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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 7
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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 7 Post by :davidku Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1117

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 7 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 7

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
departed.

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
frightened.

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
choking her.

"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
come?..."

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.

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That evening the Rostovs went to the Opera, for which MaryaDmitrievna had taken a box.Natasha did not want to go, but could not refuse MaryaDmitrievna's kind offer which was intended expressly for her. When shecame ready dressed into the ballroom to await her father, andlooking in the large mirror there saw that she was pretty, verypretty, 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, butdifferently. I would not be silly and afraid of things, I would simplyembrace him, cling to him, and make
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At the end of January old Count Rostov went to Moscow with Natashaand Sonya. The countess was still unwell and unable to travel but itwas impossible to wait for her recovery. Prince Andrew was expected inMoscow any day, the trousseau had to be ordered and the estate nearMoscow had to be sold, besides which the opportunity of presenting hisfuture daughter-in-law to old Prince Bolkonski while he was inMoscow could not be missed. The Rostovs' Moscow house had not beenheated that winter and, as they had come only for a short time and thecountess was not with them, the count decided to
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