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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 25
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 25 Post by :nameuser Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1707

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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 25

During that year after his son's departure, Prince Nicholas
Bolkonski's health and temper became much worse. He grew still more
irritable, and it was Princess Mary who generally bore the brunt of
his frequent fits of unprovoked anger. He seemed carefully to seek out
her tender spots so as to torture her mentally as harshly as possible.
Princess Mary had two passions and consequently two joys- her
nephew, little Nicholas, and religion- and these were the favorite
subjects of the prince's attacks and ridicule. Whatever was spoken
of he would bring round to the superstitiousness of old maids, or
the petting and spoiling of children. "You want to make him"- little
Nicholas- "into an old maid like yourself! A pity! Prince Andrew wants
a son and not an old maid," he would say. Or, turning to
Mademoiselle Bourienne, he would ask her in Princess Mary's presence
how she liked our village priests and icons and would joke about them.

He continually hurt Princess Mary's feelings and tormented her,
but it cost her no effort to forgive him. Could he be to blame
toward her, or could her father, whom she knew loved her in spite of
it all, be unjust? And what is justice? The princess never thought
of that proud word "justice." All the complex laws of man centered for
her in one clear and simple law- the law of love and self-sacrifice
taught us by Him who lovingly suffered for mankind though He Himself
was God. What had she to do with the justice or injustice of other
people? She had to endure and love, and that she did.

During the winter Prince Andrew had come to Bald Hills and had
been gay, gentle, and more affectionate than Princess Mary had known
him for a long time past. She felt that something had happened to him,
but he said nothing to her about his love. Before he left he had a
long talk with his father about something, and Princess Mary noticed
that before his departure they were dissatisfied with one another.

Soon after Prince Andrew had gone, Princess Mary wrote to her friend
Julie Karagina in Petersburg, whom she had dreamed (as all girls
dream) of marrying to her brother, and who was at that time in
mourning for her own brother, killed in Turkey.

Sorrow, it seems, is our common lot, my dear, tender friend Julie.

Your loss is so terrible that I can only explain it to myself as a
special providence of God who, loving you, wishes to try you and
your excellent mother. Oh, my friend! Religion, and religion alone,
can- I will not say comfort us- but save us from despair. Religion
alone can explain to us what without its help man cannot comprehend:
why, for what cause, kind and noble beings able to find happiness in
life- not merely harming no one but necessary to the happiness of
others- are called away to God, while cruel, useless, harmful persons,
or such as are a burden to themselves and to others, are left
living. The first death I saw, and one I shall never forget- that of
my dear sister-in-law- left that impression on me. Just as you ask
destiny why your splendid brother had to die, so I asked why that
angel Lise, who not only never wronged anyone, but in whose soul there
were never any unkind thoughts, had to die. And what do you think,
dear friend? Five years have passed since then, and already I, with my
petty understanding, begin to see clearly why she had to die, and in
what way that death was but an expression of the infinite goodness
of the Creator, whose every action, though generally
incomprehensible to us, is but a manifestation of His infinite love
for His creatures. Perhaps, I often think, she was too angelically
innocent to have the strength to perform all a mother's duties. As a
young wife she was irreproachable; perhaps she could not have been
so as a mother. As it is, not only has she left us, and particularly
Prince Andrew, with the purest regrets and memories, but probably
she will there receive a place I dare not hope for myself. But not
to speak of her alone, that early and terrible death has had the
most beneficent influence on me and on my brother in spite of all
our grief. Then, at the moment of our loss, these thoughts could not
occur to me; I should then have dismissed them with horror, but now
they are very clear and certain. I write all this to you, dear friend,
only to convince you of the Gospel truth which has become for me a
principle of life: not a single hair of our heads will fall without
His will. And His will is governed only by infinite love for us, and
so whatever befalls us is for our good.

You ask whether we shall spend next winter in Moscow. In spite of my
wish to see you, I do not think so and do not want to do so. You
will be surprised to hear that the reason for this is Buonaparte!
The case is this: my father's health is growing noticeably worse, he
cannot stand any contradiction and is becoming irritable. This
irritability is, as you know, chiefly directed to political questions.
He cannot endure the notion that Buonaparte is negotiating on equal
terms with all the sovereigns of Europe and particularly with our own,
the grandson of the Great Catherine! As you know, I am quite
indifferent to politics, but from my father's remarks and his talks
with Michael Ivanovich I know all that goes on in the world and
especially about the honors conferred on Buonaparte, who only at
Bald Hills in the whole world, it seems, is not accepted as a great
man, still less as Emperor of France. And my father cannot stand this.
It seems to me that it is chiefly because of his political views
that my father is reluctant to speak of going to Moscow; for he
foresees the encounters that would result from his way of expressing
his views regardless of anybody. All the benefit he might derive
from a course of treatment he would lose as a result of the disputes
about Buonaparte which would be inevitable. In any case it will be
decided very shortly.

Our family life goes on in the old way except for my brother
Andrew's absence. He, as I wrote you before, has changed very much
of late. After his sorrow he only this year quite recovered his
spirits. He has again become as I used to know him when a child: kind,
affectionate, with that heart of gold to which I know no equal. He has
realized, it seems to me, that life is not over for him. But
together with this mental change he has grown physically much
weaker. He has become thinner and more nervous. I am anxious about him
and glad he is taking this trip abroad which the doctors recommended
long ago. I hope it will cure him. You write that in Petersburg he
is spoken of as one of the most active, cultivated, and capable of the
young men. Forgive my vanity as a relation, but I never doubted it.
The good he has done to everybody here, from his peasants up to the
gentry, is incalculable. On his arrival in Petersburg he received only
his due. I always wonder at the way rumors fly from Petersburg to
Moscow, especially such false ones as that you write about- I mean the
report of my brother's betrothal to the little Rostova. I do not think
my brother will ever marry again, and certainly not her; and this is
why: first, I know that though he rarely speaks about the wife he
has lost, the grief of that loss has gone too deep in his heart for
him ever to decide to give her a successor and our little angel a
stepmother. Secondly because, as far as I know, that girl is not the
kind of girl who could please Prince Andrew. I do not think he would
choose her for a wife, and frankly I do not wish it. But I am
running on too long and am at the end of my second sheet. Good-by,
my dear friend. May God keep you in His holy and mighty care. My
dear friend, Mademoiselle Bourienne, sends you kisses.


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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 26 War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 26

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 26
In the middle of the summer Princess Mary received an unexpectedletter from Prince Andrew in Switzerland in which he gave herstrange and surprising news. He informed her of his engagement toNatasha Rostova. The whole letter breathed loving rapture for hisbetrothed and tender and confiding affection for his sister. Hewrote that he had never loved as he did now and that only now did heunderstand and know what life was. He asked his sister to forgivehim for not having told her of his resolve when he had last visitedBald Hills, though he had spoken of it to his father. He had notdone

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 24 War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 24

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 24
No betrothal ceremony took place and Natasha's engagement toBolkonski was not announced; Prince Andrew insisted on that. He saidthat as he was responsible for the delay he ought to bear the wholeburden of it; that he had given his word and bound himself forever,but that he did not wish to bind Natasha and gave her perfect freedom.If after six months she felt that she did not love him she wouldhave full right to reject him. Naturally neither Natasha nor herparents wished to hear of this, but Prince Andrew was firm. He cameevery day to the Rostovs', but did not behave to