferapontov, by Alpatych's advice, had bought a wood from the prince, had begun to trade, and now had a house, an inn, and a corn dealer's shop in that province. He was a stout, dark, red-faced peasant in the forties, with thick lips, a broad knob of a nose, similar knobs over his black frowning brows, and a round belly.
Wearing a waistcoat over his cotton shirt, Ferapontov was standing before his shop which opened onto the street. On seeing Alpatych he went up to him.
"You're welcome, Yakov Alpatych. Folks are leaving the town, but you have come to it," said he.
"Why are they leaving the town?" asked Alpatych.
"That's what I say. Folks are foolish! Always afraid of the French."
"Women's fuss, women's fuss!" said Alpatych.
"Just what I think, Yakov Alpatych. What I say is: orders have been given not to let them in, so that must be right. And the peasants are asking three rubles for carting—it isn't Christian!"
Yakov Alpatych heard without heeding. He asked for a samovar and for hay for his horses, and when he had had his tea he went to bed.
All night long troops were moving past the inn. Next morning Alpatych donned a jacket he wore only in town and went out on business. It was a sunny morning and by eight o'clock it was already hot. "A good day for harvesting," thought Alpatych.
From beyond the town firing had been heard since early morning. At eight o'clock the booming of cannon was added to the sound of musketry. Many people were hurrying through the streets and there were many soldiers, but cabs were still driving about, tradesmen stood at their shops, and service was being held in the churches as usual. Alpatych went to the shops, to government offices, to the post office, and to the Governor's. In the offices and shops and at the post office everyone was talking about the army and about the enemy who was already attacking the town, everybody was asking what should be done, and all were trying to calm one another.
In front of the Governor's house Alpatych found a large number of people, Cossacks, and a traveling carriage of the Governor's. At the porch he met two of the landed gentry, one of whom he knew. This man, an ex-captain of police, was saying angrily:
"It's no joke, you know! It's all very well if you're single. 'One man though undone is but one,' as the proverb says, but with thirteen in your family and all the property... They've brought us to utter ruin! What sort of governors are they to do that? They ought to be hanged—the brigands!..."
"Oh come, that's enough!" said the other.
"What do I care? Let him hear! We're not dogs," said the ex-captain of police, and looking round he noticed Alpatych.
"Oh, Yakov Alpatych! What have you come for?"
"To see the Governor by his excellency's order," answered Alpatych, lifting his head and proudly thrusting his hand into the bosom of his coat as he always did when he mentioned the prince.... "He has ordered me to inquire into the position of affairs," he added.
"Yes, go and find out!" shouted the angry gentleman. "They've brought things to such a pass that there are no carts or anything!... There it is again, do you hear?" said he, pointing in the direction whence came the sounds of firing.
"They've brought us all to ruin... the brigands!" he repeated, and descended the porch steps.
Alpatych swayed his head and went upstairs. In the waiting room were tradesmen, women, and officials, looking silently at one another. The door of the Governor's room opened and they all rose and moved forward. An official ran out, said some words to a merchant, called a stout official with a cross hanging on his neck to follow him, and vanished again, evidently wishing to avoid the inquiring looks and questions addressed to him. Alpatych moved forward and next time the official came out addressed him, one hand placed in the breast of his buttoned coat, and handed him two letters.
"To his Honor Baron Asch, from General-in-Chief Prince Bolkonski," he announced with such solemnity and significance that the official turned to him and took the letters.
A few minutes later the Governor received Alpatych and hurriedly said to him:
"Inform the prince and princess that I knew nothing: I acted on the highest instructions—here..." and he handed a paper to Alpatych. "Still, as the prince is unwell my advice is that they should go to Moscow. I am just starting myself. Inform them..."
But the Governor did not finish: a dusty perspiring officer ran into the room and began to say something in French. The Governor's face expressed terror.
"Go," he said, nodding his head to Alpatych, and began questioning the officer.
Eager, frightened, helpless glances were turned on Alpatych when he came out of the Governor's room. Involuntarily listening now to the firing, which had drawn nearer and was increasing in strength, Alpatych hurried to his inn. The paper handed to him by the Governor said this:
"I assure you that the town of Smolensk is not in the slightest danger as yet and it is unlikely that it will be threatened with any. I from the one side and Prince Bagration from the other are marching to unite our forces before Smolensk, which junction will be effected on the 22nd instant, and both armies with their united forces will defend our compatriots of the province entrusted to your care till our efforts shall have beaten back the enemies of our Fatherland, or till the last warrior in our valiant ranks has perished. From this you will see that you have a perfect right to reassure the inhabitants of Smolensk, for those defended by two such brave armies may feel assured of victory." (Instructions from Barclay de Tolly to Baron Asch, the civil governor of Smolensk, 1812.)
People were anxiously roaming about the streets.
Carts piled high with household utensils, chairs, and cupboards kept emerging from the gates of the yards and moving along the streets. Loaded carts stood at the house next to Ferapontov's and women were wailing and lamenting as they said good-by. A small watchdog ran round barking in front of the harnessed horses.
Alpatych entered the innyard at a quicker pace than usual and went straight to the shed where his horses and trap were. The coachman was asleep. He woke him up, told him to harness, and went into the passage. From the host's room came the sounds of a child crying, the despairing sobs of a woman, and the hoarse angry shouting of Ferapontov. The cook began running hither and thither in the passage like a frightened hen, just as Alpatych entered.
"He's done her to death. Killed the mistress!... Beat her... dragged her about so!..."
"What for?" asked Alpatych.
"She kept begging to go away. She's a woman! 'Take me away,' says she, 'don't let me perish with my little children! Folks,' she says, 'are all gone, so why,' she says, 'don't we go?' And he began beating and pulling her about so!"
At these words Alpatych nodded as if in approval, and not wishing to hear more went to the door of the room opposite the innkeeper's, where he had left his purchases.
"You brute, you murderer!" screamed a thin, pale woman who, with a baby in her arms and her kerchief torn from her head, burst through the door at that moment and down the steps into the yard.
Ferapontov came out after her, but on seeing Alpatych adjusted his waistcoat, smoothed his hair, yawned, and followed Alpatych into the opposite room.
"Going already?" said he.
Alpatych, without answering or looking at his host, sorted his packages and asked how much he owed.
"We'll reckon up! Well, have you been to the Governor's?" asked Ferapontov. "What has been decided?"
Alpatych replied that the Governor had not told him anything definite.
"With our business, how can we get away?" said Ferapontov. "We'd have to pay seven rubles a cartload to Dorogobuzh and I tell them they're not Christians to ask it! Selivanov, now, did a good stroke last Thursday—sold flour to the army at nine rubles a sack. Will you have some tea?" he added.
While the horses were being harnessed Alpatych and Ferapontov over their tea talked of the price of corn, the crops, and the good weather for harvesting.
"Well, it seems to be getting quieter," remarked Ferapontov, finishing his third cup of tea and getting up. "Ours must have got the best of it. The orders were not to let them in. So we're in force, it seems.... They say the other day Matthew Ivanych Platov drove them into the river Marina and drowned some eighteen thousand in one day."
Alpatych collected his parcels, handed them to the coachman who had come in, and settled up with the innkeeper. The noise of wheels, hoofs, and bells was heard from the gateway as a little trap passed out.
It was by now late in the afternoon. Half the street was in shadow, the other half brightly lit by the sun. Alpatych looked out of the window and went to the door. Suddenly the strange sound of a far-off whistling and thud was heard, followed by a boom of cannon blending into a dull roar that set the windows rattling.
He went out into the street: two men were running past toward the bridge. From different sides came whistling sounds and the thud of cannon balls and bursting shells falling on the town. But these sounds were hardly heard in comparison with the noise of the firing outside the town and attracted little attention from the inhabitants. The town was being bombarded by a hundred and thirty guns which Napoleon had ordered up after four o'clock. The people did not at once realize the meaning of this bombardment.
At first the noise of the falling bombs and shells only aroused curiosity. Ferapontov's wife, who till then had not ceased wailing under the shed, became quiet and with the baby in her arms went to the gate, listening to the sounds and looking in silence at the people.
The cook and a shop assistant came to the gate. With lively curiosity everyone tried to get a glimpse of the projectiles as they flew over their heads. Several people came round the corner talking eagerly.
"What force!" remarked one. "Knocked the roof and ceiling all to splinters!"
"Routed up the earth like a pig," said another.
"That's grand, it bucks one up!" laughed the first. "Lucky you jumped aside, or it would have wiped you out!"
Others joined those men and stopped and told how cannon balls had fallen on a house close to them. Meanwhile still more projectiles, now with the swift sinister whistle of a cannon ball, now with the agreeable intermittent whistle of a shell, flew over people's heads incessantly, but not one fell close by, they all flew over. Alpatych was getting into his trap. The innkeeper stood at the gate.
"What are you staring at?" he shouted to the cook, who in her red skirt, with sleeves rolled up, swinging her bare elbows, had stepped to the corner to listen to what was being said.
"What marvels!" she exclaimed, but hearing her master's voice she turned back, pulling down her tucked-up skirt.
Once more something whistled, but this time quite close, swooping downwards like a little bird; a flame flashed in the middle of the street, something exploded, and the street was shrouded in smoke.
"Scoundrel, what are you doing?" shouted the innkeeper, rushing to the cook.
At that moment the pitiful wailing of women was heard from different sides, the frightened baby began to cry, and people crowded silently with pale faces round the cook. The loudest sound in that crowd was her wailing.
"Oh-h-h! Dear souls, dear kind souls! Don't let me die! My good souls!..."
Five minutes later no one remained in the street. The cook, with her thigh broken by a shell splinter, had been carried into the kitchen. Alpatych, his coachman, Ferapontov's wife and children and the house porter were all sitting in the cellar, listening. The roar of guns, the whistling of projectiles, and the piteous moaning of the cook, which rose above the other sounds, did not cease for a moment. The mistress rocked and hushed her baby and when anyone came into the cellar asked in a pathetic whisper what had become of her husband who had remained in the street. A shopman who entered told her that her husband had gone with others to the cathedral, whence they were fetching the wonder-working icon of Smolensk.
Toward dusk the cannonade began to subside. Alpatych left the cellar and stopped in the doorway. The evening sky that had been so clear was clouded with smoke, through which, high up, the sickle of the new moon shone strangely. Now that the terrible din of the guns had ceased a hush seemed to reign over the town, broken only by the rustle of footsteps, the moaning, the distant cries, and the crackle of fires which seemed widespread everywhere. The cook's moans had now subsided. On two sides black curling clouds of smoke rose and spread from the fires. Through the streets soldiers in various uniforms walked or ran confusedly in different directions like ants from a ruined ant-hill. Several of them ran into Ferapontov's yard before Alpatych's eyes. Alpatych went out to the gate. A retreating regiment, thronging and hurrying, blocked the street.
Noticing him, an officer said: "The town is being abandoned. Get away, get away!" and then, turning to the soldiers, shouted:
"I'll teach you to run into the yards!"
Alpatych went back to the house, called the coachman, and told him to set off. Ferapontov's whole household came out too, following Alpatych and the coachman. The women, who had been silent till then, suddenly began to wail as they looked at the fires—the smoke and even the flames of which could be seen in the failing twilight—and as if in reply the same kind of lamentation was heard from other parts of the street. Inside the shed Alpatych and the coachman arranged the tangled reins and traces of their horses with trembling hands.
As Alpatych was driving out of the gate he saw some ten soldiers in Ferapontov's open shop, talking loudly and filling their bags and knapsacks with flour and sunflower seeds. Just then Ferapontov returned and entered his shop. On seeing the soldiers he was about to shout at them, but suddenly stopped and, clutching at his hair, burst into sobs and laughter:
"Loot everything, lads! Don't let those devils get it!" he cried, taking some bags of flour himself and throwing them into the street.
Some of the soldiers were frightened and ran away, others went on filling their bags. On seeing Alpatych, Ferapontov turned to him:
"Russia is done for!" he cried. "Alpatych, I'll set the place on fire myself. We're done for!..." and Ferapontov ran into the yard.
Soldiers were passing in a constant stream along the street blocking it completely, so that Alpatych could not pass out and had to wait. Ferapontov's wife and children were also sitting in a cart waiting till it was possible to drive out.
Night had come. There were stars in the sky and the new moon shone out amid the smoke that screened it. On the sloping descent to the Dnieper Alpatych's cart and that of the innkeeper's wife, which were slowly moving amid the rows of soldiers and of other vehicles, had to stop. In a side street near the crossroads where the vehicles had stopped, a house and some shops were on fire. This fire was already burning itself out. The flames now died down and were lost in the black smoke, now suddenly flared up again brightly, lighting up with strange distinctness the faces of the people crowding at the crossroads. Black figures flitted about before the fire, and through the incessant crackling of the flames talking and shouting could be heard. Seeing that his trap would not be able to move on for some time, Alpatych got down and turned into the side street to look at the fire. Soldiers were continually rushing backwards and forwards near it, and he saw two of them and a man in a frieze coat dragging burning beams into another yard across the street, while others carried bundles of hay.
Alpatych went up to a large crowd standing before a high barn which was blazing briskly. The walls were all on fire and the back wall had fallen in, the wooden roof was collapsing, and the rafters were alight. The crowd was evidently watching for the roof to fall in, and Alpatych watched for it too.
"Alpatych!" a familiar voice suddenly hailed the old man.
"Mercy on us! Your excellency!" answered Alpatych, immediately recognizing the voice of his young prince.
Prince Andrew in his riding cloak, mounted on a black horse, was looking at Alpatych from the back of the crowd.
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"Your... your excellency," stammered Alpatych and broke into sobs. "Are we really lost? Master!..."
"Why are you here?" Prince Andrew repeated.
At that moment the flames flared up and showed his young master's pale worn face. Alpatych told how he had been sent there and how difficult it was to get away.
"Are we really quite lost, your excellency?" he asked again.
Prince Andrew without replying took out a notebook and raising his knee began writing in pencil on a page he tore out. He wrote to his sister:
"Smolensk is being abandoned. Bald Hills will be occupied by the enemy within a week. Set off immediately for Moscow. Let me know at once when you will start. Send by special messenger to Usvyazh."
Having written this and given the paper to Alpatych, he told him how to arrange for departure of the prince, the princess, his son, and the boy's tutor, and how and where to let him know immediately. Before he had had time to finish giving these instructions, a chief of staff followed by a suite galloped up to him.
"You are a colonel?" shouted the chief of staff with a German accent, in a voice familiar to Prince Andrew. "Houses are set on fire in your presence and you stand by! What does this mean? You will answer for it!" shouted Berg, who was now assistant to the chief of staff of the commander of the left flank of the infantry of the first army, a place, as Berg said, "very agreeable and well en evidence."
Prince Andrew looked at him and without replying went on speaking to Alpatych.
"So tell them that I shall await a reply till the tenth, and if by the tenth I don't receive news that they have all got away I shall have to throw up everything and come myself to Bald Hills."
"Prince," said Berg, recognizing Prince Andrew, "I only spoke because I have to obey orders, because I always do obey exactly.... You must please excuse me," he went on apologetically.
Something cracked in the flames. The fire died down for a moment and wreaths of black smoke rolled from under the roof. There was another terrible crash and something huge collapsed.
