Returning from his journey through South Russia in the happiest state of mind, Pierre carried out an intention he had long had of visiting his friend Bolkonski, whom he had not seen for two years.
Bogucharovo lay in a flat uninteresting part of the country among fields and forests of fir and birch, which were partly cut down. The house lay behind a newly dug pond filled with water to the brink and with banks still bare of grass. It was at the end of a village that stretched along the highroad in the midst of a young copse in which were a few fir trees.
The homestead consisted of a threshing floor, outhouses, stables, a bathhouse, a lodge, and a large brick house with semicircular facade still in course of construction. Round the house was a garden newly laid out. The fences and gates were new and solid; two fire pumps and a water cart, painted green, stood in a shed; the paths were straight, the bridges were strong and had handrails. Everything bore an impress of tidiness and good management. Some domestic serfs Pierre met, in reply to inquiries as to where the prince lived, pointed out a small newly built lodge close to the pond. Anton, a man who had looked after Prince Andrew in his boyhood, helped Pierre out of his carriage, said that the prince was at home, and showed him into a clean little anteroom.
Pierre was struck by the modesty of the small though clean house after the brilliant surroundings in which he had last met his friend in Petersburg.
He quickly entered the small reception room with its still-unplastered wooden walls redolent of pine, and would have gone farther, but Anton ran ahead on tiptoe and knocked at a door.
"Well, what is it?" came a sharp, unpleasant voice.
"A visitor," answered Anton.
"Ask him to wait," and the sound was heard of a chair being pushed back.
Pierre went with rapid steps to the door and suddenly came face to face with Prince Andrew, who came out frowning and looking old. Pierre embraced him and lifting his spectacles kissed his friend on the cheek and looked at him closely.
"Well, I did not expect you, I am very glad," said Prince Andrew.
Pierre said nothing; he looked fixedly at his friend with surprise. He was struck by the change in him. His words were kindly and there was a smile on his lips and face, but his eyes were dull and lifeless and in spite of his evident wish to do so he could not give them a joyous and glad sparkle. Prince Andrew had grown thinner, paler, and more manly-looking, but what amazed and estranged Pierre till he got used to it were his inertia and a wrinkle on his brow indicating prolonged concentration on some one thought.
As is usually the case with people meeting after a prolonged separation, it was long before their conversation could settle on anything. They put questions and gave brief replies about things they knew ought to be talked over at length. At last the conversation gradually settled on some of the topics at first lightly touched on: their past life, plans for the future, Pierre's journeys and occupations, the war, and so on. The preoccupation and despondency which Pierre had noticed in his friend's look was now still more clearly expressed in the smile with which he listened to Pierre, especially when he spoke with joyful animation of the past or the future. It was as if Prince Andrew would have liked to sympathize with what Pierre was saying, but could not. The latter began to feel that it was in bad taste to speak of his enthusiasms, dreams, and hopes of happiness or goodness, in Prince Andrew's presence. He was ashamed to express his new Masonic views, which had been particularly revived and strengthened by his late tour. He checked himself, fearing to seem naive, yet he felt an irresistible desire to show his friend as soon as possible that he was now a quite different, and better, Pierre than he had been in Petersburg.
"I can't tell you how much I have lived through since then. I hardly know myself again."
"Yes, we have altered much, very much, since then," said Prince Andrew.
"Well, and you? What are your plans?"
"Plans!" repeated Prince Andrew ironically. "My plans?" he said, as if astonished at the word. "Well, you see, I'm building. I mean to settle here altogether next year...."
Pierre looked silently and searchingly into Prince Andrew's face, which had grown much older.
"No, I meant to ask..." Pierre began, but Prince Andrew interrupted him.
"But why talk of me?... Talk to me, yes, tell me about your travels and all you have been doing on your estates."
Pierre began describing what he had done on his estates, trying as far as possible to conceal his own part in the improvements that had been made. Prince Andrew several times prompted Pierre's story of what he had been doing, as though it were all an old-time story, and he listened not only without interest but even as if ashamed of what Pierre was telling him.
Pierre felt uncomfortable and even depressed in his friend's company and at last became silent.
"I'll tell you what, my dear fellow," said Prince Andrew, who evidently also felt depressed and constrained with his visitor, "I am only bivouacking here and have just come to look round. I am going back to my sister today. I will introduce you to her. But of course you know her already," he said, evidently trying to entertain a visitor with whom he now found nothing in common. "We will go after dinner. And would you now like to look round my place?"
They went out and walked about till dinnertime, talking of the political news and common acquaintances like people who do not know each other intimately. Prince Andrew spoke with some animation and interest only of the new homestead he was constructing and its buildings, but even here, while on the scaffolding, in the midst of a talk explaining the future arrangements of the house, he interrupted himself:
"However, this is not at all interesting. Let us have dinner, and then we'll set off."
At dinner, conversation turned on Pierre's marriage.
