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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 11
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 11 Post by :rsagers Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2888

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 11

An hour later Dunyasha came to tell the princess that Dron had come,
and all the peasants had assembled at the barn by the princess'
order and wished to have word with their mistress.

"But I never told them to come," said Princess Mary. "I only told
Dron to let them have the grain."

"Only, for God's sake, Princess dear, have them sent away and
don't go out to them. It's all a trick," said Dunyasha, "and when
Yakov Alpatych returns let us get away... and please don't..."

"What is a trick?" asked Princess Mary in surprise.

"I know it is, only listen to me for God's sake! Ask nurse too. They
say they don't agree to leave Bogucharovo as you ordered."

"You're making some mistake. I never ordered them to go away,"
said Princess Mary. "Call Dronushka."

Dron came and confirmed Dunyasha's words; the peasants had come by
the princess' order.

"But I never sent for them," declared the princess. "You must have
given my message wrong. I only said that you were to give them the
grain."

Dron only sighed in reply.

"If you order it they will go away," said he.

"No, no. I'll go out to them," said Princess Mary, and in spite of
the nurse's and Dunyasha's protests she went out into the porch; Dron,
Dunyasha, the nurse, and Michael Ivanovich following her.

"They probably think I am offering them the grain to bribe them to
remain here, while I myself go away leaving them to the mercy of the
French," thought Princess Mary. "I will offer them monthly rations and
housing at our Moscow estate. I am sure Andrew would do even more in
my place," she thought as she went out in the twilight toward the
crowd standing on the pasture by the barn.

The men crowded closer together, stirred, and rapidly took off their
hats. Princess Mary lowered her eyes and, tripping over her skirt,
came close up to them. So many different eyes, old and young, were
fixed on her, and there were so many different faces, that she could
not distinguish any of them and, feeling that she must speak to them
all at once, did not know how to do it. But again the sense that she
represented her father and her brother gave her courage, and she
boldly began her speech.

"I am very glad you have come," she said without raising her eyes,
and feeling her heart beating quickly and violently. "Dronushka
tells me that the war has ruined you. That is our common misfortune,
and I shall grudge nothing to help you. I am myself going away because
it is dangerous here... the enemy is near... because... I am giving
you everything, my friends, and I beg you to take everything, all
our grain, so that you may not suffer want! And if you have been
told that I am giving you the grain to keep you here- that is not
true. On the contrary, I ask you to go with all your belongings to our
estate near Moscow, and I promise you I will see to it that there
you shall want for nothing. You shall be given food and lodging."

The princess stopped. Sighs were the only sound heard in the crowd.

"I am not doing this on my own account," she continued, "I do it
in the name of my dead father, who was a good master to you, and of my
brother and his son."

Again she paused. No one broke the silence.

"Ours is a common misfortune and we will share it together. All that
is mine is yours," she concluded, scanning the faces before her.

All eyes were gazing at her with one and the same expression. She
could not fathom whether it was curiosity, devotion, gratitude, or
apprehension and distrust- but the expression on all the faces was
identical.

"We are all very thankful for your bounty, but it won't do for us to
take the landlord's grain," said a voice at the back of the crowd.

"But why not?" asked the princess.

No one replied and Princess Mary, looking round at the crowd,
found that every eye she met now was immediately dropped.

"But why don't you want to take it?" she asked again.

No one answered.

The silence began to oppress the princess and she tried to catch
someone's eye.

"Why don't you speak?" she inquired of a very old man who stood just
in front of her leaning on his stick. "If you think something more
is wanted, tell me! I will do anything," said she, catching his eye.

But as if this angered him, he bent his head quite low and muttered:

"Why should we agree? We don't want the grain."

"Why should we give up everything? We don't agree. Don't agree....
We are sorry for you, but we're not willing. Go away yourself,
alone..." came from various sides of the crowd.

And again all the faces in that crowd bore an identical
expression, though now it was certainly not an expression of curiosity
or gratitude, but of angry resolve.

"But you can't have understood me," said Princess Mary with a sad
smile. "Why don't you want to go? I promise to house and feed you,
while here the enemy would ruin you..."

But her voice was drowned by the voices of the crowd.

"We're not willing. Let them ruin us! We won't take your grain. We
don't agree."

Again Princess Mary tried to catch someone's eye, but not a single
eye in the crowd was turned to her; evidently they were all trying
to avoid her look. She felt strange and awkward.

"Oh yes, an artful tale! Follow her into slavery! Pull down your
houses and go into bondage! I dare say! 'I'll give you grain, indeed!'
she says," voices in the crowd were heard saying.

With drooping head Princess Mary left the crowd and went back to the
house. Having repeated her order to Dron to have horses ready for
her departure next morning, she went to her room and remained alone
with her own thoughts.

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For a long time that night Princess Mary sat by the open window ofher room hearing the sound of the peasants' voices that reached herfrom the village, but it was not of them she was thinking. She feltthat she could not understand them however much she might thinkabout them. She thought only of one thing, her sorrow, which, afterthe break caused by cares for the present, seemed already to belong tothe past. Now she could remember it and weep or pray.After sunset the wind had dropped. The night was calm and fresh.Toward midnight the voices began to subside, a cock crowed,
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After her father's funeral Princess Mary shut herself up in her roomand did not admit anyone. A maid came to the door to say that Alpatychwas asking for orders about their departure. (This was before his talkwith Dron.) Princess Mary raised herself on the sofa on which shehad been lying and replied through the closed door that she did notmean to go away and begged to be left in peace.The windows of the room in which she was lying looked westward.She lay on the sofa with her face to the wall, fingering the buttonsof the leather cushion and seeing nothing but
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