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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 8
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 8 Post by :DonTino Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2767

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 8

After his interview with Pierre in Moscow, Prince Andrew went to
Petersburg, on business as he told his family, but really to meet
Anatole Kuragin whom he felt it necessary to encounter. On reaching
Petersburg he inquired for Kuragin but the latter had already left the
city. Pierre had warned his brother-in-law that Prince Andrew was on
his track. Anatole Kuragin promptly obtained an appointment from the
Minister of War and went to join the army in Moldavia. While in
Petersburg Prince Andrew met Kutuzov, his former commander who was
always well disposed toward him, and Kutuzov suggested that he
should accompany him to the army in Moldavia, to which the old general
had been appointed commander in chief. So Prince Andrew, having
received an appointment on the headquarters staff, left for Turkey.

Prince Andrew did not think it proper to write and challenge
Kuragin. He thought that if he challenged him without some fresh cause
it might compromise the young Countess Rostova and so he wanted to
meet Kuragin personally in order to find a fresh pretext for a duel.
But he again failed to meet Kuragin in Turkey, for soon after Prince
Andrew arrived, the latter returned to Russia. In a new country,
amid new conditions, Prince Andrew found life easier to bear. After
his betrothed had broken faith with him- which he felt the more
acutely the more he tried to conceal its effects- the surroundings
in which he had been happy became trying to him, and the freedom and
independence he had once prized so highly were still more so. Not only
could he no longer think the thoughts that had first come to him as he
lay gazing at the sky on the field of Austerlitz and had later
enlarged upon with Pierre, and which had filled his solitude at
Bogucharovo and then in Switzerland and Rome, but he even dreaded to
recall them and them and the bright and boundless horizons they had
revealed. He was now concerned only with the nearest practical matters
unrelated to his past interests, and he seized on these the more
eagerly the more those past interests were closed to him. It was as if
that lofty, infinite canopy of heaven that had once towered above
him had suddenly turned into a low, solid vault that weighed him down,
in which all was clear, but nothing eternal or mysterious.

Of the activities that presented themselves to him, army service was
the simplest and most familiar. As a general on duty on Kutuzov's
staff, he applied himself to business with zeal and perseverance and
surprised Kutuzov by his willingness and accuracy in work. Not
having found Kuragin in Turkey, Prince Andrew did not think it
necessary to rush back to Russia after him, but all the same he knew
that however long it might be before he met Kuragin, despite his
contempt for him and despite all the proofs he deduced to convince
himself that it was not worth stooping to a conflict with him- he knew
that when he did meet him he would not be able to resist calling him
out, any more than a ravenous man can help snatching at food. And
the consciousness that the insult was not yet avenged, that his rancor
was still unspent, weighed on his heart and poisoned the artificial
tranquillity which he managed to obtain in Turkey by means of
restless, plodding, and rather vainglorious and ambitious activity.

In the year 1812, when news of the war with Napoleon reached
Bucharest- where Kutuzov had been living for two months, passing his
days and nights with a Wallachian woman- Prince Andrew asked Kutuzov
to transfer him to the Western Army. Kutuzov, who was already weary of
Bolkonski's activity which seemed to reproach his own idleness, very
readily let him go and gave him a mission to Barclay de Tolly.

Before joining the Western Army which was then, in May, encamped
at Drissa, Prince Andrew visited Bald Hills which was directly on
his way, being only two miles off the Smolensk highroad. During the
last three years there had been so many changes in his life, he had
thought, felt, and seen so much (having traveled both in the east
and the west), that on reaching Bald Hills it struck him as strange
and unexpected to find the way of life there unchanged and still the
same in every detail. He entered through the gates with their stone
pillars and drove up the avenue leading to the house as if he were
entering an enchanted, sleeping castle. The same old stateliness,
the same cleanliness, the same stillness reigned there, and inside
there was the same furniture, the same walls, sounds, and smell, and
the same timid faces, only somewhat older. Princess Mary was still the
same timid, plain maiden getting on in years, uselessly and
joylessly passing the best years of her life in fear and constant
suffering. Mademoiselle Bourienne was the same coquettish,
self-satisfied girl, enjoying every moment of her existence and full
of joyous hopes for the future. She had merely become more
self-confident, Prince Andrew thought. Dessalles, the tutor he had
brought from Switzerland, was wearing a coat of Russian cut and
talking broken Russian to the servants, but was still the same
narrowly intelligent, conscientious, and pedantic preceptor. The old
prince had changed in appearance only by the loss of a tooth, which
left a noticeable gap on one side of his mouth; in character he was
the same as ever, only showing still more irritability and
skepticism as to what was happening in the world. Little Nicholas
alone had changed. He had grown, become rosier, had curly dark hair,
and, when merry and laughing, quite unconsciously lifted the upper lip
of his pretty little mouth just as the little princess used to do.
He alone did not obey the law of immutability in the enchanted,
sleeping castle. But though externally all remained as of old, the
inner relations of all these people had changed since Prince Andrew
had seen them last. The household was divided into two alien and
hostile camps, who changed their habits for his sake and only met
because he was there. To the one camp belonged the old prince,
Madmoiselle Bourienne, and the architect; to the other Princess
Mary, Dessalles, little Nicholas, and all the old nurses and maids.

During his stay at Bald Hills all the family dined together, but
they were ill at ease and Prince Andrew felt that he was a visitor for
whose sake an exception was being made and that his presence made them
all feel awkward. Involuntarily feeling this at dinner on the first
day, he was taciturn, and the old prince noticing this also became
morosely dumb and retired to his apartments directly after dinner.
In the evening, when Prince Andrew went to him and, trying to rouse
him, began to tell him of the young Count Kamensky's campaign, the old
prince began unexpectedly to talk about Princess Mary, blaming her for
her superstitions and her dislike of Mademoiselle Bourienne, who, he
said, was the only person really attached to him.

