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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 20
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 20 Post by :finnour Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1451

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 20

A few intimate friends were dining with the Rostovs that day, as
usual on Sundays.

Pierre came early so as to find them alone.

He had grown so stout this year that he would have been abnormal had
he not been so tall, so broad of limb, and so strong that he carried
his bulk with evident ease.

He went up the stairs, puffing and muttering something. His coachman
did not even ask whether he was to wait. He knew that when his
master was at the Rostovs' he stayed till midnight. The Rostovs'
footman rushed eagerly forward to help him off with his cloak and take
his hat and stick. Pierre, from club habit, always left both hat and
stick in the anteroom.

The first person he saw in the house was Natasha. Even before he saw
her, while taking off his cloak, he heard her. She was practicing
solfa exercises in the music room. He knew that she had not sung since
her illness, and so the sound of her voice surprised and delighted
him. He opened the door softly and saw her, in the lilac dress she had
worn at church, walking about the room singing. She had her back to
him when he opened the door, but when, turning quickly, she saw his
broad, surprised face, she blushed and came rapidly up to him.

"I want to try to sing again," she said, adding as if by way of
excuse, "it is, at least, something to do."

"That's capital!"

"How glad I am you've come! I am so happy today," she said, with the
old animation Pierre had not seen in her for along time. "You know
Nicholas has received a St. George's Cross? I am so proud of him."

"Oh yes, I sent that announcement. But I don't want to interrupt
you," he added, and was about to go to the drawing room.

Natasha stopped him.

"Count, is it wrong of me to sing?" she said blushing, and fixing
her eyes inquiringly on him.

"No... Why should it be? On the contrary... But why do you ask me?"

"I don't know myself," Natasha answered quickly, "but I should not
like to do anything you disapproved of. I believe in you completely.
You don't know how important you are to me, how much you've done for
me...." She spoke rapidly and did not notice how Pierre flushed at her
words. "I saw in that same army order that he, Bolkonski" (she
whispered the name hastily), "is in Russia, and in the army again.
What do you think?"- she was speaking hurriedly, evidently afraid
her strength might fail her- "Will he ever forgive me? Will he not
always have a bitter feeling toward me? What do you think? What do you

"I think..." Pierre replied, "that he has nothing to forgive....
If I were in his place..."

By association of ideas, Pierre was at once carried back to the
day when, trying to comfort her, he had said that if he were not
himself but the best man in the world and free, he would ask on his
knees for her hand; and the same feeling of pity, tenderness, and love
took possession of him and the same words rose to his lips. But she
did not give him time to say them.

"Yes, you... you..." she said, uttering the word you rapturously-
"that's a different thing. I know no one kinder, more generous, or
better than you; nobody could be! Had you not been there then, and now
too, I don't know what would have become of me, because..."

Tears suddenly rose in her eyes, she turned away, lifted her music
before her eyes, began singing again, and again began walking up and
down the room.

Just then Petya came running in from the drawing room.

Petya was now a handsome rosy lad of fifteen with full red lips
and resembled Natasha. He was preparing to enter the university, but
he and his friend Obolenski had lately, in secret, agreed to join
the hussars.

Petya had come rushing out to talk to his namesake about this
affair. He had asked Pierre to find out whether he would be accepted
in the hussars.

Pierre walked up and down the drawing room, not listening to what
Petya was saying.

Petya pulled him by the arm to attract his attention.

"Well, what about my plan? Peter Kirilych, for heaven's sake! You
are my only hope " said Petya.

"Oh yes, your plan. To join the hussars? I'll mention it, I'll bring
it all up today."

"Well, mon cher, have you got the manifesto?" asked the old count.
"The countess has been to Mass at the Razumovskis' and heard the new
prayer. She says it's very fine."

"Yes, I've got it," said Pierre. "The Emperor is to be here
tomorrow... there's to be an Extraordinary Meeting of the nobility,
and they are talking of a levy of ten men per thousand. Oh yes, let me
congratulate you!"

"Yes, yes, thank God! Well, and what news from the army?"

