In the tavern, before which stood the doctor’s covered cart, there were already some five officers. Mary Hendríkhovna, a plump little blonde German, in a dressing jacket and nightcap, was sitting on a broad bench in the front corner. Her husband, the doctor, lay asleep behind her. Rostóv and Ilyín, on entering the room, were welcomed with merry shouts and laughter.
“Dear me, how jolly we are!” said Rostóv laughing.
“And why do you stand there gaping?”
“What swells they are! Why, the water streams from them! Don’t make our drawing room so wet.”
“Don’t mess Mary Hendríkhovna’s dress!” cried other voices.
Rostóv and Ilyín hastened to find a corner where they could change into dry clothes without offending Mary Hendríkhovna’s modesty. They were going into a tiny recess behind a partition to change, but found it completely filled by three officers who sat playing cards by the light of a solitary candle on an empty box, and these officers would on no account yield their position. Mary Hendríkhovna obliged them with the loan of a petticoat to be used as a curtain, and behind that screen Rostóv and Ilyín, helped by Lavrúshka who had brought their kits, changed their wet things for dry ones.
A fire was made up in the dilapidated brick stove. A board was found, fixed on two saddles and covered with a horsecloth, a small samovar was produced and a cellaret and half a bottle of rum, and having asked Mary Hendríkhovna to preside, they all crowded round her. One offered her a clean handkerchief to wipe her charming hands, another spread a jacket under her little feet to keep them from the damp, another hung his coat over the window to keep out the draft, and yet another waved the flies off her husband’s face, lest he should wake up.
“Leave him alone,” said Mary Hendríkhovna, smiling timidly and happily. “He is sleeping well as it is, after a sleepless night.”
“Oh, no, Mary Hendríkhovna,” replied the officer, “one must look after the doctor. Perhaps he’ll take pity on me someday, when it comes to cutting off a leg or an arm for me.”
There were only three tumblers, the water was so muddy that one could not make out whether the tea was strong or weak, and the samovar held only six tumblers of water, but this made it all the pleasanter to take turns in order of seniority to receive one’s tumbler from Mary Hendríkhovna’s plump little hands with their short and not overclean nails. All the officers appeared to be, and really were, in love with her that evening. Even those playing cards behind the partition soon left their game and came over to the samovar, yielding to the general mood of courting Mary Hendríkhovna. She, seeing herself surrounded by such brilliant and polite young men, beamed with satisfaction, try as she might to hide it, and perturbed as she evidently was each time her husband moved in his sleep behind her.
There was only one spoon, sugar was more plentiful than anything else, but it took too long to dissolve, so it was decided that Mary Hendríkhovna should stir the sugar for everyone in turn. Rostóv received his tumbler, and adding some rum to it asked Mary Hendríkhovna to stir it.
“But you take it without sugar?” she said, smiling all the time, as if everything she said and everything the others said was very amusing and had a double meaning.
“It is not the sugar I want, but only that your little hand should stir my tea.”
Mary Hendríkhovna assented and began looking for the spoon which someone meanwhile had pounced on.
“Use your finger, Mary Hendríkhovna, it will be still nicer,” said Rostóv.
“Too hot!” she replied, blushing with pleasure.
Ilyín put a few drops of rum into the bucket of water and brought it to Mary Hendríkhovna, asking her to stir it with her finger.
“This is my cup,” said he. “Only dip your finger in it and I’ll drink it all up.”
When they had emptied the samovar, Rostóv took a pack of cards and proposed that they should play “Kings” with Mary Hendríkhovna. They drew lots to settle who should make up her set. At Rostóv’s suggestion it was agreed that whoever became “King” should have the right to kiss Mary Hendríkhovna’s hand, and that the “Booby” should go to refill and reheat the samovar for the doctor when the latter awoke.
“Well, but supposing Mary Hendríkhovna is ‘King’?” asked Ilyín.
“As it is, she is Queen, and her word is law!”
They had hardly begun to play before the doctor’s disheveled head suddenly appeared from behind Mary Hendríkhovna. He had been awake for some time, listening to what was being said, and evidently found nothing entertaining or amusing in what was going on. His face was sad and depressed. Without greeting the officers, he scratched himself and asked to be allowed to pass as they were blocking the way. As soon as he had left the room all the officers burst into loud laughter and Mary Hendríkhovna blushed till her eyes filled with tears and thereby became still more attractive to them. Returning from the yard, the doctor told his wife (who had ceased to smile so happily, and looked at him in alarm, awaiting her sentence) that the rain had ceased and they must go to sleep in their covered cart, or everything in it would be stolen.
“But I’ll send an orderly.... Two of them!” said Rostóv. “What an idea, doctor!”
“I’ll stand guard on it myself!” said Ilyín.
