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In 1808, Russia was still friendly with France and continuing its support to it. When Napoleon attacked the Austrian army, it was Alexander who sent his troops to aid the French.
Prince Andrei drafts a plan of reforms for the army, after undertaking reforms on his estate. What Pierre had boasted of doing, Andrei does it on his estates. He removes serfdom and transforms the serfs to free agricultural laborers. He employs priests as teachers, to impart education to the children of the peasants and engages trained midwifes, to help pregnant women during labor.
One day, in connection with his affairs in the Ryazan estate, he pays a visit to Count Rostov in his home in Otradnoe. As he enters the house, thinking about serious matters, he overhears the laughter of girls from the garden and casts his glance on Natasha. Her innocence and spontaneity mesmerize him. Spending the day with the Rostovs, he observes the girl again and feels enchanted by her youthful exuberance. As he takes leave of the Rostovs, he feels light-hearted and hopeful.
Andrei meets important government officials like Count Arakcheyev and Speransky, the Secretary of State in connection with the reforms on army rules and regulations. Shortly afterwards, he is appointed as member of the Committee on army rules and regulations and Chairman of the section on legal codes. Bestowed with such prestigious posts, Andrei becomes the special man of society. Though a widower, he is considered an eligible bachelor.
Pierre gets more involved in the activities of the Free Masons. He donates generously to the organization and tries to strengthen the fold by organizing meetings, enrolling new members and suggesting reforms. The other members fail to show enthusiasm about his reforms but his mentor, Alekseyevich induces him to work towards his goal. Alekseyevich also encourages him to reunite with Ellen and fulfil his conjugal obligations. Pierre calls back Ellen but the latter seems unrepentant. She continues to indulge in her pastime of socializing and flirting with different men. Her parties exhaust Pierre but he is unable to stop her from her activities. However, when Boris starts visiting her and the royal Prince showers attention on her, Pierre feels uneasy. He feels isolated and neglected. Forgetting his misery, he helps Andrei in winning the favor of Natasha.
Boris falls for the charm of Natasha once again and starts wooing her. Natasha considers him a friend and nothing more. The Countess being aware of Natasha’s feelings warns Boris from pursuing her and courting her. Boris stops visiting the Rostovs. Instead, he starts wooing Marya Alexandrovna with a view to improve his position in life. Natasha’s elder sister, Vera finds her match in Colonel Berg. The Rostovs are happy for their daughter and Berg is delighted to find a beautiful girl from a respectable family as his partner. However, Berg expects the Count to give him a decent dowry. The Count agrees, despite his financial restraints. Thus, Vera and Berg settle down to domestic harmony.
Princess Marya remains devoted to her father and nephew but Prince Bolkonsky treats her shabbily. The old Prince is disturbed to hear about Napoleon’s conquest and friendship with Aleksandr and lets out his anger on Marya. Marya patiently bears the brunt of his moods and temper tantrums. Sometimes, she longs to escape with her companions to a distant land on pilgrimage but her responsibilities towards her father and nephew tie her down to home. When Andrei arrives home, she detects a healthy look on her brother’s face but does not believe that Natasha is responsible for it. Later, when Andrei writes to her to inform about his intention to marry Natasha, she accepts the fact. Like her father, she is not in favor of the match but resigns herself to the situation.