BOOK FOUR: 1806
Early in the year 1806 Nicholas Rostov returned home on leave. Denisov was going home to Voronezh and Rostov persuaded him to travel with him as far as Moscow and to stay with him there. Meeting a comrade at the last post station but one before Moscow, Denisov had drunk three bottles of wine with him and, despite the jolting ruts across the snow-covered road, did not once wake up on the way to Moscow, but lay at the bottom of the sleigh beside Rostov, who grew more and more impatient the nearer they got to Moscow.
"How much longer? How much longer? Oh, these insufferable streets, shops, bakers' signboards, street lamps, and sleighs!" thought Rostov, when their leave permits had been passed at the town gate and they had entered Moscow.
"Denisov! We're here! He's asleep," he added, leaning forward with his whole body as if in that position he hoped to hasten the speed of the sleigh.
Denisov gave no answer.
"There's the corner at the crossroads, where the cabman, Zakhar, has his stand, and there's Zakhar himself and still the same horse! And here's the little shop where we used to buy gingerbread! Can't you hurry up? Now then!"
"Which house is it?" asked the driver.
"Why, that one, right at the end, the big one. Don't you see? That's our house," said Rostov. "Of course, it's our house! Denisov, Denisov! We're almost there!"
Denisov raised his head, coughed, and made no answer.
"Dmitri," said Rostov to his valet on the box, "those lights are in our house, aren't they?"
"Yes, sir, and there's a light in your father's study."
"Then they've not gone to bed yet? What do you think? Mind now, don't forget to put out my new coat," added Rostov, fingering his new mustache. "Now then, get on," he shouted to the driver. "Do wake up, Vaska!" he went on, turning to Denisov, whose head was again nodding. "Come, get on! You shall have three rubles for vodka--get on!" Rostov shouted, when the sleigh was only three houses from his door. It seemed to him the horses were not moving at all. At last the sleigh bore to the right, drew up at an entrance, and Rostov saw overhead the old familiar cornice with a bit of plaster broken off, the porch, and the post by the side of the pavement. He sprang out before the sleigh stopped, and ran into the hall. The house stood cold and silent, as if quite regardless of who had come to it. There was no one in the hall. "Oh God! Is everyone all right?" he thought, stopping for a moment with a sinking heart, and then immediately starting to run along the hall and up the warped steps of the familiar staircase. The well-known old door handle, which always angered the countess when it was not properly cleaned, turned as loosely as ever. A solitary tallow candle burned in the anteroom.
Old Michael was asleep on the chest. Prokofy, the footman, who was so strong that he could lift the back of the carriage from behind, sat plaiting slippers out of cloth selvedges. He looked up at the opening door and his expression of sleepy indifference suddenly changed to one of delighted amazement.
"Gracious heavens! The young count!" he cried, recognizing his young master. "Can it be? My treasure!" and Prokofy, trembling with excitement, rushed toward the drawing-room door, probably in order to announce him, but, changing his mind, came back and stooped to kiss the young man's shoulder.
"All well?" asked Rostov, drawing away his arm.
"Yes, God be thanked! Yes! They've just finished supper. Let me have a look at you, your excellency."
"Is everything quite all right?"
"The Lord be thanked, yes!"
Rostov, who had completely forgotten Denisov, not wishing anyone to forestall him, threw off his fur coat and ran on tiptoe through the large dark ballroom. All was the same: there were the same old card tables and the same chandelier with a cover over it; but someone had already seen the young master, and, before he had reached the drawing room, something flew out from a side door like a tornado and began hugging and kissing him. Another and yet another creature of the same kind sprang from a second door and a third; more hugging, more kissing, more outcries, and tears of joy. He could not distinguish which was Papa, which Natasha, and which Petya. Everyone shouted, talked, and kissed him at the same time. Only his mother was not there, he noticed that.
"And I did not know... Nicholas... My darling!..."
"Here he is... our own... Kolya,* dear fellow... How he has changed!... Where are the candles?... Tea!..."
"And me, kiss me!"
"Dearest... and me!"
Sonya, Natasha, Petya, Anna Mikhaylovna, Vera, and the old count were all hugging him, and the serfs, men and maids, flocked into the room, exclaiming and oh-ing and ah-ing.
Petya, clinging to his legs, kept shouting, "And me too!"
Natasha, after she had pulled him down toward her and covered his face with kisses, holding him tight by the skirt of his coat, sprang away and pranced up and down in one place like a goat and shrieked piercingly.
All around were loving eyes glistening with tears of joy, and all around were lips seeking a kiss.
Sonya too, all rosy red, clung to his arm and, radiant with bliss, looked eagerly toward his eyes, waiting for the look for which she longed. Sonya now was sixteen and she was very pretty, especially at this moment of happy, rapturous excitement. She gazed at him, not taking her eyes off him, and smiling and holding her breath. He gave her a grateful look, but was still expectant and looking for someone. The old countess had not yet come. But now steps were heard at the door, steps so rapid that they could hardly be his mother's.
Yet it was she, dressed in a new gown which he did not know, made since he had left. All the others let him go, and he ran to her. When they met, she fell on his breast, sobbing. She could not lift her face, but only pressed it to the cold braiding of his hussar's jacket. Denisov, who had come into the room unnoticed by anyone, stood there and wiped his eyes at the sight.
"Vasili Denisov, your son's friend," he said, introducing himself to the count, who was looking inquiringly at him.
"You are most welcome! I know, I know," said the count, kissing and embracing Denisov. "Nicholas wrote us... Natasha, Vera, look! Here is Denisov!"
The same happy, rapturous faces turned to the shaggy figure of Denisov.
"Darling Denisov!" screamed Natasha, beside herself with rapture, springing to him, putting her arms round him, and kissing him. This escapade made everybody feel confused. Denisov blushed too, but smiled and, taking Natasha's hand, kissed it.
Denisov was shown to the room prepared for him, and the Rostovs all gathered round Nicholas in the sitting room.