“No, gentlemen, you have had your sleep, but I have not slept for two nights,” replied the doctor, and he sat down morosely beside his wife, waiting for the game to end.
Seeing his gloomy face as he frowned at his wife, the officers grew still merrier, and some of them could not refrain from laughter, for which they hurriedly sought plausible pretexts. When he had gone, taking his wife with him, and had settled down with her in their covered cart, the officers lay down in the tavern, covering themselves with their wet cloaks, but they did not sleep for a long time; now they exchanged remarks, recalling the doctor’s uneasiness and his wife’s delight, now they ran out into the porch and reported what was taking place in the covered trap. Several times Rostóv, covering his head, tried to go to sleep, but some remark would arouse him and conversation would be resumed, to the accompaniment of unreasoning, merry, childlike laughter.
It was nearly three o’clock but no one was yet asleep, when the quartermaster appeared with an order to move on to the little town of Ostróvna. Still laughing and talking, the officers began hurriedly getting ready and again boiled some muddy water in the samovar. But Rostóv went off to his squadron without waiting for tea. Day was breaking, the rain had ceased, and the clouds were dispersing. It felt damp and cold, especially in clothes that were still moist. As they left the tavern in the twilight of the dawn, Rostóv and Ilyín both glanced under the wet and glistening leather hood of the doctor’s cart, from under the apron of which his feet were sticking out, and in the middle of which his wife’s nightcap was visible and her sleepy breathing audible.
“She really is a dear little thing,” said Rostóv to Ilyín, who was following him.
“A charming woman!” said Ilyín, with all the gravity of a boy of sixteen.
Half an hour later the squadron was lined up on the road. The command was heard to “mount” and the soldiers crossed themselves and mounted. Rostóv riding in front gave the order “Forward!” and the hussars, with clanking sabers and subdued talk, their horses’ hoofs splashing in the mud, defiled in fours and moved along the broad road planted with birch trees on each side, following the infantry and a battery that had gone on in front.
Tattered, blue-purple clouds, reddening in the east, were scudding before the wind. It was growing lighter and lighter. That curly grass which always grows by country roadsides became clearly visible, still wet with the night’s rain; the drooping branches of the birches, also wet, swayed in the wind and flung down bright drops of water to one side. The soldiers’ faces were more and more clearly visible. Rostóv, always closely followed by Ilyín, rode along the side of the road between two rows of birch trees.
When campaigning, Rostóv allowed himself the indulgence of riding not a regimental but a Cossack horse. A judge of horses and a sportsman, he had lately procured himself a large, fine, mettlesome, Donéts horse, dun-colored, with light mane and tail, and when he rode it no one could outgallop him. To ride this horse was a pleasure to him, and he thought of the horse, of the morning, of the doctor’s wife, but not once of the impending danger.
Formerly, when going into action, Rostóv had felt afraid; now he had not the least feeling of fear. He was fearless, not because he had grown used to being under fire (one cannot grow used to danger), but because he had learned how to manage his thoughts when in danger. He had grown accustomed when going into action to think about anything but what would seem most likely to interest him—the impending danger. During the first period of his service, hard as he tried and much as he reproached himself with cowardice, he had not been able to do this, but with time it had come of itself. Now he rode beside Ilyín under the birch trees, occasionally plucking leaves from a branch that met his hand, sometimes touching his horse’s side with his foot, or, without turning round, handing a pipe he had finished to an hussar riding behind him, with as calm and careless an air as though he were merely out for a ride. He glanced with pity at the excited face of Ilyín, who talked much and in great agitation. He knew from experience the tormenting expectation of terror and death the cornet was suffering and knew that only time could help him.
As soon as the sun appeared in a clear strip of sky beneath the clouds, the wind fell, as if it dared not spoil the beauty of the summer morning after the storm; drops still continued to fall, but vertically now, and all was still. The whole sun appeared on the horizon and disappeared behind a long narrow cloud that hung above it. A few minutes later it reappeared brighter still from behind the top of the cloud, tearing its edge. Everything grew bright and glittered. And with that light, and as if in reply to it, came the sound of guns ahead of them.
Before Rostóv had had time to consider and determine the distance of that firing, Count Ostermann-Tolstóy’s adjutant came galloping from Vítebsk with orders to advance at a trot along the road.
The squadron overtook and passed the infantry and the battery—which had also quickened their pace—rode down a hill, and passing through an empty and deserted village again ascended. The horses began to lather and the men to flush.
“Halt! Dress your ranks!” the order of the regimental commander was heard ahead. “Forward by the left. Walk, march!” came the order from in front.
