The duel between Pierre and Dolokhov was hushed up and, in spite of the Emperor's severity regarding duels at that time, neither the principals nor their seconds suffered for it. But the story of the duel, confirmed by Pierre's rupture with his wife, was the talk of society. Pierre who had been regarded with patronizing condescension when he was an illegitimate son, and petted and extolled when he was the best match in Russia, had sunk greatly in the esteem of society after his marriage--when the marriageable daughters and their mothers had nothing to hope from him--especially as he did not know how, and did not wish, to court society's favor. Now he alone was blamed for what had happened, he was said to be insanely jealous and subject like his father to fits of bloodthirsty rage. And when after Pierre's departure Helene returned to Petersburg, she was received by all her acquaintances not only cordially, but even with a shade of deference due to her misfortune. When conversation turned on her husband Helene assumed a dignified expression, which with characteristic tact she had acquired though she did not understand its significance. This expression suggested that she had resolved to endure her troubles uncomplainingly and that her husband was a cross laid upon her by God. Prince Vasili expressed his opinion more openly. He shrugged his shoulders when Pierre was mentioned and, pointing to his forehead, remarked:
"A bit touched--I always said so."
"I said from the first," declared Anna Pavlovna referring to Pierre, "I said at the time and before anyone else" (she insisted on her priority) "that that senseless young man was spoiled by the depraved ideas of these days. I said so even at the time when everybody was in raptures about him, when he had just returned from abroad, and when, if you remember, he posed as a sort of Marat at one of my soirees. And how has it ended? I was against this marriage even then and foretold all that has happened."
Anna Pavlovna continued to give on free evenings the same kind of soirees as before--such as she alone had the gift of arranging--at which was to be found "the cream of really good society, the bloom of the intellectual essence of Petersburg," as she herself put it. Besides this refined selection of society Anna Pavlovna's receptions were also distinguished by the fact that she always presented some new and interesting person to the visitors and that nowhere else was the state of the political thermometer of legitimate Petersburg court society so dearly and distinctly indicated.
Toward the end of 1806, when all the sad details of Napoleon's destruction of the Prussian army at Jena and Auerstadt and the surrender of most of the Prussian fortresses had been received, when our troops had already entered Prussia and our second war with Napoleon was beginning, Anna Pavlovna gave one of her soirees. The "cream of really good society" consisted of the fascinating Helene, forsaken by her husband, Mortemart, the delightful Prince Hippolyte who had just returned from Vienna, two diplomatists, the old aunt, a young man referred to in that drawing room as "a man of great merit" (un homme de beaucoup de merite), a newly appointed maid of honor and her mother, and several other less noteworthy persons.
The novelty Anna Pavlovna was setting before her guests that evening was Boris Drubetskoy, who had just arrived as a special messenger from the Prussian army and was aide-de-camp to a very important personage.
The temperature shown by the political thermometer to the company that evening was this:
"Whatever the European sovereigns and commanders may do to countenance Bonaparte, and to cause me, and us in general, annoyance and mortification, our opinion of Bonaparte cannot alter. We shall not cease to express our sincere views on that subject, and can only say to the King Prussia and others: 'So much the worse for you. Tu l'as voulu, George Dandin,' that's all we have to say about it!"
When Boris, who was to be served up to the guests, entered the drawing room, almost all the company had assembled, and the conversation, guided by Anna Pavlovna, was about our diplomatic relations with Austria and the hope of an alliance with her.
Boris, grown more manly and looking fresh, rosy and self-possessed, entered the drawing room elegantly dressed in the uniform of an aide-de-camp and was duly conducted to pay his respects to the aunt and then brought back to the general circle.
Anna Pavlovna gave him her shriveled hand to kiss and introduced him to several persons whom he did not know, giving him a whispered description of each.
"Prince Hippolyte Kuragin, M. Krug, the charge d'affaires from
Copenhagen--a profound intellect," and simply, "Mr. Shitov--a
man of great merit"--this of the man usually so described.
