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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8 Post by :Dusty13 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2169

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8

Sonya's letter written from Troitsa, which had come as an answer
to Nicholas' prayer, was prompted by this: the thought of getting
Nicholas married to an heiress occupied the old countess' mind more
and more. She knew that Sonya was the chief obstacle to this
happening, and Sonya's life in the countess' house had grown harder
and harder, especially after they had received a letter from
Nicholas telling of his meeting with Princess Mary in Bogucharovo. The
countess let no occasion slip of making humiliating or cruel allusions
to Sonya.

But a few days before they left Moscow, moved and excited by all
that was going on, she called Sonya to her and, instead of reproaching
and making demands on her, tearfully implored her to sacrifice herself
and repay all that the family had done for her by breaking off her
engagement with Nicholas.

"I shall not be at peace till you promise me this."

Sonya burst into hysterical tears and replied through her sobs
that she would do anything and was prepared for anything, but gave
no actual promise and could not bring herself to decide to do what was
demanded of her. She must sacrifice herself for the family that had
reared and brought her up. To sacrifice herself for others was Sonya's
habit. Her position in the house was such that only by sacrifice could
she show her worth, and she was accustomed to this and loved doing it.
But in all her former acts of self-sacrifice she had been happily
conscious that they raised her in her own esteem and in that of
others, and so made her more worthy of Nicholas whom she loved more
than anything in the world. But now they wanted her to sacrifice the
very thing that constituted the whole reward for her self-sacrifice
and the whole meaning of her life. And for the first time she felt
bitterness against those who had been her benefactors only to
torture her the more painfully; she felt jealous of Natasha who had
never experienced anything of this sort, had never needed to sacrifice
herself, but made others sacrifice themselves for her and yet was
beloved by everybody. And for the first time Sonya felt that out of
her pure, quiet love for Nicholas a passionate feeling was beginning
to grow up which was stronger than principle, virtue, or religion.
Under the influence of this feeling Sonya, whose life of dependence
had taught her involuntarily to be secretive, having answered the
countess in vague general terms, avoided talking with her and resolved
to wait till she should see Nicholas, not in order to set him free but
on the contrary at that meeting to bind him to her forever.

The bustle and terror of the Rostovs' last days in Moscow stifled
the gloomy thoughts that oppressed Sonya. She was glad to find
escape from them in practical activity. But when she heard of Prince
Andrew's presence in their house, despite her sincere pity for him and
for Natasha, she was seized by a joyful and superstitious feeling that
God did not intend her to be separated from Nicholas. She knew that
Natasha loved no one but Prince Andrew and had never ceased to love
him. She knew that being thrown together again under such terrible
circumstances they would again fall in love with one another, and that
Nicholas would then not be able to marry Princess Mary as they would
be within the prohibited degrees of affinity. Despite all the terror
of what had happened during those last days and during the first
days of their journey, this feeling that Providence was intervening in
her personal affairs cheered Sonya.

At the Troitsa monastery the Rostovs first broke their journey for a
whole day.

Three large rooms were assigned to them in the monastery hostelry,
one of which was occupied by Prince Andrew. The wounded man was much
better that day and Natasha was sitting with him. In the next room sat
the count and countess respectfully conversing with the prior, who was
calling on them as old acquaintances and benefactors of the monastery.
Sonya was there too, tormented by curiosity as to what Prince Andrew
and Natasha were talking about. She heard the sound of their voices
through the door. That door opened and Natasha came out, looking
excited. Not noticing the monk, who had risen to greet her and was
drawing back the wide sleeve on his right arm, she went up to Sonya
and took her hand.

"Natasha, what are you about? Come here!" said the countess.

Natasha went up to the monk for his blessing, and advised her to
pray for aid to God and His saint.

As soon as the prior withdrew, Natasha took her friend by the hand
and went with her into the unoccupied room.

"Sonya, will he live?" she asked. "Sonya, how happy I am, and how
unhappy!... Sonya, dovey, everything is as it used to be. If only he
lives! He cannot... because... because... of" and Natasha burst into
tears.

"Yes! I knew it! Thank God!" murmured Sonya. "He will live."

Sonya was not less agitated than her friend by the latter's fear and
grief and by her own personal feelings which she shared with no one.
Sobbing, she kissed and comforted Natasha. "If only he lives!" she
thought. Having wept, talked, and wiped away their tears, the two
friends went together to Prince Andrew's door. Natasha opened it
cautiously and glanced into the room, Sonya standing beside her at the
half-open door.

Prince Andrew was lying raised high on three pillows. His pale
face was calm, his eyes closed, and they could see his regular
breathing.

"O, Natasha!" Sonya suddenly almost screamed, catching her
companion's arm and stepping back from the door.

"What? What is it?" asked Natasha.

"It's that, that..." said Sonya, with a white face and trembling
lips.

Natasha softly closed the door and went with Sonya to the window,
not yet understanding what the latter was telling her.

"You remember," said Sonya with a solemn and frightened
expression. "You remember when I looked in the mirror for you... at
Otradnoe at Christmas? Do you remember what I saw?"

"Yes, yes!" cried Natasha opening her eyes wide, and vaguely
recalling that Sonya had told her something about Prince Andrew whom
she had seen lying down.

"You remember?" Sonya went on. "I saw it then and told everybody,
you and Dunyasha. I saw him lying on a bed," said she, making a
gesture with her hand and a lifted finger at each detail, "and that he
had his eyes closed and was covered just with a pink quilt, and that
his hands were folded," she concluded, convincing herself that the
details she had just seen were exactly what she had seen in the
mirror.

She had in fact seen nothing then but had mentioned the first
thing that came into her head, but what she had invented then seemed
to her now as real as any other recollection. She not only
remembered what she had then said- that he turned to look at her and
smiled and was covered with something red- but was firmly convinced
that she had then seen and said that he was covered with a pink
quilt and that his eyes were closed.

"Yes, yes, it really was pink!" cried Natasha, who now thought she
too remembered the word pink being used, and saw in this the most
extraordinary and mysterious part of the prediction.

"But what does it mean?" she added meditatively.

"Oh, I don't know, it is all so strange," replied Sonya, clutching
at her head.

A few minutes later Prince Andrew rang and Natasha went to him,
but Sonya, feeling unusually excited and touched, remained at the
window thinking about the strangeness of what had occurred.


They had an opportunity that day to send letters to the army, and
the countess was writing to her son.

"Sonya!" said the countess, raising her eyes from her letter as
her niece passed, "Sonya, won't you write to Nicholas?" She spoke in a
soft, tremulous voice, and in the weary eyes that looked over her
spectacles Sonya read all that the countess meant to convey with these
words. Those eyes expressed entreaty, shame at having to ask, fear
of a refusal, and readiness for relentless hatred in case of such
refusal.

Sonya went up to the countess and, kneeling down, kissed her hand.

"Yes, Mamma, I will write," said she.

Sonya was softened, excited, and touched by all that had occurred
that day, especially by the mysterious fulfillment she had just seen
of her vision. Now that she knew that the renewal of Natasha's
relations with Prince Andrew would prevent Nicholas from marrying
Princess Mary, she was joyfully conscious of a return of that
self-sacrificing spirit in which she was accustomed to live and
loved to live. So with a joyful consciousness of performing a
magnanimous deed- interrupted several times by the tears that dimmed
her velvety black eyes- she wrote that touching letter the arrival
of which had so amazed Nicholas.

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