In the middle of this fresh tale Pierre was summoned to the commander in chief.
When he entered the private room Count Rostopchín, puckering his face, was rubbing his forehead and eyes with his hand. A short man was saying something, but when Pierre entered he stopped speaking and went out.
“Ah, how do you do, great warrior?” said Rostopchín as soon as the short man had left the room. “We have heard of your prowess. But that’s not the point. Between ourselves, mon cher, do you belong to the Masons?” he went on severely, as though there were something wrong about it which he nevertheless intended to pardon. Pierre remained silent. “I am well informed, my friend, but I am aware that there are Masons and I hope that you are not one of those who on pretense of saving mankind wish to ruin Russia.”
“Yes, I am a Mason,” Pierre replied.
“There, you see, mon cher! I expect you know that Messrs. Speránski and Magnítski have been deported to their proper place. Mr. Klyucharëv has been treated in the same way, and so have others who on the plea of building up the temple of Solomon have tried to destroy the temple of their fatherland. You can understand that there are reasons for this and that I could not have exiled the Postmaster had he not been a harmful person. It has now come to my knowledge that you lent him your carriage for his removal from town, and that you have even accepted papers from him for safe custody. I like you and don’t wish you any harm and—as you are only half my age—I advise you, as a father would, to cease all communication with men of that stamp and to leave here as soon as possible.”
“But what did Klyucharëv do wrong, Count?” asked Pierre.
“That is for me to know, but not for you to ask,” shouted Rostopchín.
“If he is accused of circulating Napoleon’s proclamation it is not proved that he did so,” said Pierre without looking at Rostopchín, “and Vereshchágin...”
“There we are!” Rostopchín shouted at Pierre louder than before, frowning suddenly. “Vereshchágin is a renegade and a traitor who will be punished as he deserves,” said he with the vindictive heat with which people speak when recalling an insult. “But I did not summon you to discuss my actions, but to give you advice—or an order if you prefer it. I beg you to leave the town and break off all communication with such men as Klyucharëv. And I will knock the nonsense out of anybody”—but probably realizing that he was shouting at Bezúkhov who so far was not guilty of anything, he added, taking Pierre’s hand in a friendly manner, “We are on the eve of a public disaster and I haven’t time to be polite to everybody who has business with me. My head is sometimes in a whirl. Well, mon cher, what are you doing personally?”
“Why, nothing,” answered Pierre without raising his eyes or changing the thoughtful expression of his face.
The count frowned.
“A word of friendly advice, mon cher. Be off as soon as you can, that’s all I have to tell you. Happy he who has ears to hear. Good-by, my dear fellow. Oh, by the by!” he shouted through the doorway after Pierre, “is it true that the countess has fallen into the clutches of the holy fathers of the Society of Jesus?”
Pierre did not answer and left Rostopchín’s room more sullen and angry than he had ever before shown himself.
When he reached home it was already getting dark. Some eight people had come to see him that evening: the secretary of a committee, the colonel of his battalion, his steward, his major-domo, and various petitioners. They all had business with Pierre and wanted decisions from him. Pierre did not understand and was not interested in any of these questions and only answered them in order to get rid of these people. When left alone at last he opened and read his wife’s letter.
“They, the soldiers at the battery, Prince Andrew killed... that old man... Simplicity is submission to God. Suffering is necessary... the meaning of all... one must harness... my wife is getting married... One must forget and understand...” And going to his bed he threw himself on it without undressing and immediately fell asleep.
When he awoke next morning the major-domo came to inform him that a special messenger, a police officer, had come from Count Rostopchín to know whether Count Bezúkhov had left or was leaving the town.
A dozen persons who had business with Pierre were awaiting him in the drawing room. Pierre dressed hurriedly and, instead of going to see them, went to the back porch and out through the gate.
From that time till the end of the destruction of Moscow no one of Bezúkhov’s household, despite all the search they made, saw Pierre again or knew where he was.
The Rostóvs remained in Moscow till the first of September, that is, till the eve of the enemy’s entry into the city.
