BOOK TEN: 1812
4. CHAPTER IV
Bald Hills, Prince Nicholas Bolkonski's estate, lay forty miles east
from Smolensk and two miles from the main road to Moscow.
The same evening that the prince gave his instructions to
Alpatych, Dessalles, having asked to see Princess Mary, told her that,
as the prince was not very well and was taking no steps to secure
his safety, though from Prince Andrew's letter it was evident that
to remain at Bald Hills might be dangerous, he respectfully advised
her to send a letter by Alpatych to the Provincial Governor at
Smolensk, asking him to let her know the state of affairs and the
extent of the danger to which Bald Hills was exposed. Dessalles
wrote this letter to the Governor for Princess Mary, she signed it,
and it was given to Alpatych with instructions to hand it to the
Governor and to come back as quickly as possible if there was danger.
Having received all his orders Alpatych, wearing a white beaver hat-
a present from the prince- and carrying a stick as the prince did,
went out accompanied by his family. Three well-fed roans stood ready
harnessed to a small conveyance with a leather hood.
The larger bell was muffled and the little bells on the harness
stuffed with paper. The prince allowed no one at Bald Hills to drive
with ringing bells; but on a long journey Alpatych liked to have them.
His satellites- the senior clerk, a countinghouse clerk, a scullery
maid, a cook, two old women, a little pageboy, the coachman, and
various domestic serfs- were seeing him off.
His daughter placed chintz-covered down cushions for him to sit on
and behind his back. His old sister-in-law popped in a small bundle,
and one of the coachmen helped him into the vehicle.
"There! There! Women's fuss! Women, women!" said Alpatych, puffing
and speaking rapidly just as the prince did, and he climbed into the
After giving the clerk orders about the work to be done, Alpatych,
not trying to imitate the prince now, lifted the hat from his bald
head and crossed himself three times.