"Ou-rou-rou!" yelled the crowd, echoing the crash of the collapsing roof of the barn, the burning grain in which diffused a cakelike aroma all around. The flames flared up again, lighting the animated, delighted, exhausted faces of the spectators.
The man in the frieze coat raised his arms and shouted:
"It's fine, lads! Now it's raging... It's fine!"
"That's the owner himself," cried several voices.
"Well then," continued Prince Andrew to Alpatych, "report to them as I have told you"; and not replying a word to Berg who was now mute beside him, he touched his horse and rode down the side street.
From Smolensk the troops continued to retreat, followed by the enemy. On the tenth of August the regiment Prince Andrew commanded was marching along the highroad past the avenue leading to Bald Hills. Heat and drought had continued for more than three weeks. Each day fleecy clouds floated across the sky and occasionally veiled the sun, but toward evening the sky cleared again and the sun set in reddish-brown mist. Heavy night dews alone refreshed the earth. The unreaped corn was scorched and shed its grain. The marshes dried up. The cattle lowed from hunger, finding no food on the sun-parched meadows. Only at night and in the forests while the dew lasted was there any freshness. But on the road, the highroad along which the troops marched, there was no such freshness even at night or when the road passed through the forest; the dew was imperceptible on the sandy dust churned up more than six inches deep. As soon as day dawned the march began. The artillery and baggage wagons moved noiselessly through the deep dust that rose to the very hubs of the wheels, and the infantry sank ankle-deep in that soft, choking, hot dust that never cooled even at night. Some of this dust was kneaded by the feet and wheels, while the rest rose and hung like a cloud over the troops, settling in eyes, ears, hair, and nostrils, and worst of all in the lungs of the men and beasts as they moved along that road. The higher the sun rose the higher rose that cloud of dust, and through the screen of its hot fine particles one could look with naked eye at the sun, which showed like a huge crimson ball in the unclouded sky. There was no wind, and the men choked in that motionless atmosphere. They marched with handkerchiefs tied over their noses and mouths. When they passed through a village they all rushed to the wells and fought for the water and drank it down to the mud.
Prince Andrew was in command of a regiment, and the management of that regiment, the welfare of the men and the necessity of receiving and giving orders, engrossed him. The burning of Smolensk and its abandonment made an epoch in his life. A novel feeling of anger against the foe made him forget his own sorrow. He was entirely devoted to the affairs of his regiment and was considerate and kind to his men and officers. In the regiment they called him "our prince," were proud of him and loved him. But he was kind and gentle only to those of his regiment, to Timokhin and the like—people quite new to him, belonging to a different world and who could not know and understand his past. As soon as he came across a former acquaintance or anyone from the staff, he bristled up immediately and grew spiteful, ironical, and contemptuous. Everything that reminded him of his past was repugnant to him, and so in his relations with that former circle he confined himself to trying to do his duty and not to be unfair.
In truth everything presented itself in a dark and gloomy light to Prince Andrew, especially after the abandonment of Smolensk on the sixth of August (he considered that it could and should have been defended) and after his sick father had had to flee to Moscow, abandoning to pillage his dearly beloved Bald Hills which he had built and peopled. But despite this, thanks to his regiment, Prince Andrew had something to think about entirely apart from general questions. Two days previously he had received news that his father, son, and sister had left for Moscow; and though there was nothing for him to do at Bald Hills, Prince Andrew with a characteristic desire to foment his own grief decided that he must ride there.
He ordered his horse to be saddled and, leaving his regiment on the march, rode to his father's estate where he had been born and spent his childhood. Riding past the pond where there used always to be dozens of women chattering as they rinsed their linen or beat it with wooden beetles, Prince Andrew noticed that there was not a soul about and that the little washing wharf, torn from its place and half submerged, was floating on its side in the middle of the pond. He rode to the keeper's lodge. No one at the stone entrance gates of the drive and the door stood open. Grass had already begun to grow on the garden paths, and horses and calves were straying in the English park. Prince Andrew rode up to the hothouse; some of the glass panes were broken, and of the trees in tubs some were overturned and others dried up. He called for Taras the gardener, but no one replied. Having gone round the corner of the hothouse to the ornamental garden, he saw that the carved garden fence was broken and branches of the plum trees had been torn off with the fruit. An old peasant whom Prince Andrew in his childhood had often seen at the gate was sitting on a green garden seat, plaiting a bast shoe.
He was deaf and did not hear Prince Andrew ride up. He was sitting on the seat the old prince used to like to sit on, and beside him strips of bast were hanging on the broken and withered branch of a magnolia.
Prince Andrew rode up to the house. Several limes in the old garden had been cut down and a piebald mare and her foal were wandering in front of the house among the rosebushes. The shutters were all closed, except at one window which was open. A little serf boy, seeing Prince Andrew, ran into the house. Alpatych, having sent his family away, was alone at Bald Hills and was sitting indoors reading the Lives of the Saints. On hearing that Prince Andrew had come, he went out with his spectacles on his nose, buttoning his coat, and, hastily stepping up, without a word began weeping and kissing Prince Andrew's knee.
Then, vexed at his own weakness, he turned away and began to report on the position of affairs. Everything precious and valuable had been removed to Bogucharovo. Seventy quarters of grain had also been carted away. The hay and the spring corn, of which Alpatych said there had been a remarkable crop that year, had been commandeered by the troops and mown down while still green. The peasants were ruined; some of them too had gone to Bogucharovo, only a few remained.
Without waiting to hear him out, Prince Andrew asked:
"When did my father and sister leave?" meaning when did they leave for Moscow.
Alpatych, understanding the question to refer to their departure for Bogucharovo, replied that they had left on the seventh and again went into details concerning the estate management, asking for instructions.
"Am I to let the troops have the oats, and to take a receipt for them? We have still six hundred quarters left," he inquired.
"What am I to say to him?" thought Prince Andrew, looking down on the old man's bald head shining in the sun and seeing by the expression on his face that the old man himself understood how untimely such questions were and only asked them to allay his grief.
"Yes, let them have it," replied Prince Andrew.
"If you noticed some disorder in the garden," said Alpatych, "it was impossible to prevent it. Three regiments have been here and spent the night, dragoons mostly. I took down the name and rank of their commanding officer, to hand in a complaint about it."
"Well, and what are you going to do? Will you stay here if the enemy occupies the place?" asked Prince Andrew.
Alpatych turned his face to Prince Andrew, looked at him, and suddenly with a solemn gesture raised his arm.
"He is my refuge! His will be done!" he exclaimed.
A group of bareheaded peasants was approaching across the meadow toward the prince.
"Well, good-by!" said Prince Andrew, bending over to Alpatych. "You must go away too, take away what you can and tell the serfs to go to the Ryazan estate or to the one near Moscow."
Alpatych clung to Prince Andrew's leg and burst into sobs. Gently disengaging himself, the prince spurred his horse and rode down the avenue at a gallop.
The old man was still sitting in the ornamental garden, like a fly impassive on the face of a loved one who is dead, tapping the last on which he was making the bast shoe, and two little girls, running out from the hot house carrying in their skirts plums they had plucked from the trees there, came upon Prince Andrew. On seeing the young master, the elder one with frightened look clutched her younger companion by the hand and hid with her behind a birch tree, not stopping to pick up some green plums they had dropped.
Prince Andrew turned away with startled haste, unwilling to let them see that they had been observed. He was sorry for the pretty frightened little girl, was afraid of looking at her, and yet felt an irresistible desire to do so. A new sensation of comfort and relief came over him when, seeing these girls, he realized the existence of other human interests entirely aloof from his own and just as legitimate as those that occupied him. Evidently these girls passionately desired one thing—to carry away and eat those green plums without being caught—and Prince Andrew shared their wish for the success of their enterprise. He could not resist looking at them once more. Believing their danger past, they sprang from their ambush and, chirruping something in their shrill little voices and holding up their skirts, their bare little sunburned feet scampered merrily and quickly across the meadow grass.
Prince Andrew was somewhat refreshed by having ridden off the dusty highroad along which the troops were moving. But not far from Bald Hills he again came out on the road and overtook his regiment at its halting place by the dam of a small pond. It was past one o'clock. The sun, a red ball through the dust, burned and scorched his back intolerably through his black coat. The dust always hung motionless above the buzz of talk that came from the resting troops. There was no wind. As he crossed the dam Prince Andrew smelled the ooze and freshness of the pond. He longed to get into that water, however dirty it might be, and he glanced round at the pool from whence came sounds of shrieks and laughter. The small, muddy, green pond had risen visibly more than a foot, flooding the dam, because it was full of the naked white bodies of soldiers with brick-red hands, necks, and faces, who were splashing about in it. All this naked white human flesh, laughing and shrieking, floundered about in that dirty pool like carp stuffed into a watering can, and the suggestion of merriment in that floundering mass rendered it specially pathetic.
One fair-haired young soldier of the third company, whom Prince Andrew knew and who had a strap round the calf of one leg, crossed himself, stepped back to get a good run, and plunged into the water; another, a dark noncommissioned officer who was always shaggy, stood up to his waist in the water joyfully wriggling his muscular figure and snorted with satisfaction as he poured the water over his head with hands blackened to the wrists. There were sounds of men slapping one another, yelling, and puffing.
Everywhere on the bank, on the dam, and in the pond, there was healthy, white, muscular flesh. The officer, Timokhin, with his red little nose, standing on the dam wiping himself with a towel, felt confused at seeing the prince, but made up his mind to address him nevertheless.
"It's very nice, your excellency! Wouldn't you like to?" said he.
"It's dirty," replied Prince Andrew, making a grimace.
"We'll clear it out for you in a minute," said Timokhin, and, still undressed, ran off to clear the men out of the pond.
"The prince wants to bathe."
"What prince? Ours?" said many voices, and the men were in such haste to clear out that the prince could hardly stop them. He decided that he would rather wash himself with water in the barn.
"Flesh, bodies, cannon fodder!" he thought, and he looked at his own naked body and shuddered, not from cold but from a sense of disgust and horror he did not himself understand, aroused by the sight of that immense number of bodies splashing about in the dirty pond.
On the seventh of August Prince Bagration wrote as follows from his quarters at Mikhaylovna on the Smolensk road:
Dear Count Alexis Andreevich—(He was writing to Arakcheev but knew that his letter would be read by the Emperor, and therefore weighed every word in it to the best of his ability.)
I expect the Minister (Barclay de Tolly) has already reported the abandonment of Smolensk to the enemy. It is pitiable and sad, and the whole army is in despair that this most important place has been wantonly abandoned. I, for my part, begged him personally most urgently and finally wrote him, but nothing would induce him to consent. I swear to you on my honor that Napoleon was in such a fix as never before and might have lost half his army but could not have taken Smolensk. Our troops fought, and are fighting, as never before. With fifteen thousand men I held the enemy at bay for thirty-five hours and beat him; but he would not hold out even for fourteen hours. It is disgraceful, a stain on our army, and as for him, he ought, it seems to me, not to live. If he reports that our losses were great, it is not true; perhaps about four thousand, not more, and not even that; but even were they ten thousand, that's war! But the enemy has lost masses...
What would it have cost him to hold out for another two days? They would have had to retire of their own accord, for they had no water for men or horses. He gave me his word he would not retreat, but suddenly sent instructions that he was retiring that night. We cannot fight in this way, or we may soon bring the enemy to Moscow...
There is a rumor that you are thinking of peace. God forbid that you should make peace after all our sacrifices and such insane retreats! You would set all Russia against you and every one of us would feel ashamed to wear the uniform. If it has come to this—we must fight as long as Russia can and as long as there are men able to stand...
One man ought to be in command, and not two. Your Minister may perhaps be good as a Minister, but as a general he is not merely bad but execrable, yet to him is entrusted the fate of our whole country.... I am really frantic with vexation; forgive my writing boldly. It is clear that the man who advocates the conclusion of a peace, and that the Minister should command the army, does not love our sovereign and desires the ruin of us all. So I write you frankly: call out the militia. For the Minister is leading these visitors after him to Moscow in a most masterly way. The whole army feels great suspicion of the Imperial aide-de-camp Wolzogen. He is said to be more Napoleon's man than ours, and he is always advising the Minister. I am not merely civil to him but obey him like a corporal, though I am his senior. This is painful, but, loving my benefactor and sovereign, I submit. Only I am sorry for the Emperor that he entrusts our fine army to such as he. Consider that on our retreat we have lost by fatigue and left in the hospital more than fifteen thousand men, and had we attacked this would not have happened. Tell me, for God's sake, what will Russia, our mother Russia, say to our being so frightened, and why are we abandoning our good and gallant Fatherland to such rabble and implanting feelings of hatred and shame in all our subjects? What are we scared at and of whom are we afraid? I am not to blame that the Minister is vacillating, a coward, dense, dilatory, and has all bad qualities. The whole army bewails it and calls down curses upon him...
Among the innumerable categories applicable to the phenomena of human life one may discriminate between those in which substance prevails and those in which form prevails. To the latter—as distinguished from village, country, provincial, or even Moscow life—we may allot Petersburg life, and especially the life of its salons. That life of the salons is unchanging. Since the year 1805 we had made peace and had again quarreled with Bonaparte and had made constitutions and unmade them again, but the salons of Anna Pavlovna and Helene remained just as they had been—the one seven and the other five years before. At Anna Pavlovna's they talked with perplexity of Bonaparte's successes just as before and saw in them and in the subservience shown to him by the European sovereigns a malicious conspiracy, the sole object of which was to cause unpleasantness and anxiety to the court circle of which Anna Pavlovna was the representative. And in Helene's salon, which Rumyantsev himself honored with his visits, regarding Helene as a remarkably intelligent woman, they talked with the same ecstasy in 1812 as in 1808 of the "great nation" and the "great man," and regretted our rupture with France, a rupture which, according to them, ought to be promptly terminated by peace.
Of late, since the Emperor's return from the army, there had been some excitement in these conflicting salon circles and some demonstrations of hostility to one another, but each camp retained its own tendency. In Anna Pavlovna's circle only those Frenchmen were admitted who were deep-rooted legitimists, and patriotic views were expressed to the effect that one ought not to go to the French theater and that to maintain the French troupe was costing the government as much as a whole army corps. The progress of the war was eagerly followed, and only the reports most flattering to our army were circulated. In the French circle of Helene and Rumyantsev the reports of the cruelty of the enemy and of the war were contradicted and all Napoleon's attempts at conciliation were discussed. In that circle they discountenanced those who advised hurried preparations for a removal to Kazan of the court and the girls' educational establishments under the patronage of the Dowager Empress. In Helene's circle the war in general was regarded as a series of formal demonstrations which would very soon end in peace, and the view prevailed expressed by Bilibin—who now in Petersburg was quite at home in Helene's house, which every clever man was obliged to visit—that not by gunpowder but by those who invented it would matters be settled. In that circle the Moscow enthusiasm—news of which had reached Petersburg simultaneously with the Emperor's return—was ridiculed sarcastically and very cleverly, though with much caution.
Anna Pavlovna's circle on the contrary was enraptured by this enthusiasm and spoke of it as Plutarch speaks of the deeds of the ancients. Prince Vasili, who still occupied his former important posts, formed a connecting link between these two circles. He visited his "good friend Anna Pavlovna" as well as his daughter's "diplomatic salon," and often in his constant comings and goings between the two camps became confused and said at Helene's what he should have said at Anna Pavlovna's and vice versa.