The old countess, not letting go of his hand and kissing it every moment, sat beside him: the rest, crowding round him, watched every movement, word, or look of his, never taking their blissfully adoring eyes off him. His brother and sisters struggled for the places nearest to him and disputed with one another who should bring him his tea, handkerchief, and pipe.
Rostov was very happy in the love they showed him; but the first moment of meeting had been so beatific that his present joy seemed insufficient, and he kept expecting something more, more and yet more.
Next morning, after the fatigues of their journey, the travelers slept till ten o'clock.
In the room next their bedroom there was a confusion of sabers, satchels, sabretaches, open portmanteaus, and dirty boots. Two freshly cleaned pairs with spurs had just been placed by the wall. The servants were bringing in jugs and basins, hot water for shaving, and their well-brushed clothes. There was a masculine odor and a smell of tobacco.
"Hallo, Gwiska--my pipe!" came Vasili Denisov's husky voice. "Wostov, get up!"
Rostov, rubbing his eyes that seemed glued together, raised his disheveled head from the hot pillow.
"Why, is it late?"
"Late! It's nearly ten o'clock," answered Natasha's voice. A rustle of starched petticoats and the whispering and laughter of girls' voices came from the adjoining room. The door was opened a crack and there was a glimpse of something blue, of ribbons, black hair, and merry faces. It was Natasha, Sonya, and Petya, who had come to see whether they were getting up.
"Nicholas! Get up!" Natasha's voice was again heard at the door.
Meanwhile, Petya, having found and seized the sabers in the outer room, with the delight boys feel at the sight of a military elder brother, and forgetting that it was unbecoming for the girls to see men undressed, opened the bedroom door.
"Is this your saber?" he shouted.
The girls sprang aside. Denisov hid his hairy legs under the blanket, looking with a scared face at his comrade for help. The door, having let Petya in, closed again. A sound of laughter came from behind it.
"Nicholas! Come out in your dressing gown!" said Natasha's voice.
"Is this your saber?" asked Petya. "Or is it yours?" he said, addressing the black-mustached Denisov with servile deference.
Rostov hurriedly put something on his feet, drew on his dressing gown, and went out. Natasha had put on one spurred boot and was just getting her foot into the other. Sonya, when he came in, was twirling round and was about to expand her dresses into a balloon and sit down. They were dressed alike, in new pale-blue frocks, and were both fresh, rosy, and bright. Sonya ran away, but Natasha, taking her brother's arm, led him into the sitting room, where they began talking. They hardly gave one another time to ask questions and give replies concerning a thousand little matters which could not interest anyone but themselves. Natasha laughed at every word he said or that she said herself, not because what they were saying was amusing, but because she felt happy and was unable to control her joy which expressed itself by laughter.
"Oh, how nice, how splendid!" she said to everything.
Rostov felt that, under the influence of the warm rays of love, that childlike smile which had not once appeared on his face since he left home now for the first time after eighteen months again brightened his soul and his face.
"No, but listen," she said, "now you are quite a man, aren't you? I'm awfully glad you're my brother." She touched his mustache. "I want to know what you men are like. Are you the same as we? No?"
"Why did Sonya run away?" asked Rostov.
"Ah, yes! That's a whole long story! How are you going to speak to her--thou or you?"
"As may happen," said Rostov.
"No, call her you, please! I'll tell you all about it some other time. No, I'll tell you now. You know Sonya's my dearest friend. Such a friend that I burned my arm for her sake. Look here!"
She pulled up her muslin sleeve and showed him a red scar on her long, slender, delicate arm, high above the elbow on that part that is covered even by a ball dress.
"I burned this to prove my love for her. I just heated a ruler in the fire and pressed it there!"
Sitting on the sofa with the little cushions on its arms, in what used to be his old schoolroom, and looking into Natasha's wildly bright eyes, Rostov re-entered that world of home and childhood which had no meaning for anyone else, but gave him some of the best joys of his life; and the burning of an arm with a ruler as a proof of love did not seem to him senseless, he understood and was not surprised at it.
"Well, and is that all?" he asked.
"We are such friends, such friends! All that ruler business was just nonsense, but we are friends forever. She, if she loves anyone, does it for life, but I don't understand that, I forget quickly."
"Well, what then?"
"Well, she loves me and you like that."
Natasha suddenly flushed.
"Why, you remember before you went away?... Well, she says you are to forget all that.... She says: 'I shall love him always, but let him be free.' Isn't that lovely and noble! Yes, very noble? Isn't it?" asked Natasha, so seriously and excitedly that it was evident that what she was now saying she had talked of before, with tears.
Rostov became thoughtful.
"I never go back on my word," he said. "Besides, Sonya is so charming that only a fool would renounce such happiness."
"No, no!" cried Natasha, "she and I have already talked it over. We knew you'd say so. But it won't do, because you see, if you say that--if you consider yourself bound by your promise--it will seem as if she had not meant it seriously. It makes it as if you were marrying her because you must, and that wouldn't do at all."
Rostov saw that it had been well considered by them. Sonya had already struck him by her beauty on the preceding day. Today, when he had caught a glimpse of her, she seemed still more lovely. She was a charming girl of sixteen, evidently passionately in love with him (he did not doubt that for an instant). Why should he not love her now, and even marry her, Rostov thought, but just now there were so many other pleasures and interests before him! "Yes, they have taken a wise decision," he thought, "I must remain free."
"Well then, that's excellent," said he. "We'll talk it over later on. Oh, how glad I am to have you!"
"Well, and are you still true to Boris?" he continued.
"Oh, what nonsense!" cried Natasha, laughing. "I don't think about him or anyone else, and I don't want anything of the kind."
"Dear me! Then what are you up now?"
"Now?" repeated Natasha, and a happy smile lit up her face. "Have you seen Duport?"
"Not seen Duport--the famous dancer? Well then, you won't understand. That's what I'm up to."
