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the song. After nine oclock two traps and three mounted men, who had been sent to look for them, arrived to fetch Natasha and Petya. The count and countess did not know where they were and were very anxious, said one of the men. Petya was carried out like a log and laid in the larger of the two traps. Natasha and Nicholas got into the other. "Uncle" wrapped Natasha up warmly and took leave of her with quite a new tenderness. He accompanied them on foot as far as the bridge that could not be crossed, so that they had to go round by the ford, and he sent huntsmen to ride in front with lanterns. "Good-by, dear niece," his voice called out of the darkness--not the voice Natasha had known previously, but the one that had sung As twas growing dark last night. In the village through which they passed there were red lights and a cheerful smell of smoke. "What a darling Uncle is!" said Natasha, when they had come out onto the highroad. "Yes," returned Nicholas. "Youre not cold?" "No. Im quite, quite all right. I feel so comfortable!" answered Natasha, almost perplexed by her feelings. They remained silent a long while. The night was dark and damp. They could not see the horses, but only heard them splashing through the unseen mud. What was passing in that receptive childlike soul that so eagerly caught and assimilated all the diverse impressions of life? How did they all find place in her? But she was very happy. As they were nearing home she suddenly struck up the air of As twas growing dark last night--the tune of which she had all the way been trying to get and had at last caught. "Got it?" said Nicholas. "What were you thinking about just now, Nicholas?" inquired Natasha. They were fond of asking one another that question. "I?" said Nicholas, trying to remember. "Well, you see, first I thought that Rugay, the red hound, was like Uncle, and that if he were a man he would always keep Uncle near him, if not for his riding, then for his manner. What a good fellow Uncle is! Dont you think so?... Well, and you?" "I? Wait a bit, wait.... Yes, first I thought that we are driving along and imagining that we are going home, but that heaven knows where we are really going in the darkness, and that we shall arrive and suddenly find that we are not in Otradnoe, but in Fairyland. And then I thought... No, nothing else." "I know, I expect you thought of him," said Nicholas, smiling as Natasha knew by the sound of his voice. "No," said Natasha, though she had in reality been thinking about Prince Andrew at the same time as of the rest, and of how he would have liked "Uncle." "And then I was saying to myself all the way, How well Anisya carried herself, how well!" And Nicholas heard her spontaneous, happy, ringing laughter. "And do you know," she suddenly said, "I know that I shall never again be as happy and tranquil as I am now." "Rubbish, nonsense, humbug!" exclaimed Nicholas, and he thought: "How charming this Natasha of mine is! I have no other friend like her and never shall have. Why should she marry? We might always drive about together!" "What a darling this Nicholas of mine is!" thought Natasha. "Ah, there are still lights in the drawingroom!" she said, pointing to the windows of the house that gleamed invitingly in the moist velvety darkness of the night. CHAPTER VIII Count Ilya Rostov had resigned the position of Marshal of the Nobility because it involved him in too much expense, but still his affairs did not improve. Natasha and Nicholas often noticed their parents conferring together anxiously and privately and heard suggestions of selling the fine ancestral Rostov house and estate near Moscow. It was not necessary to entertain so freely as when the count had been Marshal, and life at Otradnoe was quieter than in former years, but still the enormous house and its lodges were full of people and more than twenty sat down to table every day. These were all their own people who had settled down in the house almost as members of the family, or persons who were, it seemed, obliged to live in the counts house. Such were Dimmler the musician and his wife, Vogel the dancing master and his family, Belova, an old maiden lady, an inmate of the house, and many others such as Petyas tutors, the girls former governess, and other

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