On his return to Moscow from the army, Nicholas Rostóv was welcomed by his home circle as the best of sons, a hero, and their darling Nikólenka; by his relations as a charming, attractive, and polite young man; by his acquaintances as a handsome lieutenant of hussars, a good dancer, and one of the best matches in the city.
The Rostóvs knew everybody in Moscow. The old count had money enough that year, as all his estates had been remortgaged, and so Nicholas, acquiring a trotter of his own, very stylish riding breeches of the latest cut, such as no one else yet had in Moscow, and boots of the latest fashion, with extremely pointed toes and small silver spurs, passed his time very gaily. After a short period of adapting himself to the old conditions of life, Nicholas found it very pleasant to be at home again. He felt that he had grown up and matured very much. His despair at failing in a Scripture examination, his borrowing money from Gavríl to pay a sleigh driver, his kissing Sónya on the sly—he now recalled all this as childishness he had left immeasurably behind. Now he was a lieutenant of hussars, in a jacket laced with silver, and wearing the Cross of St. George, awarded to soldiers for bravery in action, and in the company of well-known, elderly, and respected racing men was training a trotter of his own for a race. He knew a lady on one of the boulevards whom he visited of an evening. He led the mazurka at the Arkhárovs’ ball, talked about the war with Field Marshal Kámenski, visited the English Club, and was on intimate terms with a colonel of forty to whom Denísov had introduced him.
His passion for the Emperor had cooled somewhat in Moscow. But still, as he did not see him and had no opportunity of seeing him, he often spoke about him and about his love for him, letting it be understood that he had not told all and that there was something in his feelings for the Emperor not everyone could understand, and with his whole soul he shared the adoration then common in Moscow for the Emperor, who was spoken of as the “angel incarnate.”
During Rostóv’s short stay in Moscow, before rejoining the army, he did not draw closer to Sónya, but rather drifted away from her. She was very pretty and sweet, and evidently deeply in love with him, but he was at the period of youth when there seems so much to do that there is no time for that sort of thing and a young man fears to bind himself and prizes his freedom which he needs for so many other things. When he thought of Sónya, during this stay in Moscow, he said to himself, “Ah, there will be, and there are, many more such girls somewhere whom I do not yet know. There will be time enough to think about love when I want to, but now I have no time.” Besides, it seemed to him that the society of women was rather derogatory to his manhood. He went to balls and into ladies’ society with an affectation of doing so against his will. The races, the English Club, sprees with Denísov, and visits to a certain house—that was another matter and quite the thing for a dashing young hussar!
At the beginning of March, old Count Ilyá Rostóv was very busy arranging a dinner in honor of Prince Bagratión at the English Club.
The count walked up and down the hall in his dressing gown, giving orders to the club steward and to the famous Feoktíst, the club’s head cook, about asparagus, fresh cucumbers, strawberries, veal, and fish for this dinner. The count had been a member and on the committee of the club from the day it was founded. To him the club entrusted the arrangement of the festival in honor of Bagratión, for few men knew so well how to arrange a feast on an open-handed, hospitable scale, and still fewer men would be so well able and willing to make up out of their own resources what might be needed for the success of the fete. The club cook and the steward listened to the count’s orders with pleased faces, for they knew that under no other management could they so easily extract a good profit for themselves from a dinner costing several thousand rubles.
“Well then, mind and have cocks’ comb in the turtle soup, you know!”
“Shall we have three cold dishes then?” asked the cook.
The count considered.
“We can’t have less—yes, three... the mayonnaise, that’s one,” said he, bending down a finger.
“Then am I to order those large sterlets?” asked the steward.
“Yes, it can’t be helped if they won’t take less. Ah, dear me! I was forgetting. We must have another entrée. Ah, goodness gracious!” he clutched at his head. “Who is going to get me the flowers? Dmítri! Eh, Dmítri! Gallop off to our Moscow estate,” he said to the factotum who appeared at his call. “Hurry off and tell Maksím, the gardener, to set the serfs to work. Say that everything out of the hothouses must be brought here well wrapped up in felt. I must have two hundred pots here on Friday.”
Having given several more orders, he was about to go to his “little countess” to have a rest, but remembering something else of importance, he returned again, called back the cook and the club steward, and again began giving orders. A light footstep and the clinking of spurs were heard at the door, and the young count, handsome, rosy, with a dark little mustache, evidently rested and made sleeker by his easy life in Moscow, entered the room.
“Ah, my boy, my head’s in a whirl!” said the old man with a smile, as if he felt a little confused before his son. “Now, if you would only help a bit! I must have singers too. I shall have my own orchestra, but shouldn’t we get the gypsy singers as well? You military men like that sort of thing.”