"I was very much surprised when I heard of it," said Prince Andrew.
Pierre blushed, as he always did when it was mentioned, and said hurriedly: "I will tell you some time how it all happened. But you know it is all over, and forever."
"Forever?" said Prince Andrew. "Nothing's forever."
"But you know how it all ended, don't you? You heard of the duel?"
"And so you had to go through that too!"
"One thing I thank God for is that I did not kill that man," said Pierre.
"Why so?" asked Prince Andrew. "To kill a vicious dog is a very good thing really."
"No, to kill a man is bad--wrong."
"Why is it wrong?" urged Prince Andrew. "It is not given to man to know what is right and what is wrong. Men always did and always will err, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong."
"What does harm to another is wrong," said Pierre, feeling with pleasure that for the first time since his arrival Prince Andrew was roused, had begun to talk, and wanted to express what had brought him to his present state.
"And who has told you what is bad for another man?" he asked.
"Bad! Bad!" exclaimed Pierre. "We all know what is bad for ourselves."
"Yes, we know that, but the harm I am conscious of in myself is something I cannot inflict on others," said Prince Andrew, growing more and more animated and evidently wishing to express his new outlook to Pierre. He spoke in French. "I only know two very real evils in life: remorse and illness. The only good is the absence of those evils. To live for myself avoiding those two evils is my whole philosophy now."
"And love of one's neighbor, and self-sacrifice?" began Pierre. "No, I can't agree with you! To live only so as not to do evil and not to have to repent is not enough. I lived like that, I lived for myself and ruined my life. And only now when I am living, or at least trying" (Pierre's modesty made him correct himself) "to live for others, only now have I understood all the happiness of life. No, I shall not agree with you, and you do not really believe what you are saying." Prince Andrew looked silently at Pierre with an ironic smile.
"When you see my sister, Princess Mary, you'll get on with her," he said. "Perhaps you are right for yourself," he added after a short pause, "but everyone lives in his own way. You lived for yourself and say you nearly ruined your life and only found happiness when you began living for others. I experienced just the reverse. I lived for glory.--And after all what is glory? The same love of others, a desire to do something for them, a desire for their approval.--So I lived for others, and not almost, but quite, ruined my life. And I have become calmer since I began to live only for myself."
"But what do you mean by living only for yourself?" asked Pierre, growing excited. "What about your son, your sister, and your father?"
"But that's just the same as myself--they are not others," explained Prince Andrew. "The others, one's neighbors, le prochain, as you and Princess Mary call it, are the chief source of all error and evil. Le prochain--your Kiev peasants to whom you want to do good."
And he looked at Pierre with a mocking, challenging expression. He evidently wished to draw him on.
"You are joking," replied Pierre, growing more and more excited. "What error or evil can there be in my wishing to do good, and even doing a little--though I did very little and did it very badly? What evil can there be in it if unfortunate people, our serfs, people like ourselves, were growing up and dying with no idea of God and truth beyond ceremonies and meaningless prayers and are now instructed in a comforting belief in future life, retribution, recompense, and consolation? What evil and error are there in it, if people were dying of disease without help while material assistance could so easily be rendered, and I supplied them with a doctor, a hospital, and an asylum for the aged? And is it not a palpable, unquestionable good if a peasant, or a woman with a baby, has no rest day or night and I give them rest and leisure?" said Pierre, hurrying and lisping. "And I have done that though badly and to a small extent; but I have done something toward it and you cannot persuade me that it was not a good action, and more than that, you can't make me believe that you do not think so yourself. And the main thing is," he continued, "that I know, and know for certain, that the enjoyment of doing this good is the only sure happiness in life."
"Yes, if you put it like that it's quite a different matter," said Prince Andrew. "I build a house and lay out a garden, and you build hospitals. The one and the other may serve as a pastime. But what's right and what's good must be judged by one who knows all, but not by us. Well, you want an argument," he added, "come on then."
They rose from the table and sat down in the entrance porch which served as a veranda.
"Come, let's argue then," said Prince Andrew, "You talk of schools," he went on, crooking a finger, "education and so forth; that is, you want to raise him" (pointing to a peasant who passed by them taking off his cap) "from his animal condition and awaken in him spiritual needs, while it seems to me that animal happiness is the only happiness possible, and that is just what you want to deprive him of. I envy him, but you want to make him what I am, without giving him my means. Then you say, 'lighten his toil.' But as I see it, physical labor is as essential to him, as much a condition of his existence, as mental activity is to you or me. You can't help thinking. I go to bed after two in the morning, thoughts come and I can't sleep but toss about till dawn, because I think and can't help thinking, just as he can't help plowing and mowing; if he didn't, he would go to the drink shop or fall ill. Just as I could not stand his terrible physical labor but should die of it in a week, so he could not stand my physical idleness, but would grow fat and die. The third thing--what else was it you talked about?" and Prince Andrew crooked a third finger. "Ah, yes, hospitals, medicine. He has a fit, he is dying, and you come and bleed him and patch him up. He will drag about as a cripple, a burden to everybody, for another ten years. It would be far easier and simpler for him to die. Others are being born and there are plenty of them as it is. It would be different if you grudged losing a laborer--that's how I regard him--but you want to cure him from love of him. And he does not want that. And besides, what a notion that medicine ever cured anyone! Killed them, yes!" said he, frowning angrily and turning away from Pierre.