And the hussars, passing along the line of troops on the left flank of our position, halted behind our Uhlans who were in the front line. To the right stood our infantry in a dense column: they were the reserve. Higher up the hill, on the very horizon, our guns were visible through the wonderfully clear air, brightly illuminated by slanting morning sunbeams. In front, beyond a hollow dale, could be seen the enemy’s columns and guns. Our advanced line, already in action, could be heard briskly exchanging shots with the enemy in the dale.
At these sounds, long unheard, Rostóv’s spirits rose, as at the strains of the merriest music. Trap-ta-ta-tap! cracked the shots, now together, now several quickly one after another. Again all was silent and then again it sounded as if someone were walking on detonators and exploding them.
The hussars remained in the same place for about an hour. A cannonade began. Count Ostermann with his suite rode up behind the squadron, halted, spoke to the commander of the regiment, and rode up the hill to the guns.
After Ostermann had gone, a command rang out to the Uhlans.
“Form column! Prepare to charge!”
The infantry in front of them parted into platoons to allow the cavalry to pass. The Uhlans started, the streamers on their spears fluttering, and trotted downhill toward the French cavalry which was seen below to the left.
As soon as the Uhlans descended the hill, the hussars were ordered up the hill to support the battery. As they took the places vacated by the Uhlans, bullets came from the front, whining and whistling, but fell spent without taking effect.
The sounds, which he had not heard for so long, had an even more pleasurable and exhilarating effect on Rostóv than the previous sounds of firing. Drawing himself up, he viewed the field of battle opening out before him from the hill, and with his whole soul followed the movement of the Uhlans. They swooped down close to the French dragoons, something confused happened there amid the smoke, and five minutes later our Uhlans were galloping back, not to the place they had occupied but more to the left, and among the orange-colored Uhlans on chestnut horses and behind them, in a large group, blue French dragoons on gray horses could be seen.
Rostóv, with his keen sportsman’s eye, was one of the first to catch sight of these blue French dragoons pursuing our Uhlans. Nearer and nearer in disorderly crowds came the Uhlans and the French dragoons pursuing them. He could already see how these men, who looked so small at the foot of the hill, jostled and overtook one another, waving their arms and their sabers in the air.
Rostóv gazed at what was happening before him as at a hunt. He felt instinctively that if the hussars struck at the French dragoons now, the latter could not withstand them, but if a charge was to be made it must be done now, at that very moment, or it would be too late. He looked around. A captain, standing beside him, was gazing like himself with eyes fixed on the cavalry below them.
“Andrew Sevastyánych!” said Rostóv. “You know, we could crush them....”
“A fine thing too!” replied the captain, “and really...”
Rostóv, without waiting to hear him out, touched his horse, galloped to the front of his squadron, and before he had time to finish giving the word of command, the whole squadron, sharing his feeling, was following him. Rostóv himself did not know how or why he did it. He acted as he did when hunting, without reflecting or considering. He saw the dragoons near and that they were galloping in disorder; he knew they could not withstand an attack—knew there was only that moment and that if he let it slip it would not return. The bullets were whining and whistling so stimulatingly around him and his horse was so eager to go that he could not restrain himself. He touched his horse, gave the word of command, and immediately, hearing behind him the tramp of the horses of his deployed squadron, rode at full trot downhill toward the dragoons. Hardly had they reached the bottom of the hill before their pace instinctively changed to a gallop, which grew faster and faster as they drew nearer to our Uhlans and the French dragoons who galloped after them. The dragoons were now close at hand. On seeing the hussars, the foremost began to turn, while those behind began to halt. With the same feeling with which he had galloped across the path of a wolf, Rostóv gave rein to his Donéts horse and galloped to intersect the path of the dragoons’ disordered lines. One Uhlan stopped, another who was on foot flung himself to the ground to avoid being knocked over, and a riderless horse fell in among the hussars. Nearly all the French dragoons were galloping back. Rostóv, picking out one on a gray horse, dashed after him. On the way he came upon a bush, his gallant horse cleared it, and almost before he had righted himself in his saddle he saw that he would immediately overtake the enemy he had selected. That Frenchman, by his uniform an officer, was going at a gallop, crouching on his gray horse and urging it on with his saber. In another moment Rostóv’s horse dashed its breast against the hindquarters of the officer’s horse, almost knocking it over, and at the same instant Rostóv, without knowing why, raised his saber and struck the Frenchman with it.
