War and Peace
While these conversations were going on in the reception room and
the princess' room, a carriage containing Pierre (who had been sent
for) and Anna Mikhaylovna (who found it necessary to accompany him)
was driving into the court of Count Bezukhov's house. As the wheels
rolled softly over the straw beneath the windows, Anna Mikhaylovna,
having turned with words of comfort to her companion, realized that he
was asleep in his corner and woke him up. Rousing himself, Pierre
followed Anna Mikhaylovna out of the carriage, and only then began
to think of the interview with his dying father which awaited him.
He noticed that they had not come to the front entrance but to the
back door. While he was getting down from the carriage steps two
men, who looked like tradespeople, ran hurriedly from the entrance and
hid in the shadow of the wall. Pausing for a moment, Pierre noticed
several other men of the same kind hiding in the shadow of the house
on both sides. But neither Anna Mikhaylovna nor the footman nor the
coachman, who could not help seeing these people, took any notice of
them. "It seems to be all right," Pierre concluded, and followed
Anna Mikhaylovna. She hurriedly ascended the narrow dimly lit stone
staircase, calling to Pierre, who was lagging behind, to follow.
Though he did not see why it was necessary for him to go to the
count at all, still less why he had to go by the back stairs, yet
judging by Anna Mikhaylovna's air of assurance and haste, Pierre
concluded that it was all absolutely necessary. Halfway up the
stairs they were almost knocked over by some men who, carrying
pails, came running downstairs, their boots clattering. These men
pressed close to the wall to let Pierre and Anna Mikhaylovna pass
and did not evince the least surprise at seeing them there.
"Is this the way to the princesses' apartments?" asked Anna
Mikhaylovna of one of them.
"Yes," replied a footman in a bold loud voice, as if anything were
now permissible; "the door to the left, ma'am."
"Perhaps the count did not ask for me," said Pierre when he
reached the landing. "I'd better go to my own room."
Anna Mikhaylovna paused and waited for him to come up.
"Ah, my friend!" she said, touching his arm as she had done her
son's when speaking to him that afternoon, "believe me I suffer no
less than you do, but be a man!"
"But really, hadn't I better go away?" he asked, looking kindly at
her over his spectacles.
"Ah, my dear friend! Forget the wrongs that may have been done
you. Think that he is your father... perhaps in the agony of death."
She sighed. "I have loved you like a son from the first. Trust
yourself to me, Pierre. I shall not forget your interests."
Pierre did not understand a word, but the conviction that all this
had to be grew stronger, and he meekly followed Anna Mikhaylovna who
was already opening a door.
This door led into a back anteroom. An old man, a servant of the
princesses, sat in a corner knitting a stocking. Pierre had never been
in this part of the house and did not even know of the existence of
these rooms. Anna Mikhaylovna, addressing a maid who was hurrying past
with a decanter on a tray as "my dear" and "my sweet," asked about the
princess' health and then led Pierre along a stone passage. The
first door on the left led into the princesses' apartments. The maid
with the decanter in her haste had not closed the door (everything
in the house was done in haste at that time), and Pierre and Anna
Mikhaylovna in passing instinctively glanced into the room, where
Prince Vasili and the eldest princess were sitting close together
talking. Seeing them pass, Prince Vasili drew back with obvious
impatience, while the princess jumped up and with a gesture of
desperation slammed the door with all her might.
This action was so unlike her usual composure and the fear
depicted on Prince Vasili's face so out of keeping with his dignity
that Pierre stopped and glanced inquiringly over his spectacles at his
guide. Anna Mikhaylovna evinced no surprise, she only smiled faintly
and sighed, as if to say that this was no more than she had expected.
"Be a man, my friend. I will look after your interests," said she in
reply to his look, and went still faster along the passage.
Pierre could not make out what it was all about, and still less what
"watching over his interests" meant, but he decided that all these
things had to be. From the passage they went into a large, dimly lit
room adjoining the count's reception room. It was one of those
sumptuous but cold apartments known to Pierre only from the front
approach, but even in this room there now stood an empty bath, and
water had been spilled on the carpet. They were met by a deacon with a
censer and by a servant who passed out on tiptoe without heeding them.
