Part 16 out of 34
"No, ma'am! We must part, we must part! Understand that,
understand it! I cannot endure any more," he said, and left the
room. Then, as if afraid she might find some means of consolation,
he returned and trying to appear calm added: "And don't imagine I have
said this in a moment of anger. I am calm. I have thought it over, and
it will be carried out- we must part; so find some place for
yourself...." But he could not restrain himself and with the virulence
of which only one who loves is capable, evidently suffering himself,
he shook his fists at her and screamed:
"If only some fool would marry her!" Then he slammed the door,
sent for Mademoiselle Bourienne, and subsided into his study.
At two o'clock the six chosen guests assembled for dinner.
These guests- the famous Count Rostopchin, Prince Lopukhin with
his nephew, General Chatrov an old war comrade of the prince's, and of
the younger generation Pierre and Boris Drubetskoy- awaited the prince
in the drawing room.
Boris, who had come to Moscow on leave a few days before, had been
anxious to be presented to Prince Nicholas Bolkonski, and had
contrived to ingratiate himself so well that the old prince in his
case made an exception to the rule of not receiving bachelors in his
The prince's house did not belong to what is known as fashionable
society, but his little circle- though not much talked about in
town- was one it was more flattering to be received in than any other.
Boris had realized this the week before when the commander in chief in
his presence invited Rostopchin to dinner on St. Nicholas' Day, and
Rostopchin had replied that he could not come:
"On that day I always go to pay my devotions to the relics of Prince
"Oh, yes, yes!" replied the commander in chief. "How is he?..."
The small group that assembled before dinner in the lofty
old-fashioned drawing room with its old furniture resembled the solemn
gathering of a court of justice. All were silent or talked in low
tones. Prince Nicholas came in serious and taciturn. Princess Mary
seemed even quieter and more diffident than usual. The guests were
reluctant to address her, feeling that she was in no mood for their
conversation. Count Rostopchin alone kept the conversation going,
now relating the latest town news, and now the latest political
Lopukhin and the old general occasionally took part in the
conversation. Prince Bolkonski listened as a presiding judge
receives a report, only now and then, silently or by a brief word,
showing that he took heed of what was being reported to him. The
tone of the conversation was such as indicated that no one approved of
what was being done in the political world. Incidents were related
evidently confirming the opinion that everything was going from bad to
worse, but whether telling a story or giving an opinion the speaker
always stopped, or was stopped, at the point beyond which his
criticism might touch the sovereign himself.
At dinner the talk turned on the latest political news: Napoleon's
seizure of the Duke of Oldenburg's territory, and the Russian Note,
hostile to Napoleon, which had been sent to all the European courts.
"Bonaparte treats Europe as a pirate does a captured vessel," said
Count Rostopchin, repeating a phrase he had uttered several times
before. "One only wonders at the long-suffering or blindness of the
crowned heads. Now the Pope's turn has come and Bonaparte doesn't
scruple to depose the head of the Catholic Church- yet all keep
silent! Our sovereign alone has protested against the seizure of the
Duke of Oldenburg's territory, and even..." Count Rostopchin paused,
feeling that he had reached the limit beyond which censure was
"Other territories have been offered in exchange for the Duchy of
Oldenburg," said Prince Bolkonski. "He shifts the Dukes about as I
might move my serfs from Bald Hills to Bogucharovo or my Ryazan
"The Duke of Oldenburg bears his misfortunes with admirable strength
of character and resignation," remarked Boris, joining in
He said this because on his journey from Petersburg he had had the
honor of being presented to the Duke. Prince Bolkonski glanced at
the young man as if about to say something in reply, but changed his
mind, evidently considering him too young.
"I have read our protests about the Oldenburg affair and was
surprised how badly the Note was worded," remarked Count Rostopchin in
the casual tone of a man dealing with a subject quite familiar to him.
Pierre looked at Rostopchin with naive astonishment, not
understanding why he should be disturbed by the bad composition of the
"Does it matter, Count, how the Note is worded," he asked, "so
long as its substance is forcible?"
"My dear fellow, with our five hundred thousand troops it should
be easy to have a good style," returned Count Rostopchin.
Pierre now understood the count's dissatisfaction with the wording
of the Note.
"One would have thought quill drivers enough had sprung up,"
remarked the old prince. "There in Petersburg they are always writing-
not notes only but even new laws. My Andrew there has written a
whole volume of laws for Russia. Nowadays they are always writing!"
and he laughed unnaturally.
There was a momentary pause in the conversation; the old general
cleared his throat to draw attention.
"Did you hear of the last event at the review in Petersburg? The
figure cut by the new French ambassador."
"Eh? Yes, I heard something: he said something awkward in His
"His Majesty drew attention to the Grenadier division and to the
march past," continued the general, "and it seems the ambassador
took no notice and allowed himself to reply that: 'We in France pay no
attention to such trifles!' The Emperor did not condescend to reply.
At the next review, they say, the Emperor did not once deign to
All were silent. On this fact relating to the Emperor personally, it
was impossible to pass any judgment.
"Impudent fellows!" said the prince. "You know Metivier? I turned
him out of my house this morning. He was here; they admitted him spite
of my request that they should let no one in," he went on, glancing
angrily at his daughter.
And he narrated his whole conversation with the French doctor and
the reasons that convinced him that Metivier was a spy. Though these
reasons were very insufficient and obscure, no one made any rejoinder.
After the roast, champagne was served. The guests rose to
congratulate the old prince. Princess Mary, too, went round to him.
He gave her a cold, angry look and offered her his wrinkled,
clean-shaven cheek to kiss. The whole expression of his face told
her that he had not forgotten the morning's talk, that his decision
remained in force, and only the presence of visitors hindered his
speaking of it to her now.
When they went into the drawing room where coffee was served, the
old men sat together.
Prince Nicholas grew more animated and expressed his views on the
He said that our wars with Bonaparte would be disastrous so long
as we sought alliances with the Germans and thrust ourselves into
European affairs, into which we had been drawn by the Peace of Tilsit.
"We ought not to fight either for or against Austria. Our political
interests are all in the East, and in regard to Bonaparte the only
thing is to have an armed frontier and a firm policy, and he will
never dare to cross the Russian frontier, as was the case in 1807!"
"How can we fight the French, Prince?" said Count Rostopchin. "Can
we arm ourselves against our teachers and divinities? Look at our
youths, look at our ladies! The French are our Gods: Paris is our
Kingdom of Heaven."
He began speaking louder, evidently to be heard by everyone.
"French dresses, French ideas, French feelings! There now, you
turned Metivier out by the scruff of his neck because he is a
Frenchman and a scoundrel, but our ladies crawl after him on their
knees. I went to a party last night, and there out of five ladies
three were Roman Catholics and had the Pope's indulgence for doing
woolwork on Sundays. And they themselves sit there nearly naked,
like the signboards at our Public Baths if I may say so. Ah, when
one looks at our young people, Prince, one would like to take Peter
the Great's old cudgel out of the museum and belabor them in the
Russian way till all the nonsense jumps out of them."
All were silent. The old prince looked at Rostopchin with a smile
and wagged his head approvingly.
"Well, good-by, your excellency, keep well!" said Rostopchin,
getting up with characteristic briskness and holding out his hand to
"Good-by, my dear fellow.... His words are music, I never tire of
hearing him!" said the old prince, keeping hold of the hand and
offering his cheek to be kissed.
Following Rostopchin's example the others also rose.
Princess Mary as she sat listening to the old men's talk and
faultfinding, understood nothing of what she heard; she only
wondered whether the guests had all observed her father's hostile
attitude toward her. She did not even notice the special attentions
and amiabilities shown her during dinner by Boris Drubetskoy, who
was visiting them for the third time already.
Princess Mary turned with absent-minded questioning look to
Pierre, who hat in hand and with a smile on his face was the last of
the guests to approach her after the old prince had gone out and
they were left alone in the drawing room.
"May I stay a little longer?" he said, letting his stout body sink
into an armchair beside her.
"Oh yes," she answered. "You noticed nothing?" her look asked.
Pierre was in an agreeable after-dinner mood. He looked straight
before him and smiled quietly.
"Have you known that young man long, Princess?" he asked.
"No, not long..."
"Do you like him?"
"Yes, he is an agreeable young man.... Why do you ask me that?" said
Princess Mary, still thinking of that morning's conversation with
"Because I have noticed that when a young man comes on leave from
Petersburg to Moscow it is usually with the object of marrying an
"You have observed that?" said Princess Mary.
"Yes," returned Pierre with a smile, "and this young man now manages
matters so that where there is a wealthy heiress there he is too. I
can read him like a book. At present he is hesitating whom to lay
siege to- you or Mademoiselle Julie Karagina. He is very attentive
"He visits them?"
"Yes, very often. And do you know the new way of courting?" said
Pierre with an amused smile, evidently in that cheerful mood of good
humored raillery for which he so often reproached himself in his
"No," replied Princess Mary.
"To please Moscow girls nowadays one has to be melancholy. He is
very melancholy with Mademoiselle Karagina," said Pierre.
"Really?" asked Princess Mary, looking into Pierre's kindly face and
still thinking of her own sorrow. "It would be a relief," thought she,
"if I ventured to confide what I am feeling to someone. I should
like to tell everything to Pierre. He is kind and generous. It would
be a relief. He would give me advice."
"Would you marry him?"
"Oh, my God, Count, there are moments when I would marry anybody!"
she cried suddenly to her own surprise and with tears in her voice.
"Ah, how bitter it is to love someone near to you and to feel that..."
she went on in a trembling voice, "that you can do nothing for him but
grieve him, and to know that you cannot alter this. Then there is only
one thing left- to go away, but where could I go?"
"What is wrong? What is it, Princess?"
But without finishing what she was saying, Princess Mary burst
"I don't know what is the matter with me today. Don't take any
notice- forget what I have said!"