After Pétya had joined Obolénski’s regiment of Cossacks and left for Bélaya Tsérkov where that regiment was forming, the countess was seized with terror. The thought that both her sons were at the war, had both gone from under her wing, that today or tomorrow either or both of them might be killed like the three sons of one of her acquaintances, struck her that summer for the first time with cruel clearness. She tried to get Nicholas back and wished to go herself to join Pétya, or to get him an appointment somewhere in Petersburg, but neither of these proved possible. Pétya could not return unless his regiment did so or unless he was transferred to another regiment on active service. Nicholas was somewhere with the army and had not sent a word since his last letter, in which he had given a detailed account of his meeting with Princess Mary. The countess did not sleep at night, or when she did fall asleep dreamed that she saw her sons lying dead. After many consultations and conversations, the count at last devised means to tranquillize her. He got Pétya transferred from Obolénski’s regiment to Bezúkhov’s, which was in training near Moscow. Though Pétya would remain in the service, this transfer would give the countess the consolation of seeing at least one of her sons under her wing, and she hoped to arrange matters for her Pétya so as not to let him go again, but always get him appointed to places where he could not possibly take part in a battle. As long as Nicholas alone was in danger the countess imagined that she loved her first-born more than all her other children and even reproached herself for it; but when her youngest: the scapegrace who had been bad at lessons, was always breaking things in the house and making himself a nuisance to everybody, that snub-nosed Pétya with his merry black eyes and fresh rosy cheeks where soft down was just beginning to show—when he was thrown amid those big, dreadful, cruel men who were fighting somewhere about something and apparently finding pleasure in it—then his mother thought she loved him more, much more, than all her other children. The nearer the time came for Pétya to return, the more uneasy grew the countess. She began to think she would never live to see such happiness. The presence of Sónya, of her beloved Natásha, or even of her husband irritated her. “What do I want with them? I want no one but Pétya,” she thought.
At the end of August the Rostóvs received another letter from Nicholas. He wrote from the province of Vorónezh where he had been sent to procure remounts, but that letter did not set the countess at ease. Knowing that one son was out of danger she became the more anxious about Pétya.
Though by the twentieth of August nearly all the Rostóvs’ acquaintances had left Moscow, and though everybody tried to persuade the countess to get away as quickly as possible, she would not hear of leaving before her treasure, her adored Pétya, returned. On the twenty-eighth of August he arrived. The passionate tenderness with which his mother received him did not please the sixteen-year-old officer. Though she concealed from him her intention of keeping him under her wing, Pétya guessed her designs, and instinctively fearing that he might give way to emotion when with her—might “become womanish” as he termed it to himself—he treated her coldly, avoided her, and during his stay in Moscow attached himself exclusively to Natásha for whom he had always had a particularly brotherly tenderness, almost lover-like.
Owing to the count’s customary carelessness nothing was ready for their departure by the twenty-eighth of August and the carts that were to come from their Ryazán and Moscow estates to remove their household belongings did not arrive till the thirtieth.
From the twenty-eighth till the thirty-first all Moscow was in a bustle and commotion. Every day thousands of men wounded at Borodinó were brought in by the Dorogomílov gate and taken to various parts of Moscow, and thousands of carts conveyed the inhabitants and their possessions out by the other gates. In spite of Rostopchín’s broadsheets, or because of them or independently of them, the strangest and most contradictory rumors were current in the town. Some said that no one was to be allowed to leave the city, others on the contrary said that all the icons had been taken out of the churches and everybody was to be ordered to leave. Some said there had been another battle after Borodinó at which the French had been routed, while others on the contrary reported that the Russian army had been destroyed. Some talked about the Moscow militia which, preceded by the clergy, would go to the Three Hills; others whispered that Augustin had been forbidden to leave, that traitors had been seized, that the peasants were rioting and robbing people on their way from Moscow, and so on. But all this was only talk; in reality (though the Council of Filí, at which it was decided to abandon Moscow, had not yet been held) both those who went away and those who remained behind felt, though they did not show it, that Moscow would certainly be abandoned, and that they ought to get away as quickly as possible and save their belongings. It was felt that everything would suddenly break up and change, but up to the first of September nothing had done so. As a criminal who is being led to execution knows that he must die immediately, but yet looks about him and straightens the cap that is awry on his head, so Moscow involuntarily continued its wonted life, though it knew that the time of its destruction was near when the conditions of life to which its people were accustomed to submit would be completely upset.
During the three days preceding the occupation of Moscow the whole Rostóv family was absorbed in various activities. The head of the family, Count Ilyá Rostóv, continually drove about the city collecting the current rumors from all sides and gave superficial and hasty orders at home about the preparations for their departure.
The countess watched the things being packed, was dissatisfied with everything, was constantly in pursuit of Pétya who was always running away from her, and was jealous of Natásha with whom he spent all his time. Sónya alone directed the practical side of matters by getting things packed. But of late Sónya had been particularly sad and silent. Nicholas’ letter in which he mentioned Princess Mary had elicited, in her presence, joyous comments from the countess, who saw an intervention of Providence in this meeting of the princess and Nicholas.
“I was never pleased at Bolkónski’s engagement to Natásha,” said the countess, “but I always wanted Nicholas to marry the princess, and had a presentiment that it would happen. What a good thing it would be!”
