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Chapter 4

  • Pierre sat opposite Dolokhov and Nicholas Rostov. As usual, he ate and dran_uch, and eagerly. But those who knew him intimately noticed that some grea_hange had come over him that day. He was silent all through dinner and looke_bout, blinking and scowling, or, with fixed eyes and a look of complet_bsent-mindedness, kept rubbing the bridge of his nose. His face was depresse_nd gloomy. He seemed to see and hear nothing of what was going on around hi_nd to be absorbed by some depressing and unsolved problem.
  • The unsolved problem that tormented him was caused by hints given by th_rincess, his cousin, at Moscow, concerning Dolokhov's intimacy with his wife,
  • and by an anonymous letter he had received that morning, which in the mea_ocular way common to anonymous letters said that he saw badly through hi_pectacles, but that his wife's connection with Dolokhov was a secret to n_ne but himself. Pierre absolutely disbelieved both the princess' hints an_he letter, but he feared now to look at Dolokhov, who was sitting opposit_im. Every time he chanced to meet Dolokhov's handsome insolent eyes, Pierr_elt something terrible and monstrous rising in his soul and turned quickly
  • away. Involuntarily recalling his wife's past and her relations with Dolokhov,
  • Pierre saw clearly that what was said in the letter might be true, or might a_east seem to be true had it not referred to his wife. He involuntaril_emembered how Dolokhov, who had fully recovered his former position after th_ampaign, had returned to Petersburg and come to him. Availing himself of hi_riendly relations with Pierre as a boon companion, Dolokhov had come straigh_o his house, and Pierre had put him up and lent him money. Pierre recalle_ow Helene had smilingly expressed disapproval of Dolokhov's living at thei_ouse, and how cynically Dolokhov had praised his wife's beauty to him an_rom 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 b_articularly pleasant to him to dishonor my name and ridicule me, just becaus_ have exerted myself on his behalf, befriended him, and helped him. I kno_nd understand what a spice that would add to the pleasure of deceiving me, i_t really were true. Yes, if it were true, but I do not believe it. I have n_ight to, and can't, believe it." He remembered the expression Dolokhov's fac_ssumed in his moments of cruelty, as when tying the policeman to the bear an_ropping them into the water, or when he challenged a man to a duel withou_ny reason, or shot a post-boy's horse with a pistol. That expression wa_ften on Dolokhov's face when looking at him. "Yes, he is a bully," though_ierre, "to kill a man means nothing to him. It must seem to him that everyon_s afraid of him, and that must please him. He must think that I, too, a_fraid of him—and in fact I am afraid of him," he thought, and again he fel_omething terrible and monstrous rising in his soul. Dolokhov, Denisov, an_ostov were now sitting opposite Pierre and seemed very gay. Rostov wa_alking merrily to his two friends, one of whom was a dashing hussar and th_ther a notorious duelist and rake, and every now and then he glance_ronically at Pierre, whose preoccupied, absent-minded, and massive figure wa_ very noticeable one at the dinner. Rostov looked inimically at Pierre, firs_ecause Pierre appeared to his hussar eyes as a rich civilian, the husband o_ beauty, and in a word—an old woman; and secondly because Pierre in hi_reoccupation and absent-mindedness had not recognized Rostov and had no_esponded to his greeting. When the Emperor's health was drunk, Pierre, los_n thought, did not rise or lift his glass.
  • "What are you about?" shouted Rostov, looking at him in an ecstasy o_xasperation. "Don't you hear it's His Majesty the Emperor's health?"
  • Pierre sighed, rose submissively, emptied his glass, and, waiting till al_ere seated again, turned with his kindly smile to Rostov.
  • "Why, I didn't recognize you!" he said. But Rostov was otherwise engaged; h_as shouting "Hurrah!"
  • "Why don't you renew the acquaintance?" said Dolokhov to Rostov.
  • "Confound him, he's a fool!" said Rostov.
  • "One should make up to the husbands of pretty women," said Denisov.
  • Pierre did not catch what they were saying, but knew they were talking abou_im. He reddened and turned away.
  • "Well, now to the health of handsome women!" said Dolokhov, and with a seriou_xpression, but with a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth, he turne_ith 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 Dolokho_r answering him. The footman, who was distributing leaflets with Kutuzov'_antata, laid one before Pierre as one of the principal guests. He was jus_oing to take it when Dolokhov, leaning across, snatched it from his hand an_egan reading it. Pierre looked at Dolokhov and his eyes dropped, th_omething terrible and monstrous that had tormented him all dinnertime ros_nd 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, Nesvitski and th_eighbor on his right quickly turned in alarm to Bezukhov.
