Chapter 21

PIERRE drove to Marya Dmitryevna’s to report to her the execution of her commands, as to Kuragin’s banishment from Moscow. The whole house was in excitement and alarm. Natasha was very ill; and as Marya Dmitryevna told him in secret, she had on the night after she had been told Anatole was married, taken arsenic, which she had procured by stealth. After swallowing a little, she had been so frightened that she waked Sonya, and told her what she had done. Antidotes had been given in time, and now she was out of danger; but she was still so weak, that they could not dream of moving her to the country, and the countess had been sent for. Pierre saw the count in great trouble, and Sonya in tears, but he could not see Natasha.

That day Pierre dined at the club, and heard on every side gossip about the attempted abduction of the young Countess Rostov, and persistently denied the story, assuring every one that the only foundation for it was that his brother-in-law had made the young lady an offer and had been refused. It seemed to Pierre that it was part of his duty to conceal the whole affair, and to save the young countess’s reputation.

He was looking forward with terror to Prince Andrey’s return, and drove round every day to ask for news of him from the old prince.

Prince Nikolay Andreitch heard all the rumours current in the town through Mademoiselle Bourienne; and he had read the note to Princess Marya, in which Natasha had broken off her engagement. He seemed in better spirits than usual, and looked forward with impatience to seeing his son.

A few days after Anatole’s departure, Pierre received a note from Prince Andrey to inform him that he had arrived, and to beg him to go and see him.

The first minute of Prince Andrey’s arrival in Moscow, he was handed by his father Natasha’s note to Princess Marya, in which she broke off her engagement (the note had been stolen from Princess Marya, and given to the old prince by Mademoiselle Bourienne). He heard from his father’s lips the story of Natasha’s elopement, with additions.

Prince Andrey had arrived in the evening; Pierre came to see him the following morning. Pierre had expected to find Prince Andrey almost in the same state as Natasha, and he was therefore surprised when as he entered the drawing-room he heard the sound of Prince Andrey’s voice in the study, loudly and eagerly discussing some Petersburg intrigue. The old prince and some other voice interrupted him from time to time. Princess Marya came out to meet Pierre. She sighed, turning her eyes towards the door of the room, where Prince Andrey was, plainly intending to express her sympathy with his sorrow; but Pierre saw by Princess Marya’s face that she was glad both at what had happened and at the way her brother had taken the news of his fiancée’s treachery.

“He said he had expected it,” she said. “I know his pride will not allow him to express his feelings; but anyway, he has borne it better, far better, than I had expected. It seems it was to be so …”

“But is it all really at an end?” said Pierre.

Princess Marya looked at him with surprise. She could not understand how one could ask such a question. Pierre went into the study. Prince Andrey was very much changed, and visibly much more robust, but there was a new horizontal line between his brows. He was in civilian dress, and standing facing his father and Prince Meshtchersky, he was hotly arguing, making vigorous gesticulations.

The subject was Speransky, of whose sudden dismissal and supposed treason news had just reached Moscow.

“Now he” (Speransky) “will be criticised and condemned by all who were enthusiastic about him a month ago,” Prince Andrey was saying, “and were incapable of understanding his aims. It’s very easy to condemn a man when he’s out of favour, and to throw upon him the blame of all the mistakes of other people. But I maintain that if anything of value has been done in the present reign, it has been done by him—by him

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