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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 2
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 2 Post by :agape100 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2588

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 2 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 2

Prince Andrew had to see the Marshal of the Nobility for the
district in connection with the affairs of the Ryazan estate of
which he was trustee. This Marshal was Count Ilya Rostov, and in the
middle of May Prince Andrew went to visit him.

It was now hot spring weather. The whole forest was already
clothed in green. It was dusty and so hot that on passing near water
one longed to bathe.

Prince Andrew, depressed and preoccupied with the business about
which he had to speak to the Marshal, was driving up the avenue in the
grounds of the Rostovs' house at Otradnoe. He heard merry girlish
cries behind some trees on the right and saw group of girls running to
cross the path of his caleche. Ahead of the rest and nearer to him ran
a dark-haired, remarkably slim, pretty girl in a yellow chintz
dress, with a white handkerchief on her head from under which loose
locks of hair escaped. The girl was shouting something but, seeing
that he was a stranger, ran back laughing without looking at him.

Suddenly, he did not know why, he felt a pang. The day was so
beautiful, the sun so bright, everything around so gay, but that
slim pretty girl did not know, or wish to know, of his existence and
was contented and cheerful in her own separate- probably foolish-
but bright and happy life. "What is she so glad about? What is she
thinking of? Not of the military regulations or of the arrangement
of the Ryazan serfs' quitrents. Of what is she thinking? Why is she so
happy?" Prince Andrew asked himself with instinctive curiosity.

In 1809 Count Ilya Rostov was living at Otradnoe just as he had done
in former years, that is, entertaining almost the whole province
with hunts, theatricals, dinners, and music. He was glad to see Prince
Andrew, as he was to see any new visitor, and insisted on his
staying the night.

During the dull day, in the course of which he was entertained by
his elderly hosts and by the more important of the visitors (the old
count's house was crowded on account of an approaching name day),
Prince Andrew repeatedly glanced at Natasha, gay and laughing among
the younger members of the company, and asked himself each time, "What
is she thinking about? Why is she so glad?"

That night, alone in new surroundings, he was long unable to
sleep. He read awhile and then put out his candle, but relit it. It
was hot in the room, the inside shutters of which were closed. He
was cross with the stupid old man (as he called Rostov), who had
made him stay by assuring him that some necessary documents had not
yet arrived from town, and he was vexed with himself for having
stayed.

He got up and went to the window to open it. As soon as he opened
the shutters the moonlight, as if it had long been watching for
this, burst into the room. He opened the casement. The night was
fresh, bright, and very still. Just before the window was a row of
pollard trees, looking black on one side and with a silvery light on
the other. Beneath the trees grewsome kind of lush, wet, bushy
vegetation with silver-lit leaves and stems here and there. Farther
back beyond the dark trees a roof glittered with dew, to the right was
a leafy tree with brilliantly white trunk and branches, and above it
shone the moon, nearly at its full, in a pale, almost starless, spring
sky. Prince Andrew leaned his elbows on the window ledge and his
eyes rested on that sky.

His room was on the first floor. Those in the rooms above were
also awake. He heard female voices overhead.

"Just once more," said a girlish voice above him which Prince Andrew
recognized at once.

"But when are you coming to bed?" replied another voice.

"I won't, I can't sleep, what's the use? Come now for the last
time."

Two girlish voices sang a musical passage- the end of some song.

"Oh, how lovely! Now go to sleep, and there's an end of it."

"You go to sleep, but I can't," said the first voice, coming
nearer to the window. She was evidently leaning right out, for the
rustle of her dress and even her breathing could be heard.
Everything was stone-still, like the moon and its light and the
shadows. Prince Andrew, too, dared not stir, for fear of betraying his
unintentional presence.

"Sonya! Sonya!" he again heard the first speaker. "Oh, how can you
sleep? Only look how glorious it is! Ah, how glorious! Do wake up,
Sonya!" she said almost with tears in her voice. "There never, never
was such a lovely night before!"

Sonya made some reluctant reply.

"Do just come and see what a moon!... Oh, how lovely! Come
here.... Darling, sweetheart, come here! There, you see? I feel like
sitting down on my heels, putting my arms round my knees like this,
straining tight, as tight as possible, and flying away! Like this...."

"Take care, you'll fall out."

He heard the sound of a scuffle and Sonya's disapproving voice:
"It's past one o'clock."

"Oh, you only spoil things for me. All right, go, go!"

Again all was silent, but Prince Andrew knew she was still sitting
there. From time to time he heard a soft rustle and at times a sigh.

"O God, O God! What does it mean?" she suddenly exclaimed. "To bed
then, if it must be!" and she slammed the casement.

"For her I might as well not exist!" thought Prince Andrew while
he listened to her voice, for some reason expecting yet fearing that
she might say something about him. "There she is again! As if it
were on purpose," thought he.

In his soul there suddenly arose such an unexpected turmoil of
youthful thoughts and hopes, contrary to the whole tenor of his
life, that unable to explain his condition to himself he lay down
and fell asleep at once.

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Next morning, having taken leave of no one but the count, and notwaiting for the ladies to appear, Prince Andrew set off for home.It was already the beginning of June when on his return journey hedrove into the birch forest where the gnarled old oak had made sostrange and memorable an impression on him. In the forest theharness bells sounded yet more muffled than they had done six weeksbefore, for now all was thick, shady, and dense, and the young firsdotted about in the forest did not jar on the general beauty but,lending themselves to the mood around, were delicately green
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Prince Andrew had spent two years continuously in the country.All the plans Pierre had attempted on his estates- and constantlychanging from one thing to another had never accomplished- werecarried out by Prince Andrew without display and without perceptibledifficulty.He had in the highest degree a practical tenacity which Pierrelacked, and without fuss or strain on his part this set things going.On one of his estates the three hundred serfs were liberated andbecame free agricultural laborers- this being one of the firstexamples of the kind in Russia. On other estates the serfs' compulsorylabor was commuted for a quitrent. A trained midwife was engaged
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