Thanks to Anna Mikhaylovna's efforts, his own tastes, and the peculiarities of his reserved nature, Boris had managed during his service to place himself very advantageously. He was aide-de-camp to a very important personage, had been sent on a very important mission to Prussia, and had just returned from there as a special messenger. He had become thoroughly conversant with that unwritten code with which he had been so pleased at Olmutz and according to which an ensign might rank incomparably higher than a general, and according to which what was needed for success in the service was not effort or work, or courage, or perseverance, but only the knowledge of how to get on with those who can grant rewards, and he was himself often surprised at the rapidity of his success and at the inability of others to understand these things. In consequence of this discovery his whole manner of life, all his relations with old friends, all his plans for his future, were completely altered. He was not rich, but would spend his last groat to be better dressed than others, and would rather deprive himself of many pleasures than allow himself to be seen in a shabby equipage or appear in the streets of Petersburg in an old uniform. He made friends with and sought the acquaintance of only those above him in position and who could therefore be of use to him. He liked Petersburg and despised Moscow. The remembrance of the Rostovs' house and of his childish love for Natasha was unpleasant to him and he had not once been to see the Rostovs since the day of his departure for the army. To be in Anna Pavlovna's drawing room he considered an important step up in the service, and he at once understood his role, letting his hostess make use of whatever interest he had to offer. He himself carefully scanned each face, appraising the possibilities of establishing intimacy with each of those present, and the advantages that might accrue. He took the seat indicated to him beside the fair Helene and listened to the general conversation.
"Vienna considers the bases of the proposed treaty so unattainable that not even a continuity of most brilliant successes would secure them, and she doubts the means we have of gaining them. That is the actual phrase used by the Vienna cabinet," said the Danish charge d'affaires.
"The doubt is flattering," said "the man of profound intellect," with a subtle smile.
"We must distinguish between the Vienna cabinet and the Emperor of Austria," said Mortemart. "The Emperor of Austria can never have thought of such a thing, it is only the cabinet that says it."
"Ah, my dear vicomte," put in Anna Pavlovna, "L'Urope" (for some reason she called it Urope as if that were a specially refined French pronunciation which she could allow herself when conversing with a Frenchman), "L'Urope ne sera jamais notre alliee sincere."*
*"Europe will never be our sincere ally."
After that Anna Pavlovna led up to the courage and firmness of the King of Prussia, in order to draw Boris into the conversation.
Boris listened attentively to each of the speakers, awaiting his turn, but managed meanwhile to look round repeatedly at his neighbor, the beautiful Helene, whose eyes several times met those of the handsome young aide-de-camp with a smile.
Speaking of the position of Prussia, Anna Pavlovna very naturally asked Boris to tell them about his journey to Glogau and in what state he found the Prussian army. Boris, speaking with deliberation, told them in pure, correct French many interesting details about the armies and the court, carefully abstaining from expressing an opinion of his own about the facts he was recounting. For some time he engrossed the general attention, and Anna Pavlovna felt that the novelty she had served up was received with pleasure by all her visitors. The greatest attention of all to Boris' narrative was shown by Helene. She asked him several questions about his journey and seemed greatly interested in the state of the Prussian army. As soon as he had finished she turned to him with her usual smile.
"You absolutely must come and see me," she said in a tone that implied that, for certain considerations he could not know of, this was absolutely necessary.
"On Tuesday between eight and nine. It will give me great pleasure."
Boris promised to fulfill her wish and was about to begin a conversation with her, when Anna Pavlovna called him away on the pretext that her aunt wished to hear him.
"You know her husband, of course?" said Anna Pavlovna, closing her eyes and indicating Helene with a sorrowful gesture. "Ah, she is such an unfortunate and charming woman! Don't mention him before her--please don't! It is too painful for her!"
When Boris and Anna Pavlovna returned to the others Prince Hippolyte had the ear of the company.
Bending forward in his armchair he said: "Le Roi de Prusse!" and having said this laughed. Everyone turned toward him.
"Le Roi de Prusse?" Hippolyte said interrogatively, again laughing, and then calmly and seriously sat back in his chair. Anna Pavlovna waited for him to go on, but as he seemed quite decided to say no more she began to tell of how at Potsdam the impious Bonaparte had stolen the sword of Frederick the Great.
"It is the sword of Frederick the Great which I..." she began, but Hippolyte interrupted her with the words: "Le Roi de Prusse..." and again, as soon as all turned toward him, excused himself and said no more.
Anna Pavlovna frowned. Mortemart, Hippolyte's friend, addressed him firmly.
"Come now, what about your Roi de Prusse?"
Hippolyte laughed as if ashamed of laughing.
"Oh, it's nothing. I only wished to say..." (he wanted to repeat a joke he had heard in Vienna and which he had been trying all that evening to get in) "I only wished to say that we are wrong to fight pour le Roi de Prusse!"