Curving her arms, Natasha held out her skirts as dancers do, ran back a few steps, turned, cut a caper, brought her little feet sharply together, and made some steps on the very tips of her toes.
"See, I'm standing! See!" she said, but could not maintain herself on her toes any longer. "So that's what I'm up to! I'll never marry anyone, but will be a dancer. Only don't tell anyone."
Rostov laughed so loud and merrily that Denisov, in his bedroom, felt envious and Natasha could not help joining in.
"No, but don't you think it's nice?" she kept repeating.
"Nice! And so you no longer wish to marry Boris?"
Natasha flared up. "I don't want to marry anyone. And I'll tell him so when I see him!"
"Dear me!" said Rostov.
"But that's all rubbish," Natasha chattered on. "And is Denisov nice?" she asked.
"Oh, well then, good-by: go and dress. Is he very terrible, Denisov?"
"Why terrible?" asked Nicholas. "No, Vaska is a splendid fellow."
"You call him Vaska? That's funny! And is he very nice?"
"Well then, be quick. We'll all have breakfast together."
And Natasha rose and went out of the room on tiptoe, like a ballet dancer, but smiling as only happy girls of fifteen can smile. When Rostov met Sonya in the drawing room, he reddened. He did not know how to behave with her. The evening before, in the first happy moment of meeting, they had kissed each other, but today they felt it could not be done; he felt that everybody, including his mother and sisters, was looking inquiringly at him and watching to see how he would behave with her. He kissed her hand and addressed her not as thou but as you- Sonya. But their eyes met and said thou, and exchanged tender kisses. Her looks asked him to forgive her for having dared, by Natasha's intermediacy, to remind him of his promise, and then thanked him for his love. His looks thanked her for offering him his freedom and told her that one way or another he would never cease to love her, for that would be impossible.
"How strange it is," said Vera, selecting a moment when all were silent, "that Sonya and Nicholas now say you to one another and meet like strangers."
Vera's remark was correct, as her remarks always were, but, like most of her observations, it made everyone feel uncomfortable, not only Sonya, Nicholas, and Natasha, but even the old countess, who- dreading this love affair which might hinder Nicholas from making a brilliant match--blushed like a girl.
Denisov, to Rostov's surprise, appeared in the drawing room with pomaded hair, perfumed, and in a new uniform, looking just as smart as he made himself when going into battle, and he was more amiable to the ladies and gentlemen than Rostov had ever expected to see him.
On his return to Moscow from the army, Nicholas Rostov was welcomed by his home circle as the best of sons, a hero, and their darling Nikolenka; by his relations as a charming, attractive, and polite young man; by his acquaintances as a handsome lieutenant of hussars, a good dancer, and one of the best matches in the city.
The Rostovs knew everybody in Moscow. The old count had money enough that year, as all his estates had been remortgaged, and so Nicholas, acquiring a trotter of his own, very stylish riding breeches of the latest cut, such as no one else yet had in Moscow, and boots of the latest fashion, with extremely pointed toes and small silver spurs, passed his time very gaily. After a short period of adapting himself to the old conditions of life, Nicholas found it very pleasant to be at home again. He felt that he had grown up and matured very much. His despair at failing in a Scripture examination, his borrowing money from Gavril to pay a sleigh driver, his kissing Sonya on the sly--he now recalled all this as childishness he had left immeasurably behind. Now he was a lieutenant of hussars, in a jacket laced with silver, and wearing the Cross of St. George, awarded to soldiers for bravery in action, and in the company of well-known, elderly, and respected racing men was training a trotter of his own for a race. He knew a lady on one of the boulevards whom he visited of an evening. He led the mazurka at the Arkharovs' ball, talked about the war with Field Marshal Kamenski, visited the English Club, and was on intimate terms with a colonel of forty to whom Denisov had introduced him.
His passion for the Emperor had cooled somewhat in Moscow. But still, as he did not see him and had no opportunity of seeing him, he often spoke about him and about his love for him, letting it be understood that he had not told all and that there was something in his feelings for the Emperor not everyone could understand, and with his whole soul he shared the adoration then common in Moscow for the Emperor, who was spoken of as the "angel incarnate."
During Rostov's short stay in Moscow, before rejoining the army, he did not draw closer to Sonya, but rather drifted away from her. She was very pretty and sweet, and evidently deeply in love with him, but he was at the period of youth when there seems so much to do that there is no time for that sort of thing and a young man fears to bind himself and prizes his freedom which he needs for so many other things. When he thought of Sonya, during this stay in Moscow, he said to himself, "Ah, there will be, and there are, many more such girls somewhere whom I do not yet know. There will be time enough to think about love when I want to, but now I have no time." Besides, it seemed to him that the society of women was rather derogatory to his manhood. He went to balls and into ladies' society with an affectation of doing so against his will. The races, the English Club, sprees with Denisov, and visits to a certain house--that was another matter and quite the thing for a dashing young hussar!
At the beginning of March, old Count Ilya Rostov was very busy arranging a dinner in honor of Prince Bagration at the English Club.
The count walked up and down the hall in his dressing gown, giving orders to the club steward and to the famous Feoktist, the Club's head cook, about asparagus, fresh cucumbers, strawberries, veal, and fish for this dinner. The count had been a member and on the committee of the Club from the day it was founded. To him the Club entrusted the arrangement of the festival in honor of Bagration, for few men knew so well how to arrange a feast on an open-handed, hospitable scale, and still fewer men would be so well able and willing to make up out of their own resources what might be needed for the success of the fete. The club cook and the steward listened to the count's orders with pleased faces, for they knew that under no other management could they so easily extract a good profit for themselves from a dinner costing several thousand rubles.
"Well then, mind and have cocks' comb in the turtle soup, you know!"
"Shall we have three cold dishes then?" asked the cook.
The count considered.
"We can't have less--yes, three... the mayonnaise, that's one," said he, bending down a finger.
"Then am I to order those large sterlets?" asked the steward.
