“We knew nothing about it when we were leaving Moscow. I did not dare ask about him. And all at once Sonya told me he was with us. I could think of nothing, I had no conception in what state he was; all I wanted was to see him—to be with him,” she said, trembling and breathless. And not letting them interrupt her, she told all that she had never spoken of to any one before; all she had gone through in those three weeks of their journey and their stay in Yaroslavl.

Pierre heard her with parted lips and eyes full of tears fastened upon her. As he listened to her, he was not thinking of Prince Andrey, nor of death, nor of what she was saying. He heard her voice and only pitied her for the anguish she was feeling now in telling him.

The princess, frowning in the effort to restrain her tears, sat by Natasha’s side and heard for the first time the story of those last days of her brother’s and Natasha’s love.

To speak of that agonising and joyous time was evidently necessary to Natasha.

She talked on, mingling up the most insignificant details with the most secret feelings of her heart, and it seemed as though she could never finish. Several times she said the same thing twice.

Dessalle’s voice was heard at the door asking whether Nikolushka might come in to say good-night. “And that is all, all …” said Natasha. She got up quickly at the moment Nikolushka was coming in, and almost running to the door, knocked her head against it as it was hidden by the portière, and with a moan, half of pain, half of sorrow, she rushed out of the room.

Pierre gazed at the door by which she had gone out, and wondered why he felt suddenly alone in the wide world.

Princess Marya roused him from his abstraction, calling his attention to her nephew who had just come into the room.

The face of Nikolushka, so like his father, had such an effect on Pierre at this moment of emotional tension, that, after kissing the child, he got up himself, and taking out his handkerchief, walked away to the window. He would have taken leave, but Princess Marya would not let him go.

“No, Natasha and I often do not go to bed till past two, please stay a little longer. We will have supper. Go downstairs, we will come in a moment.”

Before Pierre went down, the princess said to him: “It is the first time she has talked of him like this.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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