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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 15
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 15 Post by :Beier Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2129

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 15 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 15

When Natasha opened Prince Andrew's door with a familiar movement
and let Princess Mary pass into the room before her, the princess felt
the 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 to
look at him without tears.

The princess understood what Natasha had meant by the words: "two
days ago this suddenly happened." She understood those words to mean
that he had suddenly softened and that this softening and gentleness
were signs of approaching death. As she stepped to the door she
already saw in imagination Andrew's face as she remembered it in
childhood, a gentle, mild, sympathetic face which he had rarely shown,
and which therefore affected her very strongly. She was sure he
would speak soft, tender words to her such as her father had uttered
before his death, and that she would not be able to bear it and
would burst into sobs in his presence. Yet sooner or later it had to
be, and she went in. The sobs rose higher and higher in her throat
as she more and more clearly distinguished his form and her
shortsighted eyes tried to make out his features, and then she saw his
face and met his gaze.

He was lying in a squirrel-fur dressing gown on a divan,
surrounded by pillows. He was thin and pale. In one thin,
translucently white hand he held a handkerchief, while with the
other he stroked the delicate mustache he had grown, moving his
fingers slowly. His eyes gazed at them as they entered.

On seeing his face and meeting his eyes Princess Mary's pace
suddenly slackened, she felt her tears dry up and her sobs ceased. She
suddenly felt guilty and grew timid on catching the expression of
his face and eyes.

"But in what am I to blame?" she asked herself. And his cold,
stern look replied: "Because you are alive and thinking of the living,
while I..."

In the deep the deep gaze that seemed to look not outwards but
inwards there was an almost hostile expression as he slowly regarded
his sister and Natasha.

He kissed his sister, holding her hand in his as was their wont.

"How are you, Mary? How did you manage to get here?" said he in a
voice as calm and aloof as his look.

Had he screamed in agony, that scream would not have struck such
horror into Princess Mary's heart as the tone of his voice.

"And have you brought little Nicholas?" he asked in the same slow,
quiet manner and with an obvious effort to remember.

"How are you now?" said Princess Mary, herself surprised at what she
was saying.

"That, my dear, you must ask the doctor," he replied, and again
making an evident effort to be affectionate, he said with his lips
only (his words clearly did not correspond to his thoughts):

"Merci, chere amie, d'etre venue."*


*"Thank you for coming, my dear."


Princess Mary pressed his hand. The pressure made him wince just
perceptibly. He was silent, and she did not know what to say. She
now understood what had happened to him two days before. In his words,
his tone, and especially in that calm, almost antagonistic look
could be felt an estrangement from everything belonging to this world,
terrible in one who is alive. Evidently only with an effort did he
understand anything living; but it was obvious that he failed to
understand, not because he lacked the power to do so but because he
understood something else- something the living did not and could
not understand- and which wholly occupied his mind.

"There, you see how strangely fate has brought us together," said
he, breaking the silence and pointing to Natasha. "She looks after
me all the time."

Princess Mary heard him and did not understand how he could say such
a thing. He, the sensitive, tender Prince Andrew, how could he say
that, before her whom he loved and who loved him? Had he expected to
live he could not have said those words in that offensively cold tone.
If he had not known that he was dying, how could he have failed to
pity her and how could he speak like that in her presence? The only
explanation was that he was indifferent, because something else,
much more important, had been revealed to him.

The conversation was cold and disconnected and continually broke
off.

"Mary came by way of Ryazan," said Natasha.

Prince Andrew did not notice that she called his sister Mary, and
only after calling her so in his presence did Natasha notice it
herself.

"Really?" he asked.

"They told her that all Moscow has been burned down, and that..."

Natasha stopped. It was impossible to talk. It was plain that he was
making an effort to listen, but could not do so.

"Yes, they say it's burned," he said. "It's a great pity," and he
gazed straight before him, absently stroking his mustache with his
fingers.

