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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 7
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 7 Post by :15547 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1050

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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 7

The dreadful news of the battle of Borodino, of our losses in killed
and wounded, and the still more terrible news of the loss of Moscow
reached Voronezh in the middle of September. Princess Mary, having
learned of her brother's wound only from the Gazette and having no
definite news of him, prepared (so Nicholas heard, he had not seen her
again himself) to set off in search of Prince Andrew.

When he received the news of the battle of Borodino and the
abandonment of Moscow, Rostov was not seized with despair, anger,
the desire for vengeance, or any feeling of that kind, but
everything in Voronezh suddenly seemed to him dull and tiresome, and
he experienced an indefinite feeling of shame and awkwardness. The
conversations he heard seemed to him insincere; he did not know how to
judge all these affairs and felt that only in the regiment would
everything again become clear to him. He made haste to finish buying
the horses, and often became unreasonably angry with his servant and
squadron quartermaster.

A few days before his departure a special thanksgiving, at which
Nicholas was present, was held in the cathedral for the Russian
victory. He stood a little behind the governor and held himself with
military decorum through the service, meditating on a great variety of
subjects. When the service was over the governor's wife beckoned him
to her.

"Have you seen the princess?" she asked, indicating with a
movement of her head a lady standing on the opposite side, beyond
the choir.

Nicholas immediately recognized Princess Mary not so much by the
profile he saw under her bonnet as by the feeling of solicitude,
timidity, and pity that immediately overcame him. Princess Mary,
evidently engrossed by her thoughts, was crossing herself for the last
time before leaving the church.

Nicholas looked at her face with surprise. It was the same face he
had seen before, there was the same general expression of refined,
inner, spiritual labor, but now it was quite differently lit up. There
was a pathetic expression of sorrow, prayer, and hope in it. As had
occurred before when she was present, Nicholas went up to her
without waiting to be prompted by the governor's wife and not asking
himself whether or not it was right and proper to address her here
in church, and told her he had heard of her trouble and sympathized
with his whole soul. As soon as she heard his voice a vivid glow
kindled in her face, lighting up both her sorrow and her joy.

"There is one thing I wanted to tell you, Princess," said Rostov.
"It is that if your brother, Prince Andrew Nikolievich, were not
living, it would have been at once announced in the Gazette, as he
is a colonel."

The princess looked at him, not grasping what he was saying, but
cheered by the expression of regretful sympathy on his face.

"And I have known so many cases of a splinter wound" (the Gazette
said it was a shell) "either proving fatal at once or being very
slight," continued Nicholas. "We must hope for the best, and I am

Princess Mary interrupted him.

"Oh, that would be so dread..." she began and, prevented by
agitation from finishing, she bent her head with a movement as
graceful as everything she did in his presence and, looking up at
him gratefully, went out, following her aunt.

That evening Nicholas did not go out, but stayed at home to settle
some accounts with the horse dealers. When he had finished that
business it was already too late to go anywhere but still too early to
go to bed, and for a long time he paced up and down the room,
reflecting on his life, a thing he rarely did.

Princess Mary had made an agreeable impression on him when he had
met her in Smolensk province. His having encountered her in such
exceptional circumstances, and his mother having at one time mentioned
her to him as a good match, had drawn his particular attention to her.
When he met her again in Voronezh the impression she made on him was
not merely pleasing but powerful. Nicholas had been struck by the
peculiar moral beauty he observed in her at this time. He was,
however, preparing to go away and it had not entered his head to
regret that he was thus depriving himself of chances of meeting her.
But that day's encounter in church had, he felt, sunk deeper than
was desirable for his peace of mind. That pale, sad, refined face,
that radiant look, those gentle graceful gestures, and especially
the deep and tender sorrow expressed in all her features agitated
him and evoked his sympathy. In men Rostov could not bear to see the
expression of a higher spiritual life (that was why he did not like
Prince Andrew) and he referred to it contemptuously as philosophy
and dreaminess, but in Princess Mary that very sorrow which revealed
the depth of a whole spiritual world foreign to him was an
irresistible attraction.

"She must be a wonderful woman. A real angel!" he said to himself.
"Why am I not free? Why was I in such a hurry with Sonya?" And he
involuntarily compared the two: the lack of spirituality in the one
and the abundance of it in the other- a spirituality he himself lacked
and therefore valued most highly. He tried to picture what would
happen were he free. How he would propose to her and how she would
become his wife. But no, he could not imagine that. He felt awed,
and no clear picture presented itself to his mind. He had long ago
pictured to himself a future with Sonya, and that was all clear and
simple just because it had all been thought out and he knew all
there was in Sonya, but it was impossible to picture a future with
Princess Mary, because he did not understand her but simply loved her.

