Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/96

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spent itself, while that following it is gathering itself together. Already we obtain a glimpse of the heroes to be, of the conflicts which will ensue between them, and of the dead who are born again in the living.[1]

I have tried to indicate the broad lines of the romance; for few readers take the trouble to look for them. But what words are adequate to describe the extraordinary vitality of these hundreds of heroes, all distinct individuals, all drawn with

unforgettable mastery: soldiers, peasants, great

  1. Pierre Besoukhov, who has married Natasha, will become a Decembrist. He has founded a secret society to watch over the general good, a sort of Tugelbund. Natasha associates herself with his plans with the utmost enthusiasm. Denissov cannot conceive of a pacific revolution; but is quite ready for an armed revolt. Nikolas Rostoff has retained his blind soldier's loyalty. He who said before Austerlitz, "We have only one thing to do: to fight and never to think," is angry with Pierre, and exclaims: "My oath before all! If I were ordered to march against you with my squadron I should march and I should strike home." His wife, Princess Marie, agrees with him. Prince Andrei's son, little Nikolas Bolkonsky, fifteen years old, delicate, sickly, yet charming, with wide eyes and golden hair, listens feverishly to the discussion; all his love is Pierre's and Natasha's; he does not care greatly for Nikolas and Marie; he worships his father, whom he has never seen; he dreams of growing like him, of being grown up, of doing something wonderful, he knows not what. "Whatever they tell me, I will do it. . . . Yes, I shall do it. He would have been pleased with me."—And the book ends with the dream of a child, who sees himself in the guise of one of Plutarch's heroes, with his uncle Pierre by his side, preceded by Glory, and followed by an army.—If the Decembrists had been written then little Bolkonsky would doubtless have been one of its heroes.