Boris smiled circumspectly, so that it might be taken as ironical or appreciative according to the way the joke was received. Everybody laughed.
"Your joke is too bad, it's witty but unjust," said Anna Pavlovna, shaking her little shriveled finger at him.
"We are not fighting pour le Roi de Prusse, but for right principles. Oh, that wicked Prince Hippolyte!" she said.
The conversation did not flag all evening and turned chiefly on the political news. It became particularly animated toward the end of the evening when the rewards bestowed by the Emperor were mentioned.
"You know N--N--received a snuffbox with the portrait last year?" said "the man of profound intellect." "Why shouldn't S--S--get the same distinction?"
"Pardon me! A snuffbox with the Emperor's portrait is a reward but not a distinction," said the diplomatist--"a gift, rather."
"There are precedents, I may mention Schwarzenberg."
"It's impossible," replied another.
"Will you bet? The ribbon of the order is a different matter...."
When everybody rose to go, Helene who had spoken very little all the evening again turned to Boris, asking him in a tone of caressing significant command to come to her on Tuesday.
"It is of great importance to me," she said, turning with a smile toward Anna Pavlovna, and Anna Pavlovna, with the same sad smile with which she spoke of her exalted patroness, supported Helene's wish.
It seemed as if from some words Boris had spoken that evening about the Prussian army, Helene had suddenly found it necessary to see him. She seemed to promise to explain that necessity to him when he came on Tuesday.
But on Tuesday evening, having come to Helene's splendid salon, Boris received no clear explanation of why it had been necessary for him to come. There were other guests and the countess talked little to him, and only as he kissed her hand on taking leave said unexpectedly and in a whisper, with a strangely unsmiling face: "Come to dinner tomorrow... in the evening. You must come.... Come!"
During that stay in Petersburg, Boris became an intimate in the countess' house.
The war was flaming up and nearing the Russian frontier. Everywhere one heard curses on Bonaparte, "the enemy of mankind." Militiamen and recruits were being enrolled in the villages, and from the seat of war came contradictory news, false as usual and therefore variously interpreted. The life of old Prince Bolkonski, Prince Andrew, and Princess Mary had greatly changed since 1805.
In 1806 the old prince was made one of the eight commanders in chief then appointed to supervise the enrollment decreed throughout Russia. Despite the weakness of age, which had become particularly noticeable since the time when he thought his son had been killed, he did not think it right to refuse a duty to which he had been appointed by the Emperor himself, and this fresh opportunity for action gave him new energy and strength. He was continually traveling through the three provinces entrusted to him, was pedantic in the fulfillment of his duties, severe to cruelty with his subordinates, and went into everything down to the minutest details himself. Princess Mary had ceased taking lessons in mathematics from her father, and when the old prince was at home went to his study with the wet nurse and little Prince Nicholas (as his grandfather called him). The baby Prince Nicholas lived with his wet nurse and nurse Savishna in the late princess' rooms and Princess Mary spent most of the day in the nursery, taking a mother's place to her little nephew as best she could. Mademoiselle Bourienne, too, seemed passionately fond of the boy, and Princess Mary often deprived herself to give her friend the pleasure of dandling the little angel--as she called her nephew--and playing with him.
Near the altar of the church at Bald Hills there was a chapel over the tomb of the little princess, and in this chapel was a marble monument brought from Italy, representing an angel with outspread wings ready to fly upwards. The angel's upper lip was slightly raised as though about to smile, and once on coming out of the chapel Prince Andrew and Princess Mary admitted to one another that the angel's face reminded them strangely of the little princess. But what was still stranger, though of this Prince Andrew said nothing to his sister, was that in the expression the sculptor had happened to give the angel's face, Prince Andrew read the same mild reproach he had read on the face of his dead wife: "Ah, why have you done this to me?"
Soon after Prince Andrew's return the old prince made over to him a large estate, Bogucharovo, about twenty-five miles from Bald Hills. Partly because of the depressing memories associated with Bald Hills, partly because Prince Andrew did not always feel equal to bearing with his father's peculiarities, and partly because he needed solitude, Prince Andrew made use of Bogucharovo, began building and spent most of his time there.
