An hour later Dunyasha came to tell the princess that Dron had come, and all the peasants had assembled at the barn by the princess' order and wished to have word with their mistress.
"But I never told them to come," said Princess Mary. "I only told Dron to let them have the grain."
"Only, for God's sake, Princess dear, have them sent away and don't go out to them. It's all a trick," said Dunyasha, "and when Yakov Alpatych returns let us get away... and please don't..."
"What is a trick?" asked Princess Mary in surprise.
"I know it is, only listen to me for God's sake! Ask nurse too. They say they don't agree to leave Bogucharovo as you ordered."
"You're making some mistake. I never ordered them to go away," said Princess Mary. "Call Dronushka."
Dron came and confirmed Dunyasha's words; the peasants had come by the princess' order.
"But I never sent for them," declared the princess. "You must have given my message wrong. I only said that you were to give them the grain."
Dron only sighed in reply.
"If you order it they will go away," said he.
"No, no. I'll go out to them," said Princess Mary, and in spite of the nurse's and Dunyasha's protests she went out into the porch; Dron, Dunyasha, the nurse, and Michael Ivanovich following her.
"They probably think I am offering them the grain to bribe them to remain here, while I myself go away leaving them to the mercy of the French," thought Princess Mary. "I will offer them monthly rations and housing at our Moscow estate. I am sure Andrew would do even more in my place," she thought as she went out in the twilight toward the crowd standing on the pasture by the barn.
The men crowded closer together, stirred, and rapidly took off their hats. Princess Mary lowered her eyes and, tripping over her skirt, came close up to them. So many different eyes, old and young, were fixed on her, and there were so many different faces, that she could not distinguish any of them and, feeling that she must speak to them all at once, did not know how to do it. But again the sense that she represented her father and her brother gave her courage, and she boldly began her speech.
"I am very glad you have come," she said without raising her eyes, and feeling her heart beating quickly and violently. "Dronushka tells me that the war has ruined you. That is our common misfortune, and I shall grudge nothing to help you. I am myself going away because it is dangerous here... the enemy is near... because... I am giving you everything, my friends, and I beg you to take everything, all our grain, so that you may not suffer want! And if you have been told that I am giving you the grain to keep you here--that is not true. On the contrary, I ask you to go with all your belongings to our estate near Moscow, and I promise you I will see to it that there you shall want for nothing. You shall be given food and lodging."
The princess stopped. Sighs were the only sound heard in the crowd.
"I am not doing this on my own account," she continued, "I do it in the name of my dead father, who was a good master to you, and of my brother and his son."
Again she paused. No one broke the silence.
"Ours is a common misfortune and we will share it together. All that is mine is yours," she concluded, scanning the faces before her.
All eyes were gazing at her with one and the same expression. She could not fathom whether it was curiosity, devotion, gratitude, or apprehension and distrust--but the expression on all the faces was identical.
"We are all very thankful for your bounty, but it won't do for us to take the landlord's grain," said a voice at the back of the crowd.
"But why not?" asked the princess.
No one replied and Princess Mary, looking round at the crowd, found that every eye she met now was immediately dropped.
"But why don't you want to take it?" she asked again.
No one answered.
The silence began to oppress the princess and she tried to catch someone's eye.
"Why don't you speak?" she inquired of a very old man who stood just in front of her leaning on his stick. "If you think something more is wanted, tell me! I will do anything," said she, catching his eye.
But as if this angered him, he bent his head quite low and muttered:
"Why should we agree? We don't want the grain."
"Why should we give up everything? We don't agree. Don't agree.... We are sorry for you, but we're not willing. Go away yourself, alone..." came from various sides of the crowd.
And again all the faces in that crowd bore an identical expression, though now it was certainly not an expression of curiosity or gratitude, but of angry resolve.
"But you can't have understood me," said Princess Mary with a sad smile. "Why don't you want to go? I promise to house and feed you, while here the enemy would ruin you..."
But her voice was drowned by the voices of the crowd.
"We're not willing. Let them ruin us! We won't take your grain. We don't agree."
Again Princess Mary tried to catch someone's eye, but not a single eye in the crowd was turned to her; evidently they were all trying to avoid her look. She felt strange and awkward.
"Oh yes, an artful tale! Follow her into slavery! Pull down your houses and go into bondage! I dare say! 'I'll give you grain, indeed!' she says," voices in the crowd were heard saying.
