An hour later Dunyasha came to tell the princess that Dron had come, and al_he peasants had assembled at the barn by the princess' order and wished t_ave word with their mistress.
"But I never told them to come," said Princess Mary. "I only told Dron to le_hem have the grain."
"Only, for God's sake, Princess dear, have them sent away and don't go out t_hem. It's all a trick," said Dunyasha, "and when Yakov Alpatych returns le_s get away… and please don't… "
"What is a trick?" asked Princess Mary in surprise.
"I know it is, only listen to me for God's sake! Ask nurse too. They say the_on't agree to leave Bogucharovo as you ordered."
"You're making some mistake. I never ordered them to go away," said Princes_ary. "Call Dronushka."
Dron came and confirmed Dunyasha's words; the peasants had come by th_rincess' order.
"But I never sent for them," declared the princess. "You must have given m_essage wrong. I only said that you were to give them the grain."
Dron only sighed in reply.
"If you order it they will go away," said he.
"No, no. I'll go out to them," said Princess Mary, and in spite of the nurse'_nd Dunyasha's protests she went out into the porch; Dron, Dunyasha, th_urse, and Michael Ivanovich following her.
"They probably think I am offering them the grain to bribe them to remai_ere, while I myself go away leaving them to the mercy of the French," though_rincess Mary. "I will offer them monthly rations and housing at our Mosco_state. I am sure Andrew would do even more in my place," she thought as sh_ent out in the twilight toward the crowd standing on the pasture by the barn.
The men crowded closer together, stirred, and rapidly took off their hats.
Princess Mary lowered her eyes and, tripping over her skirt, came close up t_hem. So many different eyes, old and young, were fixed on her, and there wer_o many different faces, that she could not distinguish any of them and,
feeling that she must speak to them all at once, did not know how to do it.
But again the sense that she represented her father and her brother gave he_ourage, and she boldly began her speech.
"I am very glad you have come," she said without raising her eyes, and feelin_er heart beating quickly and violently. "Dronushka tells me that the war ha_uined you. That is our common misfortune, and I shall grudge nothing to hel_ou. I am myself going away because it is dangerous here… the enemy is near…
because… I am giving you everything, my friends, and I beg you to tak_verything, all our grain, so that you may not suffer want! And if you hav_een told that I am giving you the grain to keep you here—that is not true. O_he contrary, I ask you to go with all your belongings to our estate nea_oscow, and I promise you I will see to it that there you shall want fo_othing. You shall be given food and lodging."
The princess stopped. Sighs were the only sound heard in the crowd.
"I am not doing this on my own account," she continued, "I do it in the nam_f my dead father, who was a good master to you, and of my brother and hi_on."
Again she paused. No one broke the silence.
"Ours is a common misfortune and we will share it together. All that is min_s yours," she concluded, scanning the faces before her.
All eyes were gazing at her with one and the same expression. She could no_athom whether it was curiosity, devotion, gratitude, or apprehension an_istrust—but the expression on all the faces was identical.
"We are all very thankful for your bounty, but it won't do for us to take th_andlord's grain," said a voice at the back of the crowd.
"But why not?" asked the princess.
No one replied and Princess Mary, looking round at the crowd, found that ever_ye she met now was immediately dropped.
"But why don't you want to take it?" she asked again.
No one answered.
The silence began to oppress the princess and she tried to catch someone'_ye.
"Why don't you speak?" she inquired of a very old man who stood just in fron_f her leaning on his stick. "If you think something more is wanted, tell me!
I will do anything," said she, catching his eye.
But as if this angered him, he bent his head quite low and muttered:
"Why should we agree? We don't want the grain."
"Why should we give up everything? We don't agree. Don't agree… . We are sorr_or you, but we're not willing. Go away yourself, alone… " came from variou_ides of the crowd.
And again all the faces in that crowd bore an identical expression, though no_t was certainly not an expression of curiosity or gratitude, but of angr_esolve.
"But you can't have understood me," said Princess Mary with a sad smile. "Wh_on't you want to go? I promise to house and feed you, while here the enem_ould ruin you… "
But her voice was drowned by the voices of the crowd.
"We're not willing. Let them ruin us! We won't take your grain. We don'_gree."
Again Princess Mary tried to catch someone's eye, but not a single eye in th_rowd was turned to her; evidently they were all trying to avoid her look. Sh_elt strange and awkward.
"Oh yes, an artful tale! Follow her into slavery! Pull down your houses and g_nto bondage! I dare say! 'I'll give you grain, indeed!' she says," voices i_he crowd were heard saying.
With drooping head Princess Mary left the crowd and went back to the house.
Having repeated her order to Dron to have horses ready for her departure nex_orning, she went to her room and remained alone with her own thoughts.