Sónya felt that this was true: that the only possibility of retrieving the Rostóvs’ affairs was by Nicholas marrying a rich woman, and that the princess was a good match. It was very bitter for her. But despite her grief, or perhaps just because of it, she took on herself all the difficult work of directing the storing and packing of their things and was busy for whole days. The count and countess turned to her when they had any orders to give. Pétya and Natásha on the contrary, far from helping their parents, were generally a nuisance and a hindrance to everyone. Almost all day long the house resounded with their running feet, their cries, and their spontaneous laughter. They laughed and were gay not because there was any reason to laugh, but because gaiety and mirth were in their hearts and so everything that happened was a cause for gaiety and laughter to them. Pétya was in high spirits because having left home a boy he had returned (as everybody told him) a fine young man, because he was at home, because he had left Bélaya Tsérkov where there was no hope of soon taking part in a battle and had come to Moscow where there was to be fighting in a few days, and chiefly because Natásha, whose lead he always followed, was in high spirits. Natásha was gay because she had been sad too long and now nothing reminded her of the cause of her sadness, and because she was feeling well. She was also happy because she had someone to adore her: the adoration of others was a lubricant the wheels of her machine needed to make them run freely—and Pétya adored her. Above all, they were gay because there was a war near Moscow, there would be fighting at the town gates, arms were being given out, everybody was escaping—going away somewhere, and in general something extraordinary was happening, and that is always exciting, especially to the young.
On Saturday, the thirty-first of August, everything in the Rostóvs’ house seemed topsy-turvy. All the doors were open, all the furniture was being carried out or moved about, and the mirrors and pictures had been taken down. There were trunks in the rooms, and hay, wrapping paper, and ropes were scattered about. The peasants and house serfs carrying out the things were treading heavily on the parquet floors. The yard was crowded with peasant carts, some loaded high and already corded up, others still empty.
The voices and footsteps of the many servants and of the peasants who had come with the carts resounded as they shouted to one another in the yard and in the house. The count had been out since morning. The countess had a headache brought on by all the noise and turmoil and was lying down in the new sitting room with a vinegar compress on her head. Pétya was not at home, he had gone to visit a friend with whom he meant to obtain a transfer from the militia to the active army. Sónya was in the ballroom looking after the packing of the glass and china. Natásha was sitting on the floor of her dismantled room with dresses, ribbons, and scarves strewn all about her, gazing fixedly at the floor and holding in her hands the old ball dress (already out of fashion) which she had worn at her first Petersburg ball.
Natásha was ashamed of doing nothing when everyone else was so busy, and several times that morning had tried to set to work, but her heart was not in it, and she could not and did not know how to do anything except with all her heart and all her might. For a while she had stood beside Sónya while the china was being packed and tried to help, but soon gave it up and went to her room to pack her own things. At first she found it amusing to give away dresses and ribbons to the maids, but when that was done and what was left had still to be packed, she found it dull.
“Dunyásha, you pack! You will, won’t you, dear?” And when Dunyásha willingly promised to do it all for her, Natásha sat down on the floor, took her old ball dress, and fell into a reverie quite unrelated to what ought to have occupied her thoughts now. She was roused from her reverie by the talk of the maids in the next room (which was theirs) and by the sound of their hurried footsteps going to the back porch. Natásha got up and looked out of the window. An enormously long row of carts full of wounded men had stopped in the street.
The housekeeper, the old nurse, the cooks, coachmen, maids, footmen, postilions, and scullions stood at the gate, staring at the wounded.
Natásha, throwing a clean pocket handkerchief over her hair and holding an end of it in each hand, went out into the street.
The former housekeeper, old Mávra Kuzmínichna, had stepped out of the crowd by the gate, gone up to a cart with a hood constructed of bast mats, and was speaking to a pale young officer who lay inside. Natásha moved a few steps forward and stopped shyly, still holding her handkerchief, and listened to what the housekeeper was saying.
“Then you have nobody in Moscow?” she was saying. “You would be more comfortable somewhere in a house... in ours, for instance... the family are leaving.”
“I don’t know if it would be allowed,” replied the officer in a weak voice. “Here is our commanding officer... ask him,” and he pointed to a stout major who was walking back along the street past the row of carts.
Natásha glanced with frightened eyes at the face of the wounded officer and at once went to meet the major.
“May the wounded men stay in our house?” she asked.
The major raised his hand to his cap with a smile.
“Which one do you want, Ma’am’selle?” said he, screwing up his eyes and smiling.
Natásha quietly repeated her question, and her face and whole manner were so serious, though she was still holding the ends of her handkerchief, that the major ceased smiling and after some reflection—as if considering in how far the thing was possible—replied in the affirmative.