After the Austerlitz campaign Prince Andrew had firmly resolved not to continue his military service, and when the war recommenced and everybody had to serve, he took a post under his father in the recruitment so as to avoid active service. The old prince and his son seemed to have changed roles since the campaign of 1805. The old man, roused by activity, expected the best results from the new campaign, while Prince Andrew on the contrary, taking no part in the war and secretly regretting this, saw only the dark side.
On February 26, 1807, the old prince set off on one of his circuits. Prince Andrew remained at Bald Hills as usual during his father's absence. Little Nicholas had been unwell for four days. The coachman who had driven the old prince to town returned bringing papers and letters for Prince Andrew.
Not finding the young prince in his study the valet went with the letters to Princess Mary's apartments, but did not find him there. He was told that the prince had gone to the nursery.
"If you please, your excellency, Petrusha has brought some papers," said one of the nursemaids to Prince Andrew who was sitting on a child's little chair while, frowning and with trembling hands, he poured drops from a medicine bottle into a wineglass half full of water.
"What is it?" he said crossly, and, his hand shaking unintentionally, he poured too many drops into the glass. He threw the mixture onto the floor and asked for some more water. The maid brought it.
There were in the room a child's cot, two boxes, two armchairs, a table, a child's table, and the little chair on which Prince Andrew was sitting. The curtains were drawn, and a single candle was burning on the table, screened by a bound music book so that the light did not fall on the cot.
"My dear," said Princess Mary, addressing her brother from beside the cot where she was standing, "better wait a bit... later..."
"Oh, leave off, you always talk nonsense and keep putting things off--and this is what comes of it!" said Prince Andrew in an exasperated whisper, evidently meaning to wound his sister.
"My dear, really... it's better not to wake him... he's asleep," said the princess in a tone of entreaty.
Prince Andrew got up and went on tiptoe up to the little bed, wineglass in hand.
"Perhaps we'd really better not wake him," he said hesitating.
"As you please... really... I think so... but as you please," said Princess Mary, evidently intimidated and confused that her opinion had prevailed. She drew her brother's attention to the maid who was calling him in a whisper.
It was the second night that neither of them had slept, watching the boy who was in a high fever. These last days, mistrusting their household doctor and expecting another for whom they had sent to town, they had been trying first one remedy and then another. Worn out by sleeplessness and anxiety they threw their burden of sorrow on one another and reproached and disputed with each other.
"Petrusha has come with papers from your father," whispered the maid.
Prince Andrew went out.
"Devil take them!" he muttered, and after listening to the verbal instructions his father had sent and taking the correspondence and his father's letter, he returned to the nursery.
"Well?" he asked.
"Still the same. Wait, for heaven's sake. Karl Ivanich always says that sleep is more important than anything," whispered Princess Mary with a sigh.
Prince Andrew went up to the child and felt him. He was burning hot.
"Confound you and your Karl Ivanich!" He took the glass with the drops and again went up to the cot.
"Andrew, don't!" said Princess Mary.
But he scowled at her angrily though also with suffering in his eyes, and stooped glass in hand over the infant.
"But I wish it," he said. "I beg you--give it him!"
Princess Mary shrugged her shoulders but took the glass submissively and calling the nurse began giving the medicine. The child screamed hoarsely. Prince Andrew winced and, clutching his head, went out and sat down on a sofa in the next room.
He still had all the letters in his hand. Opening them mechanically he began reading. The old prince, now and then using abbreviations, wrote in his large elongated hand on blue paper as follows:
Have just this moment received by special messenger very joyful news--if it's not false. Bennigsen seems to have obtained a complete victory over Buonaparte at Eylau. In Petersburg everyone is rejoicing, and the rewards sent to the army are innumerable. Though he is a German--I congratulate him! I can't make out what the commander at Korchevo--a certain Khandrikov--is up to; till now the additional men and provisions have not arrived. Gallop off to him at once and say I'll have his head off if everything is not here in a week. Have received another letter about the Preussisch-Eylau battle from Petenka--he took part in it--and it's all true. When mischief-makers don't meddle even a German beats Buonaparte. He is said to be fleeing in great disorder. Mind you gallop off to Korchevo without delay and carry out instructions!
Prince Andrew sighed and broke the seal of another envelope. It was a closely written letter of two sheets from Bilibin. He folded it up without reading it and reread his father's letter, ending with the words: "Gallop off to Korchevo and carry out instructions!"
"No, pardon me, I won't go now till the child is better," thought he, going to the door and looking into the nursery.
