Natasha had married in the early spring of 1813, and in 1820 already had thre_aughters besides a son for whom she had longed and whom she was now nursing.
She had grown stouter and broader, so that it was difficult to recognize i_his robust, motherly woman the slim, lively Natasha of former days. He_eatures were more defined and had a calm, soft, and serene expression. In he_ace there was none of the ever-glowing animation that had formerly burne_here and constituted its charm. Now her face and body were of all that on_aw, and her soul was not visible at all. All that struck the eye was _trong, handsome, and fertile woman. The old fire very rarely kindled in he_ace now. That happened only when, as was the case that day, her husban_eturned home, or a sick child was convalescent, or when she and Countess Mar_poke of Prince Andrew (she never mentioned him to her husband, who sh_magined was jealous of Prince Andrew's memory), or on the rare occasions whe_omething happened to induce her to sing, a practice she had quite abandone_ince her marriage. At the rare moments when the old fire did kindle in he_andsome, fully developed body she was even more attractive than in forme_ays.
Since their marriage Natasha and her husband had lived in Moscow, i_etersburg, on their estate near Moscow, or with her mother, that is to say,
in Nicholas' house. The young Countess Bezukhova was not often seen i_ociety, and those who met her there were not pleased with her and found he_either attractive nor amiable. Not that Natasha liked solitude—she did no_now whether she liked it or not, she even thought that she did not—but wit_er pregnancies, her confinements, the nursing of her children, and sharin_very moment of her husband's life, she had demands on her time which could b_atisfied only by renouncing society. All who had known Natasha before he_arriage wondered at the change in her as at something extraordinary. Only th_ld countess with her maternal instinct had realized that all Natasha'_utbursts had been due to her need of children and a husband—as she hersel_ad once exclaimed at Otradnoe not so much in fun as in earnest—and her mothe_as now surprised at the surprise expressed by those who had never understoo_atasha, and she kept saying that she had always known that Natasha would mak_n exemplary wife and mother.
"Only she lets her love of her husband and children overflow all bounds," sai_he countess, "so that it even becomes absurd."
Natasha did not follow the golden rule advocated by clever folk, especially b_he French, which says that a girl should not let herself go when she marries,
should not neglect her accomplishments, should be even more careful of he_ppearance than when she was unmarried, and should fascinate her husband a_uch as she did before he became her husband. Natasha on the contrary had a_nce abandoned all her witchery, of which her singing had been an unusuall_owerful part. She gave it up just because it was so powerfully seductive. Sh_ook no pains with her manners or with of speech, or with her toilet, or t_how herself to her husband in her most becoming attitudes, or to avoi_nconveniencing him by being too exacting. She acted in contradiction to al_hose rules. She felt that the allurements instinct had formerly taught her t_se would now be merely ridiculous in the eyes of her husband, to whom she ha_rom the first moment given herself up entirely—that is, with her whole soul,
leaving no corner of it hidden from him. She felt that her unity with he_usband was not maintained by the poetic feelings that had attracted him t_er, but by something else—indefinite but firm as the bond between her ow_ody and soul.
To fluff out her curls, put on fashionable dresses, and sing romantic songs t_ascinate her husband would have seemed as strange as to adorn herself t_ttract herself. To adorn herself for others might perhaps have bee_greeable—she did not know—but she had no time at all for it. The chief reaso_or devoting no time either to singing, to dress, or to choosing her words wa_hat she really had no time to spare for these things.
We know that man has the faculty of becoming completely absorbed in a subjec_owever trivial it may be, and that there is no subject so trivial that i_ill not grow to infinite proportions if one's entire attention is devoted t_t.
The subject which wholly engrossed Natasha's attention was her family: tha_s, her husband whom she had to keep so that he should belong entirely to he_nd to the home, and the children whom she had to bear, bring into the world,
nurse, and bring up.
And the deeper she penetrated, not with her mind only but with her whole soul,
her whole being, into the subject that absorbed her, the larger did tha_ubject grow and the weaker and more inadequate did her powers appear, so tha_he concentrated them wholly on that one thing and yet was unable t_ccomplish all that she considered necessary.
There were then as now conversations and discussions about women's rights, th_elations of husband and wife and their freedom and rights, though thes_hemes were not yet termed questions as they are now; but these topics wer_ot merely uninteresting to Natasha, she positively did not understand them.
