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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 14
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 14 Post by :jammurtha Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2333

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 14 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 14

When Princess Mary heard from Nicholas that her brother was with the
Rostovs at Yaroslavl she at once prepared to go there, in spite of her
aunt's efforts to dissuade her- and not merely to go herself but to
take her nephew with her. Whether it were difficult or easy,
possible or impossible, she did not ask and did not want to know: it
was her duty not only herself to be near her brother who was perhaps
dying, but to do everything possible to take his son to him, and so
she prepared to set off. That she had not heard from Prince Andrew
himself, Princess Mary attributed to his being too weak to write or to
his considering the long journey too hard and too dangerous for her
and his son.

In a few days Princess Mary was ready to start. Her equipages were
the huge family coach in which she had traveled to Voronezh, a
semiopen trap, and a baggage cart. With her traveled Mademoiselle
Bourienne, little Nicholas and his tutor, her old nurse, three
maids, Tikhon, and a young footman and courier her aunt had sent to
accompany her.

The usual route through Moscow could not be thought of, and the
roundabout way Princess Mary was obliged to take through Lipetsk,
Ryazan, Vladimir, and Shuya was very long and, as post horses were not
everywhere obtainable, very difficult, and near Ryazan where the
French were said to have shown themselves was even dangerous.

During this difficult journey Mademoiselle Bourienne, Dessalles, and
Princess Mary's servants were astonished at her energy and firmness of
spirit. She went to bed later and rose earlier than any of them, and
no difficulties daunted her. Thanks to her activity and energy,
which infected her fellow travelers, they approached Yaroslavl by
the end of the second week.

The last days of her stay in Voronezh had been the happiest of her
life. Her love for Rostov no longer tormented or agitated her. It
filled her whole soul, had become an integral part of herself, and she
no longer struggled against it. Latterly she had become convinced that
she loved and was beloved, though she never said this definitely to
herself in words. She had become convinced of it at her last interview
with Nicholas, when he had come to tell her that her brother was
with the Rostovs. Not by a single word had Nicholas alluded to the
fact that Prince Andrew's relations with Natasha might, if he
recovered, be renewed, but Princess Mary saw by his face that he
knew and thought of this.

Yet in spite of that, his relation to her- considerate, delicate,
and loving- not only remained unchanged, but it sometimes seemed to
Princess Mary that he was even glad that the family connection between
them allowed him to express his friendship more freely. She knew
that she loved for the first and only time in her life and felt that
she was beloved, and was happy in regard to it.

But this happiness on one side of her spiritual nature did not
prevent her feeling grief for her brother with full force; on the
contrary, that spiritual tranquility on the one side made it the
more possible for her to give full play to her feeling for her
brother. That feeling was so strong at the moment of leaving
Voronezh that those who saw her off, as they looked at her careworn,
despairing face, felt sure she would fall ill on the journey. But
the very difficulties and preoccupations of the journey, which she
took so actively in hand, saved her for a while from her grief and
gave her strength.

As always happens when traveling, Princess Mary thought only of
the journey itself, forgetting its object. But as she approached
Yaroslavl the thought of what might await her there- not after many
days, but that very evening- again presented itself to her and her
agitation increased to its utmost limit.

The courier who had been sent on in advance to find out where the
Rostovs were staying in Yaroslavl, and in what condition Prince Andrew
was, when he met the big coach just entering the town gates was
appalled by the terrible pallor of the princess' face that looked
out at him from the window.

"I have found out everything, your excellency: the Rostovs are
staying at the merchant Bronnikov's house, in the Square not far
from here, right above the Volga," said the courier.

Princess Mary looked at him with frightened inquiry, not
understanding why he did not reply to what she chiefly wanted to know:
how was her brother? Mademoiselle Bourienne put that question for her.

"How is the prince?" she asked.

"His excellency is staying in the same house with them."

"Then he is alive," thought Princess Mary, and asked in a low voice:
"How is he?"

"The servants say he is still the same."

What "still the same" might mean Princess Mary did not ask, but with
an unnoticed glance at little seven-year-old Nicholas, who was sitting
in front of her looking with pleasure at the town, she bowed her
head and did not raise it again till the heavy coach, rumbling,
shaking and swaying, came to a stop. The carriage steps clattered as
they were let down.

The carriage door was opened. On the left there was water- a great
river- and on the right a porch. There were people at the entrance:
servants, and a rosy girl with a large plait of black hair, smiling as
it seemed to Princess Mary in an unpleasantly affected way. (This
was Sonya.) Princess Mary ran up the steps. "This way, this way!" said
the girl, with the same artificial smile, and the princess found
herself in the hall facing an elderly woman of Oriental type, who came
rapidly to meet her with a look of emotion. This was the countess. She
embraced Princess Mary and kissed her.

"Mon enfant!" she muttered, "je vous aime et vous connais depuis
longtemps."*


*"My child! I love you and have known you a long time."

Despite her excitement, Princess Mary realized that this was the
countess and that it was necessary to say something to her. Hardly
knowing how she did it, she contrived to utter a few polite phrases in
French in the same tone as those that had been addressed to her, and
asked: "How is he?"

