In the evening Andrew and Pierre got into the open carriage and drove to Bald Hills. Prince Andrew, glancing at Pierre, broke the silence now and then with remarks which showed that he was in a good temper.
Pointing to the fields, he spoke of the improvements he was making in his husbandry.
Pierre remained gloomily silent, answering in monosyllables and apparently immersed in his own thoughts.
He was thinking that Prince Andrew was unhappy, had gone astray, did not see the true light, and that he, Pierre, ought to aid, enlighten, and raise him. But as soon as he thought of what he should say, he felt that Prince Andrew with one word, one argument, would upset all his teaching, and he shrank from beginning, afraid of exposing to possible ridicule what to him was precious and sacred.
“No, but why do you think so?” Pierre suddenly began, lowering his head and looking like a bull about to charge, “why do you think so? You should not think so.”
“Think? What about?” asked Prince Andrew with surprise.
“About life, about man’s destiny. It can’t be so. I myself thought like that, and do you know what saved me? Freemasonry! No, don’t smile. Freemasonry is not a religious ceremonial sect, as I thought it was: Freemasonry is the best expression of the best, the eternal, aspects of humanity.”
And he began to explain Freemasonry as he understood it to Prince Andrew. He said that Freemasonry is the teaching of Christianity freed from the bonds of State and Church, a teaching of equality, brotherhood, and love.
“Only our holy brotherhood has the real meaning of life, all the rest is a dream,” said Pierre. “Understand, my dear fellow, that outside this union all is filled with deceit and falsehood and I agree with you that nothing is left for an intelligent and good man but to live out his life, like you, merely trying not to harm others. But make our fundamental convictions your own, join our brotherhood, give yourself up to us, let yourself be guided, and you will at once feel yourself, as I have felt myself, a part of that vast invisible chain the beginning of which is hidden in heaven,” said Pierre.
Prince Andrew, looking straight in front of him, listened in silence to Pierre’s words. More than once, when the noise of the wheels prevented his catching what Pierre said, he asked him to repeat it, and by the peculiar glow that came into Prince Andrew’s eyes and by his silence, Pierre saw that his words were not in vain and that Prince Andrew would not interrupt him or laugh at what he said.
They reached a river that had overflowed its banks and which they had to cross by ferry. While the carriage and horses were being placed on it, they also stepped on the raft.
Prince Andrew, leaning his arms on the raft railing, gazed silently at the flooding waters glittering in the setting sun.
“Well, what do you think about it?” Pierre asked. “Why are you silent?”
“What do I think about it? I am listening to you. It’s all very well.... You say: join our brotherhood and we will show you the aim of life, the destiny of man, and the laws which govern the world. But who are we? Men. How is it you know everything? Why do I alone not see what you see? You see a reign of goodness and truth on earth, but I don’t see it.”
Pierre interrupted him.
“Do you believe in a future life?” he asked.
“A future life?” Prince Andrew repeated, but Pierre, giving him no time to reply, took the repetition for a denial, the more readily as he knew Prince Andrew’s former atheistic convictions.
“You say you can’t see a reign of goodness and truth on earth. Nor could I, and it cannot be seen if one looks on our life here as the end of everything. On earth, here on this earth” (Pierre pointed to the fields), “there is no truth, all is false and evil; but in the universe, in the whole universe there is a kingdom of truth, and we who are now the children of earth are—eternally—children of the whole universe. Don’t I feel in my soul that I am part of this vast harmonious whole? Don’t I feel that I form one link, one step, between the lower and higher beings, in this vast harmonious multitude of beings in whom the Deity—the Supreme Power if you prefer the term—is manifest? If I see, clearly see, that ladder leading from plant to man, why should I suppose it breaks off at me and does not go farther and farther? I feel that I cannot vanish, since nothing vanishes in this world, but that I shall always exist and always have existed. I feel that beyond me and above me there are spirits, and that in this world there is truth.”
“Yes, that is Herder’s theory,” said Prince Andrew, “but it is not that which can convince me, dear friend—life and death are what convince. What convinces is when one sees a being dear to one, bound up with one’s own life, before whom one was to blame and had hoped to make it right” (Prince Andrew’s voice trembled and he turned away), “and suddenly that being is seized with pain, suffers, and ceases to exist.... Why? It cannot be that there is no answer. And I believe there is.... That’s what convinces, that is what has convinced me,” said Prince Andrew.