“Really, Papa, I believe Prince Bagratión worried himself less before the battle of Schön Grabern than you do now,” said his son with a smile.
The old count pretended to be angry.
“Yes, you talk, but try it yourself!”
And the count turned to the cook, who, with a shrewd and respectful expression, looked observantly and sympathetically at the father and son.
“What have the young people come to nowadays, eh, Feoktíst?” said he. “Laughing at us old fellows!”
“That’s so, your excellency, all they have to do is to eat a good dinner, but providing it and serving it all up, that’s not their business!”
“That’s it, that’s it!” exclaimed the count, and gaily seizing his son by both hands, he cried, “Now I’ve got you, so take the sleigh and pair at once, and go to Bezúkhov’s, and tell him ‘Count Ilyá has sent you to ask for strawberries and fresh pineapples.’ We can’t get them from anyone else. He’s not there himself, so you’ll have to go in and ask the princesses; and from there go on to the Rasgulyáy—the coachman Ipátka knows—and look up the gypsy Ilyúshka, the one who danced at Count Orlóv’s, you remember, in a white Cossack coat, and bring him along to me.”
“And am I to bring the gypsy girls along with him?” asked Nicholas, laughing. “Dear, dear!...”
At that moment, with noiseless footsteps and with the businesslike, preoccupied, yet meekly Christian look which never left her face, Anna Mikháylovna entered the hall. Though she came upon the count in his dressing gown every day, he invariably became confused and begged her to excuse his costume.
“No matter at all, my dear count,” she said, meekly closing her eyes. “But I’ll go to Bezúkhov’s myself. Pierre has arrived, and now we shall get anything we want from his hothouses. I have to see him in any case. He has forwarded me a letter from Borís. Thank God, Borís is now on the staff.”
The count was delighted at Anna Mikháylovna’s taking upon herself one of his commissions and ordered the small closed carriage for her.
“Tell Bezúkhov to come. I’ll put his name down. Is his wife with him?” he asked.
Anna Mikháylovna turned up her eyes, and profound sadness was depicted on her face.
“Ah, my dear friend, he is very unfortunate,” she said. “If what we hear is true, it is dreadful. How little we dreamed of such a thing when we were rejoicing at his happiness! And such a lofty angelic soul as young Bezúkhov! Yes, I pity him from my heart, and shall try to give him what consolation I can.”
“Wh-what is the matter?” asked both the young and old Rostóv.
Anna Mikháylovna sighed deeply.
“Dólokhov, Mary Ivánovna’s son,” she said in a mysterious whisper, “has compromised her completely, they say. Pierre took him up, invited him to his house in Petersburg, and now... she has come here and that daredevil after her!” said Anna Mikháylovna, wishing to show her sympathy for Pierre, but by involuntary intonations and a half smile betraying her sympathy for the “daredevil,” as she called Dólokhov. “They say Pierre is quite broken by his misfortune.”
“Dear, dear! But still tell him to come to the club—it will all blow over. It will be a tremendous banquet.”
Next day, the third of March, soon after one o’clock, two hundred and fifty members of the English Club and fifty guests were awaiting the guest of honor and hero of the Austrian campaign, Prince Bagratión, to dinner.
On the first arrival of the news of the battle of Austerlitz, Moscow had been bewildered. At that time, the Russians were so used to victories that on receiving news of the defeat some would simply not believe it, while others sought some extraordinary explanation of so strange an event. In the English Club, where all who were distinguished, important, and well informed foregathered when the news began to arrive in December, nothing was said about the war and the last battle, as though all were in a conspiracy of silence. The men who set the tone in conversation—Count Rostopchín, Prince Yúri Dolgorúkov, Valúev, Count Markóv, and Prince Vyázemski—did not show themselves at the club, but met in private houses in intimate circles, and the Moscovites who took their opinions from others—Ilyá Rostóv among them—remained for a while without any definite opinion on the subject of the war and without leaders. The Moscovites felt that something was wrong and that to discuss the bad news was difficult, and so it was best to be silent. But after a while, just as a jury comes out of its room, the bigwigs who guided the club’s opinion reappeared, and everybody began speaking clearly and definitely. Reasons were found for the incredible, unheard-of, and impossible event of a Russian defeat, everything became clear, and in all corners of Moscow the same things began to be said. These reasons were the treachery of the Austrians, a defective commissariat, the treachery of the Pole Przebyszéwski and of the Frenchman Langeron, Kutúzov’s incapacity, and (it was whispered) the youth and inexperience of the sovereign, who had trusted worthless and insignificant people. But the army, the Russian army, everyone declared, was extraordinary and had achieved miracles of valor. The soldiers, officers, and generals were heroes. But the hero of heroes was Prince Bagratión, distinguished by his Schön Grabern affair and by the retreat from Austerlitz, where he alone had withdrawn his column unbroken and had all day beaten back an enemy force twice as numerous as his own. What also conduced to Bagratión’s being selected as Moscow’s hero was the fact that he had no connections in the city and was a stranger there. In his person, honor was shown to a simple fighting Russian soldier without connections and intrigues, and to one who was associated by memories of the Italian campaign with the name of Suvórov. Moreover, paying such honor to Bagratión was the best way of expressing disapproval and dislike of Kutúzov.
