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Could she, like other women" (Vera meant herself), "love a man once for all and remain true to him forever? That is what I consider true love. What do you think, Prince?" "I know your sister too little," replied Prince Andrew, with a sarcastic smile under which he wished to hide his embarrassment, "to be able to solve so delicate a question, and then I have noticed that the less attractive a woman is the more constant she is likely to be," he added, and looked up at Pierre who was just approaching them. "Yes, that is true, Prince. In our days," continued Vera--mentioning "our days" as people of limited intelligence are fond of doing, imagining that they have discovered and appraised the peculiarities of "our days" and that human characteristics change with the times--"in our days a girl has so much freedom that the pleasure of being courted often stifles real feeling in her. And it must be confessed that Natalie is very susceptible." This return to the subject of Natalie caused Prince Andrew to knit his brows with discomfort: he was about to rise, but Vera continued with a still more subtle smile: "I think no one has been more courted than she," she went on, "but till quite lately she never cared seriously for anyone. Now you know, Count," she said to Pierre, "even our dear cousin Boris, who, between ourselves, was very far gone in the land of tenderness..." (alluding to a map of love much in vogue at that time). Prince Andrew frowned and remained silent. "You are friendly with Boris, arent you?" asked Vera. "Yes, I know him..." "I expect he has told you of his childish love for Natasha?" "Oh, there was childish love?" suddenly asked Prince Andrew, blushing unexpectedly. "Yes, you know between cousins intimacy often leads to love. Le cousinage est un dangereux voisinage.* Dont you think so?" *"Cousinhood is a dangerous neighborhood." "Oh, undoubtedly!" said Prince Andrew, and with sudden and unnatural liveliness he began chaffing Pierre about the need to be very careful with his fifty-year-old Moscow cousins, and in the midst of these jesting remarks he rose, taking Pierre by the arm, and drew him aside. "Well?" asked Pierre, seeing his friends strange animation with surprise, and noticing the glance he turned on Natasha as he rose. "I must... I must have a talk with you," said Prince Andrew. "You know that pair of womens gloves?" (He referred to the Masonic gloves given to a newly initiated Brother to present to the woman he loved.) "I... but no, I will talk to you later on," and with a strange light in his eyes and restlessness in his movements, Prince Andrew approached Natasha and sat down beside her. Pierre saw how Prince Andrew asked her something and how she flushed as she replied. But at that moment Berg came to Pierre and began insisting that he should take part in an argument between the general and the colonel on the affairs in Spain. Berg was satisfied and happy. The smile of pleasure never left his face. The party was very successful and quite like other parties he had seen. Everything was similar: the ladies subtle talk, the cards, the general raising his voice at the card table, and the samovar and the tea cakes; only one thing was lacking that he had always seen at the evening parties he wished to imitate. They had not yet had a loud conversation among the men and a dispute about something important and clever. Now the general had begun such a discussion and so Berg drew Pierre to it. CHAPTER XXII Next day, having been invited by the count, Prince Andrew dined with the Rostovs and spent the rest of the day there. Everyone in the house realized for whose sake Prince Andrew came, and without concealing it he tried to be with Natasha all day. Not only in the soul of the frightened yet happy and enraptured Natasha, but in the whole house, there was a feeling of awe at something important that was bound to happen. The countess looked with sad and sternly serious eyes at Prince Andrew when he talked to Natasha and timidly started some artificial conversation about trifles as soon as he looked her way. Sonya was afraid to leave Natasha and afraid of being in the way when she was with them. Natasha grew pale, in a panic of expectation, when she remained alone with him for a moment. Prince Andrew surprised her by his timidity. She felt that he wanted to say something to her but

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