“Yes, yes, of course,” said Pierre, “isn’t that what I’m saying?”
“No. All I say is that it is not argument that convinces me of the necessity of a future life, but this: when you go hand in hand with someone and all at once that person vanishes there, into nowhere, and you yourself are left facing that abyss, and look in. And I have looked in....”
“Well, that’s it then! You know that there is a there and there is a Someone? There is the future life. The Someone is—God.”
Prince Andrew did not reply. The carriage and horses had long since been taken off, onto the farther bank, and reharnessed. The sun had sunk half below the horizon and an evening frost was starring the puddles near the ferry, but Pierre and Andrew, to the astonishment of the footmen, coachmen, and ferrymen, still stood on the raft and talked.
“If there is a God and future life, there is truth and good, and man’s highest happiness consists in striving to attain them. We must live, we must love, and we must believe that we live not only today on this scrap of earth, but have lived and shall live forever, there, in the Whole,” said Pierre, and he pointed to the sky.
Prince Andrew stood leaning on the railing of the raft listening to Pierre, and he gazed with his eyes fixed on the red reflection of the sun gleaming on the blue waters. There was perfect stillness. Pierre became silent. The raft had long since stopped and only the waves of the current beat softly against it below. Prince Andrew felt as if the sound of the waves kept up a refrain to Pierre’s words, whispering:
“It is true, believe it.”
He sighed, and glanced with a radiant, childlike, tender look at Pierre’s face, flushed and rapturous, but yet shy before his superior friend.
“Yes, if it only were so!” said Prince Andrew. “However, it is time to get on,” he added, and, stepping off the raft, he looked up at the sky to which Pierre had pointed, and for the first time since Austerlitz saw that high, everlasting sky he had seen while lying on that battlefield; and something that had long been slumbering, something that was best within him, suddenly awoke, joyful and youthful, in his soul. It vanished as soon as he returned to the customary conditions of his life, but he knew that this feeling which he did not know how to develop existed within him. His meeting with Pierre formed an epoch in Prince Andrew’s life. Though outwardly he continued to live in the same old way, inwardly he began a new life.
It was getting dusk when Prince Andrew and Pierre drove up to the front entrance of the house at Bald Hills. As they approached the house, Prince Andrew with a smile drew Pierre’s attention to a commotion going on at the back porch. A woman, bent with age, with a wallet on her back, and a short, long-haired, young man in a black garment had rushed back to the gate on seeing the carriage driving up. Two women ran out after them, and all four, looking round at the carriage, ran in dismay up the steps of the back porch.
“Those are Mary’s ‘God’s folk,’” said Prince Andrew. “They have mistaken us for my father. This is the one matter in which she disobeys him. He orders these pilgrims to be driven away, but she receives them.”
“But what are ‘God’s folk’?” asked Pierre.
Prince Andrew had no time to answer. The servants came out to meet them, and he asked where the old prince was and whether he was expected back soon.
The old prince had gone to the town and was expected back any minute.
Prince Andrew led Pierre to his own apartments, which were always kept in perfect order and readiness for him in his father’s house; he himself went to the nursery.
“Let us go and see my sister,” he said to Pierre when he returned. “I have not found her yet, she is hiding now, sitting with her ‘God’s folk.’ It will serve her right, she will be confused, but you will see her ‘God’s folk.’ It’s really very curious.”
“What are ‘God’s folk’?” asked Pierre.
“Come, and you’ll see for yourself.”
Princess Mary really was disconcerted and red patches came on her face when they went in. In her snug room, with lamps burning before the icon stand, a young lad with a long nose and long hair, wearing a monk’s cassock, sat on the sofa beside her, behind a samovar. Near them, in an armchair, sat a thin, shriveled, old woman, with a meek expression on her childlike face.
“Andrew, why didn’t you warn me?” said the princess, with mild reproach, as she stood before her pilgrims like a hen before her chickens.
“Charmée de vous voir. Je suis très contente de vous voir,” * she said to Pierre as he kissed her hand. She had known him as a child, and now his friendship with Andrew, his misfortune with his wife, and above all his kindly, simple face disposed her favorably toward him. She looked at him with her beautiful radiant eyes and seemed to say, “I like you very much, but please don’t laugh at my people.” After exchanging the first greetings, they sat down.
“Ah, and Ivánushka is here too!” said Prince Andrew, glancing with a smile at the young pilgrim.
