"She has come to stay with me," said Princess Mary. "The count and countess will be here in a few days. The countess is in a dreadful state; but it was necessary for Natasha herself to see a doctor. They insisted on her coming with me."
"Yes, is there a family free from sorrow now?" said Pierre, addressing Natasha. "You know it happened the very day we were rescued. I saw him. What a delightful boy he was!"
Natasha looked at him, and by way of answer to his words her eyes widened and lit up.
"What can one say or think of as a consolation?" said Pierre. "Nothing! Why had such a splendid boy, so full of life, to die?"
"Yes, in these days it would be hard to live without faith..." remarked Princess Mary.
"Yes, yes, that is really true," Pierre hastily interrupted her.
"Why is it true?" Natasha asked, looking attentively into Pierre's eyes.
"How can you ask why?" said Princess Mary. "The thought alone of what awaits..."
Natasha without waiting for Princess Mary to finish again looked inquiringly at Pierre.
"And because," Pierre continued, "only one who believes that there is a God ruling us can bear a loss such as hers and... yours."
Natasha had already opened her mouth to speak but suddenly stopped. Pierre hurriedly turned away from her and again addressed Princess Mary, asking about his friend's last days.
Pierre's confusion had now almost vanished, but at the same time he felt that his freedom had also completely gone. He felt that there was now a judge of his every word and action whose judgment mattered more to him than that of all the rest of the world. As he spoke now he was considering what impression his words would make on Natasha. He did not purposely say things to please her, but whatever he was saying he regarded from her standpoint.
Princess Mary--reluctantly as is usual in such cases--began telling of the condition in which she had found Prince Andrew. But Pierre's face quivering with emotion, his questions and his eager restless expression, gradually compelled her to go into details which she feared to recall for her own sake.
"Yes, yes, and so...?" Pierre kept saying as he leaned toward her with his whole body and eagerly listened to her story. "Yes, yes... so he grew tranquil and softened? With all his soul he had always sought one thing--to be perfectly good--so he could not be afraid of death. The faults he had--if he had any--were not of his making. So he did soften?... What a happy thing that he saw you again," he added, suddenly turning to Natasha and looking at her with eyes full of tears.
Natasha's face twitched. She frowned and lowered her eyes for a moment. She hesitated for an instant whether to speak or not.
"Yes, that was happiness," she then said in her quiet voice with its deep chest notes. "For me it certainly was happiness." She paused. "And he... he... he said he was wishing for it at the very moment I entered the room...."
Natasha's voice broke. She blushed, pressed her clasped hands on her knees, and then controlling herself with an evident effort lifted her head and began to speak rapidly.
"We knew nothing of it when we started from Moscow. I did not dare to ask about him. Then suddenly Sonya told me he was traveling with us. I had no idea and could not imagine what state he was in, all I wanted was to see him and be with him," she said, trembling, and breathing quickly.
And not letting them interrupt her she went on to tell what she had never yet mentioned to anyone--all she had lived through during those three weeks of their journey and life at Yaroslavl.
Pierre listened to her with lips parted and eyes fixed upon her full of tears. As he listened he did not think of Prince Andrew, nor of death, nor of what she was telling. He listened to her and felt only pity for her, for what she was suffering now while she was speaking.
Princess Mary, frowning in her effort to hold back her tears, sat beside Natasha, and heard for the first time the story of those last days of her brother's and Natasha's love.
Evidently Natasha needed to tell that painful yet joyful tale.
She spoke, mingling most trifling details with the intimate secrets of her soul, and it seemed as if she could never finish. Several times she repeated the same thing twice.
Dessalles' voice was heard outside the door asking whether little Nicholas might come in to say good night.
"Well, that's all--everything," said Natasha.
She got up quickly just as Nicholas entered, almost ran to the door which was hidden by curtains, struck her head against it, and rushed from the room with a moan either of pain or sorrow.
Pierre gazed at the door through which she had disappeared and did not understand why he suddenly felt all alone in the world.
Princess Mary roused him from his abstraction by drawing his attention to her nephew who had entered the room.
