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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22
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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22 Post by :casken Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :828

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 22

That same evening Pierre went to the Rostovs' to fulfill the
commission entrusted to him. Natasha was in bed, the count at the
Club, and Pierre, after giving the letters to Sonya, went to Marya
Dmitrievna who was interested to know how Prince Andrew had taken
the news. Ten minutes later Sonya came to Marya Dmitrievna.

"Natasha insists on seeing Count Peter Kirilovich," said she.

"But how? Are we to take him up to her? The room there has not
been tidied up."

"No, she has dressed and gone into the drawing room," said Sonya.

Marya Dmitrievna only shrugged her shoulders.

"When will her mother come? She has worried me to death! Now mind,
don't tell her everything!" said she to Pierre. "One hasn't the
heart to scold her, she is so much to be pitied, so much to be
pitied."

Natasha was standing in the middle of the drawing room, emaciated,
with a pale set face, but not at all shamefaced as Pierre expected
to find her. When he appeared at the door she grew flurried, evidently
undecided whether to go to meet him or to wait till he came up.

Pierre hastened to her. He thought she would give him her hand as
usual; but she, stepping up to him, stopped, breathing heavily, her
arms hanging lifelessly just in the pose she used to stand in when she
went to the middle of the ballroom to sing, but with quite a different
expression of face.

"Peter Kirilovich," she began rapidly, "Prince Bolkonski was your
friend- is your friend," she corrected herself. (It seemed to her that
everything that had once been must now be different.) "He told me once
to apply to you..."

Pierre sniffed as he looked at her, but did not speak. Till then
he had reproached her in his heart and tried to despise her, but he
now felt so sorry for her that there was no room in his soul for
reproach.

"He is here now: tell him... to for... forgive me!" She stopped
and breathed still more quickly, but did not shed tears.

"Yes... I will tell him," answered Pierre; "but..."

He did not know what to say.

Natasha was evidently dismayed at the thought of what he might think
she had meant.

"No, I know all is over," she said hurriedly. "No, that can never
be. I'm only tormented by the wrong I have done him. Tell him only
that I beg him to forgive, forgive, forgive me for everything...."

She trembled all over and sat down on a chair.

A sense of pity he had never before known overflowed Pierre's heart.

"I will tell him, I will tell him everything once more," said
Pierre. "But... I should like to know one thing...."

"Know what?" Natasha's eyes asked.

"I should like to know, did you love..." Pierre did not know how
to refer to Anatole and flushed at the thought of him- "did you love
that bad man?"

"Don't call him bad!" said Natasha. "But I don't know, don't know at
all...."

She began to cry and a still greater sense of pity, tenderness,
and love welled up in Pierre. He felt the tears trickle under his
spectacles and hoped they would not be noticed.

"We won't speak of it any more, my dear," said Pierre, and his
gentle, cordial tone suddenly seemed very strange to Natasha.

"We won't speak of it, my dear- I'll tell him everything; but one
thing I beg of you, consider me your friend and if you want help,
advice, or simply to open your heart to someone- not now, but when
your mind is clearer think of me!" He took her hand and kissed it.
"I shall be happy if it's in my power..."

Pierre grew confused.

"Don't speak to me like that. I am not worth it!" exclaimed
Natasha and turned to leave the room, but Pierre held her hand.

He knew he had something more to say to her. But when he said it
he was amazed at his own words.

"Stop, stop! You have your whole life before you," said he to her.

"Before me? No! All is over for me," she replied with shame and
self-abasement.

"All over?" he repeated. "If I were not myself, but the handsomest,
cleverest, and best man in the world, and were free, I would this
moment ask on my knees for your hand and your love!"

For the first time for many days Natasha wept tears of gratitude and
tenderness, and glancing at Pierre she went out of the room.

Pierre too when she had gone almost ran into the anteroom,
restraining tears of tenderness and joy that choked him, and without
finding the sleeves of his fur cloak threw it on and got into his
sleigh.

"Where to now, your excellency?" asked the coachman.

"Where to?" Pierre asked himself. "Where can I go now? Surely not to
the Club or to pay calls?" All men seemed so pitiful, so poor, in
comparison with this feeling of tenderness and love he experienced: in
comparison with that softened, grateful, last look she had given him
through her tears.

"Home!" said Pierre, and despite twenty-two degrees of frost
Fahrenheit he threw open the bearskin cloak from his broad chest and
inhaled the air with joy.

It was clear and frosty. Above the dirty, ill-lit streets, above the
black roofs, stretched the dark starry sky. Only looking up at the sky
did Pierre cease to feel how sordid and humiliating were all mundane
things compared with the heights to which his soul had just been
raised. At the entrance to the Arbat Square an immense expanse of dark
starry sky presented itself to his eyes. Almost in the center of it,
above the Prechistenka Boulevard, surrounded and sprinkled on all
sides by stars but distinguished from them all by its nearness to
the earth, its white light, and its long uplifted tail, shone the
enormous and brilliant comet of 18l2- the comet which was said to
portend all kinds of woes and the end of the world. In Pierre,
however, that comet with its long luminous tail aroused no feeling
of fear. On the contrary he gazed joyfully, his eyes moist with tears,
at this bright comet which, having traveled in its orbit with
inconceivable velocity through immeasurable space, seemed suddenly-
like an arrow piercing the earth- to remain fixed in a chosen spot,
vigorously holding its tail erect, shining and displaying its white
light amid countless other scintillating stars. It seemed to Pierre
that this comet fully responded to what was passing in his own
softened and uplifted soul, now blossoming into a new life.

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Pierre drove to Marya Dmitrievna's to tell her of the fulfillment ofher wish that Kuragin should be banished from Moscow. The wholehouse was in a state of alarm and commotion. Natasha was very ill,having, as Marya Dmitrievna told him in secret, poisoned herself thenight after she had been told that Anatole was married, with somearsenic she had stealthily procured. After swallowing a little she hadbeen so frightened that she woke Sonya and told her what she had done.The necessary antidotes had been administered in time and she wasnow out of danger, though still so weak that it was out of thequestion
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