“Oh yes, why not? They may,” he said.
With a slight inclination of her head, Natásha stepped back quickly to Mávra Kuzmínichna, who stood talking compassionately to the officer.
“They may. He says they may!” whispered Natásha.
The cart in which the officer lay was turned into the Rostóvs’ yard, and dozens of carts with wounded men began at the invitation of the townsfolk to turn into the yards and to draw up at the entrances of the houses in Povarskáya Street. Natásha was evidently pleased to be dealing with new people outside the ordinary routine of her life. She and Mávra Kuzmínichna tried to get as many of the wounded as possible into their yard.
“Your Papa must be told, though,” said Mávra Kuzmínichna.
“Never mind, never mind, what does it matter? For one day we can move into the drawing room. They can have all our half of the house.”
“There now, young lady, you do take things into your head! Even if we put them into the wing, the men’s room, or the nurse’s room, we must ask permission.”
“Well, I’ll ask.”
Natásha ran into the house and went on tiptoe through the half-open door into the sitting room, where there was a smell of vinegar and Hoffman’s drops.
“Are you asleep, Mamma?”
“Oh, what sleep—?” said the countess, waking up just as she was dropping into a doze.
“Mamma darling!” said Natásha, kneeling by her mother and bringing her face close to her mother’s, “I am sorry, forgive me, I’ll never do it again; I woke you up! Mávra Kuzmínichna has sent me: they have brought some wounded here—officers. Will you let them come? They have nowhere to go. I knew you’d let them come!” she said quickly all in one breath.
“What officers? Whom have they brought? I don’t understand anything about it,” said the countess.
Natásha laughed, and the countess too smiled slightly.
“I knew you’d give permission... so I’ll tell them,” and, having kissed her mother, Natásha got up and went to the door.
In the hall she met her father, who had returned with bad news.
“We’ve stayed too long!” said the count with involuntary vexation. “The Club is closed and the police are leaving.”
“Papa, is it all right—I’ve invited some of the wounded into the house?” said Natásha.
“Of course it is,” he answered absently. “That’s not the point. I beg you not to indulge in trifles now, but to help to pack, and tomorrow we must go, go, go!...”
And the count gave a similar order to the major-domo and the servants.
At dinner Pétya having returned home told them the news he had heard. He said the people had been getting arms in the Krémlin, and that though Rostopchín’s broadsheet had said that he would sound a call two or three days in advance, the order had certainly already been given for everyone to go armed to the Three Hills tomorrow, and that there would be a big battle there.
The countess looked with timid horror at her son’s eager, excited face as he said this. She realized that if she said a word about his not going to the battle (she knew he enjoyed the thought of the impending engagement) he would say something about men, honor, and the fatherland—something senseless, masculine, and obstinate which there would be no contradicting, and her plans would be spoiled; and so, hoping to arrange to leave before then and take Pétya with her as their protector and defender, she did not answer him, but after dinner called the count aside and implored him with tears to take her away quickly, that very night if possible. With a woman’s involuntary loving cunning she, who till then had not shown any alarm, said that she would die of fright if they did not leave that very night. Without any pretense she was now afraid of everything.
Madame Schoss, who had been out to visit her daughter, increased the countess’ fears still more by telling what she had seen at a spirit dealer’s in Myasnítski Street. When returning by that street she had been unable to pass because of a drunken crowd rioting in front of the shop. She had taken a cab and driven home by a side street and the cabman had told her that the people were breaking open the barrels at the drink store, having received orders to do so.
After dinner the whole Rostóv household set to work with enthusiastic haste packing their belongings and preparing for their departure. The old count, suddenly setting to work, kept passing from the yard to the house and back again, shouting confused instructions to the hurrying people, and flurrying them still more. Pétya directed things in the yard. Sónya, owing to the count’s contradictory orders, lost her head and did not know what to do. The servants ran noisily about the house and yard, shouting and disputing. Natásha, with the ardor characteristic of all she did suddenly set to work too. At first her intervention in the business of packing was received skeptically. Everybody expected some prank from her and did not wish to obey her; but she resolutely and passionately demanded obedience, grew angry and nearly cried because they did not heed her, and at last succeeded in making them believe her. Her first exploit, which cost her immense effort and established her authority, was the packing of the carpets. The count had valuable Gobelin tapestries and Persian carpets in the house. When Natásha set to work two cases were standing open in the ballroom, one almost full up with crockery, the other with carpets. There was also much china standing on the tables, and still more was being brought in from the storeroom. A third case was needed and servants had gone to fetch it.
