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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 12
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 12 Post by :calvin_thompson Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3074

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 12 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 12

Natasha was sixteen and it was the year 1809, the very year to which
she had counted on her fingers with Boris after they had kissed four
years ago. Since then she had not seen him. Before Sonya and her
mother, if Boris happened to be mentioned, she spoke quite freely of
that episode as of some childish, long-forgotten matter that was not
worth mentioning. But in the secret depths of her soul the question
whether her engagement to Boris was a jest or an important, binding
promise tormented her.

Since Boris left Moscow in 1805 to join the army he had had not seen
the Rostovs. He had been in Moscow several times, and had passed
near Otradnoe, but had never been to see them.

Sometimes it occurred to Natasha that he not wish to see her, and
this conjecture was confirmed by the sad tone in which her elders
spoke of him.

"Nowadays old friends are not remembered," the countess would say
when Boris was mentioned.

Anna Mikhaylovna also had of late visited them less frequently,
seemed to hold herself with particular dignity, and always spoke
rapturously and gratefully of the merits of her son and the
brilliant career on which he had entered. When the Rostovs came to
Petersburg Boris called on them.

He drove to their house in some agitation. The memory of Natasha was
his most poetic recollection. But he went with the firm intention of
letting her and her parents feel that the childish relations between
himself and Natasha could not be binding either on her or on him. He
had a brilliant position in society thanks to his intimacy with
Countess Bezukhova, a brilliant position in the service thanks to
the patronage of an important personage whose complete confidence he
enjoyed, and he was beginning to make plans for marrying one of the
richest heiresses in Petersburg, plans which might very easily be
realized. When he entered the Rostovs' drawing room Natasha was in her
own room. When she heard of his arrival she almost ran into the
drawing room, flushed and beaming with a more than cordial smile.

Boris remembered Natasha in a short dress, with dark eyes shining
from under her curls and boisterous, childish laughter, as he had
known her four years before; and so he was taken aback when quite a
different Natasha entered, and his face expressed rapturous
astonishment. This expression on his face pleased Natasha.

"Well, do you recognize your little madcap playmate?" asked the
countess.

Boris kissed Natasha's hand and said that he was astonished at the
change in her.

"How handsome you have grown!"

"I should think so!" replied Natasha's laughing eyes.

"And is Papa older?" she asked.

Natasha sat down and, without joining in Boris' conversation with
the countess, silently and minutely studied her childhood's suitor. He
felt the weight of that resolute and affectionate scrutiny and glanced
at her occasionally.

Boris' uniform, spurs, tie, and the way his hair was brushed were
all comme il faut and in the latest fashion. This Natasha noticed at
once. He sat rather sideways in the armchair next to the countess,
arranging with his right hand the cleanest of gloves that fitted his
left hand like a skin, and he spoke with a particularly refined
compression of his lips about the amusements of the highest Petersburg
society, recalling with mild irony old times in Moscow and Moscow
acquaintances. It was not accidentally, Natasha felt, that he alluded,
when speaking of the highest aristocracy, to an ambassador's ball he
had attended, and to invitations he had received from N.N. and S.S.

All this time Natasha sat silent, glancing up at him from under
her brows. This gaze disturbed and confused Boris more and more. He
looked round more frequently toward her, and broke off in what he
was saying. He did not stay more than ten minutes, then rose and
took his leave. The same inquisitive, challenging, and rather
mocking eyes still looked at him. After his first visit Boris said
to himself that Natasha attracted him just as much as ever, but that
he must not yield to that feeling, because to marry her, a girl almost
without fortune, would mean ruin to his career, while to renew their
former relations without intending to marry her would be dishonorable.
Boris made up his mind to avoid meeting Natasha, but despite that
resolution he called again a few days later and began calling often
and spending whole days at the Rostovs'. It seemed to him that he
ought to have an explanation with Natasha and tell her that the old
times must be forgotten, that in spite of everything... she could
not be his wife, that he had no means, and they would never let her
marry him. But he failed to do so and felt awkward about entering on
such an explanation. From day to day he became more and more
entangled. It seemed to her mother and Sonya that Natasha was in
love with Boris as of old. She sang him his favorite songs, showed him
her album, making him write in it, did not allow him to allude to
the past, letting it be understood how was the present; and every
day he went away in a fog, without having said what he meant to, and
not knowing what he was doing or why he came, or how it would all end.
He left off visiting Helene and received reproachful notes from her
every day, and yet he continued to spend whole days with the Rostovs.

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One night when the old countess, in nightcap and dressing jacket,without her false curls, and with her poor little knob of hair showingunder her white cotton cap, knelt sighing and groaning on a rug andbowing to the ground in prayer, her door creaked and Natasha, alsoin a dressing jacket with slippers on her bare feet and her hair incurlpapers, ran in. The countess- her prayerful mood dispelled- lookedround and frowned. She was finishing her last prayer: "Can it bethat this couch will be my grave?" Natasha, flushed and eager,seeing her mother in prayer, suddenly checked her rush, half sat down,and unconsciously
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The Rostovs' monetary affairs had not improved during the twoyears they had spent in the country.Though Nicholas Rostov had kept firmly to his resolution and wasstill serving modestly in an obscure regiment, spendingcomparatively little, the way of life at Otradnoe- Mitenka'smanagement of affairs, in particular- was such that the debtsinevitably increased every year. The only resource obviouslypresenting itself to the old count was to apply for an officialpost, so he had come to Petersburg to look for one and also, as hesaid, to let the lassies enjoy themselves for the last time.Soon after their arrival in Petersburg Berg proposed to Vera
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