“One can see all you women are regular cry-babies,” said Petya, striding with resolute steps up and down the room; “I’m very glad, really very glad, that my brother has distinguished himself so. You all start blubbering! you don’t understand anything about it.” Natasha smiled through her tears.

“You haven’t read the letter?” asked Sonya

“No; but she told me it was all over, and that he’s an officer now …”

“Thank God,” said Sonya, crossing herself. “But perhaps she was deceiving you. Let us go to mamma.”

Petya had been strutting up and down in silence

“If I were in Nikolinka’s place, I’d have killed a lot more of those Frenchmen,” he said, “they’re such beasts! I’d have killed them till there was a regular heap of them,” Petya went on.

“Hold your tongue, Petya, what a silly you are! …”

“I’m not a silly; people are silly who cry for trifles,” said Petya.

“Do you remember him?” Natasha asked suddenly, after a moment’s silence. Sonya smiled.

“Do I remember Nikolinka?”

“No, Sonya, but do you remember him so as to remember him thoroughly, to remember him quite,” said Natasha with a strenuous gesture, as though she were trying to put into her words the most earnest meaning. “And I do remember Nikolinka, I remember him,” she said. “But I don’t remember Boris. I don’t remember him a bit …”

“What? You don’t remember Boris?” Sonya queried with surprise.

“I don’t mean I don’t remember him. I know what he’s like, but not as I remember Nikolinka. I shut my eyes and I can see him, but not Boris” (she shut her eyes), “no, nothing!”

“Ah, Natasha!” said Sonya, looking solemnly and earnestly at her friend, as though she considered her unworthy to hear what she meant to say, and was saying it to some one else with whom joking was out of the question. “I have come to love your brother once for all, and whatever were to happen to him and to me, I could never cease to love him all my life.”

With inquisitive, wondering eyes, Natasha gazed at Sonya, and she did not speak. She felt that what Sonya was saying was the truth, that there was love such as Sonya was speaking of. But Natasha had never known anything like it. She believed that it might be so, but she did not understand it.

“Shall you write to him?” she asked. Sonya sank into thought. How she should write to Nikolay, and whether she ought to write to him, was a question that worried her. Now that he was an officer, and a wounded hero, would it be nice on her part to remind him of herself, and as it were of the obligations he had taken on himself in regard to her. “I don’t know. I suppose if he writes to me I shall write,” she said, blushing.

“And you won’t be ashamed to write to him?”

Sonya smiled.


“And I should be ashamed to write to Boris, and I’m not going to write.”

“But why should you be ashamed?”

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