“Sónya, wait a bit—we’ll pack everything into these,” said Natásha.
“You can’t, Miss, we have tried to,” said the butler’s assistant.
“No, wait a minute, please.”
And Natásha began rapidly taking out of the case dishes and plates wrapped in paper.
“The dishes must go in here among the carpets,” said she.
“Why, it’s a mercy if we can get the carpets alone into three cases,” said the butler’s assistant.
“Oh, wait, please!” And Natásha began rapidly and deftly sorting out the things. “These aren’t needed,” said she, putting aside some plates of Kiev ware. “These—yes, these must go among the carpets,” she said, referring to the Saxony china dishes.
“Don’t, Natásha! Leave it alone! We’ll get it all packed,” urged Sónya reproachfully.
“What a young lady she is!” remarked the major-domo.
But Natásha would not give in. She turned everything out and began quickly repacking, deciding that the inferior Russian carpets and unnecessary crockery should not be taken at all. When everything had been taken out of the cases, they recommenced packing, and it turned out that when the cheaper things not worth taking had nearly all been rejected, the valuable ones really did all go into the two cases. Only the lid of the case containing the carpets would not shut down. A few more things might have been taken out, but Natásha insisted on having her own way. She packed, repacked, pressed, made the butler’s assistant and Pétya—whom she had drawn into the business of packing—press on the lid, and made desperate efforts herself.
“That’s enough, Natásha,” said Sónya. “I see you were right, but just take out the top one.”
“I won’t!” cried Natásha, with one hand holding back the hair that hung over her perspiring face, while with the other she pressed down the carpets. “Now press, Pétya! Press, Vasílich, press hard!” she cried.
The carpets yielded and the lid closed; Natásha, clapping her hands, screamed with delight and tears fell from her eyes. But this only lasted a moment. She at once set to work afresh and they now trusted her completely. The count was not angry even when they told him that Natásha had countermanded an order of his, and the servants now came to her to ask whether a cart was sufficiently loaded, and whether it might be corded up. Thanks to Natásha’s directions the work now went on expeditiously, unnecessary things were left, and the most valuable packed as compactly as possible.
But hard as they all worked till quite late that night, they could not get everything packed. The countess had fallen asleep and the count, having put off their departure till next morning, went to bed.
Sónya and Natásha slept in the sitting room without undressing.
That night another wounded man was driven down the Povarskáya, and Mávra Kuzmínichna, who was standing at the gate, had him brought into the Rostóvs’ yard. Mávra Kuzmínichna concluded that he was a very important man. He was being conveyed in a calèche with a raised hood, and was quite covered by an apron. On the box beside the driver sat a venerable old attendant. A doctor and two soldiers followed the carriage in a cart.
“Please come in here. The masters are going away and the whole house will be empty,” said the old woman to the old attendant.
“Well, perhaps,” said he with a sigh. “We don’t expect to get him home alive! We have a house of our own in Moscow, but it’s a long way from here, and there’s nobody living in it.”
“Do us the honor to come in, there’s plenty of everything in the master’s house. Come in,” said Mávra Kuzmínichna. “Is he very ill?” she asked.
The attendant made a hopeless gesture.
“We don’t expect to get him home! We must ask the doctor.”
And the old servant got down from the box and went up to the cart.
“All right!” said the doctor.
The old servant returned to the calèche, looked into it, shook his head disconsolately, told the driver to turn into the yard, and stopped beside Mávra Kuzmínichna.
“O, Lord Jesus Christ!” she murmured.
She invited them to take the wounded man into the house.
“The masters won’t object...” she said.
But they had to avoid carrying the man upstairs, and so they took him into the wing and put him in the room that had been Madame Schoss’.
This wounded man was Prince Andrew Bolkónski.
Moscow’s last day had come. It was a clear bright autumn day, a Sunday. The church bells everywhere were ringing for service, just as usual on Sundays. Nobody seemed yet to realize what awaited the city.
Only two things indicated the social condition of Moscow—the rabble, that is the poor people, and the price of commodities. An enormous crowd of factory hands, house serfs, and peasants, with whom some officials, seminarists, and gentry were mingled, had gone early that morning to the Three Hills. Having waited there for Rostopchín who did not turn up, they became convinced that Moscow would be surrendered, and then dispersed all about the town to the public houses and cookshops. Prices too that day indicated the state of affairs. The price of weapons, of gold, of carts and horses, kept rising, but the value of paper money and city articles kept falling, so that by midday there were instances of carters removing valuable goods, such as cloth, and receiving in payment a half of what they carted, while peasant horses were fetching five hundred rubles each, and furniture, mirrors, and bronzes were being given away for nothing.
