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The first section of Part III focuses attention on Prince Vasily. Vasily changes his attitude towards Pierre, after the latter inherits the property of Count Bezukhov. He persuades Pierre to live with him and encourages the young man to woo his daughter. His friend, Anna Pavlovna also aids him in his effort. She throws a party and creates a situation where Pierre and Ellen are thrown together. Pierre becomes aware of the feminine beauty and physicality of Ellen and gets a desire to possess her. However, his courage fails him when it comes to proposing to her. Also, he is not sure of his feelings for Ellen. He is afraid of acting in haste and repenting later. However, Vasily presents a situation in which Pierre is forced to propose to Ellen. Thus, circumstances force Pierre to marry Ellen and he settles down with her on his estate.
After fixing his daughterís marriage, he decides to arrange a match for his elder son. With this intention, he visits Prince Bolkonsky at Bald Hills. The old Prince is aware of the intention of Prince Vasily and hence, is averse to meeting his guest. However, he meets Vasily and his son but remains non- committal about accepting the proposal of marriage for Princess Marya. Anatol tries to impress everyone with his charm and is attentive to Marya. However, he is attracted to Madam Bourienne. Maryaís womanly instincts get aroused on meeting Anatol but she makes a fool of herself in trying to impress him and invokes the wrath of her father. Finally, she decides against marrying Anatol, when she catches Anatol in a compromising situation with Bourienne. Prince Vasily is a disappointed man, as he takes leave of the old Prince but the elder Bolkonsky feels relieved.
In the house of Rostovs, the arrival of a letter from Nikolai creates confusion in the hearts of the inmates. Nikolai writes to inform about his arm injury and also about his promotion. The Count is proud of his son, though he is concerned about his health. However, he is afraid to pass on the information to his wife. Anna Mikhailovna offers to help and gets the message across to the Countess. Countess Rostova is disturbed to hear about her sonís wound and breaks down. However, she reconciles herself to the situation and is happy about Nikolaiís promotion. Sonya is delighted to hear from Nikolai and looks forward to his visit. The Count encloses some money along with a letter to Nikolai and sends it to Boris.
When Nikolai hears from Boris, he goes to meet his friend at Olmutz. He shares his experience on the battlefield with Boris, before receiving his letter from him. Then he meets Andrei whose arrogance repulses him. Andrei promises to help Boris by speaking about him to Prince Dolgorukhov. However, Dolgorukhov is unable to help Boris immediately, as he is pressed for time.
Emperor Aleksandr falls ill after being on the battlefield for two days and witnessing the loss of many lives. As he recovers, he receives a letter of invitation from Napoleon for a meeting. He sends Dolgorukhov as his emissary. Napoleon asks for a truce but Dolgorukhov refuses the offer and returns back to his camp.
Next day, the Russian and Austrian troops advance towards the French settlement at Austerlitz. In their over-confidence they overlook the tact and cunning of Bonaparte. Also the Russian officers hold different opinions in their plan of action and this leads to disarray. Thus, the Russians and their allies are caught unawares by the French squad and there is confusion all around. Before the Russians can realize the impact of the battle, the French defeat them. Senior officers like Kutuzov and Andrei are injured, while many others are killed. Andrei is rescued by the French soldiers and taken to their hospital. Here, he gets the opportunity to meet Napoleon but the latter fails to impress him.