Every day there’s a new fashion. And what sort of business is it you have come for yourself?” she said severely, addressing the count.

“Everything has come together,” answered the count. “There’s the girl’s rags to buy; and now there’s a purchaser turned up for the Moscow estate and the house. If you’ll graciously permit it, I’ll choose an opportunity and drive over to Maryinskoe for a day, leaving my girls on your hands.”

“Very good, very good, they’ll be safe enough with me. I’m as safe as the Mortgage Bank. I’ll take them where they must go, and scold them and pet them too,” said Marya Dmitryevna, putting her big hand on the cheek of her favourite and god-daughter Natasha.

“Well, now we can have a chat. I congratulate you on your betrothed. A fine fellow you have hooked! I’m glad of it for your sake, and I have known him since he was that high”—she held her hand a yard from the floor. Natasha flushed joyfully. “I like him and all his family. Now, listen! You know, of course, that old Prince Nikolay was very much against his son’s marrying. He’s a whimsical old fellow! Of course, Prince Andrey is not a child, he can get on without him, but to enter a family against the father’s will is not a nice thing to do. One wants peace and love in a family. You’re a clever girl, you’ll know how to manage things. You must use your wits and your kind heart. And every thing will come right.”

Natasha was silent, not as Marya Dmitryevna supposed from shyness. In reality Natasha disliked any one’s interfering in what touched her love for Prince Andrey, which seemed to her something so apart from all human affairs, that no one, as she imagined, could understand it. She loved Prince Andrey, and only him, and knew only him; he loved her, and was to arrive in a day or two and carry her off. She did not care about anything else.

“I have known him a long while, do you see; and Masha, your sister-in-law, I love. Sisters-in-law are said to be mischief-makers, but she— well, she wouldn’t hurt a fly. She has begged me to bring you two together. You must go to see her to-morrow with your father, and be as nice as possible; you are younger than she is. By the time your young man comes back, you’ll be friends with his sister and his father, and they will have learned to love you. Yes or no? It will be better so, eh?”

“Oh yes!” Natasha responded reluctantly.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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