War and Peace
Pierre, after all, had not managed to choose a career for himself in
Petersburg, and had been expelled from there for riotous conduct and
sent to Moscow. The story told about him at Count Rostov's was true.
Pierre had taken part in tying a policeman to a bear. He had now
been for some days in Moscow and was staying as usual at his
father's house. Though he expected that the story of his escapade
would be already known in Moscow and that the ladies about his father-
who were never favorably disposed toward him- would have used it to
turn the count against him, he nevertheless on the day of his
arrival went to his father's part of the house. Entering the drawing
room, where the princesses spent most of their time, he greeted the
ladies, two of whom were sitting at embroidery frames while a third
read aloud. It was the eldest who was reading- the one who had met
Anna Mikhaylovna. The two younger ones were embroidering: both were
rosy and pretty and they differed only in that one had a little mole
on her lip which made her much prettier. Pierre was received as if
he were a corpse or a leper. The eldest princess paused in her reading
and silently stared at him with frightened eyes; the second assumed
precisely the same expression; while the youngest, the one with the
mole, who was of a cheerful and lively disposition, bent over her
frame to hide a smile probably evoked by the amusing scene she
foresaw. She drew her wool down through the canvas and, scarcely
able to refrain from laughing, stooped as if trying to make out the
"How do you do, cousin?" said Pierre. "You don't recognize me?"
"I recognize you only too well, too well."
"How is the count? Can I see him?" asked Pierre, awkwardly as usual,
"The count is suffering physically and mentally, and apparently
you have done your best to increase his mental sufferings."
"Can I see the count?" Pierre again asked.
"Hm.... If you wish to kill him, to kill him outright, you can see
him... Olga, go and see whether Uncle's beef tea is ready- it is
almost time," she added, giving Pierre to understand that they were
busy, and busy making his father comfortable, while evidently he,
Pierre, was only busy causing him annoyance.
Olga went out. Pierre stood looking at the sisters; then he bowed
and said: "Then I will go to my rooms. You will let me know when I can
And he left the room, followed by the low but ringing laughter of
the sister with the mole.
Next day Prince Vasili had arrived and settled in the count's house.
He sent for Pierre and said to him: "My dear fellow, if you are
going to behave here as you did in Petersburg, you will end very
badly; that is all I have to say to you. The count is very, very
ill, and you must not see him at all."
Since then Pierre had not been disturbed and had spent the whole
time in his rooms upstairs.
When Boris appeared at his door Pierre was pacing up and down his
room, stopping occasionally at a corner to make menacing gestures at
the wall, as if running a sword through an invisible foe, and
glaring savagely over his spectacles, and then again resuming his
walk, muttering indistinct words, shrugging his shoulders and
"England is done for," said he, scowling and pointing his finger
at someone unseen. "Mr. Pitt, as a traitor to the nation and to the
rights of man, is sentenced to..." But before Pierre- who at that
moment imagined himself to be Napoleon in person and to have just
effected the dangerous crossing of the Straits of Dover and captured
London- could pronounce Pitt's sentence, he saw a well-built and
handsome young officer entering his room. Pierre paused. He had left
Moscow when Boris was a boy of fourteen, and had quite forgotten
him, but in his usual impulsive and hearty way he took Boris by the
hand with a friendly smile.
"Do you remember me?" asked Boris quietly with a pleasant smile.
"I have come with my mother to see the count, but it seems he is not
"Yes, it seems he is ill. People are always disturbing him,"
answered Pierre, trying to remember who this young man was.
Boris felt that Pierre did not recognize him but did not consider it
necessary to introduce himself, and without experiencing the least
embarrassment looked Pierre straight in the face.
"Count Rostov asks you to come to dinner today," said he, after a
considerable pause which made Pierre feel uncomfortable.
"Ah, Count Rostov!" exclaimed Pierre joyfully. "Then you are his
son, Ilya? Only fancy, I didn't know you at first. Do you remember how
we went to the Sparrow Hills with Madame Jacquot?... It's such an
"You are mistaken," said Boris deliberately, with a bold and
slightly sarcastic smile. "I am Boris, son of Princess Anna
Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya. Rostov, the father, is Ilya, and his son is
Nicholas. I never knew any Madame Jacquot."
Pierre shook his head and arms as if attacked by mosquitoes or bees.
"Oh dear, what am I thinking about? I've mixed everything up. One
has so many relatives in Moscow! So you are Boris? Of course. Well,
now we know where we are. And what do you think of the Boulogne
expedition? The English will come off badly, you know, if Napoleon
gets across the Channel. I think the expedition is quite feasible.