With drooping head Princess Mary left the crowd and went back to the house. Having repeated her order to Dron to have horses ready for her departure next morning, she went to her room and remained alone with her own thoughts.
For a long time that night Princess Mary sat by the open window of her room hearing the sound of the peasants' voices that reached her from the village, but it was not of them she was thinking. She felt that she could not understand them however much she might think about them. She thought only of one thing, her sorrow, which, after the break caused by cares for the present, seemed already to belong to the past. Now she could remember it and weep or pray.
After sunset the wind had dropped. The night was calm and fresh. Toward midnight the voices began to subside, a cock crowed, the full moon began to show from behind the lime trees, a fresh white dewy mist began to rise, and stillness reigned over the village and the house.
Pictures of the near past--her father's illness and last moments- rose one after another to her memory. With mournful pleasure she now lingered over these images, repelling with horror only the last one, the picture of his death, which she felt she could not contemplate even in imagination at this still and mystic hour of night. And these pictures presented themselves to her so clearly and in such detail that they seemed now present, now past, and now future.
She vividly recalled the moment when he had his first stroke and was being dragged along by his armpits through the garden at Bald Hills, muttering something with his helpless tongue, twitching his gray eyebrows and looking uneasily and timidly at her.
"Even then he wanted to tell me what he told me the day he died," she thought. "He had always thought what he said then." And she recalled in all its detail the night at Bald Hills before he had the last stroke, when with a foreboding of disaster she had remained at home against his will. She had not slept and had stolen downstairs on tiptoe, and going to the door of the conservatory where he slept that night had listened at the door. In a suffering and weary voice he was saying something to Tikhon, speaking of the Crimea and its warm nights and of the Empress. Evidently he had wanted to talk. "And why didn't he call me? Why didn't he let me be there instead of Tikhon?" Princess Mary had thought and thought again now. "Now he will never tell anyone what he had in his soul. Never will that moment return for him or for me when he might have said all he longed to say, and not Tikhon but I might have heard and understood him. Why didn't I enter the room?" she thought. "Perhaps he would then have said to me what he said the day he died. While talking to Tikhon he asked about me twice. He wanted to see me, and I was standing close by, outside the door. It was sad and painful for him to talk to Tikhon who did not understand him. I remember how he began speaking to him about Lise as if she were alive--he had forgotten she was dead--and Tikhon reminded him that she was no more, and he shouted, 'Fool!' He was greatly depressed. From behind the door I heard how he lay down on his bed groaning and loudly exclaimed, 'My God!' Why didn't I go in then? What could he have done to me? What could I have lost? And perhaps he would then have been comforted and would have said that word to me." And Princess Mary uttered aloud the caressing word he had said to her on the day of his death. "Dear-est!" she repeated, and began sobbing, with tears that relieved her soul. She now saw his face before her. And not the face she had known ever since she could remember and had always seen at a distance, but the timid, feeble face she had seen for the first time quite closely, with all its wrinkles and details, when she stooped near to his mouth to catch what he said.
"Dear-est!" she repeated again.
"What was he thinking when he uttered that word? What is he thinking now?" This question suddenly presented itself to her, and in answer she saw him before her with the expression that was on his face as he lay in his coffin with his chin bound up with a white handkerchief. And the horror that had seized her when she touched him and convinced herself that that was not he, but something mysterious and horrible, seized her again. She tried to think of something else and to pray, but could do neither. With wide-open eyes she gazed at the moonlight and the shadows, expecting every moment to see his dead face, and she felt that the silence brooding over the house and within it held her fast.
"Dunyasha," she whispered. "Dunyasha!" she screamed wildly, and tearing herself out of this silence she ran to the servants' quarters to meet her old nurse and the maidservants who came running toward her.
On the seventeenth of August Rostov and Ilyin, accompanied by Lavrushka who had just returned from captivity and by an hussar orderly, left their quarters at Yankovo, ten miles from Bogucharovo, and went for a ride--to try a new horse Ilyin had bought and to find out whether there was any hay to be had in the villages.
For the last three days Bogucharovo had lain between the two hostile armies, so that it was as easy for the Russian rearguard to get to it as for the French vanguard; Rostov, as a careful squadron commander, wished to take such provisions as remained at Bogucharovo before the French could get them.
Rostov and Ilyin were in the merriest of moods. On the way to Bogucharovo, a princely estate with a dwelling house and farm where they hoped to find many domestic serfs and pretty girls, they questioned Lavrushka about Napoleon and laughed at his stories, and raced one another to try Ilyin's horse.
