Among the innumerable categories applicable to the phenomena of human life one may discriminate between those in which substance prevails and those in which form prevails. To the latter--as distinguished from village, country, provincial, or even Moscow life--we may allot Petersburg life, and especially the life of its salons. That life of the salons is unchanging. Since the year 1805 we had made peace and had again quarreled with Bonaparte and had made constitutions and unmade them again, but the salons of Anna Pavlovna Helene remained just as they had been--the one seven and the other five years before. At Anna Pavlovna's they talked with perplexity of Bonaparte's successes just as before and saw in them and in the subservience shown to him by the European sovereigns a malicious conspiracy, the sole object of which was to cause unpleasantness and anxiety to the court circle of which Anna Pavlovna was the representative. And in Helene's salon, which Rumyantsev himself honored with his visits, regarding Helene as a remarkably intelligent woman, they talked with the same ecstasy in 1812 as in 1808 of the "great nation" and the "great man," and regretted our rupture with France, a rupture which, according to them, ought to be promptly terminated by peace.
Of late, since the Emperor's return from the army, there had been some excitement in these conflicting salon circles and some demonstrations of hostility to one another, but each camp retained its own tendency. In Anna Pavlovna's circle only those Frenchmen were admitted who were deep-rooted legitimists, and patriotic views were expressed to the effect that one ought not to go to the French theater and that to maintain the French troupe was costing the government as much as a whole army corps. The progress of the war was eagerly followed, and only the reports most flattering to our army were circulated. In the French circle of Helene and Rumyantsev the reports of the cruelty of the enemy and of the war were contradicted and all Napoleon's attempts at conciliation were discussed. In that circle they discountenanced those who advised hurried preparations for a removal to Kazan of the court and the girls' educational establishments under the patronage of the Dowager Empress. In Helene's circle the war in general was regarded as a series of formal demonstrations which would very soon end in peace, and the view prevailed expressed by Bilibin--who now in Petersburg was quite at home in Helene's house, which every clever man was obliged to visit- that not by gunpowder but by those who invented it would matters be settled. In that circle the Moscow enthusiasm--news of which had reached Petersburg simultaneously with the Emperor's return--was ridiculed sarcastically and very cleverly, though with much caution.
Anna Pavlovna's circle on the contrary was enraptured by this enthusiasm and spoke of it as Plutarch speaks of the deeds of the ancients. Prince Vasili, who still occupied his former important posts, formed a connecting link between these two circles. He visited his "good friend Anna Pavlovna" as well as his daughter's "diplomatic salon," and often in his constant comings and goings between the two camps became confused and said at Helene's what he should have said at Anna Pavlovna's and vice versa.
Soon after the Emperor's return Prince Vasili in a conversation about the war at Anna Pavlovna's severely condemned Barclay de Tolly, but was undecided as to who ought to be appointed commander in chief. One of the visitors, usually spoken of as "a man of great merit," having described how he had that day seen Kutuzov, the newly chosen chief of the Petersburg militia, presiding over the enrollment of recruits at the Treasury, cautiously ventured to suggest that Kutuzov would be the man to satisfy all requirements.
Anna Pavlovna remarked with a melancholy smile that Kutuzov had done nothing but cause the Emperor annoyance.
"I have talked and talked at the Assembly of the Nobility," Prince Vasili interrupted, "but they did not listen to me. I told them his election as chief of the militia would not please the Emperor. They did not listen to me.
"It's all this mania for opposition," he went on. "And who for? It is all because we want to ape the foolish enthusiasm of those Muscovites," Prince Vasili continued, forgetting for a moment that though at Helene's one had to ridicule the Moscow enthusiasm, at Anna Pavlovna's one had to be ecstatic about it. But he retrieved his mistake at once. "Now, is it suitable that Count Kutuzov, the oldest general in Russia, should preside at that tribunal? He will get nothing for his pains! How could they make a man commander in chief who cannot mount a horse, who drops asleep at a council, and has the very worst morals! A good reputation he made for himself at Bucharest! I don't speak of his capacity as a general, but at a time like this how they appoint a decrepit, blind old man, positively blind? A fine idea to have a blind general! He can't see anything. To play blindman's bluff? He can't see at all!"
No one replied to his remarks.
This was quite correct on the twenty-fourth of July. But on the twenty-ninth of July Kutuzov received the title of Prince. This might indicate a wish to get rid of him, and therefore Prince Vasili's opinion continued to be correct though he was not now in any hurry to express it. But on the eighth of August a committee, consisting of Field Marshal Saltykov, Arakcheev, Vyazmitinov, Lopukhin, and Kochubey met to consider the progress of the war. This committee came to the conclusion that our failures were due to a want of unity in the command and though the members of the committee were aware of the Emperor's dislike of Kutuzov, after a short deliberation they agreed to advise his appointment as commander in chief. That same day Kutuzov was appointed commander in chief with full powers over the armies and over the whole region occupied by them.
On the ninth of August Prince Vasili at Anna Pavlovna's again met the "man of great merit." The latter was very attentive to Anna Pavlovna because he wanted to be appointed director of one of the educational establishments for young ladies. Prince Vasili entered the room with the air of a happy conqueror who has attained the object of his desires.
"Well, have you heard the great news? Prince Kutuzov is field marshal! All dissensions are at an end! I am so glad, so delighted! At last we have a man!" said he, glancing sternly and significantly round at everyone in the drawing room.
The "man of great merit," despite his desire to obtain the post of director, could not refrain from reminding Prince Vasili of his former opinion. Though this was impolite to Prince Vasili in Anna Pavlovna's drawing room, and also to Anna Pavlovna herself who had received the news with delight, he could not resist the temptation.
"But, Prince, they say he is blind!" said he, reminding Prince Vasili of his own words.