The old prince said that if he was ill it was only because of
Princess Mary: that she purposely worried and irritated him, and
that by indulgence and silly talk she was spoiling little Prince
Nicholas. The old prince knew very well that he tormented his daughter
and that her life was very hard, but he also knew that he could not
help tormenting her and that she deserved it. "Why does Prince Andrew,
who sees this, say nothing to me about his sister? Does he think me
a scoundrel, or an old fool who, without any reason, keeps his own
daughter at a distance and attaches this Frenchwoman to himself? He
doesn't understand, so I must explain it, and he must hear me out,"
thought the old prince. And he began explaining why he could not put
up with his daughter's unreasonable character.

"If you ask me," said Prince Andrew, without looking up (he was
censuring his father for the first time in his life), "I did not
wish to speak about it, but as you ask me I will give you my frank
opinion. If there is any misunderstanding and discord between you
and Mary, I can't blame her for it at all. I know how she loves and
respects you. Since you ask me," continued Prince Andrew, becoming
irritable- as he was always liable to do of late- "I can only say that
if there are any misunderstandings they are caused by that worthless
woman, who is not fit to be my sister's companion."

The old man at first stared fixedly at his son, and an unnatural
smile disclosed the fresh gap between his teeth to which Prince Andrew
could not get accustomed.

"What companion, my dear boy? Eh? You've already been talking it
over! Eh?"

"Father, I did not want to judge," said Prince Andrew, in a hard and
bitter tone, "but you challenged me, and I have said, and always shall
say, that Mary is not to blame, but those to blame- the one to
blame- is that Frenchwoman."

"Ah, he has passed judgment... passed judgement!" said the old man
in a low voice and, as it seemed to Prince Andrew, with some
embarrassment, but then he suddenly jumped up and cried: "Be off, be
off! Let not a trace of you remain here!..."


Prince Andrew wished to leave at once, but Princess Mary persuaded
him to stay another day. That day he did not see his father, who did
not leave his room and admitted no one but Mademoiselle Bourienne
and Tikhon, but asked several times whether his son had gone. Next
day, before leaving, Prince Andrew went to his son's rooms. The boy,
curly-headed like his mother and glowing with health, sat on his knee,
and Prince Andrew began telling him the story of Bluebeard, but fell
into a reverie without finishing the story. He thought not of this
pretty child, his son whom he held on his knee, but of himself. He
sought in himself either remorse for having angered his father or
regret at leaving home for the first time in his life on bad terms
with him, and was horrified to find neither. What meant still more
to him was that he sought and did not find in himself the former
tenderness for his son which he had hoped to reawaken by caressing the
boy and taking him on his knee.

"Well, go on!" said his son.

Prince Andrew, without replying, put him down from his knee and went
out of the room.

As soon as Prince Andrew had given up his daily occupations, and
especially on returning to the old conditions of life amid which he
had been happy, weariness of life overcame him with its former
intensity, and he hastened to escape from these memories and to find
some work as soon as possible.

"So you've decided to go, Andrew?" asked his sister.

"Thank God that I can," replied Prince Andrew. "I am very sorry
you can't."

"Why do you say that?" replied Princess Mary. "Why do you say
that, when you are going to this terrible war, and he is so old?
Mademoiselle Bourienne says he has been asking about you...."

As soon as she began to speak of that, her lips trembled and her
tears began to fall. Prince Andrew turned away and began pacing the
room.

"Ah, my God! my God! When one thinks who and what- what trash- can
cause people misery!" he said with a malignity that alarmed Princess
Mary.

She understood that when speaking of "trash" he referred not only to
Mademoiselle Bourienne, the cause of her misery, but also to the man
who had ruined his own happiness.

"Andrew! One thing I beg, I entreat of you!" she said, touching
his elbow and looking at him with eyes that shone through her tears.
"I understand you" (she looked down). "Don't imagine that sorrow is
the work of men. Men are His tools." She looked a little above
Prince Andrew's head with the confident, accustomed look with which
one looks at the place where a familiar portrait hangs. "Sorrow is
sent by Him, not by men. Men are His instruments, they are not to
blame. If you think someone has wronged you, forget it and forgive! We
have no right to punish. And then you will know the happiness of
forgiving."

"If I were a woman I would do so, Mary. That is a woman's virtue.
But a man should not and cannot forgive and forget," he replied, and
though till that moment he had not been thinking of Kuragin, all his
unexpended anger suddenly swelled up in his heart.

"If Mary is already persuading me forgive, it means that I ought
long ago to have punished him," he thought. And giving her no
further reply, he began thinking of the glad vindictive moment when he
would meet Kuragin who he knew was now in the army.

Princess Mary begged him to stay one day more, saying that she
knew how unhappy her father would be if Andrew left without being
reconciled to him, but Prince Andrew replied that he would probably
soon be back again from the army and would certainly write to his
father, but that the longer he stayed now the more embittered their
differences would become.

"Good-by, Andrew! Remember that misfortunes come from God, and men
are never to blame," were the last words he heard from his sister when
he took leave of her.

"Then it must be so!" thought Prince Andrew as he drove out of the
avenue from the house at Bald Hills. "She, poor innocent creature,
is left to be victimized by an old man who has outlived his wits.
The old man feels he is guilty, but cannot change himself. My boy is
growing up and rejoices in life, in which like everybody else he
will deceive or be deceived. And I am off to the army. Why? I myself
don't know. I want to meet that man whom I despise, so as to give
him a chance to kill and laugh at me!

These conditions of life had been the same before, but then they
were all connected, while now they had all tumbled to pieces. Only
senseless things, lacking coherence, presented themselves one after
another to Prince Andrew's mind.

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