War And Peace



IN THE MIDDLE of this new story Pierre was summoned to the governor.

He went into Count Rastoptchin's study. Rastoptchin, frowning, passed his hand across his forehead and eyes as Pierre entered. A short man was saying something, but as soon as Pierre walked in he stopped, and went out.

“Ah! greetings to you, valiant warrior,” said Rastoptchin as soon as the other man had left the room. “We have been hearing about your prouesses! But that's not the point. Mon cher, entre nous, are you a mason?” said Count Rastoptchin in a severe tone, that suggested that it was a crime to be so, but that he intended to pardon it. Pierre did not speak. “Mon cher, je suis bien informé; but I know that there are masons and masons, and I hope you don't belong to those among them who, by way of regenerating the human race, are trying to ruin Russia.”

“Yes, I am a mason,” answered Pierre.

“Well then, look here, my dear boy. You are not unaware, I dare say, of the fact that Speransky and Magnitsky have been sent—to their proper place—and the same has been done with Klutcharyov and the others who, under the guise of building up the temple of Solomon, have been trying to destroy the temple of their fatherland. You may take it for granted there are good reasons for it, and that I could not have banished the director of the post-office here if he had not been a dangerous person. Now, it has reached my ears that you sent him your carriage to get out of the town, and that you have even taken charge of his papers. I like you, and wish you no harm, and as you are half my age, I advise you, as a father might, to break off all connection with people of that sort, and to get away from here yourself as quickly as you can.”

“But what was Klutcharyov's crime?” asked Pierre

“That's my business; and it's not yours to question me,” cried Rastoptchin.

“If he is accused of having circulated Napoleon's proclamation, the charge has not been proved,” said Pierre, not looking at Rastoptchin. “And Vereshtchagin…”

Nous y voilà,” Rastoptchin suddenly broke in, scowling and shouting louder than ever. “Vereshtchagin is a traitor and a deceiver, who will receive the punishment he deserves,” he said, with the vindictiveness with which people speak at the recollection of an affront. “But I did not send for you to criticise my actions, but in order to give you advice or a command, if you will have it so. I beg you to break off all connection with Klutcharyov and his set, and to leave the town. And I'll knock the nonsense out of them, wherever I may find it.” And, probably becoming conscious that he was taking a heated tone with Bezuhov, who was as yet guilty of no offence, he added, taking Pierre's hand cordially: “We are on the eve of a public disaster, and I haven't time to say civil things to every one who has business with me. My head is at times in a perfect whirl. Well, what are you going to do, you personally?”

“Oh, nothing,” answered Pierre, with his eyes still downcast, and no change in the expression of his dreamy face

The count frowned.

Un conseil d'ami, mon cher. Decamp, and as soon as may be, that's my advice. A bon entendeur, salut! Good-bye, my dear boy. Oh, by the way,” he called after him at the door, “is it true the countess has fallen into the clutches of the holy fathers of the Society of Jesus?”

Pierre made no answer. He walked out from Rastoptchin's room, scowling and wrathful as he had never been seen before.

By the time he reached home it was getting dark. Eight persons of different kinds were waiting on him that evening. A secretary of a committee, the colonel of his battalion of militia, his steward, his bailiff, and other persons with petitions. All of them had business matters with Pierre, which he had to settle. He had no understanding of their questions, nor interest in them, and answered them with the sole object of getting rid of these people. At last he was left alone, and he broke open and read his wife's letter.

They—the soldiers on the battery, Prince Andrey killed … the old man.… Simplicity is submission to God's will. One has to suffer…the significance of the whole…one must harness all together…my wife is going to be married.… One must forget and understand …” And, without undressing, he threw himself on his bed and at once fell asleep.

When he waked up next morning his steward came in to announce that a police official was below, sent expressly by Count Rastoptchin to find out whether Count Bezuhov had gone, or was going away.

A dozen different people were waiting in the drawing-room to see Pierre on business. Pierre dressed in haste, and instead of going down to see them, he ran down the back staircase and out by the back entry to the gates.

From that moment till the occupation of Moscow was over, no one of Bezuhov's household saw him again, nor could discover his whereabouts, in spite of every effort to track him down.




Back Home