Soon after the Emperor's return Prince Vasili in a conversation about the war at Anna Pavlovna's severely condemned Barclay de Tolly, but was undecided as to who ought to be appointed commander in chief. One of the visitors, usually spoken of as "a man of great merit," having described how he had that day seen Kutuzov, the newly chosen chief of the Petersburg militia, presiding over the enrollment of recruits at the Treasury, cautiously ventured to suggest that Kutuzov would be the man to satisfy all requirements.
Anna Pavlovna remarked with a melancholy smile that Kutuzov had done nothing but cause the Emperor annoyance.
"I have talked and talked at the Assembly of the Nobility," Prince Vasili interrupted, "but they did not listen to me. I told them his election as chief of the militia would not please the Emperor. They did not listen to me.
"It's all this mania for opposition," he went on. "And who for? It is all because we want to ape the foolish enthusiasm of those Muscovites," Prince Vasili continued, forgetting for a moment that though at Helene's one had to ridicule the Moscow enthusiasm, at Anna Pavlovna's one had to be ecstatic about it. But he retrieved his mistake at once. "Now, is it suitable that Count Kutuzov, the oldest general in Russia, should preside at that tribunal? He will get nothing for his pains! How could they make a man commander in chief who cannot mount a horse, who drops asleep at a council, and has the very worst morals! A good reputation he made for himself at Bucharest! I don't speak of his capacity as a general, but at a time like this how they appoint a decrepit, blind old man, positively blind? A fine idea to have a blind general! He can't see anything. To play blindman's bluff? He can't see at all!"
No one replied to his remarks.
This was quite correct on the twenty-fourth of July. But on the twenty-ninth of July Kutuzov received the title of Prince. This might indicate a wish to get rid of him, and therefore Prince Vasili's opinion continued to be correct though he was not now in any hurry to express it. But on the eighth of August a committee, consisting of Field Marshal Saltykov, Arakcheev, Vyazmitinov, Lopukhin, and Kochubey met to consider the progress of the war. This committee came to the conclusion that our failures were due to a want of unity in the command and though the members of the committee were aware of the Emperor's dislike of Kutuzov, after a short deliberation they agreed to advise his appointment as commander in chief. That same day Kutuzov was appointed commander in chief with full powers over the armies and over the whole region occupied by them.
On the ninth of August Prince Vasili at Anna Pavlovna's again met the "man of great merit." The latter was very attentive to Anna Pavlovna because he wanted to be appointed director of one of the educational establishments for young ladies. Prince Vasili entered the room with the air of a happy conqueror who has attained the object of his desires.
"Well, have you heard the great news? Prince Kutuzov is field marshal! All dissensions are at an end! I am so glad, so delighted! At last we have a man!" said he, glancing sternly and significantly round at everyone in the drawing room.
The "man of great merit," despite his desire to obtain the post of director, could not refrain from reminding Prince Vasili of his former opinion. Though this was impolite to Prince Vasili in Anna Pavlovna's drawing room, and also to Anna Pavlovna herself who had received the news with delight, he could not resist the temptation.
"But, Prince, they say he is blind!" said he, reminding Prince Vasili of his own words.
"Eh? Nonsense! He sees well enough," said Prince Vasili rapidly, in a deep voice and with a slight cough—the voice and cough with which he was wont to dispose of all difficulties.
"He sees well enough," he added. "And what I am so pleased about," he went on, "is that our sovereign has given him full powers over all the armies and the whole region—powers no commander in chief ever had before. He is a second autocrat," he concluded with a victorious smile.
"God grant it! God grant it!" said Anna Pavlovna.
The "man of great merit," who was still a novice in court circles, wishing to flatter Anna Pavlovna by defending her former position on this question, observed:
"It is said that the Emperor was reluctant to give Kutuzov those powers. They say he blushed like a girl to whom Joconde is read, when he said to Kutuzov: 'Your Emperor and the Fatherland award you this honor.'"
"Perhaps the heart took no part in that speech," said Anna Pavlovna.
"Oh, no, no!" warmly rejoined Prince Vasili, who would not now yield Kutuzov to anyone; in his opinion Kutuzov was not only admirable himself, but was adored by everybody. "No, that's impossible," said he, "for our sovereign appreciated him so highly before."
"God grant only that Prince Kutuzov assumes real power and does not allow anyone to put a spoke in his wheel," observed Anna Pavlovna.
Understanding at once to whom she alluded, Prince Vasili said in a whisper:
"I know for a fact that Kutuzov made it an absolute condition that the Tsarevich should not be with the army. Do you know what he said to the Emperor?"
And Prince Vasili repeated the words supposed to have been spoken by Kutuzov to the Emperor. "I can neither punish him if he does wrong nor reward him if he does right."
"Oh, a very wise man is Prince Kutuzov! I have known him a long time!"
"They even say," remarked the "man of great merit" who did not yet possess courtly tact, "that his excellency made it an express condition that the sovereign himself should not be with the army."
As soon as he said this both Prince Vasili and Anna Pavlovna turned away from him and glanced sadly at one another with a sigh at his naivete.
While this was taking place in Petersburg the French had already passed Smolensk and were drawing nearer and nearer to Moscow. Napoleon's historian Thiers, like other of his historians, trying to justify his hero says that he was drawn to the walls of Moscow against his will. He is as right as other historians who look for the explanation of historic events in the will of one man; he is as right as the Russian historians who maintain that Napoleon was drawn to Moscow by the skill of the Russian commanders. Here besides the law of retrospection, which regards all the past as a preparation for events that subsequently occur, the law of reciprocity comes in, confusing the whole matter. A good chessplayer having lost a game is sincerely convinced that his loss resulted from a mistake he made and looks for that mistake in the opening, but forgets that at each stage of the game there were similar mistakes and that none of his moves were perfect. He only notices the mistake to which he pays attention, because his opponent took advantage of it. How much more complex than this is the game of war, which occurs under certain limits of time, and where it is not one will that manipulates lifeless objects, but everything results from innumerable conflicts of various wills!
After Smolensk Napoleon sought a battle beyond Dorogobuzh at Vyazma, and then at Tsarevo-Zaymishche, but it happened that owing to a conjunction of innumerable circumstances the Russians could not give battle till they reached Borodino, seventy miles from Moscow. From Vyazma Napoleon ordered a direct advance on Moscow.
Moscou, la capitale asiatique de ce grand empire, la ville sacree des peuples d'Alexandre, Moscou avec ses innombrables eglises en forme de pagodes chinoises, * this Moscow gave Napoleon's imagination no rest. On the march from Vyazma to Tsarevo-Zaymishche he rode his light bay bobtailed ambler accompanied by his Guards, his bodyguard, his pages, and aides-de-camp. Berthier, his chief of staff, dropped behind to question a Russian prisoner captured by the cavalry. Followed by Lelorgne d'Ideville, an interpreter, he overtook Napoleon at a gallop and reined in his horse with an amused expression.
* "Moscow, the Asiatic capital of this great empire, the
sacred city of Alexander's people, Moscow with its
innumerable churches shaped like Chinese pagodas."
"Well?" asked Napoleon.
"One of Platov's Cossacks says that Platov's corps is joining up with the main army and that Kutuzov has been appointed commander in chief. He is a very shrewd and garrulous fellow."
Napoleon smiled and told them to give the Cossack a horse and bring the man to him. He wished to talk to him himself. Several adjutants galloped off, and an hour later, Lavrushka, the serf Denisov had handed over to Rostov, rode up to Napoleon in an orderly's jacket and on a French cavalry saddle, with a merry, and tipsy face. Napoleon told him to ride by his side and began questioning him.
"You are a Cossack?"
"Yes, a Cossack, your Honor."
"The Cossack, not knowing in what company he was, for Napoleon's plain appearance had nothing about it that would reveal to an Oriental mind the presence of a monarch, talked with extreme familiarity of the incidents of the war," says Thiers, narrating this episode. In reality Lavrushka, having got drunk the day before and left his master dinnerless, had been whipped and sent to the village in quest of chickens, where he engaged in looting till the French took him prisoner. Lavrushka was one of those coarse, bare-faced lackeys who have seen all sorts of things, consider it necessary to do everything in a mean and cunning way, are ready to render any sort of service to their master, and are keen at guessing their master's baser impulses, especially those prompted by vanity and pettiness.
Finding himself in the company of Napoleon, whose identity he had easily and surely recognized, Lavrushka was not in the least abashed but merely did his utmost to gain his new master's favor.
He knew very well that this was Napoleon, but Napoleon's presence could no more intimidate him than Rostov's, or a sergeant major's with the rods, would have done, for he had nothing that either the sergeant major or Napoleon could deprive him of.
So he rattled on, telling all the gossip he had heard among the orderlies. Much of it true. But when Napoleon asked him whether the Russians thought they would beat Bonaparte or not, Lavrushka screwed up his eyes and considered.
In this question he saw subtle cunning, as men of his type see cunning in everything, so he frowned and did not answer immediately.
"It's like this," he said thoughtfully, "if there's a battle soon, yours will win. That's right. But if three days pass, then after that, well, then that same battle will not soon be over."
Lelorgne d'Ideville smilingly interpreted this speech to Napoleon thus: "If a battle takes place within the next three days the French will win, but if later, God knows what will happen." Napoleon did not smile, though he was evidently in high good humor, and he ordered these words to be repeated.
Lavrushka noticed this and to entertain him further, pretending not to know who Napoleon was, added:
"We know that you have Bonaparte and that he has beaten everybody in the world, but we are a different matter..."—without knowing why or how this bit of boastful patriotism slipped out at the end.
The interpreter translated these words without the last phrase, and Bonaparte smiled. "The young Cossack made his mighty interlocutor smile," says Thiers. After riding a few paces in silence, Napoleon turned to Berthier and said he wished to see how the news that he was talking to the Emperor himself, to that very Emperor who had written his immortally victorious name on the Pyramids, would affect this enfant du Don. *
* "Child of the Don."
The fact was accordingly conveyed to Lavrushka.
Lavrushka, understanding that this was done to perplex him and that Napoleon expected him to be frightened, to gratify his new masters promptly pretended to be astonished and awe-struck, opened his eyes wide, and assumed the expression he usually put on when taken to be whipped. "As soon as Napoleon's interpreter had spoken," says Thiers, "the Cossack, seized by amazement, did not utter another word, but rode on, his eyes fixed on the conqueror whose fame had reached him across the steppes of the East. All his loquacity was suddenly arrested and replaced by a naive and silent feeling of admiration. Napoleon, after making the Cossack a present, had him set free like a bird restored to its native fields."
Napoleon rode on, dreaming of the Moscow that so appealed to his imagination, and "the bird restored to its native fields" galloped to our outposts, inventing on the way all that had not taken place but that he meant to relate to his comrades. What had really taken place he did not wish to relate because it seemed to him not worth telling. He found the Cossacks, inquired for the regiment operating with Platov's detachment and by evening found his master, Nicholas Rostov, quartered at Yankovo. Rostov was just mounting to go for a ride round the neighboring villages with Ilyin; he let Lavrushka have another horse and took him along with him.
Princess Mary was not in Moscow and out of danger as Prince Andrew supposed.
After the return of Alpatych from Smolensk the old prince suddenly seemed to awake as from a dream. He ordered the militiamen to be called up from the villages and armed, and wrote a letter to the commander in chief informing him that he had resolved to remain at Bald Hills to the last extremity and to defend it, leaving to the commander in chief's discretion to take measures or not for the defense of Bald Hills, where one of Russia's oldest generals would be captured or killed, and he announced to his household that he would remain at Bald Hills.
But while himself remaining, he gave instructions for the departure of the princess and Dessalles with the little prince to Bogucharovo and thence to Moscow. Princess Mary, alarmed by her father's feverish and sleepless activity after his previous apathy, could not bring herself to leave him alone and for the first time in her life ventured to disobey him. She refused to go away and her father's fury broke over her in a terrible storm. He repeated every injustice he had ever inflicted on her. Trying to convict her, he told her she had worn him out, had caused his quarrel with his son, had harbored nasty suspicions of him, making it the object of her life to poison his existence, and he drove her from his study telling her that if she did not go away it was all the same to him. He declared that he did not wish to remember her existence and warned her not to dare to let him see her. The fact that he did not, as she had feared, order her to be carried away by force but only told her not to let him see her cheered Princess Mary. She knew it was a proof that in the depth of his soul he was glad she was remaining at home and had not gone away.
The morning after little Nicholas had left, the old prince donned his full uniform and prepared to visit the commander in chief. His caleche was already at the door. Princess Mary saw him walk out of the house in his uniform wearing all his orders and go down the garden to review his armed peasants and domestic serfs. She sat by the window listening to his voice which reached her from the garden. Suddenly several men came running up the avenue with frightened faces.
Princess Mary ran out to the porch, down the flower-bordered path, and into the avenue. A large crowd of militiamen and domestics were moving toward her, and in their midst several men were supporting by the armpits and dragging along a little old man in a uniform and decorations. She ran up to him and, in the play of the sunlight that fell in small round spots through the shade of the lime-tree avenue, could not be sure what change there was in his face. All she could see was that his former stern and determined expression had altered to one of timidity and submission. On seeing his daughter he moved his helpless lips and made a hoarse sound. It was impossible to make out what he wanted. He was lifted up, carried to his study, and laid on the very couch he had so feared of late.
The doctor, who was fetched that same night, bled him and said that the prince had had a seizure paralyzing his right side.
It was becoming more and more dangerous to remain at Bald Hills, and next day they moved the prince to Bogucharovo, the doctor accompanying him.
By the time they reached Bogucharovo, Dessalles and the little prince had already left for Moscow.
For three weeks the old prince lay stricken by paralysis in the new house Prince Andrew had built at Bogucharovo, ever in the same state, getting neither better nor worse. He was unconscious and lay like a distorted corpse. He muttered unceasingly, his eyebrows and lips twitching, and it was impossible to tell whether he understood what was going on around him or not. One thing was certain—that he was suffering and wished to say something. But what it was, no one could tell: it might be some caprice of a sick and half-crazy man, or it might relate to public affairs, or possibly to family concerns.
The doctor said this restlessness did not mean anything and was due to physical causes; but Princess Mary thought he wished to tell her something, and the fact that her presence always increased his restlessness confirmed her opinion.
He was evidently suffering both physically and mentally. There was no hope of recovery. It was impossible for him to travel, it would not do to let him die on the road. "Would it not be better if the end did come, the very end?" Princess Mary sometimes thought. Night and day, hardly sleeping at all, she watched him and, terrible to say, often watched him not with hope of finding signs of improvement but wishing to find symptoms of the approach of the end.
Strange as it was to her to acknowledge this feeling in herself, yet there it was. And what seemed still more terrible to her was that since her father's illness began (perhaps even sooner, when she stayed with him expecting something to happen), all the personal desires and hopes that had been forgotten or sleeping within her had awakened. Thoughts that had not entered her mind for years—thoughts of a life free from the fear of her father, and even the possibility of love and of family happiness—floated continually in her imagination like temptations of the devil. Thrust them aside as she would, questions continually recurred to her as to how she would order her life now, after that. These were temptations of the devil and Princess Mary knew it. She knew that the sole weapon against him was prayer, and she tried to pray. She assumed an attitude of prayer, looked at the icons, repeated the words of a prayer, but she could not pray. She felt that a different world had now taken possession of her—the life of a world of strenuous and free activity, quite opposed to the spiritual world in which till now she had been confined and in which her greatest comfort had been prayer. She could not pray, could not weep, and worldly cares took possession of her.