The instant he had done this, all Rostóv’s animation vanished. The officer fell, not so much from the blow—which had but slightly cut his arm above the elbow—as from the shock to his horse and from fright. Rostóv reined in his horse, and his eyes sought his foe to see whom he had vanquished. The French dragoon officer was hopping with one foot on the ground, the other being caught in the stirrup. His eyes, screwed up with fear as if he every moment expected another blow, gazed up at Rostóv with shrinking terror. His pale and mud-stained face—fair and young, with a dimple in the chin and light-blue eyes—was not an enemy’s face at all suited to a battlefield, but a most ordinary, homelike face. Before Rostóv had decided what to do with him, the officer cried, “I surrender!” He hurriedly but vainly tried to get his foot out of the stirrup and did not remove his frightened blue eyes from Rostóv’s face. Some hussars who galloped up disengaged his foot and helped him into the saddle. On all sides, the hussars were busy with the dragoons; one was wounded, but though his face was bleeding, he would not give up his horse; another was perched up behind an hussar with his arms round him; a third was being helped by an hussar to mount his horse. In front, the French infantry were firing as they ran. The hussars galloped hastily back with their prisoners. Rostóv galloped back with the rest, aware of an unpleasant feeling of depression in his heart. Something vague and confused, which he could not at all account for, had come over him with the capture of that officer and the blow he had dealt him.
Count Ostermann-Tolstóy met the returning hussars, sent for Rostóv, thanked him, and said he would report his gallant deed to the Emperor and would recommend him for a St. George’s Cross. When sent for by Count Ostermann, Rostóv, remembering that he had charged without orders, felt sure his commander was sending for him to punish him for breach of discipline. Ostermann’s flattering words and promise of a reward should therefore have struck him all the more pleasantly, but he still felt that same vaguely disagreeable feeling of moral nausea. “But what on earth is worrying me?” he asked himself as he rode back from the general. “Ilyín? No, he’s safe. Have I disgraced myself in any way? No, that’s not it.” Something else, resembling remorse, tormented him. “Yes, oh yes, that French officer with the dimple. And I remember how my arm paused when I raised it.”
Rostóv saw the prisoners being led away and galloped after them to have a look at his Frenchman with the dimple on his chin. He was sitting in his foreign uniform on an hussar packhorse and looked anxiously about him. The sword cut on his arm could scarcely be called a wound. He glanced at Rostóv with a feigned smile and waved his hand in greeting. Rostóv still had the same indefinite feeling, as of shame.
All that day and the next his friends and comrades noticed that Rostóv, without being dull or angry, was silent, thoughtful, and preoccupied. He drank reluctantly, tried to remain alone, and kept turning something over in his mind.
Rostóv was always thinking about that brilliant exploit of his, which to his amazement had gained him the St. George’s Cross and even given him a reputation for bravery, and there was something he could not at all understand. “So others are even more afraid than I am!” he thought. “So that’s all there is in what is called heroism! And did I do it for my country’s sake? And how was he to blame, with his dimple and blue eyes? And how frightened he was! He thought that I should kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand trembled. And they have given me a St. George’s Cross.... I can’t make it out at all.”
But while Nicholas was considering these questions and still could reach no clear solution of what puzzled him so, the wheel of fortune in the service, as often happens, turned in his favor. After the affair at Ostróvna he was brought into notice, received command of an hussar battalion, and when a brave officer was needed he was chosen.
On receiving news of Natásha’s illness, the countess, though not quite well yet and still weak, went to Moscow with Pétya and the rest of the household, and the whole family moved from Márya Dmítrievna’s house to their own and settled down in town.
Natásha’s illness was so serious that, fortunately for her and for her parents, the consideration of all that had caused the illness, her conduct and the breaking off of her engagement, receded into the background. She was so ill that it was impossible for them to consider in how far she was to blame for what had happened. She could not eat or sleep, grew visibly thinner, coughed, and, as the doctors made them feel, was in danger. They could not think of anything but how to help her. Doctors came to see her singly and in consultation, talked much in French, German, and Latin, blamed one another, and prescribed a great variety of medicines for all the diseases known to them, but the simple idea never occurred to any of them that they could not know the disease Natásha was suffering from, as no disease suffered by a live man can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine—not a disease of the lungs, liver, skin, heart, nerves, and so on mentioned in medical books, but a disease consisting of one of the innumerable combinations of the maladies of those organs. This simple thought could not occur to the doctors (as it cannot occur to a wizard that he is unable to work his charms) because the business of their lives was to cure, and they received money for it and had spent the best years of their lives on that business. But, above all, that thought was kept out of their minds by the fact that they saw they were really useful, as in fact they were to the whole Rostóv family. Their usefulness did not depend on making the patient swallow substances for the most part harmful (the harm was scarcely perceptible, as they were given in small doses), but they were useful, necessary, and indispensable because they satisfied a mental need of the invalid and of those who loved her—and that is why there are, and always will be, pseudo-healers, wise women, homeopaths, and allopaths. They satisfied that eternal human need for hope of relief, for sympathy, and that something should be done, which is felt by those who are suffering. They satisfied the need seen in its most elementary form in a child, when it wants to have a place rubbed that has been hurt. A child knocks itself and runs at once to the arms of its mother or nurse to have the aching spot rubbed or kissed, and it feels better when this is done. The child cannot believe that the strongest and wisest of its people have no remedy for its pain, and the hope of relief and the expression of its mother’s sympathy while she rubs the bump comforts it. The doctors were of use to Natásha because they kissed and rubbed her bump, assuring her that it would soon pass if only the coachman went to the chemist’s in the Arbát and got a powder and some pills in a pretty box for a ruble and seventy kopeks, and if she took those powders in boiled water at intervals of precisely two hours, neither more nor less.