Princess Mary was still standing by the cot, gently rocking the baby.
"Ah yes, and what else did he say that's unpleasant?" thought Prince Andrew, recalling his father's letter. "Yes, we have gained a victory over Bonaparte, just when I'm not serving. Yes, yes, he's always poking fun at me.... Ah, well! Let him!" And he began reading Bilibin's letter which was written in French. He read without understanding half of it, read only to forget, if but for a moment, what he had too long been thinking of so painfully to the exclusion of all else.
Bilibin was now at army headquarters in a diplomatic capacity, and though he wrote in French and used French jests and French idioms, he described the whole campaign with a fearless self-censure and self-derision genuinely Russian. Bilibin wrote that the obligation of diplomatic discretion tormented him, and he was happy to have in Prince Andrew a reliable correspondent to whom he could pour out the bile he had accumulated at the sight of all that was being done in the army. The letter was old, having been written before the battle at Preussisch-Eylau.
"Since the day of our brilliant success at Austerlitz," wrote Bilibin, "as you know, my dear prince, I never leave headquarters. I have certainly acquired a taste for war, and it is just as well for me; what I have seen during these last three months is incredible.
"I begin ab ovo. 'The enemy of the human race,' as you know, attacks the Prussians. The Prussians are our faithful allies who have only betrayed us three times in three years. We take up their cause, but it turns out that 'the enemy of the human race' pays no heed to our fine speeches and in his rude and savage way throws himself on the Prussians without giving them time to finish the parade they had begun, and in two twists of the hand he breaks them to smithereens and installs himself in the palace at Potsdam.
"'I most ardently desire,' writes the King of Prussia to Bonaparte, 'that Your Majesty should be received and treated in my palace in a manner agreeable to yourself, and in so far as circumstances allowed, I have hastened to take all steps to that end. May I have succeeded!' The Prussian generals pride themselves on being polite to the French and lay down their arms at the first demand.
"The head of the garrison at Glogau, with ten thousand men, asks the King of Prussia what he is to do if he is summoned to surrender.... All this is absolutely true.
"In short, hoping to settle matters by taking up a warlike attitude, it turns out that we have landed ourselves in war, and what is more, in war on our own frontiers, with and for the King of Prussia. We have everything in perfect order, only one little thing is lacking, namely, a commander in chief. As it was considered that the Austerlitz success might have been more decisive had the commander in chief not been so young, all our octogenarians were reviewed, and of Prozorovski and Kamenski the latter was preferred. The general comes to us, Suvorov-like, in a kibitka, and is received with acclamations of joy and triumph.
"On the 4th, the first courier arrives from Petersburg. The mails are taken to the field marshal's room, for he likes to do everything himself. I am called in to help sort the letters and take those meant for us. The field marshal looks on and waits for letters addressed to him. We search, but none are to be found. The field marshal grows impatient and sets to work himself and finds letters from the Emperor to Count T., Prince V., and others. Then he bursts into one of his wild furies and rages at everyone and everything, seizes the letters, opens them, and reads those from the Emperor addressed to others. 'Ah! So that's the way they treat me! No confidence in me! Ah, ordered to keep an eye on me! Very well then! Get along with you!' So he writes the famous order of the day to General Bennigsen:
'I am wounded and cannot ride and consequently cannot command the army. You have brought your army corps to Pultusk, routed: here it is exposed, and without fuel or forage, so something must be done, and, as you yourself reported to Count Buxhowden yesterday, you must think of retreating to our frontier--which do today.'
"'From all my riding,' he writes to the Emperor, 'I have got a saddle sore which, coming after all my previous journeys, quite prevents my riding and commanding so vast an army, so I have passed on the command to the general next in seniority, Count Buxhowden, having sent him my whole staff and all that belongs to it, advising him if there is a lack of bread, to move farther into the interior of Prussia, for only one day's ration of bread remains, and in some regiments none at all, as reported by the division commanders, Ostermann and Sedmoretzki, and all that the peasants had has been eaten up. I myself will remain in hospital at Ostrolenka till I recover. In regard to which I humbly submit my report, with the information that if the army remains in its present bivouac another fortnight there will not be a healthy man left in it by spring.
"'Grant leave to retire to his country seat to an old man who is already in any case dishonored by being unable to fulfill the great and glorious task for which he was chosen. I shall await your most gracious permission here in hospital, that I may not have to play the part of a secretary rather than commander in the army. My removal from the army does not produce the slightest stir--a blind man has left it. There are thousands such as I in Russia.'