At that moment of emotional tenderness young Nicholas' face, which resembled his father's, affected Pierre so much that when he had kissed the boy he got up quickly, took out his handkerchief, and went to the window. He wished to take leave of Princess Mary, but she would not let him go.
"No, Natasha and I sometimes don't go to sleep till after two, so please don't go. I will order supper. Go downstairs, we will come immediately."
Before Pierre left the room Princess Mary told him: "This is the first time she has talked of him like that."
Pierre was shown into the large, brightly lit dining room; a few minutes later he heard footsteps and Princess Mary entered with Natasha. Natasha was calm, though a severe and grave expression had again settled on her face. They all three of them now experienced that feeling of awkwardness which usually follows after a serious and heartfelt talk. It is impossible to go back to the same conversation, to talk of trifles is awkward, and yet the desire to speak is there and silence seems like affectation. They went silently to table. The footmen drew back the chairs and pushed them up again. Pierre unfolded his cold table napkin and, resolving to break the silence, looked at Natasha and at Princess Mary. They had evidently both formed the same resolution; the eyes of both shone with satisfaction and a confession that besides sorrow life also has joy.
"Do you take vodka, Count?" asked Princess Mary, and those words suddenly banished the shadows of the past. "Now tell us about yourself," said she. "One hears such improbable wonders about you."
"Yes," replied Pierre with the smile of mild irony now habitual to him. "They even tell me wonders I myself never dreamed of! Mary Abramovna invited me to her house and kept telling me what had happened, or ought to have happened, to me. Stepan Stepanych also instructed me how I ought to tell of my experiences. In general I have noticed that it is very easy to be an interesting man (I am an interesting man now); people invite me out and tell me all about myself."
Natasha smiled and was on the point of speaking.
"We have been told," Princess Mary interrupted her, "that you lost two millions in Moscow. Is that true?"
"But I am three times as rich as before," returned Pierre.
Though the position was now altered by his decision to pay his wife's debts and to rebuild his houses, Pierre still maintained that he had become three times as rich as before.
"What I have certainly gained is freedom," he began seriously, but did not continue, noticing that this theme was too egotistic.
"And are you building?"
"Yes. Savelich says I must!"
"Tell me, you did not know of the countess' death when you decided to remain in Moscow?" asked Princess Mary and immediately blushed, noticing that her question, following his mention of freedom, ascribed to his words a meaning he had perhaps not intended.
"No," answered Pierre, evidently not considering awkward the meaning Princess Mary had given to his words. "I heard of it in Orel and you cannot imagine how it shocked me. We were not an exemplary couple," he added quickly, glancing at Natasha and noticing on her face curiosity as to how he would speak of his wife, "but her death shocked me terribly. When two people quarrel they are always both in fault, and one's own guilt suddenly becomes terribly serious when the other is no longer alive. And then such a death... without friends and without consolation! I am very, very sorry for her," he concluded, and was pleased to notice a look of glad approval on Natasha's face.
"Yes, and so you are once more an eligible bachelor," said Princess Mary.
Pierre suddenly flushed crimson and for a long time tried not to look at Natasha. When he ventured to glance her way again her face was cold, stern, and he fancied even contemptuous.
"And did you really see and speak to Napoleon, as we have been told?" said Princess Mary.
"No, not once! Everybody seems to imagine that being taken prisoner means being Napoleon's guest. Not only did I never see him but I heard nothing about him--I was in much lower company!"
Supper was over, and Pierre who at first declined to speak about his captivity was gradually led on to do so.
"But it's true that you remained in Moscow to kill Napoleon?" Natasha asked with a slight smile. "I guessed it then when we met at the Sukharev tower, do you remember?"
Pierre admitted that it was true, and from that was gradually led by Princess Mary's questions and especially by Natasha's into giving a detailed account of his adventures.
At first he spoke with the amused and mild irony now customary with him toward everybody and especially toward himself, but when he came to describe the horrors and sufferings he had witnessed he was unconsciously carried away and began speaking with the suppressed emotion of a man re-experiencing in recollection strong impressions he has lived through.