What would Sónya and the count and countess have done, how would they have looked, if nothing had been done, if there had not been those pills to give by the clock, the warm drinks, the chicken cutlets, and all the other details of life ordered by the doctors, the carrying out of which supplied an occupation and consolation to the family circle? How would the count have borne his dearly loved daughter’s illness had he not known that it was costing him a thousand rubles, and that he would not grudge thousands more to benefit her, or had he not known that if her illness continued he would not grudge yet other thousands and would take her abroad for consultations there, and had he not been able to explain the details of how Métivier and Feller had not understood the symptoms, but Frise had, and Múdrov had diagnosed them even better? What would the countess have done had she not been able sometimes to scold the invalid for not strictly obeying the doctor’s orders?
“You’ll never get well like that,” she would say, forgetting her grief in her vexation, “if you won’t obey the doctor and take your medicine at the right time! You mustn’t trifle with it, you know, or it may turn to pneumonia,” she would go on, deriving much comfort from the utterance of that foreign word, incomprehensible to others as well as to herself.
What would Sónya have done without the glad consciousness that she had not undressed during the first three nights, in order to be ready to carry out all the doctor’s injunctions with precision, and that she still kept awake at night so as not to miss the proper time when the slightly harmful pills in the little gilt box had to be administered? Even to Natásha herself it was pleasant to see that so many sacrifices were being made for her sake, and to know that she had to take medicine at certain hours, though she declared that no medicine would cure her and that it was all nonsense. And it was even pleasant to be able to show, by disregarding the orders, that she did not believe in medical treatment and did not value her life.
The doctor came every day, felt her pulse, looked at her tongue, and regardless of her grief-stricken face joked with her. But when he had gone into another room, to which the countess hurriedly followed him, he assumed a grave air and thoughtfully shaking his head said that though there was danger, he had hopes of the effect of this last medicine and one must wait and see, that the malady was chiefly mental, but... And the countess, trying to conceal the action from herself and from him, slipped a gold coin into his hand and always returned to the patient with a more tranquil mind.
The symptoms of Natásha’s illness were that she ate little, slept little, coughed, and was always low-spirited. The doctors said that she could not get on without medical treatment, so they kept her in the stifling atmosphere of the town, and the Rostóvs did not move to the country that summer of 1812.
In spite of the many pills she swallowed and the drops and powders out of the little bottles and boxes of which Madame Schoss who was fond of such things made a large collection, and in spite of being deprived of the country life to which she was accustomed, youth prevailed. Natásha’s grief began to be overlaid by the impressions of daily life, it ceased to press so painfully on her heart, it gradually faded into the past, and she began to recover physically.
Natásha was calmer but no happier. She not merely avoided all external forms of pleasure—balls, promenades, concerts, and theaters—but she never laughed without a sound of tears in her laughter. She could not sing. As soon as she began to laugh, or tried to sing by herself, tears choked her: tears of remorse, tears at the recollection of those pure times which could never return, tears of vexation that she should so uselessly have ruined her young life which might have been so happy. Laughter and singing in particular seemed to her like a blasphemy, in face of her sorrow. Without any need of self-restraint, no wish to coquet ever entered her head. She said and felt at that time that no man was more to her than Nastásya Ivánovna, the buffoon. Something stood sentinel within her and forbade her every joy. Besides, she had lost all the old interests of her carefree girlish life that had been so full of hope. The previous autumn, the hunting, “Uncle,” and the Christmas holidays spent with Nicholas at Otrádnoe were what she recalled oftenest and most painfully. What would she not have given to bring back even a single day of that time! But it was gone forever. Her presentiment at the time had not deceived her—that that state of freedom and readiness for any enjoyment would not return again. Yet it was necessary to live on.