Pierre's gaiety vanished completely. He anxiously questioned the
princess, asked her to speak out fully and confide her grief to him;
but she only repeated that she begged him to forget what she had said,
that she did not remember what she had said, and that she had no
trouble except the one he knew of- that Prince Andrew's marriage
threatened to cause a rupture between father and son.
"Have you any news of the Rostovs?" she asked, to change the
subject. "I was told they are coming soon. I am also expecting
Andrew any day. I should like them to meet here."
"And how does he now regard the matter?" asked Pierre, referring
to the old prince.
Princess Mary shook her head.
"What is to be done? In a few months the year will be up. The
thing is impossible. I only wish I could spare my brother the first
moments. I wish they would come sooner. I hope to be friends with her.
You have known them a long time," said Princess Mary. "Tell me
honestly the whole truth: what sort of girl is she, and what do you
think of her?- The real truth, because you know Andrew is risking so
much doing this against his father's will that I should like to
An undefined instinct told Pierre that these explanations, and
repeated requests to be told the whole truth, expressed ill-will on
the princess' part toward her future sister-in-law and a wish that
he should disapprove of Andrew's choice; but in reply he said what
he felt rather than what he thought.
"I don't know how to answer your question," he said, blushing
without knowing why. "I really don't know what sort of girl she is;
I can't analyze her at all. She is enchanting, but what makes her so I
don't know. That is all one can say about her."
Princess Mary sighed, and the expression on her face said: "Yes,
that's what I expected and feared."
"Is she clever?" she asked.
"I think not," he said, "and yet- yes. She does not deign to be
clever.... Oh no, she is simply enchanting, and that is all."
Princess Mary again shook her head disapprovingly.
"Ah, I so long to like her! Tell her so if you see her before I do."
"I hear they are expected very soon," said Pierre.
Princess Mary told Pierre of her plan to become intimate with her
future sister-in-law as soon as the Rostovs arrived and to try to
accustom the old prince to her.
Boris had not succeeded in making a wealthy match in Petersburg,
so with the same object in view he came to Moscow. There he wavered
between the two richest heiresses, Julie and Princess Mary. Though
Princess Mary despite her plainness seemed to him more attractive than
Julie, he, without knowing why, felt awkward about paying court to
her. When they had last met on the old prince's name day, she had
answered at random all his attempts to talk sentimentally, evidently
not listening to what he was saying.
Julie on the contrary accepted his attentions readily, though in a
manner peculiar to herself.
She was twenty-seven. After the death of her brothers she had become
very wealthy. She was by now decidedly plain, but thought herself
not merely as good-looking as before but even far more attractive. She
was confirmed in this delusion by the fact that she had become a
very wealthy heiress and also by the fact that the older she grew
the less dangerous she became to men, and the more freely they could
associate with her and avail themselves of her suppers, soirees, and
the animated company that assembled at her house, without incurring
any obligation. A man who would have been afraid ten years before of
going every day to the house when there was a girl of seventeen there,
for fear of compromising her and committing himself, would now go
boldly every day and treat her not as a marriageable girl but as a
That winter the Karagins' house was the most agreeable and
hospitable in Moscow. In addition to the formal evening and dinner
parties, a large company, chiefly of men, gathered there every day,
supping at midnight and staying till three in the morning. Julie never
missed a ball, a promenade, or a play. Her dresses were always of
the latest fashion. But in spite of that she seemed to be
disillusioned about everything and told everyone that she did not
believe either in friendship or in love, or any of the joys of life,
and expected peace only "yonder." She adopted the tone of one who
has suffered a great disappointment, like a girl who has either lost
the man she loved or been cruelly deceived by him. Though nothing of
the kind had happened to her she was regarded in that light, and had
even herself come to believe that she had suffered much in life.
This melancholy, which did not prevent her amusing herself, did not
hinder the young people who came to her house from passing the time
pleasantly. Every visitor who came to the house paid his tribute to
the melancholy mood of the hostess, and then amused himself with
society gossip, dancing, intellectual games, and bouts rimes, which
were in vogue at the Karagins'. Only a few of these young men, among
them Boris, entered more deeply into Julie's melancholy, and with
these she had prolonged conversations in private on the vanity of
all worldly things, and to them she showed her albums filled with
mournful sketches, maxims, and verses.
To Boris, Julie was particularly gracious: she regretted his early
disillusionment with life, offered him such consolation of
friendship as she who had herself suffered so much could render, and
showed him her album. Boris sketched two trees in the album and wrote:
"Rustic trees, your dark branches shed gloom and melancholy upon me."
On another page he drew a tomb, and wrote:
La mort est secourable et la mort est tranquille.
Ah! contre les douleurs il n'y a pas d'autre asile.*
*Death gives relief and death is peaceful.
Ah! from suffering there is no other refuge.
Julia said this was charming
"There is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy," she
said to Boris, repeating word for word a passage she had copied from a
book. "It is a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness
and despair, showing the possibility of consolation."
In reply Boris wrote these lines:
Aliment de poison d'une ame trop sensible,
Toi, sans qui le bonheur me serait impossible,
Tendre melancholie, ah, viens me consoler,
Viens calmer les tourments de ma sombre retraite,
Et mele une douceur secrete
A ces pleurs que je sens couler.*
*Poisonous nourishment of a too sensitive soul,
Thou, without whom happiness would for me be impossible,
Tender melancholy, ah, come to console me,
Come to calm the torments of my gloomy retreat,
And mingle a secret sweetness
With these tears that I feel to be flowing.
For Boris, Julie played most doleful nocturnes on her harp. Boris
read Poor Liza aloud to her, and more than once interrupted the
reading because of the emotions that choked him. Meeting at large
gatherings Julie and Boris looked on one another as the only souls who
understood one another in a world of indifferent people.
Anna Mikhaylovna, who often visited the Karagins, while playing
cards with the mother made careful inquiries as to Julie's dowry
(she was to have two estates in Penza and the Nizhegorod forests).
Anna Mikhaylovna regarded the refined sadness that united her son to
the wealthy Julie with emotion, and resignation to the Divine will.
"You are always charming and melancholy, my dear Julie," she said to
the daughter. "Boris says his soul finds repose at your house. He
has suffered so many disappointments and is so sensitive," said she to
the mother. "Ah, my dear, I can't tell you how fond I have grown of
Julie latterly," she said to her son. "But who could help loving
her? She is an angelic being! Ah, Boris, Boris!"- she paused. "And how
I pity her mother," she went on; "today she showed me her accounts and
letters from Penza (they have enormous estates there), and she, poor
thing, has no one to help her, and they do cheat her so!"
Boris smiled almost imperceptibly while listening to his mother.
He laughed blandly at her naive diplomacy but listened to what she had
to say, and sometimes questioned her carefully about the Penza and
Julie had long been expecting a proposal from her melancholy
adorer and was ready to accept it; but some secret feeling of
repulsion for her, for her passionate desire to get married, for her
artificiality, and a feeling of horror at renouncing the possibility
of real love still restrained Boris. His leave was expiring. He
spent every day and whole days at the Karagins', and every day on
thinking the matter over told himself that he would propose
tomorrow. But in Julie's presence, looking at her red face and chin
(nearly always powdered), her moist eyes, and her expression of
continual readiness to pass at once from melancholy to an unnatural
rapture of married bliss, Boris could not utter the decisive words,
though in imagination he had long regarded himself as the possessor of
those Penza and Nizhegorod estates and had apportioned the use of
the income from them. Julie saw Boris' indecision, and sometimes the
thought occurred to her that she was repulsive to him, but her
feminine self-deception immediately supplied her with consolation, and
she told herself that he was only shy from love. Her melancholy,
however, began to turn to irritability, and not long before Boris'
departure she formed a definite plan of action. Just as Boris' leave
of absence was expiring, Anatole Kuragin made his appearance in
Moscow, and of course in the Karagins' drawing room, and Julie,
suddenly abandoning her melancholy, became cheerful and very attentive
"My dear," said Anna Mikhaylovna to her son, "I know from a reliable
source that Prince Vasili has sent his son to Moscow to get him
married to Julie. I am so fond of Julie that I should be sorry for
her. What do you think of it, my dear?"
The idea of being made a fool of and of having thrown away that
whole month of arduous melancholy service to Julie, and of seeing
all the revenue from the Penza estates which he had already mentally
apportioned and put to proper use fall into the hands of another,
and especially into the hands of that idiot Anatole, pained Boris.
He drove to the Karagins' with the firm intention of proposing.
Julie met him in a gay, careless manner, spoke casually of how she had
enjoyed yesterday's ball, and asked when he was leaving. Though
Boris had come intentionally to speak of his love and therefore
meant to be tender, he began speaking irritably of feminine
inconstancy, of how easily women can turn from sadness to joy, and how
their moods depend solely on who happens to be paying court to them.
Julie was offended and replied that it was true that a woman needs
variety, and the same thing over and over again would weary anyone.
"Then I should advise you..." Boris began, wishing to sting her; but
at that instant the galling thought occurred to him that he might have
to leave Moscow without having accomplished his aim, and have vainly
wasted his efforts- which was a thing he never allowed to happen.
He checked himself in the middle of the sentence, lowered his eyes
to avoid seeing her unpleasantly irritated and irresolute face, and
"I did not come here at all to quarrel with you. On the contrary..."
He glanced at her to make sure that he might go on. Her irritability
had suddenly quite vanished, and her anxious, imploring eyes were
fixed on him with greedy expectation. "I can always arrange so as
not to see her often," thought Boris. "The affair has been begun and
must be finished!" He blushed hotly, raised his eyes to hers, and
"You know my feelings for you!"