“Had there been no Bagratión, it would have been necessary to invent him,” said the wit Shinshín, parodying the words of Voltaire. Kutúzov no one spoke of, except some who abused him in whispers, calling him a court weathercock and an old satyr.
All Moscow repeated Prince Dolgorúkov’s saying: “If you go on modeling and modeling you must get smeared with clay,” suggesting consolation for our defeat by the memory of former victories; and the words of Rostopchín, that French soldiers have to be incited to battle by highfalutin words, and Germans by logical arguments to show them that it is more dangerous to run away than to advance, but that Russian soldiers only need to be restrained and held back! On all sides, new and fresh anecdotes were heard of individual examples of heroism shown by our officers and men at Austerlitz. One had saved a standard, another had killed five Frenchmen, a third had loaded five cannon singlehanded. Berg was mentioned, by those who did not know him, as having, when wounded in the right hand, taken his sword in the left, and gone forward. Of Bolkónski, nothing was said, and only those who knew him intimately regretted that he had died so young, leaving a pregnant wife with his eccentric father.
On that third of March, all the rooms in the English Club were filled with a hum of conversation, like the hum of bees swarming in springtime. The members and guests of the club wandered hither and thither, sat, stood, met, and separated, some in uniform and some in evening dress, and a few here and there with powdered hair and in Russian kaftáns. Powdered footmen, in livery with buckled shoes and smart stockings, stood at every door anxiously noting visitors’ every movement in order to offer their services. Most of those present were elderly, respected men with broad, self-confident faces, fat fingers, and resolute gestures and voices. This class of guests and members sat in certain habitual places and met in certain habitual groups. A minority of those present were casual guests—chiefly young men, among whom were Denísov, Rostóv, and Dólokhov—who was now again an officer in the Semënov regiment. The faces of these young people, especially those who were military men, bore that expression of condescending respect for their elders which seems to say to the older generation, “We are prepared to respect and honor you, but all the same remember that the future belongs to us.”
Nesvítski was there as an old member of the club. Pierre, who at his wife’s command had let his hair grow and abandoned his spectacles, went about the rooms fashionably dressed but looking sad and dull. Here, as elsewhere, he was surrounded by an atmosphere of subservience to his wealth, and being in the habit of lording it over these people, he treated them with absent-minded contempt.
By his age he should have belonged to the younger men, but by his wealth and connections he belonged to the groups of old and honored guests, and so he went from one group to another. Some of the most important old men were the center of groups which even strangers approached respectfully to hear the voices of well-known men. The largest circles formed round Count Rostopchín, Valúev, and Narýshkin. Rostopchín was describing how the Russians had been overwhelmed by flying Austrians and had had to force their way through them with bayonets.
Valúev was confidentially telling that Uvárov had been sent from Petersburg to ascertain what Moscow was thinking about Austerlitz.
In the third circle, Narýshkin was speaking of the meeting of the Austrian Council of War at which Suvórov crowed like a cock in reply to the nonsense talked by the Austrian generals. Shinshín, standing close by, tried to make a joke, saying that Kutúzov had evidently failed to learn from Suvórov even so simple a thing as the art of crowing like a cock, but the elder members glanced severely at the wit, making him feel that in that place and on that day, it was improper to speak so of Kutúzov.
Count Ilyá Rostóv, hurried and preoccupied, went about in his soft boots between the dining and drawing rooms, hastily greeting the important and unimportant, all of whom he knew, as if they were all equals, while his eyes occasionally sought out his fine well-set-up young son, resting on him and winking joyfully at him. Young Rostóv stood at a window with Dólokhov, whose acquaintance he had lately made and highly valued. The old count came up to them and pressed Dólokhov’s hand.
“Please come and visit us... you know my brave boy... been together out there... both playing the hero... Ah, Vasíli Ignátovich... How d’ye do, old fellow?” he said, turning to an old man who was passing, but before he had finished his greeting there was a general stir, and a footman who had run in announced, with a frightened face: “He’s arrived!”
