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.