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War And Peace 436

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War And Peace

me, Dronushka? Isnt it possible to help them? Ill do all I can...." To Princess Mary it was strange that now, at a moment when such sorrow was filling her soul, there could be rich people and poor, and the rich could refrain from helping the poor. She had heard vaguely that there was such a thing as "landlords corn" which was sometimes given to the peasants. She also knew that neither her father nor her brother would refuse to help the peasants in need, she only feared to make some mistake in speaking about the distribution of the grain she wished to give. She was glad such cares presented themselves, enabling her without scruple to forget her own grief. She began asking Dron about the peasants needs and what there was in Bogucharovo that belonged to the landlord. "But we have grain belonging to my brother?" she said. "The landlords grain is all safe," replied Dron proudly. "Our prince did not order it to be sold." "Give it to the peasants, let them have all they need; I give you leave in my brothers name," said she. Dron made no answer but sighed deeply. "Give them that corn if there is enough of it. Distribute it all. I give this order in my brothers name; and tell them that what is ours is theirs. We do not grudge them anything. Tell them so." Dron looked intently at the princess while she was speaking. "Discharge me, little mother, for Gods sake! Order the keys to be taken from me," said he. "I have served twenty-three years and have done no wrong. Discharge me, for Gods sake!" Princess Mary did not understand what he wanted of her or why he was asking to be discharged. She replied that she had never doubted his devotion and that she was ready to do anything for him and for the peasants. CHAPTER XI An hour later Dunyasha came to tell the princess that Dron had come, and all the peasants had assembled at the barn by the princess order and wished to have word with their mistress. "But I never told them to come," said Princess Mary. "I only told Dron to let them have the grain." "Only, for Gods sake, Princess dear, have them sent away and dont go out to them. Its all a trick," said Dunyasha, "and when Yakov Alpatych returns let us get away... and please dont..." "What is a trick?" asked Princess Mary in surprise. "I know it is, only listen to me for Gods sake! Ask nurse too. They say they dont agree to leave Bogucharovo as you ordered." "Youre making some mistake. I never ordered them to go away," said Princess Mary. "Call Dronushka." Dron came and confirmed Dunyashas words; the peasants had come by the princess order. "But I never sent for them," declared the princess. "You must have given my message wrong. I only said that you were to give them the grain." Dron only sighed in reply. "If you order it they will go away," said he. "No, no. Ill go out to them," said Princess Mary, and in spite of the nurses and Dunyashas protests she went out into the porch; Dron, Dunyasha, the nurse, and Michael Ivanovich following her. "They probably think I am offering them the grain to bribe them to remain here, while I myself go away leaving them to the mercy of the French," thought Princess Mary. "I will offer them monthly rations and housing at our Moscow estate. I am sure Andrew would do even more in my place," she thought as she went out in the twilight toward the crowd standing on the pasture by the barn. The men crowded closer together, stirred, and rapidly took off their hats. Princess Mary lowered her eyes and, tripping over her skirt, came close up to them. So many different eyes, old and young, were fixed on her, and there were so many different faces, that she could not distinguish any of them and, feeling that she must speak to them all at once, did not know how to do it. But again the sense that she represented her father and her brother gave her courage, and she boldly began her speech. "I am very glad you have come," she said without raising her eyes, and feeling her heart beating quickly and violently. "Dronushka tells me that the war has ruined you. That is our common misfortune, and I shall grudge nothing to help you. I am myself going away because it is dangerous here... the enemy is near... because... I am

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