"Eh? Nonsense! He sees well enough," said Prince Vasili rapidly, in a deep voice and with a slight cough--the voice and cough with which he was wont to dispose of all difficulties.
"He sees well enough," he added. "And what I am so pleased about," he went on, "is that our sovereign has given him full powers over all the armies and the whole region--powers no commander in chief ever had before. He is a second autocrat," he concluded with a victorious smile.
"God grant it! God grant it!" said Anna Pavlovna.
The "man of great merit," who was still a novice in court circles, wishing to flatter Anna Pavlovna by defending her former position on this question, observed:
"It is said that the Emperor was reluctant to give Kutuzov those powers. They say he blushed like a girl to whom Joconde is read, when he said to Kutuzov: 'Your Emperor and the Fatherland award you this honor.'"
"Perhaps the heart took no part in that speech," said Anna Pavlovna.
"Oh, no, no!" warmly rejoined Prince Vasili, who would not now yield Kutuzov to anyone; in his opinion Kutuzov was not only admirable himself, but was adored by everybody. "No, that's impossible," said he, "for our sovereign appreciated him so highly before."
"God grant only that Prince Kutuzov assumes real power and does not allow anyone to put a spoke in his wheel," observed Anna Pavlovna.
Understanding at once to whom she alluded, Prince Vasili said in a whisper:
"I know for a fact that Kutuzov made it an absolute condition that the Tsarevich should not be with the army. Do you know what he said to the Emperor?"
And Prince Vasili repeated the words supposed to have been spoken by Kutuzov to the Emperor. "I can neither punish him if he does wrong nor reward him if he does right."
"Oh, a very wise man is Prince Kutuzov! I have known him a long time!"
"They even say," remarked the "man of great merit" who did not yet possess courtly tact, "that his excellency made it an express condition that the sovereign himself should not be with the army."
As soon as he said this both Prince Vasili and Anna Pavlovna turned away from him and glanced sadly at one another with a sigh at his naivete.
While this was taking place in Petersburg the French had already passed Smolensk and were drawing nearer and nearer to Moscow. Napoleon's historian Thiers, like other of his historians, trying to justify his hero says that he was drawn to the walls of Moscow against his will. He is as right as other historians who look for the explanation of historic events in the will of one man; he is as right as the Russian historians who maintain that Napoleon was drawn to Moscow by the skill of the Russian commanders. Here besides the law of retrospection, which regards all the past as a preparation for events that subsequently occur, the law of reciprocity comes in, confusing the whole matter. A good chessplayer having lost a game is sincerely convinced that his loss resulted from a mistake he made and looks for that mistake in the opening, but forgets that at each stage of the game there were similar mistakes and that none of his moves were perfect. He only notices the mistake to which he pays attention, because his opponent took advantage of it. How much more complex than this is the game of war, which occurs under certain limits of time, and where it is not one will that manipulates lifeless objects, but everything results from innumerable conflicts of various wills!
After Smolensk Napoleon sought a battle beyond Dorogobuzh at Vyazma, and then at Tsarevo-Zaymishche, but it happened that owing to a conjunction of innumerable circumstances the Russians could not give battle till they reached Borodino, seventy miles from Moscow. From Vyazma Napoleon ordered a direct advance on Moscow.
Moscou, la capitale asiatique de ce grand empire, la ville sacree des peuples d'Alexandre, Moscou avec ses innombrables eglises en forme de pagodes chinoises,* this Moscow gave Napoleon's imagination no rest. On the march from Vyazma to Tsarevo-Zaymishche he rode his light bay bobtailed ambler accompanied by his Guards, his bodyguard, his pages, and aides-de-camp. Berthier, his chief of staff, dropped behind to question a Russian prisoner captured by the cavalry. Followed by Lelorgne d'Ideville, an interpreter, he overtook Napoleon at a gallop and reined in his horse with an amused expression.
*"Moscow, the Asiatic capital of this great empire, the sacred city of Alexander's people, Moscow with its innumerable churches shaped like Chinese pagodas."
"Well?" asked Napoleon.
"One of Platov's Cossacks says that Platov's corps is joining up with the main army and that Kutuzov has been appointed commander in chief. He is a very shrewd and garrulous fellow."
Napoleon smiled and told them to give the Cossack a horse and bring the man to him. He wished to talk to him himself. Several adjutants galloped off, and an hour later, Lavrushka, the serf Denisov had handed over to Rostov, rode up to Napoleon in an orderly's jacket and on a French cavalry saddle, with a merry, and tipsy face. Napoleon told him to ride by his side and began questioning him.
"You are a Cossack?"
"Yes, a Cossack, your Honor."
"The Cossack, not knowing in what company he was, for Napoleon's plain appearance had nothing about it that would reveal to an Oriental mind the presence of a monarch, talked with extreme familiarity of the incidents of the war," says Thiers, narrating this episode. In reality Lavrushka, having got drunk the day before and left his master dinnerless, had been whipped and sent to the village in quest of chickens, where he engaged in looting till the French took him prisoner. Lavrushka was one of those coarse, bare-faced lackeys who have seen all sorts of things, consider it necessary to do everything in a mean and cunning way, are ready to render any sort of service to their master, and are keen at guessing their master's baser impulses, especially those prompted by vanity and pettiness.
Finding himself in the company of Napoleon, whose identity he had easily and surely recognized, Lavrushka was not in the least abashed but merely did his utmost to gain his new master's favor.
He knew very well that this was Napoleon, but Napoleon's presence could no more intimidate him than Rostov's, or a sergeant major's with the rods, would have done, for he had nothing that either the sergeant major or Napoleon could deprive him of.
So he rattled on, telling all the gossip he had heard among the orderlies. Much of it true. But when Napoleon asked him whether the Russians thought they would beat Bonaparte or not, Lavrushka screwed up his eyes and considered.
