On the day before he was to leave Petersburg, Prince Andrey brought with him Pierre, who had not been at the Rostovs’ since the day of the ball. Pierre seemed absent-minded and embarrassed. He talked chiefly to the countess. Natasha was sitting at the chess-board with Sonya, and invited Prince Andrey to join them. He went to them.

“You have known Bezuhov a long while, haven’t you?” he asked. “Do you like him?”

“Yes; he’s very nice, but very absurd.”

And she began, as people always did when speaking of Pierre, to tell anecdotes of his absent-mindedness, anecdotes which were made up, indeed, about him.

“You know, I have confided our secret to him,” said Prince Andrey. “I have known him from childhood. He has a heart of gold. I beg you, Natalie,” he said, with sudden seriousness, “I am going away; God knows what may happen. You may change … Oh, I know I ought not to speak of that. Only one thing—if anything were to happen to you, while I am away …”

“What could happen?”

“If any trouble were to come,” pursued Prince Andrey. “I beg you, Mademoiselle Sophie, if anything were to happen, to go to him and no one else for advice and help. He is a most absent-minded and eccentric person, but he has the truest heart.”

Neither her father nor her mother, neither Sonya nor Prince Andrey could have foreseen the effect of the parting on Natasha. She wandered about the house all that day, flushed, excited, and tearless, busying herself about the most trivial matters as though she had no notion of what was before her. She did not weep even at the moment when he kissed her hand for the last time.

“Don’t go away!” was all she said, in a voice that made him wonder whether he ought not really to remain, and that he remembered long after. When he had gone, she still did not weep; but for several days she sat in her room, not crying, but taking no interest in anything, and only saying from time to time: “Oh, why did he go?” But a fortnight after his departure, she surprised those around her equally by recovering from her state of spiritual sickness, and became herself again, only with a change in her moral physiognomy, such as one sees in the faces of children after a long illness.

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