They went into the reception room familiar to Pierre, with two Italian
windows opening into the conservatory, with its large bust and full
length portrait of Catherine the Great. The same people were still
sitting here in almost the same positions as before, whispering to one
another. All became silent and turned to look at the pale tear-worn
Anna Mikhaylovna as she entered, and at the big stout figure of Pierre
who, hanging his head, meekly followed her.
Anna Mikhaylovna's face expressed a consciousness that the
decisive moment had arrived. With the air of a practical Petersburg
lady she now, keeping Pierre close beside her, entered the room even
more boldly than that afternoon. She felt that as she brought with her
the person the dying man wished to see, her own admission was assured.
Casting a rapid glance at all those in the room and noticing the
count's confessor there, she glided up to him with a sort of amble,
not exactly bowing yet seeming to grow suddenly smaller, and
respectfully received the blessing first of one and then of another
"God be thanked that you are in time," said she to one of the
priests; "all we relatives have been in such anxiety. This young man
is the count's son," she added more softly. "What a terrible moment!"
Having said this she went up to the doctor.
"Dear doctor," said she, "this young man is the count's son. Is
there any hope?"
The doctor cast a rapid glance upwards and silently shrugged his
shoulders. Anna Mikhaylovna with just the same movement raised her
shoulders and eyes, almost closing the latter, sighed, and moved
away from the doctor to Pierre. To him, in a particularly respectful
and tenderly sad voice, she said:
"Trust in His mercy!" and pointing out a small sofa for him to sit
and wait for her, she went silently toward the door that everyone
was watching and it creaked very slightly as she disappeared behind
Pierre, having made up his mind to obey his monitress implicitly,
moved toward the sofa she had indicated. As soon as Anna Mikhaylovna
had disappeared he noticed that the eyes of all in the room turned
to him with something more than curiosity and sympathy. He noticed
that they whispered to one another, casting significant looks at him
with a kind of awe and even servility. A deference such as he had
never before received was shown him. A strange lady, the one who had
been talking to the priests, rose and offered him her seat; an
aide-de-camp picked up and returned a glove Pierre had dropped; the
doctors became respectfully silent as he passed by, and moved to
make way for him. At first Pierre wished to take another seat so as
not to trouble the lady, and also to pick up the glove himself and
to pass round the doctors who were not even in his way; but all at
once he felt that this would not do, and that tonight he was a
person obliged to perform some sort of awful rite which everyone
expected of him, and that he was therefore bound to accept their
services. He took the glove in silence from the aide-de-camp, and
sat down in the lady's chair, placing his huge hands symmetrically
on his knees in the naive attitude of an Egyptian statue, and
decided in his own mind that all was as it should be, and that in
order not to lose his head and do foolish things he must not act on
his own ideas tonight, but must yield himself up entirely to the
will of those who were guiding him.
Not two minutes had passed before Prince Vasili with head erect
majestically entered the room. He was wearing his long coat with three
stars on his breast. He seemed to have grown thinner since the
morning; his eyes seemed larger than usual when he glanced round and
noticed Pierre. He went up to him, took his hand (a thing he never
used to do), and drew it downwards as if wishing to ascertain
whether it was firmly fixed on.
"Courage, courage, my friend! He has asked to see you. That is
well!" and he turned to go.
But Pierre thought it necessary to ask: "How is..." and hesitated,
not knowing whether it would be proper to call the dying man "the
count," yet ashamed to call him "father."
"He had another stroke about half an hour ago. Courage, my
Pierre's mind was in such a confused state that the word "stroke"
suggested to him a blow from something. He looked at Prince Vasili
in perplexity, and only later grasped that a stroke was an attack of
illness. Prince Vasili said something to Lorrain in passing and went
through the door on tiptoe. He could not walk well on tiptoe and his
whole body jerked at each step. The eldest princess followed him,
and the priests and deacons and some servants also went in at the
door. Through that door was heard a noise of things being moved about,
and at last Anna Mikhaylovna, still with the same expression, pale but
resolute in the discharge of duty, ran out and touching Pierre lightly
on the arm said:
"The divine mercy is inexhaustible! Unction is about to be
Pierre went in at the door, stepping on the soft carpet, and noticed
that the strange lady, the aide-de-camp, and some of the servants, all
followed him in, as if there were now no further need for permission
to enter that room.
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