The subject in which Natasha was completely absorbed was her family, that is, her husband, whom she kept such a hold on so that he should belong entirely to her, to his home and her children, whom she had to carry, to bear, to nurse and to bring up.

And the more she put, not her mind only, but her whole soul, her whole being, into the subject that absorbed her, the more that subject seemed to enlarge under her eyes, and the feebler and the more inadequate her own powers seemed for coping with it, so that she concentrated them all on that one subject, and still had not time to do all that seemed to her necessary.

There were in those days, just as now, arguments and discussions on the rights of women, on the relations of husband and wife, and on freedom and rights in marriage, though they were not then, as now, called questions. But these questions had no interest for Natasha, in fact she had absolutely no comprehension of them.

Those questions, then as now, existed only for those persons who see in marriage only the satisfaction the married receive from one another, that is, only the first beginnings of marriage and not all its significance, which lies in the family.

Such discussions and the questions of to-day, like the question how to get the utmost possible gratification out of one’s dinner, then, as now, did not exist for persons for whom the object of dinner is nourishment, and the object of wedlock is the family.

If the end of dinner is the nourishment of the body, the man who eats two dinners obtains possibly a greater amount of pleasure, but he does not attain the object of it, since two dinners cannot be digested by the stomach.

If the end of marriage is the family, the person who prefers to have several wives and several husbands may possibly derive a great deal of satisfaction therefrom, but will not in any case have a family. If the end of dinner is nourishment and the end of marriage is the family, the whole question is only solved by not eating more than the stomach can digest and not having more husbands or wives than as many as are needed for the family, that is, one wife and one husband. Natasha needed a husband. A husband was given her; and her husband gave her a family. And she saw no need of another better husband, and indeed, as all her spiritual energies were devoted to serving that husband and his children, she could not picture, and found no interest in trying to picture, what would have happened had things been different.

Natasha did not care for society in general, but she greatly prized the society of her kinsfolk—of Countess Marya, her brother, her mother, and Sonya. She cared for the society of those persons to whom she could rush in from the nursery in a dressing-gown with her hair down; to whom she could, with a joyful face, show a baby’s napkin stained yellow instead of green, and to receive their comforting assurances that that proved that baby was now really better.

Natasha neglected herself to such a degree that her dresses, her untidy hair, her inappropriately blurted- out words, and her jealousy— she was jealous of Sonya, of the governess, of every woman, pretty and ugly—were a continual subject of jests among her friends. The general opinion was that Pierre was tied to his wife’s apron strings, and it really was so. From the earliest days of their marriage Natasha had made plain her claims. Pierre had been greatly surprised at his wife’s view—to him a completely novel idea—that every minute of his life belonged to her and their home. He was surprised at his wife’s demands, but he was flattered by them, and he acquiesced in them.

Pierre was so far under petticoat government that he did not dare to be attentive, or even to speak with a smile, to any other woman; did not dare go to dine at the club, without good reason, simply for entertainment; did not dare spent money on idle whims, and did not dare to be away from home for any long time together, except on business, in which his wife included his scientific pursuits. Though she understood nothing of the latter, she attached great consequence to them. To make up for all this Pierre had complete power

  By PanEris using Melati.

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