Bells rang, the stewards rushed forward, and—like rye shaken together in a shovel—the guests who had been scattered about in different rooms came together and crowded in the large drawing room by the door of the ballroom.
Bagratión appeared in the doorway of the anteroom without hat or sword, which, in accord with the club custom, he had given up to the hall porter. He had no lambskin cap on his head, nor had he a loaded whip over his shoulder, as when Rostóv had seen him on the eve of the battle of Austerlitz, but wore a tight new uniform with Russian and foreign Orders, and the Star of St. George on his left breast. Evidently just before coming to the dinner he had had his hair and whiskers trimmed, which changed his appearance for the worse. There was something naïvely festive in his air, which, in conjunction with his firm and virile features, gave him a rather comical expression. Bekleshëv and Theodore Uvárov, who had arrived with him, paused at the doorway to allow him, as the guest of honor, to enter first. Bagratión was embarrassed, not wishing to avail himself of their courtesy, and this caused some delay at the doors, but after all he did at last enter first. He walked shyly and awkwardly over the parquet floor of the reception room, not knowing what to do with his hands; he was more accustomed to walk over a plowed field under fire, as he had done at the head of the Kursk regiment at Schön Grabern—and he would have found that easier. The committeemen met him at the first door and, expressing their delight at seeing such a highly honored guest, took possession of him as it were, without waiting for his reply, surrounded him, and led him to the drawing room. It was at first impossible to enter the drawing room door for the crowd of members and guests jostling one another and trying to get a good look at Bagratión over each other’s shoulders, as if he were some rare animal. Count Ilyá Rostóv, laughing and repeating the words, “Make way, dear boy! Make way, make way!” pushed through the crowd more energetically than anyone, led the guests into the drawing room, and seated them on the center sofa. The bigwigs, the most respected members of the club, beset the new arrivals. Count Ilyá, again thrusting his way through the crowd, went out of the drawing room and reappeared a minute later with another committeeman, carrying a large silver salver which he presented to Prince Bagratión. On the salver lay some verses composed and printed in the hero’s honor. Bagratión, on seeing the salver, glanced around in dismay, as though seeking help. But all eyes demanded that he should submit. Feeling himself in their power, he resolutely took the salver with both hands and looked sternly and reproachfully at the count who had presented it to him. Someone obligingly took the dish from Bagratión (or he would, it seemed, have held it till evening and have gone in to dinner with it) and drew his attention to the verses.
“Well, I will read them, then!” Bagratión seemed to say, and, fixing his weary eyes on the paper, began to read them with a fixed and serious expression. But the author himself took the verses and began reading them aloud. Bagratión bowed his head and listened:
And on the throne our Titus shield.
A dreaded foe be thou, kindhearted as a man,
A Rhipheus at home, a Caesar in the field!
E’en fortunate Napoleon
Knows by experience, now, Bagratión,
And dare not Herculean Russians trouble...
But before he had finished reading, a stentorian major-domo announced that dinner was ready! The door opened, and from the dining room came the resounding strains of the polonaise:
Triumph, valiant Russians, now!...
and Count Rostóv, glancing angrily at the author who went on reading his verses, bowed to Bagratión. Everyone rose, feeling that dinner was more important than verses, and Bagratión, again preceding all the rest, went in to dinner. He was seated in the place of honor between two Alexanders—Bekleshëv and Narýshkin—which was a significant allusion to the name of the sovereign. Three hundred persons took their seats in the dining room, according to their rank and importance: the more important nearer to the honored guest, as naturally as water flows deepest where the land lies lowest.
Just before dinner, Count Ilyá Rostóv presented his son to Bagratión, who recognized him and said a few words to him, disjointed and awkward, as were all the words he spoke that day, and Count Ilyá looked joyfully and proudly around while Bagratión spoke to his son.
Nicholas Rostóv, with Denísov and his new acquaintance, Dólokhov, sat almost at the middle of the table. Facing them sat Pierre, beside Prince Nesvítski. Count Ilyá Rostóv with the other members of the committee sat facing Bagratión and, as the very personification of Moscow hospitality, did the honors to the prince.
His efforts had not been in vain. The dinner, both the Lenten and the other fare, was splendid, yet he could not feel quite at ease till the end of the meal. He winked at the butler, whispered directions to the footmen, and awaited each expected dish with some anxiety. Everything was excellent. With the second course, a gigantic sterlet (at sight of which Ilyá Rostóv blushed with self-conscious pleasure), the footmen began popping corks and filling the champagne glasses. After the fish, which made a certain sensation, the count exchanged glances with the other committeemen. “There will be many toasts, it’s time to begin,” he whispered, and taking up his glass, he rose. All were silent, waiting for what he would say.
