Chapter 22

THAT EVENING Pierre went to the Rostovs’ to fulfil Prince Andrey’s commission. Natasha was in bed, the count was at the club, and Pierre, after giving the letters to Sonya, went in to see Marya Dmitryevna, who was interested to know how Prince Andrey had taken the news. Ten minutes later, Sonya came in to Marya Dmitryevna.

“Natasha insists on seeing Count Pyotr Kirillitch,” she said.

“Why, are we to take him up to her, eh? Why, you are all in a muddle there,” said Marya Dmitryevna.

“No, she has dressed and gone into the drawing-room,” said Sonya.

Marya Dmitryevna could only shrug her shoulders. “When will the countess come? She has quite worn me out! You mind now, don’t tell her everything,” she said to Pierre. “One hasn’t the heart to scold her, she’s so piteous, poor thing.”

Natasha was standing in the middle of the drawing-room, looking thinner, and with a pale, set face (not at all overcome with shame, as Pierre had expected to see her). When Pierre appeared in the doorway, she made a hurried movement, evidently in uncertainty whether to go to meet him, or to wait for him to come to her.

Pierre went hurriedly towards her. He thought she would give him her hand as usual. But coming near him she stopped, breathing hard, and letting her hands hang lifelessly, exactly in the same pose in which she used to stand in the middle of the room to sing, but with an utterly different expression.

“Pyotr Kirillitch,” she began, speaking quickly, “Prince Bolkonsky was your friend—he is your friend,” she corrected herself. (It seemed to her that everything was in the past, and now all was changed.) “He told me to apply to you …”

Pierre choked dumbly as he looked at her. Till then he had in his heart blamed her, and tried to despise her; but now he felt so sorry for her, that there was no room in his heart for blame.

“He is here now, tell him … to for … to forgive me.” She stopped short and breathed even more quickly, but she did not weep.

“Yes … I will tell him,” said Pierre; “but …” He did not know what to say.

Natasha was evidently dismayed at the idea that might have occurred to Pierre.

“No, I know that everything is over,” she said hurriedly. “No, that can never be. I’m only wretched at the wrong I have done him. Only tell him that I beg him to forgive, to forgive, forgive me for everything …” Her whole body was heaving; she sat down on a chair.

A feeling of pity he had never known before flooded Pierre’s heart.

“I will tell him, I will tell him everything once more,” said Pierre; “but … I should like to know one thing…”

“To know what?” Natasha’s eyes asked.

“I should like to know, did you love …” Pierre did not know what to call Anatole, and flushed at the thought of him—“did you love that bad man?”

“Don’t call him bad,” said Natasha. “But I don’t … know, I don’t know …” She began crying again, and Pierre was more than ever overwhelmed with pity, tenderness, and love. He felt the tears trickling under his spectacles, and hoped they would not be noticed.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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