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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 21
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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 21 Post by :Janie Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3015

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 21 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 21

Pierre drove to Marya Dmitrievna's to tell her of the fulfillment of
her wish that Kuragin should be banished from Moscow. The whole
house was in a state of alarm and commotion. Natasha was very ill,
having, as Marya Dmitrievna told him in secret, poisoned herself the
night after she had been told that Anatole was married, with some
arsenic she had stealthily procured. After swallowing a little she had
been so frightened that she woke Sonya and told her what she had done.
The necessary antidotes had been administered in time and she was
now out of danger, though still so weak that it was out of the
question to move her to the country, and so the countess had been sent
for. Pierre saw the distracted count, and Sonya, who had a
tear-stained face, but he could not see Natasha.

Pierre dined at the club that day and heard on all sides gossip
about the attempted abduction of Rostova. He resolutely denied these
rumors, assuring everyone that nothing had happened except that his
brother-in-law had proposed to her and been refused. It seemed to
Pierre that it was his duty to conceal the whole affair and
re-establish Natasha's reputation.

He was awaiting Prince Andrew's return with dread and went every day
to the old prince's for news of him.

Old Prince Bolkonski heard all the rumors current in the town from
Mademoiselle Bourienne and had read the note to Princess Mary in which
Natasha had broken off her engagement. He seemed in better spirits
than usual and awaited his son with great impatience.

Some days after Anatole's departure Pierre received a note from
Prince Andrew, informing him of his arrival and asking him to come
to see him.

As soon as he reached Moscow, Prince Andrew had received from his
father Natasha's note to Princess Mary breaking off her engagement
(Mademoiselle Bourienne had purloined it from Princess Mary and
given it to the old prince), and he heard from him the story of
Natasha's elopement, with additions.

Prince Andrew had arrived in the evening and Pierre came to see
him next morning. Pierre expected to find Prince Andrew in almost
the same state as Natasha and was therefore surprised on entering
the drawing room to hear him in the study talking in a loud animated
voice about some intrigue going on in Petersburg. The old prince's
voice and another now and then interrupted him. Princess Mary came out
to meet Pierre. She sighed, looking toward the door of the room
where Prince Andrew was, evidently intending to express her sympathy
with his sorrow, but Pierre saw by her face that she was glad both
at what had happened and at the way her brother had taken the news
of Natasha's faithlessness.

"He says he expected it," she remarked. "I know his pride will not
let him express his feelings, but still he has taken it better, far
better, than I expected. Evidently it had to be...."

"But is it possible that all is really ended?" asked Pierre.

Princess Mary looked at him with astonishment. She did not
understand how he could ask such a question. Pierre went into the
study. Prince Andrew, greatly changed and plainly in better health,
but with a fresh horizontal wrinkle between his brows, stood in
civilian dress facing his father and Prince Meshcherski, warmly
disputing and vigorously gesticulating. The conversation was about
Speranski- the news of whose sudden exile and alleged treachery had
just reached Moscow.

"Now he is censured and accused by all who were enthusiastic about
him a month ago," Prince Andrew was saying, "and by those who were
unable to understand his aims. To judge a man who is in disfavor and
to throw on him all the blame of other men's mistakes is very easy,
but I maintain that if anything good has been accomplished in this
reign it was done by him, by him alone."

He paused at the sight of Pierre. His face quivered and
immediately assumed a vindictive expression.

"Posterity will do him justice," he concluded, and at once turned to
Pierre.

"Well, how are you? Still getting stouter?" he said with
animation, but the new wrinkle on his forehead deepened. "Yes, I am
well," he said in answer to Pierre's question, and smiled.

To Pierre that smile said plainly: "I am well, but my health is
now of no use to anyone."

After a few words to Pierre about the awful roads from the Polish
frontier, about people he had met in Switzerland who knew Pierre,
and about M. Dessalles, whom he had brought from abroad to be his
son's tutor, Prince Andrew again joined warmly in the conversation
about Speranski which was still going on between the two old men.

"If there were treason, or proofs of secret relations with Napoleon,
they would have been made public," he said with warmth and haste. "I
do not, and never did, like Speranski personally, but I like justice!"

