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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 3
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 3 Post by :groundbreak Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3254

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 3 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 3

Next morning, having taken leave of no one but the count, and not
waiting for the ladies to appear, Prince Andrew set off for home.

It was already the beginning of June when on his return journey he
drove into the birch forest where the gnarled old oak had made so
strange and memorable an impression on him. In the forest the
harness bells sounded yet more muffled than they had done six weeks
before, for now all was thick, shady, and dense, and the young firs
dotted about in the forest did not jar on the general beauty but,
lending themselves to the mood around, were delicately green with
fluffy young shoots.

The whole day had been hot. Somewhere a storm was gathering, but
only a small cloud had scattered some raindrops lightly, sprinkling
the road and the sappy leaves. The left side of the forest was dark in
the shade, the right side glittered in the sunlight, wet and shiny and
scarcely swayed by the breeze. Everything was in blossom, the
nightingales trilled, and their voices reverberated now near, now
far away.

"Yes, here in this forest was that oak with which I agreed," thought
Prince Andrew. "But where is it?" he again wondered, gazing at the
left side of the road, and without recognizing it he looked with
admiration at the very oak he sought. The old oak, quite transfigured,
spreading out a canopy of sappy dark-green foliage, stood rapt and
slightly trembling in the rays of the evening sun. Neither gnarled
fingers nor old scars nor old doubts and sorrows were any of them in
evidence now. Through the hard century-old bark, even where there were
no twigs, leaves had sprouted such as one could hardly believe the old
veteran could have produced.

"Yes, it is the same oak," thought Prince Andrew, and all at once he
was seized by an unreasoning springtime feeling of joy and renewal.
All the best moments of his life suddenly rose to his memory.
Austerlitz with the lofty heavens, his wife's dead reproachful face,
Pierre at the ferry, that girl thrilled by the beauty of the night,
and that night itself and the moon, and.... all this rushed suddenly
to his mind.

"No, life is not over at thirty-one!" Prince Andrew suddenly decided
finally and decisively. "It is not enough for me to know what I have
in me- everyone must know it: Pierre, and that young girl who wanted
to fly away into the sky, everyone must know me, so that my life may
not be lived for myself alone while others live so apart from it,
but so that it may be reflected in them all, and they and I may live
in harmony!"


On reaching home Prince Andrew decided to go to Petersburg that
autumn and found all sorts of reasons for this decision. A whole
serics of sensible and logical considerations showing it to be
essential for him to go to Petersburg, and even to re-enter the
service, kept springing up in his mind. He could not now understand
how he could ever even have doubted the necessity of taking an
active share in life, just as a month before he had not understood how
the idea of leaving the quiet country could ever enter his head. It
now seemed clear to him that all his experience of life must be
senselessly wasted unless he applied it to some kind of work and again
played an active part in life. He did not even remember how
formerly, on the strength of similar wretched logical arguments, it
had seemed obvious that he would be degrading himself if he now, after
the lessons he had had in life, allowed himself to believe in the
possibility of being useful and in the possibility of happiness or
love. Now reason suggested quite the opposite. After that journey to
Ryazan he found the country dull; his former pursuits no longer
interested him, and often when sitting alone in his study he got up,
went to the mirror, and gazed a long time at his own face. Then he
would turn away to the portrait of his dead Lise, who with hair curled
a la grecque looked tenderly and gaily at him out of the gilt frame.
She did not now say those former terrible words to him, but looked
simply, merrily, and inquisitively at him. And Prince Andrew, crossing
his arms behind him, long paced the room, now frowning, now smiling,
as he reflected on those irrational, inexpressible thoughts, secret as
a crime, which altered his whole life and were connected with
Pierre, with fame, with the girl at the window, the oak, and woman's
beauty and love. And if anyone came into his room at such moments he
was particularly cold, stern, and above all unpleasantly logical.

"My dear," Princess Mary entering at such a moment would say,
"little Nicholas can't go out today, it's very cold."

"If it were hot," Prince Andrew would reply at such times very dryly
to his sister, "he could go out in his smock, but as it is cold he
must wear warm clothes, which were designed for that purpose. That
is what follows from the fact that it is cold; and not that a child
who needs fresh air should remain at home," he would add with
extreme logic, as if punishing someone for those secret illogical
emotions that stirred within him.

At such moments Princess Mary would think how intellectual work
dries men up.

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Prince Andrew arrived in Petersburg in August, 1809. It was the timewhen the youthful Speranski was at the zenith of his fame and hisreforms were being pushed forward with the greatest energy. Thatsame August the Emperor was thrown from his caleche, injured hisleg, and remained three weeks at Peterhof, receiving Speranski everyday and no one else. At that time the two famous decrees were beingprepared that so agitated society- abolishing court ranks andintroducing examinations to qualify for the grades of CollegiateAssessor and State Councilor- and not merely these but a whole stateconstitution, intended to change the existing order of government inRussia:
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Prince Andrew had to see the Marshal of the Nobility for thedistrict in connection with the affairs of the Ryazan estate ofwhich he was trustee. This Marshal was Count Ilya Rostov, and in themiddle of May Prince Andrew went to visit him.It was now hot spring weather. The whole forest was alreadyclothed in green. It was dusty and so hot that on passing near waterone longed to bathe.Prince Andrew, depressed and preoccupied with the business aboutwhich he had to speak to the Marshal, was driving up the avenue in thegrounds of the Rostovs' house at Otradnoe. He heard merry girlishcries behind
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