In the Rostóvs’ staid old-fashioned house the dissolution of former conditions of life was but little noticeable. As to the serfs the only indication was that three out of their huge retinue disappeared during the night, but nothing was stolen; and as to the value of their possessions, the thirty peasant carts that had come in from their estates and which many people envied proved to be extremely valuable and they were offered enormous sums of money for them. Not only were huge sums offered for the horses and carts, but on the previous evening and early in the morning of the first of September, orderlies and servants sent by wounded officers came to the Rostóvs’ and wounded men dragged themselves there from the Rostóvs’ and from neighboring houses where they were accommodated, entreating the servants to try to get them a lift out of Moscow. The major-domo to whom these entreaties were addressed, though he was sorry for the wounded, resolutely refused, saying that he dare not even mention the matter to the count. Pity these wounded men as one might, it was evident that if they were given one cart there would be no reason to refuse another, or all the carts and one’s own carriages as well. Thirty carts could not save all the wounded and in the general catastrophe one could not disregard oneself and one’s own family. So thought the major-domo on his master’s behalf.
On waking up that morning Count Ilyá Rostóv left his bedroom softly, so as not to wake the countess who had fallen asleep only toward morning, and came out to the porch in his lilac silk dressing gown. In the yard stood the carts ready corded. The carriages were at the front porch. The major-domo stood at the porch talking to an elderly orderly and to a pale young officer with a bandaged arm. On seeing the count the major-domo made a significant and stern gesture to them both to go away.
“Well, Vasílich, is everything ready?” asked the count, and stroking his bald head he looked good-naturedly at the officer and the orderly and nodded to them. (He liked to see new faces.)
“We can harness at once, your excellency.”
“Well, that’s right. As soon as the countess wakes we’ll be off, God willing! What is it, gentlemen?” he added, turning to the officer. “Are you staying in my house?”
The officer came nearer and suddenly his face flushed crimson.
“Count, be so good as to allow me... for God’s sake, to get into some corner of one of your carts! I have nothing here with me.... I shall be all right on a loaded cart....”
Before the officer had finished speaking the orderly made the same request on behalf of his master.
“Oh, yes, yes, yes!” said the count hastily. “I shall be very pleased, very pleased. Vasílich, you’ll see to it. Just unload one or two carts. Well, what of it... do what’s necessary...” said the count, muttering some indefinite order.
But at the same moment an expression of warm gratitude on the officer’s face had already sealed the order. The count looked around him. In the yard, at the gates, at the window of the wings, wounded officers and their orderlies were to be seen. They were all looking at the count and moving toward the porch.
“Please step into the gallery, your excellency,” said the major-domo. “What are your orders about the pictures?”
The count went into the house with him, repeating his order not to refuse the wounded who asked for a lift.
“Well, never mind, some of the things can be unloaded,” he added in a soft, confidential voice, as though afraid of being overheard.
At nine o’clock the countess woke up, and Matrëna Timoféevna, who had been her lady’s maid before her marriage and now performed a sort of chief gendarme’s duty for her, came to say that Madame Schoss was much offended and the young ladies’ summer dresses could not be left behind. On inquiry, the countess learned that Madame Schoss was offended because her trunk had been taken down from its cart, and all the loads were being uncorded and the luggage taken out of the carts to make room for wounded men whom the count in the simplicity of his heart had ordered that they should take with them. The countess sent for her husband.
“What is this, my dear? I hear that the luggage is being unloaded.”
“You know, love, I wanted to tell you... Countess dear... an officer came to me to ask for a few carts for the wounded. After all, ours are things that can be bought but think what being left behind means to them!... Really now, in our own yard—we asked them in ourselves and there are officers among them.... You know, I think, my dear... let them be taken... where’s the hurry?”
The count spoke timidly, as he always did when talking of money matters. The countess was accustomed to this tone as a precursor of news of something detrimental to the children’s interests, such as the building of a new gallery or conservatory, the inauguration of a private theater or an orchestra. She was accustomed always to oppose anything announced in that timid tone and considered it her duty to do so.
She assumed her dolefully submissive manner and said to her husband: “Listen to me, Count, you have managed matters so that we are getting nothing for the house, and now you wish to throw away all our—all the children’s property! You said yourself that we have a hundred thousand rubles’ worth of things in the house. I don’t consent, my dear, I don’t! Do as you please! It’s the government’s business to look after the wounded; they know that. Look at the Lopukhíns opposite, they cleared out everything two days ago. That’s what other people do. It’s only we who are such fools. If you have no pity on me, have some for the children.”
Flourishing his arms in despair the count left the room without replying.