Rostov had no idea that the village he was entering was the property of that very Bolkonski who had been engaged to his sister.
Rostov and Ilyin gave rein to their horses for a last race along the incline before reaching Bogucharovo, and Rostov, outstripping Ilyin, was the first to gallop into the village street.
"You're first!" cried Ilyin, flushed.
"Yes, always first both on the grassland and here," answered Rostov, stroking his heated Donets horse.
"And I'd have won on my Frenchy, your excellency," said Lavrushka from behind, alluding to his shabby cart horse, "only I didn't wish to mortify you."
They rode at a footpace to the barn, where a large crowd of peasants was standing.
Some of the men bared their heads, others stared at the new arrivals without doffing their caps. Two tall old peasants with wrinkled faces and scanty beards emerged from the tavern, smiling, staggering, and singing some incoherent song, and approached the officers.
"Fine fellows!" said Rostov laughing. "Is there any hay here?"
"And how like one another," said Ilyin.
"A mo-o-st me-r-r-y co-o-m-pa...!" sang one of the peasants with a blissful smile.
One of the men came out of the crowd and went up to Rostov.
"Who do you belong to?" he asked.
"The French," replied Ilyin jestingly, "and here is Napoleon himself"--and he pointed to Lavrushka.
"Then you are Russians?" the peasant asked again.
"And is there a large force of you here?" said another, a short man, coming up.
"Very large," answered Rostov. "But why have you collected here?" he added. "Is it a holiday?"
"The old men have met to talk over the business of the commune," replied the peasant, moving away.
At that moment, on the road leading from the big house, two women and a man in a white hat were seen coming toward the officers.
"The one in pink is mine, so keep off!" said Ilyin on seeing Dunyasha running resolutely toward him.
"She'll be ours!" said Lavrushka to Ilyin, winking.
"What do you want, my pretty?" said Ilyin with a smile.
"The princess ordered me to ask your regiment and your name."
"This is Count Rostov, squadron commander, and I am your humble servant."
"Co-o-om-pa-ny!" roared the tipsy peasant with a beatific smile as he looked at Ilyin talking to the girl. Following Dunyasha, Alpatych advanced to Rostov, having bared his head while still at a distance.
"May I make bold to trouble your honor?" said he respectfully, but with a shade of contempt for the youthfulness of this officer and with a hand thrust into his bosom. "My mistress, daughter of General in Chief Prince Nicholas Bolkonski who died on the fifteenth of this month, finding herself in difficulties owing to the boorishness of these people"--he pointed to the peasants--"asks you to come up to the house.... Won't you, please, ride on a little farther," said Alpatych with a melancholy smile, "as it is not convenient in the presence of...?" He pointed to the two peasants who kept as close to him as horseflies to a horse.
"Ah!... Alpatych... Ah, Yakov Alpatych... Grand! Forgive us for Christ's sake, eh?" said the peasants, smiling joyfully at him.
Rostov looked at the tipsy peasants and smiled.
"Or perhaps they amuse your honor?" remarked Alpatych with a staid air, as he pointed at the old men with his free hand.
"No, there's not much to be amused at here," said Rostov, and rode on a little way. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"I make bold to inform your honor that the rude peasants here don't wish to let the mistress leave the estate, and threaten to unharness her horses, so that though everything has been packed up since morning, her excellency cannot get away."
"Impossible!" exclaimed Rostov.
"I have the honor to report to you the actual truth," said Alpatych.
Rostov dismounted, gave his horse to the orderly, and followed Alpatych to the house, questioning him as to the state of affairs. It appeared that the princess' offer of corn to the peasants the previous day, and her talk with Dron and at the meeting, had actually had so bad an effect that Dron had finally given up the keys and joined the peasants and had not appeared when Alpatych sent for him; and that in the morning when the princess gave orders to harness for her journey, the peasants had come in a large crowd to the barn and sent word that they would not let her leave the village: that there was an order not to move, and that they would unharness the horses. Alpatych had gone out to admonish them, but was told (it was chiefly Karp who did the talking, Dron not showing himself in the crowd) that they could not let the princess go, that there was an order to the contrary, but that if she stayed they would serve her as before and obey her in everything.
At the moment when Rostov and Ilyin were galloping along the road, Princess Mary, despite the dissuasions of Alpatych, her nurse, and the maids, had given orders to harness and intended to start, but when the cavalrymen were espied they were taken for Frenchmen, the coachman ran away, and the women in the house began to wail.