"The field marshal is angry with the Emperor and he punishes us all, isn't it logical?
"This is the first act. Those that follow are naturally increasingly interesting and entertaining. After the field marshal's departure it appears that we are within sight of the enemy and must give battle. Buxhowden is commander in chief by seniority, but General Bennigsen does not quite see it; more particularly as it is he and his corps who are within sight of the enemy and he wishes to profit by the opportunity to fight a battle 'on his own hand' as the Germans say. He does so. This is the battle of Pultusk, which is considered a great victory but in my opinion was nothing of the kind. We civilians, as you know, have a very bad way of deciding whether a battle was won or lost. Those who retreat after a battle have lost it is what we say; and according to that it is we who lost the battle of Pultusk. In short, we retreat after the battle but send a courier to Petersburg with news of a victory, and General Bennigsen, hoping to receive from Petersburg the post of commander in chief as a reward for his victory, does not give up the command of the army to General Buxhowden. During this interregnum we begin a very original and interesting series of maneuvers. Our aim is no longer, as it should be, to avoid or attack the enemy, but solely to avoid General Buxhowden who by right of seniority should be our chief. So energetically do we pursue this aim that after crossing an unfordable river we burn the bridges to separate ourselves from our enemy, who at the moment is not Bonaparte but Buxhowden. General Buxhowden was all but attacked and captured by a superior enemy force as a result of one of these maneuvers that enabled us to escape him. Buxhowden pursues us--we scuttle. He hardly crosses the river to our side before we recross to the other. At last our enemy. Buxhowden, catches us and attacks. Both generals are angry, and the result is a challenge on Buxhowden's part and an epileptic fit on Bennigsen's. But at the critical moment the courier who carried the news of our victory at Pultusk to Petersburg returns bringing our appointment as commander in chief, and our first foe, Buxhowden, is vanquished; we can now turn our thoughts to the second, Bonaparte. But as it turns out, just at that moment a third enemy rises before us- namely the Orthodox Russian soldiers, loudly demanding bread, meat, biscuits, fodder, and whatnot! The stores are empty, the roads impassable. The Orthodox begin looting, and in a way of which our last campaign can give you no idea. Half the regiments form bands and scour the countryside and put everything to fire and sword. The inhabitants are totally ruined, the hospitals overflow with sick, and famine is everywhere. Twice the marauders even attack our headquarters, and the commander in chief has to ask for a battalion to disperse them. During one of these attacks they carried off my empty portmanteau and my dressing gown. The Emperor proposes to give all commanders of divisions the right to shoot marauders, but I much fear this will oblige one half the army to shoot the other."
At first Prince Andrew read with his eyes only, but after a while, in spite of himself (although he knew how far it was safe to trust Bilibin), what he had read began to interest him more and more. When he had read thus far, he crumpled the letter up and threw it away. It was not what he had read that vexed him, but the fact that the life out there in which he had now no part could perturb him. He shut his eyes, rubbed his forehead as if to rid himself of all interest in what he had read, and listened to what was passing in the nursery. Suddenly he thought he heard a strange noise through the door. He was seized with alarm lest something should have happened to the child while he was reading the letter. He went on tiptoe to the nursery door and opened it.
Just as he went in he saw that the nurse was hiding something from him with a scared look and that Princess Mary was no longer by the cot.
"My dear," he heard what seemed to him her despairing whisper behind him.
As often happens after long sleeplessness and long anxiety, he was seized by an unreasoning panic--it occurred to him that the child was dead. All that he saw and heard seemed to confirm this terror.
"All is over," he thought, and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead. He went to the cot in confusion, sure that he would find it empty and that the nurse had been hiding the dead baby. He drew the curtain aside and for some time his frightened, restless eyes could not find the baby. At last he saw him: the rosy boy had tossed about till he lay across the bed with his head lower than the pillow, and was smacking his lips in his sleep and breathing evenly.