If only Villeneuve doesn't make a mess of things!
Boris knew nothing about the Boulogne expedition; he did not read
the papers and it was the first time he had heard Villeneuve's name.
"We here in Moscow are more occupied with dinner parties and scandal
than with politics," said he in his quiet ironical tone. "I know
nothing about it and have not thought about it. Moscow is chiefly busy
with gossip," he continued. "Just now they are talking about you and
Pierre smiled in his good-natured way as if afraid for his
companion's sake that the latter might say something he would
afterwards regret. But Boris spoke distinctly, clearly, and dryly,
looking straight into Pierre's eyes.
"Moscow has nothing else to do but gossip," Boris went on.
"Everybody is wondering to whom the count will leave his fortune,
though he may perhaps outlive us all, as I sincerely hope he will..."
"Yes, it is all very horrid," interrupted Pierre, "very horrid."
Pierre was still afraid that this officer might inadvertently say
something disconcerting to himself.
"And it must seem to you," said Boris flushing slightly, but not
changing his tone or attitude, "it must seem to you that everyone is
trying to get something out of the rich man?"
"So it does," thought Pierre.
"But I just wish to say, to avoid misunderstandings, that you are
quite mistaken if you reckon me or my mother among such people. We are
very poor, but for my own part at any rate, for the very reason that
your father is rich, I don't regard myself as a relation of his, and
neither I nor my mother would ever ask or take anything from him."
For a long time Pierre could not understand, but when he did, he
jumped up from the sofa, seized Boris under the elbow in his quick,
clumsy way, and, blushing far more than Boris, began to speak with a
feeling of mingled shame and vexation.
"Well, this is strange! Do you suppose I... who could think?... I
know very well..."
But Boris again interrupted him.
"I am glad I have spoken out fully. Perhaps you did not like it? You
must excuse me," said he, putting Pierre at ease instead of being
put at ease by him, "but I hope I have not offended you. I always make
it a rule to speak out... Well, what answer am I to take? Will you
come to dinner at the Rostovs'?"
And Boris, having apparently relieved himself of an onerous duty and
extricated himself from an awkward situation and placed another in it,
became quite pleasant again.
"No, but I say," said Pierre, calming down, "you are a wonderful
fellow! What you have just said is good, very good. Of course you
don't know me. We have not met for such a long time... not since we
were children. You might think that I... I understand, quite
understand. I could not have done it myself, I should not have had the
courage, but it's splendid. I am very glad to have made your
acquaintance. It's queer," he added after a pause, "that you should
have suspected me!" He began to laugh. "Well, what of it! I hope we'll
get better acquainted," and he pressed Boris' hand. "Do you know, I
have not once been in to see the count. He has not sent for me.... I
am sorry for him as a man, but what can one do?"
"And so you think Napoleon will manage to get an army across?" asked
Boris with a smile.
Pierre saw that Boris wished to change the subject, and being of the
same mind he began explaining the advantages and disadvantages of
the Boulogne expedition.
A footman came in to summon Boris- the princess was going. Pierre,
in order to make Boris' better acquaintance, promised to come to
dinner, and warmly pressing his hand looked affectionately over his
spectacles into Boris' eyes. After he had gone Pierre continued pacing
up and down the room for a long time, no longer piercing an
imaginary foe with his imaginary sword, but smiling at the remembrance
of that pleasant, intelligent, and resolute young man.
As often happens in early youth, especially to one who leads a
lonely life, he felt an unaccountable tenderness for this young man
and made up his mind that they would be friends.
Prince Vasili saw the princess off. She held a handkerchief to her
eyes and her face was tearful.
"It is dreadful, dreadful!" she was saying, "but cost me what it may
I shall do my duty. I will come and spend the night. He must not be
left like this. Every moment is precious. I can't think why his nieces
put it off. Perhaps God will help me to find a way to prepare
him!... Adieu, Prince! May God support you..."
"Adieu, ma bonne," answered Prince Vasili turning away from her.
"Oh, he is in a dreadful state," said the mother to her son when
they were in the carriage. "He hardly recognizes anybody."
"I don't understand, Mamma- what is his attitude to Pierre?" asked
"The will will show that, my dear; our fate also depends on it."
"But why do you expect that he will leave us anything?"
"Ah, my dear! He is so rich, and we are so poor!"
"Well, that is hardly a sufficient reason, Mamma..."
"Oh, Heaven! How ill he is!" exclaimed the mother.
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