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Chapter IX.19

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From the day when Pierre, after leaving the Rostovs' with Natasha's grateful look fresh in his mind, had gazed at the comet that seemed to be fixed in the sky and felt that something new was appearing on his own horizon- from that day the problem of the vanity and uselessness of all earthly things, that had incessantly tormented him, no longer presented itself. That terrible question "Why?" "Wherefore?" which had come to him amid every occupation, was now replaced, not by another question or by a reply to the former question, but by her image. When he listened to, or himself took part in, trivial conversations, when he read or heard of human baseness or folly, he was not horrified as formerly, and did not ask himself why men struggled so about these things when all is so transient and incomprehensible- but he remembered her as he had last seen her, and all his doubts vanished- not because she had answered the questions that had haunted him, but because his conception of her transferred him instantly to another, a brighter, realm of spiritual activity in which no one could be justified or guilty- a realm of beauty and love which it was worth living for. Whatever worldly baseness presented itself to him, he said to himself:

"Well, supposing N. N. swindled the country and the Tsar, and the country and the Tsar confer honors upon him, what does that matter? She smiled at me yesterday and asked me to come again, and I love her, and no one will ever know it." And his soul felt calm and peaceful.

Pierre still went into society, drank as much and led the same idle and dissipated life, because besides the hours he spent at the Rostovs' there were other hours he had to spend somehow, and the habits and acquaintances he had made in Moscow formed a current that bore him along irresistibly. But latterly, when more and more disquieting reports came from the seat of war and Natasha's health began to improve and she no longer aroused in him the former feeling of careful pity, an ever-increasing restlessness, which he could not explain, took possession of him. He felt that the condition he was in could not continue long, that a catastrophe was coming which would change his whole life, and he impatiently sought everywhere for signs of that approaching catastrophe. One of his brother Masons had revealed to Pierre the following prophecy concerning Napoleon, drawn from the Revelation of St. John.

In chapter 13, verse 18, of the Apocalypse, it is said:

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

And in the fifth verse of the same chapter:

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

The French alphabet, written out with the same numerical values as the Hebrew, in which the first nine letters denote units and the others tens, will have the following significance:

      a b c d e f g h i k       1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10        l m n o p q r s       20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90              t u v w x y             100 110 120 130 140 150                         z                        160

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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