War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book I: Chapters 22–25

Pierre, having made up his mind to obey his monitress implicitly, moved toward the sofa she had indicated. As soon as Anna Mikhaylovna had disappeared he noticed that the eyes of all in the room turned to him with something more than curiosity and sympathy. He noticed that they whispered to one another, casting significant looks at him with a kind of awe and even servility. A deference such as he had never before received was shown him. A strange lady, the one who had been talking to the priests, rose and offered him her seat; an aide-de-camp picked up and returned a glove Pierre had dropped; the doctors became respectfully silent as he passed by, and moved to make way for him. At first Pierre wished to take another seat so as not to trouble the lady, and also to pick up the glove himself and to pass round the doctors who were not even in his way; but all at once he felt that this would not do, and that tonight he was a person obliged to perform some sort of awful rite which everyone expected of him, and that he was therefore bound to accept their services. He took the glove in silence from the aide-de-camp, and sat down in the lady's chair, placing his huge hands symmetrically on his knees in the naive attitude of an Egyptian statue, and decided in his own mind that all was as it should be, and that in order not to lose his head and do foolish things he must not act on his own ideas tonight, but must yield himself up entirely to the will of those who were guiding him.

Not two minutes had passed before Prince Vasili with head erect majestically entered the room. He was wearing his long coat with three stars on his breast. He seemed to have grown thinner since the morning; his eyes seemed larger than usual when he glanced round and noticed Pierre. He went up to him, took his hand (a thing he never used to do), and drew it downwards as if wishing to ascertain whether it was firmly fixed on.

"Courage, courage, my friend! He has asked to see you. That is well!" and he turned to go.

But Pierre thought it necessary to ask:"How is . . ." and hesitated, not knowing whether it would be proper to call the dying man"the count," yet ashamed to call him"father."

"He had another stroke about half an hour ago. Courage, my friend . . ."

Pierre's mind was in such a confused state that the word"stroke" suggested to him a blow from something. He looked at Prince Vasili in perplexity, and only later grasped that a stroke was an attack of illness. Prince Vasili said something to Lorrain in passing and went through the door on tiptoe. He could not walk well on tiptoe and his whole body jerked at each step. The eldest princess followed him, and the priests and deacons and some servants also went in at the door. Through that door was heard a noise of things being moved about, and at last Anna Mikhaylovna, still with the same expression, pale but resolute in the discharge of duty, ran out and touching Pierre lightly on the arm said:

"The divine mercy is inexhaustible! Unction is about to be administered. Come."

Pierre went in at the door, stepping on the soft carpet, and noticed that the strange lady, the aide-de-camp, and some of the servants, all followed him in, as if there were now no further need for permission to enter that room.

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After leaving his wife, what does Pierre do that gives him new hope?




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