Prince Andrew expressed his ideas so clearly and distinctly that it was evident he had reflected on this subject more than once, and he spoke readily and rapidly like a man who has not talked for a long time. His glance became more animated as his conclusions became more hopeless.
"Oh, that is dreadful, dreadful!" said Pierre. "I don't understand how one can live with such ideas. I had such moments myself not long ago, in Moscow and when traveling, but at such times I collapsed so that I don't live at all--everything seems hateful to me... myself most of all. Then I don't eat, don't wash... and how is it with you?..."
"Why not wash? That is not cleanly," said Prince Andrew; "on the contrary one must try to make one's life as pleasant as possible. I'm alive, that is not my fault, so I must live out my life as best I can without hurting others."
"But with such ideas what motive have you for living? One would sit without moving, undertaking nothing...."
"Life as it is leaves one no peace. I should be thankful to do nothing, but here on the one hand the local nobility have done me the honor to choose me to be their marshal; it was all I could do to get out of it. They could not understand that I have not the necessary qualifications for it--the kind of good-natured, fussy shallowness necessary for the position. Then there's this house, which must be built in order to have a nook of one's own in which to be quiet. And now there's this recruiting."
"Why aren't you serving in the army?"
"After Austerlitz!" said Prince Andrew gloomily. "No, thank you very much! I have promised myself not to serve again in the active Russian army. And I won't--not even if Bonaparte were here at Smolensk threatening Bald Hills--even then I wouldn't serve in the Russian army! Well, as I was saying," he continued, recovering his composure, "now there's this recruiting. My father is chief in command of the Third District, and my only way of avoiding active service is to serve under him."
"Then you are serving?"
He paused a little while.
"And why do you serve?"
"Why, for this reason! My father is one of the most remarkable men of his time. But he is growing old, and though not exactly cruel he has too energetic a character. He is so accustomed to unlimited power that he is terrible, and now he has this authority of a commander in chief of the recruiting, granted by the Emperor. If I had been two hours late a fortnight ago he would have had a paymaster's clerk at Yukhnovna hanged," said Prince Andrew with a smile. "So I am serving because I alone have any influence with my father, and now and then can save him from actions which would torment him afterwards."
"Well, there you see!"
"Yes, but it is not as you imagine," Prince Andrew continued. "I did not, and do not, in the least care about that scoundrel of a clerk who had stolen some boots from the recruits; I should even have been very glad to see him hanged, but I was sorry for my father--that again is for myself."
Prince Andrew grew more and more animated. His eyes glittered feverishly while he tried to prove to Pierre that in his actions there was no desire to do good to his neighbor.
"There now, you wish to liberate your serfs," he continued; "that is a very good thing, but not for you--I don't suppose you ever had anyone flogged or sent to Siberia--and still less for your serfs. If they are beaten, flogged, or sent to Siberia, I don't suppose they are any the worse off. In Siberia they lead the same animal life, and the stripes on their bodies heal, and they are happy as before. But it is a good thing for proprietors who perish morally, bring remorse upon themselves, stifle this remorse and grow callous, as a result of being able to inflict punishments justly and unjustly. It is those people I pity, and for their sake I should like to liberate the serfs. You may not have seen, but I have seen, how good men brought up in those traditions of unlimited power, in time when they grow more irritable, become cruel and harsh, are conscious of it, but cannot restrain themselves and grow more and more miserable."
Prince Andrew spoke so earnestly that Pierre could not help thinking that these thoughts had been suggested to Prince Andrew by his father's case.
He did not reply.
"So that's what I'm sorry for--human dignity, peace of mind, purity, and not the serfs' backs and foreheads, which, beat and shave as you may, always remain the same backs and foreheads."
"No, no! A thousand times no! I shall never agree with you," said Pierre.
In the evening Andrew and Pierre got into the open carriage and drove to Bald Hills. Prince Andrew, glancing at Pierre, broke the silence now and then with remarks which showed that he was in a good temper.
Pointing to the fields, he spoke of the improvements he was making in his husbandry.
Pierre remained gloomily silent, answering in monosyllables and apparently immersed in his own thoughts.
He was thinking that Prince Andrew was unhappy, had gone astray, did not see the true light, and that he, Pierre, ought to aid, enlighten, and raise him. But as soon as he thought of what he should say, he felt that Prince Andrew with one word, one argument, would upset all his teaching, and he shrank from beginning, afraid of exposing to possible ridicule what to him was precious and sacred.
