moment doubt of that connection. His love for Natasha, Antichrist, Napoleon’s invasion, the comet, the number 666, l’empereur Napoléon, and l’russe Besuhof—all he thought were to develop, and come to some crisis together to extricate him from that spellbound, trivial round of Moscow habits, to which he felt himself in bondage, and to lead him to some great achievement and great happiness.

The day before that Sunday on which the new prayer had been read in the churches, Pierre had promised the Rostovs to call on Count Rastoptchin, whom he knew well, and to get from him the Tsar’s appeal to the country, and the last news from the army. On going to Count Rastoptchin’s in the morning, Pierre found there a special courier, who had only just arrived from the army. The courier was a man whom Pierre knew, and often saw at the Moscow balls.

“For mercy’s sake, couldn’t you relieve me of some of my burden,” said the courier; “I have a sack full of letters to parents.”

Among these letters was a letter from Nikolay Rostov to his father. Pierre took that; and Count Rastoptchin gave him a copy of the Tsar’s appeal to Moscow, which had just been printed, the last announcements in the army, and his own last placard. Looking through the army announcements, Pierre found in one of them, among lists of wounded, killed and promoted, the name of Nikolay Rostov, rewarded with the order of St. George, of the fourth degree, for distinguished bravery in the Ostrovna affair, and in the same announcement the appointment of Prince Andrey Bolkonsky to the command of a regiment of light cavalry. Though he did not want to remind the Rostovs of Bolkonsky’s existence, Pierre could not resist the inclination to rejoice their hearts with the news of their son’s decoration. Keeping the Tsar’s appeal, Rastoptchin’s placard, and the other announcement to bring with him at dinner-time, Pierre sent the printed announcement and Nikolay’s letter to the Rostovs.

The conversation with Rastoptchin, and his tone of anxiety and hurry, the meeting with the courier, who had casually alluded to the disastrous state of affairs in the army, the rumours of spies being caught in Moscow, of a sheet circulating in the town stating that Napoleon had sworn to be in both capitals before autumn, of the Tsar’s expected arrival next day—all combined to revive in Pierre with fresh intensity that feeling of excitement and expectation, that he had been conscious of ever since the appearance of the comet, and with even greater force since the beginning of the war.

The idea of entering the army had long before occurred to Pierre, and he would have acted upon it, but that, in the first place, he was pledged by his vow to the Masonic brotherhood, which preached universal peace and the abolition of war; and secondly, when he looked at the great mass of Moscow gentlemen, who put on uniforms, and professed themselves patriots, he felt somehow ashamed to take the same step. A cause that weighed with him even more in not entering the army was the obscure conception that he, l’russe Besuhof, had somehow the mystic value of the number of the beast, 666, that his share in putting a limit to the power of the beast, “speaking great things and blasphemies,” had been ordained from all eternity, and that therefore it was not for him to take any step whatever; it was for him to wait for what was bound to come to pass.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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