“Oh, let me be; why did you hinder everything! Why? why? who asked you to?” cried Natasha, getting up from the sofa, and looking vindictively at Marya Dmitryevna.

“But what was it you wanted?” screamed Marya Dmitryevna, getting hot again. “Why, you weren’t shut up, were you? Who hindered his coming to the house? Why carry you off, like some gypsy wench? … If he had carried you off, do you suppose they wouldn’t have caught him? Your father, or brother, or betrothed? He’s a wretch, a scoundrel, that’s what he is!”

“He’s better than any of you,” cried Natasha, getting up. “If you hadn’t meddled … O my God, what does it mean? Sonya, why did you? Go away! …” And she sobbed with a despair with which people only bewail a trouble they feel they have brought on themselves.

Marya Dmitryevna was beginning to speak again; but Natasha cried, “Go away, go away, you all hate me and despise me!” And she flung herself again on the sofa.

Marya Dmitryevna went on for some time longer lecturing Natasha, and urging on her that it must all be kept from the count, that no one would know anything of it if Natasha would only undertake to forget it all, and not to show a sign to any one of anything having happened. Natasha made no answer. She did not sob any more, but she was taken with shivering fits and trembling. Marya Dmitryevna put a pillow under her head, laid two quilts over her, and brought her some lime-flower water with her own hands; but Natasha made no response when she spoke to her.

“Well, let her sleep,” said Marya Dmitryevna, as she went out of the room, supposing her to be asleep. But Natasha was not asleep, her wide-open eyes gazed straight before her out of her pale face. All that night Natasha did not sleep, and did not weep, and said not a word to Sonya, who got up several times and went in to her.

When the count went in to her, she turned uneasily at the sound of his manly tread, and her face resumed its previous cold and even vindictive expression. She did not even get up to meet him.

“What is it, my angel; are you ill?” asked the count.

Natasha was silent a moment.

“Yes, I am ill,” she answered.

In answer to the count’s inquiries why she was depressed and whether anything had happened with her betrothed, she assured him that nothing had, and begged him not to be uneasy. Marya Dmitryevna confirmed Natasha’s assurances that nothing had happened. From the pretence of illness, from his daughter’s agitated state, and the troubled faces of Sonya and Marya Dmitryevna, the count saw clearly that something had happened in his absence. But it was so terrible to him to believe that anything disgraceful had happened to his beloved daughter, and he so prized his own cheerful serenity, that he avoided inquiries and tried to assure himself that it was nothing very out of the way, and only grieved that her indisposition would delay their return to the country.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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