It comforted her to reflect that she was not better as she had formerly imagined, but worse, much worse, than anybody else in the world. But this was not enough. She knew that, and asked herself, “What next?” But there was nothing to come. There was no joy in life, yet life was passing. Natásha apparently tried not to be a burden or a hindrance to anyone, but wanted nothing for herself. She kept away from everyone in the house and felt at ease only with her brother Pétya. She liked to be with him better than with the others, and when alone with him she sometimes laughed. She hardly ever left the house and of those who came to see them was glad to see only one person, Pierre. It would have been impossible to treat her with more delicacy, greater care, and at the same time more seriously than did Count Bezúkhov. Natásha unconsciously felt this delicacy and so found great pleasure in his society. But she was not even grateful to him for it; nothing good on Pierre’s part seemed to her to be an effort, it seemed so natural for him to be kind to everyone that there was no merit in his kindness. Sometimes Natásha noticed embarrassment and awkwardness on his part in her presence, especially when he wanted to do something to please her, or feared that something they spoke of would awaken memories distressing to her. She noticed this and attributed it to his general kindness and shyness, which she imagined must be the same toward everyone as it was to her. After those involuntary words—that if he were free he would have asked on his knees for her hand and her love—uttered at a moment when she was so strongly agitated, Pierre never spoke to Natásha of his feelings; and it seemed plain to her that those words, which had then so comforted her, were spoken as all sorts of meaningless words are spoken to comfort a crying child. It was not because Pierre was a married man, but because Natásha felt very strongly with him that moral barrier the absence of which she had experienced with Kurágin that it never entered her head that the relations between him and herself could lead to love on her part, still less on his, or even to the kind of tender, self-conscious, romantic friendship between a man and a woman of which she had known several instances.
Before the end of the fast of St. Peter, Agraféna Ivánovna Belóva, a country neighbor of the Rostóvs, came to Moscow to pay her devotions at the shrines of the Moscow saints. She suggested that Natásha should fast and prepare for Holy Communion, and Natásha gladly welcomed the idea. Despite the doctor’s orders that she should not go out early in the morning, Natásha insisted on fasting and preparing for the sacrament, not as they generally prepared for it in the Rostóv family by attending three services in their own house, but as Agraféna Ivánovna did, by going to church every day for a week and not once missing Vespers, Matins, or Mass.
The countess was pleased with Natásha’s zeal; after the poor results of the medical treatment, in the depths of her heart she hoped that prayer might help her daughter more than medicines and, though not without fear and concealing it from the doctor, she agreed to Natásha’s wish and entrusted her to Belóva. Agraféna Ivánovna used to come to wake Natásha at three in the morning, but generally found her already awake. She was afraid of being late for Matins. Hastily washing, and meekly putting on her shabbiest dress and an old mantilla, Natásha, shivering in the fresh air, went out into the deserted streets lit by the clear light of dawn. By Agraféna Ivánovna’s advice Natásha prepared herself not in their own parish, but at a church where, according to the devout Agraféna Ivánovna, the priest was a man of very severe and lofty life. There were never many people in the church; Natásha always stood beside Belóva in the customary place before an icon of the Blessed Virgin, let into the screen before the choir on the left side, and a feeling, new to her, of humility before something great and incomprehensible, seized her when at that unusual morning hour, gazing at the dark face of the Virgin illuminated by the candles burning before it and by the morning light falling from the window, she listened to the words of the service which she tried to follow with understanding. When she understood them her personal feeling became interwoven in the prayers with shades of its own. When she did not understand, it was sweeter still to think that the wish to understand everything is pride, that it is impossible to understand all, that it is only necessary to believe and to commit oneself to God, whom she felt guiding her soul at those moments. She crossed herself, bowed low, and when she did not understand, in horror at her own vileness, simply asked God to forgive her everything, everything, to have mercy upon her. The prayers to which she surrendered herself most of all were those of repentance. On her way home at an early hour when she met no one but bricklayers going to work or men sweeping the street, and everybody within the houses was still asleep, Natásha experienced a feeling new to her, a sense of the possibility of correcting her faults, the possibility of a new, clean life, and of happiness.
During the whole week she spent in this way, that feeling grew every day. And the happiness of taking communion, or “communing” as Agraféna Ivánovna, joyously playing with the word, called it, seemed to Natásha so great that she felt she should never live till that blessed Sunday.
But the happy day came, and on that memorable Sunday, when, dressed in white muslin, she returned home after communion, for the first time for many months she felt calm and not oppressed by the thought of the life that lay before her.
The doctor who came to see her that day ordered her to continue the powders he had prescribed a fortnight previously.
“She must certainly go on taking them morning and evening,” said he, evidently sincerely satisfied with his success. “Only, please be particular about it.
“Be quite easy,” he continued playfully, as he adroitly took the gold coin in his palm. “She will soon be singing and frolicking about. The last medicine has done her a very great deal of good. She has freshened up very much.”
The countess, with a cheerful expression on her face, looked down at her nails and spat a little for luck as she returned to the drawing room.