Prince Andrew was as glad to find the boy like that, as if he had already lost him. He bent over him and, as his sister had taught him, tried with his lips whether the child was still feverish. The soft forehead was moist. Prince Andrew touched the head with his hand; even the hair was wet, so profusely had the child perspired. He was not dead, but evidently the crisis was over and he was convalescent. Prince Andrew longed to snatch up, to squeeze, to hold to his heart, this helpless little creature, but dared not do so. He stood over him, gazing at his head and at the little arms and legs which showed under the blanket. He heard a rustle behind him and a shadow appeared under the curtain of the cot. He did not look round, but still gazing at the infant's face listened to his regular breathing. The dark shadow was Princess Mary, who had come up to the cot with noiseless steps, lifted the curtain, and dropped it again behind her. Prince Andrew recognized her without looking and held out his hand to her. She pressed it.
"He has perspired," said Prince Andrew.
"I was coming to tell you so."
The child moved slightly in his sleep, smiled, and rubbed his forehead against the pillow.
Prince Andrew looked at his sister. In the dim shadow of the curtain her luminous eyes shone more brightly than usual from the tears of joy that were in them. She leaned over to her brother and kissed him, slightly catching the curtain of the cot. Each made the other a warning gesture and stood still in the dim light beneath the curtain as if not wishing to leave that seclusion where they three were shut off from all the world. Prince Andrew was the first to move away, ruffling his hair against the muslin of the curtain.
"Yes, this is the one thing left me now," he said with a sigh.
Soon after his admission to the Masonic Brotherhood, Pierre went to the Kiev province, where he had the greatest number of serfs, taking with him full directions which he had written down for his own guidance as to what he should do on his estates.
When he reached Kiev he sent for all his stewards to the head office and explained to them his intentions and wishes. He told them that steps would be taken immediately to free his serfs--and that till then they were not to be overburdened with labor, women while nursing their babies were not to be sent to work, assistance was to be given to the serfs, punishments were to be admonitory and not corporal, and hospitals, asylums, and schools were to be established on all the estates. Some of the stewards (there were semiliterate foremen among them) listened with alarm, supposing these words to mean that the young count was displeased with their management and embezzlement of money, some after their first fright were amused by Pierre's lisp and the new words they had not heard before, others simply enjoyed hearing how the master talked, while the cleverest among them, including the chief steward, understood from this speech how they could best handle the master for their own ends.
The chief steward expressed great sympathy with Pierre's intentions, but remarked that besides these changes it would be necessary to go into the general state of affairs which was far from satisfactory.
Despite Count Bezukhov's enormous wealth, since he had come into an income which was said to amount to five hundred thousand rubles a year, Pierre felt himself far poorer than when his father had made him an allowance of ten thousand rubles. He had a dim perception of the following budget:
About 80,000 went in payments on all the estates to the Land Bank, about 30,000 went for the upkeep of the estate near Moscow, the town house, and the allowance to the three princesses; about 15,000 was given in pensions and the same amount for asylums; 150,000 alimony was sent to the countess; about 70,00 went for interest on debts. The building of a new church, previously begun, had cost about 10,000 in each of the last two years, and he did not know how the rest, about 100,000 rubles, was spent, and almost every year he was obliged to borrow. Besides this the chief steward wrote every year telling him of fires and bad harvests, or of the necessity of rebuilding factories and workshops. So the first task Pierre had to face was one for which he had very little aptitude or inclination--practical business.
He discussed estate affairs every day with his chief steward. But he felt that this did not forward matters at all. He felt that these consultations were detached from real affairs and did not link up with them or make them move. On the one hand, the chief steward put the state of things to him in the very worst light, pointing out the necessity of paying off the debts and undertaking new activities with serf labor, to which Pierre did not agree. On the other hand, Pierre demanded that steps should be taken to liberate the serfs, which the steward met by showing the necessity of first paying off the loans from the Land Bank, and the consequent impossibility of a speedy emancipation.
The steward did not say it was quite impossible, but suggested selling the forests in the province of Kostroma, the land lower down the river, and the Crimean estate, in order to make it possible: all of which operations according to him were connected with such complicated measures--the removal of injunctions, petitions, permits, and so on--that Pierre became quite bewildered and only replied:
"Yes, yes, do so."
Pierre had none of the practical persistence that would have enabled him to attend to the business himself and so he disliked it and only tried to pretend to the steward that he was attending to it. The steward for his part tried to pretend to the count that he considered these consultations very valuable for the proprietor and troublesome to himself.
In Kiev Pierre found some people he knew, and strangers hastened to make his acquaintance and joyfully welcomed the rich newcomer, the largest landowner of the province. Temptations to Pierre's greatest weakness--the one to which he had confessed when admitted to the Lodge--were so strong that he could not resist them. Again whole days, weeks, and months of his life passed in as great a rush and were as much occupied with evening parties, dinners, lunches, and balls, giving him no time for reflection, as in Petersburg. Instead of the new life he had hoped to lead he still lived the old life, only in new surroundings.
