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War And Peace 704

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War And Peace

on the verge of a quarrel. From the moment they were alone and Natasha came up to him with wide-open happy eyes, and quickly seizing his head pressed it to her bosom, saying: "Now you are all mine, mine! You wont escape!"--from that moment this conversation began, contrary to all the laws of logic and contrary to them because quite different subjects were talked about at one and the same time. This simultaneous discussion of many topics did not prevent a clear understanding but on the contrary was the surest sign that they fully understood one another. Just as in a dream when all is uncertain, unreasoning, and contradictory, except the feeling that guides the dream, so in this intercourse contrary to all laws of reason, the words themselves were not consecutive and clear but only the feeling that prompted them. Natasha spoke to Pierre about her brothers life and doings, of how she had suffered and lacked life during his own absence, and of how she was fonder than ever of Mary, and how Mary was in every way better than herself. In saying this Natasha was sincere in acknowledging Marys superiority, but at the same time by saying it she made a demand on Pierre that he should, all the same, prefer her to Mary and to all other women, and that now, especially after having seen many women in Petersburg, he should tell her so afresh. Pierre, answering Natashas words, told her how intolerable it had been for him to meet ladies at dinners and balls in Petersburg. "I have quite lost the knack of talking to ladies," he said. "It was simply dull. Besides, I was very busy." Natasha looked intently at him and went on: "Mary is so splendid," she said. "How she understands children! It is as if she saw straight into their souls. Yesterday, for instance, Mitya was naughty..." "How like his father he is," Pierre interjected. Natasha knew why he mentioned Mityas likeness to Nicholas: the recollection of his dispute with his brother-in-law was unpleasant and he wanted to know what Natasha thought of it. "Nicholas has the weakness of never agreeing with anything not generally accepted. But I understand that you value what opens up a fresh line," said she, repeating words Pierre had once uttered. "No, the chief point is that to Nicholas ideas and discussions are an amusement--almost a pastime," said Pierre. "For instance, he is collecting a library and has made it a rule not to buy a new book till he has read what he had already bought--Sismondi and Rousseau and Montesquieu," he added with a smile. "You know how much I..." he began to soften down what he had said; but Natasha interrupted him to show that this was unnecessary. "So you say ideas are an amusement to him...." "Yes, and for me nothing else is serious. All the time in Petersburg I saw everyone as in a dream. When I am taken up by a thought, all else is mere amusement." "Ah, Im so sorry I wasnt there when you met the children," said Natasha. "Which was most delighted? Lisa, Im sure." "Yes," Pierre replied, and went on with what was in his mind. "Nicholas says we ought not to think. But I cant help it. Besides, when I was in Petersburg I felt (I can say this to you) that the whole affair would go to pieces without me--everyone was pulling his own way. But I succeeded in uniting them all; and then my idea is so clear and simple. You see, I dont say that we ought to oppose this and that. We may be mistaken. What I say is: Join hands, you who love the right, and let there be but one banner--that of active virtue. Prince Sergey is a fine fellow and clever." Natasha would have had no doubt as to the greatness of Pierres idea, but one thing disconcerted her. "Can a man so important and necessary to society be also my husband? How did this happen?" She wished to express this doubt to him. "Now who could decide whether he is really cleverer than all the others?" she asked herself, and passed in review all those whom Pierre most respected. Judging by what he had said there was no one he had respected so highly as Platon Karataev. "Do you know what I am thinking about?" she asked. "About Platon Karataev. Would he have approved of you now, do you think?" Pierre was not at all surprised at this question. He understood his wifes line of thought. "Platon Karataev?" he

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