"Father! Benefactor! God has sent you!" exclaimed deeply moved voices as Rostov passed through the anteroom.
Princess Mary was sitting helpless and bewildered in the large sitting room, when Rostov was shown in. She could not grasp who he was and why he had come, or what was happening to her. When she saw his Russian face, and by his walk and the first words he uttered recognized him as a man of her own class, she glanced at him with her deep radiant look and began speaking in a voice that faltered and trembled with emotion. This meeting immediately struck Rostov as a romantic event. "A helpless girl overwhelmed with grief, left to the mercy of coarse, rioting peasants! And what a strange fate sent me here! What gentleness and nobility there are in her features and expression!" thought he as he looked at her and listened to her timid story.
When she began to tell him that all this had happened the day after her father's funeral, her voiced trembled. She turned away, and then, as if fearing he might take her words as meant to move him to pity, looked at him with an apprehensive glance of inquiry. There were tears in Rostov's eyes. Princess Mary noticed this and glanced gratefully at him with that radiant look which caused the plainness of her face to be forgotten.
"I cannot express, Princess, how glad I am that I happened to ride here and am able to show my readiness to serve you," said Rostov, rising. "Go when you please, and I give you my word of honor that no one shall dare to cause you annoyance if only you will allow me to act as your escort." And bowing respectfully, as if to a lady of royal blood, he moved toward the door.
Rostov's deferential tone seemed to indicate that though he would consider himself happy to be acquainted with her, he did not wish to take advantage of her misfortunes to intrude upon her.
Princess Mary understood this and appreciated his delicacy.
"I am very, very grateful to you," she said in French, "but I hope it was all a misunderstanding and that no one is to blame for it." She suddenly began to cry.
"Excuse me!" she said.
Rostov, knitting his brows, left the room with another low bow.
"Well, is she pretty? Ah, friend--my pink one is delicious; her name is Dunyasha...."
But on glancing at Rostov's face Ilyin stopped short. He saw that his hero and commander was following quite a different train of thought.
Rostov glanced angrily at Ilyin and without replying strode off with rapid steps to the village.
"I'll show them; I'll give it to them, the brigands!" said he to himself.
Alpatych at a gliding trot, only just managing not to run, kept up with him with difficulty.
"What decision have you been pleased to come to?" said he.
Rostov stopped and, clenching his fists, suddenly and sternly turned on Alpatych.
"Decision? What decision? Old dotard!..." cried he. "What have you been about? Eh? The peasants are rioting, and you can't manage them? You're a traitor yourself! I know you. I'll flay you all alive!..." And as if afraid of wasting his store of anger, he left Alpatych and went rapidly forward. Alpatych, mastering his offended feelings, kept pace with Rostov at a gliding gait and continued to impart his views. He said the peasants were obdurate and that at the present moment it would be imprudent to "overresist" them without an armed force, and would it not be better first to send for the military?
"I'll give them armed force... I'll 'overresist' them!" uttered Rostov meaninglessly, breathless with irrational animal fury and the need to vent it.
Without considering what he would do he moved unconciously with quick, resolute steps toward the crowd. And the nearer he drew to it the more Alpatych felt that this unreasonable action might produce good results. The peasants in the crowd were similarly impressed when they saw Rostov's rapid, firm steps and resolute, frowning face.
After the hussars had come to the village and Rostov had gone to see the princess, a certain confusion and dissension had arisen among the crowd. Some of the peasants said that these new arrivals were Russians and might take it amiss that the mistress was being detained. Dron was of this opinion, but as soon as he expressed it Karp and others attacked their ex-Elder.
"How many years have you been fattening on the commune?" Karp shouted at him. "It's all one to you! You'll dig up your pot of money and take it away with you.... What does it matter to you whether our homes are ruined or not?"
"We've been told to keep order, and that no one is to leave their homes or take away a single grain, and that's all about it!" cried another.
"It was your son's turn to be conscripted, but no fear! You begrudged your lump of a son," a little old man suddenly began attacking Dron--"and so they took my Vanka to be shaved for a soldier! But we all have to die."
"To be sure, we all have to die. I'm not against the commune," said Dron.
"That's it--not against it! You've filled your belly...."
The two tall peasants had their say. As soon as Rostov, followed by Ilyin, Lavrushka, and Alpatych, came up to the crowd, Karp, thrusting his fingers into his belt and smiling a little, walked to the front. Dron on the contrary retired to the rear and the crowd drew closer together.