“Andrew!” said Princess Mary, imploringly. “Il faut que vous sachiez que c’est une femme,” * said Prince Andrew to Pierre.
“Andrew, au nom de Dieu!” *(2) Princess Mary repeated.
* (2) “For heaven’s sake.”
It was evident that Prince Andrew’s ironical tone toward the pilgrims and Princess Mary’s helpless attempts to protect them were their customary long-established relations on the matter.
“Mais, ma bonne amie,” said Prince Andrew, “vous devriez au contraire m’être reconnaissante de ce que j’explique à Pierre votre intimité avec ce jeune homme.” *
me for explaining to Pierre your intimacy with this young
“Really?” said Pierre, gazing over his spectacles with curiosity and seriousness (for which Princess Mary was specially grateful to him) into Ivánushka’s face, who, seeing that she was being spoken about, looked round at them all with crafty eyes.
Princess Mary’s embarrassment on her people’s account was quite unnecessary. They were not in the least abashed. The old woman, lowering her eyes but casting side glances at the newcomers, had turned her cup upside down and placed a nibbled bit of sugar beside it, and sat quietly in her armchair, though hoping to be offered another cup of tea. Ivánushka, sipping out of her saucer, looked with sly womanish eyes from under her brows at the young men.
“Where have you been? To Kiev?” Prince Andrew asked the old woman.
“I have, good sir,” she answered garrulously. “Just at Christmastime I was deemed worthy to partake of the holy and heavenly sacrament at the shrine of the saint. And now I’m from Kolyázin, master, where a great and wonderful blessing has been revealed.”
“And was Ivánushka with you?”
“I go by myself, benefactor,” said Ivánushka, trying to speak in a bass voice. “I only came across Pelagéya in Yúkhnovo....”
Pelagéya interrupted her companion; she evidently wished to tell what she had seen.
“In Kolyázin, master, a wonderful blessing has been revealed.”
“What is it? Some new relics?” asked Prince Andrew.
“Andrew, do leave off,” said Princess Mary. “Don’t tell him, Pelagéya.”
“No... why not, my dear, why shouldn’t I? I like him. He is kind, he is one of God’s chosen, he’s a benefactor, he once gave me ten rubles, I remember. When I was in Kiev, Crazy Cyril says to me (he’s one of God’s own and goes barefoot summer and winter), he says, ‘Why are you not going to the right place? Go to Kolyázin where a wonder-working icon of the Holy Mother of God has been revealed.’ On hearing those words I said good-by to the holy folk and went.”
All were silent, only the pilgrim woman went on in measured tones, drawing in her breath.
“So I come, master, and the people say to me: ‘A great blessing has been revealed, holy oil trickles from the cheeks of our blessed Mother, the Holy Virgin Mother of God.’...”
“All right, all right, you can tell us afterwards,” said Princess Mary, flushing.
“Let me ask her,” said Pierre. “Did you see it yourselves?” he inquired.
“Oh, yes, master, I was found worthy. Such a brightness on the face like the light of heaven, and from the blessed Mother’s cheek it drops and drops....”
“But, dear me, that must be a fraud!” said Pierre, naïvely, who had listened attentively to the pilgrim.
“Oh, master, what are you saying?” exclaimed the horrified Pelagéya, turning to Princess Mary for support.
“They impose on the people,” he repeated.
“Lord Jesus Christ!” exclaimed the pilgrim woman, crossing herself. “Oh, don’t speak so, master! There was a general who did not believe, and said, ‘The monks cheat,’ and as soon as he’d said it he went blind. And he dreamed that the Holy Virgin Mother of the Kiev catacombs came to him and said, ‘Believe in me and I will make you whole.’ So he begged: ‘Take me to her, take me to her.’ It’s the real truth I’m telling you, I saw it myself. So he was brought, quite blind, straight to her, and he goes up to her and falls down and says, ‘Make me whole,’ says he, ‘and I’ll give thee what the Tsar bestowed on me.’ I saw it myself, master, the star is fixed into the icon. Well, and what do you think? He received his sight! It’s a sin to speak so. God will punish you,” she said admonishingly, turning to Pierre.
“How did the star get into the icon?” Pierre asked.
“And was the Holy Mother promoted to the rank of general?” said Prince Andrew, with a smile.
Pelagéya suddenly grew quite pale and clasped her hands.