It was becoming dangerous to remain in Bogucharovo. News of the approach of the French came from all sides, and in one village, ten miles from Bogucharovo, a homestead had been looted by French marauders.
The doctor insisted on the necessity of moving the prince; the provincial Marshal of the Nobility sent an official to Princess Mary to persuade her to get away as quickly as possible, and the head of the rural police having come to Bogucharovo urged the same thing, saying that the French were only some twenty-five miles away, that French proclamations were circulating in the villages, and that if the princess did not take her father away before the fifteenth, he could not answer for the consequences.
The princess decided to leave on the fifteenth. The cares of preparation and giving orders, for which everyone came to her, occupied her all day. She spent the night of the fourteenth as usual, without undressing, in the room next to the one where the prince lay. Several times, waking up, she heard his groans and muttering, the creak of his bed, and the steps of Tikhon and the doctor when they turned him over. Several times she listened at the door, and it seemed to her that his mutterings were louder than usual and that they turned him over oftener. She could not sleep and several times went to the door and listened, wishing to enter but not deciding to do so. Though he did not speak, Princess Mary saw and knew how unpleasant every sign of anxiety on his account was to him. She had noticed with what dissatisfaction he turned from the look she sometimes involuntarily fixed on him. She knew that her going in during the night at an unusual hour would irritate him.
But never had she felt so grieved for him or so much afraid of losing him. She recalled all her life with him and in every word and act of his found an expression of his love of her. Occasionally amid these memories temptations of the devil would surge into her imagination: thoughts of how things would be after his death, and how her new, liberated life would be ordered. But she drove these thoughts away with disgust. Toward morning he became quiet and she fell asleep.
She woke late. That sincerity which often comes with waking showed her clearly what chiefly concerned her about her father's illness. On waking she listened to what was going on behind the door and, hearing him groan, said to herself with a sigh that things were still the same.
"But what could have happened? What did I want? I want his death!" she cried with a feeling of loathing for herself.
She washed, dressed, said her prayers, and went out to the porch. In front of it stood carriages without horses and things were being packed into the vehicles.
It was a warm, gray morning. Princess Mary stopped at the porch, still horrified by her spiritual baseness and trying to arrange her thoughts before going to her father. The doctor came downstairs and went out to her.
"He is a little better today," said he. "I was looking for you. One can make out something of what he is saying. His head is clearer. Come in, he is asking for you..."
Princess Mary's heart beat so violently at this news that she grew pale and leaned against the wall to keep from falling. To see him, talk to him, feel his eyes on her now that her whole soul was overflowing with those dreadful, wicked temptations, was a torment of joy and terror.
"Come," said the doctor.
Princess Mary entered her father's room and went up to his bed. He was lying on his back propped up high, and his small bony hands with their knotted purple veins were lying on the quilt; his left eye gazed straight before him, his right eye was awry, and his brows and lips motionless. He seemed altogether so thin, small, and pathetic. His face seemed to have shriveled or melted; his features had grown smaller. Princess Mary went up and kissed his hand. His left hand pressed hers so that she understood that he had long been waiting for her to come. He twitched her hand, and his brows and lips quivered angrily.
She looked at him in dismay trying to guess what he wanted of her. When she changed her position so that his left eye could see her face he calmed down, not taking his eyes off her for some seconds. Then his lips and tongue moved, sounds came, and he began to speak, gazing timidly and imploringly at her, evidently afraid that she might not understand.
Straining all her faculties Princess Mary looked at him. The comic efforts with which he moved his tongue made her drop her eyes and with difficulty repress the sobs that rose to her throat. He said something, repeating the same words several times. She could not understand them, but tried to guess what he was saying and inquiringly repeated the words he uttered.
"Mmm...ar...ate...ate..." he repeated several times.
It was quite impossible to understand these sounds. The doctor thought he had guessed them, and inquiringly repeated: "Mary, are you afraid?" The prince shook his head, again repeated the same sounds.
"My mind, my mind aches?" questioned Princess Mary.
He made a mumbling sound in confirmation of this, took her hand, and began pressing it to different parts of his breast as if trying to find the right place for it.
"Always thoughts... about you... thoughts..." he then uttered much more clearly than he had done before, now that he was sure of being understood.
Princess Mary pressed her head against his hand, trying to hide her sobs and tears.
He moved his hand over her hair.
"I have been calling you all night..." he brought out.
"If only I had known..." she said through her tears. "I was afraid to come in."
He pressed her hand.
"Weren't you asleep?"
"No, I did not sleep," said Princess Mary, shaking her head.
Unconsciously imitating her father, she now tried to express herself as he did, as much as possible by signs, and her tongue too seemed to move with difficulty.
"Dear one... Dearest..." Princess Mary could not quite make out what he had said, but from his look it was clear that he had uttered a tender caressing word such as he had never used to her before. "Why didn't you come in?"
"And I was wishing for his death!" thought Princess Mary.
He was silent awhile.
"Thank you... daughter dear!... for all, for all... forgive!... thank you!... forgive!... thank you!..." and tears began to flow from his eyes. "Call Andrew!" he said suddenly, and a childish, timid expression of doubt showed itself on his face as he spoke.
He himself seemed aware that his demand was meaningless. So at least it seemed to Princess Mary.
"I have a letter from him," she replied.
He glanced at her with timid surprise.
"Where is he?"
"He's with the army, Father, at Smolensk."
He closed his eyes and remained silent a long time. Then as if in answer to his doubts and to confirm the fact that now he understood and remembered everything, he nodded his head and reopened his eyes.
"Yes," he said, softly and distinctly. "Russia has perished. They've destroyed her."
And he began to sob, and again tears flowed from his eyes. Princess Mary could no longer restrain herself and wept while she gazed at his face.
Again he closed his eyes. His sobs ceased, he pointed to his eyes, and Tikhon, understanding him, wiped away the tears.
Then he again opened his eyes and said something none of them could understand for a long time, till at last Tikhon understood and repeated it. Princess Mary had sought the meaning of his words in the mood in which he had just been speaking. She thought he was speaking of Russia, or Prince Andrew, of herself, of his grandson, or of his own death, and so she could not guess his words.
"Put on your white dress. I like it," was what he said.
Having understood this Princess Mary sobbed still louder, and the doctor taking her arm led her out to the veranda, soothing her and trying to persuade her to prepare for her journey. When she had left the room the prince again began speaking about his son, about the war, and about the Emperor, angrily twitching his brows and raising his hoarse voice, and then he had a second and final stroke.
Princess Mary stayed on the veranda. The day had cleared, it was hot and sunny. She could understand nothing, think of nothing and feel nothing, except passionate love for her father, love such as she thought she had never felt till that moment. She ran out sobbing into the garden and as far as the pond, along the avenues of young lime trees Prince Andrew had planted.
"Yes... I... I... I wished for his death! Yes, I wanted it to end quicker.... I wished to be at peace.... And what will become of me? What use will peace be when he is no longer here?" Princess Mary murmured, pacing the garden with hurried steps and pressing her hands to her bosom which heaved with convulsive sobs.
When she had completed the tour of the garden, which brought her again to the house, she saw Mademoiselle Bourienne—who had remained at Bogucharovo and did not wish to leave it—coming toward her with a stranger. This was the Marshal of the Nobility of the district, who had come personally to point out to the princess the necessity for her prompt departure. Princess Mary listened without understanding him; she led him to the house, offered him lunch, and sat down with him. Then, excusing herself, she went to the door of the old prince's room. The doctor came out with an agitated face and said she could not enter.
"Go away, Princess! Go away... go away!"
She returned to the garden and sat down on the grass at the foot of the slope by the pond, where no one could see her. She did not know how long she had been there when she was aroused by the sound of a woman's footsteps running along the path. She rose and saw Dunyasha her maid, who was evidently looking for her, and who stopped suddenly as if in alarm on seeing her mistress.
"Please come, Princess... The Prince," said Dunyasha in a breaking voice.
"Immediately, I'm coming, I'm coming!" replied the princess hurriedly, not giving Dunyasha time to finish what she was saying, and trying to avoid seeing the girl she ran toward the house.
"Princess, it's God's will! You must be prepared for everything," said the Marshal, meeting her at the house door.
"Let me alone; it's not true!" she cried angrily to him.
The doctor tried to stop her. She pushed him aside and ran to her father's door. "Why are these people with frightened faces stopping me? I don't want any of them! And what are they doing here?" she thought. She opened the door and the bright daylight in that previously darkened room startled her. In the room were her nurse and other women. They all drew back from the bed, making way for her. He was still lying on the bed as before, but the stern expression of his quiet face made Princess Mary stop short on the threshold.
"No, he's not dead—it's impossible!" she told herself and approached him, and repressing the terror that seized her, she pressed her lips to his cheek. But she stepped back immediately. All the force of the tenderness she had been feeling for him vanished instantly and was replaced by a feeling of horror at what lay there before her. "No, he is no more! He is not, but here where he was is something unfamiliar and hostile, some dreadful, terrifying, and repellent mystery!" And hiding her face in her hands, Princess Mary sank into the arms of the doctor, who held her up.
In the presence of Tikhon and the doctor the women washed what had been the prince, tied his head up with a handkerchief that the mouth should not stiffen while open, and with another handkerchief tied together the legs that were already spreading apart. Then they dressed him in uniform with his decorations and placed his shriveled little body on a table. Heaven only knows who arranged all this and when, but it all got done as if of its own accord. Toward night candles were burning round his coffin, a pall was spread over it, the floor was strewn with sprays of juniper, a printed band was tucked in under his shriveled head, and in a corner of the room sat a chanter reading the psalms.
Just as horses shy and snort and gather about a dead horse, so the inmates of the house and strangers crowded into the drawing room round the coffin—the Marshal, the village Elder, peasant women—and all with fixed and frightened eyes, crossing themselves, bowed and kissed the old prince's cold and stiffened hand.
Until Prince Andrew settled in Bogucharovo its owners had always been absentees, and its peasants were of quite a different character from those of Bald Hills. They differed from them in speech, dress, and disposition. They were called steppe peasants. The old prince used to approve of them for their endurance at work when they came to Bald Hills to help with the harvest or to dig ponds, and ditches, but he disliked them for their boorishness.
Prince Andrew's last stay at Bogucharovo, when he introduced hospitals and schools and reduced the quitrent the peasants had to pay, had not softened their disposition but had on the contrary strengthened in them the traits of character the old prince called boorishness. Various obscure rumors were always current among them: at one time a rumor that they would all be enrolled as Cossacks; at another of a new religion to which they were all to be converted; then of some proclamation of the Tsar's and of an oath to the Tsar Paul in 1797 (in connection with which it was rumored that freedom had been granted them but the landowners had stopped it), then of Peter Fedorovich's return to the throne in seven years' time, when everything would be made free and so "simple" that there would be no restrictions. Rumors of the war with Bonaparte and his invasion were connected in their minds with the same sort of vague notions of Antichrist, the end of the world, and "pure freedom."
In the vicinity of Bogucharovo were large villages belonging to the crown or to owners whose serfs paid quitrent and could work where they pleased. There were very few resident landlords in the neighborhood and also very few domestic or literate serfs, and in the lives of the peasantry of those parts the mysterious undercurrents in the life of the Russian people, the causes and meaning of which are so baffling to contemporaries, were more clearly and strongly noticeable than among others. One instance, which had occurred some twenty years before, was a movement among the peasants to emigrate to some unknown "warm rivers." Hundreds of peasants, among them the Bogucharovo folk, suddenly began selling their cattle and moving in whole families toward the southeast. As birds migrate to somewhere beyond the sea, so these men with their wives and children streamed to the southeast, to parts where none of them had ever been. They set off in caravans, bought their freedom one by one or ran away, and drove or walked toward the "warm rivers." Many of them were punished, some sent to Siberia, many died of cold and hunger on the road, many returned of their own accord, and the movement died down of itself just as it had sprung up, without apparent reason. But such undercurrents still existed among the people and gathered new forces ready to manifest themselves just as strangely, unexpectedly, and at the same time simply, naturally, and forcibly. Now in 1812, to anyone living in close touch with these people it was apparent that these undercurrents were acting strongly and nearing an eruption.
Alpatych, who had reached Bogucharovo shortly before the old prince's death, noticed an agitation among the peasants, and that contrary to what was happening in the Bald Hills district, where over a radius of forty miles all the peasants were moving away and leaving their villages to be devastated by the Cossacks, the peasants in the steppe region round Bogucharovo were, it was rumored, in touch with the French, received leaflets from them that passed from hand to hand, and did not migrate. He learned from domestic serfs loyal to him that the peasant Karp, who possessed great influence in the village commune and had recently been away driving a government transport, had returned with news that the Cossacks were destroying deserted villages, but that the French did not harm them. Alpatych also knew that on the previous day another peasant had even brought from the village of Visloukhovo, which was occupied by the French, a proclamation by a French general that no harm would be done to the inhabitants, and if they remained they would be paid for anything taken from them. As proof of this the peasant had brought from Visloukhovo a hundred rubles in notes (he did not know that they were false) paid to him in advance for hay.
More important still, Alpatych learned that on the morning of the very day he gave the village Elder orders to collect carts to move the princess' luggage from Bogucharovo, there had been a village meeting at which it had been decided not to move but to wait. Yet there was no time to waste. On the fifteenth, the day of the old prince's death, the Marshal had insisted on Princess Mary's leaving at once, as it was becoming dangerous. He had told her that after the sixteenth he could not be responsible for what might happen. On the evening of the day the old prince died the Marshal went away, promising to return next day for the funeral. But this he was unable to do, for he received tidings that the French had unexpectedly advanced, and had barely time to remove his own family and valuables from his estate.
For some thirty years Bogucharovo had been managed by the village Elder, Dron, whom the old prince called by the diminutive "Dronushka."
Dron was one of those physically and mentally vigorous peasants who grow big beards as soon as they are of age and go on unchanged till they are sixty or seventy, without a gray hair or the loss of a tooth, as straight and strong at sixty as at thirty.
Soon after the migration to the "warm rivers," in which he had taken part like the rest, Dron was made village Elder and overseer of Bogucharovo, and had since filled that post irreproachably for twenty-three years. The peasants feared him more than they did their master. The masters, both the old prince and the young, and the steward respected him and jestingly called him "the Minister." During the whole time of his service Dron had never been drunk or ill, never after sleepless nights or the hardest tasks had he shown the least fatigue, and though he could not read he had never forgotten a single money account or the number of quarters of flour in any of the endless cartloads he sold for the prince, nor a single shock of the whole corn crop on any single acre of the Bogucharovo fields.
Alpatych, arriving from the devastated Bald Hills estate, sent for his Dron on the day of the prince's funeral and told him to have twelve horses got ready for the princess' carriages and eighteen carts for the things to be removed from Bogucharovo. Though the peasants paid quitrent, Alpatych thought no difficulty would be made about complying with this order, for there were two hundred and thirty households at work in Bogucharovo and the peasants were well to do. But on hearing the order Dron lowered his eyes and remained silent. Alpatych named certain peasants he knew, from whom he told him to take the carts.
