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Chapter 17

  • Before two o'clock in the afternoon the Rostovs' four carriages, packed ful_nd with the horses harnessed, stood at the front door. One by one the cart_ith the wounded had moved out of the yard.
  • The caleche in which Prince Andrew was being taken attracted Sonya's attentio_s it passed the front porch. With the help of a maid she was arranging a sea_or the countess in the huge high coach that stood at the entrance.
  • "Whose caleche is that?" she inquired, leaning out of the carriage window.
  • "Why, didn't you know, Miss?" replied the maid. "The wounded prince: he spen_he night in our house and is going with us."
  • "But who is it? What's his name?"
  • "It's our intended that was—Prince Bolkonski himself! They say he is dying,"
  • replied the maid with a sigh.
  • Sonya jumped out of the coach and ran to the countess. The countess, tired ou_nd already dressed in shawl and bonnet for her journey, was pacing up an_own the drawing room, waiting for the household to assemble for the usua_ilent prayer with closed doors before starting. Natasha was not in the room.
  • "Mamma," said Sonya, "Prince Andrew is here, mortally wounded. He is goin_ith us."
  • The countess opened her eyes in dismay and, seizing Sonya's arm, glance_round.
  • "Natasha?" she murmured.
  • At that moment this news had only one significance for both of them. They kne_heir Natasha, and alarm as to what would happen if she heard this new_tifled all sympathy for the man they both liked.
  • "Natasha does not know yet, but he is going with us," said Sonya.
  • "You say he is dying?"
  • Sonya nodded.
  • The countess put her arms around Sonya and began to cry.
  • "The ways of God are past finding out!" she thought, feeling that the Almight_and, hitherto unseen, was becoming manifest in all that was now taking place.
  • "Well, Mamma? Everything is ready. What's the matter?" asked Natasha, as wit_nimated face she ran into the room.
  • "Nothing," answered the countess. "If everything is ready let us start."
  • And the countess bent over her reticule to hide her agitated face. Sony_mbraced Natasha and kissed her.
  • Natasha looked at her inquiringly.
  • "What is it? What has happened?"
  • "Nothing… No… "
  • "Is it something very bad for me? What is it?" persisted Natasha with he_uick intuition.
  • Sonya sighed and made no reply. The count, Petya, Madame Schoss, Mavr_uzminichna, and Vasilich came into the drawing room and, having closed th_oors, they all sat down and remained for some moments silently seated withou_ooking at one another.
  • The count was the first to rise, and with a loud sigh crossed himself befor_he icon. All the others did the same. Then the count embraced Mavr_uzminichna and Vasilich, who were to remain in Moscow, and while they caugh_t his hand and kissed his shoulder he patted their backs lightly with som_aguely affectionate and comforting words. The countess went into the orator_nd there Sonya found her on her knees before the icons that had been lef_ere and there hanging on the wall. (The most precious ones, with which som_amily tradition was connected, were being taken with them.)
  • In the porch and in the yard the men whom Petya had armed with swords an_aggers, with trousers tucked inside their high boots and with belts an_irdles tightened, were taking leave of those remaining behind.
  • As is always the case at a departure, much had been forgotten or put in th_rong place, and for a long time two menservants stood one on each side of th_pen door and the carriage steps waiting to help the countess in, while maid_ushed with cushions and bundles from the house to the carriages, the caleche, the phaeton, and back again.
  • "They always will forget everything!" said the countess. "Don't you know _an't sit like that?"
  • And Dunyasha, with clenched teeth, without replying but with an aggrieved loo_n her face, hastily got into the coach to rearrange the seat.
  • "Oh, those servants!" said the count, swaying his head.
  • Efim, the old coachman, who was the only one the countess trusted to driv_er, sat perched up high on the box and did not so much as glance round a_hat was going on behind him. From thirty years' experience he knew it woul_e some time yet before the order, "Be off, in God's name!" would be give_im: and he knew that even when it was said he would be stopped once or twic_ore while they sent back to fetch something that had been forgotten, and eve_fter that he would again be stopped and the countess herself would lean ou_f the window and beg him for the love of heaven to drive carefully down th_ill. He knew all this and therefore waited calmly for what would happen, wit_ore patience than the horses, especially the near one, the chestnut Falcon, who was pawing the ground and champing his bit. At last all were seated, th_arriage steps were folded and pulled up, the door was shut, somebody was sen_or a traveling case, and the countess leaned out and said what she had t_ay. Then Efim deliberately doffed his hat and began crossing himself. Th_ostilion and all the other servants did the same. "Off, in God's name!" sai_fim, putting on his hat. "Start!" The postilion started the horses, the of_ole horse tugged at his collar, the high springs creaked, and the body of th_oach swayed. The footman sprang onto the box of the moving coach which jolte_s it passed out of the yard onto the uneven roadway; the other vehicle_olted in their turn, and the procession of carriages moved up the street. I_he carriages, the caleche, and the phaeton, all crossed themselves as the_assed the church opposite the house. Those who were to remain in Mosco_alked on either side of the vehicles seeing the travelers off.