“Oh, master, master, what a sin! And you who have a son!” she began, her pallor suddenly turning to a vivid red. “Master, what have you said? God forgive you!” And she crossed herself. “Lord forgive him! My dear, what does it mean?...” she asked, turning to Princess Mary. She got up and, almost crying, began to arrange her wallet. She evidently felt frightened and ashamed to have accepted charity in a house where such things could be said, and was at the same time sorry to have now to forgo the charity of this house.
“Now, why need you do it?” said Princess Mary. “Why did you come to me?...”
“Come, Pelagéya, I was joking,” said Pierre. “Princesse, ma parole, je n’ai pas voulu l’offenser. * I did not mean anything, I was only joking,” he said, smiling shyly and trying to efface his offense. “It was all my fault, and Andrew was only joking.”
Pelagéya stopped doubtfully, but in Pierre’s face there was such a look of sincere penitence, and Prince Andrew glanced so meekly now at her and now at Pierre, that she was gradually reassured.
The pilgrim woman was appeased and, being encouraged to talk, gave a long account of Father Amphilochus, who led so holy a life that his hands smelled of incense, and how on her last visit to Kiev some monks she knew let her have the keys of the catacombs, and how she, taking some dried bread with her, had spent two days in the catacombs with the saints. “I’d pray awhile to one, ponder awhile, then go on to another. I’d sleep a bit and then again go and kiss the relics, and there was such peace all around, such blessedness, that one don’t want to come out, even into the light of heaven again.”
Pierre listened to her attentively and seriously. Prince Andrew went out of the room, and then, leaving “God’s folk” to finish their tea, Princess Mary took Pierre into the drawing room.
“You are very kind,” she said to him.
“Oh, I really did not mean to hurt her feelings. I understand them so well and have the greatest respect for them.”
Princess Mary looked at him silently and smiled affectionately.
“I have known you a long time, you see, and am as fond of you as of a brother,” she said. “How do you find Andrew?” she added hurriedly, not giving him time to reply to her affectionate words. “I am very anxious about him. His health was better in the winter, but last spring his wound reopened and the doctor said he ought to go away for a cure. And I am also very much afraid for him spiritually. He has not a character like us women who, when we suffer, can weep away our sorrows. He keeps it all within him. Today he is cheerful and in good spirits, but that is the effect of your visit—he is not often like that. If you could persuade him to go abroad. He needs activity, and this quiet regular life is very bad for him. Others don’t notice it, but I see it.”
Toward ten o’clock the men servants rushed to the front door, hearing the bells of the old prince’s carriage approaching. Prince Andrew and Pierre also went out into the porch.
“Who’s that?” asked the old prince, noticing Pierre as he got out of the carriage.
“Ah! Very glad! Kiss me,” he said, having learned who the young stranger was.
The old prince was in a good temper and very gracious to Pierre.
Before supper, Prince Andrew, coming back to his father’s study, found him disputing hotly with his visitor. Pierre was maintaining that a time would come when there would be no more wars. The old prince disputed it chaffingly, but without getting angry.
“Drain the blood from men’s veins and put in water instead, then there will be no more war! Old women’s nonsense—old women’s nonsense!” he repeated, but still he patted Pierre affectionately on the shoulder, and then went up to the table where Prince Andrew, evidently not wishing to join in the conversation, was looking over the papers his father had brought from town. The old prince went up to him and began to talk business.
“The marshal, a Count Rostóv, hasn’t sent half his contingent. He came to town and wanted to invite me to dinner—I gave him a pretty dinner!... And there, look at this.... Well, my boy,” the old prince went on, addressing his son and patting Pierre on the shoulder. “A fine fellow—your friend—I like him! He stirs me up. Another says clever things and one doesn’t care to listen, but this one talks rubbish yet stirs an old fellow up. Well, go! Get along! Perhaps I’ll come and sit with you at supper. We’ll have another dispute. Make friends with my little fool, Princess Mary,” he shouted after Pierre, through the door.
Only now, on his visit to Bald Hills, did Pierre fully realize the strength and charm of his friendship with Prince Andrew. That charm was not expressed so much in his relations with him as with all his family and with the household. With the stern old prince and the gentle, timid Princess Mary, though he had scarcely known them, Pierre at once felt like an old friend. They were all fond of him already. Not only Princess Mary, who had been won by his gentleness with the pilgrims, gave him her most radiant looks, but even the one-year-old “Prince Nicholas” (as his grandfather called him) smiled at Pierre and let himself be taken in his arms, and Michael Ivánovich and Mademoiselle Bourienne looked at him with pleasant smiles when he talked to the old prince.
