Chapter 22

Every one in the house perceived on whose account Prince Andrey came, and he openly tried to be all day long with Natasha.

Not only in the soul of Natasha—scared, but happy and enthusiastic—in the whole household, too, there was a feeling of awe, of something of great gravity being bound to happen. With sorrowful and sternly serious eyes the countess looked at Prince Andrey as he talked to Natasha, and shyly and self-consciously tried to begin some insignificant talk with him as soon as he looked round at her. Sonya was afraid to leave Natasha, and afraid of being in their way if she stayed with them. Natasha turned pale in a panic of expectation every time she was left for a moment alone with him. Prince Andrey’s timidity impressed her. She felt that he wanted to tell her something, but could not bring himself up to the point.

When Prince Andrey had gone away in the evening, the countess went up to Natasha and whispered:


“Mamma, for God’s sake, don’t ask me anything just now. This one can’t talk of,” said Natasha.

But in spite of this answer, Natasha lay a long while in her mother’s bed that night, her eyes fixed before her, excited and scared by turns. She told her how he had praised her, how he had said he was going abroad, how he had asked where they were going to spend the summer, and how he had asked her about Boris.

“But anything like this, like this … I have never felt before!” she said. “Only I’m afraid with him, I’m always afraid with him. What does that mean? Does it mean that it’s the real thing? Mamma, are you asleep?”

“No, my darling. I’m afraid of him myself,” answered her mother. “Go to bed.”

“Anyhow, I shouldn’t go to sleep. How stupid sleep is! Mamma, mamma, nothing like this have I ever felt before,” she said, with wonder and terror at the feeling she recognised in herself. “And could we ever have dreamed! …”

It seemed to Natasha that she had fallen in love with Prince Andrey the first time she saw him at Otradnoe. She was as it were terrified at this strange, unexpected happiness that the man she had chosen even then (she was firmly convinced that she had done so)—that very man should meet them again now and be apparently not indifferent to her.

“And it seems as though it all happened on purpose—his coming to Petersburg just while we are here. And our meeting at that ball. It was all fate. It’s clear that it is fate, that it has all led up to this. Even then, as soon as I saw him, I felt something quite different.”

“What has he said to you? What are those verses? Read them …” said the mother thoughtfully, referring to the verses Prince Andrey had written in Natasha’s album.

“Mamma, does it matter his being a widower?”

“Hush, Natasha. Pray to God. Marriages are made in heaven,” she said, quoting the French proverb.

“Mamma, darling, how I love you! how happy I am!” cried Natasha, shedding tears of excitement and happiness and hugging her mother.

At that very time Prince Andrey was telling Pierre of his love for Natasha and of his fixed determination to marry her.

That evening the Countess Elena Vassilyevna gave a reception; the French ambassador was there, and a royal prince who had become a very frequent visitor at the countess’s of late and many brilliant ladies

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