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War And Peace 672


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hardly entered the room before he felt her presence with his whole being by the loss of his sense of freedom. She was in the same black dress with soft folds and her hair was done the same way as the day before, yet she was quite different. Had she been like this when he entered the day before he could not for a moment have failed to recognize her. She was as he had known her almost as a child and later on as Prince Andrews fiancee. A bright questioning light shone in her eyes, and on her face was a friendly and strangely roguish expression. Pierre dined with them and would have spent the whole evening there, but Princess Mary was going to vespers and Pierre left the house with her. Next day he came early, dined, and stayed the whole evening. Though Princess Mary and Natasha were evidently glad to see their visitor and though all Pierres interest was now centered in that house, by the evening they had talked over everything and the conversation passed from one trivial topic to another and repeatedly broke off. He stayed so long that Princess Mary and Natasha exchanged glances, evidently wondering when he would go. Pierre noticed this but could not go. He felt uneasy and embarrassed, but sat on because he simply could not get up and take his leave. Princess Mary, foreseeing no end to this, rose first, and complaining of a headache began to say good night. "So you are going to Petersburg tomorrow?" she asked. "No, I am not going," Pierre replied hastily, in a surprised tone and as though offended. "Yes... no... to Petersburg? Tomorrow--but I wont say good-by yet. I will call round in case you have any commissions for me," said he, standing before Princess Mary and turning red, but not taking his departure. Natasha gave him her hand and went out. Princess Mary on the other hand instead of going away sank into an armchair, and looked sternly and intently at him with her deep, radiant eyes. The weariness she had plainly shown before had now quite passed off. With a deep and long-drawn sigh she seemed to be prepared for a lengthy talk. When Natasha left the room Pierres confusion and awkwardness immediately vanished and were replaced by eager excitement. He quickly moved an armchair toward Princess Mary. "Yes, I wanted to tell you," said he, answering her look as if she had spoken. "Princess, help me! What am I to do? Can I hope? Princess, my dear friend, listen! I know it all. I know I am not worthy of her, I know its impossible to speak of it now. But I want to be a brother to her. No, not that, I dont, I cant..." He paused and rubbed his face and eyes with his hands. "Well," he went on with an evident effort at self-control and coherence. "I dont know when I began to love her, but I have loved her and her alone all my life, and I love her so that I cannot imagine life without her. I cannot propose to her at present, but the thought that perhaps she might someday be my wife and that I may be missing that possibility... that possibility... is terrible. Tell me, can I hope? Tell me what I am to do, dear princess!" he added after a pause, and touched her hand as she did not reply. "I am thinking of what you have told me," answered Princess Mary. "This is what I will say. You are right that to speak to her of love at present..." Princess Mary stopped. She was going to say that to speak of love was impossible, but she stopped because she had seen by the sudden change in Natasha two days before that she would not only not be hurt if Pierre spoke of his love, but that it was the very thing she wished for. "To speak to her now wouldnt do," said the princess all the same. "But what am I to do?" "Leave it to me," said Princess Mary. "I know..." Pierre was looking into Princess Marys eyes. "Well?... Well?..." he said. "I know that she loves... will love you," Princess Mary corrected herself. Before her words were out, Pierre had sprung up and with a frightened expression seized Princess Marys hand. "What makes you think so? You think I may hope? You think...?" "Yes, I think so," said Princess Mary with a smile. "Write to her parents, and leave it to me. I will tell her when

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