The old prince came in to supper; this was evidently on Pierre’s account. And during the two days of the young man’s visit he was extremely kind to him and told him to visit them again.
When Pierre had gone and the members of the household met together, they began to express their opinions of him as people always do after a new acquaintance has left, but as seldom happens, no one said anything but what was good of him.
When returning from his leave, Rostóv felt, for the first time, how close was the bond that united him to Denísov and the whole regiment.
On approaching it, Rostóv felt as he had done when approaching his home in Moscow. When he saw the first hussar with the unbuttoned uniform of his regiment, when he recognized red-haired Deméntyev and saw the picket ropes of the roan horses, when Lavrúshka gleefully shouted to his master, “The count has come!” and Denísov, who had been asleep on his bed, ran all disheveled out of the mud hut to embrace him, and the officers collected round to greet the new arrival, Rostóv experienced the same feeling as when his mother, his father, and his sister had embraced him, and tears of joy choked him so that he could not speak. The regiment was also a home, and as unalterably dear and precious as his parents’ house.
When he had reported himself to the commander of the regiment and had been reassigned to his former squadron, had been on duty and had gone out foraging, when he had again entered into all the little interests of the regiment and felt himself deprived of liberty and bound in one narrow, unchanging frame, he experienced the same sense of peace, of moral support, and the same sense of being at home here in his own place, as he had felt under the parental roof. But here was none of all that turmoil of the world at large, where he did not know his right place and took mistaken decisions; here was no Sónya with whom he ought, or ought not, to have an explanation; here was no possibility of going there or not going there; here there were not twenty-four hours in the day which could be spent in such a variety of ways; there was not that innumerable crowd of people of whom not one was nearer to him or farther from him than another; there were none of those uncertain and undefined money relations with his father, and nothing to recall that terrible loss to Dólokhov. Here, in the regiment, all was clear and simple. The whole world was divided into two unequal parts: one, our Pávlograd regiment; the other, all the rest. And the rest was no concern of his. In the regiment, everything was definite: who was lieutenant, who captain, who was a good fellow, who a bad one, and most of all, who was a comrade. The canteenkeeper gave one credit, one’s pay came every four months, there was nothing to think out or decide, you had only to do nothing that was considered bad in the Pávlograd regiment and, when given an order, to do what was clearly, distinctly, and definitely ordered—and all would be well.
Having once more entered into the definite conditions of this regimental life, Rostóv felt the joy and relief a tired man feels on lying down to rest. Life in the regiment, during this campaign, was all the pleasanter for him, because, after his loss to Dólokhov (for which, in spite of all his family’s efforts to console him, he could not forgive himself), he had made up his mind to atone for his fault by serving, not as he had done before, but really well, and by being a perfectly first-rate comrade and officer—in a word, a splendid man altogether, a thing which seemed so difficult out in the world, but so possible in the regiment.
After his losses, he had determined to pay back his debt to his parents in five years. He received ten thousand rubles a year, but now resolved to take only two thousand and leave the rest to repay the debt to his parents.
Our army, after repeated retreats and advances and battles at Pultúsk and Preussisch-Eylau, was concentrated near Bartenstein. It was awaiting the Emperor’s arrival and the beginning of a new campaign.
The Pávlograd regiment, belonging to that part of the army which had served in the 1805 campaign, had been recruiting up to strength in Russia, and arrived too late to take part in the first actions of the campaign. It had been neither at Pultúsk nor at Preussisch-Eylau and, when it joined the army in the field in the second half of the campaign, was attached to Plátov’s division.
Plátov’s division was acting independently of the main army. Several times parts of the Pávlograd regiment had exchanged shots with the enemy, had taken prisoners, and once had even captured Marshal Oudinot’s carriages. In April the Pávlograds were stationed immovably for some weeks near a totally ruined and deserted German village.
A thaw had set in, it was muddy and cold, the ice on the river broke, and the roads became impassable. For days neither provisions for the men nor fodder for the horses had been issued. As no transports could arrive, the men dispersed about the abandoned and deserted villages, searching for potatoes, but found few even of these.
Everything had been eaten up and the inhabitants had all fled—if any remained, they were worse than beggars and nothing more could be taken from them; even the soldiers, usually pitiless enough, instead of taking anything from them, often gave them the last of their rations.
