Chapter 7

THE TERRIBLE NEWS of the battle of Borodino, of our losses in killed and wounded, and the even more terrible news of the loss of Moscow reached Voronezh in the middle of September. Princess Marya, learning of her brother’s wound only from the newspapers, and having no definite information about him, was preparing (so Nikolay heard, though he had not seen her) to set off to try and reach Prince Andrey.

On hearing the news of the battle of Borodino and of the abandonment of Moscow, Rostov felt, not despair, rage, revenge, nor any such feeling, but a sudden weariness and vexation with everything at Voronezh, and a sense of awkwardness and uneasy conscience. All the conversations he listened to seemed to him insincere; he did not know what to think of it all, and felt that only in the regiment would all become clear to him again. He made haste to conclude the purchase of horses, and was often without good cause ill-tempered with his servant and quarter-master.

Several days before Rostov’s departure there was a thanksgiving service in the cathedral for the victory gained by the Russian troops, and Nikolay went to the service. He was a little behind the governor, and was standing through the service meditating with befitting sedateness on the most various subjects. When the service was concluding, the governor’s wife beckoned him to her.

“Did you see the princess?” she said, with a motion of her hand towards a lady in black standing behind the choir.

Nikolay recognised Princess Marya at once, not so much from the profile he saw under her hat as from the feeling of watchful solicitude, awe, and pity which came over him at once. Princess Marya, obviously buried in her own thoughts, was making the last signs of the cross before leaving the church.

Nikolay gazed in wonder at her face. It was the same face he had seen before; there was the same general look of refined, inner, spiritual travail; but now there was an utterly different light in it. There was a touching expression of sadness, of prayer and of hope in it. With the same absence of hesitation as he had felt before in her presence, without waiting for the governor’s wife to urge him, without asking himself whether it were right, whether it were proper for him to address her here in church, Nikolay went up to her, and said he had heard of her trouble and grieved with his whole heart to hear of it. As soon as she heard his voice, a vivid colour glowed in her face, lighting up at once her joy and her sorrow.

“One thing I wanted to tell you, princess,” said Rostov, “that is, that if Prince Andrey Nikolaevitch were not living, since he is a colonel, it would be announced immediately in the gazettes.”

The princess looked at him, not comprehending his words, but comforted by the expression of sympathetic suffering in his face.

“And I know from so many instances that a wound from a splinter” (the papers said it was from a grenade) “is either immediately fatal or else very slight,” Nikolay went on. “We must hope for the best, and I am certain …”

Princess Marya interrupted him.

“Oh, it would be so aw …” she began, and her emotion choking her utterance, she bent her head with a graceful gesture, like everything she did in his presence, and glancing gratefully at him followed her aunt.

That evening Nikolay did not go out anywhere, but stayed at home to finish some accounts with the horse-vendors. By the time he had finished his work it was rather late to go out anywhere, but still early to go to bed, and Nikolay spent a long while walking up and down the room, thinking over his life, a thing that he rarely did.

Princess Marya had made an agreeable impression on him at Bogutcharovo. The fact of his meeting her then in such striking circumstances, and of his mother having at one time pitched precisely on her

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