Princess Mary with a gentle smile looked now at Pierre and now at Natasha. In the whole narrative she saw only Pierre and his goodness. Natasha, leaning on her elbow, the expression of her face constantly changing with the narrative, watched Pierre with an attention that never wandered--evidently herself experiencing all that he described. Not only her look, but her exclamations and the brief questions she put, showed Pierre that she understood just what he wished to convey. It was clear that she understood not only what he said but also what he wished to, but could not, express in words. The account Pierre gave of the incident with the child and the woman for protecting whom he was arrested was this: "It was an awful sight--children abandoned, some in the flames... One was snatched out before my eyes... and there were women who had their things snatched off and their earrings torn out..." he flushed and grew confused. "Then a patrol arrived and all the men--all those who were not looting, that is--were arrested, and I among them."
"I am sure you're not telling us everything; I am sure you did something..." said Natasha and pausing added, "something fine?"
Pierre continued. When he spoke of the execution he wanted to pass over the horrible details, but Natasha insisted that he should not omit anything.
Pierre began to tell about Karataev, but paused. By this time he had risen from the table and was pacing the room, Natasha following him with her eyes. Then he added:
"No, you can't understand what I learned from that illiterate man- that simple fellow."
"Yes, yes, go on!" said Natasha. "Where is he?"
"They killed him almost before my eyes."
And Pierre, his voice trembling continually, went on to tell of the last days of their retreat, of Karataev's illness and his death.
He told of his adventures as he had never yet recalled them. He now, as it were, saw a new meaning in all he had gone through. Now that he was telling it all to Natasha he experienced that pleasure which a man has when women listen to him--not clever women who when listening either try to remember what they hear to enrich their minds and when opportunity offers to retell it, or who wish to adopt it to some thought of their own and promptly contribute their own clever comments prepared in their little mental workshop--but the pleasure given by real women gifted with a capacity to select and absorb the very best a man shows of himself. Natasha without knowing it was all attention: she did not lose a word, no single quiver in Pierre's voice, no look, no twitch of a muscle in his face, nor a single gesture. She caught the unfinished word in its flight and took it straight into her open heart, divining the secret meaning of all Pierre's mental travail.
Princess Mary understood his story and sympathized with him, but she now saw something else that absorbed all her attention. She saw the possibility of love and happiness between Natasha and Pierre, and the first thought of this filled her heart with gladness.
It was three o'clock in the morning. The footmen came in with sad and stern faces to change the candles, but no one noticed them.
Pierre finished his story. Natasha continued to look at him intently with bright, attentive, and animated eyes, as if trying to understand something more which he had perhaps left untold. Pierre in shamefaced and happy confusion glanced occasionally at her, and tried to think what to say next to introduce a fresh subject. Princess Mary was silent. It occurred to none of them that it was three o'clock and time to go to bed.
"People speak of misfortunes and sufferings," remarked Pierre, "but if at this moment I were asked: 'Would you rather be what you were before you were taken prisoner, or go through all this again?' then for heaven's sake let me again have captivity and horseflesh! We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us. I say this to you," he added, turning to Natasha.
"Yes, yes," she said, answering something quite different. "I too should wish nothing but to relive it all from the beginning."
Pierre looked intently at her.
"Yes, and nothing more." said Natasha.
"It's not true, not true!" cried Pierre. "I am not to blame for being alive and wishing to live--nor you either."
Suddenly Natasha bent her head, covered her face with her hands, and began to cry.
"What is it, Natasha?" said Princess Mary.
"Nothing, nothing." She smiled at Pierre through her tears. "Good night! It is time for bed."
Pierre rose and took his leave.
Princess Mary and Natasha met as usual in the bedroom. They talked of what Pierre had told them. Princess Mary did not express her opinion of Pierre nor did Natasha speak of him.
"Well, good night, Mary!" said Natasha. "Do you know, I am often afraid that by not speaking of him" (she meant Prince Andrew) "for fear of not doing justice to our feelings, we forget him."