"We are again retreating. They say we're already near Smolensk,"
replied Pierre.

"O Lord, O Lord!" exclaimed the count. "Where is the manifesto?"

"The Emperor's appeal? Oh yes!"

Pierre began feeling in his pockets for the papers, but could not
find them. Still slapping his pockets, he kissed the hand of the
countess who entered the room and glanced uneasily around, evidently
expecting Natasha, who had left off singing but had not yet come
into the drawing room.

"On my word, I don't know what I've done with it," he said.

"There he is, always losing everything!" remarked the countess.

Natasha entered with a softened and agitated expression of face
and sat down looking silently at Pierre. As soon as she entered,
Pierre's features, which had been gloomy, suddenly lighted up, and
while still searching for the papers he glanced at her several times.

"No, really! I'll drive home, I must have left them there. I'll

"But you'll be late for dinner."

"Oh! And my coachman has gone."

But Sonya, who had gone to look for the papers in the anteroom,
had found them in Pierre's hat, where he had carefully tucked them
under the lining. Pierre was about to begin reading.

"No, after dinner," said the old count, evidently expecting much
enjoyment from that reading.

At dinner, at which champagne was drunk to the health of the new
chevalier of St. George, Shinshin told them the town news, of the
illness of the old Georgian princess, of Metivier's disappearance from
Moscow, and of how some German fellow had been brought to Rostopchin
and accused of being a French "spyer" (so Count Rostopchin had told
the story), and how Rostopchin let him go and assured the people
that he was "not a spire at all, but only an old German ruin."

"People are being arrested..." said the count. "I've told the
countess she should not speak French so much. It's not the time for it

"And have you heard?" Shinshin asked. "Prince Golitsyn has engaged a
master to teach him Russian. It is becoming dangerous to speak
French in the streets."

"And how about you, Count Peter Kirilych? If they call up the
militia, you too will have to mount a horse," remarked the old
count, addressing Pierre.

Pierre had been silent and preoccupied all through dinner, seeming
not to grasp what was said. He looked at the count.

"Oh yes, the war," he said. "No! What sort of warrior should I make?
And yet everything is so strange, so strange! I can't make it out. I
don't know, I am very far from having military tastes, but in these
times no one can answer for himself."

After dinner the count settled himself comfortably in an easy
chair and with a serious face asked Sonya, who was considered an
excellent reader, to read the appeal.

"To Moscow, our ancient Capital!

"The enemy has entered the borders of Russia with immense forces. He
comes to despoil our beloved country,"

Sonya read painstakingly in her high-pitched voice. The count
listened with closed eyes, heaving abrupt sighs at certain passages.

Natasha sat erect, gazing with a searching look now at her father
and now at Pierre.

Pierre felt her eyes on him and tried not to look round. The
countess shook her head disapprovingly and angrily at every solemn
expression in the manifesto. In all these words she saw only that
the danger threatening her son would not soon be over. Shinshin,
with a sarcastic smile on his lips, was evidently preparing to make
fun of anything that gave him the opportunity: Sonya's reading, any
remark of the count's, or even the manifesto itself should no better
pretext present itself.

After reading about the dangers that threatened Russia, the hopes
the Emperor placed on Moscow and especially on its illustrious
nobility, Sonya, with a quiver in her voice due chiefly to the
attention that was being paid to her, read the last words:

"We ourselves will not delay to appear among our people in that
Capital and in others parts of our realm for consultation, and for the
direction of all our levies, both those now barring the enemy's path
and those freshly formed to defeat him wherever he may appear. May the
ruin he hopes to bring upon us recoil on his own head, and may
Europe delivered from bondage glorify the name of Russia!"

"Yes, that's it!" cried the count, opening his moist eyes and
sniffing repeatedly, as if a strong vinaigrette had been held to his
nose; and he added, "Let the Emperor but say the word and we'll
sacrifice everything and begrudge nothing."

Before Shinshin had time to utter the joke he was ready to make on
the count's patriotism, Natasha jumped up from her place and ran to
her father.