“To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!” he cried, and at the same moment his kindly eyes grew moist with tears of joy and enthusiasm. The band immediately struck up “Conquest’s joyful thunder waken...” All rose and cried “Hurrah!” Bagratión also rose and shouted “Hurrah!” in exactly the same voice in which he had shouted it on the field at Schön Grabern. Young Rostóv’s ecstatic voice could be heard above the three hundred others. He nearly wept. “To the health of our Sovereign, the Emperor!” he roared, “Hurrah!” and emptying his glass at one gulp he dashed it to the floor. Many followed his example, and the loud shouting continued for a long time. When the voices subsided, the footmen cleared away the broken glass and everybody sat down again, smiling at the noise they had made and exchanging remarks. The old count rose once more, glanced at a note lying beside his plate, and proposed a toast, “To the health of the hero of our last campaign, Prince Peter Ivánovich Bagratión!” and again his blue eyes grew moist. “Hurrah!” cried the three hundred voices again, but instead of the band a choir began singing a cantata composed by Paul Ivánovich Kutúzov:
Courage conquest guarantees;
Have we not Bagratión?
He brings foemen to their knees,... etc.
As soon as the singing was over, another and another toast was proposed and Count Ilyá Rostóv became more and more moved, more glass was smashed, and the shouting grew louder. They drank to Bekleshëv, Narýshkin, Uvárov, Dolgorúkov, Apráksin, Valúev, to the committee, to all the club members and to all the club guests, and finally to Count Ilyá Rostóv separately, as the organizer of the banquet. At that toast, the count took out his handkerchief and, covering his face, wept outright.
Pierre sat opposite Dólokhov and Nicholas Rostóv. As usual, he ate and drank much, and eagerly. But those who knew him intimately noticed that some great change had come over him that day. He was silent all through dinner and looked about, blinking and scowling, or, with fixed eyes and a look of complete absent-mindedness, kept rubbing the bridge of his nose. His face was depressed and gloomy. He seemed to see and hear nothing of what was going on around him and to be absorbed by some depressing and unsolved problem.
The unsolved problem that tormented him was caused by hints given by the princess, his cousin, at Moscow, concerning Dólokhov’s intimacy with his wife, and by an anonymous letter he had received that morning, which in the mean jocular way common to anonymous letters said that he saw badly through his spectacles, but that his wife’s connection with Dólokhov was a secret to no one but himself. Pierre absolutely disbelieved both the princess’ hints and the letter, but he feared now to look at Dólokhov, who was sitting opposite him. Every time he chanced to meet Dólokhov’s handsome insolent eyes, Pierre felt something terrible and monstrous rising in his soul and turned quickly away. Involuntarily recalling his wife’s past and her relations with Dólokhov, Pierre saw clearly that what was said in the letter might be true, or might at least seem to be true had it not referred to his wife. He involuntarily remembered how Dólokhov, who had fully recovered his former position after the campaign, had returned to Petersburg and come to him. Availing himself of his friendly relations with Pierre as a boon companion, Dólokhov had come straight to his house, and Pierre had put him up and lent him money. Pierre recalled how Hélène had smilingly expressed disapproval of Dólokhov’s living at their house, and how cynically Dólokhov had praised his wife’s beauty to him and from that time till they came to Moscow had not left them for a day.
“Yes, he is very handsome,” thought Pierre, “and I know him. It would be particularly pleasant to him to dishonor my name and ridicule me, just because I have exerted myself on his behalf, befriended him, and helped him. I know and understand what a spice that would add to the pleasure of deceiving me, if it really were true. Yes, if it were true, but I do not believe it. I have no right to, and can’t, believe it.” He remembered the expression Dólokhov’s face assumed in his moments of cruelty, as when tying the policeman to the bear and dropping them into the water, or when he challenged a man to a duel without any reason, or shot a post-boy’s horse with a pistol. That expression was often on Dólokhov’s face when looking at him. “Yes, he is a bully,” thought Pierre, “to kill a man means nothing to him. It must seem to him that everyone is afraid of him, and that must please him. He must think that I, too, am afraid of him—and in fact I am afraid of him,” he thought, and again he felt something terrible and monstrous rising in his soul. Dólokhov, Denísov, and Rostóv were now sitting opposite Pierre and seemed very gay. Rostóv was talking merrily to his two friends, one of whom was a dashing hussar and the other a notorious duelist and rake, and every now and then he glanced ironically at Pierre, whose preoccupied, absent-minded, and massive figure was a very noticeable one at the dinner. Rostóv looked inimically at Pierre, first because Pierre appeared to his hussar eyes as a rich civilian, the husband of a beauty, and in a word—an old woman; and secondly because Pierre in his preoccupation and absent-mindedness had not recognized Rostóv and had not responded to his greeting. When the Emperor’s health was drunk, Pierre, lost in thought, did not rise or lift his glass.
