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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 17
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 17 Post by :tomseve Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3292

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 17

Natasha was calmer but no happier. She not merely avoided all
external forms of pleasure- balls, promenades, concerts, and theaters-
but she never laughed without a sound of tears in her laughter. She
could not sing. As soon as she began to laugh, or tried to sing by
herself, tears choked her: tears of remorse, tears at the recollection
of those pure times which could never return, tears of vexation that
she should so uselessly have ruined her young life which might have
been so happy. Laughter and singing in particular seemed to her like a
blasphemy, in face of her sorrow. Without any need of
self-restraint, no wish to coquet ever entered her head. She said
and felt at that time that no man was more to her than Nastasya
Ivanovna, the buffoon. Something stood sentinel within her and forbade
her every joy. Besides, she had lost all the old interests of her
carefree girlish life that had been so full of hope. The previous
autumn, the hunting, "Uncle," and the Christmas holidays spent with
Nicholas at Otradnoe were what she recalled oftenest and most
painfully. What would she not have given to bring back even a single
day of that time! But it was gone forever. Her presentiment at the
time had not deceived her- that that state of freedom and readiness
for any enjoyment would not return again. Yet it was necessary to live

It comforted her to reflect that she was not better as she had
formerly imagined, but worse, much worse, than anybody else in the
world. But this was not enough. She knew that, and asked herself,
"What next?" But there was nothing to come. There was no joy in
life, yet life was passing. Natasha apparently tried not to be a
burden or a hindrance to anyone, but wanted nothing for herself. She
kept away from everyone in the house and felt at ease only with her
brother Petya. She liked to be with him better than with the others,
and when alone with him she sometimes laughed. She hardly ever left
the house and of those who came to see them was glad to see only one
person, Pierre. It would have been impossible to treat her with more
delicacy, greater care, and at the same time more seriously than did
Count Bezukhov. Natasha unconsciously felt this delicacy and so
found great pleasure in his society. But she was not even grateful
to him for it; nothing good on Pierre's part seemed to her to be an
effort, it seemed so natural for him to be kind to everyone that there
was no merit in his kindness. Sometimes Natasha noticed
embarrassment and awkwardness on his part in her presence,
especially when he wanted to do something to please her, or feared
that something they spoke of would awaken memories distressing to her.
She noticed this and attributed it to his general kindness and
shyness, which she imagined must be the same toward everyone as it was
to her. After those involuntary words- that if he were free he would
have asked on his knees for her hand and her love- uttered at a moment
when she was so strongly agitated, Pierre never spoke to Natasha of
his feelings; and it seemed plain to her that those words, which had
then so comforted her, were spoken as all sorts of meaningless words
are spoken to comfort a crying child. It was not because Pierre was
a married man, but because Natasha felt very strongly with him that
moral barrier the absence of which she had experienced with Kuragin
that it never entered her head that the relations between him and
herself could lead to love on her part, still less on his, or even
to the kind of tender, self-conscious, romantic friendship between a
man and a woman of which she had known several instances.

Before the end of the fast of St. Peter, Agrafena Ivanovna Belova, a
country neighbor of the Rostovs, came to Moscow to pay her devotions
at the shrines of the Moscow saints. She suggested that Natasha should
fast and prepare for Holy Communion, and Natasha gladly welcomed the
idea. Despite the doctor's orders that she should not go out early
in the morning, Natasha insisted on fasting and preparing for the
sacrament, not as they generally prepared for it in the Rostov
family by attending three services in their own house, but as Agrafena
Ivanovna did, by going to church every day for a week and not once
missing Vespers, Matins, or Mass.

The countess was pleased with Natasha's zeal; after the poor results
of the medical treatment, in the depths of her heart she hoped that
prayer might help her daughter more than medicines and, though not
without fear and concealing it from the doctor, she agreed to
Natasha's wish and entrusted her to Belova. Agrafena Ivanovna used
to come to wake Natasha at three in the morning, but generally found
her already awake. She was afraid of being late for Matins. Hastily
washing, and meekly putting on her shabbiest dress and an old
mantilla, Natasha, shivering in the fresh air, went out into the
deserted streets lit by the clear light of dawn. By Agrafena
Ivanovna's advice Natasha prepared herself not in their own parish,
but at a church where, according to the devout Agrafena Ivanovna,
the priest was a man of very severe and lofty life. There were never
many people in the church; Natasha always stood beside Belova in the
customary place before an icon of the Blessed Virgin, let into the
screen before the choir on the left side, and a feeling, new to her,
of humility before something great and incomprehensible, seized her
when at that unusual morning hour, gazing at the dark face of the
Virgin illuminated by the candles burning before it and by the morning
light falling from the window, she listened to the words of the
service which she tried to follow with understanding. When she
understood them her personal feeling became interwoven in the
prayers with shades of its own. When she did not understand, it was
sweeter still to think that the wish to understand everything is
pride, that it is impossible to understand all, that it is only
necessary to believe and to commit oneself to God, whom she felt
guiding her soul at those moments. She crossed herself, bowed low, and
when she did not understand, in horror at her own vileness, simply
asked God to forgive her everything, everything, to have mercy upon
her. The prayers to which she surrendered herself most of all were
those of repentance. On her way home at an early hour when she met
no one but bricklayers going to work or men sweeping the street, and
everybody within the houses was still asleep, Natasha experienced a
feeling new to her, a sense of the possibility of correcting her
faults, the possibility of a new, clean life, and of happiness.

During the whole week she spent in this way, that feeling grew every
day. And the happiness of taking communion, or "communing" as Agrafena
Ivanovna, joyously playing with the word, called it, seemed to Natasha
so great that she felt she should never live till that blessed Sunday.

But the happy day came, and on that memorable Sunday, when,
dressed in white muslin, she returned home after communion, for the
first time for many months she felt calm and not oppressed by the
thought of the life that lay before her.

The doctor who came to see her that day ordered her to continue
the powders he had prescribed a fortnight previously.

"She must certainly go on taking them morning and evening," said he,
evidently sincerely satisfied with his success. "Only, please be
particular about it.

"Be quite easy," he continued playfully, as he adroitly took the
gold coin in his palm. "She will soon be singing and frolicking about.
The last medicine has done her a very great deal of good. She has
freshened up very much."

The countess, with a cheerful expression on her face, looked down at
her nails and spat a little for luck as she returned to the drawing

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18 War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18
At the beginning of July more and more disquieting reports about thewar began to spread in Moscow; people spoke of an appeal by theEmperor to the people, and of his coming himself from the army toMoscow. And as up to the eleventh of July no manifesto or appeal hadbeen received, exaggerated reports became current about them and aboutthe position of Russia. It was said that the Emperor was leaving thearmy because it was in danger, it was said that Smolensk hadsurrendered, that Napoleon had an army of a million and only a miraclecould save Russia.On the eleventh of July, which was

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 16 War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 16

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 16
On receiving news of Natasha's illness, the countess, though notquite well yet and still weak, went to Moscow with Petya and therest of the household, and the whole family moved from MaryaDmitrievna's house to their own and settled down in town.Natasha's illness was so serious that, fortunately for her and forher parents, the consideration of all that had caused the illness, herconduct and the breaking off of her engagement, receded into thebackground. She was so ill that it was impossible for them to considerin how far she was to blame for what had happened. She could not eator sleep, grew visibly