In this question he saw subtle cunning, as men of his type see cunning in everything, so he frowned and did not answer immediately.
"It's like this," he said thoughtfully, "if there's a battle soon, yours will win. That's right. But if three days pass, then after that, well, then that same battle will not soon be over."
Lelorgne d'Ideville smilingly interpreted this speech to Napoleon thus: "If a battle takes place within the next three days the French will win, but if later, God knows what will happen." Napoleon did not smile, though he was evidently in high good humor, and he ordered these words to be repeated.
Lavrushka noticed this and to entertain him further, pretending not to know who Napoleon was, added:
"We know that you have Bonaparte and that he has beaten everybody in the world, but we are a different matter..."--without knowing why or how this bit of boastful patriotism slipped out at the end.
The interpreter translated these words without the last phrase, and Bonaparte smiled. "The young Cossack made his mighty interlocutor smile," says Thiers. After riding a few paces in silence, Napoleon turned to Berthier and said he wished to see how the news that he was talking to the Emperor himself, to that very Emperor who had written his immortally victorious name on the Pyramids, would affect this enfant du Don.*
*"Child of the Don."
The fact was accordingly conveyed to Lavrushka.
Lavrushka, understanding that this was done to perplex him and that Napoleon expected him to be frightened, to gratify his new masters promptly pretended to be astonished and awe-struck, opened his eyes wide, and assumed the expression he usually put on when taken to be whipped. "As soon as Napoleon's interpreter had spoken," says Thiers, "the Cossack, seized by amazement, did not utter another word, but rode on, his eyes fixed on the conqueror whose fame had reached him across the steppes of the East. All his loquacity was suddenly arrested and replaced by a naive and silent feeling of admiration. Napoleon, after making the Cossack a present, had him set free like a bird restored to its native fields."
Napoleon rode on, dreaming of the Moscow that so appealed to his imagination, and "the bird restored to its native fields" galloped to our outposts, inventing on the way all that had not taken place but that he meant to relate to his comrades. What had really taken place he did not wish to relate because it seemed to him not worth telling. He found the Cossacks, inquired for the regiment operating with Platov's detachment and by evening found his master, Nicholas Rostov, quartered at Yankovo. Rostov was just mounting to go for a ride round the neighboring villages with Ilyin; he let Lavrushka have another horse and took him along with him.
Princess Mary was not in Moscow and out of danger as Prince Andrew supposed.
After the return of Alpatych from Smolensk the old prince suddenly seemed to awake as from a dream. He ordered the militiamen to be called up from the villages and armed, and wrote a letter to the commander in chief informing him that he had resolved to remain at Bald Hills to the last extremity and to defend it, leaving to the commander in chief's discretion to take measures or not for the defense of Bald Hills, where one of Russia's oldest generals would be captured or killed, and he announced to his household that he would remain at Bald Hills.
But while himself remaining, he gave instructions for the departure of the princess and Dessalles with the little prince to Bogucharovo and thence to Moscow. Princess Mary, alarmed by her father's feverish and sleepless activity after his previous apathy, could not bring herself to leave him alone and for the first time in her life ventured to disobey him. She refused to go away and her father's fury broke over her in a terrible storm. He repeated every injustice he had ever inflicted on her. Trying to convict her, he told her she had worn him out, had caused his quarrel with his son, had harbored nasty suspicions of him, making it the object of her life to poison his existence, and he drove her from his study telling her that if she did not go away it was all the same to him. He declared that he did not wish to remember her existence and warned her not to dare to let him see her. The fact that he did not, as she had feared, order her to be carried away by force but only told her not to let him see her cheered Princess Mary. She knew it was a proof that in the depth of his soul he was glad she was remaining at home and had not gone away.
The morning after little Nicholas had left, the old prince donned his full uniform and prepared to visit the commander in chief. His caleche was already at the door. Princess Mary saw him walk out of the house in his uniform wearing all his orders and go down the garden to review his armed peasants and domestic serfs. She sat by the window listening to his voice which reached her from the garden. Suddenly several men came running up the avenue with frightened faces.
Princess Mary ran out to the porch, down the flower-bordered path, and into the avenue. A large crowd of militiamen and domestics were moving toward her, and in their midst several men were supporting by the armpits and dragging along a little old man in a uniform and decorations. She ran up to him and, in the play of the sunlight that fell in small round spots through the shade of the lime-tree avenue, could not be sure what change there was in his face. All she could see was that his former stern and determined expression had altered to one of timidity and submission. On seeing his daughter he moved his helpless lips and made a hoarse sound. It was impossible to make out what he wanted. He was lifted up, carried to his study, and laid on the very couch he had so feared of late.
The doctor, who was fetched that same night, bled him and said that the prince had had a seizure paralyzing his right side.
It was becoming more and more dangerous to remain at Bald Hills, and next day they moved the prince to Bogucharovo, the doctor accompanying him.
By the time they reached Bogucharovo, Dessalles and the little prince had already left for Moscow.
For three weeks the old prince lay stricken by paralysis in the new house Prince Andrew had built at Bogucharovo, ever in the same state, getting neither better nor worse. He was unconscious and lay like a distorted corpse. He muttered unceasingly, his eyebrows and lips twitching, and it was impossible to tell whether he understood what was going on around him or not. One thing was certain--that he was suffering and wished to say something. But what it was, no one could tell: it might be some caprice of a sick and half-crazy man, or it might relate to public affairs, or possibly to family concerns.
The doctor said this restlessness did not mean anything and was due to physical causes; but Princess Mary thought he wished to tell her something, and the fact that her presence always increased his restlessness confirmed her opinion.
He was evidently suffering both physically and mentally. There was no hope of recovery. It was impossible for him to travel, it would not do to let him die on the road. "Would it not be better if the end did come, the very end?" Princess Mary sometimes thought. Night and day, hardly sleeping at all, she watched him and, terrible to say, often watched him not with hope of finding signs of improvement but wishing to find symptoms of the approach of the end.
