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- War and Peace - 200/336 -


Alpatych looked intently at Dron and frowned. Just as Dron was a model village Elder, so Alpatych had not managed the prince's estates for twenty years in vain. He a model steward, possessing in the highest degree the faculty of divining the needs and instincts of those he dealt with. Having glanced at Dron he at once understood that his answers did not express his personal views but the general mood of the Bogucharovo commune, by which the Elder had already been carried away. But he also knew that Dron, who had acquired property and was hated by the commune, must be hesitating between the two camps: the masters' and the serfs'. He noticed this hesitation in Dron's look and therefore frowned and moved closer up to him.

"Now just listen, Dronushka," said he. "Don't talk nonsense to me. His excellency Prince Andrew himself gave me orders to move all the people away and not leave them with the enemy, and there is an order from the Tsar about it too. Anyone who stays is a traitor to the Tsar. Do you hear?"

"I hear," Dron answered without lifting his eyes.

Alpatych was not satisfied with this reply.

"Eh, Dron, it will turn out badly!" he said, shaking his head.

"The power is in your hands," Dron rejoined sadly.

"Eh, Dron, drop it!" Alpatych repeated, withdrawing his hand from his bosom and solemnly pointing to the floor at Dron's feet. "I can see through you and three yards into the ground under you," he continued, gazing at the floor in front of Dron.

Dron was disconcerted, glanced furtively at Alpatych and again lowered his eyes.

"You drop this nonsense and tell the people to get ready to leave their homes and go to Moscow and to get carts ready for tomorrow morning for the princess' things. And don't go to any meeting yourself, do you hear?"

Dron suddenly fell on his knees.

"Yakov Alpatych, discharge me! Take the keys from me and discharge me, for Christ's sake!"

"Stop that!" cried Alpatych sternly. "I see through you and three yards under you," he repeated, knowing that his skill in beekeeping, his knowledge of the right time to sow the oats, and the fact that he had been able to retain the old prince's favor for twenty years had long since gained him the reputation of being a wizard, and that the power of seeing three yards under a man is considered an attribute of wizards.

Dron got up and was about to say something, but Alpatych interrupted him.

"What is it you have got into your heads, eh?... What are you thinking of, eh?"

"What am I to do with the people?" said Dron. "They're quite beside themselves; I have already told them..."

"'Told them,' I dare say!" said Alpatych. "Are they drinking?" he asked abruptly.

"Quite beside themselves, Yakov Alpatych; they've fetched another barrel."

"Well, then, listen! I'll go to the police officer, and you tell them so, and that they must stop this and the carts must be got ready."

"I understand."

Alpatych did not insist further. He had managed people for a long time and knew that the chief way to make them obey is to show no suspicion that they can possibly disobey. Having wrung a submissive "I understand" from Dron, Alpatych contented himself with that, though he not only doubted but felt almost certain that without the help of troops the carts would not be forthcoming.

And so it was, for when evening came no carts had been provided. In the village, outside the drink shop, another meeting was being held, which decided that the horses should be driven out into the woods and the carts should not be provided. Without saying anything of this to the princess, Alpatych had his own belongings taken out of the carts which had arrived from Bald Hills and had those horses got ready for the princess' carriages. Meanwhile he went himself to the police authorities.

CHAPTER X

After her father's funeral Princess Mary shut herself up in her room and did not admit anyone. A maid came to the door to say that Alpatych was asking for orders about their departure. (This was before his talk with Dron.) Princess Mary raised herself on the sofa on which she had been lying and replied through the closed door that she did not mean to go away and begged to be left in peace.

The windows of the room in which she was lying looked westward. She lay on the sofa with her face to the wall, fingering the buttons of the leather cushion and seeing nothing but that cushion, and her confused thoughts were centered on one subject--the irrevocability of death and her own spiritual baseness, which she had not suspected, but which had shown itself during her father's illness. She wished to pray but did not dare to, dared not in her present state of mind address herself to God. She lay for a long time in that position.

The sun had reached the other side of the house, and its slanting rays shone into the open window, lighting up the room and part of the morocco cushion at which Princess Mary was looking. The flow of her thoughts suddenly stopped. Unconsciously she sat up, smoothed her hair, got up, and went to the window, involuntarily inhaling the freshness of the clear but windy evening.

"Yes, you can well enjoy the evening now! He is gone and no one will hinder you," she said to herself, and sinking into a chair she let her head fall on the window sill.

Someone spoke her name in a soft and tender voice from the garden and kissed her head. She looked up. It was Mademoiselle Bourienne in a black dress and weepers. She softly approached Princess Mary, sighed, kissed her, and immediately began to cry. The princess looked up at her. All their former disharmony and her own jealousy recurred to her mind. But she remembered too how he had changed of late toward Mademoiselle Bourienne and could not bear to see her, thereby showing how unjust were the reproaches Princess Mary had mentally addressed to her. "Besides, is it for me, for me who desired his death, to condemn anyone?" she thought.

Princess Mary vividly pictured to herself the position of Mademoiselle Bourienne, whom she had of late kept at a distance, but who yet was dependent on her and living in her house. She felt sorry for her and held out her hand with a glance of gentle inquiry. Mademoiselle Bourienne at once began crying again and kissed that hand, speaking of the princess' sorrow and making herself a partner in it. She said her only consolation was the fact that the princess allowed her to share her sorrow, that all the old misunderstandings should sink into nothing but this great grief; that she felt herself blameless in regard to everyone, and that he, from above, saw her affection and gratitude. The princess heard her, not heeding her words but occasionally looking up at her and listening to the sound of her voice.

"Your position is doubly terrible, dear princess," said Mademoiselle Bourienne after a pause. "I understand that you could not, and cannot, think of yourself, but with my love for you I must do so.... Has Alpatych been to you? Has he spoken to you of going away?" she asked.

Princess Mary did not answer. She did not understand who was to go or where to. "Is it possible to plan or think of anything now? Is it not all the same?" she thought, and did not reply.

"You know, chere Marie," said Mademoiselle Bourienne, "that we are in danger--are surrounded by the French. It would be dangerous to move now. If we go we are almost sure to be taken prisoners, and God knows..."

Princess Mary looked at her companion without understanding what she was talking about.

"Oh, if anyone knew how little anything matters to me now," she said. "Of course I would on no account wish to go away from him.... Alpatych did say something about going.... Speak to him; I can do nothing, nothing, and don't want to...."

"I've spoken to him. He hopes we should be in time to get away tomorrow, but I think it would now be better to stay here," said Mademoiselle Bourienne. "Because, you will agree, chere Marie, to fall into the hands of the soldiers or of riotous peasants would be terrible."

Mademoiselle Bourienne took from her reticule a proclamation (not printed on ordinary Russian paper) of General Rameau's, telling people not to leave their homes and that the French authorities would afford them proper protection. She handed this to the princess.

"I think it would be best to appeal to that general," she continued, "and and am sure that all due respect would be shown you."

Princess Mary read the paper, and her face began to quiver with stifled sobs.

"From whom did you get this?" she asked.

"They probably recognized that I am French, by my name," replied Mademoiselle Bourienne blushing.

Princess Mary, with the paper in her hand, rose from the window and with a pale face went out of the room and into what had been Prince Andrew's study.

"Dunyasha, send Alpatych, or Dronushka, or somebody to me!" she said, "and tell Mademoiselle Bourienne not to come to me," she added, hearing Mademoiselle Bourienne's voice. "We must go at once, at


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