With light steps Natasha ran to the vestibule. Denisov, coming out of the study into the hall with a pipe in his mouth, seemed to see Natasha again for the first time. A vivid radiance of joy shed streams of light from her transfigured countenance.

‘‘He has come!’’ she called to him, as she flew by, and Denisov felt that he was thrilled to hear that Pierre had come, though he did not particularly care for him. Running into the vestibule, Natasha saw a tall figure in a fur cloak fumbling at his scarf.

‘‘He! he! It’s true. Here he is,’’ she said to herself, and darting up to him, she hugged him, squeezing her head to his breast, and then drawing back, glanced at the frosty, red, and happy face of Pierre. ‘‘Yes, here he is; happy, satisfied …’’

And all at once she remembered all the tortures of suspense she had passed through during the last fortnight. The joy beaming in her face vanished; she frowned, and a torrent of reproaches and angry words broke upon Pierre.

‘‘Yes, you are all right, you have been happy, you have been enjoying yourself … But what about me! You might at least think of your children. I am nursing, my milk went wrong … Petya nearly died of it. And you have been enjoying yourself. Yes, enjoying yourself …’’

Pierre knew he was not to blame, because he could not have come sooner. He knew this outburst on her part was unseemly, and would be all over in two minutes. Above all, he knew that he was himself happy and joyful. He would have liked to smile, but dared not even think of that. He made a piteous, dismayed face, and bowed before the storm.

‘‘I could not, upon my word. But how is Petya?’’

‘‘He is all right now, come along. Aren’t you ashamed? If you could see what I am like without you, how wretched I am …’’

‘‘Are you quite well?’’

‘‘Come along, come along,’’ she said, not letting go of his hand. And they went off to their rooms. When Nikolay and his wife came to look for Pierre, they found him in the nursery, with his baby son awake in his arms, and he was dandling him. There was a gleeful smile on the baby’s broad face and open, toothless mouth. The storm had long blown over, and a bright, sunny radiance of joy flowed all over Natasha’s face, as she gazed tenderly at her husband and son.

‘‘And did you have a good talk over everything with Prince Fyodor?’’ Natasha was saying.

‘‘Yes, capital.’’

‘‘You see, he holds his head up’’ (Natasha meant the baby). ‘‘Oh, what a fright he gave me. And did you see the princess? Is it true that she is in love with that …’’

‘‘Yes, can you fancy …’’

At that moment Nikolay came in with his wife. Pierre, not letting go of his son, stooped down, kissed them, and answered their inquiries. But it was obvious that in spite of the many interesting things they had to discuss, the baby, with the wobbling head in the little cap, was absorbing Pierre’s whole attention.

‘‘How sweet he is!’’ said Countess Marya, looking at the baby and playing with him. ‘‘That’s thing I can’t understand, Nikolay,’’ she said, turning to her husband, ‘‘how it is you don’t feel the charm of these exquisite little creatures?’’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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