Chapter 19

THERE was nothing in Pierre’s soul now like what had passed within him in similar circumstances during the time of his being betrothed to Ellen.

He did not go over, as he had then, with a sickening sense of shame the words he had uttered; he did not say to himself: “Oh, why did I not say that, and why, oh why, did I say then: I love you.” Now, on the contrary, every word of hers and of his own, he went over in his imagination with every detail of look and smile, and wanted to add nothing, to take nothing away, he longed only to hear it over again. As for doubts— whether what he contemplated doing was right or wrong—there was never a trace of them now. Only one terrible doubt sometimes assailed his mind. Was it not all a dream? Was not Princess Marya mistaken? Am I not too conceited and self-confident? I believe in it; but all at once— and it’s what is sure to happen—Princess Marya tells her; and she smiles and answers: “How queer! He has certainly made a mistake. Doesn’t he know that he is a man, a mere man, while I? … I am something altogether different, higher.”

This doubt alone often beset Pierre. He made no plans of any sort now. The happiness before him seemed to him so incredible that the only thing that mattered was to bring it to pass, and nothing could be beyond. Everything else was over.

A joyful, unexpected frenzy, of which Pierre had believed himself incapable, seized upon him. The whole meaning of life, not for him only, but for all the world, seemed to him centred in his love and the possibility of her loving him. Sometimes all men seemed to him to be absorbed in nothing else than his future happiness. It seemed to him sometimes that they were all rejoicing as he was himself, and were only trying to conceal that joy, by pretending to be occupied with other interests. In every word and gesture he saw an allusion to his happiness. He often surprised people by his significant and blissful looks and smiles, that seemed to express some secret understanding with them. But when he realised that people could not know of his happiness, he pitied them from the bottom of his heart, and felt an impulse to try to make them somehow understand that all that they were interested in was utter nonsense and trifles not deserving of attention.

When suggestions were made to him that he should take office under government, or when criticisms of any sort on general, political questions, or on the war, were made before him, on the supposition that one course of events or another would affect the happiness of all men, he listened with a gentle smile of commiseration, and astounded the persons conversing with him by his strange observations. But both those persons, who seemed to Pierre to grasp the true significance of life, that is, his feeling, and those luckless wretches who obviously had no notion of it—all at this period appeared to Pierre in the radiant light of his own glowing feeling; so that on meeting any one, he saw in him without the slightest effort everything that was good and deserving of love.

As he looked through his dead wife’s papers and belongings, he had no feeling towards her memory but one of pity that she had not known the happiness he knew now. Prince Vassily, who was particularly haughty just then, having received a new post and a star, struck him as a pathetic and kind-hearted old man, very much to be pitied.

Often afterwards Pierre recalled that time of happy insanity. All the judgments he formed of men and circumstances during that period remained for ever true to him. Far from renouncing later on those views of men and things, on the contrary, in inner doubts and contradictions, he flew back to the view he had had during that time of madness; and that view always turned out to be a true one.

“Perhaps,” he thought, “I did seem strange and absurd then; but I was not so mad then as I seemed. On the contrary, I was cleverer and had more insight then than at any time, and I understood everything worth understanding in life, because … I was happy.”

Pierre’s madness showed itself in his not waiting, as in old days, for those personal grounds, which he had called good qualities in people, in order to love them; but as love was brimming over in his heart he

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