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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18 Post by :freedom Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2276

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 18

At the beginning of July more and more disquieting reports about the
war began to spread in Moscow; people spoke of an appeal by the
Emperor to the people, and of his coming himself from the army to
Moscow. And as up to the eleventh of July no manifesto or appeal had
been received, exaggerated reports became current about them and about
the position of Russia. It was said that the Emperor was leaving the
army because it was in danger, it was said that Smolensk had
surrendered, that Napoleon had an army of a million and only a miracle
could save Russia.

On the eleventh of July, which was Saturday, the manifesto was
received but was not yet in print, and Pierre, who was at the
Rostovs', promised to come to dinner next day, Sunday, and bring a
copy of the manifesto and appeal, which he would obtain from Count
Rostopchin.

That Sunday, the Rostovs went to Mass at the Razumovskis' private
chapel as usual. It was a hot July day. Even at ten o'clock, when
the Rostovs got out of their carriage at the chapel, the sultry air,
the shouts of hawkers, the light and gay summer clothes of the
crowd, the dusty leaves of the trees on the boulevard, the sounds of
the band and the white trousers of a battalion marching to parade, the
rattling of wheels on the cobblestones, and the brilliant, hot
sunshine were all full of that summer languor, that content and
discontent with the present, which is most strongly felt on a
bright, hot day in town. All the Moscow notabilities, all the Rostovs'
acquaintances, were at the Razumovskis' chapel, for, as if expecting
something to happen, many wealthy families who usually left town for
their country estates had not gone away that summer. As Natasha, at
her mother's side, passed through the crowd behind a liveried
footman who cleared the way for them, she heard a young man speaking
about her in too loud a whisper.

"That's Rostova, the one who..."

"She's much thinner, but all the same she's pretty!"

She heard, or thought she heard, the names of Kuragin and Bolkonski.
But she was always imagining that. It always seemed to her that
everyone who looked at her was thinking only of what had happened to
her. With a sinking heart, wretched as she always was now when she
found herself in a crowd, Natasha in her lilac silk dress trimmed with
black lace walked- as women can walk- with the more repose and
stateliness the greater the pain and shame in her soul. She knew for
certain that she was pretty, but this no longer gave her
satisfaction as it used to. On the contrary it tormented her more than
anything else of late, and particularly so on this bright, hot
summer day in town. "It's Sunday again- another week past," she
thought, recalling that she had been here the Sunday before, "and
always the same life that is no life, and the same surroundings in
which it used to be so easy to live. I'm pretty, I'm young, and I know
that now I am good. I used to be bad, but now I know I am good," she
thought, "but yet my best years are slipping by and are no good to
anyone." She stood by her mother's side and exchanged nods with
acquaintances near her. From habit she scrutinized the ladies'
dresses, condemned the bearing of a lady standing close by who was not
crossing herself properly but in a cramped manner, and again she
thought with vexation that she was herself being judged and was
judging others, and suddenly, at the sound of the service, she felt
horrified at her own vileness, horrified that the former purity of her
soul was again lost to her.

A comely, fresh-looking old man was conducting the service with that
mild solemnity which has so elevating and soothing an effect on the
souls of the worshipers. The gates of the sanctuary screen were
closed, the curtain was slowly drawn, and from behind it a soft
mysterious voice pronounced some words. Tears, the cause of which
she herself did not understand, made Natasha's breast heave, and a
joyous but oppressive feeling agitated her.

"Teach me what I should do, how to live my life, how I may grow good
forever, forever!" she pleaded.

The deacon came out onto the raised space before the altar screen
and, holding his thumb extended, drew his long hair from under his
dalmatic and, making the sign of the cross on his breast, began in a
loud and solemn voice to recite the words of the prayer...

"In peace let us pray unto the Lord."

"As one community, without distinction of class, without enmity,
united by brotherly love- let us pray!" thought Natasha.

"For the peace that is from above, and for the salvation of our
souls."

"For the world of angels and all the spirits who dwell above us,"
prayed Natasha.

When they prayed for the warriors, she thought of her brother and
Denisov. When they prayed for all traveling by land and sea, she
remembered Prince Andrew, prayed for him, and asked God to forgive her
all the wrongs she had done him. When they prayed for those who love
us, she prayed for the members of her own family, her father and
mother and Sonya, realizing for the first time how wrongly she had
acted toward them, and feeling all the strength of her love for
them. When they prayed for those who hate us, she tried to think of
her enemies and people who hated her, in order to pray for them. She
included among her enemies the creditors and all who had business
dealings with her father, and always at the thought of enemies and
those who hated her she remembered Anatole who had done her so much
harm- and though he did not hate her she gladly prayed for him as
for an enemy. Only at prayer did she feel able to think clearly and
calmly of Prince Andrew and Anatole, as men for whom her feelings were
as nothing compared with her awe and devotion to God. When they prayed
for the Imperial family and the Synod, she bowed very low and made the
sign of the cross, saying to herself that even if she did not
understand, still she could not doubt, and at any rate loved the
governing Synod and prayed for it.

When he had finished the Litany the deacon crossed the stole over
his breast and said, "Let us commit ourselves and our whole lives to
Christ the Lord!"