"Yes, it can't be helped if they won't take less. Ah, dear me! I was forgetting. We must have another entree. Ah, goodness gracious!" he clutched at his head. "Who is going to get me the flowers? Dmitri! Eh, Dmitri! Gallop off to our Moscow estate," he said to the factotum who appeared at his call. "Hurry off and tell Maksim, the gardener, to set the serfs to work. Say that everything out of the hothouses must be brought here well wrapped up in felt. I must have two hundred pots here on Friday."
Having given several more orders, he was about to go to his "little countess" to have a rest, but remembering something else of importance, he returned again, called back the cook and the club steward, and again began giving orders. A light footstep and the clinking of spurs were heard at the door, and the young count, handsome, rosy, with a dark little mustache, evidently rested and made sleeker by his easy life in Moscow, entered the room.
"Ah, my boy, my head's in a whirl!" said the old man with a smile, as if he felt a little confused before his son. "Now, if you would only help a bit! I must have singers too. I shall have my own orchestra, but shouldn't we get the gypsy singers as well? You military men like that sort of thing."
"Really, Papa, I believe Prince Bagration worried himself less before the battle of Schon Grabern than you do now," said his son with a smile.
The old count pretended to be angry.
"Yes, you talk, but try it yourself!"
And the count turned to the cook, who, with a shrewd and respectful expression, looked observantly and sympathetically at the father and son.
"What have the young people come to nowadays, eh, Feoktist?" said he. "Laughing at us old fellows!"
"That's so, your excellency, all they have to do is to eat a good dinner, but providing it and serving it all up, that's not their business!"
"That's it, that's it!" exclaimed the count, and gaily seizing his son by both hands, he cried, "Now I've got you, so take the sleigh and pair at once, and go to Bezukhob's, and tell him 'Count Ilya has sent you to ask for strawberries and fresh pineapples.' We can't get them from anyone else. He's not there himself, so you'll have to go in and ask the princesses; and from there go on to the Rasgulyay--the coachman Ipatka knows--and look up the gypsy Ilyushka, the one who danced at Count Orlov's, you remember, in a white Cossack coat, and bring him along to me."
"And am I to bring the gypsy girls along with him?" asked Nicholas, laughing. "Dear, dear!..."
At that moment, with noiseless footsteps and with the businesslike, preoccupied, yet meekly Christian look which never left her face, Anna Mikhaylovna entered the hall. Though she came upon the count in his dressing gown every day, he invariably became confused and begged her to excuse his costume.
"No matter at all, my dear count," she said, meekly closing her eyes. "But I'll go to Bezukhov's myself. Pierre has arrived, and now we shall get anything we want from his hothouses. I have to see him in any case. He has forwarded me a letter from Boris. Thank God, Boris is now on the staff."
The count was delighted at Anna Mikhaylovna's taking upon herself one of his commissions and ordered the small closed carriage for her.
"Tell Bezukhov to come. I'll put his name down. Is his wife with him?" he asked.
Anna Mikhaylovna turned up her eyes, and profound sadness was depicted on her face.
"Ah, my dear friend, he is very unfortunate," she said. "If what we hear is true, it is dreadful. How little we dreamed of such a thing when we were rejoicing at his happiness! And such a lofty angelic soul as young Bezukhov! Yes, I pity him from my heart, and shall try to give him what consolation I can."
"Wh-what is the matter?" asked both the young and old Rostov.
Anna Mikhaylovna sighed deeply.
"Dolokhov, Mary Ivanovna's son," she said in a mysterious whisper, "has compromised her completely, they say. Pierre took him up, invited him to his house in Petersburg, and now... she has come here and that daredevil after her!" said Anna Mikhaylovna, wishing to show her sympathy for Pierre, but by involuntary intonations and a half smile betraying her sympathy for the "daredevil," as she called Dolokhov. "They say Pierre is quite broken by his misfortune."
"Dear, dear! But still tell him to come to the Club--it will all blow over. It will be a tremendous banquet."
Next day, the third of March, soon after one o'clock, two hundred and fifty members of the English Club and fifty guests were awaiting the guest of honor and hero of the Austrian campaign, Prince Bagration, to dinner.
On the first arrival of the news of the battle of Austerlitz, Moscow had been bewildered. At that time, the Russians were so used to victories that on receiving news of the defeat some would simply not believe it, while others sought some extraordinary explanation of so strange an event. In the English Club, where all who were distinguished, important, and well informed forgathered when the news began to arrive in December, nothing was said about the war and the last battle, as though all were in a conspiracy of silence. The men who set the tone in conversation--Count Rostopchin, Prince Yuri Dolgorukov, Valuev, Count Markov, and Prince Vyazemski--did not show themselves at the Club, but met in private houses in intimate circles, and the Moscovites who took their opinions from others--Ilya Rostov among them--remained for a while without any definite opinion on the subject of the war and without leaders. The Moscovites felt that something was wrong and that to discuss the bad news was difficult, and so it was best to be silent. But after a while, just as a jury comes out of its room, the bigwigs who guided the Club's opinion reappeared, and everybody began speaking clearly and definitely. Reasons were found for the incredible, unheard-of, and impossible event of a Russian defeat, everything became clear, and in all corners of Moscow the same things began to be said. These reasons were the treachery of the Austrians, a defective commissariat, the treachery of the Pole Przebyszewski and of the Frenchman Langeron, Kutuzov's incapacity, and (it was whispered) the youth and inexperience of the sovereign, who had trusted worthless and insignificant people. But the army, the Russian army, everyone declared, was extraordinary and had achieved miracles of valor. The soldiers, officers, and generals were heroes. But the hero of heroes was Prince Bagration, distinguished by his Schon Grabern affair and by the retreat from Austerlitz, where he alone had withdrawn his column unbroken and had all day beaten back an enemy force twice as numerous as his own. What also conduced to Bagration's being selected as Moscow's hero was the fact that he had no connections in the city and was a stranger there. In his person, honor was shown to a simple fighting Russian soldier without connections and intrigues, and to one who was associated by memories of the Italian campaign with the name of Suvorov. Moreover, paying such honor to Bagration was the best way of expressing disapproval and dislike of Kutuzov.