Dron replied that the horses of these peasants were away carting. Alpatych named others, but they too, according to Dron, had no horses available: some horses were carting for the government, others were too weak, and others had died for want of fodder. It seemed that no horses could be had even for the carriages, much less for the carting.
Alpatych looked intently at Dron and frowned. Just as Dron was a model village Elder, so Alpatych had not managed the prince's estates for twenty years in vain. He was a model steward, possessing in the highest degree the faculty of divining the needs and instincts of those he dealt with. Having glanced at Dron he at once understood that his answers did not express his personal views but the general mood of the Bogucharovo commune, by which the Elder had already been carried away. But he also knew that Dron, who had acquired property and was hated by the commune, must be hesitating between the two camps: the masters' and the serfs'. He noticed this hesitation in Dron's look and therefore frowned and moved closer up to him.
"Now just listen, Dronushka," said he. "Don't talk nonsense to me. His excellency Prince Andrew himself gave me orders to move all the people away and not leave them with the enemy, and there is an order from the Tsar about it too. Anyone who stays is a traitor to the Tsar. Do you hear?"
"I hear," Dron answered without lifting his eyes.
Alpatych was not satisfied with this reply.
"Eh, Dron, it will turn out badly!" he said, shaking his head.
"The power is in your hands," Dron rejoined sadly.
"Eh, Dron, drop it!" Alpatych repeated, withdrawing his hand from his bosom and solemnly pointing to the floor at Dron's feet. "I can see through you and three yards into the ground under you," he continued, gazing at the floor in front of Dron.
Dron was disconcerted, glanced furtively at Alpatych and again lowered his eyes.
"You drop this nonsense and tell the people to get ready to leave their homes and go to Moscow and to get carts ready for tomorrow morning for the princess' things. And don't go to any meeting yourself, do you hear?"
Dron suddenly fell on his knees.
"Yakov Alpatych, discharge me! Take the keys from me and discharge me, for Christ's sake!"
"Stop that!" cried Alpatych sternly. "I see through you and three yards under you," he repeated, knowing that his skill in beekeeping, his knowledge of the right time to sow the oats, and the fact that he had been able to retain the old prince's favor for twenty years had long since gained him the reputation of being a wizard, and that the power of seeing three yards under a man is considered an attribute of wizards.
Dron got up and was about to say something, but Alpatych interrupted him.
"What is it you have got into your heads, eh?... What are you thinking of, eh?"
"What am I to do with the people?" said Dron. "They're quite beside themselves; I have already told them..."
"'Told them,' I dare say!" said Alpatych. "Are they drinking?" he asked abruptly.
"Quite beside themselves, Yakov Alpatych; they've fetched another barrel."
"Well, then, listen! I'll go to the police officer, and you tell them so, and that they must stop this and the carts must be got ready."
Alpatych did not insist further. He had managed people for a long time and knew that the chief way to make them obey is to show no suspicion that they can possibly disobey. Having wrung a submissive "I understand" from Dron, Alpatych contented himself with that, though he not only doubted but felt almost certain that without the help of troops the carts would not be forthcoming.
And so it was, for when evening came no carts had been provided. In the village, outside the drink shop, another meeting was being held, which decided that the horses should be driven out into the woods and the carts should not be provided. Without saying anything of this to the princess, Alpatych had his own belongings taken out of the carts which had arrived from Bald Hills and had those horses got ready for the princess' carriages. Meanwhile he went himself to the police authorities.
After her father's funeral Princess Mary shut herself up in her room and did not admit anyone. A maid came to the door to say that Alpatych was asking for orders about their departure. (This was before his talk with Dron.) Princess Mary raised herself on the sofa on which she had been lying and replied through the closed door that she did not mean to go away and begged to be left in peace.
The windows of the room in which she was lying looked westward. She lay on the sofa with her face to the wall, fingering the buttons of the leather cushion and seeing nothing but that cushion, and her confused thoughts were centered on one subject—the irrevocability of death and her own spiritual baseness, which she had not suspected, but which had shown itself during her father's illness. She wished to pray but did not dare to, dared not in her present state of mind address herself to God. She lay for a long time in that position.
The sun had reached the other side of the house, and its slanting rays shone into the open window, lighting up the room and part of the morocco cushion at which Princess Mary was looking. The flow of her thoughts suddenly stopped. Unconsciously she sat up, smoothed her hair, got up, and went to the window, involuntarily inhaling the freshness of the clear but windy evening.
"Yes, you can well enjoy the evening now! He is gone and no one will hinder you," she said to herself, and sinking into a chair she let her head fall on the window sill.
Someone spoke her name in a soft and tender voice from the garden and kissed her head. She looked up. It was Mademoiselle Bourienne in a black dress and weepers. She softly approached Princess Mary, sighed, kissed her, and immediately began to cry. The princess looked up at her. All their former disharmony and her own jealousy recurred to her mind. But she remembered too how he had changed of late toward Mademoiselle Bourienne and could not bear to see her, thereby showing how unjust were the reproaches Princess Mary had mentally addressed to her. "Besides, is it for me, for me who desired his death, to condemn anyone?" she thought.
Princess Mary vividly pictured to herself the position of Mademoiselle Bourienne, whom she had of late kept at a distance, but who yet was dependent on her and living in her house. She felt sorry for her and held out her hand with a glance of gentle inquiry. Mademoiselle Bourienne at once began crying again and kissed that hand, speaking of the princess' sorrow and making herself a partner in it. She said her only consolation was the fact that the princess allowed her to share her sorrow, that all the old misunderstandings should sink into nothing but this great grief; that she felt herself blameless in regard to everyone, and that he, from above, saw her affection and gratitude. The princess heard her, not heeding her words but occasionally looking up at her and listening to the sound of her voice.
"Your position is doubly terrible, dear princess," said Mademoiselle Bourienne after a pause. "I understand that you could not, and cannot, think of yourself, but with my love for you I must do so.... Has Alpatych been to you? Has he spoken to you of going away?" she asked.
Princess Mary did not answer. She did not understand who was to go or where to. "Is it possible to plan or think of anything now? Is it not all the same?" she thought, and did not reply.
"You know, chere Marie," said Mademoiselle Bourienne, "that we are in danger—are surrounded by the French. It would be dangerous to move now. If we go we are almost sure to be taken prisoners, and God knows..."
Princess Mary looked at her companion without understanding what she was talking about.
"Oh, if anyone knew how little anything matters to me now," she said. "Of course I would on no account wish to go away from him.... Alpatych did say something about going.... Speak to him; I can do nothing, nothing, and don't want to...."
"I've spoken to him. He hopes we should be in time to get away tomorrow, but I think it would now be better to stay here," said Mademoiselle Bourienne. "Because, you will agree, chere Marie, to fall into the hands of the soldiers or of riotous peasants would be terrible."
Mademoiselle Bourienne took from her reticule a proclamation (not printed on ordinary Russian paper) of General Rameau's, telling people not to leave their homes and that the French authorities would afford them proper protection. She handed this to the princess.
"I think it would be best to appeal to that general," she continued, "and I am sure that all due respect would be shown you."
Princess Mary read the paper, and her face began to quiver with stifled sobs.
"From whom did you get this?" she asked.
"They probably recognized that I am French, by my name," replied Mademoiselle Bourienne blushing.
Princess Mary, with the paper in her hand, rose from the window and with a pale face went out of the room and into what had been Prince Andrew's study.
"Dunyasha, send Alpatych, or Dronushka, or somebody to me!" she said, "and tell Mademoiselle Bourienne not to come to me," she added, hearing Mademoiselle Bourienne's voice. "We must go at once, at once!" she said, appalled at the thought of being left in the hands of the French.
"If Prince Andrew heard that I was in the power of the French! That I, the daughter of Prince Nicholas Bolkonski, asked General Rameau for protection and accepted his favor!" This idea horrified her, made her shudder, blush, and feel such a rush of anger and pride as she had never experienced before. All that was distressing, and especially all that was humiliating, in her position rose vividly to her mind. "They, the French, would settle in this house: M. le General Rameau would occupy Prince Andrew's study and amuse himself by looking through and reading his letters and papers. Mademoiselle Bourienne would do the honors of Bogucharovo for him. I should be given a small room as a favor, the soldiers would violate my father's newly dug grave to steal his crosses and stars, they would tell me of their victories over the Russians, and would pretend to sympathize with my sorrow..." thought Princess Mary, not thinking her own thoughts but feeling bound to think like her father and her brother. For herself she did not care where she remained or what happened to her, but she felt herself the representative of her dead father and of Prince Andrew. Involuntarily she thought their thoughts and felt their feelings. What they would have said and what they would have done she felt bound to say and do. She went into Prince Andrew's study, trying to enter completely into his ideas, and considered her position.
The demands of life, which had seemed to her annihilated by her father's death, all at once rose before her with a new, previously unknown force and took possession of her.
Agitated and flushed she paced the room, sending now for Michael Ivanovich and now for Tikhon or Dron. Dunyasha, the nurse, and the other maids could not say in how far Mademoiselle Bourienne's statement was correct. Alpatych was not at home, he had gone to the police. Neither could the architect Michael Ivanovich, who on being sent for came in with sleepy eyes, tell Princess Mary anything. With just the same smile of agreement with which for fifteen years he had been accustomed to answer the old prince without expressing views of his own, he now replied to Princess Mary, so that nothing definite could be got from his answers. The old valet Tikhon, with sunken, emaciated face that bore the stamp of inconsolable grief, replied: "Yes, Princess" to all Princess Mary's questions and hardly refrained from sobbing as he looked at her.
At length Dron, the village Elder, entered the room and with a deep bow to Princess Mary came to a halt by the doorpost.
Princess Mary walked up and down the room and stopped in front of him.
"Dronushka," she said, regarding as a sure friend this Dronushka who always used to bring a special kind of gingerbread from his visit to the fair at Vyazma every year and smilingly offer it to her, "Dronushka, now since our misfortune..." she began, but could not go on.
"We are all in God's hands," said he, with a sigh.
They were silent for a while.
"Dronushka, Alpatych has gone off somewhere and I have no one to turn to. Is it true, as they tell me, that I can't even go away?"
"Why shouldn't you go away, your excellency? You can go," said Dron.
"I was told it would be dangerous because of the enemy. Dear friend, I can do nothing. I understand nothing. I have nobody! I want to go away tonight or early tomorrow morning."
Dron paused. He looked askance at Princess Mary and said: "There are no horses; I told Yakov Alpatych so."
"Why are there none?" asked the princess.
"It's all God's scourge," said Dron. "What horses we had have been taken for the army or have died—this is such a year! It's not a case of feeding horses—we may die of hunger ourselves! As it is, some go three days without eating. We've nothing, we've been ruined."
Princess Mary listened attentively to what he told her.
"The peasants are ruined? They have no bread?" she asked.
"They're dying of hunger," said Dron. "It's not a case of carting."
"But why didn't you tell me, Dronushka? Isn't it possible to help them? I'll do all I can...."
To Princess Mary it was strange that now, at a moment when such sorrow was filling her soul, there could be rich people and poor, and the rich could refrain from helping the poor. She had heard vaguely that there was such a thing as "landlord's corn" which was sometimes given to the peasants. She also knew that neither her father nor her brother would refuse to help the peasants in need, she only feared to make some mistake in speaking about the distribution of the grain she wished to give. She was glad such cares presented themselves, enabling her without scruple to forget her own grief. She began asking Dron about the peasants' needs and what there was in Bogucharovo that belonged to the landlord.
"But we have grain belonging to my brother?" she said.
"The landlord's grain is all safe," replied Dron proudly. "Our prince did not order it to be sold."
"Give it to the peasants, let them have all they need; I give you leave in my brother's name," said she.
Dron made no answer but sighed deeply.
"Give them that corn if there is enough of it. Distribute it all. I give this order in my brother's name; and tell them that what is ours is theirs. We do not grudge them anything. Tell them so."
Dron looked intently at the princess while she was speaking.
"Discharge me, little mother, for God's sake! Order the keys to be taken from me," said he. "I have served twenty-three years and have done no wrong. Discharge me, for God's sake!"
Princess Mary did not understand what he wanted of her or why he was asking to be discharged. She replied that she had never doubted his devotion and that she was ready to do anything for him and for the peasants.
An hour later Dunyasha came to tell the princess that Dron had come, and all the peasants had assembled at the barn by the princess' order and wished to have word with their mistress.
"But I never told them to come," said Princess Mary. "I only told Dron to let them have the grain."
"Only, for God's sake, Princess dear, have them sent away and don't go out to them. It's all a trick," said Dunyasha, "and when Yakov Alpatych returns let us get away... and please don't..."
"What is a trick?" asked Princess Mary in surprise.
"I know it is, only listen to me for God's sake! Ask nurse too. They say they don't agree to leave Bogucharovo as you ordered."
"You're making some mistake. I never ordered them to go away," said Princess Mary. "Call Dronushka."
Dron came and confirmed Dunyasha's words; the peasants had come by the princess' order.
"But I never sent for them," declared the princess. "You must have given my message wrong. I only said that you were to give them the grain."
Dron only sighed in reply.
"If you order it they will go away," said he.
"No, no. I'll go out to them," said Princess Mary, and in spite of the nurse's and Dunyasha's protests she went out into the porch; Dron, Dunyasha, the nurse, and Michael Ivanovich following her.
"They probably think I am offering them the grain to bribe them to remain here, while I myself go away leaving them to the mercy of the French," thought Princess Mary. "I will offer them monthly rations and housing at our Moscow estate. I am sure Andrew would do even more in my place," she thought as she went out in the twilight toward the crowd standing on the pasture by the barn.
The men crowded closer together, stirred, and rapidly took off their hats. Princess Mary lowered her eyes and, tripping over her skirt, came close up to them. So many different eyes, old and young, were fixed on her, and there were so many different faces, that she could not distinguish any of them and, feeling that she must speak to them all at once, did not know how to do it. But again the sense that she represented her father and her brother gave her courage, and she boldly began her speech.
"I am very glad you have come," she said without raising her eyes, and feeling her heart beating quickly and violently. "Dronushka tells me that the war has ruined you. That is our common misfortune, and I shall grudge nothing to help you. I am myself going away because it is dangerous here... the enemy is near... because... I am giving you everything, my friends, and I beg you to take everything, all our grain, so that you may not suffer want! And if you have been told that I am giving you the grain to keep you here—that is not true. On the contrary, I ask you to go with all your belongings to our estate near Moscow, and I promise you I will see to it that there you shall want for nothing. You shall be given food and lodging."
The princess stopped. Sighs were the only sound heard in the crowd.
"I am not doing this on my own account," she continued, "I do it in the name of my dead father, who was a good master to you, and of my brother and his son."
Again she paused. No one broke the silence.
"Ours is a common misfortune and we will share it together. All that is mine is yours," she concluded, scanning the faces before her.
All eyes were gazing at her with one and the same expression. She could not fathom whether it was curiosity, devotion, gratitude, or apprehension and distrust—but the expression on all the faces was identical.
