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War And Peace 519


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waiting for the household to assemble for the usual silent prayer with closed doors before starting. Natasha was not in the room. "Mamma," said Sonya, "Prince Andrew is here, mortally wounded. He is going with us." The countess opened her eyes in dismay and, seizing Sonyas arm, glanced around. "Natasha?" she murmured. At that moment this news had only one significance for both of them. They knew their Natasha, and alarm as to what would happen if she heard this news stifled all sympathy for the man they both liked. "Natasha does not know yet, but he is going with us," said Sonya. "You say he is dying?" Sonya nodded. The countess put her arms around Sonya and began to cry. "The ways of God are past finding out!" she thought, feeling that the Almighty Hand, hitherto unseen, was becoming manifest in all that was now taking place. "Well, Mamma? Everything is ready. Whats the matter?" asked Natasha, as with animated face she ran into the room. "Nothing," answered the countess. "If everything is ready let us start." And the countess bent over her reticule to hide her agitated face. Sonya embraced Natasha and kissed her. Natasha looked at her inquiringly. "What is it? What has happened?" "Nothing... No..." "Is it something very bad for me? What is it?" persisted Natasha with her quick intuition. Sonya sighed and made no reply. The count, Petya, Madame Schoss, Mavra Kuzminichna, and Vasilich came into the drawing room and, having closed the doors, they all sat down and remained for some moments silently seated without looking at one another. The count was the first to rise, and with a loud sigh crossed himself before the icon. All the others did the same. Then the count embraced Mavra Kuzminichna and Vasilich, who were to remain in Moscow, and while they caught at his hand and kissed his shoulder he patted their backs lightly with some vaguely affectionate and comforting words. The countess went into the oratory and there Sonya found her on her knees before the icons that had been left here and there hanging on the wall. (The most precious ones, with which some family tradition was connected, were being taken with them.) In the porch and in the yard the men whom Petya had armed with swords and daggers, with trousers tucked inside their high boots and with belts and girdles tightened, were taking leave of those remaining behind. As is always the case at a departure, much had been forgotten or put in the wrong place, and for a long time two menservants stood one on each side of the open door and the carriage steps waiting to help the countess in, while maids rushed with cushions and bundles from the house to the carriages, the caleche, the phaeton, and back again. "They always will forget everything!" said the countess. "Dont you know I cant sit like that?" And Dunyasha, with clenched teeth, without replying but with an aggrieved look on her face, hastily got into the coach to rearrange the seat. "Oh, those servants!" said the count, swaying his head. Efim, the old coachman, who was the only one the countess trusted to drive her, sat perched up high on the box and did not so much as glance round at what was going on behind him. From thirty years experience he knew it would be some time yet before the order, "Be off, in Gods name!" would be given him: and he knew that even when it was said he would be stopped once or twice more while they sent back to fetch something that had been forgotten, and even after that he would again be stopped and the countess herself would lean out of the window and beg him for the love of heaven to drive carefully down the hill. He knew all this and therefore waited calmly for what would happen, with more patience than the horses, especially the near one, the chestnut Falcon, who was pawing the ground and champing his bit. At last all were seated, the carriage steps were folded and pulled up, the door was shut, somebody was sent for a traveling case, and the countess leaned out and said what she had to say. Then Efim deliberately doffed his hat and began crossing himself. The postilion and all the other servants did the same. "Off, in Gods name!" said Efim, putting on his hat. "Start!" The postilion started the horses, the off pole horse tugged at his collar, the high springs creaked, and the body of the coach swayed. The footman sprang onto the box of the moving coach

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