Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
themselves just as strangely, unexpectedly, and at the same time
simply, naturally, and forcibly. Now in 1812, to anyone living in
close touch with these people it was apparent that these undercurrents
were acting strongly and nearing an eruption.
Alpatych, who had reached Bogucharovo shortly before the old
princes death, noticed an agitation among the peasants, and that
contrary to what was happening in the Bald Hills district, where
over a radius of forty miles all the peasants were moving away and
leaving their villages to be devastated by the Cossacks, the
peasants in the steppe region round Bogucharovo were, it was
rumored, in touch with the French, received leaflets from them that
passed from hand to hand, and did not migrate. He learned from
domestic serfs loyal to him that the peasant Karp, who possessed great
influence in the village commune and had recently been away driving
a government transport, had returned with news that the Cossacks
were destroying deserted villages, but that the French did not harm
them. Alpatych also knew that on the previous day another peasant
had even brought from the village of Visloukhovo, which was occupied
by the French, a proclamation by a French general that no harm would
be done to the inhabitants, and if they remained they would be paid
for anything taken from them. As proof of this the peasant had brought
from Visloukhovo a hundred rubles in notes (he did not know that
they were false) paid to him in advance for hay.
More important still, Alpatych learned that on the morning of the
very day he gave the village Elder orders to collect carts to move the
princess luggage from Bogucharovo, there had been a village meeting
at which it had been decided not to move but to wait. Yet there was no
time to waste. On the fifteenth, the day of the old princes death,
the Marshal had insisted on Princess Marys leaving at once, as it was
becoming dangerous. He had told her that after the sixteenth he
could not be responsible for what might happen. On the evening of
the day the old prince died the Marshal went away, promising to return
next day for the funeral. But this he was unable to do, for he
received tidings that the French had unexpectedly advanced, and had
barely time to remove his own family and valuables from his estate.
For some thirty years Bogucharovo had been managed by the village
Elder, Dron, whom the old prince called by the diminutive "Dronushka."
Dron was one of those physically and mentally vigorous peasants
who grow big beards as soon as they are of age and go on unchanged
till they are sixty or seventy, without a gray hair or the loss of a
tooth, as straight and strong at sixty as at thirty.
Soon after the migration to the "warm rivers," in which he had taken
part like the rest, Dron was made village Elder and overseer of
Bogucharovo, and had since filled that post irreproachably for
twenty-three years. The peasants feared him more than they did their
master. The masters, both the old prince and the young, and the
steward respected him and jestingly called him "the Minister."
During the whole time of his service Dron had never been drunk or ill,
never after sleepless nights or the hardest tasks had he shown the
least fatigue, and though he could not read he had never forgotten a
single money account or the number of quarters of flour in any of
the endless cartloads he sold for the prince, nor a single shock of
the whole corn crop on any single acre of the Bogucharovo fields.
Alpatych, arriving from the devastated Bald Hills estate, sent for
his Dron on the day of the princes funeral and told him to have
twelve horses got ready for the princess carriages and eighteen carts
for the things to be removed from Bogucharovo. Though the peasants
paid quitrent, Alpatych thought no difficulty would be made about
complying with this order, for there were two hundred and thirty
households at work in Bogucharovo and the peasants were well to do.
But on hearing the order Dron lowered his eyes and remained silent.
Alpatych named certain peasants he knew, from whom he told him to take
Dron replied that the horses of these peasants were away carting.
Alpatych named others, but they too, according to Dron, had no
horses available: some horses were carting for the government,
others were too weak, and others had died for want of fodder. It
War And Peace page 431 War And Peace page 433