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Chapter 8

  • The war was flaming up and nearing the Russian frontier. Everywhere one hear_urses on Bonaparte, "the enemy of mankind." Militiamen and recruits wer_eing enrolled in the villages, and from the seat of war came contradictor_ews, false as usual and therefore variously interpreted. The life of ol_rince Bolkonski, Prince Andrew, and Princess Mary had greatly changed sinc_805.
  • In 1806 the old prince was made one of the eight commanders in chief the_ppointed to supervise the enrollment decreed throughout Russia. Despite th_eakness of age, which had become particularly noticeable since the time whe_e thought his son had been killed, he did not think it right to refuse a dut_o which he had been appointed by the Emperor himself, and this fres_pportunity for action gave him new energy and strength. He was continuall_raveling through the three provinces entrusted to him, was pedantic in th_ulfillment of his duties, severe to cruelty with his subordinates, and wen_nto everything down to the minutest details himself. Princess Mary had cease_aking lessons in mathematics from her father, and when the old prince was a_ome went to his study with the wet nurse and little Prince Nicholas (as hi_randfather called him). The baby Prince Nicholas lived with his wet nurse an_urse Savishna in the late princess' rooms and Princess Mary spent most of th_ay in the nursery, taking a mother's place to her little nephew as best sh_ould. Mademoiselle Bourienne, too, seemed passionately fond of the boy, an_rincess Mary often deprived herself to give her friend the pleasure o_andling the little angel—as she called her nephew—and playing with him.
  • Near the altar of the church at Bald Hills there was a chapel over the tomb o_he little princess, and in this chapel was a marble monument brought fro_taly, representing an angel with outspread wings ready to fly upwards. Th_ngel's upper lip was slightly raised as though about to smile, and once o_oming out of the chapel Prince Andrew and Princess Mary admitted to on_nother that the angel's face reminded them strangely of the little princess.
  • But what was still stranger, though of this Prince Andrew said nothing to hi_ister, was that in the expression the sculptor had happened to give th_ngel's face, Prince Andrew read the same mild reproach he had read on th_ace of his dead wife: "Ah, why have you done this to me?"
  • Soon after Prince Andrew's return the old prince made over to him a larg_state, Bogucharovo, about twenty-five miles from Bald Hills. Partly becaus_f the depressing memories associated with Bald Hills, partly because Princ_ndrew did not always feel equal to bearing with his father's peculiarities,
  • and partly because he needed solitude, Prince Andrew made use of Bogucharovo,
  • began building and spent most of his time there.
  • After the Austerlitz campaign Prince Andrew had firmly resolved not t_ontinue his military service, and when the war recommenced and everybody ha_o serve, he took a post under his father in the recruitment so as to avoi_ctive service. The old prince and his son seemed to have changed roles sinc_he campaign of 1805. The old man, roused by activity, expected the bes_esults from the new campaign, while Prince Andrew on the contrary, taking n_art in the war and secretly regretting this, saw only the dark side.
  • On February 26, 1807, the old prince set off on one of his circuits. Princ_ndrew remained at Bald Hills as usual during his father's absence. Littl_icholas had been unwell for four days. The coachman who had driven the ol_rince to town returned bringing papers and letters for Prince Andrew.
  • Not finding the young prince in his study the valet went with the letters t_rincess Mary's apartments, but did not find him there. He was told that th_rince had gone to the nursery.
  • "If you please, your excellency, Petrusha has brought some papers," said on_f the nursemaids to Prince Andrew who was sitting on a child's little chai_hile, frowning and with trembling hands, he poured drops from a medicin_ottle into a wineglass half full of water.
  • "What is it?" he said crossly, and, his hand shaking unintentionally, h_oured too many drops into the glass. He threw the mixture onto the floor an_sked for some more water. The maid brought it.
  • There were in the room a child's cot, two boxes, two armchairs, a table, _hild's table, and the little chair on which Prince Andrew was sitting. Th_urtains were drawn, and a single candle was burning on the table, screened b_ bound music book so that the light did not fall on the cot.
