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War And Peace 309

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War And Peace

to frown at Natasha. No one in the house sent people about or gave them as much trouble as Natasha did. She could not see people unconcernedly, but had to send them on some errand. She seemed to be trying whether any of them would get angry or sulky with her; but the serfs fulfilled no ones orders so readily as they did hers. "What can I do, where can I go?" thought she, as she went slowly along the passage. "Nastasya Ivanovna, what sort of children shall I have?" she asked the buffoon, who was coming toward her in a womans jacket. "Why, fleas, crickets, grasshoppers," answered the buffoon. "O Lord, O Lord, its always the same! Oh, where am I to go? What am I to do with myself?" And tapping with her heels, she ran quickly upstairs to see Vogel and his wife who lived on the upper story. Two governesses were sitting with the Vogels at a table, on which were plates of raisins, walnuts, and almonds. The governesses were discussing whether it was cheaper to live in Moscow or Odessa. Natasha sat down, listened to their talk with a serious and thoughtful air, and then got up again. "The island of Madagascar," she said, "Ma-da-gas-car," she repeated, articulating each syllable distinctly, and, not replying to Madame Schoss who asked her what she was saying, she went out of the room. Her brother Petya was upstairs too; with the man in attendance on him he was preparing fireworks to let off that night. "Petya! Petya!" she called to him. "Carry me downstairs." Petya ran up and offered her his back. She jumped on it, putting her arms round his neck, and he pranced along with her. "No, dont... the island of Madagascar!" she said, and jumping off his back she went downstairs. Having as it were reviewed her kingdom, tested her power, and made sure that everyone was submissive, but that all the same it was dull, Natasha betook herself to the ballroom, picked up her guitar, sat down in a dark corner behind a bookcase, and began to run her fingers over the strings in the bass, picking out a passage she recalled from an opera she had heard in Petersburg with Prince Andrew. What she drew from the guitar would have had no meaning for other listeners, but in her imagination a whole series of reminiscences arose from those sounds. She sat behind the bookcase with her eyes fixed on a streak of light escaping from the pantry door and listened to herself and pondered. She was in a mood for brooding on the past. Sonya passed to the pantry with a glass in her hand. Natasha glanced at her and at the crack in the pantry door, and it seemed to her that she remembered the light falling through that crack once before and Sonya passing with a glass in her hand. "Yes it was exactly the same," thought Natasha. "Sonya, what is this?" she cried, twanging a thick string. "Oh, you are there!" said Sonya with a start, and came near and listened. "I dont know. A storm?" she ventured timidly, afraid of being wrong. "There! Thats just how she started and just how she came up smiling timidly when all this happened before," thought Natasha, "and in just the same way I thought there was something lacking in her." "No, its the chorus from The Water-Carrier, listen!" and Natasha sang the air of the chorus so that Sonya should catch it. "Where were you going?" she asked. "To change the water in this glass. I am just finishing the design." "You always find something to do, but I cant," said Natasha. "And wheres Nicholas?" "Asleep, I think." "Sonya, go and wake him," said Natasha. "Tell him I want him to come and sing." She sat awhile, wondering what the meaning of it all having happened before could be, and without solving this problem, or at all regretting not having done so, she again passed in fancy to the time when she was with him and he was looking at her with a lovers eyes. "Oh, if only he would come quicker! I am so afraid it will never be! And, worst of all, I am growing old--thats the thing! There wont then be in me what there is now. But perhaps hell come today, will come immediately. Perhaps he has come and is sitting in the drawing room. Perhaps he came yesterday and I have forgotten it." She rose, put down the guitar, and went to the drawing room. All the domestic circle,

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