  • Rarely had Natasha experienced so joyful a feeling as now, sitting in th_arriage beside the countess and gazing at the slowly receding walls o_orsaken, agitated Moscow. Occasionally she leaned out of the carriage windo_nd looked back and then forward at the long train of wounded in front o_hem. Almost at the head of the line she could see the raised hood of Princ_ndrew's caleche. She did not know who was in it, but each time she looked a_he procession her eyes sought that caleche. She knew it was right in front.
  • In Kudrino, from the Nikitski, Presnya, and Podnovinsk Streets came severa_ther trains of vehicles similar to the Rostovs', and as they passed along th_adovaya Street the carriages and carts formed two rows abreast.
  • As they were going round the Sukharev water tower Natasha, who wa_nquisitively and alertly scrutinizing the people driving or walking past, suddenly cried out in joyful surprise:
  • "Dear me! Mamma, Sonya, look, it's he!"
  • "Who? Who?"
  • "Look! Yes, on my word, it's Bezukhov!" said Natasha, putting her head out o_he carriage and staring at a tall, stout man in a coachman's long coat, wh_rom his manner of walking and moving was evidently a gentleman in disguise, and who was passing under the arch of the Sukharev tower accompanied by _mall, sallow-faced, beardless old man in a frieze coat.
  • "Yes, it really is Bezukhov in a coachman's coat, with a queer-looking ol_oy. Really," said Natasha, "look, look!"
  • "No, it's not he. How can you talk such nonsense?"
  • "Mamma," screamed Natasha, "I'll stake my head it's he! I assure you! Stop, stop!" she cried to the coachman.
  • But the coachman could not stop, for from the Meshchanski Street came mor_arts and carriages, and the Rostovs were being shouted at to move on and no_lock the way.
  • In fact, however, though now much farther off than before, the Rostovs all sa_ierre—or someone extraordinarily like him—in a coachman's coat, going dow_he street with head bent and a serious face beside a small, beardless old ma_ho looked like a footman. That old man noticed a face thrust out of th_arriage window gazing at them, and respectfully touching Pierre's elbow sai_omething to him and pointed to the carriage. Pierre, evidently engrossed i_hought, could not at first understand him. At length when he had understoo_nd looked in the direction the old man indicated, he recognized Natasha, an_ollowing his first impulse stepped instantly and rapidly toward the coach.
  • But having taken a dozen steps he seemed to remember something and stopped.
  • Natasha's face, leaning out of the window, beamed with quizzical kindliness.
  • "Peter Kirilovich, come here! We have recognized you! This is wonderful!" sh_ried, holding out her hand to him. "What are you doing? Why are you lik_his?"
  • Pierre took her outstretched hand and kissed it awkwardly as he walked alon_eside her while the coach still moved on.
  • "What is the matter, Count?" asked the countess in a surprised an_ommiserating tone.
  • "What? What? Why? Don't ask me," said Pierre, and looked round at Natash_hose radiant, happy expression—of which he was conscious without looking a_er—filled him with enchantment.
  • "Are you remaining in Moscow, then?"
  • Pierre hesitated.
  • "In Moscow?" he said in a questioning tone. "Yes, in Moscow. Goodby!"
  • "Ah, if only I were a man? I'd certainly stay with you. How splendid!" sai_atasha. "Mamma, if you'll let me, I'll stay!"
  • Pierre glanced absently at Natasha and was about to say something, but th_ountess interrupted him.
  • "You were at the battle, we heard."
  • "Yes, I was," Pierre answered. "There will be another battle tomorrow… " h_egan, but Natasha interrupted him.
  • "But what is the matter with you, Count? You are not like yourself… ."
  • "Oh, don't ask me, don't ask me! I don't know myself. Tomorrow… But no! Good- by, good-by!" he muttered. "It's an awful time!" and dropping behind th_arriage he stepped onto the pavement.
  • Natasha continued to lean out of the window for a long time, beaming at hi_ith her kindly, slightly quizzical, happy smile.