At the beginning of July more and more disquieting reports about the war began to spread in Moscow; people spoke of an appeal by the Emperor to the people, and of his coming himself from the army to Moscow. And as up to the eleventh of July no manifesto or appeal had been received, exaggerated reports became current about them and about the position of Russia. It was said that the Emperor was leaving the army because it was in danger, it was said that Smolénsk had surrendered, that Napoleon had an army of a million and only a miracle could save Russia.
On the eleventh of July, which was Saturday, the manifesto was received but was not yet in print, and Pierre, who was at the Rostóvs’, promised to come to dinner next day, Sunday, and bring a copy of the manifesto and appeal, which he would obtain from Count Rostopchín.
That Sunday, the Rostóvs went to Mass at the Razumóvskis’ private chapel as usual. It was a hot July day. Even at ten o’clock, when the Rostóvs got out of their carriage at the chapel, the sultry air, the shouts of hawkers, the light and gay summer clothes of the crowd, the dusty leaves of the trees on the boulevard, the sounds of the band and the white trousers of a battalion marching to parade, the rattling of wheels on the cobblestones, and the brilliant, hot sunshine were all full of that summer languor, that content and discontent with the present, which is most strongly felt on a bright, hot day in town. All the Moscow notabilities, all the Rostóvs’ acquaintances, were at the Razumóvskis’ chapel, for, as if expecting something to happen, many wealthy families who usually left town for their country estates had not gone away that summer. As Natásha, at her mother’s side, passed through the crowd behind a liveried footman who cleared the way for them, she heard a young man speaking about her in too loud a whisper.
“That’s Rostóva, the one who...”
“She’s much thinner, but all the same she’s pretty!”
She heard, or thought she heard, the names of Kurágin and Bolkónski. But she was always imagining that. It always seemed to her that everyone who looked at her was thinking only of what had happened to her. With a sinking heart, wretched as she always was now when she found herself in a crowd, Natásha in her lilac silk dress trimmed with black lace walked—as women can walk—with the more repose and stateliness the greater the pain and shame in her soul. She knew for certain that she was pretty, but this no longer gave her satisfaction as it used to. On the contrary it tormented her more than anything else of late, and particularly so on this bright, hot summer day in town. “It’s Sunday again—another week past,” she thought, recalling that she had been here the Sunday before, “and always the same life that is no life, and the same surroundings in which it used to be so easy to live. I’m pretty, I’m young, and I know that now I am good. I used to be bad, but now I know I am good,” she thought, “but yet my best years are slipping by and are no good to anyone.” She stood by her mother’s side and exchanged nods with acquaintances near her. From habit she scrutinized the ladies’ dresses, condemned the bearing of a lady standing close by who was not crossing herself properly but in a cramped manner, and again she thought with vexation that she was herself being judged and was judging others, and suddenly, at the sound of the service, she felt horrified at her own vileness, horrified that the former purity of her soul was again lost to her.
A comely, fresh-looking old man was conducting the service with that mild solemnity which has so elevating and soothing an effect on the souls of the worshipers. The gates of the sanctuary screen were closed, the curtain was slowly drawn, and from behind it a soft mysterious voice pronounced some words. Tears, the cause of which she herself did not understand, made Natásha’s breast heave, and a joyous but oppressive feeling agitated her.
“Teach me what I should do, how to live my life, how I may grow good forever, forever!” she pleaded.
The deacon came out onto the raised space before the altar screen and, holding his thumb extended, drew his long hair from under his dalmatic and, making the sign of the cross on his breast, began in a loud and solemn voice to recite the words of the prayer....
“In peace let us pray unto the Lord.”
“As one community, without distinction of class, without enmity, united by brotherly love—let us pray!” thought Natásha.
“For the peace that is from above, and for the salvation of our souls.”
“For the world of angels and all the spirits who dwell above us,” prayed Natásha.
When they prayed for the warriors, she thought of her brother and Denísov. When they prayed for all traveling by land and sea, she remembered Prince Andrew, prayed for him, and asked God to forgive her all the wrongs she had done him. When they prayed for those who love us, she prayed for the members of her own family, her father and mother and Sónya, realizing for the first time how wrongly she had acted toward them, and feeling all the strength of her love for them. When they prayed for those who hate us, she tried to think of her enemies and people who hated her, in order to pray for them. She included among her enemies the creditors and all who had business dealings with her father, and always at the thought of enemies and those who hated her she remembered Anatole who had done her so much harm—and though he did not hate her she gladly prayed for him as for an enemy. Only at prayer did she feel able to think clearly and calmly of Prince Andrew and Anatole, as men for whom her feelings were as nothing compared with her awe and devotion to God. When they prayed for the Imperial family and the Synod, she bowed very low and made the sign of the cross, saying to herself that even if she did not understand, still she could not doubt, and at any rate loved the governing Synod and prayed for it.