“What are you about?” shouted Rostóv, looking at him in an ecstasy of exasperation. “Don’t you hear it’s His Majesty the Emperor’s health?”
Pierre sighed, rose submissively, emptied his glass, and, waiting till all were seated again, turned with his kindly smile to Rostóv.
“Why, I didn’t recognize you!” he said. But Rostóv was otherwise engaged; he was shouting “Hurrah!”
“Why don’t you renew the acquaintance?” said Dólokhov to Rostóv.
“Confound him, he’s a fool!” said Rostóv.
“One should make up to the husbands of pretty women,” said Denísov.
Pierre did not catch what they were saying, but knew they were talking about him. He reddened and turned away.
“Well, now to the health of handsome women!” said Dólokhov, and with a serious expression, but with a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth, he turned with his glass to Pierre.
“Here’s to the health of lovely women, Peterkin—and their lovers!” he added.
Pierre, with downcast eyes, drank out of his glass without looking at Dólokhov or answering him. The footman, who was distributing leaflets with Kutúzov’s cantata, laid one before Pierre as one of the principal guests. He was just going to take it when Dólokhov, leaning across, snatched it from his hand and began reading it. Pierre looked at Dólokhov and his eyes dropped, the something terrible and monstrous that had tormented him all dinnertime rose and took possession of him. He leaned his whole massive body across the table.
“How dare you take it?” he shouted.
Hearing that cry and seeing to whom it was addressed, Nesvítski and the neighbor on his right quickly turned in alarm to Bezúkhov.
“Don’t! Don’t! What are you about?” whispered their frightened voices.
Dólokhov looked at Pierre with clear, mirthful, cruel eyes, and that smile of his which seemed to say, “Ah! This is what I like!”
“You shan’t have it!” he said distinctly.
Pale, with quivering lips, Pierre snatched the copy.
“You...! you... scoundrel! I challenge you!” he ejaculated, and, pushing back his chair, he rose from the table.
At the very instant he did this and uttered those words, Pierre felt that the question of his wife’s guilt which had been tormenting him the whole day was finally and indubitably answered in the affirmative. He hated her and was forever sundered from her. Despite Denísov’s request that he would take no part in the matter, Rostóv agreed to be Dólokhov’s second, and after dinner he discussed the arrangements for the duel with Nesvítski, Bezúkhov’s second. Pierre went home, but Rostóv with Dólokhov and Denísov stayed on at the club till late, listening to the gypsies and other singers.
“Well then, till tomorrow at Sokólniki,” said Dólokhov, as he took leave of Rostóv in the club porch.
“And do you feel quite calm?” Rostóv asked.
“Well, you see, I’ll tell you the whole secret of dueling in two words. If you are going to fight a duel, and you make a will and write affectionate letters to your parents, and if you think you may be killed, you are a fool and are lost for certain. But go with the firm intention of killing your man as quickly and surely as possible, and then all will be right, as our bear huntsman at Kostromá used to tell me. ‘Everyone fears a bear,’ he says, ‘but when you see one your fear’s all gone, and your only thought is not to let him get away!’ And that’s how it is with me. À demain, mon cher.” *
Next day, at eight in the morning, Pierre and Nesvítski drove to the Sokólniki forest and found Dólokhov, Denísov, and Rostóv already there. Pierre had the air of a man preoccupied with considerations which had no connection with the matter in hand. His haggard face was yellow. He had evidently not slept that night. He looked about distractedly and screwed up his eyes as if dazzled by the sun. He was entirely absorbed by two considerations: his wife’s guilt, of which after his sleepless night he had not the slightest doubt, and the guiltlessness of Dólokhov, who had no reason to preserve the honor of a man who was nothing to him.... “I should perhaps have done the same thing in his place,” thought Pierre. “It’s even certain that I should have done the same, then why this duel, this murder? Either I shall kill him, or he will hit me in the head, or elbow, or knee. Can’t I go away from here, run away, bury myself somewhere?” passed through his mind. But just at moments when such thoughts occurred to him, he would ask in a particularly calm and absent-minded way, which inspired the respect of the onlookers, “Will it be long? Are things ready?”
