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Chapter 11

  • 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.