Chapter 12

FOUR WEEKS had passed since Pierre had been taken prisoner. Although the French had offered to transfer him from the common prisoners’ shed to the officers’, he had remained in the same shed as at first.

In Moscow, wasted by fire and pillage, Pierre passed through hardships almost up to the extreme limit of privation that a man can endure. But, owing to his vigorous health and constitution, of which he had hardly been aware till then; and still more, owing to the fact that these privations came upon him so gradually that it was impossible to say when they began, he was able to support his position, not only with ease, but with positive gladness. And it was just at this time that he attained that peace and content with himself, for which he had always striven in vain before. For long years of his life he had been seeking in various directions for that peace, that harmony with himself, which had struck him so much in the soldiers at Borodino. He had sought for it in philanthropy, in freemasonry, in the dissipations of society, in wine, in heroic feats of self-sacrifice, in his romantic love for Natasha; he had sought it by the path of thought; and all his researches and all his efforts had failed him. And now without any thought of his own, he had gained that peace and that harmony with himself simply through the horror of death, through hardships, through what he had seen in Karataev. Those fearful moments that he had lived through during the execution had, as it were, washed for ever from his imagination and his memory the disturbing ideas and feelings that had once seemed to him so important. No thought came to him of Russia, of the war, of politics, or of Napoleon. It seemed obvious to him that all that did not concern him, that he was not called upon and so was not able to judge of all that. “Russia and summer never do well together,” he repeated Karataev’s words, and those words soothed him strangely. His project of killing Napoleon, and his calculations of the cabalistic numbers, and of the beast of the Apocalypse struck him now as incomprehensible and positively ludicrous. His anger with his wife, and his dread of his name being disgraced by her, seemed to him trivial and amusing. What business of his was it, if that woman chose to lead somewhere away from him the life that suited her tastes? What did it matter to any one—least of all to him—whether they found out or not that their prisoner’s name was Count Bezuhov?

He often thought now of his conversation with Prince Andrey, and agreed fully with his friend, though he put a somewhat different construction on his meaning. Prince Andrey had said and thought that happiness is only negative, but he had said this with a shade of bitterness and irony. It was as though in saying this he had expressed another thought—that all the strivings towards positive happiness, that are innate in us, were only given us for our torment. But Pierre recognised the truth of the main idea with no such undercurrent of feeling. The absence of suffering, the satisfaction of needs, and following upon that, freedom in the choice of occupation, that is, of one’s manner of life, seemed to Pierre the highest and most certain happiness of man. Only here and now for the first time in his life Pierre fully appreciated the enjoyment of eating when he was hungry, of drinking when he was thirsty, of sleep when he was sleepy, of warmth when he was cold, of talking to a fellow creature when he wanted to talk and to hear men’s voices. The satisfaction of his needs—good food, cleanliness, freedom—seemed to Pierre now that he was deprived of them to be perfect happiness; and the choice of his occupation, that is, of his manner of life now that that choice was so limited, seemed to him such an easy matter that he forgot that a superfluity of the conveniences of life destroys all happiness in satisfying the physical needs, while a great freedom in the choice of occupation, that freedom which education, wealth, and position in society had given him, makes the choice of occupations exceedingly difficult, and destroys the very desire and possibility of occupation.

All Pierre’s dreams now turned to the time when he would be free. And yet, in all his later life, Pierre thought and spoke with enthusiasm of that month of imprisonment, of those intense and joyful sensations that could never be recalled, and above all of that full, spiritual peace, of that perfect, inward freedom, of which he had only experience at that period.

On the first day, when, getting up early in the morning, he came out of the shed into the dawn, and saw the cupolas and the crosses of the New Monastery of the Virgin, all still in darkness, saw the hoar frost on the long grass, saw the slopes of the Sparrow Hills and the wood-clad banks of the encircling river vanishing into the purple distance, when he felt the contact of the fresh air and heard the sounds of the

  By PanEris using Melati.

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