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with a sad smile, "it doesnt seem long ago since we first met at Bogucharovo, but how much water has flowed since then! In what distress we all seemed to be then, yet I would give much to bring back that time... but theres no bringing it back." Princess Mary gazed intently into his eyes with her own luminous ones as he said this. She seemed to be trying to fathom the hidden meaning of his words which would explain his feeling for her. "Yes, yes," said she, "but you have no reason to regret the past, Count. As I understand your present life, I think you will always recall it with satisfaction, because the self-sacrifice that fills it now..." "I cannot accept your praise," he interrupted her hurriedly. "On the contrary I continually reproach myself.... But this is not at all an interesting or cheerful subject." His face again resumed its former stiff and cold expression. But the princess had caught a glimpse of the man she had known and loved, and it was to him that she now spoke. "I thought you would allow me to tell you this," she said. "I had come so near to you... and to all your family that I thought you would not consider my sympathy misplaced, but I was mistaken," and suddenly her voice trembled. "I dont know why," she continued, recovering herself, "but you used to be different, and..." "There are a thousand reasons why," laying special emphasis on the why. "Thank you, Princess," he added softly. "Sometimes it is hard." "So thats why! Thats why!" a voice whispered in Princess Marys soul. "No, it was not only that gay, kind, and frank look, not only that handsome exterior, that I loved in him. I divined his noble, resolute, self-sacrificing spirit too," she said to herself. "Yes, he is poor now and I am rich.... Yes, thats the only reason.... Yes, were it not for that..." And remembering his former tenderness, and looking now at his kind, sorrowful face, she suddenly understood the cause of his coldness. "But why, Count, why?" she almost cried, unconsciously moving closer to him. "Why? Tell me. You must tell me!" He was silent. "I dont understand your why, Count," she continued, "but its hard for me... I confess it. For some reason you wish to deprive me of our former friendship. And that hurts me." There were tears in her eyes and in her voice. "I have had so little happiness in life that every loss is hard for me to bear.... Excuse me, good-by!" and suddenly she began to cry and was hurrying from the room. "Princess, for Gods sake!" he exclaimed, trying to stop her. "Princess!" She turned round. For a few seconds they gazed silently into one anothers eyes--and what had seemed impossible and remote suddenly became possible, inevitable, and very near. CHAPTER VII In the winter of 1813 Nicholas married Princess Mary and moved to Bald Hills with his wife, his mother, and Sonya. Within four years he had paid off all his remaining debts without selling any of his wifes property, and having received a small inheritance on the death of a cousin he paid his debt to Pierre as well. In another three years, by 1820, he had so managed his affairs that he was able to buy a small estate adjoining Bald Hills and was negotiating to buy back Otradnoe--that being his pet dream. Having started farming from necessity, he soon grew so devoted to it that it became his favorite and almost his sole occupation. Nicholas was a plain farmer: he did not like innovations, especially the English ones then coming into vogue. He laughed at theoretical treatises on estate management, disliked factories, the raising of expensive products, and the buying of expensive seed corn, and did not make a hobby of any particular part of the work on his estate. He always had before his minds eye the estate as a whole and not any particular part of it. The chief thing in his eyes was not the nitrogen in the soil, nor the oxygen in the air, nor manures, nor special plows, but that most important agent by which nitrogen, oxygen, manure, and plow were made effective--the peasant laborer. When Nicholas first began farming and began to understand its different branches, it was the serf who especially attracted his attention. The peasant seemed to him not merely a tool, but also a judge of farming and an end in himself. At first he watched the serfs, trying to understand their aims and what they considered good and

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