When all was ready, the sabers stuck in the snow to mark the barriers, and the pistols loaded, Nesvítski went up to Pierre.
“I should not be doing my duty, Count,” he said in timid tones, “and should not justify your confidence and the honor you have done me in choosing me for your second, if at this grave, this very grave, moment I did not tell you the whole truth. I think there is no sufficient ground for this affair, or for blood to be shed over it.... You were not right, not quite in the right, you were impetuous...”
“Oh yes, it is horribly stupid,” said Pierre.
“Then allow me to express your regrets, and I am sure your opponent will accept them,” said Nesvítski (who like the others concerned in the affair, and like everyone in similar cases, did not yet believe that the affair had come to an actual duel). “You know, Count, it is much more honorable to admit one’s mistake than to let matters become irreparable. There was no insult on either side. Allow me to convey....”
“No! What is there to talk about?” said Pierre. “It’s all the same.... Is everything ready?” he added. “Only tell me where to go and where to shoot,” he said with an unnaturally gentle smile.
He took the pistol in his hand and began asking about the working of the trigger, as he had not before held a pistol in his hand—a fact that he did not wish to confess.
“Oh yes, like that, I know, I only forgot,” said he.
“No apologies, none whatever,” said Dólokhov to Denísov (who on his side had been attempting a reconciliation), and he also went up to the appointed place.
The spot chosen for the duel was some eighty paces from the road, where the sleighs had been left, in a small clearing in the pine forest covered with melting snow, the frost having begun to break up during the last few days. The antagonists stood forty paces apart at the farther edge of the clearing. The seconds, measuring the paces, left tracks in the deep wet snow between the place where they had been standing and Nesvítski’s and Dólokhov’s sabers, which were stuck into the ground ten paces apart to mark the barrier. It was thawing and misty; at forty paces’ distance nothing could be seen. For three minutes all had been ready, but they still delayed and all were silent.
“Well begin!” said Dólokhov.
“All right,” said Pierre, still smiling in the same way. A feeling of dread was in the air. It was evident that the affair so lightly begun could no longer be averted but was taking its course independently of men’s will.
Denísov first went to the barrier and announced: “As the adve’sawies have wefused a weconciliation, please pwoceed. Take your pistols, and at the word thwee begin to advance.
“O-ne! T-wo! Thwee!” he shouted angrily and stepped aside.
The combatants advanced along the trodden tracks, nearer and nearer to one another, beginning to see one another through the mist. They had the right to fire when they liked as they approached the barrier. Dólokhov walked slowly without raising his pistol, looking intently with his bright, sparkling blue eyes into his antagonist’s face. His mouth wore its usual semblance of a smile.
“So I can fire when I like!” said Pierre, and at the word “three,” he went quickly forward, missing the trodden path and stepping into the deep snow. He held the pistol in his right hand at arm’s length, apparently afraid of shooting himself with it. His left hand he held carefully back, because he wished to support his right hand with it and knew he must not do so. Having advanced six paces and strayed off the track into the snow, Pierre looked down at his feet, then quickly glanced at Dólokhov and, bending his finger as he had been shown, fired. Not at all expecting so loud a report, Pierre shuddered at the sound and then, smiling at his own sensations, stood still. The smoke, rendered denser by the mist, prevented him from seeing anything for an instant, but there was no second report as he had expected. He only heard Dólokhov’s hurried steps, and his figure came in view through the smoke. He was pressing one hand to his left side, while the other clutched his drooping pistol. His face was pale. Rostóv ran toward him and said something.
“No-o-o!” muttered Dólokhov through his teeth, “no, it’s not over.” And after stumbling a few staggering steps right up to the saber, he sank on the snow beside it. His left hand was bloody; he wiped it on his coat and supported himself with it. His frowning face was pallid and quivered.
“Plea...” began Dólokhov, but could not at first pronounce the word.
“Please,” he uttered with an effort.
Pierre, hardly restraining his sobs, began running toward Dólokhov and was about to cross the space between the barriers, when Dólokhov cried:
“To your barrier!” and Pierre, grasping what was meant, stopped by his saber. Only ten paces divided them. Dólokhov lowered his head to the snow, greedily bit at it, again raised his head, adjusted himself, drew in his legs and sat up, seeking a firm center of gravity. He sucked and swallowed the cold snow, his lips quivered but his eyes, still smiling, glittered with effort and exasperation as he mustered his remaining strength. He raised his pistol and aimed.
“Sideways! Cover yourself with your pistol!” ejaculated Nesvítski.
“Cover yourself!” even Denísov cried to his adversary.
