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War And Peace 310


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tutors, governesses, and guests, were already at the tea table. The servants stood round the table--but Prince Andrew was not there and life was going on as before. "Ah, here she is!" said the old count, when he saw Natasha enter. "Well, sit down by me." But Natasha stayed by her mother and glanced round as if looking for something. "Mamma!" she muttered, "give him to me, give him, Mamma, quickly, quickly!" and she again had difficulty in repressing her sobs. She sat down at the table and listened to the conversation between the elders and Nicholas, who had also come to the table. "My God, my God! The same faces, the same talk, Papa holding his cup and blowing in the same way!" thought Natasha, feeling with horror a sense of repulsion rising up in her for the whole household, because they were always the same. After tea, Nicholas, Sonya, and Natasha went to the sitting room, to their favorite corner where their most intimate talks always began. CHAPTER X "Does it ever happen to you," said Natasha to her brother, when they settled down in the sitting room, "does it ever happen to you to feel as if there were nothing more to come--nothing; that everything good is past? And to feel not exactly dull, but sad?" "I should think so!" he replied. "I have felt like that when everything was all right and everyone was cheerful. The thought has come into my mind that I was already tired of it all, and that we must all die. Once in the regiment I had not gone to some merrymaking where there was music... and suddenly I felt so depressed..." "Oh yes, I know, I know, I know!" Natasha interrupted him. "When I was quite little that used to be so with me. Do you remember when I was punished once about some plums? You were all dancing, and I sat sobbing in the schoolroom? I shall never forget it: I felt sad and sorry for everyone, for myself, and for everyone. And I was innocent--that was the chief thing," said Natasha. "Do you remember?" "I remember," answered Nicholas. "I remember that I came to you afterwards and wanted to comfort you, but do you know, I felt ashamed to. We were terribly absurd. I had a funny doll then and wanted to give it to you. Do you remember?" "And do you remember," Natasha asked with a pensive smile, "how once, long, long ago, when we were quite little, Uncle called us into the study--that was in the old house--and it was dark--we went in and suddenly there stood..." "A Negro," chimed in Nicholas with a smile of delight. "Of course I remember. Even now I dont know whether there really was a Negro, or if we only dreamed it or were told about him." "He was gray, you remember, and had white teeth, and stood and looked at us..." "Sonya, do you remember?" asked Nicholas. "Yes, yes, I do remember something too," Sonya answered timidly. "You know I have asked Papa and Mamma about that Negro," said Natasha, "and they say there was no Negro at all. But you see, you remember!" "Of course I do, I remember his teeth as if I had just seen them." "How strange it is! Its as if it were a dream! I like that." "And do you remember how we rolled hard-boiled eggs in the ballroom, and suddenly two old women began spinning round on the carpet? Was that real or not? Do you remember what fun it was?" "Yes, and you remember how Papa in his blue overcoat fired a gun in the porch?" So they went through their memories, smiling with pleasure: not the sad memories of old age, but poetic, youthful ones--those impressions of ones most distant past in which dreams and realities blend--and they laughed with quiet enjoyment. Sonya, as always, did not quite keep pace with them, though they shared the same reminiscences. Much that they remembered had slipped from her mind, and what she recalled did not arouse the same poetic feeling as they experienced. She simply enjoyed their pleasure and tried to fit in with it. She only really took part when they recalled Sonyas first arrival. She told them how afraid she had been of Nicholas because he had on a corded jacket and her nurse had told her that she, too, would be sewn up with cords. "And I remember their telling me that you had been born under a cabbage," said Natasha, "and I remember that I dared not disbelieve it then,

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