"And so you have met Count Nicholas, Mary?" Prince Andrew suddenly
said, evidently wishing to speak pleasantly to them. "He wrote here
that he took a great liking to you," he went on simply and calmly,
evidently unable to understand all the complex significance his
words had for living people. "If you liked him too, it would be a good
thing for you to get married," he added rather more quickly, as if
pleased at having found words he had long been seeking.

Princess Mary heard his words but they had no meaning for her,
except as a proof of how far away he now was from everything living.

"Why talk of me?" she said quietly and glanced at Natasha.

Natasha, who felt her glance, did not look at her. All three were
again silent.

"Andrew, would you like..." Princess Mary suddenly said in a
trembling voice, "would you like to see little Nicholas? He is
always talking about you!"

Prince Andrew smiled just perceptibly and for the first time, but
Princess Mary, who knew his face so well, saw with horror that he
did not smile with pleasure or affection for his son, but with
quiet, gentle irony because he thought she was trying what she
believed to be the last means of arousing him.

"Yes, I shall be very glad to see him. Is he quite well?"

When little Nicholas was brought into Prince Andrew's room he looked
at his father with frightened eyes, but did not cry, because no one
else was crying. Prince Andrew kissed him and evidently did not know
what to say to him.

When Nicholas had been led away, Princess Mary again went up to
her brother, kissed him, and unable to restrain her tears any longer
began to cry.

He looked at her attentively.

"Is it about Nicholas?" he asked.

Princess Mary nodded her head, weeping.

"Mary, you know the Gosp..." but he broke off.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. You mustn't cry here," he said, looking at her with the
same cold expression.


When Princess Mary began to cry, he understood that she was crying
at the thought that little Nicholas would be left without a father.
With a great effort he tried to return to life and to see things
from their point of view.

"Yes, to them it must seem sad!" he thought. "But how simple it is.

"The fowls of the air sow not, neither do they reap, yet your Father
feedeth them," he said to himself and wished to say to Princess
Mary; "but no, they will take it their own way, they won't understand!
They can't understand that all those feelings they prize so- all our
feelings, all those ideas that seem so important to us, are
unnecessary. We cannot understand one another," and he remained
silent.


Prince Andrew's little son was seven. He could scarcely read, and
knew nothing. After that day he lived through many things, gaining
knowledge, observation, and experience, but had he possessed all the
faculties he afterwards acquired, he could not have had a better or
more profound understanding of the meaning of the scene he had
witnessed between his father, Mary, and Natasha, than he had then.
He understood it completely, and, leaving the room without crying,
went silently up to Natasha who had come out with him and looked shyly
at her with his beautiful, thoughtful eyes, then his uplifted, rosy
upper lip trembled and leaning his head against her he began to cry.

After that he avoided Dessalles and the countess who caressed him
and either sat alone or came timidly to Princess Mary, or to Natasha
of whom he seemed even fonder than of his aunt, and clung to them
quietly and shyly.

When Princess Mary had left Prince Andrew she fully understood
what Natasha's face had told her. She did not speak any more to
Natasha of hopes of saving his life. She took turns with her beside
his sofa, and did not cry any more, but prayed continually, turning in
soul to that Eternal and Unfathomable, whose presence above the
dying man was now so evident.

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Not only did Prince Andrew know he would die, but he felt that hewas dying and was already half dead. He was conscious of analoofness from everything earthly and a strange and joyous lightnessof existence. Without haste or agitation he awaited what was coming.That inexorable, eternal, distant, and unknown the presence of whichhe had felt continually all his life- was now near to him and, bythe strange lightness he experienced, almost comprehensible andpalpable...Formerly he had feared the end. He had twice experienced thatterribly tormenting fear of death- the end- but now he no longerunderstood that fear. He had felt it for
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When Princess Mary heard from Nicholas that her brother was with theRostovs at Yaroslavl she at once prepared to go there, in spite of heraunt's efforts to dissuade her- and not merely to go herself but totake her nephew with her. Whether it were difficult or easy,possible or impossible, she did not ask and did not want to know: itwas her duty not only herself to be near her brother who was perhapsdying, but to do everything possible to take his son to him, and soshe prepared to set off. That she had not heard from Prince Andrewhimself, Princess Mary attributed
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