"What a darling our Papa is!" she cried, kissing him, and she
again looked at Pierre with the unconscious coquetry that had returned
to her with her better spirits.

"There! Here's a patriot for you!" said Shinshin.

"Not a patriot at all, but simply..." Natasha replied in an
injured tone. "Everything seems funny to you, but this isn't at all
a joke...."

"A joke indeed!" put in the count. "Let him but say the word and
we'll all go.... We're not Germans!"

"But did you notice, it says, 'for consultation'?" said Pierre.

"Never mind what it's for...."

At this moment, Petya, to whom nobody was paying any attention, came
up to his father with a very flushed face and said in his breaking
voice that was now deep and now shrill:

"Well, Papa, I tell you definitely, and Mamma too, it's as you
please, but I say definitely that you must let me enter the army,
because I can't... that's all...."

The countess, in dismay, looked up to heaven, clasped her hands, and
turned angrily to her husband.

"That comes of your talking!" said she.

But the count had already recovered from his excitement.

"Come, come!" said he. "Here's a fine warrior! No! Nonsense! You
must study."

"It's not nonsense, Papa. Fedya Obolenski is younger than I, and
he's going too. Besides, all the same I can't study now when..." Petya
stopped short, flushed till he perspired, but still got out the words,
"when our Fatherland is in danger."

"That'll do, that'll do- nonsense...."

"But you said yourself that we would sacrifice everything."

"Petya! Be quiet, I tell you!" cried the count, with a glance at his
wife, who had turned pale and was staring fixedly at her son.

"And I tell you- Peter Kirilych here will also tell you..."

"Nonsense, I tell you. Your mother's milk has hardly dried on your
lips and you want to go into the army! There, there, I tell you,"
and the count moved to go out of the room, taking the papers, probably
to reread them in his study before having a nap.

"Well, Peter Kirilych, let's go and have a smoke," he said.

Pierre was agitated and undecided. Natasha's unwontedly brilliant
eyes, continually glancing at him with a more than cordial look, had
reduced him to this condition.

"No, I think I'll go home."

"Home? Why, you meant to spend the evening with us.... You don't
often come nowadays as it is, and this girl of mine," said the count
good-naturedly, pointing to Natasha, "only brightens up when you're

"Yes, I had forgotten... I really must go home... business..."
said Pierre hurriedly.

"Well, then, au revoir!" said the count, and went out of the room.

"Why are you going? Why are you upset?" asked Natasha, and she
looked challengingly into Pierre's eyes.

"Because I love you!" was what he wanted to say, but he did not
say it, and only blushed till the tears came, and lowered his eyes.

"Because it is better for me to come less often... because... No,
simply I have business...."

"Why? No, tell me!" Natasha began resolutely and suddenly stopped.

They looked at each other with dismayed and embarrassed faces. He
tried to smile but could not: his smile expressed suffering, and he
silently kissed her hand and went out.

Pierre made up his mind not to go to the Rostovs' any more.

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 21 War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 21

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 21
After the definite refusal he had received, Petya went to his roomand there locked himself in and wept bitterly. When he came in to tea,silent, morose, and with tear-stained face, everybody pretended not tonotice anything.Next day the Emperor arrived in Moscow, and several of theRostovs' domestic serfs begged permission to go to have a look at him.That morning Petya was a long time dressing and arranging his hair andcollar to look like a grown-up man. He frowned before his lookingglass, gesticulated, shrugged his shoulders, and finally, withoutsaying a word to anyone, took his cap and left the house by the backdoor,

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 19 War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 19

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 19
From the day when Pierre, after leaving the Rostovs' withNatasha's grateful look fresh in his mind, had gazed at the comet thatseemed to be fixed in the sky and felt that something new wasappearing on his own horizon- from that day the problem of thevanity and uselessness of all earthly things, that had incessantlytormented him, no longer presented itself. That terrible question"Why?" "Wherefore?" which had come to him amid every occupation, wasnow replaced, not by another question or by a reply to the formerquestion, but by her image. When he listened to, or himself tookpart in, trivial conversations, when he read