Strange as it was to her to acknowledge this feeling in herself, yet there it was. And what seemed still more terrible to her was that since her father's illness began (perhaps even sooner, when she stayed with him expecting something to happen), all the personal desires and hopes that had been forgotten or sleeping within her had awakened. Thoughts that had not entered her mind for years--thoughts of a life free from the fear of her father, and even the possibility of love and of family happiness--floated continually in her imagination like temptations of the devil. Thrust them aside as she would, questions continually recurred to her as to how she would order her life now, after that. These were temptations of the devil and Princess Mary knew it. She knew that the sole weapon against him was prayer, and she tried to pray. She assumed an attitude of prayer, looked at the icons, repeated the words of a prayer, but she could not pray. She felt that a different world had now taken possession of her--the life of a world of strenuous and free activity, quite opposed to the spiritual world in which till now she had been confined and in which her greatest comfort had been prayer. She could not pray, could not weep, and worldly cares took possession of her.
It was becoming dangerous to remain in Bogucharovo. News of the approach of the French came from all sides, and in one village, ten miles from Bogucharovo, a homestead had been looted by French marauders.
The doctor insisted on the necessity of moving the prince; the provincial Marshal of the Nobility sent an official to Princess Mary to persuade her to get away as quickly as possible, and the head of the rural police having come to Bogucharovo urged the same thing, saying that the French were only some twenty-five miles away, that French proclamations were circulating in the villages, and that if the princess did not take her father away before the fifteenth, he could not answer for the consequences.
The princess decided to leave on the fifteenth. The cares of preparation and giving orders, for which everyone came to her, occupied her all day. She spent the night of the fourteenth as usual, without undressing, in the room next to the one where the prince lay. Several times, waking up, she heard his groans and muttering, the creak of his bed, and the steps of Tikhon and the doctor when they turned him over. Several times she listened at the door, and it seemed to her that his mutterings were louder than usual and that they turned him over oftener. She could not sleep and several times went to the door and listened, wishing to enter but not deciding to do so. Though he did not speak, Princess Mary saw and knew how unpleasant every sign of anxiety on his account was to him. She had noticed with what dissatisfaction he turned from the look she sometimes involuntarily fixed on him. She knew that her going in during the night at an unusual hour would irritate him.
But never had she felt so grieved for him or so much afraid of losing him. She recalled all her life with him and in every word and act of his found an expression of his love of her. Occasionally amid these memories temptations of the devil would surge into her imagination: thoughts of how things would be after his death, and how her new, liberated life would be ordered. But she drove these thoughts away with disgust. Toward morning he became quiet and she fell asleep.
She woke late. That sincerity which often comes with waking showed her clearly what chiefly concerned her about her father's illness. On waking she listened to what was going on behind the door and, hearing him groan, said to herself with a sigh that things were still the same.
"But what could have happened? What did I want? I want his death!" she cried with a feeling of loathing for herself.
She washed, dressed, said her prayers, and went out to the porch. In front of it stood carriages without horses and things were being packed into the vehicles.
It was a warm, gray morning. Princess Mary stopped at the porch, still horrified by her spiritual baseness and trying to arrange her thoughts before going to her father. The doctor came downstairs and went out to her.
"He is a little better today," said he. "I was looking for you. One can make out something of what he is saying. His head is clearer. Come in, he is asking for you..."
Princess Mary's heart beat so violently at this news that she grew pale and leaned against the wall to keep from falling. To see him, talk to him, feel his eyes on her now that her whole soul was overflowing with those dreadful, wicked temptations, was a torment of joy and terror.
"Come," said the doctor.
Princess Mary entered her father's room and went up to his bed. He was lying on his back propped up high, and his small bony hands with their knotted purple veins were lying on the quilt; his left eye gazed straight before him, his right eye was awry, and his brows and lips motionless. He seemed altogether so thin, small, and pathetic. His face seemed to have shriveled or melted; his features had grown smaller. Princess Mary went up and kissed his hand. His left hand pressed hers so that she understood that he had long been waiting for her to come. He twitched her hand, and his brows and lips quivered angrily.
She looked at him in dismay trying to guess what he wanted of her. When she changed her position so that his left eye could see her face he calmed down, not taking his eyes off her for some seconds. Then his lips and tongue moved, sounds came, and he began to speak, gazing timidly and imploringly at her, evidently afraid that she might not understand.
Straining all her faculties Princess Mary looked at him. The comic efforts with which he moved his tongue made her drop her eyes and with difficulty repress the sobs that rose to her throat. He said something, repeating the same words several times. She could not understand them, but tried to guess what he was saying and inquiringly repeated the words he uttered.
"Mmm...ar...ate...ate..." he repeated several times.
It was quite impossible to understand these sounds. The doctor thought he had guessed them, and inquiringly repeated: "Mary, are you afraid?" The prince shook his head, again repeated the same sounds.
"My mind, my mind aches?" questioned Princess Mary.
He made a mumbling sound in confirmation of this, took her hand, and began pressing it to different parts of his breast as if trying to find the right place for it.
"Always thoughts... about you... thoughts..." he then uttered much more clearly than he had done before, now that he was sure of being understood.
Princess Mary pressed her head against his hand, trying to hide her sobs and tears.
He moved his hand over her hair.
"I have been calling you all night..." he brought out.
"If only I had known..." she said through her tears. "I was afraid to come in."
He pressed her hand.
"Weren't you asleep?"
"No, I did not sleep," said Princess Mary, shaking her head.
Unconsciously imitating her father, she now tried to express herself as he did, as much as possible by signs, and her tongue too seemed to move with difficulty.