Reveries about Sonya had had something merry and playful in them,
but to dream of Princess Mary was always difficult and a little

"How she prayed!" he thought. "It was plain that her whole soul
was in her prayer. Yes, that was the prayer that moves mountains,
and I am sure her prayer will be answered. Why don't I pray for what I
want?" he suddenly thought. "What do I want? To be free, released from
Sonya... She was right," he thought, remembering what the governor's
wife had said: "Nothing but misfortune can come of marrying Sonya.
Muddles, grief for Mamma... business difficulties... muddles, terrible
muddles! Besides, I don't love her- not as I should. O, God! release
me from this dreadful, inextricable position!" he suddenly began to
pray. "Yes, prayer can move mountains, but one must have faith and not
pray as Natasha and I used to as children, that the snow might turn
into sugar- and then run out into the yard to see whether it had
done so. No, but I am not praying for trifles now," he thought as he
put his pipe down in a corner, and folding his hands placed himself
before the icon. Softened by memories of Princess Mary he began to
pray as he had not done for a long time. Tears were in his eyes and in
his throat when the door opened and Lavrushka came in with some

"Blockhead! Why do you come in without being called?" cried
Nicholas, quickly changing his attitude.

"From the governor," said Lavrushka in a sleepy voice. "A courier
has arrived and there's a letter for you."

"Well, all right, thanks. You can go!"

Nicholas took the two letters, one of which was from his mother
and the other from Sonya. He recognized them by the handwriting and
opened Sonya's first. He had read only a few lines when he turned pale
and his eyes opened wide with fear and joy.

"No, it's not possible!" he cried aloud.

Unable to sit still he paced up and down the room holding the letter
and reading it. He glanced through it, then read it again, and then
again, and standing still in the middle of the room he raised his
shoulders, stretching out his hands, with his mouth wide open and
his eyes fixed. What he had just been praying for with confidence that
God would hear him had come to pass; but Nicholas was as much
astonished as if it were something extraordinary and unexpected, and
as if the very fact that it had happened so quickly proved that it had
not come from God to whom he had prayed, but by some ordinary

This unexpected and, as it seemed to Nicholas, quite voluntary
letter from Sonya freed him from the knot that fettered him and from
which there had seemed no escape. She wrote that the last
unfortunate events- the loss of almost the whole of the Rostovs'
Moscow property- and the countess' repeatedly expressed wish that
Nicholas should marry Princess Bolkonskaya, together with his
silence and coldness of late, had all combined to make her decide to
release him from his promise and set him completely free.

It would be too painful to me to think that I might be a cause of
sorrow or discord in the family that has been so good to me (she
wrote), and my love has no aim but the happiness of those I love;
so, Nicholas, I beg you to consider yourself free, and to be assured
that, in spite of everything, no one can love you more than does

Your Sonya

Both letters were written from Troitsa. The other, from the
countess, described their last days in Moscow, their departure, the
fire, and the destruction of all their property. In this letter the
countess also mentioned that Prince Andrew was among the wounded
traveling with them; his state was very critical, but the doctor
said there was now more hope. Sonya and Natasha were nursing him.

Next day Nicholas took his mother's letter and went to see
Princess Mary. Neither he nor she said a word about what "Natasha
nursing him" might mean, but thanks to this letter Nicholas suddenly
became almost as intimate with the princess as if they were relations.

The following day he saw Princess Mary off on her journey to
Yaroslavl, and a few days later left to rejoin his regiment.

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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8 War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 8
Sonya's letter written from Troitsa, which had come as an answerto Nicholas' prayer, was prompted by this: the thought of gettingNicholas married to an heiress occupied the old countess' mind moreand more. She knew that Sonya was the chief obstacle to thishappening, and Sonya's life in the countess' house had grown harderand harder, especially after they had received a letter fromNicholas telling of his meeting with Princess Mary in Bogucharovo. Thecountess let no occasion slip of making humiliating or cruel allusionsto Sonya.But a few days before they left Moscow, moved and excited by allthat was going on, she called Sonya to

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 6 War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 6

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 6
On reaching Moscow after her meeting with Rostov, Princess Maryhad found her nephew there with his tutor, and a letter from PrinceAndrew giving her instructions how to get to her Aunt Malvintseva atVoronezh. That feeling akin to temptation which had tormented herduring her father's illness, since his death, and especially since hermeeting with Rostov was smothered by arrangements for the journey,anxiety about her brother, settling in a new house, meeting newpeople, and attending to her nephew's education. She was sad. Now,after a month passed in quiet surroundings, she felt more and moredeeply the loss of her father which was associated in