When he had finished the Litany the deacon crossed the stole over his breast and said, “Let us commit ourselves and our whole lives to Christ the Lord!”
“Commit ourselves to God,” Natásha inwardly repeated. “Lord God, I submit myself to Thy will!” she thought. “I want nothing, wish for nothing; teach me what to do and how to use my will! Take me, take me!” prayed Natásha, with impatient emotion in her heart, not crossing herself but letting her slender arms hang down as if expecting some invisible power at any moment to take her and deliver her from herself, from her regrets, desires, remorse, hopes, and sins.
The countess looked round several times at her daughter’s softened face and shining eyes and prayed God to help her.
Unexpectedly, in the middle of the service, and not in the usual order Natásha knew so well, the deacon brought out a small stool, the one he knelt on when praying on Trinity Sunday, and placed it before the doors of the sanctuary screen. The priest came out with his purple velvet biretta on his head, adjusted his hair, and knelt down with an effort. Everybody followed his example and they looked at one another in surprise. Then came the prayer just received from the Synod—a prayer for the deliverance of Russia from hostile invasion.
“Lord God of might, God of our salvation!” began the priest in that voice, clear, not grandiloquent but mild, in which only the Slav clergy read and which acts so irresistibly on a Russian heart.
“Lord God of might, God of our salvation! Look this day in mercy and blessing on Thy humble people, and graciously hear us, spare us, and have mercy upon us! This foe confounding Thy land, desiring to lay waste the whole world, rises against us; these lawless men are gathered together to overthrow Thy kingdom, to destroy Thy dear Jerusalem, Thy beloved Russia; to defile Thy temples, to overthrow Thine altars, and to desecrate our holy shrines. How long, O Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they wield unlawful power?
“Lord God! Hear us when we pray to Thee; strengthen with Thy might our most gracious sovereign lord, the Emperor Alexander Pávlovich; be mindful of his uprightness and meekness, reward him according to his righteousness, and let it preserve us, Thy chosen Israel! Bless his counsels, his undertakings, and his work; strengthen his kingdom by Thine almighty hand, and give him victory over his enemy, even as Thou gavest Moses the victory over Amalek, Gideon over Midian, and David over Goliath. Preserve his army, put a bow of brass in the hands of those who have armed themselves in Thy Name, and gird their loins with strength for the fight. Take up the spear and shield and arise to help us; confound and put to shame those who have devised evil against us, may they be before the faces of Thy faithful warriors as dust before the wind, and may Thy mighty Angel confound them and put them to flight; may they be ensnared when they know it not, and may the plots they have laid in secret be turned against them; let them fall before Thy servants’ feet and be laid low by our hosts! Lord, Thou art able to save both great and small; Thou art God, and man cannot prevail against Thee!
“God of our fathers! Remember Thy bounteous mercy and loving-kindness which are from of old; turn not Thy face from us, but be gracious to our unworthiness, and in Thy great goodness and Thy many mercies regard not our transgressions and iniquities! Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us, strengthen us all in Thy faith, fortify our hope, inspire us with true love one for another, arm us with unity of spirit in the righteous defense of the heritage Thou gavest to us and to our fathers, and let not the scepter of the wicked be exalted against the destiny of those Thou hast sanctified.
“O Lord our God, in whom we believe and in whom we put our trust, let us not be confounded in our hope of Thy mercy, and give us a token of Thy blessing, that those who hate us and our Orthodox faith may see it and be put to shame and perish, and may all the nations know that Thou art the Lord and we are Thy people. Show Thy mercy upon us this day, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation; make the hearts of Thy servants to rejoice in Thy mercy; smite down our enemies and destroy them swiftly beneath the feet of Thy faithful servants! For Thou art the defense, the succor, and the victory of them that put their trust in Thee, and to Thee be all glory, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and forever, world without end. Amen.”
In Natásha’s receptive condition of soul this prayer affected her strongly. She listened to every word about the victory of Moses over Amalek, of Gideon over Midian, and of David over Goliath, and about the destruction of “Thy Jerusalem,” and she prayed to God with the tenderness and emotion with which her heart was overflowing, but without fully understanding what she was asking of God in that prayer. She shared with all her heart in the prayer for the spirit of righteousness, for the strengthening of the heart by faith and hope, and its animation by love. But she could not pray that her enemies might be trampled under foot when but a few minutes before she had been wishing she had more of them that she might pray for them. But neither could she doubt the righteousness of the prayer that was being read on bended knees. She felt in her heart a devout and tremulous awe at the thought of the punishment that overtakes men for their sins, and especially of her own sins, and she prayed to God to forgive them all, and her too, and to give them all, and her too, peace and happiness. And it seemed to her that God heard her prayer.