"Dear one... Dearest..." Princess Mary could not quite make out what he had said, but from his look it was clear that he had uttered a tender caressing word such as he had never used to her before. "Why didn't you come in?"
"And I was wishing for his death!" thought Princess Mary.
He was silent awhile.
"Thank you... daughter dear!... for all, for all... forgive!... thank you!... forgive!... thank you!..." and tears began to flow from his eyes. "Call Andrew!" he said suddenly, and a childish, timid expression of doubt showed itself on his face as he spoke.
He himself seemed aware that his demand was meaningless. So at least it seemed to Princess Mary.
"I have a letter from him," she replied.
He glanced at her with timid surprise.
"Where is he?"
"He's with the army, Father, at Smolensk."
He closed his eyes and remained silent a long time. Then as if in answer to his doubts and to confirm the fact that now he understood and remembered everything, he nodded his head and reopened his eyes.
"Yes," he said, softly and distinctly. "Russia has perished. They've destroyed her."
And he began to sob, and again tears flowed from his eyes. Princess Mary could no longer restrain herself and wept while she gazed at his face.
Again he closed his eyes. His sobs ceased, he pointed to his eyes, and Tikhon, understanding him, wiped away the tears.
Then he again opened his eyes and said something none of them could understand for a long time, till at last Tikhon understood and repeated it. Princess Mary had sought the meaning of his words in the mood in which he had just been speaking. She thought he was speaking of Russia, or Prince Andrew, of herself, of his grandson, or of his own death, and so she could not guess his words.
"Put on your white dress. I like it," was what he said.
Having understood this Princess Mary sobbed still louder, and the doctor taking her arm led her out to the veranda, soothing her and trying to persuade her to prepare for her journey. When she had left the room the prince again began speaking about his son, about the war, and about the Emperor, angrily twitching his brows and raising his hoarse voice, and then he had a second and final stroke.
Princess Mary stayed on the veranda. The day had cleared, it was hot and sunny. She could understand nothing, think of nothing and feel nothing, except passionate love for her father, love such as she thought she had never felt till that moment. She ran out sobbing into the garden and as far as the pond, along the avenues of young lime trees Prince Andrew had planted.
"Yes... I... I... I wished for his death! Yes, I wanted it to end quicker.... I wished to be at peace.... And what will become of me? What use will peace be when he is no longer here?" Princess Mary murmured, pacing the garden with hurried steps and pressing her hands to her bosom which heaved with convulsive sobs.
When she had completed the tour of the garden, which brought her again to the house, she saw Mademoiselle Bourienne--who had remained at Bogucharovo and did not wish to leave it--coming toward her with a stranger. This was the Marshal of the Nobility of the district, who had come personally to point out to the princess the necessity for her prompt departure. Princess Mary listened without understanding him; she led him to the house, offered him lunch, and sat down with him. Then, excusing herself, she went to the door of the old prince's room. The doctor came out with an agitated face and said she could not enter.
"Go away, Princess! Go away... go away!"
She returned to the garden and sat down on the grass at the foot of the slope by the pond, where no one could see her. She did not know how long she had been there when she was aroused by the sound of a woman's footsteps running along the path. She rose and saw Dunyasha her maid, who was evidently looking for her, and who stopped suddenly as if in alarm on seeing her mistress.
"Please come, Princess... The Prince," said Dunyasha in a breaking voice.
"Immediately, I'm coming, I'm coming!" replied the princess hurriedly, not giving Dunyasha time to finish what she was saying, and trying to avoid seeing the girl she ran toward the house.
"Princess, it's God's will! You must be prepared for everything," said the Marshal, meeting her at the house door.
"Let me alone; it's not true!" she cried angrily to him.
The doctor tried to stop her. She pushed him aside and ran to her father's door. "Why are these people with frightened faces stopping me? I don't want any of them! And what are they doing here?" she thought. She opened the door and the bright daylight in that previously darkened room startled her. In the room were her nurse and other women. They all drew back from the bed, making way for her. He was still lying on the bed as before, but the stern expression of his quiet face made Princess Mary stop short on the threshold.
"No, he's not dead--it's impossible!" she told herself and approached him, and repressing the terror that seized her, she pressed her lips to his cheek. But she stepped back immediately. All the force of the tenderness she had been feeling for him vanished instantly and was replaced by a feeling of horror at what lay there before her. "No, he is no more! He is not, but here where he was is something unfamiliar and hostile, some dreadful, terrifying, and repellent mystery!" And hiding her face in her hands, Princess Mary sank into the arms of the doctor, who held her up.
In the presence of Tikhon and the doctor the women washed what had been the prince, tied his head up with a handkerchief that the mouth should not stiffen while open, and with another handkerchief tied together the legs that were already spreading apart. Then they dressed him in uniform with his decorations and placed his shriveled little body on a table. Heaven only knows who arranged all this and when, but it all got done as if of its own accord. Toward night candles were burning round his coffin, a pall was spread over it, the floor was strewn with sprays of juniper, a printed band was tucked in under his shriveled head, and in a corner of the room sat a chanter reading the psalms.
Just as horses shy and snort and gather about a dead horse, so the inmates of the house and strangers crowded into the drawing room round the coffin--the Marshal, the village Elder, peasant women--and all with fixed and frightened eyes, crossing themselves, bowed and kissed the old prince's cold and stiffened hand.
Until Prince Andrew settled in Bogucharovo its owners had always been absentees, and its peasants were of quite a different character from those of Bald Hills. They differed from them in speech, dress, and disposition. They were called steppe peasants. The old prince used to approve of them for their endurance at work when they came to Bald Hills to help with the harvest or to dig ponds, and ditches, but he disliked them for their boorishness.