"No, but why do you think so?" Pierre suddenly began, lowering his head and looking like a bull about to charge, "why do you think so? You should not think so."
"Think? What about?" asked Prince Andrew with surprise.
"About life, about man's destiny. It can't be so. I myself thought like that, and do you know what saved me? Freemasonry! No, don't smile. Freemasonry is not a religious ceremonial sect, as I thought it was: Freemasonry is the best expression of the best, the eternal, aspects of humanity."
And he began to explain Freemasonry as he understood it to Prince Andrew. He said that Freemasonry is the teaching of Christianity freed from the bonds of State and Church, a teaching of equality, brotherhood, and love.
"Only our holy brotherhood has the real meaning of life, all the rest is a dream," said Pierre. "Understand, my dear fellow, that outside this union all is filled with deceit and falsehood and I agree with you that nothing is left for an intelligent and good man but to live out his life, like you, merely trying not to harm others. But make our fundamental convictions your own, join our brotherhood, give yourself up to us, let yourself be guided, and you will at once feel yourself, as I have felt myself, a part of that vast invisible chain the beginning of which is hidden in heaven," said Pierre.
Prince Andrew, looking straight in front of him, listened in silence to Pierre's words. More than once, when the noise of the wheels prevented his catching what Pierre said, he asked him to repeat it, and by the peculiar glow that came into Prince Andrew's eyes and by his silence, Pierre saw that his words were not in vain and that Prince Andrew would not interrupt him or laugh at what he said.
They reached a river that had overflowed its banks and which they had to cross by ferry. While the carriage and horses were being placed on it, they also stepped on the raft.
Prince Andrew, leaning his arms on the raft railing, gazed silently at the flooding waters glittering in the setting sun.
"Well, what do you think about it?" Pierre asked. "Why are you silent?"
"What do I think about it? I am listening to you. It's all very well.... You say: join our brotherhood and we will show you the aim of life, the destiny of man, and the laws which govern the world. But who are we? Men. How is it you know everything? Why do I alone not see what you see? You see a reign of goodness and truth on earth, but I don't see it."
Pierre interrupted him.
"Do you believe in a future life?" he asked.
"A future life?" Prince Andrew repeated, but Pierre, giving him no time to reply, took the repetition for a denial, the more readily as he knew Prince Andrew's former atheistic convictions.
"You say you can't see a reign of goodness and truth on earth. Nor could I, and it cannot be seen if one looks on our life here as the end of everything. On earth, here on this earth" (Pierre pointed to the fields), "there is no truth, all is false and evil; but in the universe, in the whole universe there is a kingdom of truth, and we who are now the children of earth are--eternally--children of the whole universe. Don't I feel in my soul that I am part of this vast harmonious whole? Don't I feel that I form one link, one step, between the lower and higher beings, in this vast harmonious multitude of beings in whom the Deity--the Supreme Power if you prefer the term--is manifest? If I see, clearly see, that ladder leading from plant to man, why should I suppose it breaks off at me and does not go farther and farther? I feel that I cannot vanish, since nothing vanishes in this world, but that I shall always exist and always have existed. I feel that beyond me and above me there are spirits, and that in this world there is truth."
"Yes, that is Herder's theory," said Prince Andrew, "but it is not that which can convince me, dear friend--life and death are what convince. What convinces is when one sees a being dear to one, bound up with one's own life, before whom one was to blame and had hoped to make it right" (Prince Andrew's voice trembled and he turned away), "and suddenly that being is seized with pain, suffers, and ceases to exist.... Why? It cannot be that there is no answer. And I believe there is.... That's what convinces, that is what has convinced me," said Prince Andrew.
"Yes, yes, of course," said Pierre, "isn't that what I'm saying?"
"No. All I say is that it is not argument that convinces me of the necessity of a future life, but this: when you go hand in hand with someone and all at once that person vanishes there, into nowhere, and you yourself are left facing that abyss, and look in. And I have looked in...."
"Well, that's it then! You know that there is a there and there is a Someone? There is the future life. The Someone is--God."
Prince Andrew did not reply. The carriage and horses had long since been taken off, onto the farther bank, and reharnessed. The sun had sunk half below the horizon and an evening frost was starring the puddles near the ferry, but Pierre and Andrew, to the astonishment of the footmen, coachmen, and ferrymen, still stood on the raft and talked.
"If there is a God and future life, there is truth and good, and man's highest happiness consists in striving to attain them. We must live, we must love, and we must believe that we live not only today on this scrap of earth, but have lived and shall live forever, there, in the Whole," said Pierre, and he pointed to the sky.
Prince Andrew stood leaning on the railing of the raft listening to Pierre, and he gazed with his eyes fixed on the red reflection of the sun gleaming on the blue waters. There was perfect stillness. Pierre became silent. The raft had long since stopped and only the waves of the current beat softly against it below. Prince Andrew felt as if the sound of the waves kept up a refrain to Pierre's words, whispering:
"It is true, believe it."
