Chapter 15

ON RETURNING LATE in the evening, Sonya went into Natasha’s room, and to her surprise found her not undressed asleep on the sofa. On the table near her Anatole’s letter lay open. Sonya picked up the letter and began to read it.

She read it, and looked at Natasha asleep, seeking in her face some explanation of what she had read and not finding it. Her face was quiet, gentle, and happy. Clutching at her own chest to keep herself from choking, Sonya, pale and shaking with horror and emotion, sat down in a low chair and burst into tears.

“How was it I saw nothing? How can it have gone so far? Can she have ceased loving Prince Andrey? And how could she have let this Kuragin go as far as this? He’s a deceiver and a villain, that’s clear. What will Nikolenka—dear, noble Nikolenka—do when he hears of it? So that was the meaning of her excited, determined, unnatural face the day before yesterday, and yesterday and to-day,” thought Sonya. “But it’s impossible that she can care for him! Most likely she opened the letter not knowing from whom it was. Most likely she feels insulted by it. She’s not capable of doing such a thing!”

Sonya dried her tears and went up to Natasha, carefully scrutinising her face again.

“Natasha!” she said, hardly audibly.

Natasha waked up and saw Sonya.

“Ah, you have come back?”

And with the decision and tenderness common at the moment of awakening she embraced her friend. But noticing embarrassment in Sonya’s face, her face too expressed embarrassment and suspicion.

“Sonya, you have read the letter?” she said.

“Yes,” said Sonya softly.

Natasha smiled ecstatically.

“No, Sonya, I can’t help it!” she said. “I can’t keep it secret from you any longer. You know we love each other! … Sonya, darling, he writes … Sonya …”

Sonya gazed with wide-open eyes at Natasha, as though unable to believe her ears.

“But Bolkonsky?” she said.

“O Sonya, oh, if you could only know how happy I am!” said Natasha. “You don’t know what love …”

“But, Natasha, you can’t mean that all that is over?”

Natasha looked with her big, wide eyes at Sonya as though not understanding her question.

“Are you breaking it off with Prince Andrey then?” said Sonya.

“Oh, you don’t understand; don’t talk nonsense; listen,” said Natasha, with momentary annoyance.

“No, I can’t believe it,” repeated Sonya. “I don’t understand it. What, for a whole year you have been loving one man, and all at once … Why, you have only seen him three times. Natasha, I can’t believe you, you’re joking. In three days to forget everything, and like this …”

“Three days,” said Natasha. “It seems to me as though I had loved him for a hundred years. It seems to me that I have never loved any one before him. You can’t understand that. Sonya, stay, sit here.” Natasha hugged and kissed her. “I have been told of its happening, and no doubt you have heard of

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