Pierre now recognized in his friend a need with which he was only
too familiar, to get excited and to have arguments about extraneous
matters in order to stifle thoughts that were too oppressive and too
intimate. When Prince Meshcherski had left, Prince Andrew took
Pierre's arm and asked him into the room that had been assigned him. A
bed had been made up there, and some open portmanteaus and trunks
stood about. Prince Andrew went to one and took out a small casket,
from which he drew a packet wrapped in paper. He did it all silently
and very quickly. He stood up and coughed. His face was gloomy and his
lips compressed.

"Forgive me for troubling you..."

Pierre saw that Prince Andrew was going to speak of Natasha, and his
broad face expressed pity and sympathy. This expression irritated
Prince Andrew, and in a determined, ringing, and unpleasant tone he
continued:

"I have received a refusal from Countess Rostova and have heard
reports of your brother-in-law having sought her hand, or something of
that kind. Is that true?"

"Both true and untrue," Pierre began; but Prince Andrew
interrupted him.

"Here are her letters and her portrait," said he.

He took the packet from the table and handed it to Pierre.

"Give this to the countess... if you see her."

"She is very ill," said Pierre.

"Then she is here still?" said Prince Andrew. "And Prince
Kuragin?" he added quickly.

"He left long ago. She has been at death's door."

"I much regret her illness," said Prince Andrew; and he smiled
like his father, coldly, maliciously, and unpleasantly.

"So Monsieur Kuragin has not honored Countess Rostova with his
hand?" said Prince Andrew, and he snorted several times.

"He could not marry, for he was married already," said Pierre.

Prince Andrew laughed disagreeably, again reminding one of his
father.

"And where is your brother-in-law now, if I may ask?" he said.

"He has gone to Peters... But I don't know," said Pierre.

"Well, it doesn't matter," said Prince Andrew. "Tell Countess
Rostova that she was and is perfectly free and that I wish her all
that is good."

Pierre took the packet. Prince Andrew, as if trying to remember
whether he had something more to say, or waiting to see if Pierre
would say anything, looked fixedly at him.

"I say, do you remember our discussion in Petersburg?" asked Pierre,
"about..."

"Yes," returned Prince Andrew hastily. "I said that a fallen woman
should be forgiven, but I didn't say I could forgive her. I can't."

"But can this be compared...?" said Pierre.

Prince Andrew interrupted him and cried sharply: "Yes, ask her
hand again, be magnanimous, and so on?... Yes, that would be very
noble, but I am unable to follow in that gentleman's footsteps. If you
wish to be my friend never speak to me of that... of all that! Well,
good-by. So you'll give her the packet?"

Pierre left the room and went to the old prince and Princess Mary.

The old man seemed livelier than usual. Princess Mary was the same
as always, but beneath her sympathy for her brother, Pierre noticed
her satisfaction that the engagement had been broken off. Looking at
them Pierre realized what contempt and animosity they all felt for the
Rostovs, and that it was impossible in their presence even to
mention the name of her who could give up Prince Andrew for anyone
else.

At dinner the talk turned on the war, the approach of which was
becoming evident. Prince Andrew talked incessantly, arguing now with
his father, now with the Swiss tutor Dessalles, and showing an
unnatural animation, the cause of which Pierre so well understood.

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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22 War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22
That same evening Pierre went to the Rostovs' to fulfill thecommission entrusted to him. Natasha was in bed, the count at theClub, and Pierre, after giving the letters to Sonya, went to MaryaDmitrievna who was interested to know how Prince Andrew had takenthe news. Ten minutes later Sonya came to Marya Dmitrievna."Natasha insists on seeing Count Peter Kirilovich," said she."But how? Are we to take him up to her? The room there has notbeen tidied up.""No, she has dressed and gone into the drawing room," said Sonya.Marya Dmitrievna only shrugged her shoulders."When will her mother come? She has worried me to
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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 20 War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 20

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 20
Pierre did not stay for dinner, but left the room and went away atonce. He drove through the town seeking Anatole Kuragin, at thethought of whom now the blood rushed to his heart and he felt adifficulty in breathing. He was not at the ice hills, nor at thegypsies', nor at Komoneno's. Pierre drove to the Club. In the Club allwas going on as usual. The members who were assembling for dinner weresitting about in groups; they greeted Pierre and spoke of the townnews. The footman having greeted him, knowing his habits and hisacquaintances, told him there was a place left
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