There was no need to say more: Julie's face shone with triumph and
self-satisfaction; but she forced Boris to say all that is said on
such occasions- that he loved her and had never loved any other
woman more than her. She knew that for the Penza estates and
Nizhegorod forests she could demand this, and she received what she
The affianced couple, no longer alluding to trees that shed gloom
and melancholy upon them, planned the arrangements of a splendid house
in Petersburg, paid calls, and prepared everything for a brilliant
At the end of January old Count Rostov went to Moscow with Natasha
and Sonya. The countess was still unwell and unable to travel but it
was impossible to wait for her recovery. Prince Andrew was expected in
Moscow any day, the trousseau had to be ordered and the estate near
Moscow had to be sold, besides which the opportunity of presenting his
future daughter-in-law to old Prince Bolkonski while he was in
Moscow could not be missed. The Rostovs' Moscow house had not been
heated that winter and, as they had come only for a short time and the
countess was not with them, the count decided to stay with Marya
Dmitrievna Akhrosimova, who had long been pressing her hospitality
Late one evening the Rostovs' four sleighs drove into Marya
Dmitrievna's courtyard in the old Konyusheny street. Marya
Dmitrievna lived alone. She had already married off her daughter,
and her sons were all in the service.
She held herself as erect, told everyone her opinion as candidly,
loudly, and bluntly as ever, and her whole bearing seemed a reproach
to others for any weakness, passion, or temptation- the possibility of
which she did not admit. From early in the morning, wearing a dressing
jacket, she attended to her household affairs, and then she drove out:
on holy days to church and after the service to jails and prisons on
affairs of which she never spoke to anyone. On ordinary days, after
dressing, she received petitioners of various classes, of whom there
were always some. Then she had dinner, a substantial and appetizing
meal at which there were always three or four guests; after dinner she
played a game of boston, and at night she had the newspapers or a
new book read to her while she knitted. She rarely made an exception
and went out to pay visits, and then only to the most important
persons in the town.
She had not yet gone to bed when the Rostovs arrived and the
pulley of the hall door squeaked from the cold as it let in the
Rostovs and their servants. Marya Dmitrievna, with her spectacles
hanging down on her nose and her head flung back, stood in the hall
doorway looking with a stern, grim face at the new arrivals. One might
have thought she was angry with the travelers and would immediately
turn them out, had she not at the same time been giving careful
instructions to the servants for the accommodation of the visitors and
"The count's things? Bring them here," she said, pointing to the
portmanteaus and not greeting anyone. "The young ladies'? There to the
left. Now what are you dawdling for?" she cried to the maids. "Get the
samovar ready!... You've grown plumper and prettier," she remarked,
drawing Natasha (whose cheeks were glowing from the cold) to her by
the hood. "Foo! You are cold! Now take off your things, quick!" she
shouted to the count who was going to kiss her hand. "You're half
frozen, I'm sure! Bring some rum for tea!... Bonjour, Sonya dear!" she
added, turning to Sonya and indicating by this French greeting her
slightly contemptuous though affectionate attitude toward her.
When they came in to tea, having taken off their outdoor things
and tidied themselves up after their journey, Marya Dmitrievna
kissed them all in due order.
"I'm heartily glad you have come and are staying with me. It was
high time," she said, giving Natasha a significant look. "The old
man is here and his son's expected any day. You'll have to make his
aquaintance. But we'll speak of that later on," she added, glancing at
Sonya with a look that showed she did not want to speak of it in her
presence. "Now listen," she said to the count. "What do you want
tomorrow? Whom will you send for? Shinshin?" she crooked one of her
fingers. "The sniveling Anna Mikhaylovna? That's two. She's here
with her son. The son is getting married! Then Bezukhov, eh? He is
here too, with his wife. He ran away from her and she came galloping
after him. He dined with me on Wednesday. As for them"- and she
pointed to the girls- "tomorrow I'll take them first to the Iberian
shrine of the Mother of God, and then we'll drive to the
Super-Rogue's. I suppose you'll have everything new. Don't judge by
me: sleeves nowadays are this size! The other day young Princess Irina
Vasilevna came to see me; she was an awful sight- looked as if she had
put two barrels on her arms. You know not a day passes now without
some new fashion.... And what have you to do yourself?" she asked
the count sternly.
"One thing has come on top of another: her rags to buy, and now a
purchaser has turned up for the Moscow estate and for the house. If
you will be so kind, I'll fix a time and go down to the estate just
for a day, and leave my lassies with you."
"All right. All right. They'll be safe with me, as safe as in
Chancery! I'll take them where they must go, scold them a bit, and pet
them a bit," said Marya Dmitrievna, touching her goddaughter and
favorite, Natasha, on the cheek with her large hand.
Next morning Marya Dmitrievna took the young ladies to the Iberian
shrine of the Mother of God and to Madame Suppert-Roguet, who was so
afraid of Marya Dmitrievna that she always let her have costumes at
a loss merely to get rid of her. Marya Dmitrievna ordered almost the
whole trousseau. When they got home she turned everybody out of the
room except Nataisha, and then called her pet to her armchair.
"Well, now we'll talk. I congratulate you on your betrothed.
You've hooked a fine fellow! I am glad for your sake and I've known
him since he was so high." She held her hand a couple of feet from the
ground. Natasha blushed happily. "I like him and all his family. Now
listen! You know that old Prince Nicholas much dislikes his son's
marrying. The old fellow's crotchety! Of course Prince Andrew is not a
child and can shift without him, but it's not nice to enter a family
against a father's will. One wants to do it peacefully and lovingly.
You're a clever girl and you'll know how to manage. Be kind, and use
your wits. Then all will be well."
Natasha remained silent, from shyness Marya Dmitrievna supposed, but
really because she disliked anyone interfering in what touched her
love of Prince Andrew, which seemed to her so apart from all human
affairs that no one could understand it. She loved and knew Prince
Andrew, he loved her only, and was to come one of these days and
take her. She wanted nothing more.
"You see I have known him a long time and am also fond of Mary, your
future sister-in-law. 'Husbands' sisters bring up blisters,' but
this one wouldn't hurt a fly. She has asked me to bring you two
together. Tomorrow you'll go with your father to see her. Be very nice
and affectionate to her: you're younger than she. When he comes, he'll
find you already know his sister and father and are liked by them.
Am I right or not? Won't that be best?"
"Yes, it will," Natasha answered reluctantly.
Next day, by Marya Dmitrievna's advice, Count Rostov took Natasha to
call on Prince Nicholas Bolkonski. The count did not set out
cheerfully on this visit, at heart he felt afraid. He well
remembered the last interview he had had with the old prince at the
time of the enrollment, when in reply to an invitation to dinner he
had had to listen to an angry reprimand for not having provided his
full quota of men. Natasha, on the other hand, having put on her
best gown, was in the highest spirits. "They can't help liking me,"
she thought. "Everybody always has liked me, and I am so willing to do
anything they wish, so ready to be fond of him- for being his
father- and of her- for being his sister- that there is no reason
for them not to like me..."
They drove up to the gloomy old house on the Vozdvizhenka and
entered the vestibule.
"Well, the Lord have mercy on us!" said the count, half in jest,
half in earnest; but Natasha noticed that her father was flurried on
entering the anteroom and inquired timidly and softly whether the
prince and princess were at home.
When they had been announced a perturbation was noticeable among the
servants. The footman who had gone to announce them was stopped by
another in the large hall and they whispered to one another. Then a
maidservant ran into the hall and hurriedly said something, mentioning
the princess. At last an old, cross looking footman came and announced
to the Rostovs that the prince was not receiving, but that the
princess begged them to walk up. The first person who came to meet the
visitors was Mademoiselle Bourienne. She greeted the father and
daughter with special politeness and showed them to the princess'
room. The princess, looking excited and nervous, her face flushed in
patches, ran in to meet the visitors, treading heavily, and vainly
trying to appear cordial and at ease. From the first glance Princess
Mary did not like Natasha. She thought her too fashionably dressed,
frivolously gay and vain. She did not at all realize that before
having seen her future sister-in-law she was prejudiced against her by
involuntary envy of her beauty, youth, and happiness, as well as by
jealousy of her brother's love for her. Apart from this insuperable
antipathy to her, Princess Mary was agitated just then because on
the Rostovs' being announced, the old prince had shouted that he did
not wish to see them, that Princess Mary might do so if she chose, but
they were not to be admitted to him. She had decided to receive
them, but feared lest the prince might at any moment indulge in some
freak, as he seemed much upset by the Rostovs' visit.
"There, my dear princess, I've brought you my songstress," said
the count, bowing and looking round uneasily as if afraid the old
prince might appear. "I am so glad you should get to know one
another... very sorry the prince is still ailing," and after a few
more commonplace remarks he rose. "If you'll allow me to leave my
Natasha in your hands for a quarter of an hour, Princess, I'll drive
round to see Anna Semenovna, it's quite near in the Dogs' Square,
and then I'll come back for her."
The count had devised this diplomatic ruse (as he afterwards told
his daughter) to give the future sisters-in-law an opportunity to talk
to one another freely, but another motive was to avoid the danger of
encountering the old prince, of whom he was afraid. He did not mention
this to his daughter, but Natasha noticed her father's nervousness and
anxiety and felt mortified by it. She blushed for him, grew still
angrier at having blushed, and looked at the princess with a bold
and defiant expression which said that she was not afraid of
anybody. The princess told the count that she would be delighted,
and only begged him to stay longer at Anna Semenovna's, and he
Despite the uneasy glances thrown at her by Princess Mary- who
wished to have a tete-a-tete with Natasha- Mademoiselle Bourienne
remained in the room and persistently talked about Moscow amusements
and theaters. Natasha felt offended by the hesitation she had
noticed in the anteroom, by her father's nervousness, and by the
unnatural manner of the princess who- she thought- was making a
favor of receiving her, and so everything displeased her. She did
not like Princess Mary, whom she thought very plain, affected, and
dry. Natasha suddenly shrank into herself and involuntarily assumed an
offhand air which alienated Princess Mary still more. After five
minutes of irksome, constrained conversation, they heard the sound
of slippered feet rapidly approaching. Princess Mary looked
The door opened and the old prince, in a dress, ing gown and a white
nightcap, came in.
