Chapter 14

ON HEARING from Nikolay that her brother was at Yaroslavl with the Rostovs, Princess Marya, in spite of her aunt’s efforts to dissuade her, prepared at once to go to him and to go not alone, but with her nephew; whether this were difficult or not, whether it were possible or not, she did not inquire, and did not care to know: it was her duty not only to be herself at the side of her—perhaps dying—brother, but to do everything possible to take his son to him, and she prepared to set off. If Prince Andrey had not himself communicated with her, Princess Marya put that down either to his being too weak to write, or to his considering the long journey too difficult and dangerous for her and his son.

Within a few days Princess Marya was ready for the journey. Her equipage consisted of her immense travelling coach in which she had come to Voronezh, and a covered trap and a waggon. She was accompanied by Mademoiselle Bourienne, Nikolushka, with his tutor, the old nurse, three maids, Tihon, a young valet, and a courier, whom her aunt was sending with her.

To travel by the usual route to Moscow was not to be thought of, and the circuitous route which Princess Marya was obliged to take by Lipetsk, Ryazan, Vladimir, and Shuya was very long; from lack of posting horses difficult; and in the neighbourhood of Ryazan, where they were told the French had begun to appear, positively dangerous.

During this difficult journey, Mademoiselle Bourienne, Dessalle, and Princess Marya’s servants were astonished at the tenacity of her will and her energy. She was the last to go to rest, the first to rise, and no difficulty could daunt her. Thanks to her activity and energy, which infected her companions, she was towards the end of the second week close upon Yaroslavl.

The latter part of her stay in Voronezh had been the happiest period in Princess Marya’s life. Her love for Rostov was not then a source of torment or agitation to her. That love had by then filled her whole soul and become an inseparable part of herself, and she no longer struggled against it. Of late Princess Marya was convinced—though she never clearly in so many words admitted it to herself—that she loved and was beloved. She had been convinced of this by her last interview with Nikolay when he came to tell her that her brother was with the Rostovs. Nikolay did not by one word hint at the possibility now (in case of Prince Andrey’s recovery) of his engagement to Natasha being renewed, but Princess Marya saw by his face that he knew and thought of it. And in spite of that, his attitude to her—solicitous, tender, and loving—was so far from being changed, that he seemed overjoyed indeed that now a sort of kinship between him and Princess Marya allowed him to give freer expression to his loving friendship, as Princess Marya sometimes thought it. Princess Marya knew that she loved for the first and last time in her life, and felt that she was loved, and she was happy and at peace in that relation.

But this happiness on one side of her spiritual nature was far from hindering her from feeling intense grief on her brother’s account. On the contrary, her spiritual peace on that side enabled her to give herself more completely to her feeling for her brother. This feeling was so strong at the moment of setting out from Voronezh that all her retinue were persuaded, looking at her careworn, despairing face, that she would certainly fall ill on the journey. But the very difficulties and anxieties of the journey, which Princess Marya tackled with such energy, saved her for the time from her sorrow and gave her strength.

As is always the case on a journey, Princess Marya thought of nothing but the journey itself, forgetting what was its object. But on approaching Yaroslavl, when what might await her—and not now at the end of many days, but that very evening—became clear to her mind again, her agitation reached its utmost limits.

When the courier, whom she had sent on ahead to find out in Yaroslavl where the Rostovs were staying, and in what condition Prince Andrey was, met the great travelling coach at the city gate he was frightened at the terribly pale face that looked out at him from the window.

“I have found out everything, your excellency: the Rostovs are staying in the square, in the house of a merchant, Bronnikov. Not far off, right above the Volga,” said the courier.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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