"Had there been no Bagration, it would have been necessary to invent him," said the wit Shinshin, parodying the words of Voltaire. Kutuzov no one spoke of, except some who abused him in whispers, calling him a court weathercock and an old satyr.
All Moscow repeated Prince Dolgorukov's saying: "If you go on modeling and modeling you must get smeared with clay," suggesting consolation for our defeat by the memory of former victories; and the words of Rostopchin, that French soldiers have to be incited to battle by highfalutin words, and Germans by logical arguments to show them that it is more dangerous to run away than to advance, but that Russian soldiers only need to be restrained and held back! On all sides, new and fresh anecdotes were heard of individual examples of heroism shown by our officers and men at Austerlitz. One had saved a standard, another had killed five Frenchmen, a third had loaded five cannon singlehanded. Berg was mentioned, by those who did not know him, as having, when wounded in the right hand, taken his sword in the left, and gone forward. Of Bolkonski, nothing was said, and only those who knew him intimately regretted that he had died so young, leaving a pregnant wife with his eccentric father.
On that third of March, all the rooms in the English Club were filled with a hum of conversation, like the hum of bees swarming in springtime. The members and guests of the Club wandered hither and thither, sat, stood, met, and separated, some in uniform and some in evening dress, and a few here and there with powdered hair and in Russian kaftans. Powdered footmen, in livery with buckled shoes and smart stockings, stood at every door anxiously noting visitors' every movement in order to offer their services. Most of those present were elderly, respected men with broad, self-confident faces, fat fingers, and resolute gestures and voices. This class of guests and members sat in certain habitual places and met in certain habitual groups. A minority of those present were casual guests--chiefly young men, among whom were Denisov, Rostov, and Dolokhov--who was now again an officer in the Semenov regiment. The faces of these young people, especially those who were militarymen, bore that expression of condescending respect for their elders which seems to say to the older generation, "We are prepared to respect and honor you, but all the same remember that the future belongs to us."
Nesvitski was there as an old member of the Club. Pierre, who at his wife's command had let his hair grow and abandoned his spectacles, went about the rooms fashionably dressed but looking sad and dull. Here, as elsewhere, he was surrounded by an atmosphere of subservience to his wealth, and being in the habit of lording it over these people, he treated them with absent-minded contempt.
By his age he should have belonged to the younger men, but by his wealth and connections he belonged to the groups old and honored guests, and so he went from one group to another. Some of the most important old men were the center of groups which even strangers approached respectfully to hear the voices of well-known men. The largest circles formed round Count Rostopchin, Valuev, and Naryshkin. Rostopchin was describing how the Russians had been overwhelmed by flying Austrians and had had to force their way through them with bayonets.
Valuev was confidentially telling that Uvarov had been sent from Petersburg to ascertain what Moscow was thinking about Austerlitz.
In the third circle, Naryshkin was speaking of the meeting of the Austrian Council of War at which Suvorov crowed like a cock in reply to the nonsense talked by the Austrian generals. Shinshin, standing close by, tried to make a joke, saying that Kutuzov had evidently failed to learn from Suvorov even so simple a thing as the art of crowing like a cock, but the elder members glanced severely at the wit, making him feel that in that place and on that day, it was improper to speak so of Kutuzov.
Count Ilya Rostov, hurried and preoccupied, went about in his soft boots between the dining and drawing rooms, hastily greeting the important and unimportant, all of whom he knew, as if they were all equals, while his eyes occasionally sought out his fine well-set-up young son, resting on him and winking joyfully at him. Young Rostov stood at a window with Dolokhov, whose acquaintance he had lately made and highly valued. The old count came up to them and pressed Dolokhov's hand.
"Please come and visit us... you know my brave boy... been together out there... both playing the hero... Ah, Vasili Ignatovich... How d'ye do, old fellow?" he said, turning to an old man who was passing, but before he had finished his greeting there was a general stir, and a footman who had run in announced, with a frightened face: "He's arrived!"
Bells rang, the stewards rushed forward, and--like rye shaken together in a shovel--the guests who had been scattered about in different rooms came together and crowded in the large drawing room by the door of the ballroom.
Bagration appeared in the doorway of the anteroom without hat or sword, which, in accord with the Club custom, he had given up to the hall porter. He had no lambskin cap on his head, nor had he a loaded whip over his shoulder, as when Rostov had seen him on the eve of the battle of Austerlitz, but wore a tight new uniform with Russian and foreign Orders, and the Star of St. George on his left breast. Evidently just before coming to the dinner he had had his hair and whiskers trimmed, which changed his appearance for the worse. There was something naively festive in his air, which, in conjunction with his firm and virile features, gave him a rather comical expression. Bekleshev and Theodore Uvarov, who had arrived with him, paused at the doorway to allow him, as the guest of honor, to enter first. Bagration was embarrassed, not wishing to avail himself of their courtesy, and this caused some delay at the doors, but after all he did at last enter first. He walked shyly and awkwardly over the parquet floor of the reception room, not knowing what to do with his hands; he was more accustomed to walk over a plowed field under fire, as he had done at the head of the Kursk regiment at Schon Grabern--and he would have found that easier. The committeemen met him at the first door and, expressing their delight at seeing such a highly honored guest, took possession of him as it were, without waiting for his reply, surrounded him, and led him to the drawing room. It was at first impossible to enter the drawing-room door for the crowd of members and guests jostling one another and trying to get a good look at Bagration over each other's shoulders, as if he were some rare animal. Count Ilya Rostov, laughing and repeating the words, "Make way, dear boy! Make way, make way!" pushed through the crowd more energetically than anyone, led the guests into the drawing room, and seated them on the center sofa. The bigwigs, the most respected members of the Club, beset the new arrivals. Count Ilya, again thrusting his way through the crowd, went out of the drawing room and reappeared a minute later with another committeeman, carrying a large silver salver which he presented to Prince Bagration. On the salver lay some verses composed and printed in the hero's honor. Bagration, on seeing the salver, glanced around in dismay, as though seeking help. But all eyes demanded that he should submit. Feeling himself in their power, he resolutely took the salver with both hands and looked sternly and reproachfully at the count who had presented it to him. Someone obligingly took the dish from Bagration (or he would, it seemed, have held it till evening and have gone in to dinner with it) and drew his attention to the verses.
