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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 5
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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 5 Post by :malistor Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2614

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 5 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 5

Boris had not succeeded in making a wealthy match in Petersburg,
so with the same object in view he came to Moscow. There he wavered
between the two richest heiresses, Julie and Princess Mary. Though
Princess Mary despite her plainness seemed to him more attractive than
Julie, he, without knowing why, felt awkward about paying court to
her. When they had last met on the old prince's name day, she had
answered at random all his attempts to talk sentimentally, evidently
not listening to what he was saying.

Julie on the contrary accepted his attentions readily, though in a
manner peculiar to herself.

She was twenty-seven. After the death of her brothers she had become
very wealthy. She was by now decidedly plain, but thought herself
not merely as good-looking as before but even far more attractive. She
was confirmed in this delusion by the fact that she had become a
very wealthy heiress and also by the fact that the older she grew
the less dangerous she became to men, and the more freely they could
associate with her and avail themselves of her suppers, soirees, and
the animated company that assembled at her house, without incurring
any obligation. A man who would have been afraid ten years before of
going every day to the house when there was a girl of seventeen there,
for fear of compromising her and committing himself, would now go
boldly every day and treat her not as a marriageable girl but as a
sexless acquaintance.

That winter the Karagins' house was the most agreeable and
hospitable in Moscow. In addition to the formal evening and dinner
parties, a large company, chiefly of men, gathered there every day,
supping at midnight and staying till three in the morning. Julie never
missed a ball, a promenade, or a play. Her dresses were always of
the latest fashion. But in spite of that she seemed to be
disillusioned about everything and told everyone that she did not
believe either in friendship or in love, or any of the joys of life,
and expected peace only "yonder." She adopted the tone of one who
has suffered a great disappointment, like a girl who has either lost
the man she loved or been cruelly deceived by him. Though nothing of
the kind had happened to her she was regarded in that light, and had
even herself come to believe that she had suffered much in life.
This melancholy, which did not prevent her amusing herself, did not
hinder the young people who came to her house from passing the time
pleasantly. Every visitor who came to the house paid his tribute to
the melancholy mood of the hostess, and then amused himself with
society gossip, dancing, intellectual games, and bouts rimes, which
were in vogue at the Karagins'. Only a few of these young men, among
them Boris, entered more deeply into Julie's melancholy, and with
these she had prolonged conversations in private on the vanity of
all worldly things, and to them she showed her albums filled with
mournful sketches, maxims, and verses.

To Boris, Julie was particularly gracious: she regretted his early
disillusionment with life, offered him such consolation of
friendship as she who had herself suffered so much could render, and
showed him her album. Boris sketched two trees in the album and wrote:
"Rustic trees, your dark branches shed gloom and melancholy upon me."

On another page he drew a tomb, and wrote:

La mort est secourable et la mort est tranquille.
Ah! contre les douleurs il n'y a pas d'autre asile.*


*Death gives relief and death is peaceful.

Ah! from suffering there is no other refuge.

Julia said this was charming

"There is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy," she
said to Boris, repeating word for word a passage she had copied from a
book. "It is a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness
and despair, showing the possibility of consolation."

In reply Boris wrote these lines:

Aliment de poison d'une ame trop sensible,
Toi, sans qui le bonheur me serait impossible,
Tendre melancholie, ah, viens me consoler,
Viens calmer les tourments de ma sombre retraite,
Et mele une douceur secrete
A ces pleurs que je sens couler.*


*Poisonous nourishment of a too sensitive soul,

Thou, without whom happiness would for me be impossible,

Tender melancholy, ah, come to console me,

Come to calm the torments of my gloomy retreat,

And mingle a secret sweetness

With these tears that I feel to be flowing.


For Boris, Julie played most doleful nocturnes on her harp. Boris
read Poor Liza aloud to her, and more than once interrupted the
reading because of the emotions that choked him. Meeting at large
gatherings Julie and Boris looked on one another as the only souls who
understood one another in a world of indifferent people.

Anna Mikhaylovna, who often visited the Karagins, while playing
cards with the mother made careful inquiries as to Julie's dowry
(she was to have two estates in Penza and the Nizhegorod forests).
Anna Mikhaylovna regarded the refined sadness that united her son to
the wealthy Julie with emotion, and resignation to the Divine will.