  • "Don't! Don't! What are you about?" whispered their frightened voices.
  • Dolokhov looked at Pierre with clear, mirthful, cruel eyes, and that smile o_is 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 hi_hair, he rose from the table.
  • At the very instant he did this and uttered those words, Pierre felt that th_uestion of his wife's guilt which had been tormenting him the whole day wa_inally and indubitably answered in the affirmative. He hated her and wa_orever sundered from her. Despite Denisov's request that he would take n_art in the matter, Rostov agreed to be Dolokhov's second, and after dinner h_iscussed the arrangements for the duel with Nesvitski, Bezukhov's second.
  • Pierre went home, but Rostov with Dolokhov and Denisov stayed on at the Clu_ill late, listening to the gypsies and other singers.
  • "Well then, till tomorrow at Sokolniki," said Dolokhov, as he took leave o_ostov in the Club porch.
  • "And do you feel quite calm?" Rostov asked.
  • Dolokhov paused.
  • "Well, you see, I'll tell you the whole secret of dueling in two words. If yo_re going to fight a duel, and you make a will and write affectionate letter_o your parents, and if you think you may be killed, you are a fool and ar_ost for certain. But go with the firm intention of killing your man a_uickly and surely as possible, and then all will be right, as our bea_untsman at Kostroma used to tell me. 'Everyone fears a bear,' he says, 'bu_hen you see one your fear's all gone, and your only thought is not to let hi_et away!' And that's how it is with me. A demain, mo_her."[[42]](footnotes.xml#footnote_42) Next day, at eight in the morning,
  • Pierre and Nesvitski drove to the Sokolniki forest and found Dolokhov,
  • Denisov, and Rostov already there. Pierre had the air of a man preoccupie_ith considerations which had no connection with the matter in hand. Hi_aggard face was yellow. He had evidently not slept that night. He looke_bout distractedly and screwed up his eyes as if dazzled by the sun. He wa_ntirely absorbed by two considerations: his wife's guilt, of which after hi_leepless night he had not the slightest doubt, and the guiltlessness o_olokhov, who had no reason to preserve the honor of a man who was nothing t_im… . "I should perhaps have done the same thing in his place," though_ierre. "It's even certain that I should have done the same, then why thi_uel, this murder? Either I shall kill him, or he will hit me in the head, o_lbow, 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 t_im, he would ask in a particularly calm and absent-minded way, which inspire_he respect of the onlookers, "Will it be long? Are things ready?" When al_as ready, the sabers stuck in the snow to mark the barriers, and the pistol_oaded, Nesvitski 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 hono_ou have done me in choosing me for your second, if at this grave, this ver_rave, moment I did not tell you the whole truth. I think there is n_ufficient ground for this affair, or for blood to be shed over it… . You wer_ot right, not quite in the right, you were impetuous… " "Oh yes, it i_orribly stupid," said Pierre. "Then allow me to express your regrets, and _m sure your opponent will accept them," said Nesvitski (who like the other_oncerned in the affair, and like everyone in similar cases, did not ye_elieve that the affair had come to an actual duel). "You know, Count, it i_uch more honorable to admit one's mistake than to let matters becom_rreparable. 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 everythin_eady?" he added. "Only tell me where to go and where to shoot," he said wit_n unnaturally gentle smile. He took the pistol in his hand and began askin_bout the working of the trigger, as he had not before held a pistol in hi_and—a fact that he did not to confess. "Oh yes, like that, I know, I onl_orgot," said he. "No apologies, none whatever," said Dolokhov to Denisov (wh_n his side had been attempting a reconciliation), and he also went up to th_ppointed place. The spot chosen for the duel was some eighty paces from th_oad, where the sleighs had been left, in a small clearing in the pine fores_overed with melting snow, the frost having begun to break up during the las_ew days. The antagonists stood forty paces apart at the farther edge of th_learing. The seconds, measuring the paces, left tracks in the deep wet sno_etween the place where they had been standing and Nesvitski's and Dolokhov'_abers, which were stuck intothe ground ten paces apart to mark the barrier.
  • It was thawing and misty; at forty paces' distance nothing could be seen. Fo_hree minutes all had been ready, but they still delayed and all were silent.