‘‘Yes,’’ said Pierre, and he went on with what interested him. ‘‘Nikolay says we ought not to think. But I can’t help it. To say nothing of the fact (I can say so to you) that in Petersburg I felt that the whole thing would go to pieces without me, every one pulled his own way. But I succeeded in bringing them all together; and then my idea is so clear and simple. I don’t say we ought to work against so and so. We may be mistaken. But I say let those join hands who care for the good cause, and let our one standard be energy and honesty. Prince Sergey is a capital fellow, and clever.’’

Natasha would have had no doubt that Pierre’s idea was a grand idea, but that one thing troubled her. It was his being her husband. ‘‘Is it possible that a man of such value, of such importance to society, is at the same time my husband? How can it have happened?’’ She wanted to express this doubt to him. ‘‘Who are the persons who could decide positively whether he is so much cleverer than all of them?’’ she wondered, and she went over in imagination the people who were very much respected by Pierre. There was nobody whom, to judge by his own account, he had respected so much as Platon Karataev.

‘‘Do you know what I am thinking about?’’ she said. ‘‘About Platon Karataev. What would he have said? Would he have approved of you now?’’

Pierre was not in the least surprised at this question. He understood the connection of his wife’s ideas.

‘‘Platon Karataev?’’ he said, and he pondered, evidently trying sincerely to picture what Karataev’s judgment would have been on the subject. ‘‘He would not have understood, and yet, perhaps, he would.’’

‘‘I like you awfully!’’ said Natasha all at once. ‘‘Awfully! awfully!’’

‘‘No, he wouldn’t have approved,’’ said Pierre, musing. ‘‘What he would have approved of is our home life. He did so like to see seemliness, happiness, peace in everything, and I could have shown him all of us with pride. You talk about separation. But you would not believe what a special feeling I have for you after separation …’’

‘‘And, besides, …’’ Natasha was beginning.

‘‘No, not so. I never leave off loving you. And one couldn’t love more; but it’s something special.…’’ He did not finish, because their eyes meeting said the rest.

‘‘What nonsense,’’ said Natasha suddenly, ‘‘it all is about the honeymoon and that the greatest happiness is at first. On the contrary, now is much the best. If only you wouldn’t go away. Do you remember how we used to quarrel? And I was always in the wrong. It was always my doing. And what we quarrelled about—I don’t remember even.’’

‘‘Always the same thing,’’ said Pierre smiling. ‘‘Jea …’’

‘‘Don’t say it, I can’t bear it,’’ cried Natasha, and a cold, vindictive light gleamed in her eyes. ‘‘Did you see her?’’ she added after a pause.

‘‘No; and if I had, I shouldn’t have known her.’’

They were silent.

‘‘Oh! do you know, when you were talking in the study, I was looking at you,’’ said Natasha, obviously trying to drive away the cloud that had come between them. ‘‘And do you know you are like him as two drops of water, like the boy.’’ That was what she called her baby son. ‘‘Ah, it’s time I went to him. … But I am sorry to go away.’’

They were both silent for some seconds. Then all at once, at the same moment, they turned to each other and began talking. Pierre was beginning with self-satisfaction and enthusiasm, Natasha with a soft, happy smile. Interrupting each other, both stopped, waiting for the other to go on.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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