Prince Andrew's last stay at Bogucharovo, when he introduced hospitals and schools and reduced the quitrent the peasants had to pay, had not softened their disposition but had on the contrary strengthened in them the traits of character the old prince called boorishness. Various obscure rumors were always current among them: at one time a rumor that they would all be enrolled as Cossacks; at another of a new religion to which they were all to be converted; then of some proclamation of the Tsar's and of an oath to the Tsar Paul in 1797 (in connection with which it was rumored that freedom had been granted them but the landowners had stopped it), then of Peter Fedorovich's return to the throne in seven years' time, when everything would be made free and so "simple" that there would be no restrictions. Rumors of the war with Bonaparte and his invasion were connected in their minds with the same sort of vague notions of Antichrist, the end of the world, and "pure freedom."
In the vicinity of Bogucharovo were large villages belonging to the crown or to owners whose serfs paid quitrent and could work where they pleased. There were very few resident landlords in the neighborhood and also very few domestic or literate serfs, and in the lives of the peasantry of those parts the mysterious undercurrents in the life of the Russian people, the causes and meaning of which are so baffling to contemporaries, were more clearly and strongly noticeable than among others. One instance, which had occurred some twenty years before, was a movement among the peasants to emigrate to some unknown "warm rivers." Hundreds of peasants, among them the Bogucharovo folk, suddenly began selling their cattle and moving in whole families toward the southeast. As birds migrate to somewhere beyond the sea, so these men with their wives and children streamed to the southeast, to parts where none of them had ever been. They set off in caravans, bought their freedom one by one or ran away, and drove or walked toward the "warm rivers." Many of them were punished, some sent to Siberia, many died of cold and hunger on the road, many returned of their own accord, and the movement died down of itself just as it had sprung up, without apparent reason. But such undercurrents still existed among the people and gathered new forces ready to manifest themselves just as strangely, unexpectedly, and at the same time simply, naturally, and forcibly. Now in 1812, to anyone living in close touch with these people it was apparent that these undercurrents were acting strongly and nearing an eruption.
Alpatych, who had reached Bogucharovo shortly before the old prince's death, noticed an agitation among the peasants, and that contrary to what was happening in the Bald Hills district, where over a radius of forty miles all the peasants were moving away and leaving their villages to be devastated by the Cossacks, the peasants in the steppe region round Bogucharovo were, it was rumored, in touch with the French, received leaflets from them that passed from hand to hand, and did not migrate. He learned from domestic serfs loyal to him that the peasant Karp, who possessed great influence in the village commune and had recently been away driving a government transport, had returned with news that the Cossacks were destroying deserted villages, but that the French did not harm them. Alpatych also knew that on the previous day another peasant had even brought from the village of Visloukhovo, which was occupied by the French, a proclamation by a French general that no harm would be done to the inhabitants, and if they remained they would be paid for anything taken from them. As proof of this the peasant had brought from Visloukhovo a hundred rubles in notes (he did not know that they were false) paid to him in advance for hay.
More important still, Alpatych learned that on the morning of the very day he gave the village Elder orders to collect carts to move the princess' luggage from Bogucharovo, there had been a village meeting at which it had been decided not to move but to wait. Yet there was no time to waste. On the fifteenth, the day of the old prince's death, the Marshal had insisted on Princess Mary's leaving at once, as it was becoming dangerous. He had told her that after the sixteenth he could not be responsible for what might happen. On the evening of the day the old prince died the Marshal went away, promising to return next day for the funeral. But this he was unable to do, for he received tidings that the French had unexpectedly advanced, and had barely time to remove his own family and valuables from his estate.
For some thirty years Bogucharovo had been managed by the village Elder, Dron, whom the old prince called by the diminutive "Dronushka."
Dron was one of those physically and mentally vigorous peasants who grow big beards as soon as they are of age and go on unchanged till they are sixty or seventy, without a gray hair or the loss of a tooth, as straight and strong at sixty as at thirty.
Soon after the migration to the "warm rivers," in which he had taken part like the rest, Dron was made village Elder and overseer of Bogucharovo, and had since filled that post irreproachably for twenty-three years. The peasants feared him more than they did their master. The masters, both the old prince and the young, and the steward respected him and jestingly called him "the Minister." During the whole time of his service Dron had never been drunk or ill, never after sleepless nights or the hardest tasks had he shown the least fatigue, and though he could not read he had never forgotten a single money account or the number of quarters of flour in any of the endless cartloads he sold for the prince, nor a single shock of the whole corn crop on any single acre of the Bogucharovo fields.
Alpatych, arriving from the devastated Bald Hills estate, sent for his Dron on the day of the prince's funeral and told him to have twelve horses got ready for the princess' carriages and eighteen carts for the things to be removed from Bogucharovo. Though the peasants paid quitrent, Alpatych thought no difficulty would be made about complying with this order, for there were two hundred and thirty households at work in Bogucharovo and the peasants were well to do. But on hearing the order Dron lowered his eyes and remained silent. Alpatych named certain peasants he knew, from whom he told him to take the carts.
Dron replied that the horses of these peasants were away carting. Alpatych named others, but they too, according to Dron, had no horses available: some horses were carting for the government, others were too weak, and others had died for want of fodder. It seemed that no horses could be had even for the carriages, much less for the carting.
Alpatych looked intently at Dron and frowned. Just as Dron was a model village Elder, so Alpatych had not managed the prince's estates for twenty years in vain. He a model steward, possessing in the highest degree the faculty of divining the needs and instincts of those he dealt with. Having glanced at Dron he at once understood that his answers did not express his personal views but the general mood of the Bogucharovo commune, by which the Elder had already been carried away. But he also knew that Dron, who had acquired property and was hated by the commune, must be hesitating between the two camps: the masters' and the serfs'. He noticed this hesitation in Dron's look and therefore frowned and moved closer up to him.
