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War And Peace 668

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upon her full of tears. As he listened he did not think of Prince Andrew, nor of death, nor of what she was telling. He listened to her and felt only pity for her, for what she was suffering now while she was speaking. Princess Mary, frowning in her effort to hold back her tears, sat beside Natasha, and heard for the first time the story of those last days of her brothers and Natashas love. Evidently Natasha needed to tell that painful yet joyful tale. She spoke, mingling most trifling details with the intimate secrets of her soul, and it seemed as if she could never finish. Several times she repeated the same thing twice. Dessalles voice was heard outside the door asking whether little Nicholas might come in to say good night. "Well, thats all--everything," said Natasha. She got up quickly just as Nicholas entered, almost ran to the door which was hidden by curtains, struck her head against it, and rushed from the room with a moan either of pain or sorrow. Pierre gazed at the door through which she had disappeared and did not understand why he suddenly felt all alone in the world. Princess Mary roused him from his abstraction by drawing his attention to her nephew who had entered the room. At that moment of emotional tenderness young Nicholas face, which resembled his fathers, affected Pierre so much that when he had kissed the boy he got up quickly, took out his handkerchief, and went to the window. He wished to take leave of Princess Mary, but she would not let him go. "No, Natasha and I sometimes dont go to sleep till after two, so please dont go. I will order supper. Go downstairs, we will come immediately." Before Pierre left the room Princess Mary told him: "This is the first time she has talked of him like that." CHAPTER XVII Pierre was shown into the large, brightly lit dining room; a few minutes later he heard footsteps and Princess Mary entered with Natasha. Natasha was calm, though a severe and grave expression had again settled on her face. They all three of them now experienced that feeling of awkwardness which usually follows after a serious and heartfelt talk. It is impossible to go back to the same conversation, to talk of trifles is awkward, and yet the desire to speak is there and silence seems like affectation. They went silently to table. The footmen drew back the chairs and pushed them up again. Pierre unfolded his cold table napkin and, resolving to break the silence, looked at Natasha and at Princess Mary. They had evidently both formed the same resolution; the eyes of both shone with satisfaction and a confession that besides sorrow life also has joy. "Do you take vodka, Count?" asked Princess Mary, and those words suddenly banished the shadows of the past. "Now tell us about yourself," said she. "One hears such improbable wonders about you." "Yes," replied Pierre with the smile of mild irony now habitual to him. "They even tell me wonders I myself never dreamed of! Mary Abramovna invited me to her house and kept telling me what had happened, or ought to have happened, to me. Stepan Stepanych also instructed me how I ought to tell of my experiences. In general I have noticed that it is very easy to be an interesting man (I am an interesting man now); people invite me out and tell me all about myself." Natasha smiled and was on the point of speaking. "We have been told," Princess Mary interrupted her, "that you lost two millions in Moscow. Is that true?" "But I am three times as rich as before," returned Pierre. Though the position was now altered by his decision to pay his wifes debts and to rebuild his houses, Pierre still maintained that he had become three times as rich as before. "What I have certainly gained is freedom," he began seriously, but did not continue, noticing that this theme was too egotistic. "And are you building?" "Yes. Savelich says I must!" "Tell me, you did not know of the countess death when you decided to remain in Moscow?" asked Princess Mary and immediately blushed, noticing that her question, following his mention of freedom, ascribed to his words a meaning he had perhaps not intended. "No," answered Pierre, evidently not considering awkward the meaning Princess Mary had given to his words. "I heard of it in Orel and you cannot imagine how it shocked me. We were not an exemplary couple," he added quickly, glancing at Natasha and noticing on her

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