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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 13
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 13 Post by :tevinj Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2504

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 13 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 13

One night when the old countess, in nightcap and dressing jacket,
without her false curls, and with her poor little knob of hair showing
under her white cotton cap, knelt sighing and groaning on a rug and
bowing to the ground in prayer, her door creaked and Natasha, also
in a dressing jacket with slippers on her bare feet and her hair in
curlpapers, ran in. The countess- her prayerful mood dispelled- looked
round and frowned. She was finishing her last prayer: "Can it be
that this couch will be my grave?" Natasha, flushed and eager,
seeing her mother in prayer, suddenly checked her rush, half sat down,
and unconsciously put out her tongue as if chiding herself. Seeing
that her mother was still praying she ran on tiptoe to the bed and,
rapidly slipping one little foot against the other, pushed off her
slippers and jumped onto the bed the countess had feared might
become her grave. This couch was high, with a feather bed and five
pillows each smaller than the one below. Natasha jumped on it, sank
into the feather bed, rolled over to the wall, and began snuggling
up the bedclothes as she settled down, raising her knees to her
chin, kicking out and laughing almost inaudibly, now covering
herself up head and all, and now peeping at her mother. The countess
finished her prayers and came to the bed with a stern face, but
seeing, that Natasha's head was covered, she smiled in her kind,
weak way.

"Now then, now then!" said she.

"Mamma, can we have a talk? Yes?" said Natasha. "Now, just one on
your throat and another... that'll do!" And seizing her mother round
the neck, she kissed her on the throat. In her behavior to her
mother Natasha seemed rough, but she was so sensitive and tactful that
however she clasped her mother she always managed to do it without
hurting her or making her feel uncomfortable or displeased.

"Well, what is it tonight?" said the mother, having arranged her
pillows and waited until Natasha, after turning over a couple of
times, had settled down beside her under the quilt, spread out her
arms, and assumed a serious expression.

These visits of Natasha's at night before the count returned from
his club were one of the greatest pleasures of both mother, and
daughter.

"What is it tonight?- But I have to tell you..."

Natasha put her hand on her mother's mouth.

"About Boris... I know," she said seriously; "that's what I have
come about. Don't say it- I know. No, do tell me!" and she removed her
hand. "Tell me, Mamma! He's nice?"

"Natasha, you are sixteen. At your age I was married. You say
Boris is nice. He is very nice, and I love him like a son. But what
then?... What are you thinking about? You have quite turned his
head, I can see that...."

As she said this the countess looked round at her daughter.
Natasha was lying looking steadily straight before her at one of the
mahogany sphinxes carved on the corners of the bedstead, so that the
countess only saw her daughter's face in profile. That face struck her
by its peculiarly serious and concentrated expression.

Natasha was listening and considering.

"Well, what then?" said she.

"You have quite turned his head, and why? What do you want of him?
You know you can't marry him."

"Why not?" said Natasha, without changing her position.

"Because he is young, because he is poor, because he is a
relation... and because you yourself don't love him."

"How do you know?"

"I know. It is not right, darling!"

"But if I want to..." said Natasha.

"Leave off talking nonsense," said the countess.

"But if I want to..."

"Natasha, I am in earnest..."

Natasha did not let her finish. She drew the countess' large hand to
her, kissed it on the back and then on the palm, then again turned
it over and began kissing first one knuckle, then the space between
the knuckles, then the next knuckle, whispering, "January, February,
March, April, May. Speak, Mamma, why don't you say anything? Speak!"
said she, turning to her mother, who was tenderly gazing at her
daughter and in that contemplation seemed to have forgotten all she
had wished to say.

"It won't do, my love! Not everyone will understand this
friendship dating from your childish days, and to see him so
intimate with you may injure you in the eyes of other young men who
visit us, and above all it torments him for nothing. He may already
have found a suitable and wealthy match, and now he's half crazy."

"Crazy?" repeated Natasha.

"I'll tell you some things about myself. I had a cousin..."

"I know! Cyril Matveich... but he is old."

"He was not always old. But this is what I'll do, Natasha, I'll have
a talk with Boris. He need not come so often...."

"Why not, if he likes to?"

"Because I know it will end in nothing...."

"How can you know? No, Mamma, don't speak to him! What nonsense!"
said Natasha in the tone of one being deprived of her property. "Well,
I won't marry, but let him come if he enjoys it and I enjoy it."
Natasha smiled and looked at her mother. "Not to marry, but just
so," she added.

"How so, my pet?"

"Just so. There's no need for me to marry him. But... just so."

"Just so, just so," repeated the countess, and shaking all over, she
went off into a good humored, unexpected, elderly laugh.

"Don't laugh, stop!" cried Natasha. "You're shaking the whole bed!
You're awfully like me, just such another giggler.... Wait..." and she
seized the countess' hands and kissed a knuckle of the little
finger, saying, "June," and continued, kissing, "July, August," on the
other hand. "But, Mamma, is he very much in love? What do you think?
Was anybody ever so much in love with you? And he's very nice, very,
very nice. Only not quite my taste- he is so narrow, like the
dining-room clock.... Don't you understand? Narrow, you know- gray,
light gray..."

"What rubbish you're talking!" said the countess.

Natasha continued: "Don't you really understand? Nicholas would
understand.... Bezukhov, now, is blue, dark-blue and red, and he is
square."

"You flirt with him too," said the countess, laughing.

"No, he is a Freemason, I have found out. He is fine, dark-blue
and red.... How can I explain it to you?"

"Little countess!" the count's voice called from behind the door.
"You're not asleep?" Natasha jumped up, snatched up her slippers,
and ran barefoot to her own room.

It was a long time before she could sleep. She kept thinking that no
one could understand all that she understood and all there was in her.

"Sonya?" she thought, glancing at that curled-up, sleeping little
kitten with her enormous plait of hair. "No, how could she? She's
virtuous. She fell in love with Nicholas and does not wish to know
anything more. Even Mamma does not understand. It is wonderful how
clever I am and how... charming she is," she went on, speaking of
herself in the third person, and imagining it was some very wise
man- the wisest and best of men- who was saying it of her. "There is
everything, everything in her," continued this man. "She is
unusually intelligent, charming... and then she is pretty,
uncommonly pretty, and agile- she swims and rides splendidly... and
her voice! One can really say it's a wonderful voice!"

She hummed a scrap from her favorite opera by Cherubini, threw
herself on her bed, laughed at the pleasant thought that she would
immediately fall asleep, called Dunyasha the maid to put out the
candle, and before Dunyasha had left the room had already passed
into yet another happier world of dreams, where everything was as
light and beautiful as in reality, and even more so because it was
different.


Next day the countess called Boris aside and had a talk with him,
after which he ceased coming to the Rostovs'.

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Natasha was sixteen and it was the year 1809, the very year to whichshe had counted on her fingers with Boris after they had kissed fouryears ago. Since then she had not seen him. Before Sonya and hermother, if Boris happened to be mentioned, she spoke quite freely ofthat episode as of some childish, long-forgotten matter that was notworth mentioning. But in the secret depths of her soul the questionwhether her engagement to Boris was a jest or an important, bindingpromise tormented her.Since Boris left Moscow in 1805 to join the army he had had not seenthe Rostovs. He had been
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