"Now just listen, Dronushka," said he. "Don't talk nonsense to me. His excellency Prince Andrew himself gave me orders to move all the people away and not leave them with the enemy, and there is an order from the Tsar about it too. Anyone who stays is a traitor to the Tsar. Do you hear?"
"I hear," Dron answered without lifting his eyes.
Alpatych was not satisfied with this reply.
"Eh, Dron, it will turn out badly!" he said, shaking his head.
"The power is in your hands," Dron rejoined sadly.
"Eh, Dron, drop it!" Alpatych repeated, withdrawing his hand from his bosom and solemnly pointing to the floor at Dron's feet. "I can see through you and three yards into the ground under you," he continued, gazing at the floor in front of Dron.
Dron was disconcerted, glanced furtively at Alpatych and again lowered his eyes.
"You drop this nonsense and tell the people to get ready to leave their homes and go to Moscow and to get carts ready for tomorrow morning for the princess' things. And don't go to any meeting yourself, do you hear?"
Dron suddenly fell on his knees.
"Yakov Alpatych, discharge me! Take the keys from me and discharge me, for Christ's sake!"
"Stop that!" cried Alpatych sternly. "I see through you and three yards under you," he repeated, knowing that his skill in beekeeping, his knowledge of the right time to sow the oats, and the fact that he had been able to retain the old prince's favor for twenty years had long since gained him the reputation of being a wizard, and that the power of seeing three yards under a man is considered an attribute of wizards.
Dron got up and was about to say something, but Alpatych interrupted him.
"What is it you have got into your heads, eh?... What are you thinking of, eh?"
"What am I to do with the people?" said Dron. "They're quite beside themselves; I have already told them..."
"'Told them,' I dare say!" said Alpatych. "Are they drinking?" he asked abruptly.
"Quite beside themselves, Yakov Alpatych; they've fetched another barrel."
"Well, then, listen! I'll go to the police officer, and you tell them so, and that they must stop this and the carts must be got ready."
Alpatych did not insist further. He had managed people for a long time and knew that the chief way to make them obey is to show no suspicion that they can possibly disobey. Having wrung a submissive "I understand" from Dron, Alpatych contented himself with that, though he not only doubted but felt almost certain that without the help of troops the carts would not be forthcoming.
And so it was, for when evening came no carts had been provided. In the village, outside the drink shop, another meeting was being held, which decided that the horses should be driven out into the woods and the carts should not be provided. Without saying anything of this to the princess, Alpatych had his own belongings taken out of the carts which had arrived from Bald Hills and had those horses got ready for the princess' carriages. Meanwhile he went himself to the police authorities.
After her father's funeral Princess Mary shut herself up in her room and did not admit anyone. A maid came to the door to say that Alpatych was asking for orders about their departure. (This was before his talk with Dron.) Princess Mary raised herself on the sofa on which she had been lying and replied through the closed door that she did not mean to go away and begged to be left in peace.
The windows of the room in which she was lying looked westward. She lay on the sofa with her face to the wall, fingering the buttons of the leather cushion and seeing nothing but that cushion, and her confused thoughts were centered on one subject--the irrevocability of death and her own spiritual baseness, which she had not suspected, but which had shown itself during her father's illness. She wished to pray but did not dare to, dared not in her present state of mind address herself to God. She lay for a long time in that position.
The sun had reached the other side of the house, and its slanting rays shone into the open window, lighting up the room and part of the morocco cushion at which Princess Mary was looking. The flow of her thoughts suddenly stopped. Unconsciously she sat up, smoothed her hair, got up, and went to the window, involuntarily inhaling the freshness of the clear but windy evening.
"Yes, you can well enjoy the evening now! He is gone and no one will hinder you," she said to herself, and sinking into a chair she let her head fall on the window sill.
Someone spoke her name in a soft and tender voice from the garden and kissed her head. She looked up. It was Mademoiselle Bourienne in a black dress and weepers. She softly approached Princess Mary, sighed, kissed her, and immediately began to cry. The princess looked up at her. All their former disharmony and her own jealousy recurred to her mind. But she remembered too how he had changed of late toward Mademoiselle Bourienne and could not bear to see her, thereby showing how unjust were the reproaches Princess Mary had mentally addressed to her. "Besides, is it for me, for me who desired his death, to condemn anyone?" she thought.
Princess Mary vividly pictured to herself the position of Mademoiselle Bourienne, whom she had of late kept at a distance, but who yet was dependent on her and living in her house. She felt sorry for her and held out her hand with a glance of gentle inquiry. Mademoiselle Bourienne at once began crying again and kissed that hand, speaking of the princess' sorrow and making herself a partner in it. She said her only consolation was the fact that the princess allowed her to share her sorrow, that all the old misunderstandings should sink into nothing but this great grief; that she felt herself blameless in regard to everyone, and that he, from above, saw her affection and gratitude. The princess heard her, not heeding her words but occasionally looking up at her and listening to the sound of her voice.
"Your position is doubly terrible, dear princess," said Mademoiselle Bourienne after a pause. "I understand that you could not, and cannot, think of yourself, but with my love for you I must do so.... Has Alpatych been to you? Has he spoken to you of going away?" she asked.
Princess Mary did not answer. She did not understand who was to go or where to. "Is it possible to plan or think of anything now? Is it not all the same?" she thought, and did not reply.
"You know, chere Marie," said Mademoiselle Bourienne, "that we are in danger--are surrounded by the French. It would be dangerous to move now. If we go we are almost sure to be taken prisoners, and God knows..."
Princess Mary looked at her companion without understanding what she was talking about.
"Oh, if anyone knew how little anything matters to me now," she said. "Of course I would on no account wish to go away from him.... Alpatych did say something about going.... Speak to him; I can do nothing, nothing, and don't want to...."