"Ah, madam!" he began. "Madam, Countess... Countess Rostova, if I am
not mistaken... I beg you to excuse me, to excuse me... I did not
know, madam. God is my witness, I did not know you had honored us with
a visit, and I came in such a costume only to see my daughter. I beg
you to excuse me... God is my witness, I didn't know-" he repeated,
stressing the word "God" so unnaturally and so unpleasantly that
Princess Mary stood with downcast eyes not daring to look either at
her father or at Natasha.
Nor did the latter, having risen and curtsied, know what to do.
Mademoiselle Bourienne alone smiled agreeably.
"I beg you to excuse me, excuse me! God is my witness, I did not
know," muttered the old man, and after looking Natasha over from
head to foot he went out.
Mademoiselle Bourienne was the first to recover herself after this
apparition and began speaking about the prince's indisposition.
Natasha and Princess Mary looked at one another in silence, and the
longer they did so without saying what they wanted to say, the greater
grew their antipathy to one another.
When the count returned, Natasha was impolitely pleased and hastened
to get away: at that moment she hated the stiff, elderly princess, who
could place her in such an embarrassing position and had spent half an
hour with her without once mentioning Prince Andrew. "I couldn't begin
talking about him in the presence of that Frenchwoman," thought
Natasha. The same thought was meanwhile tormenting Princess Mary.
She knew what she ought to have said to Natasha, but she had been
unable to say it because Mademoiselle Bourienne was in the way, and
because, without knowing why, she felt it very difficult to speak of
the marriage. When the count was already leaving the room, Princess
Mary went up hurriedly to Natasha, took her by the hand, and said with
a deep sigh:
"Wait, I must..."
Natasha glanced at her ironically without knowing why.
"Dear Natalie," said Princess Mary, "I want you to know that I am
glad my brother has found happiness...."
She paused, feeling that she was not telling the truth. Natasha
noticed this and guessed its reason.
"I think, Princess, it is not convenient to speak of that now,"
she said with external dignity and coldness, though she felt the tears
"What have I said and what have I done?" thought she, as soon as she
was out of the room.
They waited a long time for Natasha to come to dinner that day.
She sat in her room crying like a child, blowing her nose and sobbing.
Sonya stood beside her, kissing her hair.
"Natasha, what is it about?" she asked. "What do they matter to you?
It will all pass, Natasha."
"But if you only knew how offensive it was... as if I..."
"Don't talk about it, Natasha. It wasn't your fault so why should
you mind? Kiss me," said Sonya.
Natasha raised her head and, kissing her friend on the lips, pressed
her wet face against her.
"I can't tell you, I don't know. No one's to blame," said Natasha-
"It's my fault. But it all hurts terribly. Oh, why doesn't he
She came in to dinner with red eyes. Marya Dmitrievna, who knew
how the prince had received the Rostovs, pretended not to notice how
upset Natasha was and jested resolutely and loudly at table with the
count and the other guests.
That evening the Rostovs went to the Opera, for which Marya
Dmitrievna had taken a box.
Natasha did not want to go, but could not refuse Marya
Dmitrievna's kind offer which was intended expressly for her. When she
came ready dressed into the ballroom to await her father, and
looking in the large mirror there saw that she was pretty, very
pretty, she felt even more sad, but it was a sweet, tender sadness.
"O God, if he were here now I would not behave as I did then, but
differently. I would not be silly and afraid of things, I would simply
embrace him, cling to him, and make him look at me with those
searching inquiring eyes with which he has so often looked at me,
and then I would make him laugh as he used to laugh. And his eyes- how
I see those eyes!" thought Natasha. "And what do his father and sister
matter to me? I love him alone, him, him, with that face and those
eyes, with his smile, manly and yet childlike.... No, I had better not
think of him; not think of him but forget him, quite forget him for
the present. I can't bear this waiting and I shall cry in a minute!"
and she turned away from the glass, making an effort not to cry.
"And how can Sonya love Nicholas so calmly and quietly and wait so
long and so patiently?" thought she, looking at Sonya, who also came
in quite ready, with a fan in her hand. "No, she's altogether
different. I can't!"
Natasha at that moment felt so softened and tender that it was not
enough for her to love and know she was beloved, she wanted now, at
once, to embrace the man she loved, to speak and hear from him words
of love such as filled her heart. While she sat in the carriage beside
her father, pensively watching the lights of the street lamps
flickering on the frozen window, she felt still sadder and more in
love, and forgot where she was going and with whom. Having fallen into
the line of carriages, the Rostovs' carriage drove up to the
theater, its wheels squeaking over the snow. Natasha and Sonya,
holding up their dresses, jumped out quickly. The count got out helped
by the footmen, and, passing among men and women who were entering and
the program sellers, they all three went along the corridor to the
first row of boxes. Through the closed doors the music was already
"Natasha, your hair!..." whispered Sonya.
An attendant deferentially and quickly slipped before the ladies and
opened the door of their box. The music sounded louder and through the
door rows of brightly lit boxes in which ladies sat with bare arms and
shoulders, and noisy stalls brilliant with uniforms, glittered
before their eyes. A lady entering the next box shot a glance of
feminine envy at Natasha. The curtain had not yet risen and the
overture was being played. Natasha, smoothing her gown, went in with
Sonya and sat down, scanning the brilliant tiers of boxes opposite.
A sensation she had not experienced for a long time- that of
hundreds of eyes looking at her bare arms and neck- suddenly
affected her both agreeably and disagreeably and called up a whole
crowd of memories, desires and emotions associated with that feeling.
The two remarkably pretty girls, Natasha and Sonya, with Count
Rostov who had not been seen in Moscow for a long time, attracted
general attention. Moreover, everybody knew vaguely of Natasha's
engagement to Prince Andrew, and knew that the Rostovs had lived in
the country ever since, and all looked with curiosity at a fiancee who
was making one of the best matches in Russia.
Natasha's looks, as everyone told her, had improved in the
country, and that evening thanks to her agitation she was particularly
pretty. She struck those who saw her by her fullness of life and
beauty, combined with her indifference to everything about her. Her
black eyes looked at the crowd without seeking anyone, and her
delicate arm, bare to above the elbow, lay on the velvet edge of the
box, while, evidently unconsciously, she opened and closed her hand in
time to the music, crumpling her program. "Look, there's Alenina,"
said Sonya, "with her mother, isn't it?"
"Dear me, Michael Kirilovich has grown still stouter!" remarked
"Look at our Anna Mikhaylovna- what a headdress she has on!"
"The Karagins, Julie- and Boris with them. One can see at once
that they're engaged...."
"Drubetskoy has proposed?"
"Oh yes, I heard it today," said Shinshin, coming into the
Natasha looked in the direction in which her father's eyes were
turned and saw Julie sitting beside her mother with a happy look on
her face and a string of pearls round her thick red neck- which
Natasha knew was covered with powder. Behind them, wearing a smile and
leaning over with an ear to Julie's mouth, was Boris' handsome
smoothly brushed head. He looked the Rostovs from under his brows
and said something, smiling, to his betrothed.
"They are talking about us, about me and him!" thought Natasha. "And
he no doubt is calming her jealousy of me. They needn't trouble
themselves! If only they knew how little I am concerned about any of
Behind them sat Anna Mikhaylovna wearing a green headdress and
with a happy look of resignation to the will of God on her face. Their
box was pervaded by that atmosphere of an affianced couple which
Natasha knew so well and liked so much. She turned away and suddenly
remembered all that had been so humiliating in her morning's visit.
"What right has he not to wish to receive me into his family? Oh,
better not think of it- not till he comes back!" she told herself, and
began looking at the faces, some strange and some familiar, in the
stalls. In the front, in the very center, leaning back against the
orchestra rail, stood Dolokhov in a Persian dress, his curly hair
brushed up into a huge shock. He stood in full view of the audience,
well aware that he was attracting everyone's attention, yet as much at
ease as though he were in his own room. Around him thronged Moscow's
most brilliant young men, whom he evidently dominated.
The count, laughing, nudged the blushing Sonya and pointed to her
"Do you recognize him?" said he. "And where has he sprung from?"
he asked, turning to Shinshin. "Didn't he vanish somewhere?"
"He did," replied Shinshin. "He was in the Caucasus and ran away
from there. They say he has been acting as minister to some ruling
prince in Persia, where he killed the Shah's brother. Now all the
Moscow ladies are mad about him! It's 'Dolokhov the Persian' that does
it! We never hear a word but Dolokhov is mentioned. They swear by him,
they offer him to you as they would a dish of choice sterlet. Dolokhov
and Anatole Kuragin have turned all our ladies' heads."
A tall, beautiful woman with a mass of plaited hair and much exposed
plump white shoulders and neck, round which she wore a double string
of large pearls, entered the adjoining box rustling her heavy silk
dress and took a long time settling into her place.
Natasha involuntarily gazed at that neck, those shoulders, and
pearls and coiffure, and admired the beauty of the shoulders and the
pearls. While Natasha was fixing her gaze on her for the second time
the lady looked round and, meeting the count's eyes, nodded to him and
smiled. She was the Countess Bezukhova, Pierre's wife, and the
count, who knew everyone in society, leaned over and spoke to her.
"Have you been here long, Countess?" he inquired. "I'll call, I'll
call to kiss your hand. I'm here on business and have brought my girls
with me. They say Semenova acts marvelously. Count Pierre never used
to forget us. Is he here?"
"Yes, he meant to look in," answered Helene, and glanced attentively
Count Rostov resumed his seat.
"Handsome, isn't she?" he whispered to Natasha.
"Wonderful!" answered Natasha. "She's a woman one could easily
fall in love with."
Just then the last chords of the overture were heard and the
conductor tapped with his stick. Some latecomers took their seats in
the stalls, and the curtain rose.