"We are all very thankful for your bounty, but it won't do for us to take the landlord's grain," said a voice at the back of the crowd.
"But why not?" asked the princess.
No one replied and Princess Mary, looking round at the crowd, found that every eye she met now was immediately dropped.
"But why don't you want to take it?" she asked again.
No one answered.
The silence began to oppress the princess and she tried to catch someone's eye.
"Why don't you speak?" she inquired of a very old man who stood just in front of her leaning on his stick. "If you think something more is wanted, tell me! I will do anything," said she, catching his eye.
But as if this angered him, he bent his head quite low and muttered:
"Why should we agree? We don't want the grain."
"Why should we give up everything? We don't agree. Don't agree.... We are sorry for you, but we're not willing. Go away yourself, alone..." came from various sides of the crowd.
And again all the faces in that crowd bore an identical expression, though now it was certainly not an expression of curiosity or gratitude, but of angry resolve.
"But you can't have understood me," said Princess Mary with a sad smile. "Why don't you want to go? I promise to house and feed you, while here the enemy would ruin you..."
But her voice was drowned by the voices of the crowd.
"We're not willing. Let them ruin us! We won't take your grain. We don't agree."
Again Princess Mary tried to catch someone's eye, but not a single eye in the crowd was turned to her; evidently they were all trying to avoid her look. She felt strange and awkward.
"Oh yes, an artful tale! Follow her into slavery! Pull down your houses and go into bondage! I dare say! 'I'll give you grain, indeed!' she says," voices in the crowd were heard saying.
With drooping head Princess Mary left the crowd and went back to the house. Having repeated her order to Dron to have horses ready for her departure next morning, she went to her room and remained alone with her own thoughts.
For a long time that night Princess Mary sat by the open window of her room hearing the sound of the peasants' voices that reached her from the village, but it was not of them she was thinking. She felt that she could not understand them however much she might think about them. She thought only of one thing, her sorrow, which, after the break caused by cares for the present, seemed already to belong to the past. Now she could remember it and weep or pray.
After sunset the wind had dropped. The night was calm and fresh. Toward midnight the voices began to subside, a cock crowed, the full moon began to show from behind the lime trees, a fresh white dewy mist began to rise, and stillness reigned over the village and the house.
Pictures of the near past—her father's illness and last moments—rose one after another to her memory. With mournful pleasure she now lingered over these images, repelling with horror only the last one, the picture of his death, which she felt she could not contemplate even in imagination at this still and mystic hour of night. And these pictures presented themselves to her so clearly and in such detail that they seemed now present, now past, and now future.
She vividly recalled the moment when he had his first stroke and was being dragged along by his armpits through the garden at Bald Hills, muttering something with his helpless tongue, twitching his gray eyebrows and looking uneasily and timidly at her.
"Even then he wanted to tell me what he told me the day he died," she thought. "He had always thought what he said then." And she recalled in all its detail the night at Bald Hills before he had the last stroke, when with a foreboding of disaster she had remained at home against his will. She had not slept and had stolen downstairs on tiptoe, and going to the door of the conservatory where he slept that night had listened at the door. In a suffering and weary voice he was saying something to Tikhon, speaking of the Crimea and its warm nights and of the Empress. Evidently he had wanted to talk. "And why didn't he call me? Why didn't he let me be there instead of Tikhon?" Princess Mary had thought and thought again now. "Now he will never tell anyone what he had in his soul. Never will that moment return for him or for me when he might have said all he longed to say, and not Tikhon but I might have heard and understood him. Why didn't I enter the room?" she thought. "Perhaps he would then have said to me what he said the day he died. While talking to Tikhon he asked about me twice. He wanted to see me, and I was standing close by, outside the door. It was sad and painful for him to talk to Tikhon who did not understand him. I remember how he began speaking to him about Lise as if she were alive—he had forgotten she was dead—and Tikhon reminded him that she was no more, and he shouted, 'Fool!' He was greatly depressed. From behind the door I heard how he lay down on his bed groaning and loudly exclaimed, 'My God!' Why didn't I go in then? What could he have done to me? What could I have lost? And perhaps he would then have been comforted and would have said that word to me." And Princess Mary uttered aloud the caressing word he had said to her on the day of his death. "Dear-est!" she repeated, and began sobbing, with tears that relieved her soul. She now saw his face before her. And not the face she had known ever since she could remember and had always seen at a distance, but the timid, feeble face she had seen for the first time quite closely, with all its wrinkles and details, when she stooped near to his mouth to catch what he said.
"Dear-est!" she repeated again.
"What was he thinking when he uttered that word? What is he thinking now?" This question suddenly presented itself to her, and in answer she saw him before her with the expression that was on his face as he lay in his coffin with his chin bound up with a white handkerchief. And the horror that had seized her when she touched him and convinced herself that that was not he, but something mysterious and horrible, seized her again. She tried to think of something else and to pray, but could do neither. With wide-open eyes she gazed at the moonlight and the shadows, expecting every moment to see his dead face, and she felt that the silence brooding over the house and within it held her fast.
"Dunyasha," she whispered. "Dunyasha!" she screamed wildly, and tearing herself out of this silence she ran to the servants' quarters to meet her old nurse and the maidservants who came running toward her.
On the seventeenth of August Rostov and Ilyin, accompanied by Lavrushka who had just returned from captivity and by an hussar orderly, left their quarters at Yankovo, ten miles from Bogucharovo, and went for a ride—to try a new horse Ilyin had bought and to find out whether there was any hay to be had in the villages.
For the last three days Bogucharovo had lain between the two hostile armies, so that it was as easy for the Russian rearguard to get to it as for the French vanguard; Rostov, as a careful squadron commander, wished to take such provisions as remained at Bogucharovo before the French could get them.
Rostov and Ilyin were in the merriest of moods. On the way to Bogucharovo, a princely estate with a dwelling house and farm where they hoped to find many domestic serfs and pretty girls, they questioned Lavrushka about Napoleon and laughed at his stories, and raced one another to try Ilyin's horse.
Rostov had no idea that the village he was entering was the property of that very Bolkonski who had been engaged to his sister.
Rostov and Ilyin gave rein to their horses for a last race along the incline before reaching Bogucharovo, and Rostov, outstripping Ilyin, was the first to gallop into the village street.
"You're first!" cried Ilyin, flushed.
"Yes, always first both on the grassland and here," answered Rostov, stroking his heated Donets horse.
"And I'd have won on my Frenchy, your excellency," said Lavrushka from behind, alluding to his shabby cart horse, "only I didn't wish to mortify you."
They rode at a footpace to the barn, where a large crowd of peasants was standing.
Some of the men bared their heads, others stared at the new arrivals without doffing their caps. Two tall old peasants with wrinkled faces and scanty beards emerged from the tavern, smiling, staggering, and singing some incoherent song, and approached the officers.
"Fine fellows!" said Rostov laughing. "Is there any hay here?"
"And how like one another," said Ilyin.
"A mo-o-st me-r-r-y co-o-m-pa...!" sang one of the peasants with a blissful smile.
One of the men came out of the crowd and went up to Rostov.
"Who do you belong to?" he asked.
"The French," replied Ilyin jestingly, "and here is Napoleon himself"—and he pointed to Lavrushka.
"Then you are Russians?" the peasant asked again.
"And is there a large force of you here?" said another, a short man, coming up.
"Very large," answered Rostov. "But why have you collected here?" he added. "Is it a holiday?"
"The old men have met to talk over the business of the commune," replied the peasant, moving away.
At that moment, on the road leading from the big house, two women and a man in a white hat were seen coming toward the officers.
"The one in pink is mine, so keep off!" said Ilyin on seeing Dunyasha running resolutely toward him.
"She'll be ours!" said Lavrushka to Ilyin, winking.
"What do you want, my pretty?" said Ilyin with a smile.
"The princess ordered me to ask your regiment and your name."
"This is Count Rostov, squadron commander, and I am your humble servant."
"Co-o-om-pa-ny!" roared the tipsy peasant with a beatific smile as he looked at Ilyin talking to the girl. Following Dunyasha, Alpatych advanced to Rostov, having bared his head while still at a distance.
"May I make bold to trouble your honor?" said he respectfully, but with a shade of contempt for the youthfulness of this officer and with a hand thrust into his bosom. "My mistress, daughter of General in Chief Prince Nicholas Bolkonski who died on the fifteenth of this month, finding herself in difficulties owing to the boorishness of these people"—he pointed to the peasants—"asks you to come up to the house.... Won't you, please, ride on a little farther," said Alpatych with a melancholy smile, "as it is not convenient in the presence of...?" He pointed to the two peasants who kept as close to him as horseflies to a horse.
"Ah!... Alpatych... Ah, Yakov Alpatych... Grand! Forgive us for Christ's sake, eh?" said the peasants, smiling joyfully at him.
Rostov looked at the tipsy peasants and smiled.
"Or perhaps they amuse your honor?" remarked Alpatych with a staid air, as he pointed at the old men with his free hand.
"No, there's not much to be amused at here," said Rostov, and rode on a little way. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"I make bold to inform your honor that the rude peasants here don't wish to let the mistress leave the estate, and threaten to unharness her horses, so that though everything has been packed up since morning, her excellency cannot get away."
"Impossible!" exclaimed Rostov.
"I have the honor to report to you the actual truth," said Alpatych.
Rostov dismounted, gave his horse to the orderly, and followed Alpatych to the house, questioning him as to the state of affairs. It appeared that the princess' offer of corn to the peasants the previous day, and her talk with Dron and at the meeting, had actually had so bad an effect that Dron had finally given up the keys and joined the peasants and had not appeared when Alpatych sent for him; and that in the morning when the princess gave orders to harness for her journey, the peasants had come in a large crowd to the barn and sent word that they would not let her leave the village: that there was an order not to move, and that they would unharness the horses. Alpatych had gone out to admonish them, but was told (it was chiefly Karp who did the talking, Dron not showing himself in the crowd) that they could not let the princess go, that there was an order to the contrary, but that if she stayed they would serve her as before and obey her in everything.
At the moment when Rostov and Ilyin were galloping along the road, Princess Mary, despite the dissuasions of Alpatych, her nurse, and the maids, had given orders to harness and intended to start, but when the cavalrymen were espied they were taken for Frenchmen, the coachman ran away, and the women in the house began to wail.
"Father! Benefactor! God has sent you!" exclaimed deeply moved voices as Rostov passed through the anteroom.
Princess Mary was sitting helpless and bewildered in the large sitting room, when Rostov was shown in. She could not grasp who he was and why he had come, or what was happening to her. When she saw his Russian face, and by his walk and the first words he uttered recognized him as a man of her own class, she glanced at him with her deep radiant look and began speaking in a voice that faltered and trembled with emotion. This meeting immediately struck Rostov as a romantic event. "A helpless girl overwhelmed with grief, left to the mercy of coarse, rioting peasants! And what a strange fate sent me here! What gentleness and nobility there are in her features and expression!" thought he as he looked at her and listened to her timid story.
When she began to tell him that all this had happened the day after her father's funeral, her voiced trembled. She turned away, and then, as if fearing he might take her words as meant to move him to pity, looked at him with an apprehensive glance of inquiry. There were tears in Rostov's eyes. Princess Mary noticed this and glanced gratefully at him with that radiant look which caused the plainness of her face to be forgotten.
"I cannot express, Princess, how glad I am that I happened to ride here and am able to show my readiness to serve you," said Rostov, rising. "Go when you please, and I give you my word of honor that no one shall dare to cause you annoyance if only you will allow me to act as your escort." And bowing respectfully, as if to a lady of royal blood, he moved toward the door.
Rostov's deferential tone seemed to indicate that though he would consider himself happy to be acquainted with her, he did not wish to take advantage of her misfortunes to intrude upon her.
Princess Mary understood this and appreciated his delicacy.
"I am very, very grateful to you," she said in French, "but I hope it was all a misunderstanding and that no one is to blame for it." She suddenly began to cry.
"Excuse me!" she said.
Rostov, knitting his brows, left the room with another low bow.
"Well, is she pretty? Ah, friend—my pink one is delicious; her name is Dunyasha...."
But on glancing at Rostov's face Ilyin stopped short. He saw that his hero and commander was following quite a different train of thought.
Rostov glanced angrily at Ilyin and without replying strode off with rapid steps to the village.
"I'll show them; I'll give it to them, the brigands!" said he to himself.
Alpatych at a gliding trot, only just managing not to run, kept up with him with difficulty.
"What decision have you been pleased to come to?" said he.
Rostov stopped and, clenching his fists, suddenly and sternly turned on Alpatych.
"Decision? What decision? Old dotard!..." cried he. "What have you been about? Eh? The peasants are rioting, and you can't manage them? You're a traitor yourself! I know you. I'll flay you all alive!..." And as if afraid of wasting his store of anger, he left Alpatych and went rapidly forward. Alpatych, mastering his offended feelings, kept pace with Rostov at a gliding gait and continued to impart his views. He said the peasants were obdurate and that at the present moment it would be imprudent to "overresist" them without an armed force, and would it not be better first to send for the military?
"I'll give them armed force... I'll 'overresist' them!" uttered Rostov meaninglessly, breathless with irrational animal fury and the need to vent it.
Without considering what he would do he moved unconciously with quick, resolute steps toward the crowd. And the nearer he drew to it the more Alpatych felt that this unreasonable action might produce good results. The peasants in the crowd were similarly impressed when they saw Rostov's rapid, firm steps and resolute, frowning face.
After the hussars had come to the village and Rostov had gone to see the princess, a certain confusion and dissension had arisen among the crowd. Some of the peasants said that these new arrivals were Russians and might take it amiss that the mistress was being detained. Dron was of this opinion, but as soon as he expressed it Karp and others attacked their ex-Elder.
"How many years have you been fattening on the commune?" Karp shouted at him. "It's all one to you! You'll dig up your pot of money and take it away with you.... What does it matter to you whether our homes are ruined or not?"
"We've been told to keep order, and that no one is to leave their homes or take away a single grain, and that's all about it!" cried another.
"It was your son's turn to be conscripted, but no fear! You begrudged your lump of a son," a little old man suddenly began attacking Dron—"and so they took my Vanka to be shaved for a soldier! But we all have to die."
"To be sure, we all have to die. I'm not against the commune," said Dron.
"That's it—not against it! You've filled your belly...."
The two tall peasants had their say. As soon as Rostov, followed by Ilyin, Lavrushka, and Alpatych, came up to the crowd, Karp, thrusting his fingers into his belt and smiling a little, walked to the front. Dron on the contrary retired to the rear and the crowd drew closer together.
"Who is your Elder here? Hey?" shouted Rostov, coming up to the crowd with quick steps.
"The Elder? What do you want with him?..." asked Karp.
But before the words were well out of his mouth, his cap flew off and a fierce blow jerked his head to one side.
"Caps off, traitors!" shouted Rostov in a wrathful voice. "Where's the Elder?" he cried furiously.
"The Elder.... He wants the Elder!... Dron Zakharych, you!" meek and flustered voices here and there were heard calling and caps began to come off their heads.
"We don't riot, we're following the orders," declared Karp, and at that moment several voices began speaking together.
"It's as the old men have decided—there's too many of you giving orders."