“Papa, what are you doing that for?” asked Natásha, who had followed him into her mother’s room.
“Nothing! What business is it of yours?” muttered the count angrily.
“But I heard,” said Natásha. “Why does Mamma object?”
“What business is it of yours?” cried the count.
Natásha stepped up to the window and pondered.
“Papa! Here’s Berg coming to see us,” said she, looking out of the window.
Berg, the Rostóvs’ son-in-law, was already a colonel wearing the orders of Vladímir and Anna, and he still filled the quiet and agreeable post of assistant to the head of the staff of the assistant commander of the first division of the Second Army.
On the first of September he had come to Moscow from the army.
He had nothing to do in Moscow, but he had noticed that everyone in the army was asking for leave to visit Moscow and had something to do there. So he considered it necessary to ask for leave of absence for family and domestic reasons.
Berg drove up to his father-in-law’s house in his spruce little trap with a pair of sleek roans, exactly like those of a certain prince. He looked attentively at the carts in the yard and while going up to the porch took out a clean pocket handkerchief and tied a knot in it.
From the anteroom Berg ran with smooth though impatient steps into the drawing room, where he embraced the count, kissed the hands of Natásha and Sónya, and hastened to inquire after “Mamma’s” health.
“Health, at a time like this?” said the count. “Come, tell us the news! Is the army retreating or will there be another battle?”
“God Almighty alone can decide the fate of our fatherland, Papa,” said Berg. “The army is burning with a spirit of heroism and the leaders, so to say, have now assembled in council. No one knows what is coming. But in general I can tell you, Papa, that such a heroic spirit, the truly antique valor of the Russian army, which they—which it” (he corrected himself) “has shown or displayed in the battle of the twenty-sixth—there are no words worthy to do it justice! I tell you, Papa” (he smote himself on the breast as a general he had heard speaking had done, but Berg did it a trifle late for he should have struck his breast at the words “Russian army”), “I tell you frankly that we, the commanders, far from having to urge the men on or anything of that kind, could hardly restrain those... those... yes, those exploits of antique valor,” he went on rapidly. “General Barclay de Tolly risked his life everywhere at the head of the troops, I can assure you. Our corps was stationed on a hillside. You can imagine!”
And Berg related all that he remembered of the various tales he had heard those days. Natásha watched him with an intent gaze that confused him, as if she were trying to find in his face the answer to some question.
“Altogether such heroism as was displayed by the Russian warriors cannot be imagined or adequately praised!” said Berg, glancing round at Natásha, and as if anxious to conciliate her, replying to her intent look with a smile. “‘Russia is not in Moscow, she lives in the hearts of her sons!’ Isn’t it so, Papa?” said he.
Just then the countess came in from the sitting room with a weary and dissatisfied expression. Berg hurriedly jumped up, kissed her hand, asked about her health, and, swaying his head from side to side to express sympathy, remained standing beside her.
“Yes, Mamma, I tell you sincerely that these are hard and sad times for every Russian. But why are you so anxious? You have still time to get away....”
“I can’t think what the servants are about,” said the countess, turning to her husband. “I have just been told that nothing is ready yet. Somebody after all must see to things. One misses Mítenka at such times. There won’t be any end to it.”
The count was about to say something, but evidently restrained himself. He got up from his chair and went to the door.
At that moment Berg drew out his handkerchief as if to blow his nose and, seeing the knot in it, pondered, shaking his head sadly and significantly.
“And I have a great favor to ask of you, Papa,” said he.
“Hm...” said the count, and stopped.
“I was driving past Yusúpov’s house just now,” said Berg with a laugh, “when the steward, a man I know, ran out and asked me whether I wouldn’t buy something. I went in out of curiosity, you know, and there is a small chiffonier and a dressing table. You know how dear Véra wanted a chiffonier like that and how we had a dispute about it.” (At the mention of the chiffonier and dressing table Berg involuntarily changed his tone to one of pleasure at his admirable domestic arrangements.) “And it’s such a beauty! It pulls out and has a secret English drawer, you know! And dear Véra has long wanted one. I wish to give her a surprise, you see. I saw so many of those peasant carts in your yard. Please let me have one, I will pay the man well, and...”
The count frowned and coughed.
“Ask the countess, I don’t give orders.”
“If it’s inconvenient, please don’t,” said Berg. “Only I so wanted it, for dear Véra’s sake.”
“Oh, go to the devil, all of you! To the devil, the devil, the devil...” cried the old count. “My head’s in a whirl!”
And he left the room. The countess began to cry.
“Yes, Mamma! Yes, these are very hard times!” said Berg.
Natásha left the room with her father and, as if finding it difficult to reach some decision, first followed him and then ran downstairs.
