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War And Peace 134

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War And Peace

passion. Oh, only my poor mother..." "I quite understand," answered Princess Mary, with a sad smile. "Calm yourself, my dear. I will go to my father," she said, and went out. Prince Vasili, with one leg thrown high over the other and a snuffbox in his hand, was sitting there with a smile of deep emotion on his face, as if stirred to his hearts core and himself regretting and laughing at his own sensibility, when Princess Mary entered. He hurriedly took a pinch of snuff. "Ah, my dear, my dear!" he began, rising and taking her by both hands. Then, sighing, he added: "My sons fate is in your hands. Decide, my dear, good, gentle Marie, whom I have always loved as a daughter!" He drew back and a real tear appeared in his eye. "Fr... fr..." snorted Prince Bolkonski. "The prince is making a proposition to you in his pupils--I mean, his sons--name. Do you wish or not to be Prince Anatole Kuragins wife? Reply: yes or no," he shouted, "and then I shall reserve the right to state my opinion also. Yes, my opinion, and only my opinion," added Prince Bolkonski, turning to Prince Vasili and answering his imploring look. "Yes, or no?" "My desire is never to leave you, Father, never to separate my life from yours. I dont wish to marry," she answered positively, glancing at Prince Vasili and at her father with her beautiful eyes. "Humbug! Nonsense! Humbug, humbug, humbug!" cried Prince Bolkonski, frowning and taking his daughters hand; he did not kiss her, but only bending his forehead to hers just touched it, and pressed her hand so that she winced and uttered a cry. Prince Vasili rose. "My dear, I must tell you that this is a moment I shall never, never forget. But, my dear, will you not give us a little hope of touching this heart, so kind and generous? Say perhaps... The future is so long. Say perhaps." "Prince, what I have said is all there is in my heart. I thank you for the honor, but I shall never be your sons wife." "Well, so thats finished, my dear fellow! I am very glad to have seen you. Very glad! Go back to your rooms, Princess. Go!" said the old prince. "Very, very glad to have seen you," repeated he, embracing Prince Vasili. "My vocation is a different one," thought Princess Mary. "My vocation is to be happy with another kind of happiness, the happiness of love and self-sacrifice. And cost what it may, I will arrange poor Amelies happiness, she loves him so passionately, and so passionately repents. I will do all I can to arrange the match between them. If he is not rich I will give her the means; I will ask my father and Andrew. I shall be so happy when she is his wife. She is so unfortunate, a stranger, alone, helpless! And, oh God, how passionately she must love him if she could so far forget herself! Perhaps I might have done the same!..." thought Princess Mary. CHAPTER VI It was long since the Rostovs had news of Nicholas. Not till midwinter was the count at last handed a letter addressed in his sons handwriting. On receiving it, he ran on tiptoe to his study in alarm and haste, trying to escape notice, closed the door, and began to read the letter. Anna Mikhaylovna, who always knew everything that passed in the house, on hearing of the arrival of the letter went softly into the room and found the count with it in his hand, sobbing and laughing at the same time. Anna Mikhaylovna, though her circumstances had improved, was still living with the Rostovs. "My dear friend?" said she, in a tone of pathetic inquiry, prepared to sympathize in any way. The count sobbed yet more. "Nikolenka... a letter... wa... a... s... wounded... my darling boy... the countess... promoted to be an officer... thank God... How tell the little countess!" Anna Mikhaylovna sat down beside him, with her own handkerchief wiped the tears from his eyes and from the letter, then having dried her own eyes she comforted the count, and decided that at dinner and till teatime she would prepare the countess, and after tea, with Gods help, would inform her. At dinner Anna Mikhaylovna talked the whole time about the war news and about Nikolenka, twice asked when the last letter had been received from him, though she knew that already, and remarked that they might very likely be getting a letter from him that day. Each time that these hints began to make

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