"Well, I will read them, then!" Bagration seemed to say, and, fixing his weary eyes on the paper, began to read them with a fixed and serious expression. But the author himself took the verses and began reading them aloud. Bagration bowed his bead and listened:
Bring glory then to Alexander's reign
And on the throne our Titus shield.
A dreaded foe be thou, kindhearted as a man,
A Rhipheus at home, a Caesar in the field!
E'en fortunate Napoleon
Knows by experience, now, Bagration,
And dare not Herculean Russians trouble...
But before he had finished reading, a stentorian major-domo announced that dinner was ready! The door opened, and from the dining room came the resounding strains of the polonaise:
Conquest's joyful thunder waken,
Triumph, valiant Russians, now!...
and Count Rostov, glancing angrily at the author who went on reading his verses, bowed to Bagration. Everyone rose, feeling that dinner was more important than verses, and Bagration, again preceding all the rest, went in to dinner. He was seated in the place of honor between two Alexanders--Bekleshev and Naryshkin--which was a significant allusion to the name of the sovereign. Three hundred persons took their seats in the dining room, according to their rank and importance: the more important nearer to the honored guest, as naturally as water flows deepest where the land lies lowest.
Just before dinner, Count Ilya Rostov presented his son to Bagration, who recognized him and said a few words to him, disjointed and awkward, as were all the words he spoke that day, and Count Ilya looked joyfully and proudly around while Bagration spoke to his son.
Nicholas Rostov, with Denisov and his new acquaintance, Dolokhov, sat almost at the middle of the table. Facing them sat Pierre, beside Prince Nesvitski. Count Ilya Rostov with the other members of the committee sat facing Bagration and, as the very personification of Moscow hospitality, did the honors to the prince.
His efforts had not been in vain. The dinner, both the Lenten and the other fare, was splendid, yet he could not feel quite at ease till the end of the meal. He winked at the butler, whispered directions to the footmen, and awaited each expected dish with some anxiety. Everything was excellent. With the second course, a gigantic sterlet (at sight of which Ilya Rostov blushed with self-conscious pleasure), the footmen began popping corks and filling the champagne glasses. After the fish, which made a certain sensation, the count exchanged glances with the other committeemen. "There will be many toasts, it's time to begin," he whispered, and taking up his glass, he rose. All were silent, waiting for what he would say.
"To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!" he cried, and at the same moment his kindly eyes grew moist with tears of joy and enthusiasm. The band immediately struck up "Conquest's joyful thunder waken..." All rose and cried "Hurrah!" Bagration also rose and shouted "Hurrah!" in exactly the same voice in which he had shouted it on the field at Schon Grabern. Young Rostov's ecstatic voice could be heard above the three hundred others. He nearly wept. "To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!" he roared, "Hurrah!" and emptying his glass at one gulp he dashed it to the floor. Many followed his example, and the loud shouting continued for a long time. When the voices subsided, the footmen cleared away the broken glass and everybody sat down again, smiling at the noise they had made and exchanging remarks. The old count rose once more, glanced at a note lying beside his plate, and proposed a toast, "To the health of the hero of our last campaign, Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration!" and again his blue eyes grew moist. "Hurrah!" cried the three hundred voices again, but instead of the band a choir began singing a cantata composed by Paul Ivanovich Kutuzov:
Russians! O'er all barriers on!
Courage conquest guarantees;
Have we not Bagration?
He brings foe men to their knees,... etc.
As soon as the singing was over, another and another toast was proposed and Count Ilya Rostov became more and more moved, more glass was smashed, and the shouting grew louder. They drank to Bekleshev, Naryshkin, Uvarov, Dolgorukov, Apraksin, Valuev, to the committee, to all the Club members and to all the Club guests, and finally to Count Ilya Rostov separately, as the organizer of the banquet. At that toast, the count took out his handkerchief and, covering his face, wept outright.
Pierre sat opposite Dolokhov and Nicholas Rostov. As usual, he ate and drank much, and eagerly. But those who knew him intimately noticed that some great change had come over him that day. He was silent all through dinner and looked about, blinking and scowling, or, with fixed eyes and a look of complete absent-mindedness, kept rubbing the bridge of his nose. His face was depressed and gloomy. He seemed to see and hear nothing of what was going on around him and to be absorbed by some depressing and unsolved problem.
The unsolved problem that tormented him was caused by hints given by the princess, his cousin, at Moscow, concerning Dolokhov's intimacy with his wife, and by an anonymous letter he had received that morning, which in the mean jocular way common to anonymous letters said that he saw badly through his spectacles, but that his wife's connection with Dolokhov was a secret to no one but himself. Pierre absolutely disbelieved both the princess' hints and the letter, but he feared now to look at Dolokhov, who was sitting opposite him. Every time he chanced to meet Dolokhov's handsome insolent eyes, Pierre felt something terrible and monstrous rising in his soul and turned quickly away. Involuntarily recalling his wife's past and her relations with Dolokhov, Pierre saw clearly that what was said in the letter might be true, or might at least seem to be true had it not referred to his wife. He involuntarily remembered how Dolokhov, who had fully recovered his former position after the campaign, had returned to Petersburg and come to him. Availing himself of his friendly relations with Pierre as a boon companion, Dolokhov had come straight to his house, and Pierre had put him up and lent him money. Pierre recalled how Helene had smilingly expressed disapproval of Dolokhov's living at their house, and how cynically Dolokhov had praised his wife's beauty to him and from that time till they came to Moscow had not left them for a day.