"I've spoken to him. He hopes we should be in time to get away tomorrow, but I think it would now be better to stay here," said Mademoiselle Bourienne. "Because, you will agree, chere Marie, to fall into the hands of the soldiers or of riotous peasants would be terrible."
Mademoiselle Bourienne took from her reticule a proclamation (not printed on ordinary Russian paper) of General Rameau's, telling people not to leave their homes and that the French authorities would afford them proper protection. She handed this to the princess.
"I think it would be best to appeal to that general," she continued, "and and am sure that all due respect would be shown you."
Princess Mary read the paper, and her face began to quiver with stifled sobs.
"From whom did you get this?" she asked.
"They probably recognized that I am French, by my name," replied Mademoiselle Bourienne blushing.
Princess Mary, with the paper in her hand, rose from the window and with a pale face went out of the room and into what had been Prince Andrew's study.
"Dunyasha, send Alpatych, or Dronushka, or somebody to me!" she said, "and tell Mademoiselle Bourienne not to come to me," she added, hearing Mademoiselle Bourienne's voice. "We must go at once, at once!" she said, appalled at the thought of being left in the hands of the French.
"If Prince Andrew heard that I was in the power of the French! That I, the daughter of Prince Nicholas Bolkonski, asked General Rameau for protection and accepted his favor!" This idea horrified her, made her shudder, blush, and feel such a rush of anger and pride as she had never experienced before. All that was distressing, and especially all that was humiliating, in her position rose vividly to her mind. "They, the French, would settle in this house: M. le General Rameau would occupy Prince Andrew's study and amuse himself by looking through and reading his letters and papers. Mademoiselle Bourienne would do the honors of Bogucharovo for him. I should be given a small room as a favor, the soldiers would violate my father's newly dug grave to steal his crosses and stars, they would tell me of their victories over the Russians, and would pretend to sympathize with my sorrow..." thought Princess Mary, not thinking her own thoughts but feeling bound to think like her father and her brother. For herself she did not care where she remained or what happened to her, but she felt herself the representative of her dead father and of Prince Andrew. Involuntarily she thought their thoughts and felt their feelings. What they would have said and what they would have done she felt bound to say and do. She went into Prince Andrew's study, trying to enter completely into his ideas, and considered her position.
The demands of life, which had seemed to her annihilated by her father's death, all at once rose before her with a new, previously unknown force and took possession of her.
Agitated and flushed she paced the room, sending now for Michael Ivanovich and now for Tikhon or Dron. Dunyasha, the nurse, and the other maids could not say in how far Mademoiselle Bourienne's statement was correct. Alpatych was not at home, he had gone to the police. Neither could the architect Michael Ivanovich, who on being sent for came in with sleepy eyes, tell Princess Mary anything. With just the same smile of agreement with which for fifteen years he had been accustomed to answer the old prince without expressing views of his own, he now replied to Princess Mary, so that nothing definite could be got from his answers. The old valet Tikhon, with sunken, emaciated face that bore the stamp of inconsolable grief, replied: "Yes, Princess" to all Princess Mary's questions and hardly refrained from sobbing as he looked at her.
At length Dron, the village Elder, entered the room and with a deep bow to Princess Mary came to a halt by the doorpost.
Princess Mary walked up and down the room and stopped in front of him.
"Dronushka," she said, regarding as a sure friend this Dronushka who always used to bring a special kind of gingerbread from his visit to the fair at Vyazma every year and smilingly offer it to her, "Dronushka, now since our misfortune..." she began, but could not go on.
"We are all in God's hands," said he, with a sigh.
They were silent for a while.
"Dronushka, Alpatych has gone off somewhere and I have no one to turn to. Is true, as they tell me, that I can't even go away?"
"Why shouldn't you go away, your excellency? You can go," said Dron.
"I was told it would be dangerous because of the enemy. Dear friend, I can do nothing. I understand nothing. I have nobody! I want to go away tonight or early tomorrow morning."
Dron paused. He looked askance at Princess Mary and said: "There are no horses; I told Yakov Alpatych so."
"Why are there none?" asked the princess.
"It's all God's scourge," said Dron. "What horses we had have been taken for the army or have died--this is such a year! It's not a case of feeding horses--we may die of hunger ourselves! As it is, some go three days without eating. We've nothing, we've been ruined."
Princess Mary listened attentively to what he told her.
"The peasants are ruined? They have no bread?" she asked.
"They're dying of hunger," said Dron. "It's not a case of carting."
"But why didn't you tell me, Dronushka? Isn't it possible to help them? I'll do all I can...."
To Princess Mary it was strange that now, at a moment when such sorrow was filling her soul, there could be rich people and poor, and the rich could refrain from helping the poor. She had heard vaguely that there was such a thing as "landlord's corn" which was sometimes given to the peasants. She also knew that neither her father nor her brother would refuse to help the peasants in need, she only feared to make some mistake in speaking about the distribution of the grain she wished to give. She was glad such cares presented themselves, enabling her without scruple to forget her own grief. She began asking Dron about the peasants' needs and what there was in Bogucharovo that belonged to the landlord.
"But we have grain belonging to my brother?" she said.
"The landlord's grain is all safe," replied Dron proudly. "Our prince did not order it to be sold."
"Give it to the peasants, let them have all they need; I give you leave in my brother's name," said she.
Dron made no answer but sighed deeply.
"Give them that corn if there is enough of it. Distribute it all. I give this order in my brother's name; and tell them that what is ours is theirs. We do not grudge them anything. Tell them so."
Dron looked intently at the princess while she was speaking.
"Discharge me, little mother, for God's sake! Order the keys to be taken from me," said he. "I have served twenty-three years and have done no wrong. Discharge me, for God's sake!"
Princess Mary did not understand what he wanted of her or why he was asking to be discharged. She replied that she had never doubted his devotion and that she was ready to do anything for him and for the peasants.