Princess Mary sighed deeply and thereby acknowledged the justice of Natasha's remark, but she did not express agreement in words.
"Is it possible to forget?" said she.
"It did me so much good to tell all about it today. It was hard and painful, but good, very good!" said Natasha. "I am sure he really loved him. That is why I told him... Was it all right?" she added, suddenly blushing.
"To tell Pierre? Oh, yes. What a splendid man he is!" said Princess Mary.
"Do you know, Mary..." Natasha suddenly said with a mischievous smile such as Princess Mary had not seen on her face for a long time, "he has somehow grown so clean, smooth, and fresh--as if he had just come out of a Russian bath; do you understand? Out of a moral bath. Isn't it true?"
"Yes," replied Princess Mary. "He has greatly improved."
"With a short coat and his hair cropped; just as if, well, just as if he had come straight from the bath... Papa used to..."
"I understand why he" (Prince Andrew) "liked no one so much as him," said Princess Mary.
"Yes, and yet he is quite different. They say men are friends when they are quite different. That must be true. Really he is quite unlike him--in everything."
"Yes, but he's wonderful."
"Well, good night," said Natasha.
And the same mischievous smile lingered for a long time on her face as if it had been forgotten there.
It was a long time before Pierre could fall asleep that night. He paced up and down his room, now turning his thoughts on a difficult problem and frowning, now suddenly shrugging his shoulders and wincing, and now smiling happily.
He was thinking of Prince Andrew, of Natasha, and of their love, at one moment jealous of her past, then reproaching himself for that feeling. It was already six in the morning and he still paced up and down the room.
"Well, what's to be done if it cannot be avoided? What's to be done? Evidently it has to be so," said he to himself, and hastily undressing he got into bed, happy and agitated but free from hesitation or indecision.
"Strange and impossible as such happiness seems, I must do everything that she and I may be man and wife," he told himself.
A few days previously Pierre had decided to go to Petersburg on the Friday. When he awoke on the Thursday, Savelich came to ask him about packing for the journey.
"What, to Petersburg? What is Petersburg? Who is there in Petersburg?" he asked involuntarily, though only to himself. "Oh, yes, long ago before this happened I did for some reason mean to go to Petersburg," he reflected. "Why? But perhaps I shall go. What a good fellow he is and how attentive, and how he remembers everything," he thought, looking at Savelich's old face, "and what a pleasant smile he has!"
"Well, Savelich, do you still not wish to accept your freedom?" Pierre asked him.
"What's the good of freedom to me, your excellency? We lived under the late count--the kingdom of heaven be his!--and we have lived under you too, without ever being wronged."
"And your children?"
"The children will live just the same. With such masters one can live."
"But what about my heirs?" said Pierre. "Supposing I suddenly marry... it might happen," he added with an involuntary smile.
"If I may take the liberty, your excellency, it would be a good thing."
"How easy he thinks it," thought Pierre. "He doesn't know how terrible it is and how dangerous. Too soon or too late... it is terrible!"
"So what are your orders? Are you starting tomorrow?" asked Savelich.
"No, I'll put it off for a bit. I'll tell you later. You must forgive the trouble I have put you to," said Pierre, and seeing Savelich smile, he thought: "But how strange it is that he should not know that now there is no Petersburg for me, and that that must be settled first of all! But probably he knows it well enough and is only pretending. Shall I have a talk with him and see what he thinks?" Pierre reflected. "No, another time."
At breakfast Pierre told the princess, his cousin, that he had been to see Princess Mary the day before and had there met--"Whom do you think? Natasha Rostova!"
The princess seemed to see nothing more extraordinary in that than if he had seen Anna Semenovna.
"Do you know her?" asked Pierre.
"I have seen the princess," she replied. "I heard that they were arranging a match for her with young Rostov. It would be a very good thing for the Rostovs, they are said to be utterly ruined."
"No; I mean do you know Natasha Rostova?"
"I heard about that affair of hers at the time. It was a great pity."
"No, she either doesn't understand or is pretending," thought Pierre. "Better not say anything to her either."