"Arguing? Mutiny!... Brigands! Traitors!" cried Rostov unmeaningly in a voice not his own, gripping Karp by the collar. "Bind him, bind him!" he shouted, though there was no one to bind him but Lavrushka and Alpatych.
Lavrushka, however, ran up to Karp and seized him by the arms from behind.
"Shall I call up our men from beyond the hill?" he called out.
Alpatych turned to the peasants and ordered two of them by name to come and bind Karp. The men obediently came out of the crowd and began taking off their belts.
"Where's the Elder?" demanded Rostov in a loud voice.
With a pale and frowning face Dron stepped out of the crowd.
"Are you the Elder? Bind him, Lavrushka!" shouted Rostov, as if that order, too, could not possibly meet with any opposition.
And in fact two more peasants began binding Dron, who took off his own belt and handed it to them, as if to aid them.
"And you all listen to me!" said Rostov to the peasants. "Be off to your houses at once, and don't let one of your voices be heard!"
"Why, we've not done any harm! We did it just out of foolishness. It's all nonsense... I said then that it was not in order," voices were heard bickering with one another.
"There! What did I say?" said Alpatych, coming into his own again. "It's
"All our stupidity, Yakov Alpatych," came the answers, and the
crowd began at once to disperse through the village.
The two bound men were led off to the master's house. The two drunken peasants followed them.
"Aye, when I look at you!..." said one of them to Karp.
"How can one talk to the masters like that? What were you thinking of, you fool?" added the other—"A real fool!"
Two hours later the carts were standing in the courtyard of the Bogucharovo house. The peasants were briskly carrying out the proprietor's goods and packing them on the carts, and Dron, liberated at Princess Mary's wish from the cupboard where he had been confined, was standing in the yard directing the men.
"Don't put it in so carelessly," said one of the peasants, a man with a round smiling face, taking a casket from a housemaid. "You know it has cost money! How can you chuck it in like that or shove it under the cord where it'll get rubbed? I don't like that way of doing things. Let it all be done properly, according to rule. Look here, put it under the bast matting and cover it with hay—that's the way!"
"Eh, books, books!" said another peasant, bringing out Prince Andrew's library cupboards. "Don't catch up against it! It's heavy, lads—solid books."
"Yes, they worked all day and didn't play!" remarked the tall, round-faced peasant gravely, pointing with a significant wink at the dictionaries that were on the top.
Unwilling to obtrude himself on the princess, Rostov did not go back to the house but remained in the village awaiting her departure. When her carriage drove out of the house, he mounted and accompanied her eight miles from Bogucharovo to where the road was occupied by our troops. At the inn at Yankovo he respectfully took leave of her, for the first time permitting himself to kiss her hand.
"How can you speak so!" he blushingly replied to Princess Mary's expressions of gratitude for her deliverance, as she termed what had occurred. "Any police officer would have done as much! If we had had only peasants to fight, we should not have let the enemy come so far," said he with a sense of shame and wishing to change the subject. "I am only happy to have had the opportunity of making your acquaintance. Good-by, Princess. I wish you happiness and consolation and hope to meet you again in happier circumstances. If you don't want to make me blush, please don't thank me!"
But the princess, if she did not again thank him in words, thanked him with the whole expression of her face, radiant with gratitude and tenderness. She could not believe that there was nothing to thank him for. On the contrary, it seemed to her certain that had he not been there she would have perished at the hands of the mutineers and of the French, and that he had exposed himself to terrible and obvious danger to save her, and even more certain was it that he was a man of lofty and noble soul, able to understand her position and her sorrow. His kind, honest eyes, with the tears rising in them when she herself had begun to cry as she spoke of her loss, did not leave her memory.
When she had taken leave of him and remained alone she suddenly felt her eyes filling with tears, and then not for the first time the strange question presented itself to her: did she love him?
On the rest of the way to Moscow, though the princess' position was not a cheerful one, Dunyasha, who went with her in the carriage, more than once noticed that her mistress leaned out of the window and smiled at something with an expression of mingled joy and sorrow.
"Well, supposing I do love him?" thought Princess Mary.
Ashamed as she was of acknowledging to herself that she had fallen in love with a man who would perhaps never love her, she comforted herself with the thought that no one would ever know it and that she would not be to blame if, without ever speaking of it to anyone, she continued to the end of her life to love the man with whom she had fallen in love for the first and last time in her life.
Sometimes when she recalled his looks, his sympathy, and his words, happiness did not appear impossible to her. It was at those moments that Dunyasha noticed her smiling as she looked out of the carriage window.
"Was it not fate that brought him to Bogucharovo, and at that very moment?" thought Princess Mary. "And that caused his sister to refuse my brother?" And in all this Princess Mary saw the hand of Providence.
The impression the princess made on Rostov was a very agreeable one. To remember her gave him pleasure, and when his comrades, hearing of his adventure at Bogucharovo, rallied him on having gone to look for hay and having picked up one of the wealthiest heiresses in Russia, he grew angry. It made him angry just because the idea of marrying the gentle Princess Mary, who was attractive to him and had an enormous fortune, had against his will more than once entered his head. For himself personally Nicholas could not wish for a better wife: by marrying her he would make the countess his mother happy, would be able to put his father's affairs in order, and would even—he felt it—ensure Princess Mary's happiness.
But Sonya? And his plighted word? That was why Rostov grew angry when he was rallied about Princess Bolkonskaya.
On receiving command of the armies Kutuzov remembered Prince Andrew and sent an order for him to report at headquarters.
Prince Andrew arrived at Tsarevo-Zaymishche on the very day and at the very hour that Kutuzov was reviewing the troops for the first time. He stopped in the village at the priest's house in front of which stood the commander in chief's carriage, and he sat down on the bench at the gate awaiting his Serene Highness, as everyone now called Kutuzov. From the field beyond the village came now sounds of regimental music and now the roar of many voices shouting "Hurrah!" to the new commander in chief. Two orderlies, a courier and a major-domo, stood near by, some ten paces from Prince Andrew, availing themselves of Kutuzov's absence and of the fine weather. A short, swarthy lieutenant colonel of hussars with thick mustaches and whiskers rode up to the gate and, glancing at Prince Andrew, inquired whether his Serene Highness was putting up there and whether he would soon be back.
Prince Andrew replied that he was not on his Serene Highness' staff but was himself a new arrival. The lieutenant colonel turned to a smart orderly, who, with the peculiar contempt with which a commander in chief's orderly speaks to officers, replied:
"What? His Serene Highness? I expect he'll be here soon. What do you want?"
The lieutenant colonel of hussars smiled beneath his mustache at the orderly's tone, dismounted, gave his horse to a dispatch runner, and approached Bolkonski with a slight bow. Bolkonski made room for him on the bench and the lieutenant colonel sat down beside him.
"You're also waiting for the commander in chief?" said he. "They say he weceives evewyone, thank God!... It's awful with those sausage eaters! Ermolov had weason to ask to be pwomoted to be a German! Now p'waps Wussians will get a look in. As it was, devil only knows what was happening. We kept wetweating and wetweating. Did you take part in the campaign?" he asked.
"I had the pleasure," replied Prince Andrew, "not only of taking part in the retreat but of losing in that retreat all I held dear—not to mention the estate and home of my birth—my father, who died of grief. I belong to the province of Smolensk."
"Ah? You're Pwince Bolkonski? Vewy glad to make your acquaintance! I'm Lieutenant Colonel Denisov, better known as 'Vaska,'" said Denisov, pressing Prince Andrew's hand and looking into his face with a particularly kindly attention. "Yes, I heard," said he sympathetically, and after a short pause added: "Yes, it's Scythian warfare. It's all vewy well—only not for those who get it in the neck. So you are Pwince Andwew Bolkonski?" He swayed his head. "Vewy pleased, Pwince, to make your acquaintance!" he repeated again, smiling sadly, and he again pressed Prince Andrew's hand.
Prince Andrew knew Denisov from what Natasha had told him of her first suitor. This memory carried him sadly and sweetly back to those painful feelings of which he had not thought lately, but which still found place in his soul. Of late he had received so many new and very serious impressions—such as the retreat from Smolensk, his visit to Bald Hills, and the recent news of his father's death—and had experienced so many emotions, that for a long time past those memories had not entered his mind, and now that they did, they did not act on him with nearly their former strength. For Denisov, too, the memories awakened by the name of Bolkonski belonged to a distant, romantic past, when after supper and after Natasha's singing he had proposed to a little girl of fifteen without realizing what he was doing. He smiled at the recollection of that time and of his love for Natasha, and passed at once to what now interested him passionately and exclusively. This was a plan of campaign he had devised while serving at the outposts during the retreat. He had proposed that plan to Barclay de Tolly and now wished to propose it to Kutuzov. The plan was based on the fact that the French line of operation was too extended, and it proposed that instead of, or concurrently with, action on the front to bar the advance of the French, we should attack their line of communication. He began explaining his plan to Prince Andrew.
"They can't hold all that line. It's impossible. I will undertake to bweak thwough. Give me five hundwed men and I will bweak the line, that's certain! There's only one way—guewilla warfare!"
Denisov rose and began gesticulating as he explained his plan to Bolkonski. In the midst of his explanation shouts were heard from the army, growing more incoherent and more diffused, mingling with music and songs and coming from the field where the review was held. Sounds of hoofs and shouts were nearing the village.
"He's coming! He's coming!" shouted a Cossack standing at the gate.
Bolkonski and Denisov moved to the gate, at which a knot of soldiers (a guard of honor) was standing, and they saw Kutuzov coming down the street mounted on a rather small sorrel horse. A huge suite of generals rode behind him. Barclay was riding almost beside him, and a crowd of officers ran after and around them shouting, "Hurrah!"
His adjutants galloped into the yard before him. Kutuzov was impatiently urging on his horse, which ambled smoothly under his weight, and he raised his hand to his white Horse Guard's cap with a red band and no peak, nodding his head continually. When he came up to the guard of honor, a fine set of Grenadiers mostly wearing decorations, who were giving him the salute, he looked at them silently and attentively for nearly a minute with the steady gaze of a commander and then turned to the crowd of generals and officers surrounding him. Suddenly his face assumed a subtle expression, he shrugged his shoulders with an air of perplexity.
"And with such fine fellows to retreat and retreat! Well, good-by, General," he added, and rode into the yard past Prince Andrew and Denisov.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" shouted those behind him.
Since Prince Andrew had last seen him Kutuzov had grown still more corpulent, flaccid, and fat. But the bleached eyeball, the scar, and the familiar weariness of his expression were still the same. He was wearing the white Horse Guard's cap and a military overcoat with a whip hanging over his shoulder by a thin strap. He sat heavily and swayed limply on his brisk little horse.
"Whew... whew... whew!" he whistled just audibly as he rode into the yard. His face expressed the relief of relaxed strain felt by a man who means to rest after a ceremony. He drew his left foot out of the stirrup and, lurching with his whole body and puckering his face with the effort, raised it with difficulty onto the saddle, leaned on his knee, groaned, and slipped down into the arms of the Cossacks and adjutants who stood ready to assist him.
He pulled himself together, looked round, screwing up his eyes, glanced at Prince Andrew, and, evidently not recognizing him, moved with his waddling gait to the porch. "Whew... whew... whew!" he whistled, and again glanced at Prince Andrew. As often occurs with old men, it was only after some seconds that the impression produced by Prince Andrew's face linked itself up with Kutuzov's remembrance of his personality.
"Ah, how do you do, my dear prince? How do you do, my dear boy? Come along..." said he, glancing wearily round, and he stepped onto the porch which creaked under his weight.
He unbuttoned his coat and sat down on a bench in the porch.
"And how's your father?"
"I received news of his death, yesterday," replied Prince Andrew abruptly.
Kutuzov looked at him with eyes wide open with dismay and then took off his cap and crossed himself:
"May the kingdom of Heaven be his! God's will be done to us all!" He sighed deeply, his whole chest heaving, and was silent for a while. "I loved him and respected him, and sympathize with you with all my heart."
He embraced Prince Andrew, pressing him to his fat breast, and for some time did not let him go. When he released him Prince Andrew saw that Kutuzov's flabby lips were trembling and that tears were in his eyes. He sighed and pressed on the bench with both hands to raise himself.
"Come! Come with me, we'll have a talk," said he.
But at that moment Denisov, no more intimidated by his superiors than by the enemy, came with jingling spurs up the steps of the porch, despite the angry whispers of the adjutants who tried to stop him. Kutuzov, his hands still pressed on the seat, glanced at him glumly. Denisov, having given his name, announced that he had to communicate to his Serene Highness a matter of great importance for their country's welfare. Kutuzov looked wearily at him and, lifting his hands with a gesture of annoyance, folded them across his stomach, repeating the words: "For our country's welfare? Well, what is it? Speak!" Denisov blushed like a girl (it was strange to see the color rise in that shaggy, bibulous, time-worn face) and boldly began to expound his plan of cutting the enemy's lines of communication between Smolensk and Vyazma. Denisov came from those parts and knew the country well. His plan seemed decidedly a good one, especially from the strength of conviction with which he spoke. Kutuzov looked down at his own legs, occasionally glancing at the door of the adjoining hut as if expecting something unpleasant to emerge from it. And from that hut, while Denisov was speaking, a general with a portfolio under his arm really did appear.
"What?" said Kutuzov, in the midst of Denisov's explanations, "are you ready so soon?"
"Ready, your Serene Highness," replied the general.
Kutuzov swayed his head, as much as to say: "How is one man to deal with it all?" and again listened to Denisov.
"I give my word of honor as a Wussian officer," said Denisov, "that I can bweak Napoleon's line of communication!"
"What relation are you to Intendant General Kiril Andreevich Denisov?" asked Kutuzov, interrupting him.
"He is my uncle, your Sewene Highness."
"Ah, we were friends," said Kutuzov cheerfully. "All right, all right, friend, stay here at the staff and tomorrow we'll have a talk."
With a nod to Denisov he turned away and put out his hand for the papers Konovnitsyn had brought him.
"Would not your Serene Highness like to come inside?" said the general on duty in a discontented voice, "the plans must be examined and several papers have to be signed."
An adjutant came out and announced that everything was in readiness within. But Kutuzov evidently did not wish to enter that room till he was disengaged. He made a grimace...
"No, tell them to bring a small table out here, my dear boy. I'll look at them here," said he. "Don't go away," he added, turning to Prince Andrew, who remained in the porch and listened to the general's report.