"Yes, he is very handsome," thought Pierre, "and I know him. It would be particularly pleasant to him to dishonor my name and ridicule me, just because I have exerted myself on his behalf, befriended him, and helped him. I know and understand what a spice that would add to the pleasure of deceiving me, if it really were true. Yes, if it were true, but I do not believe it. I have no right to, and can't, believe it." He remembered the expression Dolokhov's face assumed in his moments of cruelty, as when tying the policeman to the bear and dropping them into the water, or when he challenged a man to a duel without any reason, or shot a post-boy's horse with a pistol. That expression was often on Dolokhov's face when looking at him. "Yes, he is a bully," thought Pierre, "to kill a man means nothing to him. It must seem to him that everyone is afraid of him, and that must please him. He must think that I, too, am afraid of him--and in fact I am afraid of him," he thought, and again he felt something terrible and monstrous rising in his soul. Dolokhov, Denisov, and Rostov were now sitting opposite Pierre and seemed very gay. Rostov was talking merrily to his two friends, one of whom was a dashing hussar and the other a notorious duelist and rake, and every now and then he glanced ironically at Pierre, whose preoccupied, absent-minded, and massive figure was a very noticeable one at the dinner. Rostov looked inimically at Pierre, first because Pierre appeared to his hussar eyes as a rich civilian, the husband of a beauty, and in a word--an old woman; and secondly because Pierre in his preoccupation and absent-mindedness had not recognized Rostov and had not responded to his greeting. When the Emperor's health was drunk, Pierre, lost in thought, did not rise or lift his glass.
"What are you about?" shouted Rostov, looking at him in an ecstasy of exasperation. "Don't you hear it's His Majesty the Emperor's health?"
Pierre sighed, rose submissively, emptied his glass, and, waiting till all were seated again, turned with his kindly smile to Rostov.
"Why, I didn't recognize you!" he said. But Rostov was otherwise engaged; he was shouting "Hurrah!"
"Why don't you renew the acquaintance?" said Dolokhov to Rostov.
"Confound him, he's a fool!" said Rostov.
"One should make up to the husbands of pretty women," said Denisov.
Pierre did not catch what they were saying, but knew they were talking about him. He reddened and turned away.
"Well, now to the health of handsome women!" said Dolokhov, and with a serious expression, but with a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth, he turned with his glass to Pierre.
"Here's to the health of lovely women, Peterkin--and their lovers!" he added.
Pierre, with downcast eyes, drank out of his glass without looking at Dolokhov or answering him. The footman, who was distributing leaflets with Kutuzov's cantata, laid one before Pierre as one of the principal guests. He was just going to take it when Dolokhov, leaning across, snatched it from his hand and began reading it. Pierre looked at Dolokhov and his eyes dropped, the something terrible and monstrous that had tormented him all dinnertime rose and took possession of him. He leaned his whole massive body across the table.
"How dare you take it?" he shouted.
Hearing that cry and seeing to whom it was addressed, Nesvitski and the neighbor on his right quickly turned in alarm to Bezukhov.
"Don't! Don't! What are you about?" whispered their frightened voices.
Dolokhov looked at Pierre with clear, mirthful, cruel eyes, and that smile of his which seemed to say, "Ah! This is what I like!"
"You shan't have it!" he said distinctly.
Pale, with quivering lips, Pierre snatched the copy.
"You...! you... scoundrel! I challenge you!" he ejaculated, and, pushing back his chair, he rose from the table.
At the very instant he did this and uttered those words, Pierre felt that the question of his wife's guilt which had been tormenting him the whole day was finally and indubitably answered in the affirmative. He hated her and was forever sundered from her. Despite Denisov's request that he would take no part in the matter, Rostov agreed to be Dolokhov's second, and after dinner he discussed the arrangements for the duel with Nesvitski, Bezukhov's second. Pierre went home, but Rostov with Dolokhov and Denisov stayed on at the Club till late, listening to the gypsies and other singers.
"Well then, till tomorrow at Sokolniki," said Dolokhov, as he took leave of Rostov in the Club porch.
"And do you feel quite calm?" Rostov asked.
"Well, you see, I'll tell you the whole secret of dueling in two words. If you are going to fight a duel, and you make a will and write affectionate letters to your parents, and if you think you may be killed, you are a fool and are lost for certain. But go with the firm intention of killing your man as quickly and surely as possible, and then all will be right, as our bear huntsman at Kostroma used to tell me. 'Everyone fears a bear,' he says, 'but when you see one your fear's all gone, and your only thought is not to let him get away!' And that's how it is with me. A demain, mon cher."*
*Till tomorrow, my dear fellow.
Next day, at eight in the morning, Pierre and Nesvitski drove to the Sokolniki forest and found Dolokhov, Denisov, and Rostov already there. Pierre had the air of a man preoccupied with considerations which had no connection with the matter in hand. His haggard face was yellow. He had evidently not slept that night. He looked about distractedly and screwed up his eyes as if dazzled by the sun. He was entirely absorbed by two considerations: his wife's guilt, of which after his sleepless night he had not the slightest doubt, and the guiltlessness of Dolokhov, who had no reason to preserve the honor of a man who was nothing to him.... "I should perhaps have done the same thing in his place," thought Pierre. "It's even certain that I should have done the same, then why this duel, this murder? Either I shall kill him, or he will hit me in the head, or elbow, or knee. Can't I go away from here, run away, bury myself somewhere?" passed through his mind. But just at moments when such thoughts occurred to him, he would ask in a particularly calm and absent-minded way, which inspired the respect of the onlookers, "Will it be long? Are things ready?"
When all was ready, the sabers stuck in the snow to mark the barriers, and the pistols loaded, Nesvitski went up to Pierre.