As soon as it rose everyone in the boxes and stalls became silent,
and all the men, old and young, in uniform and evening dress, and
all the women with gems on their bare flesh, turned their whole
attention with eager curiosity to the stage. Natasha too began to look
The floor of the stage consisted of smooth boards, at the sides
was some painted cardboard representing trees, and at the back was a
cloth stretched over boards. In the center of the stage sat some girls
in red bodices and white skirts. One very fat girl in a white silk
dress sat apart on a low bench, to the back of which a piece of
green cardboard was glued. They all sang something. When they had
finished their song the girl in white went up to the prompter's box
and a man with tight silk trousers over his stout legs, and holding
a plume and a dagger, went up to her and began singing, waving his
First the man in the tight trousers sang alone, then she sang,
then they both paused while the orchestra played and the man
fingered the hand of the girl in white, obviously awaiting the beat to
start singing with her. They sang together and everyone in the theater
began clapping and shouting, while the man and woman on the stage- who
represented lovers- began smiling, spreading out their arms, and
After her life in the country, and in her present serious mood,
all this seemed grotesque and amazing to Natasha. She could not follow
the opera nor even listen to the music; she saw only the painted
cardboard and the queerly dressed men and women who moved, spoke,
and sang so strangely in that brilliant light. She knew what it was
all meant to represent, but it was so pretentiously false and
unnatural that she first felt ashamed for the actors and then amused
at them. She looked at the faces of the audience, seeking in them
the same sense of ridicule and perplexity she herself experienced, but
they all seemed attentive to what was happening on the stage, and
expressed delight which to Natasha seemed feigned. "I suppose it has
to be like this!" she thought. She kept looking round in turn at the
rows of pomaded heads in the stalls and then at the seminude women
in the boxes, especially at Helene in the next box, who- apparently
quite unclothed- sat with a quiet tranquil smile, not taking her
eyes off the stage. And feeling the bright light that flooded the
whole place and the warm air heated by the crowd, Natasha little by
little began to pass into a state of intoxication she had not
experienced for a long while. She did not realize who and where she
was, nor what was going on before her. As she looked and thought,
the strangest fancies unexpectedly and disconnectedly passed through
her mind: the idea occurred to her of jumping onto the edge of the box
and singing the air the actress was singing, then she wished to
touch with her fan an old gentleman sitting not far from her, then
to lean over to Helene and tickle her.
At a moment when all was quiet before the commencement of a song,
a door leading to the stalls on the side nearest the Rostovs' box
creaked, and the steps of a belated arrival were heard. "There's
Kuragin!" whispered Shinshin. Countess Bezukhova turned smiling to the
newcomer, and Natasha, following the direction of that look, saw an
exceptionally handsome adjutant approaching their box with a
self-assured yet courteous bearing. This was Anatole Kuragin whom
she had seen and noticed long ago at the ball in Petersburg. He was
now in an adjutant's uniform with one epaulet and a shoulder knot.
He moved with a restrained swagger which would have been ridiculous
had he not been so good-looking and had his handsome face not worn
such an expression of good-humored complacency and gaiety. Though
the performance was proceeding, he walked deliberately down the
carpeted gangway, his sword and spurs slightly jingling and his
handsome perfumed head held high. Having looked at Natasha he
approached his sister, laid his well gloved hand on the edge of her
box, nodded to her, and leaning forward asked a question, with a
motion toward Natasha.
"Mais charmante!" said he, evidently referring to Natasha, who did
not exactly hear his words but understood them from the movement of
his lips. Then he took his place in the first row of the stalls and
sat down beside Dolokhov, nudging with his elbow in a friendly and
offhand way that Dolokhov whom others treated so fawningly. He
winked at him gaily, smiled, and rested his foot against the orchestra
"How like the brother is to the sister," remarked the count. "And
how handsome they both are!"
Shinshin, lowering his voice, began to tell the count of some
intrigue of Kuragin's in Moscow, and Natasha tried to overhear it just
because he had said she was "charmante."
The first act was over. In the stalls everyone began moving about,
going out and coming in.
Boris came to the Rostovs' box, received their congratulations
very simply, and raising his eyebrows with an absent-minded smile
conveyed to Natasha and Sonya his fiancee's invitation to her wedding,
and went away. Natasha with a gay, coquettish smile talked to him, and
congratulated on his approaching wedding that same Boris with whom she
had formerly been in love. In the state of intoxication she was in,
everything seemed simple and natural.
The scantily clad Helene smiled at everyone in the same way, and
Natasha gave Boris a similar smile.
Helene's box was filled and surrounded from the stalls by the most
distinguished and intellectual men, who seemed to vie with one another
in their wish to let everyone see that they knew her.
During the whole of that entr'acte Kuragin stood with Dolokhov in
front of the orchestra partition, looking at the Rostovs' box. Natasha
knew he was talking about her and this afforded her pleasure. She even
turned so that he should see her profile in what she thought was its
most becoming aspect. Before the beginning of the second act Pierre
appeared in the stalls. The Rostovs had not seen him since their
arrival. His face looked sad, and he had grown still stouter since
Natasha last saw him. He passed up to the front rows, not noticing
anyone. Anatole went up to him and began speaking to him, looking at
and indicating the Rostovs' box. On seeing Natasha Pierre grew
animated and, hastily passing between the rows, came toward their box.
When he got there he leaned on his elbows and, smiling, talked to
her for a long time. While conversing with Pierre, Natasha heard a
man's voice in Countess Bezukhova's box and something told her it
was Kuragin. She turned and their eyes met. Almost smiling, he gazed
straight into her eyes with such an enraptured caressing look that
it seemed strange to be so near him, to look at him like that, to be
so sure he admired her, and not to be acquainted with him.
In the second act there was scenery representing tombstones, there
was a round hole in the canvas to represent the moon, shades were
raised over the footlights, and from horns and contrabass came deep
notes while many people appeared from right and left wearing black
cloaks and holding things like daggers in their hands. They began
waving their arms. Then some other people ran in and began dragging
away the maiden who had been in white and was now in light blue.
They did not drag her away at once, but sang with her for a long
time and then at last dragged her off, and behind the scenes something
metallic was struck three times and everyone knelt down and sang a
prayer. All these things were repeatedly interrupted by the
enthusiastic shouts of the audience.
During this act every time Natasha looked toward the stalls she
saw Anatole Kuragin with an arm thrown across the back of his chair,
staring at her. She was pleased to see that he was captivated by her
and it did not occur to her that there was anything wrong in it.
When the second act was over Countess Bezukhova rose, turned to
the Rostovs' box- her whole bosom completely exposed- beckoned the old
count with a gloved finger, and paying no attention to those who had
entered her box began talking to him with an amiable smile.
"Do make me acquainted with your charming daughters," said she. "The
whole town is singing their praises and I don't even know then!"
Natasha rose and curtsied to the splendid countess. She was so
pleased by praise from this brilliant beauty that she blushed with
"I want to become a Moscovite too, now," said Helene. "How is it
you're not ashamed to bury such pearls in the country?"
Countess Bezukhova quite deserved her reputation of being a
fascinating woman. She could say what she did not think- especially
what was flattering- quite simply and naturally.
"Dear count, you must let me look after your daughters! Though I
am not staying here long this time- nor are you- I will try to amuse
them. I have already heard much of you in Petersburg and wanted to get
to know you," said she to Natasha with her stereotyped and lovely
smile. "I had heard about you from my page, Drubetskoy. Have you heard
he is getting married? And also from my husband's friend Bolkonski,
Prince Andrew Bolkonski," she went on with special emphasis,
implying that she knew of his relation to Natasha. To get better
acquainted she asked that one of the young ladies should come into her
box for the rest of the performance, and Natasha moved over to it.
The scene of the third act represented a palace in which many
candles were burning and pictures of knights with short beards hung on
the walls. In the middle stood what were probably a king and a
queen. The king waved his right arm and, evidently nervous, sang
something badly and sat down on a crimson throne. The maiden who had
been first in white and then in light blue, now wore only a smock, and
stood beside the throne with her hair down. She sang something
mournfully, addressing the queen, but the king waved his arm severely,
and men and women with bare legs came in from both sides and began
dancing all together. Then the violins played very shrilly and merrily
and one of the women with thick bare legs and thin arms, separating
from the others, went behind the wings, adjusted her bodice,
returned to the middle of the stage, and began jumping and striking
one foot rapidly against the other. In the stalls everyone clapped and
shouted "bravo!" Then one of the men went into a corner of the
stage. The cymbals and horns in the orchestra struck up more loudly,
and this man with bare legs jumped very high and waved his feet
about very rapidly. (He was Duport, who received sixty thousand rubles
a year for this art.) Everybody in the stalls, boxes, and galleries
began clapping and shouting with all their might, and the man
stopped and began smiling and bowing to all sides. Then other men
and women danced with bare legs. Then the king again shouted to the
sound of music, and they all began singing. But suddenly a storm
came on, chromatic scales and diminished sevenths were heard in the
orchestra, everyone ran off, again dragging one of their number
away, and the curtain dropped. Once more there was a terrible noise
and clatter among the audience, and with rapturous faces everyone
began shouting: "Duport! Duport! Duport!" Natasha no longer thought
this strange. She look about with pleasure, smiling joyfully.
"Isn't Duport delightful?" Helene asked her.
"Oh, yes," replied Natasha.
During the entr'acte a whiff of cold air came into Helene's box, the
door opened, and Anatole entered, stooping and trying not to brush
"Let me introduce my brother to you," said Helene, her eyes shifting
uneasily from Natasha to Anatole.
Natasha turned her pretty little head toward the elegant young
officer and smiled at him over her bare shoulder. Anatole, who was
as handsome at close quarters as at a distance, sat down beside her
and told her he had long wished to have this happiness- ever since the
Naryshkins' ball in fact, at which he had had the well-remembered
pleasure of seeing her. Kuragin was much more sensible and simple with
women than among men. He talked boldly and naturally, and Natasha
was strangely and agreeably struck by the fact that there was
nothing formidable in this man about whom there was so much talk,
but that on the contrary his smile was most naive, cheerful, and
Kuragin asked her opinion of the performance and told her how at a
previous performance Semenova had fallen down on the stage.