"The doctor says that he is not in danger," said the countess, but
as she spoke she raised her eyes with a sigh, and her gesture conveyed
a contradiction of her words.

"Where is he? Can I see him- can I?" asked the princess.

"One moment, Princess, one moment, my dear! Is this his son?" said
the countess, turning to little Nicholas who was coming in with
Dessalles. "There will be room for everybody, this is a big house. Oh,
what a lovely boy!"

The countess took Princess Mary into the drawing room, where Sonya
was talking to Mademoiselle Bourienne. The countess caressed the
boy, and the old count came in and welcomed the princess. He had
changed very much since Princess Mary had last seen him. Then he had
been a brisk, cheerful, self-assured old man; now he seemed a pitiful,
bewildered person. While talking to Princess Mary he continually
looked round as if asking everyone whether he was doing the right
thing. After the destruction of Moscow and of his property, thrown out
of his accustomed groove he seemed to have lost the sense of his own
significance and to feel that there was no longer a place for him in
life.

In spite of her one desire to see her brother as soon as possible,
and her vexation that at the moment when all she wanted was to see him
they should be trying to entertain her and pretending to admire her
nephew, the princess noticed all that was going on around her and felt
the necessity of submitting, for a time, to this new order of things
which she had entered. She knew it to be necessary, and though it
was hard for her she was not vexed with these people.

"This is my niece," said the count, introducing Sonya- "You don't
know her, Princess?"

Princess Mary turned to Sonya and, trying to stifle the hostile
feeling that arose in her toward the girl, she kissed her. But she
felt oppressed by the fact that the mood of everyone around her was so
far from what was in her own heart.

"Where is he?" she asked again, addressing them all.

"He is downstairs. Natasha is with him," answered Sonya, flushing.
"We have sent to ask. I think you must be tired, Princess."

Tears of vexation showed themselves in Princess Mary's eyes. She
turned away and was about to ask the countess again how to go to
him, when light, impetuous, and seemingly buoyant steps were heard
at the door. The princess looked round and saw Natasha coming in,
almost running- that Natasha whom she had liked so little at their
meeting in Moscow long since.

But hardly had the princess looked at Natasha's face before she
realized that here was a real comrade in her grief, and consequently a
friend. She ran to meet her, embraced her, and began to cry on her
shoulder.

As soon as Natasha, sitting at the head of Prince Andrew's bed,
heard of Princess Mary's arrival, she softly left his room and
hastened to her with those swift steps that had sounded buoyant to
Princess Mary.

There was only one expression on her agitated face when she ran into
the drawing room- that of love- boundless love for him, for her, and
for all that was near to the man she loved; and of pity, suffering for
others, and passionate desire to give herself entirely to helping
them. It was plain that at that moment there was in Natasha's heart no
thought of herself or of her own relations with Prince Andrew.

Princess Mary, with her acute sensibility, understood all this at
the first glance at Natasha's face, and wept on her shoulder with
sorrowful pleasure.

"Come, come to him, Mary," said Natasha, leading her into the
other room.

Princess Mary raised her head, dried her eyes, and turned to
Natasha. She felt that from her she would be able to understand and
learn everything.

"How..." she began her question but stopped short.

She felt that it was impossible to ask, or to answer, in words.
Natasha's face eyes would eyes would have to tell her all more clearly
and profoundly.

Natasha was gazing at her, but seemed afraid and in doubt whether to
say all she knew or not; she seemed to feel that before those luminous
eyes which penetrated into the very depths of her heart, it was
impossible not to tell the whole truth which she saw. And suddenly,
Natasha's lips twitched, ugly wrinkles gathered round her mouth, and
covering her face with her hands she burst into sobs.

Princess Mary understood.

But she still hoped, and asked, in words she herself did not trust:

"But how is his wound? What is his general condition?"

"You, you... will see," was all Natasha could say.

They sat a little while downstairs near his room till they had
left off crying and were able to go to him with calm faces.

"How has his whole illness gone? Is it long since he grew worse?
When did this happen?" Princess Mary inquired.

Natasha told her that at first there had been danger from his
feverish condition and the pain he suffered, but at Troitsa that had
passed and the doctor had only been afraid of gangrene. That danger
had also passed. When they reached Yaroslavl the wound had begun to
fester (Natasha knew all about such things as festering) and the
doctor had said that the festering might take a normal course. Then
fever set in, but the doctor had said the fever was not very serious.

"But two days ago this suddenly happened," said Natasha,
struggling with her sobs. "I don't know why, but you will see what
he is like."

"Is he weaker? Thinner?" asked the princess.

"No, it's not that, but worse. You will see. O, Mary, he is too
good, he cannot, cannot live, because..."

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When Natasha opened Prince Andrew's door with a familiar movementand let Princess Mary pass into the room before her, the princess feltthe sobs in her throat. Hard as she had tried to prepare herself,and now tried to remain tranquil, she knew that she would be unable tolook at him without tears.The princess understood what Natasha had meant by the words: "twodays ago this suddenly happened." She understood those words to meanthat he had suddenly softened and that this softening and gentlenesswere signs of approaching death. As she stepped to the door shealready saw in imagination Andrew's face as she remembered it
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