The princess too had prepared provisions for Pierre's journey.
"How kind they all are," thought Pierre. "What is surprising is that they should trouble about these things now when it can no longer be of interest to them. And all for me!"
On the same day the Chief of Police came to Pierre, inviting him to send a representative to the Faceted Palace to recover things that were to be returned to their owners that day.
"And this man too," thought Pierre, looking into the face of the Chief of Police. "What a fine, good-looking officer and how kind. Fancy bothering about such trifies now! And they actually say he is not honest and takes bribes. What nonsense! Besides, why shouldn't he take bribes? That's the way he was brought up, and everybody does it. But what a kind, pleasant face and how he smiles as he looks at me."
Pierre went to Princess Mary's to dinner.
As he drove through the streets past the houses that had been burned down, he was surprised by the beauty of those ruins. The picturesqueness of the chimney stacks and tumble-down walls of the burned-out quarters of the town, stretching out and concealing one another, reminded him of the Rhine and the Colosseum. The cabmen he met and their passengers, the carpenters cutting the timber for new houses with axes, the women hawkers, and the shopkeepers, all looked at him with cheerful beaming eyes that seemed to say: "Ah, there he is! Let's see what will come of it!"
At the entrance to Princess Mary's house Pierre felt doubtful whether he had really been there the night before and really seen Natasha and talked to her. "Perhaps I imagined it; perhaps I shall go in and find no one there." But he had hardly entered the room before he felt her presence with his whole being by the loss of his sense of freedom. She was in the same black dress with soft folds and her hair was done the same way as the day before, yet she was quite different. Had she been like this when he entered the day before he could not for a moment have failed to recognize her.
She was as he had known her almost as a child and later on as Prince Andrew's fiancee. A bright questioning light shone in her eyes, and on her face was a friendly and strangely roguish expression.
Pierre dined with them and would have spent the whole evening there, but Princess Mary was going to vespers and Pierre left the house with her.
Next day he came early, dined, and stayed the whole evening. Though Princess Mary and Natasha were evidently glad to see their visitor and though all Pierre's interest was now centered in that house, by the evening they had talked over everything and the conversation passed from one trivial topic to another and repeatedly broke off. He stayed so long that Princess Mary and Natasha exchanged glances, evidently wondering when he would go. Pierre noticed this but could not go. He felt uneasy and embarrassed, but sat on because he simply could not get up and take his leave.
Princess Mary, foreseeing no end to this, rose first, and complaining of a headache began to say good night.
"So you are going to Petersburg tomorrow?" she asked.
"No, I am not going," Pierre replied hastily, in a surprised tone and as though offended. "Yes... no... to Petersburg? Tomorrow--but I won't say good-by yet. I will call round in case you have any commissions for me," said he, standing before Princess Mary and turning red, but not taking his departure.
Natasha gave him her hand and went out. Princess Mary on the other hand instead of going away sank into an armchair, and looked sternly and intently at him with her deep, radiant eyes. The weariness she had plainly shown before had now quite passed off. With a deep and long-drawn sigh she seemed to be prepared for a lengthy talk.
When Natasha left the room Pierre's confusion and awkwardness immediately vanished and were replaced by eager excitement. He quickly moved an armchair toward Princess Mary.
"Yes, I wanted to tell you," said he, answering her look as if she had spoken. "Princess, help me! What am I to do? Can I hope? Princess, my dear friend, listen! I know it all. I know I am not worthy of her, I know it's impossible to speak of it now. But I want to be a brother to her. No, not that, I don't, I can't..."
He paused and rubbed his face and eyes with his hands.
"Well," he went on with an evident effort at self-control and coherence. "I don't know when I began to love her, but I have loved her and her alone all my life, and I love her so that I cannot imagine life without her. I cannot propose to her at present, but the thought that perhaps she might someday be my wife and that I may be missing that possibility... that possibility... is terrible. Tell me, can I hope? Tell me what I am to do, dear princess!" he added after a pause, and touched her hand as she did not reply.
