Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
escape. She wrote that the last
unfortunate events--the loss of almost the whole of the Rostovs
Moscow property--and the countess repeatedly expressed wish that
Nicholas should marry Princess Bolkonskaya, together with his
silence and coldness of late, had all combined to make her decide to
release him from his promise and set him completely free.
It would be too painful to me to think that I might be a cause of
sorrow or discord in the family that has been so good to me (she
wrote), and my love has no aim but the happiness of those I love;
so, Nicholas, I beg you to consider yourself free, and to be assured
that, in spite of everything, no one can love you more than does
Both letters were written from Troitsa. The other, from the
countess, described their last days in Moscow, their departure, the
fire, and the destruction of all their property. In this letter the
countess also mentioned that Prince Andrew was among the wounded
traveling with them; his state was very critical, but the doctor
said there was now more hope. Sonya and Natasha were nursing him.
Next day Nicholas took his mothers letter and went to see
Princess Mary. Neither he nor she said a word about what "Natasha
nursing him" might mean, but thanks to this letter Nicholas suddenly
became almost as intimate with the princess as if they were relations.
The following day he saw Princess Mary off on her journey to
Yaroslavl, and a few days later left to rejoin his regiment.
Sonyas letter written from Troitsa, which had come as an answer
to Nicholas prayer, was prompted by this: the thought of getting
Nicholas married to an heiress occupied the old countess mind more
and more. She knew that Sonya was the chief obstacle to this
happening, and Sonyas life in the countess house had grown harder
and harder, especially after they had received a letter from
Nicholas telling of his meeting with Princess Mary in Bogucharovo. The
countess let no occasion slip of making humiliating or cruel allusions
But a few days before they left Moscow, moved and excited by all
that was going on, she called Sonya to her and, instead of reproaching
and making demands on her, tearfully implored her to sacrifice herself
and repay all that the family had done for her by breaking off her
engagement with Nicholas.
"I shall not be at peace till you promise me this."
Sonya burst into hysterical tears and replied through her sobs
that she would do anything and was prepared for anything, but gave
no actual promise and could not bring herself to decide to do what was
demanded of her. She must sacrifice herself for the family that had
reared and brought her up. To sacrifice herself for others was Sonyas
habit. Her position in the house was such that only by sacrifice could
she show her worth, and she was accustomed to this and loved doing it.
But in all her former acts of self-sacrifice she had been happily
conscious that they raised her in her own esteem and in that of
others, and so made her more worthy of Nicholas whom she loved more
than anything in the world. But now they wanted her to sacrifice the
very thing that constituted the whole reward for her self-sacrifice
and the whole meaning of her life. And for the first time she felt
bitterness against those who had been her benefactors only to
torture her the more painfully; she felt jealous of Natasha who had
never experienced anything of this sort, had never needed to sacrifice
herself, but made others sacrifice themselves for her and yet was
beloved by everybody. And for the first time Sonya felt that out of
her pure, quiet love for Nicholas a passionate feeling was beginning
to grow up which was stronger than principle, virtue, or religion.
Under the influence of this feeling Sonya, whose life of dependence
had taught her involuntarily to be secretive, having answered the
countess in vague general terms, avoided talking with her and resolved
to wait till she should see Nicholas, not in order to set him free but
on the contrary at that meeting to bind him to her forever.
The bustle and terror of the Rostovs last days in Moscow stifled
the gloomy thoughts that oppressed Sonya. She was glad to find
escape from them in practical activity. But when she heard of Prince
Andrews presence in their house, despite her sincere pity for him and
for Natasha, she was
War And Peace page 571 War And Peace page 573