Chapter 12

AS IN EVERY REAL FAMILY, there were several quite separate worlds living together in the Bleak Hills house, and while each of these preserved its own individuality, they made concessions to one another, and mixed into one harmonious whole. Every event that occurred in the house was alike important and joyful or distressing to all those circles. But each circle had its own private grounds for rejoicing or mourning at every event quite apart from the rest.

So Pierre’s arrival was a joyful and important event, reflected as such in all the circles of the household.

The servants, the most infallible judges of their masters, because they judge them, not from their conversation and expression of their feelings, but from their actions and their manner of living, were delighted at Pierre’s return, because they knew that when he was there, the count, their master, would not go out every day to superintend the peasants on the estate, and would be in better temper and spirits, and also because they knew there would be valuable presents for all of them for the fête day.

The children and their governesses were delighted at Bezuhov’s return, because no one drew them into the general social life of the house as Pierre did. He it was who could play on the clavichord that écossaise (his one piece), to which, as he said, one could dance all possible dances; and he was quite sure, too, to have brought all of them presents.

Nikolinka Bolkonsky, who was now a thin, delicate, intelligent boy of fifteen, with curly light hair and beautiful eyes, was delighted because Uncle Pierre, as he called him, was the object of his passionate love and adoration. No one had instilled a particular affection for Pierre into Nikolinka, and he only rarely saw him. Countess Marya, who had brought him up, had done her utmost to make Nikolinka love her husband, as she loved him; and the boy did like his uncle, but there was a scarcely perceptible shade of contempt in his liking of him. Pierre he adored. He did not want to be an hussar or a Cavalier of St. George like his Uncle Nikolay; he wanted to be learned, clever, and kind like Pierre. In Pierre’s presence there was always a happy radiance on his face, and he blushed and was breathless when Pierre addressed him. He never missed a word that Pierre uttered, and afterwards alone or with Dessalle recalled every phrase, and pondered its exact significance. Pierre’s past life, his unhappiness before 1812 (of which, from the few words he had heard, he had made up a vague, romantic picture), his adventures in Moscow, and captivity with the French, Platon Karataev (of whom he had heard from Pierre), his love for Natasha (whom the boy loved too with quite a special feeling), and, above all, his friendship with his father, whom Nikolinka did not remember, all made Pierre a hero and a saint in his eyes.

From the phrases he had heard dropped about his father and Natasha, from the emotion with which Pierre spoke of him, and the circumspect, reverent tenderness with which Natasha spoke of him, the boy, who was only just beginning to form his conceptions of love, had gathered the idea that his father had loved Natasha, and had bequeathed her at his death to his friend. That father, of whom the boy had no memory, seemed to him a divine being, of whom one could have no clear conception, and of whom he could not think without a throbbing heart and tears of sorrow and rapture.

And so the boy too was happy at Pierre’s arrival.

The guests in the house were glad to see Pierre, for he was a person who always enlivened every party, and made its different elements mix well together.

The grown-up members of the household were glad to see a friend who always made daily life run more smoothly and easily.

The old ladies were pleased both at the presents he brought them, and still more at Natasha’s being herself again.

Pierre felt the various views those different sets of people took of him, and made haste to satisfy the expectations of all of them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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