"I am thinking of what you have told me," answered Princess Mary. "This is what I will say. You are right that to speak to her of love at present..."
Princess Mary stopped. She was going to say that to speak of love was impossible, but she stopped because she had seen by the sudden change in Natasha two days before that she would not only not be hurt if Pierre spoke of his love, but that it was the very thing she wished for.
"To speak to her now wouldn't do," said the princess all the same.
"But what am I to do?"
"Leave it to me," said Princess Mary. "I know..."
Pierre was looking into Princess Mary's eyes.
"Well?... Well?..." he said.
"I know that she loves... will love you," Princess Mary corrected herself.
Before her words were out, Pierre had sprung up and with a frightened expression seized Princess Mary's hand.
"What makes you think so? You think I may hope? You think...?"
"Yes, I think so," said Princess Mary with a smile. "Write to her parents, and leave it to me. I will tell her when I can. I wish it to happen and my heart tells me it will."
"No, it cannot be! How happy I am! But it can't be.... How happy I am! No, it can't be!" Pierre kept saying as he kissed Princess Mary's hands.
"Go to Petersburg, that will be best. And I will write to you," she said.
"To Petersburg? Go there? Very well, I'll go. But I may come again tomorrow?"
Next day Pierre came to say good-by. Natasha was less animated than she had been the day before; but that day as he looked at her Pierre sometimes felt as if he was vanishing and that neither he nor she existed any longer, that nothing existed but happiness. "Is it possible? No, it can't be," he told himself at every look, gesture, and word that filled his soul with joy.
When on saying good-by he took her thin, slender hand, he could not help holding it a little longer in his own.
"Is it possible that this hand, that face, those eyes, all this treasure of feminine charm so strange to me now, is it possible that it will one day be mine forever, as familiar to me as I am to myself?... No, that's impossible!..."
"Good-by, Count," she said aloud. "I shall look forward very much to your return," she added in a whisper.
And these simple words, her look, and the expression on her face which accompanied them, formed for two months the subject of inexhaustible memories, interpretations, and happy meditations for Pierre. "'I shall look forward very much to your return....' Yes, yes, how did she say it? Yes, 'I shall look forward very much to your return.' Oh, how happy I am! What is happening to me? How happy I am!" said Pierre to himself.
There was nothing in Pierre's soul now at all like what had troubled it during his courtship of Helene.
He did not repeat to himself with a sickening feeling of shame the words he had spoken, or say: "Oh, why did I not say that?" and, "Whatever made me say 'Je vous aime'?" On the contrary, he now repeated in imagination every word that he or Natasha had spoken and pictured every detail of her face and smile, and did not wish to diminish or add anything, but only to repeat it again and again. There was now not a shadow of doubt in his mind as to whether what he had undertaken was right or wrong. Only one terrible doubt sometimes crossed his mind: "Wasn't it all a dream? Isn't Princess Mary mistaken? Am I not too conceited and self-confident? I believe all this--and suddenly Princess Mary will tell her, and she will be sure to smile and say: 'How strange! He must be deluding himself. Doesn't he know that he is a man, just a man, while I...? I am something altogether different and higher.'"
That was the only doubt often troubling Pierre. He did not now make any plans. The happiness before him appeared so inconceivable that if only he could attain it, it would be the end of all things. Everything ended with that.
A joyful, unexpected frenzy, of which he had thought himself incapable, possessed him. The whole meaning of life--not for him alone but for the whole world--seemed to him centered in his love and the possibility of being loved by her. At times everybody seemed to him to be occupied with one thing only--his future happiness. Sometimes it seemed to him that other people were all as pleased as he was himself and merely tried to hide that pleasure by pretending to be busy with other interests. In every word and gesture he saw allusions to his happiness. He often surprised those he met by his significantly happy looks and smiles which seemed to express a secret understanding between him and them. And when he realized that people might not be aware of his happiness, he pitied them with his whole heart and felt a desire somehow to explain to them that all that occupied them was a mere frivolous trifle unworthy of attention.