"Who is your Elder here? Hey?" shouted Rostov, coming up to the crowd with quick steps.
"The Elder? What do you want with him?..." asked Karp.
But before the words were well out of his mouth, his cap flew off and a fierce blow jerked his head to one side.
"Caps off, traitors!" shouted Rostov in a wrathful voice. "Where's the Elder?" he cried furiously.
"The Elder.... He wants the Elder!... Dron Zakharych, you!" meek and flustered voices here and there were heard calling and caps began to come off their heads.
"We don't riot, we're following the orders," declared Karp, and at that moment several voices began speaking together.
"It's as the old men have decided--there's too many of you giving orders."
"Arguing? Mutiny!... Brigands! Traitors!" cried Rostov unmeaningly in a voice not his own, gripping Karp by the collar. "Bind him, bind him!" he shouted, though there was no one to bind him but Lavrushka and Alpatych.
Lavrushka, however, ran up to Karp and seized him by the arms from behind.
"Shall I call up our men from beyond the hill?" he called out.
Alpatych turned to the peasants and ordered two of them by name to come and bind Karp. The men obediently came out of the crowd and began taking off their belts.
"Where's the Elder?" demanded Rostov in a loud voice.
With a pale and frowning face Dron stepped out of the crowd.
"Are you the Elder? Bind him, Lavrushka!" shouted Rostov, as if that order, too, could not possibly meet with any opposition.
And in fact two more peasants began binding Dron, who took off his own belt and handed it to them, as if to aid them.
"And you all listen to me!" said Rostov to the peasants. "Be off to your houses at once, and don't let one of your voices be heard!"
"Why, we've not done any harm! We did it just out of foolishness. It's all nonsense... I said then that it was not in order," voices were heard bickering with one another.
"There! What did I say?" said Alpatych, coming into his own again. "It's wrong, lads!"
"All our stupidity, Yakov Alpatych," came the answers, and the crowd began at once to disperse through the village.
The two bound men were led off to the master's house. The two drunken peasants followed them.
"Aye, when I look at you!..." said one of them to Karp.
"How can one talk to the masters like that? What were you thinking of, you fool?" added the other--"A real fool!"
Two hours later the carts were standing in the courtyard of the Bogucharovo house. The peasants were briskly carrying out the proprietor's goods and packing them on the carts, and Dron, liberated at Princess Mary's wish from the cupboard where he had been confined, was standing in the yard directing the men.
"Don't put it in so carelessly," said one of the peasants, a man with a round smiling face, taking a casket from a housemaid. "You know it has cost money! How can you chuck it in like that or shove it under the cord where it'll get rubbed? I don't like that way of doing things. Let it all be done properly, according to rule. Look here, put it under the bast matting and cover it with hay--that's the way!"
"Eh, books, books!" said another peasant, bringing out Prince Andrew's library cupboards. "Don't catch up against it! It's heavy, lads--solid books."
"Yes, they worked all day and didn't play!" remarked the tall, round-faced peasant gravely, pointing with a significant wink at the dictionaries that were on the top.
Unwilling to obtrude himself on the princess, Rostov did not go back to the house but remained in the village awaiting her departure. When her carriage drove out of the house, he mounted and accompanied her eight miles from Bogucharovo to where the road was occupied by our troops. At the inn at Yankovo he respectfully took leave of her, for the first time permitting himself to kiss her hand.
"How can you speak so!" he blushingly replied to Princess Mary's expressions of gratitude for her deliverance, as she termed what had occurred. "Any police officer would have done as much! If we had had only peasants to fight, we should not have let the enemy come so far," said he with a sense of shame and wishing to change the subject. "I am only happy to have had the opportunity of making your acquaintance. Good-by, Princess. I wish you happiness and consolation and hope to meet you again in happier circumstances. If you don't want to make me blush, please don't thank me!"
But the princess, if she did not again thank him in words, thanked him with the whole expression of her face, radiant with gratitude and tenderness. She could not believe that there was nothing to thank him for. On the contrary, it seemed to her certain that had he not been there she would have perished at the hands of the mutineers and of the French, and that he had exposed himself to terrible and obvious danger to save her, and even more certain was it that he was a man of lofty and noble soul, able to understand her position and her sorrow. His kind, honest eyes, with the tears rising in them when she herself had begun to cry as she spoke of her loss, did leave her memory.
When she had taken leave of him and remained alone she suddenly felt her eyes filling with tears, and then not for the first time the strange question presented itself to her: did she love him?