He sighed, and glanced with a radiant, childlike, tender look at Pierre's face, flushed and rapturous, but yet shy before his superior friend.
"Yes, if it only were so!" said Prince Andrew. "However, it is time to get on," he added, and, stepping off the raft, he looked up at the sky to which Pierre had pointed, and for the first time since Austerlitz saw that high, everlasting sky he had seen while lying on that battlefield; and something that had long been slumbering, something that was best within him, suddenly awoke, joyful and youthful, in his soul. It vanished as soon as he returned to the customary conditions of his life, but he knew that this feeling which he did not know how to develop existed within him. His meeting with Pierre formed an epoch in Prince Andrew's life. Though outwardly he continued to live in the same old way, inwardly he began a new life.
It was getting dusk when Prince Andrew and Pierre drove up to the front entrance of the house at Bald Hills. As they approached the house, Prince Andrew with a smile drew Pierre's attention to a commotion going on at the back porch. A woman, bent with age, with a wallet on her back, and a short, long-haired, young man in a black garment had rushed back to the gate on seeing the carriage driving up. Two women ran out after them, and all four, looking round at the carriage, ran in dismay up the steps of the back porch.
"Those are Mary's 'God's folk,'" said Prince Andrew. "They have mistaken us for my father. This is the one matter in which she disobeys him. He orders these pilgrims to be driven away, but she receives them."
"But what are 'God's folk'?" asked Pierre.
Prince Andrew had no time to answer. The servants came out to meet them, and he asked where the old prince was and whether he was expected back soon.
The old prince had gone to the town and was expected back any minute.
Prince Andrew led Pierre to his own apartments, which were always kept in perfect order and readiness for him in his father's house; he himself went to the nursery.
"Let us go and see my sister," he said to Pierre when he returned. "I have not found her yet, she is hiding now, sitting with her 'God's folk.' It will serve her right, she will be confused, but you will see her 'God's folk.' It's really very curious."
"What are 'God's folk'?" asked Pierre.
"Come, and you'll see for yourself."
Princess Mary really was disconcerted and red patches came on her face when they went in. In her snug room, with lamps burning before the icon stand, a young lad with a long nose and long hair, wearing a monk's cassock, sat on the sofa beside her, behind a samovar. Near them, in an armchair, sat a thin, shriveled, old woman, with a meek expression on her childlike face.
"Andrew, why didn't you warn me?" said the princess, with mild reproach, as she stood before her pilgrims like a hen before her chickens.
"Charmee de vous voir. Je suis tres contente de vous voir,"* she said to Pierre as he kissed her hand. She had known him as a child, and now his friendship with Andrew, his misfortune with his wife, and above all his kindly, simple face disposed her favorably toward him. She looked at him with her beautiful radiant eyes and seemed to say, "I like you very much, but please don't laugh at my people." After exchanging the first greetings, they sat down.
*"Delighted to see you. I am very glad to see you."
"Ah, and Ivanushka is here too!" said Prince Andrew, glancing with a smile at the young pilgrim.
"Andrew!" said Princess Mary, imploringly. "Il faut que vous sachiez que c'est une femme,"* said Prince Andrew to Pierre.
"Andrew, au nom de Dieu!"* Princess Mary repeated.
*"You must know that this is a woman."
* "For heaven's sake."
It was evident that Prince Andrew's ironical tone toward the pilgrims and Princess Mary's helpless attempts to protect them were their customary long-established relations on the matter.
"Mais, ma bonne amie," said Prince Andrew, "vous devriez au contraire m'etre reconnaissante de ce que j'explique a Pierre votre intimite avec ce jeune homme."*
*"But, my dear, you ought on the contrary to be grateful to me for explaining to Pierre your intimacy with this young man."
"Really?" said Pierre, gazing over his spectacles with curiosity and seriousness (for which Princess Mary was specially grateful to him) into Ivanushka's face, who, seeing that she was being spoken about, looked round at them all with crafty eyes.
Princess Mary's embarrassment on her people's account was quite unnecessary. They were not in the least abashed. The old woman, lowering her eyes but casting side glances at the newcomers, had turned her cup upside down and placed a nibbled bit of sugar beside it, and sat quietly in her armchair, though hoping to be offered another cup of tea. Ivanushka, sipping out of her saucer, looked with sly womanish eyes from under her brows at the young men.
"Where have you been? To Kiev?" Prince Andrew asked the old woman.
"I have, good sir," she answered garrulously. "Just at Christmastime I was deemed worthy to partake of the holy and heavenly sacrament at the shrine of the saint. And now I'm from Kolyazin, master, where a great and wonderful blessing has been revealed."
"And was Ivanushka with you?"
"I go by myself, benefactor," said Ivanushka, trying to speak in a bass voice. "I only came across Pelageya in Yukhnovo..."
Pelageya interrupted her companion; she evidently wished to tell what she had seen.
