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War And Peace 353

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War And Peace

door Pierre saw Natasha sitting at the window, with a thin, pale, and spiteful face. She glanced round at him, frowned, and left the room with an expression of cold dignity. "What has happened?" asked Pierre, entering Marya Dmitrievnas room. "Fine doings!" answered Dmitrievna. "For fifty-eight years have I lived in this world and never known anything so disgraceful!" And having put him on his honor not to repeat anything she told him, Marya Dmitrievna informed him that Natasha had refused Prince Andrew without her parents knowledge and that the cause of this was Anatole Kuragin into whose society Pierres wife had thrown her and with whom Natasha had tried to elope during her fathers absence, in order to be married secretly. Pierre raised his shoulders and listened open-mouthed to what was told him, scarcely able to believe his own ears. That Prince Andrews deeply loved affianced wife--the same Natasha Rostova who used to be so charming--should give up Bolkonski for that fool Anatole who was already secretly married (as Pierre knew), and should be so in love with him as to agree to run away with him, was something Pierre could not conceive and could not imagine. He could not reconcile the charming impression he had of Natasha, whom he had known from a child, with this new conception of her baseness, folly, and cruelty. He thought of his wife. "They are all alike!" he said to himself, reflecting that he was not the only man unfortunate enough to be tied to a bad woman. But still he pitied Prince Andrew to the point of tears and sympathized with his wounded pride, and the more he pitied his friend the more did he think with contempt and even with disgust of that Natasha who had just passed him in the ballroom with such a look of cold dignity. He did not know that Natashas soul was overflowing with despair, shame, and humiliation, and that it was not her fault that her face happened to assume an expression of calm dignity and severity. "But how get married?" said Pierre, in answer to Marya Dmitrievna. "He could not marry--he is married!" "Things get worse from hour to hour!" ejaculated Marya Dmitrievna. "A nice youth! What a scoundrel! And shes expecting him--expecting him since yesterday. She must be told! Then at least she wont go on expecting him." After hearing the details of Anatoles marriage from Pierre, and giving vent to her anger against Anatole in words of abuse, Marya Dmitrievna told Pierre why she had sent for him. She was afraid that the count or Bolkonski, who might arrive at any moment, if they knew of this affair (which she hoped to hide from them) might challenge Anatole to a duel, and she therefore asked Pierre to tell his brother-in-law in her name to leave Moscow and not dare to let her set eyes on him again. Pierre--only now realizing the danger to the old count, Nicholas, and Prince Andrew--promised to do as she wished. Having briefly and exactly explained her wishes to him, she let him go to the drawing room. "Mind, the count knows nothing. Behave as if you know nothing either," she said. "And I will go and tell her it is no use expecting him! And stay to dinner if you care to!" she called after Pierre. Pierre met the old count, who seemed nervous and upset. That morning Natasha had told him that she had rejected Bolkonski. "Troubles, troubles, my dear fellow!" he said to Pierre. "What troubles one has with these girls without their mother! I do so regret having come here.... I will be frank with you. Have you heard she has broken off her engagement without consulting anybody? Its true this engagement never was much to my liking. Of course he is an excellent man, but still, with his fathers disapproval they wouldnt have been happy, and Natasha wont lack suitors. Still, it has been going on so long, and to take such a step without fathers or mothers consent! And now shes ill, and God knows what! Its hard, Count, hard to manage daughters in their mothers absence...." Pierre saw that the count was much upset and tried to change the subject, but the count returned to his troubles. Sonya entered the room with an agitated face. "Natasha is not quite well; shes in her room and would like to see you. Marya Dmitrievna is with her and she too asks you to come." "Yes, you are a great friend of Bolkonskis, no doubt she wants to send him a message," said

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