On the rest of the way to Moscow, though the princess' position was not a cheerful one, Dunyasha, who went with her in the carriage, more than once noticed that her mistress leaned out of the window and smiled at something with an expression of mingled joy and sorrow.
"Well, supposing I do love him?" thought Princess Mary.
Ashamed as she was of acknowledging to herself that she had fallen in love with a man who would perhaps never love her, she comforted herself with the thought that no one would ever know it and that she would not be to blame if, without ever speaking of it to anyone, she continued to the end of her life to love the man with whom she had fallen in love for the first and last time in her life.
Sometimes when she recalled his looks, his sympathy, and his words, happiness did not appear impossible to her. It was at those moments that Dunyasha noticed her smiling as she looked out of the carriage window.
"Was it not fate that brought him to Bogucharovo, and at that very moment?" thought Princess Mary. "And that caused his sister to refuse my brother?" And in all this Princess Mary saw the hand of Providence.
The impression the princess made on Rostov was a very agreeable one. To remember her gave him pleasure, and when his comrades, hearing of his adventure at Bogucharovo, rallied him on having gone to look for hay and having picked up one of the wealthiest heiresses in Russia, he grew angry. It made him angry just because the idea of marrying the gentle Princess Mary, who was attractive to him and had an enormous fortune, had against his will more than once entered his head. For himself personally Nicholas could not wish for a better wife: by marrying her he would make the countess his mother happy, would be able to put his father's affairs in order, and would even--he felt it- ensure Princess Mary's happiness.
But Sonya? And his plighted word? That was why Rostov grew angry when he was rallied about Princess Bolkonskaya.
On receiving command of the armies Kutuzov remembered Prince Andrew and sent an order for him to report at headquarters.
Prince Andrew arrived at Tsarevo-Zaymishche on the very day and at the very hour that Kutuzov was reviewing the troops for the first time. He stopped in the village at the priest's house in front of which stood the commander in chief's carriage, and he sat down on the bench at the gate awaiting his Serene Highness, as everyone now called Kutuzov. From the field beyond the village came now sounds of regimental music and now the roar of many voices shouting "Hurrah!" to the new commander in chief. Two orderlies, a courier and a major-domo, stood near by, some ten paces from Prince Andrew, availing themselves of Kutuzov's absence and of the fine weather. A short, swarthy lieutenant colonel of hussars with thick mustaches and whiskers rode up to the gate and, glancing at Prince Andrew, inquired whether his Serene Highness was putting up there and whether he would soon be back.
Prince Andrew replied that he was not on his Serene Highness' staff but was himself a new arrival. The lieutenant colonel turned to a smart orderly, who, with the peculiar contempt with which a commander in chief's orderly speaks to officers, replied:
"What? His Serene Highness? I expect he'll be here soon. What do you want?"
The lieutenant colonel of hussars smiled beneath his mustache at the orderly's tone, dismounted, gave his horse to a dispatch runner, and approached Bolkonski with a slight bow. Bolkonski made room for him on the bench and the lieutenant colonel sat down beside him.
"You're also waiting for the commander in chief?" said he. "They say he weceives evewyone, thank God!... It's awful with those sausage eaters! Ermolov had weason to ask to be pwomoted to be a German! Now p'waps Wussians will get a look in. As it was, devil only knows what was happening. We kept wetweating and wetweating. Did you take part in the campaign?" he asked.
"I had the pleasure," replied Prince Andrew, "not only of taking part in the retreat but of losing in that retreat all I held dear--not to mention the estate and home of my birth--my father, who died of grief. I belong to the province of Smolensk."
"Ah? You're Pwince Bolkonski? Vewy glad to make your acquaintance! I'm Lieutenant Colonel Denisov, better known as 'Vaska,'" said Denisov, pressing Prince Andrew's hand and looking into his face with a particularly kindly attention. "Yes, I heard," said he sympathetically, and after a short pause added: "Yes, it's Scythian warfare. It's all vewy well--only not for those who get it in the neck. So you are Pwince Andwew Bolkonski?" He swayed his head. "Vewy pleased, Pwince, to make your acquaintance!" he repeated again, smiling sadly, and he again pressed Prince Andrew's hand.
