The doctor said that this uneasiness meant nothing; that it was due to physical causes. But Princess Marya believed (and the fact that her presence seemed to intensify the restlessness, confirmed her supposition) that he wanted to tell her something.

He was evidently suffering both physically and mentally. There was no hope of recovery. It was impossible to move him. What if he were to die on the road? “Wouldn’t it be better if it were over, if all were over?” Princess Marya thought sometimes. Day and night, almost without sleep, she watched him, and, terrible to say, she watched him, not in the hope of finding symptoms of a change for the better, but often in the hope of seeing symptoms of the approaching end.

Strange as it was for the princess to own it to herself, she had this feeling in her heart. And what was still more horrible to Princess Marya was the fact that ever since her father’s illness (if not even before, when she resolved to stay with him, in vague expectation of something) all the forgotten hopes and desires slumbering within her head awakened. Ideas that had not entered her head for years—dreams of a life free from the terror of her father, even of the possibility of love and a happy married life, haunted her imagination like temptations of the devil. In vain she tried to drive away the thought; questions were continually in her mind how she would order her life now, after this. It was a temptation of the devil, and Princess Marya knew it. She knew that the sole weapon of avail against him was prayer, and she strove to pray. She threw herself into the attitude of prayer, gazed at the holy pictures, repeated the words of the prayer, but still she could not pray. She felt herself carried off into a new world of real life, of labour and free activity, utterly opposed to the moral atmosphere in which she had been kept in bondage and in which the one consolation was prayer. She could not pray and could not weep, and practical cares absorbed her mind.

To remain at Bogutcharovo was becoming unsafe. Rumours came from all sides of the French being near, and in one village, fifteen versts from Bogutcharovo, a house had been sacked by French marauders. The doctor insisted on the necessity of moving the prince; the marshal of the province sent an official to Princess Marya to persuade her to get away as quickly as possible. The captain of the police visited Bogutcharovo to insist on the same thing, telling her that the French were only forty versts away; that French proclamations were circulating in the villages, and that if the princess did not move her father before the 15th, he could not answer for the consequences.

The princess made up her mind to leave on the 15th. The preparations and giving all the necessary instructions, for which every one applied to her, kept her busy the whole of the previous day. The night of the 14th she spent as usual, without undressing, in the room next to the one where the old prince lay. Several times she waked up, hearing his groaning and muttering, the creak of the bedstead, and the steps of Tihon and the doctor moving him. Several times she listened at the door, and it seemed to her that he was muttering more loudly than usual and turning more restlessly. She could not sleep, and several times she went to the door, listening, tempted to go in, but unable to make up her mind to do so. Although he could not speak, Princess Marya saw and knew how he disliked any expression of anxiety about him. She had noticed how he turned in displeasure away from her eyes, which were sometimes unconsciously fixed persistently on him. She knew her going in at night, at an unusual time, would irritate him.

But never had she felt so sorry for him; never had she felt it so dreadful to lose him. She went over all her life with him, and in every word, every action, she saw an expression of his love for her. Occasionally these reminiscences were interrupted by the temptation of the devil; dreams came back to her imagination of what would happen after his death, and how she would order her new independent existence. But she drove away such thoughts with horror. Towards morning he was quieter, and she fell asleep.

She waked up late. The perfect sincerity, which often accompanies the moment of waking, showed her unmistakably what it was that was of most interest to her in her father’s illness. She waked up, listened to what was passing through the door, and catching the sound of his muttering, she told herself with a sigh that there was no change.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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