Soon after Prince Andrew's return the old prince made over to him a large estate, Bogucharovo, about twenty-five miles from Bald Hills.
Partly because of the depressing memories associated with Bald Hills, partly because Prince Andrew did not always feel equal to bearing with his father's peculiarities, and partly because he needed solitude, Prince Andrew made use of Bogucharovo, began building and spent most of his time there.
Bogucharovo lay in a flat uninteresting part of the country among fields and forests of fir and birch, which were partly cut down.
A trained midwife was engaged for Bogucharovo at his expense, and a priest was paid to teach reading and writing to the children of the peasants and household serfs.
The other half he spent in "Bogucharovo Cloister," as his father called Prince Andrew's estate.
Then he vividly pictured to himself Bogucharovo, his occupations in the country, his journey to Ryazan; he remembered the peasants and Dron the village elder, and mentally applying to them the Personal Rights he had divided into paragraphs, he felt astonished that he could have spent so much time on such useless work.
He shifts the Dukes about as I might move my serfs from Bald Hills to Bogucharovo or my Ryazan estates.
Not only could he no longer think the thoughts that had first come to him as he lay gazing at the sky on the field of Austerlitz and had later enlarged upon with Pierre, and which had filled his solitude at Bogucharovo and then in Switzerland and Rome, but he even dreaded to recall them and the bright and boundless horizons they had revealed.
The peasants were ruined; some of them too had gone to Bogucharovo, only a few remained.
Alpatych, understanding the question to refer to their departure for Bogucharovo, replied that they had left on the seventh and again went into details concerning the estate management, asking for instructions.
But while himself remaining, he gave instructions for the departure of the princess and Dessalles with the little prince to Bogucharovo and thence to Moscow.
It was becoming more and more dangerous to remain at Bald Hills, and next day they moved the prince to Bogucharovo, the doctor accompanying him.
By the time they reached Bogucharovo, Dessalles and the little prince had already left for Moscow.
For three weeks the old prince lay stricken by paralysis in the new house Prince Andrew had built at Bogucharovo, ever in the same state, getting neither better nor worse.
News of the approach of the French came from all sides, and in one village, ten miles from Bogucharovo, a homestead had been looted by French marauders.
The doctor insisted on the necessity of moving the prince; the provincial Marshal of the Nobility sent an official to Princess Mary to persuade her to get away as quickly as possible, and the head of the rural police having come to Bogucharovo urged the same thing, saying that the French were only some twenty-five miles away, that French proclamations were circulating in the villages, and that if the princess did not take her father away before the fifteenth, he could not answer for the consequences.
When she had completed the tour of the garden, which brought her again to the house, she saw Mademoiselle Bourienne--who had remained at Bogucharovo and did not wish to leave it--coming toward her with a stranger.
Until Prince Andrew settled in Bogucharovo its owners had always been absentees, and its peasants were of quite a different character from those of Bald Hills.
Prince Andrew's last stay at Bogucharovo, when he introduced hospitals and schools and reduced the quitrent the peasants had to pay, had not softened their disposition but had on the contrary strengthened in them the traits of character the old prince called boorishness.
In the vicinity of Bogucharovo were large villages belonging to the crown or to owners whose serfs paid quitrent and could work where they pleased.
Hundreds of peasants, among them the Bogucharovo folk, suddenly began selling their cattle and moving in whole families toward the southeast.
Alpatych, who had reached Bogucharovo shortly before the old prince's 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.
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.
For some thirty years Bogucharovo had been managed by the village Elder, Dron, whom the old prince called by the diminutive "Dronushka."
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.
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.
Having glanced at Dron he at once understood that his answers did not express his personal views but the general mood of the Bogucharovo commune, by which the Elder had already been carried away.
Mademoiselle Bourienne would do the honors of Bogucharovo for him.
She began asking Dron about the peasants' needs and what there was in Bogucharovo that belonged to the landlord.
They say they don't agree to leave Bogucharovo as you ordered.
On the seventeenth of August Rostov and Ilyin, accompanied by Lavrushka who had just returned from captivity and by an hussar orderly, left their quarters at Yankovo, ten miles from Bogucharovo, and went for a ride--to try a new horse Ilyin had bought and to find out whether there was any hay to be had in the villages.
For the last three days Bogucharovo had lain between the two hostile armies, so that it was as easy for the Russian rearguard to get to it as for the French vanguard; Rostov, as a careful squadron commander, wished to take such provisions as remained at Bogucharovo before the French could get them.
On the way to Bogucharovo, a princely estate with a dwelling house and farm where they hoped to find many domestic serfs and pretty girls, they questioned Lavrushka about Napoleon and laughed at his stories, and raced one another to try Ilyin's horse.
Rostov and Ilyin gave rein to their horses for a last race along the incline before reaching Bogucharovo, and Rostov, outstripping Ilyin, was the first to gallop into the village street.
Two hours later the carts were standing in the courtyard of the Bogucharovo house.
When her carriage drove out of the house, he mounted and accompanied her eight miles from Bogucharovo to where the road was occupied by our troops.
"Was it not fate that brought him to Bogucharovo, and at that very moment?" thought Princess Mary.
To remember her gave him pleasure, and when his comrades, hearing of his adventure at Bogucharovo, rallied him on having gone to look for hay and having picked up one of the wealthiest heiresses in Russia, he grew angry.
"Yes, Princess," said Nicholas at last with a sad smile, "it doesn't seem long ago since we first met at Bogucharovo, but how much water has flowed since then!
Once in summer he had sent for the village elder from Bogucharovo, a man who had succeeded to the post when Dron died and who was accused of dishonesty and various irregularities.
Among other things he spoke of the Bogucharovo elder.