"In Kolyazin, master, a wonderful blessing has been revealed."
"What is it? Some new relics?" asked Prince Andrew.
"Andrew, do leave off," said Princess Mary. "Don't tell him, Pelageya."
"No... why not, my dear, why shouldn't I? I like him. He is kind, he is one of God's chosen, he's a benefactor, he once gave me ten rubles, I remember. When I was in Kiev, Crazy Cyril says to me (he's one of God's own and goes barefoot summer and winter), he says, 'Why are you not going to the right place? Go to Kolyazin where a wonder-working icon of the Holy Mother of God has been revealed.' On hearing those words I said good-by to the holy folk and went."
All were silent, only the pilgrim woman went on in measured tones, drawing in her breath.
"So I come, master, and the people say to me: 'A great blessing has been revealed, holy oil trickles from the cheeks of our blessed Mother, the Holy Virgin Mother of God'...."
"All right, all right, you can tell us afterwards," said Princess Mary, flushing.
"Let me ask her," said Pierre. "Did you see it yourselves?" he inquired.
"Oh, yes, master, I was found worthy. Such a brightness on the face like the light of heaven, and from the blessed Mother's cheek it drops and drops...."
"But, dear me, that must be a fraud!" said Pierre, naively, who had listened attentively to the pilgrim.
"Oh, master, what are you saying?" exclaimed the horrified Pelageya, turning to Princess Mary for support.
"They impose on the people," he repeated.
"Lord Jesus Christ!" exclaimed the pilgrim woman, crossing herself. "Oh, don't speak so, master! There was a general who did not believe, and said, 'The monks cheat,' and as soon as he'd said it he went blind. And he dreamed that the Holy Virgin Mother of the Kiev catacombs came to him and said, 'Believe in me and I will make you whole.' So he begged: 'Take me to her, take me to her.' It's the real truth I'm telling you, I saw it myself. So he was brought, quite blind, straight to her, and he goes up to her and falls down and says, 'Make me whole,' says he, 'and I'll give thee what the Tsar bestowed on me.' I saw it myself, master, the star is fixed into the icon. Well, and what do you think? He received his sight! It's a sin to speak so. God will punish you," she said admonishingly, turning to Pierre.
"How did the star get into the icon?" Pierre asked.
"And was the Holy Mother promoted to the rank of general?" said Prince Andrew, with a smile.
Pelageya suddenly grew quite pale and clasped her hands.
"Oh, master, master, what a sin! And you who have a son!" she began, her pallor suddenly turning to a vivid red. "Master, what have you said? God forgive you!" And she crossed herself. "Lord forgive him! My dear, what does it mean?..." she asked, turning to Princess Mary. She got up and, almost crying, began to arrange her wallet. She evidently felt frightened and ashamed to have accepted charity in a house where such things could be said, and was at the same time sorry to have now to forgo the charity of this house.
"Now, why need you do it?" said Princess Mary. "Why did you come to me?..."
"Come, Pelageya, I was joking," said Pierre. "Princesse, ma parole, je n'ai pas voulu l'offenser.* I did not mean anything, I was only joking," he said, smiling shyly and trying to efface his offense. "It was all my fault, and Andrew was only joking."
*"Princess, on my word, I did not wish to offend her."
Pelageya stopped doubtfully, but in Pierre's face there was such a look of sincere penitence, and Prince Andrew glanced so meekly now at her and now at Pierre, that she was gradually reassured.
The pilgrim woman was appeased and, being encouraged to talk, gave a long account of Father Amphilochus, who led so holy a life that his hands smelled of incense, and how on her last visit to Kiev some monks she knew let her have the keys of the catacombs, and how she, taking some dried bread with her, had spent two days in the catacombs with the saints. "I'd pray awhile to one, ponder awhile, then go on to another. I'd sleep a bit and then again go and kiss the relics, and there was such peace all around, such blessedness, that one don't want to come out, even into the light of heaven again."
Pierre listened to her attentively and seriously. Prince Andrew went out of the room, and then, leaving "God's folk" to finish their tea, Princess Mary took Pierre into the drawing room.
"You are very kind," she said to him.
"Oh, I really did not mean to hurt her feelings. I understand them so well and have the greatest respect for them."
Princess Mary looked at him silently and smiled affectionately.
"I have known you a long time, you see, and am as fond of you as of a brother," she said. "How do you find Andrew?" she added hurriedly, not giving him time to reply to her affectionate words. "I am very anxious about him. His health was better in the winter, but last spring his wound reopened and the doctor said he ought to go away for a cure. And I am also very much afraid for him spiritually. He has not a character like us women who, when we suffer, can weep away our sorrows. He keeps it all within him. Today he is cheerful and in good spirits, but that is the effect of your visit--he is not often like that. If you could persuade him to go abroad. He needs activity, and this quiet regular life is very bad for him. Others don't notice it, but I see it."
