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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Seven: 1810-11 - Chapter 13
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War And Peace - Book Seven: 1810-11 - Chapter 13 Post by :Richieb Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2015

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War And Peace - Book Seven: 1810-11 - Chapter 13

Soon after the Christmas holidays Nicholas told his mother of his
love for Sonya and of his firm resolve to marry her. The countess, who
had long noticed what was going on between them and was expecting this
declaration, listened to him in silence and then told her son that
he might marry whom he pleased, but that neither she nor his father
would give their blessing to such a marriage. Nicholas, for the
first time, felt that his mother was displeased with him and that,
despite her love for him, she would not give way. Coldly, without
looking at her son, she sent for her husband and, when he came,
tried briefly and coldly to inform him of the facts, in her son's
presence, but unable to restrain herself she burst into tears of
vexation and left the room. The old count began irresolutely to
admonish Nicholas and beg him to abandon his purpose. Nicholas replied
that he could not go back on his word, and his father, sighing and
evidently disconcerted, very soon became silent and went in to the
countess. In all his encounters with his son, the count was always
conscious of his own guilt toward him for having wasted the family
fortune, and so he could not be angry with him for refusing to marry
an heiress and choosing the dowerless Sonya. On this occasion, he
was only more vividly conscious of the fact that if his affairs had
not been in disorder, no better wife for Nicholas than Sonya could
have been wished for, and that no one but himself with his Mitenka and
his uncomfortable habits was to blame for the condition of the
family finances.

The father and mother did not speak of the matter to their son
again, but a few days later the countess sent for Sonya and, with a
cruelty neither of them expected, reproached her niece for trying to
catch Nicholas and for ingratitude. Sonya listened silently with
downcast eyes to the countess' cruel words, without understanding what
was required of her. She was ready to sacrifice everything for her
benefactors. Self-sacrifice was her most cherished idea but in this
case she could not see what she ought to sacrifice, or for whom. She
could not help loving the countess and the whole Rostov family, but
neither could she help loving Nicholas and knowing that his
happiness depended on that love. She was silent and sad and did not
reply. Nicholas felt the situation to be intolerable and went to
have an explanation with his mother. He first implored her to
forgive him and Sonya and consent to their marriage, then he
threatened that if she molested Sonya he would at once marry her

The countess, with a coldness her son had never seen in her
before, replied that he was of age, that Prince Andrew was marrying
without his father's consent, and he could do the same, but that she
would never receive that intriguer as her daughter.

Exploding at the word intriguer, Nicholas, raising his voice, told
his mother he had never expected her to try to force him to sell his
feelings, but if that were so, he would say for the last time....
But he had no time to utter the decisive word which the expression
of his face caused his mother to await with terror, and which would
perhaps have forever remained a cruel memory to them both. He had
not time to say it, for Natasha, with a pale and set face, entered the
room from the door at which she had been listening.

"Nicholas, you are talking nonsense! Be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, I
tell you!..." she almost screamed, so as to drown his voice.

"Mamma darling, it's not at all so... my poor, sweet darling," she
said to her mother, who conscious that they had been on the brink of a
rupture gazed at her son with terror, but in the obstinacy and
excitement of the conflict could not and would not give way.

"Nicholas, I'll explain to you. Go away! Listen, Mamma darling,"
said Natasha.

Her words were incoherent, but they attained the purpose at which
she was aiming.

The countess, sobbing heavily, hid her face on her daughter's
breast, while Nicholas rose, clutching his head, and left the room.

Natasha set to work to effect a reconciliation, and so far succeeded
that Nicholas received a promise from his mother that Sonya should not
be troubled, while he on his side promised not to undertake anything
without his parents' knowledge.

Firmly resolved, after putting his affairs in order in the regiment,
to retire from the army and return and marry Sonya, Nicholas, serious,
sorrowful, and at variance with his parents, but, as it seemed to him,
passionately in love, left at the beginning of January to rejoin his

After Nicholas had gone things in the Rostov household were more
depressing than ever, and the countess fell ill from mental agitation.

Sonya was unhappy at the separation from Nicholas and still more
so on account of the hostile tone the countess could not help adopting
toward her. The count was more perturbed than ever by the condition of
his affairs, which called for some decisive action. Their town house
and estate near Moscow had inevitably to be sold, and for this they
had to go to Moscow. But the countess' health obliged them to delay
their departure from day to day.

Natasha, who had borne the first period of separation from her
betrothed lightly and even cheerfully, now grew more agitated and
impatient every day. The thought that her best days, which she would
have employed in loving him, were being vainly wasted, with no
advantage to anyone, tormented her incessantly. His letters for the
most part irritated her. It hurt her to think that while she lived
only in the thought of him, he was living a real life, seeing new
places and new people that interested him. The more interesting his
letters were the more vexed she felt. Her letters to him, far from
giving her any comfort, seemed to her a wearisome and artificial
obligation. She could not write, because she could not conceive the
possibility of expressing sincerely in a letter even a thousandth part
of what she expressed by voice, smile, and glance. She wrote to him
formal, monotonous, and dry letters, to which she attached no
importance herself, and in the rough copies of which the countess
corrected her mistakes in spelling.

There was still no improvement in the countess' health, but it was
impossible to defer the journey to Moscow any longer. Natasha's
trousseau had to be ordered and the house sold. Moreover, Prince
Andrew was expected in Moscow, where old Prince Bolkonski was spending
the winter, and Natasha felt sure he had already arrived.

So the countess remained in the country, and the count, taking Sonya
and Natasha with him, went to Moscow at the end of January.

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When they all drove back from Pelageya Danilovna's, Natasha, whoalways saw and noticed everything, arranged that she and Madame Schossshould go back in the sleigh with Dimmler, and Sonya with Nicholas andthe maids.On the way back Nicholas drove at a steady pace instead of racingand kept peering by that fantastic all-transforming light into Sonya'sface and searching beneath the eyebrows and mustache for his formerand his present Sonya from whom he had resolved never to be partedagain. He looked and recognizing in her both the old and the newSonya, and being reminded by the smell of burnt cork of thesensation of her