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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 7
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War And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 7 Post by :rikki Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1958

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 7 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Four : 1806 - Chapter 7

Two months had elapsed since the news of the battle of Austerlitz
and the loss of Prince Andrew had reached Bald Hills, and in spite
of the letters sent through the embassy and all the searches made, his
body had not been found nor was he on the list of prisoners. What
was worst of all for his relations was the fact that there was still a
possibility of his having been picked up on the battlefield by the
people of the place and that he might now be lying, recovering or
dying, alone among strangers and unable to send news of himself. The
gazettes from which the old prince first heard of the defeat at
Austerlitz stated, as usual very briefly and vaguely, that after
brilliant engagements the Russians had had to retreat and had made
their withdrawal in perfect order. The old prince understood from this
official report that our army had been defeated. A week after the
gazette report of the battle of Austerlitz came a letter from
Kutuzov informing the prince of the fate that had befallen his son.

"Your son," wrote Kutuzov, "fell before my eyes, a standard in his
hand and at the head of a regiment- he fell as a hero, worthy of his
father and his fatherland. To the great regret of myself and of the
whole army it is still uncertain whether he is alive or not. I comfort
myself and you with the hope that your son is alive, for otherwise
he would have been mentioned among the officers found on the field
of battle, a list of whom has been sent me under flag of truce."

After receiving this news late in the evening, when he was alone
in his study, the old prince went for his walk as usual next
morning, but he was silent with his steward, the gardener, and the
architect, and though he looked very grim he said nothing to anyone.

When Princess Mary went to him at the usual hour he was working at
his lathe and, as usual, did not look round at her.

"Ah, Princess Mary!" he said suddenly in an unnatural voice,
throwing down his chisel. (The wheel continued to revolve by its own
impetus, and Princess Mary long remembered the dying creak of that
wheel, which merged in her memory with what followed.)

She approached him, saw his face, and something gave way within her.
Her eyes grew dim. By the expression of her father's face, not sad,
not crushed, but angry and working unnaturally, she saw that hanging
over her and about to crush her was some terrible misfortune, the
worst in life, one she had not yet experienced, irreparable and
incomprehensible- the death of one she loved.

"Father! Andrew!"- said the ungraceful, awkward princess with such
an indescribable charm of sorrow and self-forgetfulness that her
father could not bear her look but turned away with a sob.

"Bad news! He's not among the prisoners nor among the killed!
Kutuzov writes..." and he screamed as piercingly as if he wished to
drive the princess away by that scream... "Killed!"

The princess did not fall down or faint. She was already pale, but
on hearing these words her face changed and something brightened in
her beautiful, radiant eyes. It was as if joy- a supreme joy apart
from the joys and sorrows of this world- overflowed the great grief
within her. She forgot all fear of her father, went up to him, took
his hand, and drawing him down put her arm round his thin, scraggy
neck.

"Father" she said, "do not turn away from me, let us weep together."

"Scoundrels! Blackguards!" shrieked the old man, turning his face
away from her. "Destroying the army, destroying the men! And why?
Go, go and tell Lise."

The princess sank helplessly into an armchair beside her father
and wept. She saw her brother now as he had been at the moment when he
took leave of her and of Lise, his look tender yet proud. She saw
him tender and amused as he was when he put on the little icon. "Did
he believe? Had he repented of his unbelief? Was he now there? There
in the realms of eternal peace and blessedness?" she thought.

"Father, tell me how it happened," she asked through her tears.

"Go! Go! Killed in battle, where the best of Russian men and
Russia's glory were led to destruction. Go, Princess Mary. Go and tell
Lise. I will follow."

When Princess Mary returned from her father, the little princess sat
working and looked up with that curious expression of inner, happy
calm peculiar to pregnant women. It was evident that her eyes did
not see Princess Mary but were looking within... into herself... at
something joyful and mysterious taking place within her.

"Mary," she said, moving away from the embroidery frame and lying
back, "give me your hand." She took her sister-in-law's hand and
held it below her waist.

Her eyes were smiling expectantly, her downy lip rose and remained
lifted in childlike happiness.

Princess Mary knelt down before her and hid her face in the folds of
her sister-in-law's dress.

"There, there! Do you feel it? I feel so strange. And do you know,
Mary, I am going to love him very much," said Lise, looking with
bright and happy eyes at her sister-in-law.

Princess Mary could not lift her head, she was weeping.

"What is the matter, Mary?"

"Nothing... only I feel sad... sad about Andrew," she said, wiping
away her tears on her sister-in-law's knee.

Several times in the course of the morning Princess Mary began
trying to prepare her sister-in-law, and every time began to cry.
Unobservant as was the little princess, these tears, the cause of
which she did not understand, agitated her. She said nothing but
looked about uneasily as if in search of something. Before dinner
the old prince, of whom she was always afraid, came into her room with
a peculiarly restless and malign expression and went out again without
saying a word. She looked at Princess Mary, then sat thinking for a
while with that expression of attention to something within her that
is only seen in pregnant women, and suddenly began to cry.

"Has anything come from Andrew?" she asked.

"No, you know it's too soon for news. But my father is anxious and I
feel afraid."

"So there's nothing?"

"Nothing," answered Princess Mary, looking firmly with her radiant
eyes at her sister-in-law.

She had determined not to tell her and persuaded her father to
hide the terrible news from her till after her confinement, which
was expected within a few days. Princess Mary and the old prince
each bore and hid their grief in their own way. The old prince would
not cherish any hope: he made up his mind that Prince Andrew had
been killed, and though he sent an official to Austria to seek for
traces of his son, he ordered a monument from Moscow which he intended
to erect in his own garden to his memory, and he told everybody that
his son had been killed. He tried not to change his former way of
life, but his strength failed him. He walked less, ate less, slept
less, and became weaker every day. Princess Mary hoped. She prayed for
her brother as living and was always awaiting news of his return.

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