"You are always charming and melancholy, my dear Julie," she said to
the daughter. "Boris says his soul finds repose at your house. He
has suffered so many disappointments and is so sensitive," said she to
the mother. "Ah, my dear, I can't tell you how fond I have grown of
Julie latterly," she said to her son. "But who could help loving
her? She is an angelic being! Ah, Boris, Boris!"- she paused. "And how
I pity her mother," she went on; "today she showed me her accounts and
letters from Penza (they have enormous estates there), and she, poor
thing, has no one to help her, and they do cheat her so!"

Boris smiled almost imperceptibly while listening to his mother.
He laughed blandly at her naive diplomacy but listened to what she had
to say, and sometimes questioned her carefully about the Penza and
Nizhegorod estates.

Julie had long been expecting a proposal from her melancholy
adorer and was ready to accept it; but some secret feeling of
repulsion for her, for her passionate desire to get married, for her
artificiality, and a feeling of horror at renouncing the possibility
of real love still restrained Boris. His leave was expiring. He
spent every day and whole days at the Karagins', and every day on
thinking the matter over told himself that he would propose
tomorrow. But in Julie's presence, looking at her red face and chin
(nearly always powdered), her moist eyes, and her expression of
continual readiness to pass at once from melancholy to an unnatural
rapture of married bliss, Boris could not utter the decisive words,
though in imagination he had long regarded himself as the possessor of
those Penza and Nizhegorod estates and had apportioned the use of
the income from them. Julie saw Boris' indecision, and sometimes the
thought occurred to her that she was repulsive to him, but her
feminine self-deception immediately supplied her with consolation, and
she told herself that he was only shy from love. Her melancholy,
however, began to turn to irritability, and not long before Boris'
departure she formed a definite plan of action. Just as Boris' leave
of absence was expiring, Anatole Kuragin made his appearance in
Moscow, and of course in the Karagins' drawing room, and Julie,
suddenly abandoning her melancholy, became cheerful and very attentive
to Kuragin.

"My dear," said Anna Mikhaylovna to her son, "I know from a reliable
source that Prince Vasili has sent his son to Moscow to get him
married to Julie. I am so fond of Julie that I should be sorry for
her. What do you think of it, my dear?"

The idea of being made a fool of and of having thrown away that
whole month of arduous melancholy service to Julie, and of seeing
all the revenue from the Penza estates which he had already mentally
apportioned and put to proper use fall into the hands of another,
and especially into the hands of that idiot Anatole, pained Boris.
He drove to the Karagins' with the firm intention of proposing.
Julie met him in a gay, careless manner, spoke casually of how she had
enjoyed yesterday's ball, and asked when he was leaving. Though
Boris had come intentionally to speak of his love and therefore
meant to be tender, he began speaking irritably of feminine
inconstancy, of how easily women can turn from sadness to joy, and how
their moods depend solely on who happens to be paying court to them.
Julie was offended and replied that it was true that a woman needs
variety, and the same thing over and over again would weary anyone.

"Then I should advise you..." Boris began, wishing to sting her; but
at that instant the galling thought occurred to him that he might have
to leave Moscow without having accomplished his aim, and have vainly
wasted his efforts- which was a thing he never allowed to happen.

He checked himself in the middle of the sentence, lowered his eyes
to avoid seeing her unpleasantly irritated and irresolute face, and
said:

"I did not come here at all to quarrel with you. On the contrary..."

He glanced at her to make sure that he might go on. Her irritability
had suddenly quite vanished, and her anxious, imploring eyes were
fixed on him with greedy expectation. "I can always arrange so as
not to see her often," thought Boris. "The affair has been begun and
must be finished!" He blushed hotly, raised his eyes to hers, and
said:

"You know my feelings for you!"

There was no need to say more: Julie's face shone with triumph and
self-satisfaction; but she forced Boris to say all that is said on
such occasions- that he loved her and had never loved any other
woman more than her. She knew that for the Penza estates and
Nizhegorod forests she could demand this, and she received what she
demanded.

The affianced couple, no longer alluding to trees that shed gloom
and melancholy upon them, planned the arrangements of a splendid house
in Petersburg, paid calls, and prepared everything for a brilliant
wedding.

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