"And do you know, Countess," he said, suddenly addressing her as
an old, familiar acquaintance, "we are getting up a costume
tournament; you ought to take part in it! It will be great fun. We
shall all meet at the Karagins'! Please come! No! Really, eh?" said
While saying this he never removed his smiling eyes from her face,
her neck, and her bare arms. Natasha knew for certain that he was
enraptured by her. This pleased her, yet his presence made her feel
constrained and oppressed. When she was not looking at him she felt
that he was looking at her shoulders, and she involuntarily caught his
eye so that he should look into hers rather than this. But looking
into his eyes she was frightened, realizing that there was not that
barrier of modesty she had always felt between herself and other
men. She did not know how it was that within five minutes she had come
to feel herself terribly near to this man. When she turned away she
feared he might seize her from behind by her bare arm and kiss her
on the neck. They spoke of most ordinary things, yet she felt that
they were closer to one another than she had ever been to any man.
Natasha kept turning to Helene and to her father, as if asking what it
all meant, but Helene was engaged in conversation with a general and
did not answer her look, and her father's eyes said nothing but what
they always said: "Having a good time? Well, I'm glad of it!"
During one of these moments of awkward silence when Anatole's
prominent eyes were gazing calmly and fixedly at her, Natasha, to
break the silence, asked him how he liked Moscow. She asked the
question and blushed. She felt all the time that by talking to him she
was doing something improper. Anatole smiled as though to encourage
"At first I did not like it much, because what makes a town pleasant
ce sont les jolies femmes,* isn't that so? But now I like it very much
indeed," he said, looking at her significantly. "You'll come to the
costume tournament, Countess? Do come!" and putting out his hand to
her bouquet and dropping his voice, he added, "You will be the
prettiest there. Do come, dear countess, and give me this flower as
*Are the pretty women.
Natasha did not understand what he was saying any more than he did
himself, but she felt that his incomprehensible words had an
improper intention. She did not know what to say and turned away as if
she had not heard his remark. But as soon as she had turned away she
felt that he was there, behind, so close behind her.
"How is he now? Confused? Angry? Ought I to put it right?" she asked
herself, and she could not refrain from turning round. She looked
straight into his eyes, and his nearness, self-assurance, and the
good-natured tenderness of his smile vanquished her. She smiled just
as he was doing, gazing straight into his eyes. And again she felt
with horror that no barrier lay between him and her.
The curtain rose again. Anatole left the box, serene and gay.
Natasha went back to her father in the other box, now quite submissive
to the world she found herself in. All that was going on before her
now seemed quite natural, but on the other hand all her previous
thoughts of her betrothed, of Princess Mary, or of life in the country
did not once recur to her mind and were as if belonging to a remote
In the fourth act there was some sort of devil who sang waving his
arm about, till the boards were withdrawn from under him and he
disappeared down below. That was the only part of the fourth act
that Natasha saw. She felt agitated and tormented, and the cause of
this was Kuragin whom she could not help watching. As they were
leaving the theater Anatole came up to them, called their carriage,
and helped them in. As he was putting Natasha in he pressed her arm
above the elbow. Agitated and flushed she turned round. He was looking
at her with glittering eyes, smiling tenderly.
Only after she had reached home was Natasha able clearly to think
over what had happened to her, and suddenly remembering Prince
Andrew she was horrified, and at tea to which all had sat down after
the opera, she gave a loud exclamation, flushed, and ran out of the
"O God! I am lost!" she said to herself. "How could I let him?"
She sat for a long time hiding her flushed face in her hands trying to
realize what had happened to her, but was unable either to
understand what had happened or what she felt. Everything seemed dark,
obscure, and terrible. There in that enormous, illuminated theater
where the bare-legged Duport, in a tinsel-decorated jacket, jumped
about to the music on wet boards, and young girls and old men, and the
nearly naked Helene with her proud, calm smile, rapturously cried
"bravo!"- there in the presence of that Helene it had all seemed clear
and simple; but now, alone by herself, it was incomprehensible.
"What is it? What was that terror I felt of him? What is this
gnawing of conscience I am feeling now?" she thought.
Only to the old countess at night in bed could Natasha have told all
she was feeling. She knew that Sonya with her severe and simple
views would either not understand it at all or would be horrified at
such a confession. So Natasha tried to solve what was torturing her by
"Am I spoiled for Andrew's love or not?" she asked herself, and with
soothing irony replied: "What a fool I am to ask that! What did happen
to me? Nothing! I have done nothing, I didn't lead him on at all.
Nobody will know and I shall never see him again," she told herself.
"So it is plain that nothing has happened and there is nothing to
repent of, and Andrew can love me still. But why 'still?' O God, why
isn't he here?" Natasha quieted herself for a moment, but again some
instinct told her that though all this was true, and though nothing
had happened, yet the former purity of her love for Prince Andrew
had perished. And again in imagination she went over her whole
conversation with Kuragin, and again saw the face, gestures, and
tender smile of that bold handsome man when he pressed her arm.
Anatole Kuragin was staying in Moscow because his father had sent
him away from Petersburg, where he had been spending twenty thousand
rubles a year in cash, besides running up debts for as much more,
which his creditors demanded from his father.
His father announced to him that he would now pay half his debts for
the last time, but only on condition that he went to Moscow as
adjutant to the commander in chief- a post his father had procured for
him- and would at last try to make a good match there. He indicated to
him Princess Mary and Julie Karagina.
Anatole consented and went to Moscow, where he put up at Pierre's
house. Pierre received him unwillingly at first, but got used to him
after a while, sometimes even accompanied him on his carousals, and
gave him money under the guise of loans.
As Shinshin had remarked, from the time of his arrival Anatole had
turned the heads of the Moscow ladies, especially by the fact that
he slighted them and plainly preferred the gypsy girls and French
actresses- with the chief of whom, Mademoiselle George, he was said to
be on intimate relations. He had never missed a carousal at
Danilov's or other Moscow revelers', drank whole nights through,
outvying everyone else, and was at all the balls and parties of the
best society. There was talk of his intrigues with some of the ladies,
and he flirted with a few of them at the balls. But he did not run
after the unmarried girls, especially the rich heiresses who were most
of them plain. There was a special reason for this, as he had got
married two years before- a fact known only to his most intimate
friends. At that time while with his regiment in Poland, a Polish
landowner of small means had forced him to marry his daughter. Anatole
had very soon abandoned his wife and, for a payment which he agreed to
send to his father-in-law, had arranged to be free to pass himself off
as a bachelor.
Anatole was always content with his position, with himself, and with
others. He was instinctively and thoroughly convinced that was
impossible for him to live otherwise than as he did and that he had
never in his life done anything base. He was incapable of
considering how his actions might affect others or what the
consequences of this or that action of his might be. He was
convinced that, as a duck is so made that it must live in water, so
God had made him such that he must spend thirty thousand rubles a year
and always occupy a prominent position in society. He believed this so
firmly that others, looking at him, were persuaded of it too and did
not refuse him either a leading place in society or money, which he
borrowed from anyone and everyone and evidently would not repay.
He was not a gambler, at any rate he did not care about winning.
He was not vain. He did not mind what people thought of him. Still
less could he be accused of ambition. More than once he had vexed
his father by spoiling his own career, and he laughed at
distinctions of all kinds. He was not mean, and did not refuse
anyone who asked of him. All he cared about was gaiety and women,
and as according to his ideas there was nothing dishonorable in
these tastes, and he was incapable of considering what the
gratification of his tastes entailed for others, he honestly
considered himself irreproachable, sincerely despised rogues and bad
people, and with a tranquil conscience carried his head high.
Rakes, those male Magdalenes, have a secret feeling of innocence
similar to that which female Magdalenes have, based on the same hope
of forgiveness. "All will be forgiven her, for she loved much; and all
will be forgiven him, for he enjoyed much."
Dolokhov, who had reappeared that year in Moscow after his exile and
his Persian adventures, and was leading a life of luxury, gambling,
and dissipation, associated with his old Petersburg comrade Kuragin
and made use of him for his own ends.
Anatole was sincerely fond of Dolokhov for his cleverness and
audacity. Dolokhov, who needed Anatole Kuragin's name, position, and
connections as a bait to draw rich young men into his gambling set,
made use of him and amused himself at his expense without letting
the other feel it. Apart from the advantage he derived from Anatole,
the very process of dominating another's will was in itself a
pleasure, a habit, and a necessity to Dolokhov.
Natasha had made a strong impression on Kuragin. At supper after the
opera he described to Dolokhov with the air of a connoisseur the
attractions of her arms, shoulders, feet, and hair and expressed his
intention of making love to her. Anatole had no notion and was
incapable of considering what might come of such love-making, as he
never had any notion of the outcome of any of his actions.
"She's first-rate, my dear fellow, but not for us," replied
"I will tell my sister to ask her to dinner," said Anatole. "Eh?"
"You'd better wait till she's married...."
"You know, I adore little girls, they lose their heads at once,"
"You have been caught once already by a 'little girl,'" said
Dolokhov who knew of Kuragin's marriage. "Take care!"
"Well, that can't happen twice! Eh?" said Anatole, with a
The day after the opera the Rostovs went nowhere and nobody came
to see them. Marya Dmitrievna talked to the count about something
which they concealed from Natasha. Natasha guessed they were talking
about the old prince and planning something, and this disquieted and
offended her. She was expecting Prince Andrew any moment and twice
that day sent a manservant to the Vozdvizhenka to ascertain whether he
had come. He had not arrived. She suffered more now than during her
first days in Moscow. To her impatience and pining for him were now
added the unpleasant recollection of her interview with Princess
Mary and the old prince, and a fear and anxiety of which she did not
understand the cause. She continually fancied that either he would
never come or that something would happen to her before he came. She
could no longer think of him by herself calmly and continuously as she
had done before. As soon as she began to think of him, the
recollection of the old prince, of Princess Mary, of the theater,
and of Kuragin mingled with her thoughts. The question again presented
itself whether she was not guilty, whether she had not already
broken faith with Prince Andrew, and again she found herself recalling
to the minutest detail every word, every gesture, and every shade in
the play of expression on the face of the man who had been able to
arouse in her such an incomprehensible and terrifying feeling. To
the family Natasha seemed livelier than usual, but she was far less
tranquil and happy than before.