Prince Andrew knew Denisov from what Natasha had told him of her first suitor. This memory carried him sadly and sweetly back to those painful feelings of which he had not thought lately, but which still found place in his soul. Of late he had received so many new and very serious impressions--such as the retreat from Smolensk, his visit to Bald Hills, and the recent news of his father's death--and had experienced so many emotions, that for a long time past those memories had not entered his mind, and now that they did, they did not act on him with nearly their former strength. For Denisov, too, the memories awakened by the name of Bolkonski belonged to a distant, romantic past, when after supper and after Natasha's singing he had proposed to a little girl of fifteen without realizing what he was doing. He smiled at the recollection of that time and of his love for Natasha, and passed at once to what now interested him passionately and exclusively. This was a plan of campaign he had devised while serving at the outposts during the retreat. He had proposed that plan to Barclay de Tolly and now wished to propose it to Kutuzov. The plan was based on the fact that the French line of operation was too extended, and it proposed that instead of, or concurrently with, action on the front to bar the advance of the French, we should attack their line of communication. He began explaining his plan to Prince Andrew.
"They can't hold all that line. It's impossible. I will undertake to bweak thwough. Give me five hundwed men and I will bweak the line, that's certain! There's only one way--guewilla warfare!"
Denisov rose and began gesticulating as he explained his plan to Bolkonski. In the midst of his explanation shouts were heard from the army, growing more incoherent and more diffused, mingling with music and songs and coming from the field where the review was held. Sounds of hoofs and shouts were nearing the village.
"He's coming! He's coming!" shouted a Cossack standing at the gate.
Bolkonski and Denisov moved to the gate, at which a knot of soldiers (a guard of honor) was standing, and they saw Kutuzov coming down the street mounted on a rather small sorrel horse. A huge suite of generals rode behind him. Barclay was riding almost beside him, and a crowd of officers ran after and around them shouting, "Hurrah!"
His adjutants galloped into the yard before him. Kutuzov was impatiently urging on his horse, which ambled smoothly under his weight, and he raised his hand to his white Horse Guard's cap with a red band and no peak, nodding his head continually. When he came up to the guard of honor, a fine set of Grenadiers mostly wearing decorations, who were giving him the salute, he looked at them silently and attentively for nearly a minute with the steady gaze of a commander and then turned to the crowd of generals and officers surrounding him. Suddenly his face assumed a subtle expression, he shrugged his shoulders with an air of perplexity.
"And with such fine fellows to retreat and retreat! Well, good-by, General," he added, and rode into the yard past Prince Andrew and Denisov.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" shouted those behind him.
Since Prince Andrew had last seen him Kutuzov had grown still more corpulent, flaccid, and fat. But the bleached eyeball, the scar, and the familiar weariness of his expression were still the same. He was wearing the white Horse Guard's cap and a military overcoat with a whip hanging over his shoulder by a thin strap. He sat heavily and swayed limply on his brisk little horse.
"Whew... whew... whew!" he whistled just audibly as he rode into the yard. His face expressed the relief of relaxed strain felt by a man who means to rest after a ceremony. He drew his left foot out of the stirrup and, lurching with his whole body and puckering his face with the effort, raised it with difficulty onto the saddle, leaned on his knee, groaned, and slipped down into the arms of the Cossacks and adjutants who stood ready to assist him.
He pulled himself together, looked round, screwing up his eyes, glanced at Prince Andrew, and, evidently not recognizing him, moved with his waddling gait to the porch. "Whew... whew... whew!" he whistled, and again glanced at Prince Andrew. As often occurs with old men, it was only after some seconds that the impression produced by Prince Andrew's face linked itself up with Kutuzov's remembrance of his personality.
"Ah, how do you do, my dear prince? How do you do, my dear boy? Come along..." said he, glancing wearily round, and he stepped onto the porch which creaked under his weight.
He unbuttoned his coat and sat down on a bench in the porch.
"And how's your father?"
"I received news of his death, yesterday," replied Prince Andrew abruptly.
Kutuzov looked at him with eyes wide open with dismay and then took off his cap and crossed himself:
"May the kingdom of Heaven be his! God's will be done to us all!" He sighed deeply, his whole chest heaving, and was silent for a while. "I loved him and respected him, and sympathize with you with all my heart."
He embraced Prince Andrew, pressing him to his fat breast, and for some time did not let him go. When he released him Prince Andrew saw that Kutuzov's flabby lips were trembling and that tears were in his eyes. He sighed and pressed on the bench with both hands to raise himself.
"Come! Come with me, we'll have a talk," said he.