Toward ten o'clock the men servants rushed to the front door, hearing the bells of the old prince's carriage approaching. Prince Andrew and Pierre also went out into the porch.
"Who's that?" asked the old prince, noticing Pierre as he got out of, the carriage.
"Ah! Very glad! Kiss me," he said, having learned who the young stranger was.
The old prince was in a good temper and very gracious to Pierre.
Before supper, Prince Andrew, coming back to his father's study, found him disputing hotly with his visitor. Pierre was maintaining that a time would come when there would be no more wars. The old prince disputed it chaffingly, but without getting angry.
"Drain the blood from men's veins and put in water instead, then there will be no more war! Old women's nonsense--old women's nonsense!" he repeated, but still he patted Pierre affectionately on the shoulder, and then went up to the table where Prince Andrew, evidently not wishing to join in the conversation, was looking over the papers his father had brought from town. The old prince went up to him and began to talk business.
"The marshal, a Count Rostov, hasn't sent half his contingent. He came to town and wanted to invite me to dinner--I gave him a pretty dinner!... And there, look at this.... Well, my boy," the old prince went on, addressing his son and patting Pierre on the shoulder. "A fine fellow--your friend--I like him! He stirs me up. Another says clever things and one doesn't care to listen, but this one talks rubbish yet stirs an old fellow up. Well, go! Get along! Perhaps I'll come and sit with you at supper. We'll have another dispute. Make friends with my little fool, Princess Mary," he shouted after Pierre, through the door.
Only now, on his visit to Bald Hills, did Pierre fully realize the strength and charm of his friendship with Prince Andrew. That charm was not expressed so much in his relations with him as with all his family and with the household. With the stern old prince and the gentle, timid Princess Mary, though he had scarcely known them, Pierre at once felt like an old friend. They were all fond of him already. Not only Princess Mary, who had been won by his gentleness with the pilgrims, gave him her most radiant looks, but even the one-year-old "Prince Nicholas" (as his grandfather called him) smiled at Pierre and let himself be taken in his arms, and Michael Ivanovich and Mademoiselle Bourienne looked at him with pleasant smiles when he talked to the old prince.
The old prince came in to supper; this was evidently on Pierre's account. And during the two days of the young man's visit he was extremely kind to him and told him to visit them again.
When Pierre had gone and the members of the household met together, they began to express their opinions of him as people always do after a new acquaintance has left, but as seldom happens, no one said anything but what was good of him.
When returning from his leave, Rostov felt, for the first time, how close was the bond that united him to Denisov and and the whole regiment.
On approaching it, Rostov felt as he had done when approaching his home in Moscow. When he saw the first hussar with the unbuttoned uniform of his regiment, when he recognized red-haired Dementyev and saw the picket ropes of the roan horses, when Lavrushka gleefully shouted to his master, "The count has come!" and Denisov, who had been asleep on his bed, ran all disheveled out of the mud hut to embrace him, and the officers collected round to greet the new arrival, Rostov experienced the same feeling his mother, his father, and his sister had embraced him, and tears of joy choked him so that he could not speak. The regiment was also a home, and as unalterably dear and precious as his parents' house.
When he had reported himself to the commander of the regiment and had been reassigned to his former squadron, had been on duty and had gone out foraging, when he had again entered into all the little interests of the regiment and felt himself deprived of liberty and bound in one narrow, unchanging frame, he experienced the same sense of peace, of moral support, and the same sense being at home here in his own place, as he had felt under the parental roof. But here was none of all that turmoil of the world at large, where he did not know his right place and took mistaken decisions; here was no Sonya with whom he ought, or ought not, to have an explanation; here was no possibility of going there or not going there; here there were not twenty-four hours in the day which could be spent in such a variety of ways; there was not that innumerable crowd of people of whom not one was nearer to him or farther from him than another; there were none of those uncertain and undefined money relations with his father, and nothing to recall that terrible loss to Dolokhov. Here, in the regiment, all was clear and simple. The whole world was divided into two unequal parts: one, our Pavlograd regiment; the other, all the rest. And the rest was no concern of his. In the regiment, everything was definite: who was lieutenant, who captain, who was a good fellow, who a bad one, and most of all, who was a comrade. The canteenkeeper gave one credit, one's pay came every four months, there was nothing to think out or decide, you had only to do nothing that was considered bad in the Pavlograd regiment and, when given an order, to do what was clearly, distinctly, and definitely ordered--and all would be well.
Having once more entered into the definite conditions of this regimental life, Rostov felt the joy and relief a tired man feels on lying down to rest. Life in the regiment, during this campaign, was all the pleasanter for him, because, after his loss to Dolokhov (for which, in spite of all his family's efforts to console him, he could not forgive himself), he had made up his mind to atone for his fault by serving, not as he had done before, but really well, and by being a perfectly first-rate comrade and officer--in a word, a splendid man altogether, a thing which seemed so difficult out in the world, but so possible in the regiment.