Pétya was in the porch, engaged in giving out weapons to the servants who were to leave Moscow. The loaded carts were still standing in the yard. Two of them had been uncorded and a wounded officer was climbing into one of them helped by an orderly.
“Do you know what it’s about?” Pétya asked Natásha.
She understood that he meant what were their parents quarreling about. She did not answer.
“It’s because Papa wanted to give up all the carts to the wounded,” said Pétya. “Vasílich told me. I consider...”
“I consider,” Natásha suddenly almost shouted, turning her angry face to Pétya, “I consider it so horrid, so abominable, so... I don’t know what. Are we despicable Germans?”
Her throat quivered with convulsive sobs and, afraid of weakening and letting the force of her anger run to waste, she turned and rushed headlong up the stairs.
Berg was sitting beside the countess consoling her with the respectful attention of a relative. The count, pipe in hand, was pacing up and down the room, when Natásha, her face distorted by anger, burst in like a tempest and approached her mother with rapid steps.
“It’s horrid! It’s abominable!” she screamed. “You can’t possibly have ordered it!”
Berg and the countess looked at her, perplexed and frightened. The count stood still at the window and listened.
“Mamma, it’s impossible: see what is going on in the yard!” she cried. “They will be left!...”
“What’s the matter with you? Who are ‘they’? What do you want?”
“Why, the wounded! It’s impossible, Mamma. It’s monstrous!... No, Mamma darling, it’s not the thing. Please forgive me, darling.... Mamma, what does it matter what we take away? Only look what is going on in the yard... Mamma!... It’s impossible!”
The count stood by the window and listened without turning round. Suddenly he sniffed and put his face closer to the window.
The countess glanced at her daughter, saw her face full of shame for her mother, saw her agitation, and understood why her husband did not turn to look at her now, and she glanced round quite disconcerted.
“Oh, do as you like! Am I hindering anyone?” she said, not surrendering at once.
“Mamma, darling, forgive me!”
But the countess pushed her daughter away and went up to her husband.
“My dear, you order what is right.... You know I don’t understand about it,” said she, dropping her eyes shamefacedly.
“The eggs... the eggs are teaching the hen,” muttered the count through tears of joy, and he embraced his wife who was glad to hide her look of shame on his breast.
“Papa! Mamma! May I see to it? May I?...” asked Natásha. “We will still take all the most necessary things.”
The count nodded affirmatively, and Natásha, at the rapid pace at which she used to run when playing at tag, ran through the ballroom to the anteroom and downstairs into the yard.
The servants gathered round Natásha, but could not believe the strange order she brought them until the count himself, in his wife’s name, confirmed the order to give up all the carts to the wounded and take the trunks to the storerooms. When they understood that order the servants set to work at this new task with pleasure and zeal. It no longer seemed strange to them but on the contrary it seemed the only thing that could be done, just as a quarter of an hour before it had not seemed strange to anyone that the wounded should be left behind and the goods carted away but that had seemed the only thing to do.
The whole household, as if to atone for not having done it sooner, set eagerly to work at the new task of placing the wounded in the carts. The wounded dragged themselves out of their rooms and stood with pale but happy faces round the carts. The news that carts were to be had spread to the neighboring houses, from which wounded men began to come into the Rostóvs’ yard. Many of the wounded asked them not to unload the carts but only to let them sit on the top of the things. But the work of unloading, once started, could not be arrested. It seemed not to matter whether all or only half the things were left behind. Cases full of china, bronzes, pictures, and mirrors that had been so carefully packed the night before now lay about the yard, and still they went on searching for and finding possibilities of unloading this or that and letting the wounded have another and yet another cart.
“We can take four more men,” said the steward. “They can have my trap, or else what is to become of them?”
“Let them have my wardrobe cart,” said the countess. “Dunyásha can go with me in the carriage.”
They unloaded the wardrobe cart and sent it to take wounded men from a house two doors off. The whole household, servants included, was bright and animated. Natásha was in a state of rapturous excitement such as she had not known for a long time.
“What could we fasten this onto?” asked the servants, trying to fix a trunk on the narrow footboard behind a carriage. “We must keep at least one cart.”
“What’s in it?” asked Natásha.
“The count’s books.”
“Leave it, Vasílich will put it away. It’s not wanted.”
The phaeton was full of people and there was a doubt as to where Count Peter could sit.
“On the box. You’ll sit on the box, won’t you, Pétya?” cried Natásha.
Sónya too was busy all this time, but the aim of her efforts was quite different from Natásha’s. She was putting away the things that had to be left behind and making a list of them as the countess wished, and she tried to get as much taken away with them as possible.