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village elders or stewards the blood rushed to his face and his fists began to clench, Nicholas would turn the broken ring on his finger and would drop his eyes before the man who was making him angry. But he did forget himself once or twice within a twelvemonth, and then he would go and confess to his wife, and would again promise that this should really be the very last time. "Mary, you must despise me!" he would say. "I deserve it." "You should go, go away at once, if you dont feel strong enough to control yourself," she would reply sadly, trying to comfort her husband. Among the gentry of the province Nicholas was respected but not liked. He did not concern himself with the interests of his own class, and consequently some thought him proud and others thought him stupid. The whole summer, from spring sowing to harvest, he was busy with the work on his farm. In autumn he gave himself up to hunting with the same business like seriousness--leaving home for a month, or even two, with his hunt. In winter he visited his other villages or spent his time reading. The books he read were chiefly historical, and on these he spent a certain sum every year. He was collecting, as he said, a serious library, and he made it a rule to read through all the books he bought. He would sit in his study with a grave air, reading--a task he first imposed upon himself as a duty, but which afterwards became a habit affording him a special kind of pleasure and a consciousness of being occupied with serious matters. In winter, except for business excursions, he spent most of his time at home making himself one with his family and entering into all the details of his childrens relations with their mother. The harmony between him and his wife grew closer and closer and he daily discovered fresh spiritual treasures in her. From the time of his marriage Sonya had lived in his house. Before that, Nicholas had told his wife all that had passed between himself and Sonya, blaming himself and commending her. He had asked Princess Mary to be gentle and kind to his cousin. She thoroughly realized the wrong he had done Sonya, felt herself to blame toward her, and imagined that her wealth had influenced Nicholas choice. She could not find fault with Sonya in any way and tried to be fond of her, but often felt ill-will toward her which she could not overcome. Once she had a talk with her friend Natasha about Sonya and about her own injustice toward her. "You know," said Natasha, "you have read the Gospels a great deal--there is a passage in them that just fits Sonya." "What?" asked Countess Mary, surprised. "To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away. You remember? She is one that hath not; why, I dont know. Perhaps she lacks egotism, I dont know, but from her is taken away, and everything has been taken away. Sometimes I am dreadfully sorry for her. Formerly I very much wanted Nicholas to marry her, but I always had a sort of presentiment that it would not come off. She is a sterile flower, you know--like some strawberry blossoms. Sometimes I am sorry for her, and sometimes I think she doesnt feel it as you or I would." Though Countess Mary told Natasha that those words in the Gospel must be understood differently, yet looking at Sonya she agreed with Natashas explanation. It really seemed that Sonya did not feel her position trying, and had grown quite reconciled to her lot as a sterile flower. She seemed to be fond not so much of individuals as of the family as a whole. Like a cat, she had attached herself not to the people but to the home. She waited on the old countess, petted and spoiled the children, was always ready to render the small services for which she had a gift, and all this was unconsciously accepted from her with insufficient gratitude. The country seat at Bald Hills had been rebuilt, though not on the same scale as under the old prince. The buildings, begun under straitened circumstances, were more than simple. The immense house on the old stone foundations was of wood, plastered only inside. It had bare deal floors and was furnished with very simple hard sofas, armchairs, tables, and chairs made by their own serf carpenters out of their own birchwood. The house

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