After his losses, he had determined to pay back his debt to his parents in five years. He received ten thousand rubles a year, but now resolved to take only two thousand and leave the rest to repay the debt to his parents.
Our army, after repeated retreats and advances and battles at Pultusk and Preussisch-Eylau, was concentrated near Bartenstein. It was awaiting the Emperor's arrival and the beginning of a new campaign.
The Pavlograd regiment, belonging to that part of the army which had served in the 1805 campaign, had been recruiting up to strength in Russia, and arrived too late to take part in the first actions of the campaign. It had been neither at Pultusk nor at Preussisch-Eylau and, when it joined the army in the field in the second half of the campaign, was attached to Platov's division.
Platov's division was acting independently of the main army. Several times parts of the Pavlograd regiment had exchanged shots with the enemy, had taken prisoners, and once had even captured Marshal Oudinot's carriages. In April the Pavlograds were stationed immovably for some weeks near a totally ruined and deserted German village.
A thaw had set in, it was muddy and cold, the ice on the river broke, and the roads became impassable. For days neither provisions for the men nor fodder for the horses had been issued. As no transports could arrive, the men dispersed about the abandoned and deserted villages, searching for potatoes, but found few even of these.
Everything had been eaten up and the inhabitants had all fled--if any remained, they were worse than beggars and nothing more could be taken from them; even the soldiers, usually pitiless enough, instead of taking anything from them, often gave them the last of their rations.
The Pavlograd regiment had had only two men wounded in action, but had lost nearly half its men from hunger and sickness. In the hospitals, death was so certain that soldiers suffering from fever, or the swelling that came from bad food, preferred to remain on duty, and hardly able to drag their legs went to the front rather than to the hospitals. When spring came on, the soldiers found a plant just showing out of the ground that looked like asparagus, which, for some reason, they called "Mashka's sweet root." It was very bitter, but they wandered about the fields seeking it and dug it out with their sabers and ate it, though they were ordered not to do so, as it was a noxious plant. That spring a new disease broke out among the soldiers, a swelling of the arms, legs, and face, which the doctors attributed to eating this root. But in spite of all this, the soldiers of Denisov's squadron fed chiefly on "Mashka's sweet root," because it was the second week that the last of the biscuits were being doled out at the rate of half a pound a man and the last potatoes received had sprouted and frozen.
The horses also had been fed for a fortnight on straw from the thatched roofs and had become terribly thin, though still covered with tufts of felty winter hair.
Despite this destitution, the soldiers and officers went on living just as usual. Despite their pale swollen faces and tattered uniforms, the hussars formed line for roll call, kept things in order, groomed their horses, polished their arms, brought in straw from the thatched roofs in place of fodder, and sat down to dine round the caldrons from which they rose up hungry, joking about their nasty food and their hunger. As usual, in their spare time, they lit bonfires, steamed themselves before them naked; smoked, picked out and baked sprouting rotten potatoes, told and listened to stories of Potemkin's and Suvorov's campaigns, or to legends of Alesha the Sly, or the priest's laborer Mikolka.
The officers, as usual, lived in twos and threes in the roofless, half-ruined houses. The seniors tried to collect straw and potatoes and, in general, food for the men. The younger ones occupied themselves as before, some playing cards (there was plenty of money, though there was no food), some with more innocent games, such as quoits and skittles. The general trend of the campaign was rarely spoken of, partly because nothing certain was known about it, partly because there was a vague feeling that in the main it was going badly.
Rostov lived, as before, with Denisov, and since their furlough they had become more friendly than ever. Denisov never spoke of Rostov's family, but by the tender friendship his commander showed him, Rostov felt that the elder hussar's luckless love for Natasha played a part in strengthening their friendship. Denisov evidently tried to expose Rostov to danger as seldom as possible, and after an action greeted his safe return with evident joy. On one of his foraging expeditions, in a deserted and ruined village to which he had come in search of provisions, Rostov found a family consisting of an old Pole and his daughter with an infant in arms. They were half clad, hungry, too weak to get away on foot and had no means of obtaining a conveyance. Rostov brought them to his quarters, placed them in his own lodging, and kept them for some weeks while the old man was recovering. One of his comrades, talking of women, began chaffing Rostov, saying that he was more wily than any of them and that it would not be a bad thing if he introduced to them the pretty Polish girl he had saved. Rostov took the joke as an insult, flared up, and said such unpleasant things to the officer that it was all Denisov could do to prevent a duel. When the officer had gone away, Denisov, who did not himself know what Rostov's relations with the Polish girl might be, began to upbraid him for his quickness of temper, and Rostov replied:
"Say what you like.... She is like a sister to me, and I can't tell you how it offended me... because... well, for that reason...."
Denisov patted him on the shoulder and began rapidly pacing the room without looking at Rostov, as was his way at moments of deep feeling.
"Ah, what a mad bweed you Wostovs are!" he muttered, and Rostov noticed tears in his eyes.