The Pávlograd regiment had had only two men wounded in action, but had lost nearly half its men from hunger and sickness. In the hospitals, death was so certain that soldiers suffering from fever, or the swelling that came from bad food, preferred to remain on duty, and hardly able to drag their legs went to the front rather than to the hospitals. When spring came on, the soldiers found a plant just showing out of the ground that looked like asparagus, which, for some reason, they called “Máshka’s sweet root.” It was very bitter, but they wandered about the fields seeking it and dug it out with their sabers and ate it, though they were ordered not to do so, as it was a noxious plant. That spring a new disease broke out among the soldiers, a swelling of the arms, legs, and face, which the doctors attributed to eating this root. But in spite of all this, the soldiers of Denísov’s squadron fed chiefly on “Máshka’s sweet root,” because it was the second week that the last of the biscuits were being doled out at the rate of half a pound a man and the last potatoes received had sprouted and frozen.
The horses also had been fed for a fortnight on straw from the thatched roofs and had become terribly thin, though still covered with tufts of felty winter hair.
Despite this destitution, the soldiers and officers went on living just as usual. Despite their pale swollen faces and tattered uniforms, the hussars formed line for roll call, kept things in order, groomed their horses, polished their arms, brought in straw from the thatched roofs in place of fodder, and sat down to dine round the caldrons from which they rose up hungry, joking about their nasty food and their hunger. As usual, in their spare time, they lit bonfires, steamed themselves before them naked; smoked, picked out and baked sprouting rotten potatoes, told and listened to stories of Potëmkin’s and Suvórov’s campaigns, or to legends of Alësha the Sly, or the priest’s laborer Mikólka.
The officers, as usual, lived in twos and threes in the roofless, half-ruined houses. The seniors tried to collect straw and potatoes and, in general, food for the men. The younger ones occupied themselves as before, some playing cards (there was plenty of money, though there was no food), some with more innocent games, such as quoits and skittles. The general trend of the campaign was rarely spoken of, partly because nothing certain was known about it, partly because there was a vague feeling that in the main it was going badly.
Rostóv lived, as before, with Denísov, and since their furlough they had become more friendly than ever. Denísov never spoke of Rostóv’s family, but by the tender friendship his commander showed him, Rostóv felt that the elder hussar’s luckless love for Natásha played a part in strengthening their friendship. Denísov evidently tried to expose Rostóv to danger as seldom as possible, and after an action greeted his safe return with evident joy. On one of his foraging expeditions, in a deserted and ruined village to which he had come in search of provisions, Rostóv found a family consisting of an old Pole and his daughter with an infant in arms. They were half clad, hungry, too weak to get away on foot and had no means of obtaining a conveyance. Rostóv brought them to his quarters, placed them in his own lodging, and kept them for some weeks while the old man was recovering. One of his comrades, talking of women, began chaffing Rostóv, saying that he was more wily than any of them and that it would not be a bad thing if he introduced to them the pretty Polish girl he had saved. Rostóv took the joke as an insult, flared up, and said such unpleasant things to the officer that it was all Denísov could do to prevent a duel. When the officer had gone away, Denísov, who did not himself know what Rostóv’s relations with the Polish girl might be, began to upbraid him for his quickness of temper, and Rostóv replied:
“Say what you like.... She is like a sister to me, and I can’t tell you how it offended me... because... well, for that reason....”
Denísov patted him on the shoulder and began rapidly pacing the room without looking at Rostóv, as was his way at moments of deep feeling.
“Ah, what a mad bweed you Wostóvs are!” he muttered, and Rostóv noticed tears in his eyes.
In April the troops were enlivened by news of the Emperor’s arrival, but Rostóv had no chance of being present at the review he held at Bartenstein, as the Pávlograds were at the outposts far beyond that place.
They were bivouacking. Denísov and Rostóv were living in an earth hut, dug out for them by the soldiers and roofed with branches and turf. The hut was made in the following manner, which had then come into vogue. A trench was dug three and a half feet wide, four feet eight inches deep, and eight feet long. At one end of the trench, steps were cut out and these formed the entrance and vestibule. The trench itself was the room, in which the lucky ones, such as the squadron commander, had a board, lying on piles at the end opposite the entrance, to serve as a table. On each side of the trench, the earth was cut out to a breadth of about two and a half feet, and this did duty for bedsteads and couches. The roof was so constructed that one could stand up in the middle of the trench and could even sit up on the beds if one drew close to the table. Denísov, who was living luxuriously because the soldiers of his squadron liked him, had also a board in the roof at the farther end, with a piece of (broken but mended) glass in it for a window. When it was very cold, embers from the soldiers’ campfire were placed on a bent sheet of iron on the steps in the “reception room”—as Denísov called that part of the hut—and it was then so warm that the officers, of whom there were always some with Denísov and Rostóv, sat in their shirt sleeves.