  • "My dear," said Princess Mary, addressing her brother from beside the co_here she was standing, "better wait a bit… later… "
  • "Oh, leave off, you always talk nonsense and keep putting things off—and thi_s what comes of it!" said Prince Andrew in an exasperated whisper, evidentl_eaning to wound his sister.
  • "My dear, really… it's better not to wake him… he's asleep," said the princes_n a tone of entreaty.
  • Prince Andrew got up and went on tiptoe up to the little bed, wineglass i_and.
  • "Perhaps we'd really better not wake him," he said hesitating.
  • "As you please… really… I think so… but as you please," said Princess Mary,
  • evidently intimidated and confused that her opinion had prevailed. She dre_er brother's attention to the maid who was calling him in a whisper.
  • It was the second night that neither of them had slept, watching the boy wh_as in a high fever. These last days, mistrusting their household doctor an_xpecting another for whom they had sent to town, they had been trying firs_ne remedy and then another. Worn out by sleeplessness and anxiety they thre_heir burden of sorrow on one another and reproached and disputed with eac_ther.
  • "Petrusha has come with papers from your father," whispered the maid.
  • Prince Andrew went out.
  • "Devil take them!" he muttered, and after listening to the verbal instruction_is father had sent and taking the correspondence and his father's letter, h_eturned to the nursery.
  • "Well?" he asked.
  • "Still the same. Wait, for heaven's sake. Karl Ivanich always says that slee_s more important than anything," whispered Princess Mary with a sigh.
  • Prince Andrew went up to the child and felt him. He was burning hot.
  • "Confound you and your Karl Ivanich!" He took the glass with the drops an_gain went up to the cot.
  • "Andrew, don't!" said Princess Mary.
  • But he scowled at her angrily though also with suffering in his eyes, an_tooped glass in hand over the infant.
  • "But I wish it," he said. "I beg you—give it him!"
  • Princess Mary shrugged her shoulders but took the glass submissively an_alling the nurse began giving the medicine. The child screamed hoarsely.
  • Prince Andrew winced and, clutching his head, went out and sat down on a sof_n the next room.
  • He still had all the letters in his hand. Opening them mechanically he bega_eading. The old prince, now and then using abbreviations, wrote in his larg_longated hand on blue paper as follows:
  • Have just this moment received by special messenger very joyful news—if it'_ot false. Bennigsen seems to have obtained a complete victory over Buonapart_t Eylau. In Petersburg everyone is rejoicing, and the rewards sent to th_rmy are innumerable. Though he is a German—I congratulate him! I can't mak_ut what the commander at Korchevo—a certain Khandrikov—is up to; till now th_dditional men and provisions have not arrived. Gallop off to him at once an_ay I'll have his head off if everything is not here in a week. Have receive_nother letter about the Preussisch-Eylau battle from Petenka—he took part i_t—and it's all true. When mischief-makers don't meddle even a German beat_uonaparte. He is said to be fleeing in great disorder. Mind you gallop off t_orchevo without delay and carry out instructions!
  • Prince Andrew sighed and broke the seal of another envelope. It was a closel_ritten letter of two sheets from Bilibin. He folded it up without reading i_nd reread his father's letter, ending with the words: "Gallop off to Korchev_nd carry out instructions!"
  • "No, pardon me, I won't go now till the child is better," thought he, going t_he door and looking into the nursery.
  • Princess Mary was still standing by the cot, gently rocking the baby.
  • "Ah yes, and what else did he say that's unpleasant?" thought Prince Andrew,
  • recalling his father's letter. "Yes, we have gained a victory over Bonaparte,
  • just when I'm not serving. Yes, yes, he's always poking fun at me… . Ah, well!
  • Let him!" And he began reading Bilibin's letter which was written in French.
  • He read without understanding half of it, read only to forget, if but for _oment, what he had too long been thinking of so painfully to the exclusion o_ll else.