While this was being given, Prince Andrew heard the whisper of a woman's voice and the rustle of a silk dress behind the door. Several times on glancing that way he noticed behind that door a plump, rosy, handsome woman in a pink dress with a lilac silk kerchief on her head, holding a dish and evidently awaiting the entrance of the commander in chief. Kutuzov's adjutant whispered to Prince Andrew that this was the wife of the priest whose home it was, and that she intended to offer his Serene Highness bread and salt. "Her husband has welcomed his Serene Highness with the cross at the church, and she intends to welcome him in the house.... She's very pretty," added the adjutant with a smile. At those words Kutuzov looked round. He was listening to the general's report—which consisted chiefly of a criticism of the position at Tsarevo-Zaymishche—as he had listened to Denisov, and seven years previously had listened to the discussion at the Austerlitz council of war. He evidently listened only because he had ears which, though there was a piece of tow in one of them, could not help hearing; but it was evident that nothing the general could say would surprise or even interest him, that he knew all that would be said beforehand, and heard it all only because he had to, as one has to listen to the chanting of a service of prayer. All that Denisov had said was clever and to the point. What the general was saying was even more clever and to the point, but it was evident that Kutuzov despised knowledge and cleverness, and knew of something else that would decide the matter—something independent of cleverness and knowledge. Prince Andrew watched the commander in chief's face attentively, and the only expression he could see there was one of boredom, curiosity as to the meaning of the feminine whispering behind the door, and a desire to observe propriety. It was evident that Kutuzov despised cleverness and learning and even the patriotic feeling shown by Denisov, but despised them not because of his own intellect, feelings, or knowledge—he did not try to display any of these—but because of something else. He despised them because of his old age and experience of life. The only instruction Kutuzov gave of his own accord during that report referred to looting by the Russian troops. At the end of the report the general put before him for signature a paper relating to the recovery of payment from army commanders for green oats mown down by the soldiers, when landowners lodged petitions for compensation.
After hearing the matter, Kutuzov smacked his lips together and shook his head.
"Into the stove... into the fire with it! I tell you once for all, my dear fellow," said he, "into the fire with all such things! Let them cut the crops and burn wood to their hearts' content. I don't order it or allow it, but I don't exact compensation either. One can't get on without it. 'When wood is chopped the chips will fly.'" He looked at the paper again. "Oh, this German precision!" he muttered, shaking his head.
"Well, that's all!" said Kutuzov as he signed the last of the documents, and rising heavily and smoothing out the folds in his fat white neck he moved toward the door with a more cheerful expression.
The priest's wife, flushing rosy red, caught up the dish she had after all not managed to present at the right moment, though she had so long been preparing for it, and with a low bow offered it to Kutuzov.
He screwed up his eyes, smiled, lifted her chin with his hand, and said:
"Ah, what a beauty! Thank you, sweetheart!"
He took some gold pieces from his trouser pocket and put them on the dish for her. "Well, my dear, and how are we getting on?" he asked, moving to the door of the room assigned to him. The priest's wife smiled, and with dimples in her rosy cheeks followed him into the room. The adjutant came out to the porch and asked Prince Andrew to lunch with him. Half an hour later Prince Andrew was again called to Kutuzov. He found him reclining in an armchair, still in the same unbuttoned overcoat. He had in his hand a French book which he closed as Prince Andrew entered, marking the place with a knife. Prince Andrew saw by the cover that it was Les Chevaliers du Cygne by Madame de Genlis.
"Well, sit down, sit down here. Let's have a talk," said Kutuzov. "It's sad, very sad. But remember, my dear fellow, that I am a father to you, a second father...."
Prince Andrew told Kutuzov all he knew of his father's death, and what he had seen at Bald Hills when he passed through it.
"What... what they have brought us to!" Kutuzov suddenly cried in an agitated voice, evidently picturing vividly to himself from Prince Andrew's story the condition Russia was in. "But give me time, give me time!" he said with a grim look, evidently not wishing to continue this agitating conversation, and added: "I sent for you to keep you with me."
"I thank your Serene Highness, but I fear I am no longer fit for the staff," replied Prince Andrew with a smile which Kutuzov noticed.
Kutuzov glanced inquiringly at him.
"But above all," added Prince Andrew, "I have grown used to my regiment, am fond of the officers, and I fancy the men also like me. I should be sorry to leave the regiment. If I decline the honor of being with you, believe me..."
A shrewd, kindly, yet subtly derisive expression lit up Kutuzov's podgy face. He cut Bolkonski short.
"I am sorry, for I need you. But you're right, you're right! It's not here that men are needed. Advisers are always plentiful, but men are not. The regiments would not be what they are if the would-be advisers served there as you do. I remember you at Austerlitz.... I remember, yes, I remember you with the standard!" said Kutuzov, and a flush of pleasure suffused Prince Andrew's face at this recollection.
Taking his hand and drawing him downwards, Kutuzov offered his cheek to be kissed, and again Prince Andrew noticed tears in the old man's eyes. Though Prince Andrew knew that Kutuzov's tears came easily, and that he was particularly tender to and considerate of him from a wish to show sympathy with his loss, yet this reminder of Austerlitz was both pleasant and flattering to him.
"Go your way and God be with you. I know your path is the path of honor!" He paused. "I missed you at Bucharest, but I needed someone to send." And changing the subject, Kutuzov began to speak of the Turkish war and the peace that had been concluded. "Yes, I have been much blamed," he said, "both for that war and the peace... but everything came at the right time. Tout vient a point a celui qui sait attendre. * And there were as many advisers there as here..." he went on, returning to the subject of "advisers" which evidently occupied him. "Ah, those advisers!" said he. "If we had listened to them all we should not have made peace with Turkey and should not have been through with that war. Everything in haste, but more haste, less speed. Kamenski would have been lost if he had not died. He stormed fortresses with thirty thousand men. It is not difficult to capture a fortress but it is difficult to win a campaign. For that, not storming and attacking but patience and time are wanted. Kamenski sent soldiers to Rustchuk, but I only employed these two things and took more fortresses than Kamenski and made them Turks eat horseflesh!" He swayed his head. "And the French shall too, believe me," he went on, growing warmer and beating his chest, "I'll make them eat horseflesh!" And tears again dimmed his eyes.
* "Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait."
"But shan't we have to accept battle?" remarked Prince Andrew.
"We shall if everybody wants it; it can't be helped.... But believe me, my dear boy, there is nothing stronger than those two: patience and time, they will do it all. But the advisers n'entendent pas de cette oreille, voila le mal. * Some want a thing—others don't. What's one to do?" he asked, evidently expecting an answer. "Well, what do you want us to do?" he repeated and his eye shone with a deep, shrewd look. "I'll tell you what to do," he continued, as Prince Andrew still did not reply: "I will tell you what to do, and what I do. Dans le doute, mon cher," he paused, "abstiens-toi" *(2)—he articulated the French proverb deliberately.
* "Don't see it that way, that's the trouble."
* (2) "When in doubt, my dear fellow, do nothing."
"Well, good-by, my dear fellow; remember that with all my heart I share your sorrow, and that for you I am not a Serene Highness, nor a prince, nor a commander in chief, but a father! If you want anything come straight to me. Good-by, my dear boy."
Again he embraced and kissed Prince Andrew, but before the latter had left the room Kutuzov gave a sigh of relief and went on with his unfinished novel, Les Chevaliers du Cygne by Madame de Genlis.
Prince Andrew could not have explained how or why it was, but after that interview with Kutuzov he went back to his regiment reassured as to the general course of affairs and as to the man to whom it had been entrusted. The more he realized the absence of all personal motive in that old man—in whom there seemed to remain only the habit of passions, and in place of an intellect (grouping events and drawing conclusions) only the capacity calmly to contemplate the course of events—the more reassured he was that everything would be as it should. "He will not bring in any plan of his own. He will not devise or undertake anything," thought Prince Andrew, "but he will hear everything, remember everything, and put everything in its place. He will not hinder anything useful nor allow anything harmful. He understands that there is something stronger and more important than his own will—the inevitable course of events, and he can see them and grasp their significance, and seeing that significance can refrain from meddling and renounce his personal wish directed to something else. And above all," thought Prince Andrew, "one believes in him because he's Russian, despite the novel by Genlis and the French proverbs, and because his voice shook when he said: 'What they have brought us to!' and had a sob in it when he said he would 'make them eat horseflesh!'"
On such feelings, more or less dimly shared by all, the unanimity and general approval were founded with which, despite court influences, the popular choice of Kutuzov as commander in chief was received.
After the Emperor had left Moscow, life flowed on there in its usual course, and its course was so very usual that it was difficult to remember the recent days of patriotic elation and ardor, hard to believe that Russia was really in danger and that the members of the English Club were also sons of the Fatherland ready to sacrifice everything for it. The one thing that recalled the patriotic fervor everyone had displayed during the Emperor's stay was the call for contributions of men and money, a necessity that as soon as the promises had been made assumed a legal, official form and became unavoidable.
With the enemy's approach to Moscow, the Moscovites' view of their situation did not grow more serious but on the contrary became even more frivolous, as always happens with people who see a great danger approaching. At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal power in the human soul: one very reasonably tells a man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of escaping it; the other, still more reasonably, says that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger, since it is not in man's power to foresee everything and avert the general course of events, and it is therefore better to disregard what is painful till it comes, and to think about what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally listens to the first voice, but in society to the second. So it was now with the inhabitants of Moscow. It was long since people had been as gay in Moscow as that year.
Rostopchin's broadsheets, headed by woodcuts of a drink shop, a potman, and a Moscow burgher called Karpushka Chigirin, "who—having been a militiaman and having had rather too much at the pub—heard that Napoleon wished to come to Moscow, grew angry, abused the French in very bad language, came out of the drink shop, and, under the sign of the eagle, began to address the assembled people," were read and discussed, together with the latest of Vasili Lvovich Pushkin's bouts rimes.
In the corner room at the Club, members gathered to read these broadsheets, and some liked the way Karpushka jeered at the French, saying: "They will swell up with Russian cabbage, burst with our buckwheat porridge, and choke themselves with cabbage soup. They are all dwarfs and one peasant woman will toss three of them with a hayfork." Others did not like that tone and said it was stupid and vulgar. It was said that Rostopchin had expelled all Frenchmen and even all foreigners from Moscow, and that there had been some spies and agents of Napoleon among them; but this was told chiefly to introduce Rostopchin's witty remark on that occasion. The foreigners were deported to Nizhni by boat, and Rostopchin had said to them in French: "Rentrez en vousmemes; entrez dans la barque, et n'en faites pas une barque de Charon." * There was talk of all the government offices having been already removed from Moscow, and to this Shinshin's witticism was added—that for that alone Moscow ought to be grateful to Napoleon. It was said that Mamonov's regiment would cost him eight hundred thousand rubles, and that Bezukhov had spent even more on his, but that the best thing about Bezukhov's action was that he himself was going to don a uniform and ride at the head of his regiment without charging anything for the show.
* "Think it over; get into the barque, and take care not to
make it a barque of Charon."
"You don't spare anyone," said Julie Drubetskaya as she collected and pressed together a bunch of raveled lint with her thin, beringed fingers.
Julie was preparing to leave Moscow next day and was giving a farewell soiree.
"Bezukhov est ridicule, but he is so kind and good-natured. What pleasure is there to be so caustique?"
"A forfeit!" cried a young man in militia uniform whom Julie called "mon chevalier," and who was going with her to Nizhni.
In Julie's set, as in many other circles in Moscow, it had been agreed that they would speak nothing but Russian and that those who made a slip and spoke French should pay fines to the Committee of Voluntary Contributions.
"Another forfeit for a Gallicism," said a Russian writer who was present. "'What pleasure is there to be' is not Russian!"
"You spare no one," continued Julie to the young man without heeding the author's remark.
"For caustique—I am guilty and will pay, and I am prepared to pay again for the pleasure of telling you the truth. For Gallicisms I won't be responsible," she remarked, turning to the author: "I have neither the money nor the time, like Prince Galitsyn, to engage a master to teach me Russian!"
"Ah, here he is!" she added. "Quand on... No, no," she said to the militia officer, "you won't catch me. Speak of the sun and you see its rays!" and she smiled amiably at Pierre. "We were just talking of you," she said with the facility in lying natural to a society woman. "We were saying that your regiment would be sure to be better than Mamonov's."
"Oh, don't talk to me of my regiment," replied Pierre, kissing his hostess' hand and taking a seat beside her. "I am so sick of it."
"You will, of course, command it yourself?" said Julie, directing a sly, sarcastic glance toward the militia officer.
The latter in Pierre's presence had ceased to be caustic, and his face expressed perplexity as to what Julie's smile might mean. In spite of his absent-mindedness and good nature, Pierre's personality immediately checked any attempt to ridicule him to his face.
"No," said Pierre, with a laughing glance at his big, stout body. "I should make too good a target for the French, besides I am afraid I should hardly be able to climb onto a horse."
Among those whom Julie's guests happened to choose to gossip about were the Rostovs.
"I hear that their affairs are in a very bad way," said Julie. "And he is so unreasonable, the count himself I mean. The Razumovskis wanted to buy his house and his estate near Moscow, but it drags on and on. He asks too much."
"No, I think the sale will come off in a few days," said someone. "Though it is madness to buy anything in Moscow now."
"Why?" asked Julie. "You don't think Moscow is in danger?"
"Then why are you leaving?"
"I? What a question! I am going because... well, because everyone is going: and besides—I am not Joan of Arc or an Amazon."
"Well, of course, of course! Let me have some more strips of linen."
"If he manages the business properly he will be able to pay off all his debts," said the militia officer, speaking of Rostov.
"A kindly old man but not up to much. And why do they stay on so long in Moscow? They meant to leave for the country long ago. Natalie is quite well again now, isn't she?" Julie asked Pierre with a knowing smile.
"They are waiting for their younger son," Pierre replied. "He joined Obolenski's Cossacks and went to Belaya Tserkov where the regiment is being formed. But now they have had him transferred to my regiment and are expecting him every day. The count wanted to leave long ago, but the countess won't on any account leave Moscow till her son returns."
"I met them the day before yesterday at the Arkharovs'. Natalie has recovered her looks and is brighter. She sang a song. How easily some people get over everything!"
"Get over what?" inquired Pierre, looking displeased.
"You know, Count, such knights as you are only found in Madame de Souza's novels."
"What knights? What do you mean?" demanded Pierre, blushing.
"Oh, come, my dear count! C'est la fable de tout Moscou. Je vous admire, ma parole d'honneur!" *
* "It is the talk of all Moscow. My word, I admire you!"
"Forfeit, forfeit!" cried the militia officer.
"All right, one can't talk—how tiresome!"
"What is 'the talk of all Moscow'?" Pierre asked angrily, rising to his feet.
"Come now, Count, you know!"
"I don't know anything about it," said Pierre.
"I know you were friendly with Natalie, and so... but I was always more friendly with Vera—that dear Vera."
"No, madame!" Pierre continued in a tone of displeasure, "I have not taken on myself the role of Natalie Rostova's knight at all, and have not been to their house for nearly a month. But I cannot understand the cruelty..."
"Qui s'excuse s'accuse," * said Julie, smiling and waving the lint triumphantly, and to have the last word she promptly changed the subject. "Do you know what I heard today? Poor Mary Bolkonskaya arrived in Moscow yesterday. Do you know that she has lost her father?"
* "Who excuses himself, accuses himself."
"Really? Where is she? I should like very much to see her," said Pierre.
"I spent the evening with her yesterday. She is going to their estate near Moscow either today or tomorrow morning, with her nephew."
"Well, and how is she?" asked Pierre.
"She is well, but sad. But do you know who rescued her? It is quite a romance. Nicholas Rostov! She was surrounded, and they wanted to kill her and had wounded some of her people. He rushed in and saved her...."
"Another romance," said the militia officer. "Really, this general flight has been arranged to get all the old maids married off. Catiche is one and Princess Bolkonskaya another."
"Do you know, I really believe she is un petit peu amoureuse du jeune homme." *
* "A little bit in love with the young man."
"Forfeit, forfeit, forfeit!"
"But how could one say that in Russian?"