In April, Rostóv was on orderly duty. One morning, between seven and eight, returning after a sleepless night, he sent for embers, changed his rain-soaked underclothes, said his prayers, drank tea, got warm, then tidied up the things on the table and in his own corner, and, his face glowing from exposure to the wind and with nothing on but his shirt, lay down on his back, putting his arms under his head. He was pleasantly considering the probability of being promoted in a few days for his last reconnoitering expedition, and was awaiting Denísov, who had gone out somewhere and with whom he wanted a talk.
Suddenly he heard Denísov shouting in a vibrating voice behind the hut, evidently much excited. Rostóv moved to the window to see whom he was speaking to, and saw the quartermaster, Topchéenko.
“I ordered you not to let them eat that Máshka woot stuff!” Denísov was shouting. “And I saw with my own eyes how Lazarchúk bwought some fwom the fields.”
“I have given the order again and again, your honor, but they don’t obey,” answered the quartermaster.
Rostóv lay down again on his bed and thought complacently: “Let him fuss and bustle now, my job’s done and I’m lying down—capitally!” He could hear that Lavrúshka—that sly, bold orderly of Denísov’s—was talking, as well as the quartermaster. Lavrúshka was saying something about loaded wagons, biscuits, and oxen he had seen when he had gone out for provisions.
Then Denísov’s voice was heard shouting farther and farther away. “Saddle! Second platoon!”
“Where are they off to now?” thought Rostóv.
Five minutes later, Denísov came into the hut, climbed with muddy boots on the bed, lit his pipe, furiously scattered his things about, took his leaded whip, buckled on his saber, and went out again. In answer to Rostóv’s inquiry where he was going, he answered vaguely and crossly that he had some business.
“Let God and our gweat monarch judge me afterwards!” said Denísov going out, and Rostóv heard the hoofs of several horses splashing through the mud. He did not even trouble to find out where Denísov had gone. Having got warm in his corner, he fell asleep and did not leave the hut till toward evening. Denísov had not yet returned. The weather had cleared up, and near the next hut two officers and a cadet were playing sváyka, laughing as they threw their missiles which buried themselves in the soft mud. Rostóv joined them. In the middle of the game, the officers saw some wagons approaching with fifteen hussars on their skinny horses behind them. The wagons escorted by the hussars drew up to the picket ropes and a crowd of hussars surrounded them.
“There now, Denísov has been worrying,” said Rostóv, “and here are the provisions.”
“So they are!” said the officers. “Won’t the soldiers be glad!”
A little behind the hussars came Denísov, accompanied by two infantry officers with whom he was talking.
Rostóv went to meet them.
“I warn you, Captain,” one of the officers, a short thin man, evidently very angry, was saying.
“Haven’t I told you I won’t give them up?” replied Denísov.
“You will answer for it, Captain. It is mutiny—seizing the transport of one’s own army. Our men have had nothing to eat for two days.”
“And mine have had nothing for two weeks,” said Denísov.
“It is robbery! You’ll answer for it, sir!” said the infantry officer, raising his voice.
“Now, what are you pestewing me for?” cried Denísov, suddenly losing his temper. “I shall answer for it and not you, and you’d better not buzz about here till you get hurt. Be off! Go!” he shouted at the officers.
“Very well, then!” shouted the little officer, undaunted and not riding away. “If you are determined to rob, I’ll...”
“Go to the devil! quick ma’ch, while you’re safe and sound!” and Denísov turned his horse on the officer.
“Very well, very well!” muttered the officer, threateningly, and turning his horse he trotted away, jolting in his saddle.
“A dog astwide a fence! A weal dog astwide a fence!” shouted Denísov after him (the most insulting expression a cavalryman can address to a mounted infantryman) and riding up to Rostóv, he burst out laughing.
“I’ve taken twansports from the infantwy by force!” he said. “After all, can’t let our men starve.”
The wagons that had reached the hussars had been consigned to an infantry regiment, but learning from Lavrúshka that the transport was unescorted, Denísov with his hussars had seized it by force. The soldiers had biscuits dealt out to them freely, and they even shared them with the other squadrons.
