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War And Peace 280


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could not bring himself to do so. In the evening, when Prince Andrew had left, the countess went up to Natasha and whispered: "Well, what?" "Mamma! For heavens sake dont ask me anything now! One cant talk about that," said Natasha. But all the same that night Natasha, now agitated and now frightened, lay a long time in her mothers bed gazing straight before her. She told her how he had complimented her, how he told her he was going abroad, asked her where they were going to spend the summer, and then how he had asked her about Boris. "But such a... such a... never happened to me before!" she said. "Only I feel afraid in his presence. I am always afraid when Im with him. What does that mean? Does it mean that its the real thing? Yes? Mamma, are you asleep?" "No, my love; I am frightened myself," answered her mother. "Now go!" "All the same I shant sleep. What silliness, to sleep! Mummy! Mummy! such a thing never happened to me before," she said, surprised and alarmed at the feeling she was aware of in herself. "And could we ever have thought!..." It seemed to Natasha that even at the time she first saw Prince Andrew at Otradnoe she had fallen in love with him. It was as if she feared this strange, unexpected happiness of meeting again the very man she had then chosen (she was firmly convinced she had done so) and of finding him, as it seemed, not indifferent to her. "And it had to happen that he should come specially to Petersburg while we are here. And it had to happen that we should meet at that ball. It is fate. Clearly it is fate that everything led up to this! Already then, directly I saw him I felt something peculiar." "What else did he say to you? What are those verses? Read them..." said her mother, thoughtfully, referring to some verses Prince Andrew had written in Natashas album. "Mamma, one need not be ashamed of his being a widower?" "Dont, Natasha! Pray to God. Marriages are made in heaven," said her mother. "Darling Mummy, how I love you! How happy I am!" cried Natasha, shedding tears of joy and excitement and embracing her mother. At that very time Prince Andrew was sitting with Pierre and telling him of his love for Natasha and his firm resolve to make her his wife. That day Countess Helene had a reception at her house. The French ambassador was there, and a foreign prince of the blood who had of late become a frequent visitor of hers, and many brilliant ladies and gentlemen. Pierre, who had come downstairs, walked through the rooms and struck everyone by his preoccupied, absent-minded, and morose air. Since the ball he had felt the approach of a fit of nervous depression and had made desperate efforts to combat it. Since the intimacy of his wife with the royal prince, Pierre had unexpectedly been made a gentleman of the bedchamber, and from that time he had begun to feel oppressed and ashamed in court society, and dark thoughts of the vanity of all things human came to him oftener than before. At the same time the feeling he had noticed between his protegee Natasha and Prince Andrew accentuated his gloom by the contrast between his own position and his friends. He tried equally to avoid thinking about his wife, and about Natasha and Prince Andrew; and again everything seemed to him insignificant in comparison with eternity; again the question: for what? presented itself; and he forced himself to work day and night at Masonic labors, hoping to drive away the evil spirit that threatened him. Toward midnight, after he had left the countess apartments, he was sitting upstairs in a shabby dressing gown, copying out the original transaction of the Scottish lodge of Freemasons at a table in his low room cloudy with tobacco smoke, when someone came in. It was Prince Andrew. "Ah, its you!" said Pierre with a preoccupied, dissatisfied air. "And I, you see, am hard at it." He pointed to his manuscript book with that air of escaping from the ills of life with which unhappy people look at their work. Prince Andrew, with a beaming, ecstatic expression of renewed life on his face, paused in front of Pierre and, not noticing his sad look, smiled at him with the egotism of joy. "Well, dear heart," said he, "I wanted to tell you about it yesterday and I have come to do so today. I never experienced anything like it

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