When it was suggested to him that he should enter the civil service, or when the war or any general political affairs were discussed on the assumption that everybody's welfare depended on this or that issue of events, he would listen with a mild and pitying smile and surprise people by his strange comments. But at this time he saw everybody--both those who, as he imagined, understood the real meaning of life (that is, what he was feeling) and those unfortunates who evidently did not understand it--in the bright light of the emotion that shone within himself, and at once without any effort saw in everyone he met everything that was good and worthy of being loved.
When dealing with the affairs and papers of his dead wife, her memory aroused in him no feeling but pity that she had not known the bliss he now knew. Prince Vasili, who having obtained a new post and some fresh decorations was particularly proud at this time, seemed to him a pathetic, kindly old man much to be pitied.
Often in afterlife Pierre recalled this period of blissful insanity. All the views he formed of men and circumstances at this time remained true for him always. He not only did not renounce them subsequently, but when he was in doubt or inwardly at variance, he referred to the views he had held at this time of his madness and they always proved correct.
"I may have appeared strange and queer then," he thought, "but I was not so mad as I seemed. On the contrary I was then wiser and had more insight than at any other time, and understood all that is worth understanding in life, because... because I was happy."
Pierre's insanity consisted in not waiting, as he used to do, to discover personal attributes which he termed "good qualities" in people before loving them; his heart was now overflowing with love, and by loving people without cause he discovered indubitable causes for loving them.
After Pierre's departure that first evening, when Natasha had said to Princess Mary with a gaily mocking smile: "He looks just, yes, just as if he had come out of a Russian bath--in a short coat and with his hair cropped," something hidden and unknown to herself, but irrepressible, awoke in Natasha's soul.
Everything: her face, walk, look, and voice, was suddenly altered. To her own surprise a power of life and hope of happiness rose to the surface and demanded satisfaction. From that evening she seemed to have forgotten all that had happened to her. She no longer complained of her position, did not say a word about the past, and no longer feared to make happy plans for the future. She spoke little of Pierre, but when Princess Mary mentioned him a long-extinguished light once more kindled in her eyes and her lips curved with a strange smile.
The change that took place in Natasha at first surprised Princess Mary; but when she understood its meaning it grieved her. "Can she have loved my brother so little as to be able to forget him so soon?" she thought when she reflected on the change. But when she was with Natasha she was not vexed with her and did not reproach her. The reawakened power of life that had seized Natasha was so evidently irrepressible and unexpected by her that in her presence Princess Mary felt that she had no right to reproach her even in her heart.
Natasha gave herself up so fully and frankly to this new feeling that she did not try to hide the fact that she was no longer sad, but bright and cheerful.
When Princess Mary returned to her room after her nocturnal talk with Pierre, Natasha met her on the threshold.
"He has spoken? Yes? He has spoken?" she repeated.
And a joyful yet pathetic expression which seemed to beg forgiveness for her joy settled on Natasha's face.
"I wanted to listen at the door, but I knew you would tell me."
Understandable and touching as the look with which Natasha gazed at her seemed to Princess Mary, and sorry as she was to see her agitation, these words pained her for a moment. She remembered her brother and his love.
"But what's to be done? She can't help it," thought the princess.
And with a sad and rather stern look she told Natasha all that Pierre had said. On hearing that he was going to Petersburg Natasha was astounded.
"To Petersburg!" she repeated as if unable to understand.
But noticing the grieved expression on Princess Mary's face she guessed the reason of that sadness and suddenly began to cry.
"Mary," said she, "tell me what I should do! I am afraid of being bad. Whatever you tell me, I will do. Tell me...."
"You love him?"
"Yes," whispered Natasha.
"Then why are you crying? I am happy for your sake," said Princess Mary, who because of those tears quite forgave Natasha's joy.
"It won't be just yet--someday. Think what fun it will be when I am his wife and you marry Nicholas!"
"Natasha, I have asked you not to speak of that. Let us talk about you."
They were silent awhile.
"But why go to Petersburg?" Natasha suddenly asked, and hastily replied to her own question. "But no, no, he must... Yes, Mary, He must...."