The next day the regimental commander sent for Denísov, and holding his fingers spread out before his eyes said:
“This is how I look at this affair: I know nothing about it and won’t begin proceedings, but I advise you to ride over to the staff and settle the business there in the commissariat department and if possible sign a receipt for such and such stores received. If not, as the demand was booked against an infantry regiment, there will be a row and the affair may end badly.”
From the regimental commander’s, Denísov rode straight to the staff with a sincere desire to act on this advice. In the evening he came back to his dugout in a state such as Rostóv had never yet seen him in. Denísov could not speak and gasped for breath. When Rostóv asked what was the matter, he only uttered some incoherent oaths and threats in a hoarse, feeble voice.
Alarmed at Denísov’s condition, Rostóv suggested that he should undress, drink some water, and send for the doctor.
“Twy me for wobbewy... oh! Some more water... Let them twy me, but I’ll always thwash scoundwels... and I’ll tell the Empewo’... Ice...” he muttered.
The regimental doctor, when he came, said it was absolutely necessary to bleed Denísov. A deep saucer of black blood was taken from his hairy arm and only then was he able to relate what had happened to him.
“I get there,” began Denísov. “‘Now then, where’s your chief’s quarters?’ They were pointed out. ‘Please to wait.’ ‘I’ve widden twenty miles and have duties to attend to and no time to wait. Announce me.’ Vewy well, so out comes their head chief—also took it into his head to lecture me: ‘It’s wobbewy!’—‘Wobbewy,’ I say, ‘is not done by man who seizes pwovisions to feed his soldiers, but by him who takes them to fill his own pockets!’ ‘Will you please be silent?’ ‘Vewy good!’ Then he says: ‘Go and give a weceipt to the commissioner, but your affair will be passed on to headquarters.’ I go to the commissioner. I enter, and at the table... who do you think? No, but wait a bit!... Who is it that’s starving us?” shouted Denísov, hitting the table with the fist of his newly bled arm so violently that the table nearly broke down and the tumblers on it jumped about. “Telyánin! ‘What? So it’s you who’s starving us to death! Is it? Take this and this!’ and I hit him so pat, stwaight on his snout... ‘Ah, what a... what a...!’ and I sta’ted fwashing him... Well, I’ve had a bit of fun I can tell you!” cried Denísov, gleeful and yet angry, his white teeth showing under his black mustache. “I’d have killed him if they hadn’t taken him away!”
“But what are you shouting for? Calm yourself,” said Rostóv. “You’ve set your arm bleeding afresh. Wait, we must tie it up again.”
Denísov was bandaged up again and put to bed. Next day he woke calm and cheerful.
But at noon the adjutant of the regiment came into Rostóv’s and Denísov’s dugout with a grave and serious face and regretfully showed them a paper addressed to Major Denísov from the regimental commander in which inquiries were made about yesterday’s occurrence. The adjutant told them that the affair was likely to take a very bad turn: that a court-martial had been appointed, and that in view of the severity with which marauding and insubordination were now regarded, degradation to the ranks would be the best that could be hoped for.
The case, as represented by the offended parties, was that, after seizing the transports, Major Denísov, being drunk, went to the chief quartermaster and without any provocation called him a thief, threatened to strike him, and on being led out had rushed into the office and given two officials a thrashing, and dislocated the arm of one of them.
In answer to Rostóv’s renewed questions, Denísov said, laughing, that he thought he remembered that some other fellow had got mixed up in it, but that it was all nonsense and rubbish, and he did not in the least fear any kind of trial, and that if those scoundrels dared attack him he would give them an answer that they would not easily forget.
Denísov spoke contemptuously of the whole matter, but Rostóv knew him too well not to detect that (while hiding it from others) at heart he feared a court-martial and was worried over the affair, which was evidently taking a bad turn. Every day, letters of inquiry and notices from the court arrived, and on the first of May, Denísov was ordered to hand the squadron over to the next in seniority and appear before the staff of his division to explain his violence at the commissariat office. On the previous day Plátov reconnoitered with two Cossack regiments and two squadrons of hussars. Denísov, as was his wont, rode out in front of the outposts, parading his courage. A bullet fired by a French sharpshooter hit him in the fleshy part of his leg. Perhaps at another time Denísov would not have left the regiment for so slight a wound, but now he took advantage of it to excuse himself from appearing at the staff and went into hospital.