On Sunday morning Marya Dmitrievna invited her visitors to Mass at
her parish church- the Church of the Assumption built over the
graves of victims of the plague.
"I don't like those fashionable churches," she said, evidently
priding herself on her independence of thought. "God is the same every
where. We have an excellent priest, he conducts the service decently
and with dignity, and the deacon is the same. What holiness is there
in giving concerts in the choir? I don't like it, it's just
Marya Dmitrievna liked Sundays and knew how to keep them. Her
whole house was scrubbed and cleaned on Saturdays; neither she nor the
servants worked, and they all wore holiday dress and went to church.
At her table there were extra dishes at dinner, and the servants had
vodka and roast goose or suckling pig. But in nothing in the house was
the holiday so noticeable as in Marya Dmitrievna's broad, stern
face, which on that day wore an invariable look of solemn festivity.
After Mass, when they had finished their coffee in the dining room
where the loose covers had been removed from the furniture, a
servant announced that the carriage was ready, and Marya Dmitrievna
rose with a stern air. She wore her holiday shawl, in which she paid
calls, and announced that she was going to see Prince Nicholas
Bolkonski to have an explanation with him about Natasha.
After she had gone, a dressmaker from Madame Suppert-Roguet waited
on the Rostovs, and Natasha, very glad of this diversion, having
shut herself into a room adjoining the drawing room, occupied
herself trying on the new dresses. Just as she had put on a bodice
without sleeves and only tacked together, and was turning her head
to see in the glass how the back fitted, she heard in the drawing room
the animated sounds of her father's voice and another's- a woman's-
that made her flush. It was Helene. Natasha had not time to take off
the bodice before the door opened and Countess Bezukhova, dressed in a
purple velvet gown with a high collar, came into the room beaming with
good-humored amiable smiles.
"Oh, my enchantress!" she cried to the blushing Natasha.
"Charming! No, this is really beyond anything, my dear count," said
she to Count Rostov who had followed her in. "How can you live in
Moscow and go nowhere? No, I won't let you off! Mademoiselle George
will recite at my house tonight and there'll be some people, and if
you don't bring your lovely girls- who are prettier than
Mademoiselle George- I won't know you! My husband is away in Tver or I
would send him to fetch you. You must come. You positively must!
Between eight and nine."
She nodded to the dressmaker, whom she knew and who had curtsied
respectfully to her, and seated herself in an armchair beside the
looking glass, draping the folds of her velvet dress picturesquely.
She did not cease chattering good-naturedly and gaily, continually
praising Natasha's beauty. She looked at Natasha's dresses and praised
them, as well as a new dress of her own made of "metallic gauze,"
which she had received from Paris, and advised Natasha to have one
"But anything suits you, my charmer!" she remarked.
A smile of pleasure never left Natasha's face. She felt happy and as
if she were blossoming under the praise of this dear Countess
Bezukhova who had formerly seemed to her so unapproachable and
important and was now so kind to her. Natasha brightened up and felt
almost in love with this woman, who was so beautiful and so kind.
Helene for her part was sincerely delighted with Natasha and wished to
give her a good time. Anatole had asked her to bring him and Natasha
together, and she was calling on the Rostovs for that purpose. The
idea of throwing her brother and Natasha together amused her.
Though at one time, in Petersburg, she had been annoyed with Natasha
for drawing Boris away, she did not think of that now, and in her
own way heartily wished Natasha well. As she was leaving the Rostovs
she called her protegee aside.
"My brother dined with me yesterday- we nearly died of laughter-
he ate nothing and kept sighing for you, my charmer! He is madly,
quite madly, in love with you, my dear."
Natasha blushed scarlet when she heard this.
"How she blushes, how she blushes, my pretty!" said Helene. "You
must certainly come. If you love somebody, my charmer, that is not a
reason to shut yourself up. Even if you are engaged, I am sure your
fiance would wish you to go into society rather than be bored to
"So she knows I am engaged, and she and her husband Pierre- that
good Pierre- have talked and laughed about this. So it's all right."
And again, under Helene's influence, what had seemed terrible now
seemed simple and natural. "And she is such a grande dame, so kind,
and evidently likes me so much. And why not enjoy myself?" thought
Natasha, gazing at Helene with wide-open, wondering eyes.
Marya Dmitrievna came back to dinner taciturn and serious, having
evidently suffered a defeat at the old prince's. She was still too
agitated by the encounter to be able to talk of the affair calmly.
In answer to the count's inquiries she replied that things were all
right and that she would tell about it next day. On hearing of
Countess Bezukhova's visit and the invitation for that evening,
Marya Dmitrievna remarked:
"I don't care to have anything to do with Bezukhova and don't advise
you to; however, if you've promised- go. It will divert your
thoughts," she added, addressing Natasha.
Count Rostov took the girls to Countess Bezukhova's. There were a
good many people there, but nearly all strangers to Natasha. Count
Rostov was displeased to see that the company consisted almost
entirely of men and women known for the freedom of their conduct.
Mademoiselle George was standing in a corner of the drawing room
surrounded by young men. There were several Frenchmen present, among
them Metivier who from the time Helene reached Moscow had been an
intimate in her house. The count decided not to sit down to cards or
let his girls out of his sight and to get away as soon as Mademoiselle
George's performance was over.
Anatole was at the door, evidently on the lookout for the Rostovs.
Immediately after greeting the count he went up to Natasha and
followed her. As soon as she saw him she was seized by the same
feeling she had had at the opera- gratified vanity at his admiration
of her and fear at the absence of a moral barrier between them.
Helene welcomed Natasha delightedly and was loud in admiration of
her beauty and her dress. Soon after their arrival Mademoiselle George
went out of the room to change her costume. In the drawing room people
began arranging the chairs and taking their seats. Anatole moved a
chair for Natasha and was about to sit down beside her, but the count,
who never lost sight of her, took the seat himself. Anatole sat down
Mademoiselle George, with her bare, fat, dimpled arms, and a red
shawl draped over one shoulder, came into the space left vacant for
her, and assumed an unnatural pose. Enthusiastic whispering was
Mademoiselle George looked sternly and gloomily at the audience
and began reciting some French verses describing her guilty love for
her son. In some places she raised her voice, in others she whispered,
lifting her head triumphantly; sometimes she paused and uttered hoarse
sounds, rolling her eyes.
"Adorable! divine! delicious!" was heard from every side.
Natasha looked at the fat actress, but neither saw nor heard nor
understood anything of what went on before her. She only felt
herself again completely borne away into this strange senseless world-
so remote from her old world- a world in which it was impossible to
know what was good or bad, reasonable or senseless. Behind her sat
Anatole, and conscious of his proximity she experienced a frightened
sense of expectancy.
After the first monologue the whole company rose and surrounded
Mademoiselle George, expressing their enthusiasm.
"How beautiful she is!" Natasha remarked to her father who had
also risen and was moving through the crowd toward the actress.
"I don't think so when I look at you!" said Anatole, following
Natasha. He said this at a moment when she alone could hear him.
"You are enchanting... from the moment I saw you I have never
"Come, come, Natasha!" said the count, as he turned back for his
daughter. "How beautiful she is!" Natasha without saying anything
stepped up to her father and looked at him with surprised inquiring
After giving several recitations, Mademoiselle George left, and
Countess Bezukhova asked her visitors into the ballroom.
The count wished to go home, but Helene entreated him not to spoil
her improvised ball, and the Rostovs stayed on. Anatole asked
Natasha for a valse and as they danced he pressed her waist and hand
and told her she was bewitching and that he loved her. During the
ecossaise, which she also danced with him, Anatole said nothing when
they happened to be by themselves, but merely gazed at her. Natasha
lifted her frightened eyes to him, but there was such confident
tenderness in his affectionate look and smile that she could not,
whilst looking at him, say what she had to say. She lowered her eyes.
"Don't say such things to me. I am betrothed and love another,"
she said rapidly.... She glanced at him.
Anatole was not upset or pained by what she had said.
"Don't speak to me of that! What can I do?" said he. "I tell you I
am madly, madly, in love with you! Is it my fault that you are
enchanting?... It's our turn to begin."
Natasha, animated and excited, looked about her with wide-open
frightened eyes and seemed merrier than usual. She understood hardly
anything that went on that evening. They danced the ecossaise and
the Grossvater. Her father asked her to come home, but she begged to
remain. Wherever she went and whomever she was speaking to, she felt
his eyes upon her. Later on she recalled how she had asked her
father to let her go to the dressing room to rearrange her dress, that
Helene had followed her and spoken laughingly of her brother's love,
and that she again met Anatole in the little sitting room. Helene
had disappeared leaving them alone, and Anatole had taken her hand and
said in a tender voice:
"I cannot come to visit you but is it possible that I shall never
see you? I love you madly. Can I never...?" and, blocking her path, he
brought his face close to hers.
His large, glittering, masculine eyes were so close to hers that she
saw nothing but them.
"Natalie?" he whispered inquiringly while she felt her hands being
painfully pressed. "Natalie?"
"I don't understand. I have nothing to say," her eyes replied.
Burning lips were pressed to hers, and at the same instant she
felt herself released, and Helene's footsteps and the rustle of her
dress were heard in the room. Natasha looked round at her, and then,
red and trembling, threw a frightened look of inquiry at Anatole and
moved toward the door.
"One word, just one, for God's sake!" cried Anatole.
She paused. She so wanted a word from him that would explain to
her what had happened and to which she could find no answer.
