Chapter 14

THE MORNING came with daily cares and bustle. Every one got up and began to move about and to talk; dressmakers came again; again Marya Dmitryevna went out and they were summoned to tea. Natasha kept uneasily looking round at every one with wide-open eyes, as though she wanted to intercept every glance turned upon her. She did her utmost to seem exactly as usual.

After luncheon—it was always her best time—Marya Dmitryevna seated herself in her own arm-chair and drew Natasha and the old count to her.

“Well, my friends, I have thought the whole matter over now, and I’ll tell you my advice,” she began. “Yesterday, as you know, I was at Prince Bolkonsky’s; well, I had a talk with him…He thought fit to scream at me. But there’s no screaming me down! I had it all out with him.”

“Well, but what does he mean?” asked the count.

“He’s crazy…he won’t hear of it, and there’s no more to be said. As it is we have given this poor girl worry enough,” said Marya Dmitryevna. “And my advice to you is, to make an end of it and go home to Otradnoe…and there to wait.”

“Oh no!” cried Natasha.

“Yes, to go home,” said Marya Dmitryevna, “and to wait there. If your betrothed comes here now, there’ll be no escaping a quarrel; but alone here he’ll have it all out with the old man, and then come on to you.”

Count Ilya Andreitch approved of this suggestion, and at once saw all the sound sense of it. If the old man were to come round, then it would be better to visit him at Moscow or Bleak Hills, later on; if not, then the wedding, against his will, could only take place at Otradnoe.

“And that’s perfectly true,” said he. “I regret indeed that I ever went to see him and took her too,” said the count.

“No, why regret it? Being here, you could do no less than show him respect. If he wouldn’t receive it, that’s his affair,” said Marya Dmitryevna, searching for something in her reticule. “And now the trousseau’s ready, what have you to wait for? What is not ready, I’ll send after you. Though I’m sorry to lose you, still the best thing is for you to go, and God be with you.” Finding what she was looking for in her reticule, she handed it to Natasha. It was a letter from Princess Marya. “She writes to you. How worried she is, poor thing! She is afraid you might think she does not like you.”

“Well, she doesn’t like me,” said Natasha.

“Nonsense, don’t say so,” cried Marya Dmitryevna.

“I won’t take any one’s word for that, I know she doesn’t like me,” said Natasha boldly as she took the letter, and there was a look of cold and angry resolution in her face, that made Marya Dmitryevna look at her more closely and frown.

“Don’t you answer me like that, my good girl,” she said. “If I say so, it’s the truth. Write an answer to her.”

Natasha made no reply, and went to her own room to read Princess Marya’s letter.

Princess Marya wrote that she was in despair at the misunderstanding that had arisen between them. Whatever her father’s feelings might be, wrote Princess Marya, she begged Natasha to believe that she could not fail to love her, as the girl chosen by her brother, for whose happiness she was ready to make any sacrifice.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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