From the day when Pierre, after leaving the Rostovs' with Natasha's gratefu_ook fresh in his mind, had gazed at the comet that seemed to be fixed in th_ky and felt that something new was appearing on his own horizon—from that da_he problem of the vanity and uselessness of all earthly things, that ha_ncessantly tormented him, no longer presented itself. That terrible question
"Why?" "Wherefore?" which had come to him amid every occupation, was no_eplaced, not by another question or by a reply to the former question, but b_er image. When he listened to, or himself took part in, trivia_onversations, when he read or heard of human baseness or folly, he was no_orrified as formerly, and did not ask himself why men struggled so abou_hese things when all is so transient and incomprehensible—but he remembere_er as he had last seen her, and all his doubts vanished—not because she ha_nswered the questions that had haunted him, but because his conception of he_ransferred him instantly to another, a brighter, realm of spiritual activit_n which no one could be justified or guilty—a realm of beauty and love whic_t was worth living for. Whatever worldly baseness presented itself to him, h_aid to himself:
"Well, supposing N. N. swindled the country and the Tsar, and the country an_he Tsar confer honors upon him, what does that matter? She smiled at m_esterday and asked me to come again, and I love her, and no one will eve_now it." And his soul felt calm and peaceful.
Pierre still went into society, drank as much and led the same idle an_issipated life, because besides the hours he spent at the Rostovs' there wer_ther hours he had to spend somehow, and the habits and acquaintances he ha_ade in Moscow formed a current that bore him along irresistibly. Bu_atterly, when more and more disquieting reports came from the seat of war an_atasha's health began to improve and she no longer aroused in him the forme_eeling of careful pity, an ever-increasing restlessness, which he could no_xplain, took possession of him. He felt that the condition he was in coul_ot continue long, that a catastrophe was coming which would change his whol_ife, and he impatiently sought everywhere for signs of that approachin_atastrophe. One of his brother Masons had revealed to Pierre the followin_rophecy concerning Napoleon, drawn from the Revelation of St. John.
In chapter 13, verse 18, of the Apocalypse, it is said:
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore an_ix.
And in the fifth verse of the same chapter:
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies;
and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
The French alphabet, written out with the same numerical values as the Hebrew,
in which the first nine letters denote units and the others tens, will hav_he following significance:
a b c d e f g h i k
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
l m n o p q r s
20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
t u v w x y
100 110 120 130 140 150
Writing the words L'Empereur Napoleon in numbers, it appears that the sum o_hem is 666, and that Napoleon therefore the beast foretold in the Apocalypse.
Moreover, by applying the same system to the words quarante-
deux,[](footnotes.xml#footnote_76) which was the term allowed to the beas_hat "spoke great things and blasphemies," the same number 666 was obtained;
from which it followed that the limit fixed for Napoleon's power had come i_he year 1812 when the French emperor was forty-two. This prophecy please_ierre very much and he often asked himself what would put an end to the powe_f the beast, that is, of Napoleon, and tried by the same system of usin_etters as numbers and adding them up, to find an answer to the question tha_ngrossed him. He wrote the words L'Empereur Alexandre, La nation russe an_dded up their numbers, but the sums were either more or less than 666. Onc_hen making such calculations he wrote down his own name in French, Comt_ierre Besouhoff, but the sum of the numbers did not come right. Then h_hanged the spelling, substituting a z for the s and adding de and the articl_e, still without obtaining the desired result. Then it occurred to him: i_he answer to the question were contained in his name, his nationality woul_lso be given in the answer. So he wrote Le russe Besuhof and adding up th_umbers got 671\. This was only five too much, and five was represented by e,
the very letter elided from the article le before the word Empereur. B_mitting the e, though incorrectly, Pierre got the answer he sought. L'russ_esuhof made 666. This discovery excited him. How, or by what means, he wa_onnected with the great event foretold in the Apocalypse he did not know, bu_e did not doubt that connection for a moment. His love for Natasha,
Antichrist, Napoleon, the invasion, the comet, 666, L'Empereur Napoleon, an_'russe Besuhof—all this had to mature and culminate, to lift him out of tha_pellbound, petty sphere of Moscow habits in which he felt himself hel_aptive and lead him to a great achievement and great happiness. On the eve o_he Sunday when the special prayer was read, Pierre had promised the Rostov_o bring them, from Count Rostopchin whom he knew well, both the appeal to th_eople and the news from the army. In the morning, when he went to call a_ostopchin's he met there a courier fresh from the army, an acquaintance o_is own, who often danced at Moscow balls. "Do, please, for heaven's sake,
relieve me of something!" said the courier. "I have a sackful of letters t_arents." Among these letters was one from Nicholas Rostov to his father.
Pierre took that letter, and Rostopchin also gave him the Emperor's appeal t_oscow, which had just been printed, the last army orders, and his own mos_ecent bulletin. Glancing through the army orders, Pierre found in one o_hem, in the lists of killed, wounded, and rewarded, the name of Nichola_ostov, awarded a St. George's Cross of the Fourth Class for courage shown i_he Ostrovna affair, and in the same order the name of Prince Andre_olkonski, appointed to the command of a regiment of Chasseurs. Though he di_ot want to remind the Rostovs of Bolkonski, Pierre could not refrain fro_aking them happy by the news of their son's having received a decoration, s_e sent that printed army order and Nicholas' letter to the Rostovs, keepin_he appeal, the bulletin, and the other orders to take with him when he wen_o dinner. His conversation with Count Rostopchin and the latter's tone o_nxious hurry, the meeting with the courier who talked casually of how badl_hings were going in the army, the rumors of the discovery of spies in Mosco_nd of a leaflet in circulation stating that Napoleon promised to be in bot_he Russian capitals by the autumn, and the talk of the Emperor's bein_xpected to arrive next day—all aroused with fresh force that feeling o_gitation and expectation in Pierre which he had been conscious of ever sinc_he appearance of the comet, and especially since the beginning of the war. H_ad long been thinking of entering the army and would have done so had he no_een hindered, first, by his membership of the Society of Freemasons to whic_e was bound by oath and which preached perpetual peace and the abolition o_ar, and secondly, by the fact that when he saw the great mass of Muscovite_ho had donned uniform and were talking patriotism, he somehow felt ashamed t_ake the step. But the chief reason for not carrying out his intention t_nter the army lay in the vague idea that he was L'russe Besuhof who had th_umber of the beast, 666; that his part in the great affair of setting a limi_o the power of the beast that spoke great and blasphemous things had bee_redestined from eternity, and that therefore he ought not to undertak_nything, but wait for what was bound to come to pass.