Two months had elapsed since the news of the battle of Austerlitz and the los_f Prince Andrew had reached Bald Hills, and in spite of the letters sen_hrough the embassy and all the searches made, his body had not been found no_as he on the list of prisoners. What was worst of all for his relations wa_he fact that there was still a possibility of his having been picked up o_he battlefield by the people of the place and that he might now be lying,
recovering or dying, alone among strangers and unable to send news of himself.
The gazettes from which the old prince first heard of the defeat at Austerlit_tated, as usual very briefly and vaguely, that after brilliant engagement_he Russians had had to retreat and had made their withdrawal in perfec_rder. The old prince understood from this official report that our army ha_een defeated. A week after the gazette report of the battle of Austerlit_ame a letter from Kutuzov informing the prince of the fate that had befalle_is son.
"Your son," wrote Kutuzov, "fell before my eyes, a standard in his hand and a_he head of a regiment—he fell as a hero, worthy of his father and hi_atherland. To the great regret of myself and of the whole army it is stil_ncertain whether he is alive or not. I comfort myself and you with the hop_hat your son is alive, for otherwise he would have been mentioned among th_fficers found on the field of battle, a list of whom has been sent me unde_lag of truce."
After receiving this news late in the evening, when he was alone in his study,
the old prince went for his walk as usual next morning, but he was silent wit_is steward, the gardener, and the architect, and though he looked very gri_e said nothing to anyone.
When Princess Mary went to him at the usual hour he was working at his lath_nd, as usual, did not look round at her.
"Ah, Princess Mary!" he said suddenly in an unnatural voice, throwing down hi_hisel. (The wheel continued to revolve by its own impetus, and Princess Mar_ong remembered the dying creak of that wheel, which merged in her memory wit_hat followed.)
She approached him, saw his face, and something gave way within her. Her eye_rew dim. By the expression of her father's face, not sad, not crushed, bu_ngry and working unnaturally, she saw that hanging over her and about t_rush her was some terrible misfortune, the worst in life, one she had not ye_xperienced, irreparable and incomprehensible—the death of one she loved.
"Father! Andrew!"—said the ungraceful, awkward princess with such a_ndescribable charm of sorrow and self-forgetfulness that her father could no_ear her look but turned away with a sob.
"Bad news! He's not among the prisoners nor among the killed! Kutuzov writes…
" and he screamed as piercingly as if he wished to drive the princess away b_hat scream… "Killed!"
The princess did not fall down or faint. She was already pale, but on hearin_hese words her face changed and something brightened in her beautiful,
radiant eyes. It was as if joy—a supreme joy apart from the joys and sorrow_f this world—overflowed the great grief within her. She forgot all fear o_er father, went up to him, took his hand, and drawing him down put her ar_ound his thin, scraggy neck.
"Father," she said, "do not turn away from me, let us weep together."
"Scoundrels! Blackguards!" shrieked the old man, turning his face away fro_er. "Destroying the army, destroying the men! And why? Go, go and tell Lise."
The princess sank helplessly into an armchair beside her father and wept. Sh_aw her brother now as he had been at the moment when he took leave of her an_f Lise, his look tender yet proud. She saw him tender and amused as he wa_hen he put on the little icon. "Did he believe? Had he repented of hi_nbelief? Was he now there? There in the realms of eternal peace an_lessedness?" she thought.
"Father, tell me how it happened," she asked through her tears.
"Go! Go! Killed in battle, where the best of Russian men and Russia's glor_ere led to destruction. Go, Princess Mary. Go and tell Lise. I will follow."
When Princess Mary returned from her father, the little princess sat workin_nd looked up with that curious expression of inner, happy calm peculiar t_regnant women. It was evident that her eyes did not see Princess Mary bu_ere looking within… into herself… at something joyful and mysterious takin_lace within her.
"Mary," she said, moving away from the embroidery frame and lying back, "giv_e your hand." She took her sister-in-law's hand and held it below her waist.
Her eyes were smiling expectantly, her downy lip rose and remained lifted i_hildlike happiness.
Princess Mary knelt down before her and hid her face in the folds of he_ister-in-law's dress.
"There, there! Do you feel it? I feel so strange. And do you know, Mary, I a_oing to love him very much," said Lise, looking with bright and happy eyes a_er sister-in-law.
Princess Mary could not lift her head, she was weeping.
"What is the matter, Mary?"
"Nothing… only I feel sad… sad about Andrew," she said, wiping away her tear_n her sister-in-law's knee.
Several times in the course of the morning Princess Mary began trying t_repare her sister-in-law, and every time began to cry. Unobservant as was th_ittle princess, these tears, the cause of which she did not understand,
agitated her. She said nothing but looked about uneasily as if in search o_omething. Before dinner the old prince, of whom she was always afraid, cam_nto her room with a peculiarly restless and malign expression and went ou_gain without saying a word. She looked at Princess Mary, then sat thinkin_or a while with that expression of attention to something within her that i_nly seen in pregnant women, and suddenly began to cry.
"Has anything come from Andrew?" she asked.
"No, you know it's too soon for news. But my father is anxious and I fee_fraid."
"So there's nothing?"
"Nothing," answered Princess Mary, looking firmly with her radiant eyes at he_ister-in-law.
She had determined not to tell her and persuaded her father to hide th_errible news from her till after her confinement, which was expected within _ew days. Princess Mary and the old prince each bore and hid their grief i_heir own way. The old prince would not cherish any hope: he made up his min_hat Prince Andrew had been killed, and though he sent an official to Austri_o seek for traces of his son, he ordered a monument from Moscow which h_ntended to erect in his own garden to his memory, and he told everybody tha_is son had been killed. He tried not to change his former way of life, bu_is strength failed him. He walked less, ate less, slept less, and becam_eaker every day. Princess Mary hoped. She prayed for her brother as livin_nd was always awaiting news of his return.