Pierre, with a gentle smile of pity and remorse, his arms and legs helplessly spread out, stood with his broad chest directly facing Dólokhov and looked sorrowfully at him. Denísov, Rostóv, and Nesvítski closed their eyes. At the same instant they heard a report and Dólokhov’s angry cry.
“Missed!” shouted Dólokhov, and he lay helplessly, face downwards on the snow.
Pierre clutched his temples, and turning round went into the forest, trampling through the deep snow, and muttering incoherent words:
“Folly... folly! Death... lies...” he repeated, puckering his face.
Nesvítski stopped him and took him home.
Rostóv and Denísov drove away with the wounded Dólokhov.
The latter lay silent in the sleigh with closed eyes and did not answer a word to the questions addressed to him. But on entering Moscow he suddenly came to and, lifting his head with an effort, took Rostóv, who was sitting beside him, by the hand. Rostóv was struck by the totally altered and unexpectedly rapturous and tender expression on Dólokhov’s face.
“Well? How do you feel?” he asked.
“Bad! But it’s not that, my friend—” said Dólokhov with a gasping voice. “Where are we? In Moscow, I know. I don’t matter, but I have killed her, killed... She won’t get over it! She won’t survive....”
“Who?” asked Rostóv.
“My mother! My mother, my angel, my adored angel mother,” and Dólokhov pressed Rostóv’s hand and burst into tears.
When he had become a little quieter, he explained to Rostóv that he was living with his mother, who, if she saw him dying, would not survive it. He implored Rostóv to go on and prepare her.
Rostóv went on ahead to do what was asked, and to his great surprise learned that Dólokhov the brawler, Dólokhov the bully, lived in Moscow with an old mother and a hunchback sister, and was the most affectionate of sons and brothers.
Pierre had of late rarely seen his wife alone. Both in Petersburg and in Moscow their house was always full of visitors. The night after the duel he did not go to his bedroom but, as he often did, remained in his father’s room, that huge room in which Count Bezúkhov had died.
He lay down on the sofa meaning to fall asleep and forget all that had happened to him, but could not do so. Such a storm of feelings, thoughts, and memories suddenly arose within him that he could not fall asleep, nor even remain in one place, but had to jump up and pace the room with rapid steps. Now he seemed to see her in the early days of their marriage, with bare shoulders and a languid, passionate look on her face, and then immediately he saw beside her Dólokhov’s handsome, insolent, hard, and mocking face as he had seen it at the banquet, and then that same face pale, quivering, and suffering, as it had been when he reeled and sank on the snow.
“What has happened?” he asked himself. “I have killed her lover, yes, killed my wife’s lover. Yes, that was it! And why? How did I come to do it?”—“Because you married her,” answered an inner voice.
“But in what was I to blame?” he asked. “In marrying her without loving her; in deceiving yourself and her.” And he vividly recalled that moment after supper at Prince Vasíli’s, when he spoke those words he had found so difficult to utter: “I love you.” “It all comes from that! Even then I felt it,” he thought. “I felt then that it was not so, that I had no right to do it. And so it turns out.”
He remembered his honeymoon and blushed at the recollection. Particularly vivid, humiliating, and shameful was the recollection of how one day soon after his marriage he came out of the bedroom into his study a little before noon in his silk dressing gown and found his head steward there, who, bowing respectfully, looked into his face and at his dressing gown and smiled slightly, as if expressing respectful understanding of his employer’s happiness.
“But how often I have felt proud of her, proud of her majestic beauty and social tact,” thought he; “been proud of my house, in which she received all Petersburg, proud of her unapproachability and beauty. So this is what I was proud of! I then thought that I did not understand her. How often when considering her character I have told myself that I was to blame for not understanding her, for not understanding that constant composure and complacency and lack of all interests or desires, and the whole secret lies in the terrible truth that she is a depraved woman. Now I have spoken that terrible word to myself all has become clear.
“Anatole used to come to borrow money from her and used to kiss her naked shoulders. She did not give him the money, but let herself be kissed. Her father in jest tried to rouse her jealousy, and she replied with a calm smile that she was not so stupid as to be jealous: ‘Let him do what he pleases,’ she used to say of me. One day I asked her if she felt any symptoms of pregnancy. She laughed contemptuously and said she was not a fool to want to have children, and that she was not going to have any children by me.”
Then he recalled the coarseness and bluntness of her thoughts and the vulgarity of the expressions that were natural to her, though she had been brought up in the most aristocratic circles.
“I’m not such a fool.... Just you try it on.... Allez-vous promener,” * she used to say. Often seeing the success she had with young and old men and women Pierre could not understand why he did not love her.