Of the three precepts of Freemasonry Pierre realized that he did not fulfill the one which enjoined every Mason to set an example of moral life, and that of the seven virtues he lacked two--morality and the love of death. He consoled himself with the thought that he fulfilled another of the precepts--that of reforming the human race- and had other virtues--love of his neighbor, and especially generosity.
In the spring of 1807 he decided to return to Petersburg. On the way he intended to visit all his estates and see for himself how far his orders had been carried out and in what state were the serfs whom God had entrusted to his care and whom he intended to benefit.
The chief steward, who considered the young count's attempts almost insane--unprofitable to himself, to the count, and to the serfs--made some concessions. Continuing to represent the liberation of the serfs as impracticable, he arranged for the erection of large buildings--schools, hospitals, and asylums--on all the estates before the master arrived. Everywhere preparations were made not for ceremonious welcomes (which he knew Pierre would not like), but for just such gratefully religious ones, with offerings of icons and the bread and salt of hospitality, as, according to his understanding of his master, would touch and delude him.
The southern spring, the comfortable rapid traveling in a Vienna carriage, and the solitude of the road, all had a gladdening effect on Pierre. The estates he had not before visited were each more picturesque than the other; the serfs everywhere seemed thriving and touchingly grateful for the benefits conferred on them. Everywhere were receptions, which though they embarrassed Pierre awakened a joyful feeling in the depth of his heart. In one place the peasants presented him with bread and salt and an icon of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, asking permission, as a mark of their gratitude for the benefits he had conferred on them, to build a new chantry to the church at their own expense in honor of Peter and Paul, his patron saints. In another place the women with infants in arms met him to thank him for releasing them from hard work. On a third estate the priest, bearing a cross, came to meet him surrounded by children whom, by the count's generosity, he was instructing in reading, writing, and religion. On all his estates Pierre saw with his own eyes brick buildings erected or in course of erection, all on one plan, for hospitals, schools, and almshouses, which were soon to be opened. Everywhere he saw the stewards' accounts, according to which the serfs' manorial labor had been diminished, and heard the touching thanks of deputations of serfs in their full-skirted blue coats.
What Pierre did not know was that the place where they presented him with bread and salt and wished to build a chantry in honor of Peter and Paul was a market village where a fair was held on St. Peter's day, and that the richest peasants (who formed the deputation) had begun the chantry long before, but that nine tenths of the peasants in that villages were in a state of the greatest poverty. He did not know that since the nursing mothers were no longer sent to work on his land, they did still harder work on their own land. He did not know that the priest who met him with the cross oppressed the peasants by his exactions, and that the pupils' parents wept at having to let him take their children and secured their release by heavy payments. He did not know that the brick buildings, built to plan, were being built by serfs whose manorial labor was thus increased, though lessened on paper. He did not know that where the steward had shown him in the accounts that the serfs' payments had been diminished by a third, their obligatory manorial work had been increased by a half. And so Pierre was delighted with his visit to his estates and quite recovered the philanthropic mood in which he had left Petersburg, and wrote enthusiastic letters to his "brother-instructor" as he called the Grand Master.
"How easy it is, how little effort it needs, to do so much good," thought Pierre, "and how little attention we pay to it!"
He was pleased at the gratitude he received, but felt abashed at receiving it. This gratitude reminded him of how much more he might do for these simple, kindly people.
The chief steward, a very stupid but cunning man who saw perfectly through the naive and intelligent count and played with him as with a toy, seeing the effect these prearranged receptions had on Pierre, pressed him still harder with proofs of the impossibility and above all the uselessness of freeing the serfs, who were quite happy as it was.
Pierre in his secret soul agreed with the steward that it would be difficult to imagine happier people, and that God only knew what would happen to them when they were free, but he insisted, though reluctantly, on what he thought right. The steward promised to do all in his power to carry out the count's wishes, seeing clearly that not only would the count never be able to find out whether all measures had been taken for the sale of the land and forests and to release them from the Land Bank, but would probably never even inquire and would never know that the newly erected buildings were standing empty and that the serfs continued to give in money and work all that other people's serfs gave--that is to say, all that could be got out of them.