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Natasha could say. They sat a little while downstairs near his room till they had left off crying and were able to go to him with calm faces. "How has his whole illness gone? Is it long since he grew worse? When did this happen?" Princess Mary inquired. Natasha told her that at first there had been danger from his feverish condition and the pain he suffered, but at Troitsa that had passed and the doctor had only been afraid of gangrene. That danger had also passed. When they reached Yaroslavl the wound had begun to fester (Natasha knew all about such things as festering) and the doctor had said that the festering might take a normal course. Then fever set in, but the doctor had said the fever was not very serious. "But two days ago this suddenly happened," said Natasha, struggling with her sobs. "I dont know why, but you will see what he is like." "Is he weaker? Thinner?" asked the princess. "No, its not that, but worse. You will see. O, Mary, he is too good, he cannot, cannot live, because..." CHAPTER XV When Natasha opened Prince Andrews door with a familiar movement and let Princess Mary pass into the room before her, the princess felt the sobs in her throat. Hard as she had tried to prepare herself, and now tried to remain tranquil, she knew that she would be unable to look at him without tears. The princess understood what Natasha had meant by the words: "two days ago this suddenly happened." She understood those words to mean that he had suddenly softened and that this softening and gentleness were signs of approaching death. As she stepped to the door she already saw in imagination Andrews face as she remembered it in childhood, a gentle, mild, sympathetic face which he had rarely shown, and which therefore affected her very strongly. She was sure he would speak soft, tender words to her such as her father had uttered before his death, and that she would not be able to bear it and would burst into sobs in his presence. Yet sooner or later it had to be, and she went in. The sobs rose higher and higher in her throat as she more and more clearly distinguished his form and her shortsighted eyes tried to make out his features, and then she saw his face and met his gaze. He was lying in a squirrel-fur dressing gown on a divan, surrounded by pillows. He was thin and pale. In one thin, translucently white hand he held a handkerchief, while with the other he stroked the delicate mustache he had grown, moving his fingers slowly. His eyes gazed at them as they entered. On seeing his face and meeting his eyes Princess Marys pace suddenly slackened, she felt her tears dry up and her sobs ceased. She suddenly felt guilty and grew timid on catching the expression of his face and eyes. "But in what am I to blame?" she asked herself. And his cold, stern look replied: "Because you are alive and thinking of the living, while I..." In the deep gaze that seemed to look not outwards but inwards there was an almost hostile expression as he slowly regarded his sister and Natasha. He kissed his sister, holding her hand in his as was their wont. "How are you, Mary? How did you manage to get here?" said he in a voice as calm and aloof as his look. Had he screamed in agony, that scream would not have struck such horror into Princess Marys heart as the tone of his voice. "And have you brought little Nicholas?" he asked in the same slow, quiet manner and with an obvious effort to remember. "How are you now?" said Princess Mary, herself surprised at what she was saying. "That, my dear, you must ask the doctor," he replied, and again making an evident effort to be affectionate, he said with his lips only (his words clearly did not correspond to his thoughts): "Merci, chere amie, detre venue."* *"Thank you for coming, my dear." Princess Mary pressed his hand. The pressure made him wince just perceptibly. He was silent, and she did not know what to say. She now understood what had happened to him two days before. In his words, his tone, and especially in that calm, almost antagonistic look could be felt an estrangement from everything belonging to this world, terrible in one who is alive. Evidently only with an effort did he understand anything living; but it was obvious that he failed to understand, not because he

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