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come and tell me her answer." "Inform the prince that labor has begun," said Mary Bogdanovna, giving the messenger a significant look. Tikhon went and told the prince. "Very good!" said the prince closing the door behind him, and Tikhon did not hear the slightest sound from the study after that. After a while he re-entered it as if to snuff the candles, and, seeing the prince was lying on the sofa, looked at him, noticed his perturbed face, shook his head, and going up to him silently kissed him on the shoulder and left the room without snuffing the candles or saying why he had entered. The most solemn mystery in the world continued its course. Evening passed, night came, and the feeling of suspense and softening of heart in the presence of the unfathomable did not lessen but increased. No one slept. It was one of those March nights when winter seems to wish to resume its sway and scatters its last snows and storms with desperate fury. A relay of horses had been sent up the highroad to meet the German doctor from Moscow who was expected every moment, and men on horseback with lanterns were sent to the crossroads to guide him over the country road with its hollows and snow-covered pools of water. Princess Mary had long since put aside her book: she sat silent, her luminous eyes fixed on her nurses wrinkled face (every line of which she knew so well), on the lock of gray hair that escaped from under the kerchief, and the loose skin that hung under her chin. Nurse Savishna, knitting in hand, was telling in low tones, scarcely hearing or understanding her own words, what she had told hundreds of times before: how the late princess had given birth to Princess Mary in Kishenev with only a Moldavian peasant woman to help instead of a midwife. "God is merciful, doctors are never needed," she said. Suddenly a gust of wind beat violently against the casement of the window, from which the double frame had been removed (by order of the prince, one window frame was removed in each room as soon as the larks returned), and, forcing open a loosely closed latch, set the damask curtain flapping and blew out the candle with its chill, snowy draft. Princess Mary shuddered; her nurse, putting down the stocking she was knitting, went to the window and leaning out tried to catch the open casement. The cold wind flapped the ends of her kerchief and her loose locks of gray hair. "Princess, my dear, theres someone driving up the avenue!" she said, holding the casement and not closing it. "With lanterns. Most likely the doctor." "Oh, my God! thank God!" said Princess Mary. "I must go and meet him, he does not know Russian." Princess Mary threw a shawl over her head and ran to meet the newcomer. As she was crossing the anteroom she saw through the window a carriage with lanterns, standing at the entrance. She went out on the stairs. On a banister post stood a tallow candle which guttered in the draft. On the landing below, Philip, the footman, stood looking scared and holding another candle. Still lower, beyond the turn of the staircase, one could hear the footstep of someone in thick felt boots, and a voice that seemed familiar to Princess Mary was saying something. "Thank God!" said the voice. "And Father?" "Gone to bed," replied the voice of Demyan the house steward, who was downstairs. Then the voice said something more, Demyan replied, and the steps in the felt boots approached the unseen bend of the staircase more rapidly. "Its Andrew!" thought Princess Mary. "No it cant be, that would be too extraordinary," and at the very moment she thought this, the face and figure of Prince Andrew, in a fur cloak the deep collar of which covered with snow, appeared on the landing where the footman stood with the candle. Yes, it was he, pale, thin, with a changed and strangely softened but agitated expression on his face. He came up the stairs and embraced his sister. "You did not get my letter?" he asked, and not waiting for a reply--which he would not have received, for the princess was unable to speak--he turned back, rapidly mounted the stairs again with the doctor who had entered the hall after him (they had met at the last post station), and again embraced his sister. "What a strange fate, Masha darling!" And having taken off his cloak and felt boots, he went to the little princess apartment. CHAPTER IX The

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