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War And Peace 282


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would die before then, and he decided to conform to his fathers wish--to propose, and postpone the wedding for a year. Three weeks after the last evening he had spent with the Rostovs, Prince Andrew returned to Petersburg. Next day after her talk with her mother Natasha expected Bolkonski all day, but he did not come. On the second and third day it was the same. Pierre did not come either and Natasha, not knowing that Prince Andrew had gone to see his father, could not explain his absence to herself. Three weeks passed in this way. Natasha had no desire to go out anywhere and wandered from room to room like a shadow, idle and listless; she wept secretly at night and did not go to her mother in the evenings. She blushed continually and was irritable. It seemed to her that everybody knew about her disappointment and was laughing at her and pitying her. Strong as was her inward grief, this wound to her vanity intensified her misery. Once she came to her mother, tried to say something, and suddenly began to cry. Her tears were those of an offended child who does not know why it is being punished. The countess began to soothe Natasha, who after first listening to her mothers words, suddenly interrupted her: "Leave off, Mamma! I dont think, and dont want to think about it! He just came and then left off, left off..." Her voice trembled, and she again nearly cried, but recovered and went on quietly: "And I dont at all want to get married. And I am afraid of him; I have now become quite calm, quite calm." The day after this conversation Natasha put on the old dress which she knew had the peculiar property of conducing to cheerfulness in the mornings, and that day she returned to the old way of life which she had abandoned since the ball. Having finished her morning tea she went to the ballroom, which she particularly liked for its loud resonance, and began singing her solfeggio. When she had finished her first exercise she stood still in the middle of the room and sang a musical phrase that particularly pleased her. She listened joyfully (as though she had not expected it) to the charm of the notes reverberating, filling the whole empty ballroom, and slowly dying away; and all at once she felt cheerful. "Whats the good of making so much of it? Things are nice as it is," she said to herself, and she began walking up and down the room, not stepping simply on the resounding parquet but treading with each step from the heel to the toe (she had on a new and favorite pair of shoes) and listening to the regular tap of the heel and creak of the toe as gladly as she had to the sounds of her own voice. Passing a mirror she glanced into it. "There, thats me!" the expression of her face seemed to say as she caught sight of herself. "Well, and very nice too! I need nobody." A footman wanted to come in to clear away something in the room but she would not let him, and having closed the door behind him continued her walk. That morning she had returned to her favorite mood--love of, and delight in, herself. "How charming that Natasha is!" she said again, speaking as some third, collective, male person. "Pretty, a good voice, young, and in nobodys way if only they leave her in peace." But however much they left her in peace she could not now be at peace, and immediately felt this. In the hall the porch door opened, and someone asked, "At home?" and then footsteps were heard. Natasha was looking at the mirror, but did not see herself. She listened to the sounds in the hall. When she saw herself, her face was pale. It was he. She knew this for certain, though she hardly heard his voice through the closed doors. Pale and agitated, Natasha ran into the drawing room. "Mamma! Bolkonski has come!" she said. "Mamma, it is awful, it is unbearable! I dont want... to be tormented? What am I to do?..." Before the countess could answer, Prince Andrew entered the room with an agitated and serious face. As soon as he saw Natasha his face brightened. He kissed the countess hand and Natashas, and sat down beside the sofa. "It is long since we had the pleasure..." began the countess, but Prince Andrew interrupted her by answering her intended question, obviously in haste to say what

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