Chapter 8

AFTER HIS INTERVIEW with Pierre in Moscow, Prince Andrey went away to Petersburg, telling his family that he had business there. In reality his object was to meet Anatole Kuragin there. He thought it necessary to meet him, but on inquiring for him when he reached Petersburg, he found he was no longer there. Pierre had let his brother-in-law know that Prince Andrey was on his track. Anatole Kuragin had promptly obtained a commission from the minister of war, and had gone to join the army in Moldavia. While in Petersburg Prince Andrey met Kutuzov, his old general, who was always friendly to him, and Kutuzov proposed that he should accompany him to Moldavia, where the old general was being sent to take command of the army. Prince Andrey received an appointment on the staff of the commander, and went to Turkey.

Prince Andrey did not think it proper to write to Kuragin to challenge him to a duel. He thought that a challenge coming from him, without any new pretext for a duel, would be compromising for the young Countess Rostov, and therefore he was seeking to encounter Kuragin in person in order to pick a quarrel with him that would serve as a pretext for a duel. But in the Turkish army too Prince Andrey failed to come across Kuragin. The latter had returned to Russia shortly after Prince Andrey reached the Turkish army. In a new country, amid new surroundings, Prince Andrey found life easier to bear. After his betrothed’s betrayal of him, which he felt the more keenly, the more studiously he strove to conceal its effect on him from others, he found it hard to bear the conditions of life in which he had been happy, and felt still more irksome the freedom and independence he had once prized so highly. He could not now think the thoughts that had come to him for the first time on the field of Austerlitz, that he had loved to develop with Pierre, and that had enriched his solitude at Bogutcharovo, and later on in Switzerland and in Rome. Now he dreaded indeed those ideas that had then opened to him boundless vistas of light. Now he was occupied only with the most practical interests lying close at hand, and in no way associated with those old ideals. He clutched at these new interests the more eagerly the more the old ideals were hidden from him. It was as though the infinite, fathomless arch of heaven that had once stood over him had been suddenly transformed into a low, limited vault weighing upon him, with everything in it clear, but nothing eternal and mysterious.

Of the pursuits that presented themselves, military service was the simplest and the most familiar to him. He performed the duties of a general on duty on Kutuzov’s staff with zeal and perseverance, surprising Kutuzov by his eagerness for work and his conscientiousness. When he missed Kuragin in Turkey, Prince Andrey did not feel it necessary to gallop back to Russia in search of him. Yet in spite of all his contempt for Kuragin, in spite of all the arguments by which he sought to persuade himself that Kuragin was not worth his stooping to quarrel with him, he knew that whatever length of time might elapse, when he did meet him, he would be unable to help challenging him as a starving man cannot help rushing upon food. And the consciousness that the insult was not yet avenged, that his wrath had not been expended, but was still stored up in his heart, poisoned the artificial composure, which Prince Andrey succeeded in obtaining in Turkey in the guise of studiously busy and somewhat ambitious and vain energy.

In 1812, when the news of the war with Napoleon reached Bucharest (where Kutuzov had been fourteen months, spending days and nights together with his Wallachian mistress), Prince Andrey asked to be transferred to the western army. Kutuzov, who was by now sick of Bolkonsky’s energy, and felt it a standing reproach to his sloth, was very ready to let him go, and gave him a commission for Barclay de Tolly.

Before joining the army of the west, which was in May encamped at Drissa, Prince Andrey went to Bleak Hills, which was directly in his road, only three versts from the Smolensk high-road. The last three years of Prince Andrey’s life had been so full of vicissitudes, he had passed through such changes of thought and feeling, and seen such varied life (he had travelled both in the east and the west), that it struck him as strange and amazing to find at Bleak Hills life going on in precisely the same routine as ever. He rode up the avenue to the stone gates of the house, feeling as though it were the enchanted, sleeping castle. The same sedateness, the same cleanliness, the same silence reigned in the house; there was the same furniture, the same walls, the same sounds, the same smell, and the same timid faces, only a little older. Princess Marya was just the same timid, plain girl, no longer in her first youth, wasting the best years of her life in continual dread and suffering, and getting no benefit or happiness out of

  By PanEris using Melati.

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