"Commit ourselves to God," Natasha inwardly repeated. "Lord God, I
submit myself to Thy will!" she thought. "I want nothing, wish for
nothing; teach me what to do and how to use my will! Take me, take
me!" prayed Natasha, with impatient emotion in her heart, not crossing
herself but letting her slender arms hang down as if expecting some
invisible power at any moment to take her and deliver her from
herself, from her regrets, desires, remorse, hopes, and sins.

The countess looked round several times at her daughter's softened
face and shining eyes and prayed God to help her.

Unexpectedly, in the middle of the service, and not in the usual
order Natasha knew so well, the deacon brought out a small stool,
the one he knelt on when praying on Trinity Sunday, and placed it
before the doors of the sanctuary screen. The priest came out with his
purple velvet biretta on his head, adjusted his hair, and knelt down
with an effort. Everybody followed his example and they looked at
one another in surprise. Then came the prayer just received from the
Synod- a prayer for the deliverance of Russia from hostile invasion.

"Lord God of might, God of our salvation!" began the priest in
that voice, clear, not grandiloquent but mild, in which only the
Slav clergy read and which acts so irresistibly on a Russian heart.

"Lord God of might, God of our salvation! Look this day in mercy and
blessing on Thy humble people, and graciously hear us, spare us, and
have mercy upon us! This foe confounding Thy land, desiring to lay
waste the whole world, rises against us; these lawless men are
gathered together to overthrow Thy kingdom, to destroy Thy dear
Jerusalem, Thy beloved Russia; to defile Thy temples, to overthrow
Thine altars, and to desecrate our holy shrines. How long, O Lord, how
long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they wield unlawful
power?

"Lord God! Hear us when we pray to Thee; strengthen with Thy might
our most gracious sovereign lord, the Emperor Alexander Pavlovich;
be mindful of his uprightness and meekness, reward him according to
his righteousness, and let it preserve us, Thy chosen Israel! Bless
his counsels, his undertakings, and his work; strengthen his kingdom
by Thine almighty hand, and give him victory over his enemy, even as
Thou gavest Moses the victory over Amalek, Gideon over Midian, and
David over Goliath. Preserve his army, put a bow of brass in the hands
of those who have armed themselves in Thy Name, and gird their loins
with strength for the fight. Take up the spear and shield and arise to
help us; confound and put to shame those who have devised evil against
us, may they be before the faces of Thy faithful warriors as dust
before the wind, and may Thy mighty Angel confound them and put them
to flight; may they be ensnared when they know it not, and may the
plots they have laid in secret be turned against them; let them fall
before Thy servants' feet and be laid low by our hosts! Lord, Thou art
able to save both great and small; Thou art God, and man cannot
prevail against Thee!

"God of our fathers! Remember Thy bounteous mercy and
loving-kindness which are from of old; turn not Thy face from us,
but be gracious to our unworthiness, and in Thy great goodness and Thy
many mercies regard not our transgressions and iniquities! Create in
us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us, strengthen us all
in Thy faith, fortify our hope, inspire us with true love one for
another, arm us with unity of spirit in the righteous defense of the
heritage Thou gavest to us and to our fathers, and let not the scepter
of the wicked be exalted against the destiny of those Thou hast
sanctified.

"O Lord our God, in whom we believe and in whom we put our trust,
let us not be confounded in our hope of Thy mercy, and give us a token
of Thy blessing, that those who hate us and our Orthodox faith may see
it and be put to shame and perish, and may all the nations know that
Thou art the Lord and we are Thy people. Show Thy mercy upon us this
day, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation; make the hearts of Thy
servants to rejoice in Thy mercy; smite down our enemies and destroy
them swiftly beneath the feet of Thy faithful servants! For Thou art
the defense, the succor, and the victory of them that put their
trust in Thee, and to Thee be all glory, to Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, now and forever, world without end. Amen."

In Natasha's receptive condition of soul this prayer affected her
strongly. She listened to every word about the victory of Moses over
Amalek, of Gideon over Midian, and of David over Goliath, and about
the destruction of "Thy Jerusalem," and she prayed to God with the
tenderness and emotion with which her heart was overflowing, but
without fully understanding what she was asking of God in that prayer.
She shared with all her heart in the prayer for the spirit of
righteousness, for the strengthening of the heart by faith and hope,
and its animation by love. But she could not pray that her enemies
might be trampled under foot when but a few minutes before she had
been wishing she had more of them that she might pray for them. But
neither could she doubt the righteousness of the prayer that was being
read on bended knees. She felt in her heart a devout and tremulous awe
at the thought of the punishment that overtakes men for their sins,
and especially of her own sins, and she prayed to God to forgive
them all, and her too, and to give them all, and her too, peace and
happiness. And it seemed to her that God heard her prayer.

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Natasha was calmer but no happier. She not merely avoided allexternal forms of pleasure- balls, promenades, concerts, and theaters-but she never laughed without a sound of tears in her laughter. Shecould not sing. As soon as she began to laugh, or tried to sing byherself, tears choked her: tears of remorse, tears at the recollectionof those pure times which could never return, tears of vexation thatshe should so uselessly have ruined her young life which might havebeen so happy. Laughter and singing in particular seemed to her like ablasphemy, in face of her sorrow. Without any need ofself-restraint, no wish to
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