Chapter 1

PRINCE VASSILY used not to think over his plans. Still less did he think of doing harm to others for the sake of his own interest. He was simply a man of the world, who had been successful in the world, and had formed a habit of being so. Various plans and calculations were continually forming in his mind, arising from circumstances and the persons he met, but he never deliberately considered them, though they constituted the whole interest of his life. Of such plans and calculations he had not one or two, but dozens in train at once, some of them only beginning to occur to him, others attaining their aim, others again coming to nothing. He never said to himself, for instance: “That man is now in power, I must secure his friendship and confidence, and through him obtain a grant from the Single-Assistance Fund”; nor, “Now Pierre is a wealthy man, I must entice him to marry my daughter and borrow the forty thousand I need.” But the man in power met him, and at the instant his instinct told him that that man might be of use, and Prince Vassily made friends with him, and at the first opportunity by instinct, without previous consideration, flattered him, became intimate with him, and told him of what he wanted.

Pierre was ready at hand in Moscow, and Prince Vassily secured an appointment as gentleman of the bedchamber for him, a position at that time reckoned equal in status to that of a councillor of state, and insisted on the young man’s travelling with him to Petersburg, and staying at his house. Without apparent design, but yet with unhesitating conviction that it was the right thing, Prince Vassily did everything to ensure Pierre’s marrying his daughter. If Prince Vassily had definitely reflected upon his plans beforehand, he could not have been so natural in his behaviour and so straightforward and familiar in his relations with every one, of higher and of lower rank than himself. Something drew him infallibly towards men richer or more powerful than himself, and he was endowed with a rare instinct for hitting on precisely the moment when he should and could make use of such persons.

Pierre, on unexpectedly becoming rich and Count Bezuhov, after his lonely and careless manner of life, felt so surrounded, so occupied, that he never succeeded in being by himself except in his bed. He had to sign papers, to present himself at legal institutions, of the significance of which he had no definite idea, to make some inquiry of his chief steward, to visit his estate near Moscow, and to receive a great number of persons, who previously had not cared to be aware of his existence, but now would have been hurt and offended if he had not chosen to see them. All these various people, business men, relations, acquaintances, were all equally friendly and well disposed towards the young heir. They were all obviously and unhesitatingly convinced of Pierre’s noble qualities. He was continually hearing phrases, such as, “With your exceptionally kindly disposition”; or, “Considering your excellent heart”; or, “You are so pure- minded yourself, count …” or, “If he were as clever as you,” and so on, so that he was beginning genuinely to believe in his own exceptional goodness and his own exceptional intelligence, the more so, as at the bottom of his heart it had always seemed to him that he really was very good-natured and very intelligent. Even people, who had before been spiteful and openly hostile to him, became tender and affectionate. The hitherto ill-tempered, eldest princess, with the long waist and the hair plastered down like a doll, had gone into Pierre’s room after the funeral. Dropping her eyes and repeatedly turning crimson, she said that she very much regretted the misunderstanding that had arisen between them, and that now she felt she had no right to ask him for anything except permission, after the blow that had befallen her, to remain for a few weeks longer in the house which she was so fond of, and in which she had made such sacrifices. She could not control herself, and wept at these words. Touched at seeing the statue-like princess so changed, Pierre took her by the hand and begged her pardon, though he could not have said what for. From that day the princess began knitting a striped scarf for Pierre, and was completely changed towards him.

“Do this for my sake, my dear boy; she had to put up with a great deal from the deceased, any way,” Prince Vassily said to him, giving him some deed to sign for the princess’s benefit. Prince Vassily reflected that this note of hand for thirty thousand was a sop worth throwing to the poor princess, that it might not occur to her to gossip about Prince Vassily’s part in the action taken with the inlaid portfolio. Pierre signed the note, and from that time the princess became even more amiable. The younger sisters became as affectionate too, especially the youngest one, the pretty one with the mole, who often disconcerted Pierre with her smiles and her confusion at the sight of him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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