These questions, then as now, existed only for those who see nothing i_arriage but the pleasure married people get from one another, that is, onl_he beginnings of marriage and not its whole significance, which lies in th_amily.
Discussions and questions of that kind, which are like the question of how t_et the greatest gratification from one's dinner, did not then and do not no_xist for those for whom the purpose of a dinner is the nourishment i_ffords; and the purpose of marriage is the family.
If the purpose of dinner is to nourish the body, a man who eats two dinners a_nce may perhaps get more enjoyment but will not attain his purpose, for hi_tomach will not digest the two dinners.
If the purpose of marriage is the family, the person who wishes to have man_ives or husbands may perhaps obtain much pleasure, but in that case will no_ave a family.
If the purpose of food is nourishment and the purpose of marriage is th_amily, the whole question resolves itself into not eating more than one ca_igest, and not having more wives or husbands than are needed for th_amily—that is, one wife or one husband. Natasha needed a husband. A husban_as given her and he gave her a family. And she not only saw no need of an_ther or better husband, but as all the powers of her soul were intent o_erving that husband and family, she could not imagine and saw no interest i_magining how it would be if things were different.
Natasha did not care for society in general, but prized the more the societ_f her relatives—Countess Mary, and her brother, her mother, and Sonya. Sh_alued the company of those to whom she could come striding disheveled fro_he nursery in her dressing gown, and with joyful face show a yellow instea_f a green stain on baby's napkin, and from whom she could hear reassurin_ords to the effect that baby was much better.
To such an extent had Natasha let herself go that the way she dressed and di_er hair, her ill-chosen words, and her jealousy- she was jealous of Sonya, o_he governess, and of every woman, pretty or plain—were habitual subjects o_est to those about her. The general opinion was that Pierre was under hi_ife's thumb, which was really true. From the very first days of their marrie_ife Natasha had announced her demands. Pierre was greatly surprised by hi_ife's view, to him a perfectly novel one, that every moment of his lif_elonged to her and to the family. His wife's demands astonished him, but the_lso flattered him, and he submitted to them.
Pierre's subjection consisted in the fact that he not only dared not flir_ith, but dared not even speak smilingly to, any other woman; did not dar_ine at the Club as a pastime, did not dare spend money a whim, and did no_are absent himself for any length of time, except on business—in which hi_ife included his intellectual pursuits, which she did not in the leas_nderstand but to which she attributed great importance. To make up for this,
at home Pierre had the right to regulate his life and that of the whole famil_xactly as he chose. At home Natasha placed herself in the position of a slav_o her husband, and the whole household went on tiptoe when he wa_ccupied—that is, was reading or writing in his study. Pierre had but to sho_ partiality for anything to get just what he liked done always. He had onl_o express a wish and Natasha would jump up and run to fulfill it.
The entire household was governed according to Pierre's supposed orders, tha_s, by his wishes which Natasha tried to guess. Their way of life and place o_esidence, their acquaintances and ties, Natasha's occupations, the children'_pbringing, were all selected not merely with regard to Pierre's expresse_ishes, but to what Natasha from the thoughts he expressed in conversatio_upposed his wishes to be. And she deduced the essentials of his wishes quit_orrectly, and having once arrived at them clung to them tenaciously. Whe_ierre himself wanted to change his mind she would fight him with his ow_eapons.
Thus in a time of trouble ever memorable to him after the birth of their firs_hild who was delicate, when they had to change the wet nurse three times an_atasha fell ill from despair, Pierre one day told her of Rousseau's view,
with which he quite agreed, that to have a wet nurse is unnatural and harmful.
When her next baby was born, despite the opposition of her mother, th_octors, and even of her husband himself—who were all vigorously opposed t_er nursing her baby herself, a thing then unheard of and considere_njurious- she insisted on having her own way, and after that nursed all he_abies herself.
It very often happened that in a moment of irritation husband and wife woul_ave a dispute, but long afterwards Pierre to his surprise and delight woul_ind in his wife's ideas and actions the very thought against which she ha_rgued, but divested of everything superfluous that in the excitement of th_ispute he had added when expressing his opinion.
After seven years of marriage Pierre had the joyous and firm consciousnes_hat he was not a bad man, and he felt this because he saw himself reflecte_n his wife. He felt the good and bad within himself inextricably mingled an_verlapping. But only what was really good in him was reflected in his wife,
all that was not quite good was rejected. And this was not the result o_ogical reasoning but was a direct and mysterious reflection.