"I should not be doing my duty, Count," he said in timid tones, "and should not justify your confidence and the honor you have done me in choosing me for your second, if at this grave, this very grave, moment I did not tell you the whole truth. I think there is no sufficient ground for this affair, or for blood to be shed over it.... You were not right, not quite in the right, you were impetuous..."
"Oh yes, it is horribly stupid," said Pierre.
"Then allow me to express your regrets, and I am sure your opponent will accept them," said Nesvitski (who like the others concerned in the affair, and like everyone in similar cases, did not yet believe that the affair had come to an actual duel). "You know, Count, it is much more honorable to admit one's mistake than to let matters become irreparable. There was no insult on either side. Allow me to convey...."
"No! What is there to talk about?" said Pierre. "It's all the same.... Is everything ready?" he added. "Only tell me where to go and where to shoot," he said with an unnaturally gentle smile.
He took the pistol in his hand and began asking about the working of the trigger, as he had not before held a pistol in his hand--a fact that he did not to confess.
"Oh yes, like that, I know, I only forgot," said he.
"No apologies, none whatever," said Dolokhov to Denisov (who on his side had been attempting a reconciliation), and he also went up to the appointed place.
The spot chosen for the duel was some eighty paces from the road, where the sleighs had been left, in a small clearing in the pine forest covered with melting snow, the frost having begun to break up during the last few days. The antagonists stood forty paces apart at the farther edge of the clearing. The seconds, measuring the paces, left tracks in the deep wet snow between the place where they had been standing and Nesvitski's and Dolokhov's sabers, which were stuck intothe ground ten paces apart to mark the barrier. It was thawing and misty; at forty paces' distance nothing could be seen. For three minutes all had been ready, but they still delayed and all were silent.
"Well begin!" said Dolokhov.
"All right," said Pierre, still smiling in the same way. A feeling of dread was in the air. It was evident that the affair so lightly begun could no longer be averted but was taking its course independently of men's will.
Denisov first went to the barrier and announced: "As the adve'sawies have wefused a weconciliation, please pwoceed. Take your pistols, and at the word thwee begin to advance.
"O-ne! T-wo! Thwee!" he shouted angrily and stepped aside.
The combatants advanced along the trodden tracks, nearer and nearer to one another, beginning to see one another through the mist. They had the right to fire when they liked as they approached the barrier. Dolokhov walked slowly without raising his pistol, looking intently with his bright, sparkling blue eyes into his antagonist's face. His mouth wore its usual semblance of a smile.
"So I can fire when I like!" said Pierre, and at the word "three," he went quickly forward, missing the trodden path and stepping into the deep snow. He held the pistol in his right hand at arm's length, apparently afraid of shooting himself with it. His left hand he held carefully back, because he wished to support his right hand with it and knew he must not do so. Having advanced six paces and strayed off the track into the snow, Pierre looked down at his feet, then quickly glanced at Dolokhov and, bending his finger as he had been shown, fired. Not at all expecting so loud a report, Pierre shuddered at the sound and then, smiling at his own sensations, stood still. The smoke, rendered denser by the mist, prevented him from seeing anything for an instant, but there was no second report as he had expected. He only heard Dolokhov's hurried steps, and his figure came in view through the smoke. He was pressing one hand to his left side, while the other clutched his drooping pistol. His face was pale. Rostov ran toward him and said something.
"No-o-o!" muttered Dolokhov through his teeth, "no, it's not over." And after stumbling a few staggering steps right up to the saber, he sank on the snow beside it. His left hand was bloody; he wiped it on his coat and supported himself with it. His frowning face was pallid and quivered.
"Plea..." began Dolokhov, but could not at first pronounce the word.
"Please," he uttered with an effort.
Pierre, hardly restraining his sobs, began running toward Dolokhov and was about to cross the space between the barriers, when Dolokhov cried:
"To your barrier!" and Pierre, grasping what was meant, stopped by his saber. Only ten paces divided them. Dolokhov lowered his head to the snow, greedily bit at it, again raised his head, adjusted himself, drew in his legs and sat up, seeking a firm center of gravity. He sucked and swallowed the cold snow, his lips quivered but his eyes, still smiling, glittered with effort and exasperation as he mustered his remaining strength. He raised his pistol and aimed.
"Sideways! Cover yourself with your pistol!" ejaculated Nesvitski.
"Cover yourself!" even Denisov cried to his adversary.
Pierre, with a gentle smile of pity and remorse, his arms and legs helplessly spread out, stood with his broad chest directly facing Dolokhov looked sorrowfully at him. Denisov, Rostov, and Nesvitski closed their eyes. At the same instant they heard a report and Dolokhov's angry cry.
"Missed!" shouted Dolokhov, and he lay helplessly, face downwards on the snow.
Pierre clutched his temples, and turning round went into the forest, trampling through the deep snow, and muttering incoherent words:
"Folly... folly! Death... lies..." he repeated, puckering his face.
Nesvitski stopped him and took him home.
Rostov and Denisov drove away with the wounded Dolokhov.
The latter lay silent in the sleigh with closed eyes and did not answer a word to the questions addressed to him. But on entering Moscow he suddenly came to and, lifting his head with an effort, took Rostov, who was sitting beside him, by the hand. Rostov was struck by the totally altered and unexpectedly rapturous and tender expression on Dolokhov's face.
"Well? How do you feel?" he asked.
"Bad! But it's not that, my friend-" said Dolokhov with a gasping voice. "Where are we? In Moscow, I know. I don't matter, but I have killed her, killed... She won't get over it! She won't survive...."
"Who?" asked Rostov.
"My mother! My mother, my angel, my adored angel mother," and Dolokhov pressed Rostov's hand and burst into tears.
When he had become a little quieter, he explained to Rostov that he was living with his mother, who, if she saw him dying, would not survive it. He implored Rostov to go on and prepare her.
Rostov went on ahead to do what was asked, and to his great surprise learned that Dolokhov the brawler, Dolokhov the bully, lived in Moscow with an old mother and a hunchback sister, and was the most affectionate of sons and brothers.