But at that moment Denisov, no more intimidated by his superiors than by the enemy, came with jingling spurs up the steps of the porch, despite the angry whispers of the adjutants who tried to stop him. Kutuzov, his hands still pressed on the seat, glanced at him glumly. Denisov, having given his name, announced that he had to communicate to his Serene Highness a matter of great importance for their country's welfare. Kutuzov looked wearily at him and, lifting his hands with a gesture of annoyance, folded them across his stomach, repeating the words: "For our country's welfare? Well, what is it? Speak!" Denisov blushed like a girl (it was strange to see the color rise in that shaggy, bibulous, time-worn face) and boldly began to expound his plan of cutting the enemy's lines of communication between Smolensk and Vyazma. Denisov came from those parts and knew the country well. His plan seemed decidedly a good one, especially from the strength of conviction with which he spoke. Kutuzov looked down at his own legs, occasionally glancing at the door of the adjoining hut as if expecting something unpleasant to emerge from it. And from that hut, while Denisov was speaking, a general with a portfolio under his arm really did appear.
"What?" said Kutuzov, in the midst of Denisov's explanations, "are you ready so soon?"
"Ready, your Serene Highness," replied the general.
Kutuzov swayed his head, as much as to say: "How is one man to deal with it all?" and again listened to Denisov.
"I give my word of honor as a Wussian officer," said Denisov, "that I can bweak Napoleon's line of communication!"
"What relation are you to Intendant General Kiril Andreevich Denisov?" asked Kutuzov, interrupting him.
"He is my uncle, your Sewene Highness."
"Ah, we were friends," said Kutuzov cheerfully. "All right, all right, friend, stay here at the staff and tomorrow we'll have a talk."
With a nod to Denisov he turned away and put out his hand for the papers Konovnitsyn had brought him.
"Would not your Serene Highness like to come inside?" said the general on duty in a discontented voice, "the plans must be examined and several papers have to be signed."
An adjutant came out and announced that everything was in readiness within. But Kutuzov evidently did not wish to enter that room till he was disengaged. He made a grimace...
"No, tell them to bring a small table out here, my dear boy. I'll look at them here," said he. "Don't go away," he added, turning to Prince Andrew, who remained in the porch and listened to the general's report.
While this was being given, Prince Andrew heard the whisper of a woman's voice and the rustle of a silk dress behind the door. Several times on glancing that way he noticed behind that door a plump, rosy, handsome woman in a pink dress with a lilac silk kerchief on her head, holding a dish and evidently awaiting the entrance of the commander in chief. Kutuzov's adjutant whispered to Prince Andrew that this was the wife of the priest whose home it was, and that she intended to offer his Serene Highness bread and salt. "Her husband has welcomed his Serene Highness with the cross at the church, and she intends to welcome him in the house.... She's very pretty," added the adjutant with a smile. At those words Kutuzov looked round. He was listening to the general's report--which consisted chiefly of a criticism of the position at Tsarevo-Zaymishche--as he had listened to Denisov, and seven years previously had listened to the discussion at the Austerlitz council of war. He evidently listened only because he had ears which, though there was a piece of tow in one of them, could not help hearing; but it was evident that nothing the general could say would surprise or even interest him, that he knew all that would be said beforehand, and heard it all only because he had to, as one has to listen to the chanting of a service of prayer. All that Denisov had said was clever and to the point. What the general was saying was even more clever and to the point, but it was evident that Kutuzov despised knowledge and cleverness, and knew of something else that would decide the matter--something independent of cleverness and knowledge. Prince Andrew watched the commander in chief's face attentively, and the only expression he could see there was one of boredom, curiosity as to the meaning of the feminine whispering behind the door, and a desire to observe propriety. It was evident that Kutuzov despised cleverness and learning and even the patriotic feeling shown by Denisov, but despised them not because of his own intellect, feelings, or knowledge--he did not try to display any of these--but because of something else. He despised them because of his old age and experience of life. The only instruction Kutuzov gave of his own accord during that report referred to looting by the Russian troops. At the end of the report the general put before him for signature a paper relating to the recovery of payment from army commanders for green oats mown down by the soldiers, when landowners lodged petitions for compensation.
After hearing the matter, Kutuzov smacked his lips together and shook his head.
"Into the stove... into the fire with it! I tell you once for all, my dear fellow," said he, "into the fire with all such things! Let them cut the crops and burn wood to their hearts' content. I don't order it or allow it, but I don't exact compensation either. One can't get on without it. 'When wood is chopped the chips will fly.'" He looked at the paper again. "Oh, this German precision!" he muttered, shaking his head.