"Natalie, just a word, only one!" he kept repeating, evidently not
knowing what to say and he repeated it till Helene came up to them.
Helene returned with Natasha to the drawing room. The Rostovs went
away without staying for supper.
After reaching home Natasha did not sleep all night. She was
tormented by the insoluble question whether she loved Anatole or
Prince Andrew. She loved Prince Andrew- she remembered distinctly
how deeply she loved him. But she also loved Anatole, of that there
was no doubt. "Else how could all this have happened?" thought she.
"If, after that, I could return his smile when saying good-by, if I
was able to let it come to that, it means that I loved him from the
first. It means that he is kind, noble, and splendid, and I could
not help loving him. What am I to do if I love him and the other one
too?" she asked herself, unable to find an answer to these terrible
Morning came with its cares and bustle. Everyone got up and began to
move about and talk, dressmakers came again. Marya Dmitrievna
appeared, and they were called to breakfast. Natasha kept looking
uneasily at everybody with wide-open eyes, as if wishing to
intercept every glance directed toward her, and tried to appear the
same as usual.
After breakfast, which was her best time, Marya Dmitrievna sat
down in her armchair and called Natasha and the count to her.
"Well, friends, I have now thought the whole matter over and this is
my advice," she began. "Yesterday, as you know, I went to see Prince
Bolkonski. Well, I had a talk with him.... He took it into his head to
begin shouting, but I am not one to be shouted down. I said what I had
"Well, and he?" asked the count.
"He? He's crazy... he did not want to listen. But what's the use
of talking? As it is we have worn the poor girl out," said Marya
Dmitrievna. "My advice to you is finish your business and go back home
to Otradnoe... and wait there."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Natasha.
"Yes, go back," said Marya Dmitrievna, "and wait there. If your
betrothed comes here now- there will be no avoiding a quarrel; but
alone with the old man he will talk things over and then come on to
Count Rostov approved of this suggestion, appreciating its
reasonableness. If the old man came round it would be all the better
to visit him in Moscow or at Bald Hills later on; and if not, the
wedding, against his wishes, could only be arranged at Otradnoe.
"That is perfectly true. And I am sorry I went to see him and took
her," said the old count.
"No, why be sorry? Being here, you had to pay your respects. But
if he won't- that's his affair," said Marya Dmitrievna, looking for
something in her reticule. "Besides, the trousseau is ready, so
there is nothing to wait for; and what is not ready I'll send after
you. Though I don't like letting you go, it is the best way. So go,
with God's blessing!"
Having found what she was looking for in the reticule she handed
it to Natasha. It was a letter from Princess Mary.
"She has written to you. How she torments herself, poor thing! She's
afraid you might think that she does not like you."
"But she doesn't like me," said Natasha.
"Don't talk nonsense!" cried Marya Dmitrievna.
"I shan't believe anyone, I know she doesn't like me," replied
Natasha boldly as she took the letter, and her face expressed a cold
and angry resolution that caused Marya Dmitrievna to look at her
more intently and to frown.
"Don't answer like that, my good girl!" she said. "What I say is
true! Write an answer!" Natasha did not reply and went to her own room
to read Princess Mary's letter.
Princess Mary wrote that she was in despair at the
misunderstanding that had occurred between them. Whatever her father's
feelings might be, she begged Natasha to believe that she could not
help loving her as the one chosen by her brother, for whose
happiness she was ready to sacrifice everything.
"Do not think, however," she wrote, "that my father is
ill-disposed toward you. He is an invalid and an old man who must be
forgiven; but he is good and magnanimous and will love her who makes
his son happy." Princess Mary went on to ask Natasha to fix a time
when she could see her again.
After reading the letter Natasha sat down at the writing table to
answer it. "Dear Princess," she wrote in French quickly and
mechanically, and then paused. What more could she write after all
that had happened the evening before? "Yes, yes! All that has
happened, and now all is changed," she thought as she sat with the
letter she had begun before her. "Must I break off with him? Must I
really? That's awful... and to escape from these dreadful thoughts she
went to Sonya and began sorting patterns with her.
After dinner Natasha went to her room and again took up Princess
Mary's letter. "Can it be that it is all over?" she thought. "Can it
be that all this has happened so quickly and has destroyed all that
went before?" She recalled her love for Prince Andrew in all its
former strength, and at the same time felt that she loved Kuragin. She
vividly pictured herself as Prince Andrew's wife, and the scenes of
happiness with him she had so often repeated in her imagination, and
at the same time, aglow with excitement, recalled every detail of
yesterday's interview with Anatole.
"Why could that not be as well?" she sometimes asked herself in
complete bewilderment. "Only so could I be completely happy; but now I
have to choose, and I can't be happy without either of them. Only,"
she thought, "to tell Prince Andrew what has happened or to hide it
from him are both equally impossible. But with that one nothing is
spoiled. But am I really to abandon forever the joy of Prince Andrew's
love, in which I have lived so long?"
"Please, Miss!" whispered a maid entering the room with a mysterious
air. "A man told me to give you this-" and she handed Natasha a
"Only, for Christ's sake..." the girl went on, as Natasha, without
thinking, mechanically broke the seal and read a love letter from
Anatole, of which, without taking in a word, she understood only
that it was a letter from him- from the man she loved. Yes, she
loved him, or else how could that have happened which had happened?
And how could she have a love letter from him in her hand?
With trembling hands Natasha held that passionate love letter
which Dolokhov had composed for Anatole, and as she read it she
found in it an echo of all that she herself imagined she was feeling.
"Since yesterday evening my fate has been sealed; to be loved by you
or to die. There is no other way for me," the letter began. Then he
went on to say that he knew her parents would not give her to him- for
this there were secret reasons he could reveal only to her- but that
if she loved him she need only say the word yes, and no human power
could hinder their bliss. Love would conquer all. He would steal her
away and carry her off to the ends of the earth.
"Yes, yes! I love him!" thought Natasha, reading the letter for
the twentieth time and finding some peculiarly deep meaning in each
word of it.
That evening Marya Dmitrievna was going to the Akharovs' and
proposed to take the girls with her. Natasha, pleading a headache,
remained at home.
On returning late in the evening Sonya went to Natasha's room, and
to her surprise found her still dressed and asleep on the sofa. Open
on the table, beside her lay Anatole's letter. Sonya picked it up
and read it.
As she read she glanced at the sleeping Natasha, trying to find in
her face an explanation of what she was reading, but did not find
it. Her face was calm, gentle, and happy. Clutching her breast to keep
herself from choking, Sonya, pale and trembling with fear and
agitation, sat down in an armchair and burst into tears.
"How was it I noticed nothing? How could it go so far? Can she
have left off loving Prince Andrew? And how could she let Kuragin go
to such lengths? He is a deceiver and a villain, that's plain! What
will Nicholas, dear noble Nicholas, do when he hears of it? So this is
the meaning of her excited, resolute, unnatural look the day before
yesterday, yesterday, and today," thought Sonya. "But it can't be that
she loves him! She probably opened the letter without knowing who it
was from. Probably she is offended by it. She could not do such a
Sonya wiped away her tears and went up to Natasha, again scanning
"Natasha!" she said, just audibly.
Natasha awoke and saw Sonya.
"Ah, you're back?"
And with the decision and tenderness that often come at the moment
of awakening, she embraced her friend, but noticing Sonya's look of
embarrassment, her own face expressed confusion and suspicion.
"Sonya, you've read that letter?" she demanded.
"Yes," answered Sonya softly.
Natasha smiled rapturously.
"No, Sonya, I can't any longer!" she said. "I can't hide it from you
any longer. You know, we love one another! Sonya, darling, he
Sonya stared open-eyed at Natasha, unable to believe her ears.
"And Bolkonski?" she asked.
"Ah, Sonya, if you only knew how happy I am!" cried Natasha. "You
don't know what love is...."
"But, Natasha, can that be all over?"
Natasha looked at Sonya with wide-open eyes as if she could not
grasp the question.
"Well, then, are you refusing Prince Andrew?" said Sonya.
"Oh, you don't understand anything! Don't talk nonsense, just
listen!" said Natasha, with momentary vexation.
"But I can't believe it," insisted Sonya. "I don't understand. How
is it you have loved a man for a whole year and suddenly... Why, you
have only seen him three times! Natasha, I don't believe you, you're
joking! In three days to forget everything and so..."
"Three days?" said Natasha. "It seems to me I've loved him a hundred
years. It seems to me that I have never loved anyone before. You can't
understand it.... Sonya, wait a bit, sit here," and Natasha embraced
and kissed her.
"I had heard that it happens like this, and you must have heard it
too, but it's only now that I feel such love. It's not the same as
before. As soon as I saw him I felt he was my master and I his
slave, and that I could not help loving him. Yes, his slave!
Whatever he orders I shall do. You don't understand that. What can I
do? What can I do, Sonya?" cried Natasha with a happy yet frightened
"But think what you are doing," cried Sonya. "I can't leave it
like this. This secret correspondence... How could you let him go so
far?" she went on, with a horror and disgust she could hardly conceal.
"I told you that I have no will," Natasha replied. "Why can't you
understand? I love him!"
"Then I won't let it come to that... I shall tell!" cried Sonya,
bursting into tears.
"What do you mean? For God's sake... If you tell, you are my enemy!"
declared Natasha. "You want me to be miserable, you want us to be
When she saw Natasha's fright, Sonya shed tears of shame and pity
for her friend.
"But what has happened between you?" she asked. "What has he said to
you? Why doesn't he come to the house?"
Natasha did not answer her questions.
"For God's sake, Sonya, don't tell anyone, don't torture me,"
Natasha entreated. "Remember no one ought to interfere in such
matters! I have confided in you...."
"But why this secrecy? Why doesn't he come to the house?" asked
Sonya. "Why doesn't he openly ask for your hand? You know Prince
Andrew gave you complete freedom- if it is really so; but I don't
believe it! Natasha, have you considered what these secret reasons can