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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 8
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War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 8 Post by :adamsacres Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1165

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 8 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 8

The war was flaming up and nearing the Russian frontier.
Everywhere one heard curses on Bonaparte, "the enemy of mankind."
Militiamen and recruits were being enrolled in the villages, and
from the seat of war came contradictory news, false as usual and
therefore variously interpreted. The life of old Prince Bolkonski,
Prince Andrew, and Princess Mary had greatly changed since 1805.

In 1806 the old prince was made one of the eight commanders in chief
then appointed to supervise the enrollment decreed throughout
Russia. Despite the weakness of age, which had become particularly
noticeable since the time when he thought his son had been killed,
he did not think it right to refuse a duty to which he had been
appointed by the Emperor himself, and this fresh opportunity for
action gave him new energy and strength. He was continually
traveling through the three provinces entrusted to him, was pedantic
in the fulfillment of his duties, severe to cruelty with his
subordinates, and went into everything down to the minutest details
himself. Princess Mary had ceased taking lessons in mathematics from
her father, and when the old prince was at home went to his study with
the wet nurse and little Prince Nicholas (as his grandfather called
him). The baby Prince Nicholas lived with his wet nurse and nurse
Savishna in the late princess' rooms and Princess Mary spent most of
the day in the nursery, taking a mother's place to her little nephew
as best she could. Mademoiselle Bourienne, too, seemed passionately
fond of the boy, and Princess Mary often deprived herself to give
her friend the pleasure of dandling the little angel- as she called
her nephew- and playing with him.

Near the altar of the church at Bald Hills there was a chapel over
the tomb of the little princess, and in this chapel was a marble
monument brought from Italy, representing an angel with outspread
wings ready to fly upwards. The angel's upper lip was slightly
raised as though about to smile, and once on coming out of the
chapel Prince Andrew and Princess Mary admitted to one another that
the angel's face reminded them strangely of the little princess. But
what was still stranger, though of this Prince Andrew said nothing
to his sister, was that in the expression the sculptor had happened to
give the angel's face, Prince Andrew read the same mild reproach he
had read on the face of his dead wife: "Ah, why have you done this
to me?"

Soon after Prince Andrew's return the old prince made over to him
a large estate, Bogucharovo, about twenty-five miles from Bald
Hills. Partly because of the depressing memories associated with
Bald Hills, partly because Prince Andrew did not always feel equal
to bearing with his father's peculiarities, and partly because he
needed solitude, Prince Andrew made use of Bogucharovo, began building
and spent most of his time there.

After the Austerlitz campaign Prince Andrew had firmly resolved
not to continue his military service, and when the war recommenced and
everybody had to serve, he took a post under his father in the
recruitment so as to avoid active service. The old prince and his
son seemed to have changed roles since the campaign of 1805. The old
man, roused by activity, expected the best results from the new
campaign, while Prince Andrew on the contrary, taking no part in the
war and secretly regretting this, saw only the dark side.

On February 26, 1807, the old prince set off on one of his circuits.
Prince Andrew remained at Bald Hills as usual during his father's
absence. Little Nicholas had been unwell for four days. The coachman
who had driven the old prince to town returned bringing papers and
letters for Prince Andrew.

Not finding the young prince in his study the valet went with the
letters to Princess Mary's apartments, but did not find him there.
He was told that the prince had gone to the nursery.

"If you please, your excellency, Petrusha has brought some
papers," said one of the nursemaids to Prince Andrew who was sitting
on a child's little chair while, frowning and with trembling hands, he
poured drops from a medicine bottle into a wineglass half full of
water.

"What is it?" he said crossly, and, his hand shaking
unintentionally, he poured too many drops into the glass. He threw the
mixture onto the floor and asked for some more water. The maid brought
it.

There were in the room a child's cot, two boxes, two armchairs, a
table, a child's table, and the little chair on which Prince Andrew
was sitting. The curtains were drawn, and a single candle was
burning on the table, screened by a bound music book so that the light
did not fall on the cot.

"My dear," said Princess Mary, addressing her brother from beside
the cot where she was standing, "better wait a bit... later..."

"Oh, leave off, you always talk nonsense and keep putting things
off- and this is what comes of it!" said Prince Andrew in an
exasperated whisper, evidently meaning to wound his sister.

"My dear, really... it's better not to wake him... he's asleep,"
said the princess in a tone of entreaty.

Prince Andrew got up and went on tiptoe up to the little bed,
wineglass in hand.

"Perhaps we'd really better not wake him," he said hesitating.

"As you please... really... I think so... but as you please," said
Princess Mary, evidently intimidated and confused that her opinion had
prevailed. She drew her brother's attention to the maid who was
calling him in a whisper.

It was the second night that neither of them had slept, watching the
boy who was in a high fever. These last days, mistrusting their
household doctor and expecting another for whom they had sent to town,
they had been trying first one remedy and then another. Worn out by
sleeplessness and anxiety they threw their burden of sorrow on one
another and reproached and disputed with each other.

"Petrusha has come with papers from your father," whispered the
maid.

Prince Andrew went out.

"Devil take them!" he muttered, and after listening to the verbal
instructions his father had sent and taking the correspondence and his
father's letter, he returned to the nursery.

"Well?" he asked.

"Still the same. Wait, for heaven's sake. Karl Ivanich always says
that sleep is more important than anything," whispered Princess Mary
with a sigh.

Prince Andrew went up to the child and felt him. He was burning hot.

"Confound you and your Karl Ivanich!" He took the glass with the
drops and again went up to the cot.

"Andrew, don't!" said Princess Mary.

But he scowled at her angrily though also with suffering in his
eyes, and stooped glass in hand over the infant.

"But I wish it," he said. "I beg you- give it him!"

Princess Mary shrugged her shoulders but took the glass submissively
and calling the nurse began giving the medicine. The child screamed
hoarsely. Prince Andrew winced and, clutching his head, went out and
sat down on a sofa in the next room.

He still had all the letters in his hand. Opening them
mechanically he began reading. The old prince, now and then using
abbreviations, wrote in his large elongated hand on blue paper as
follows:


Have just this moment received by special messenger very joyful
news- if it's not false. Bennigsen seems to have obtained a complete
victory over Buonaparte at Eylau. In Petersburg everyone is rejoicing,
and the rewards sent to the army are innumerable. Though he is a
German- I congratulate him! I can't make out what the commander at
Korchevo- a certain Khandrikov- is up to; till now the additional
men and provisions have not arrived. Gallop off to him at once and say
I'll have his head off if everything is not here in a week. Have
received another letter about the Preussisch-Eylau battle from
Petenka- he took part in it- and it's all true. When mischief-makers
don't meddle even a German beats Buonaparte. He is said to be
fleeing in great disorder. Mind you gallop off to Korchevo without
delay and carry out instructions!


Prince Andrew sighed and broke the seal of another envelope. It
was a closely written letter of two sheets from Bilibin. He folded
it up without reading it and reread his father's letter, ending with
the words: "Gallop off to Korchevo and carry out instructions!"

"No, pardon me, I won't go now till the child is better," thought
he, going to the door and looking into the nursery.

Princess Mary was still standing by the cot, gently rocking the
baby.

"Ah yes, and what else did he say that's unpleasant?" thought Prince
Andrew, recalling his father's letter. "Yes, we have gained a
victory over Bonaparte, just when I'm not serving. Yes, yes, he's
always poking fun at me.... Ah, well! Let him!" And he began reading
Bilibin's letter which was written in French. He read without
understanding half of it, read only to forget, if but for a moment,
what he had too long been thinking of so painfully to the exclusion of
all else.

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