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Chapter 13

  • Soon after the Christmas holidays Nicholas told his mother of his love fo_onya and of his firm resolve to marry her. The countess, who had long notice_hat was going on between them and was expecting this declaration, listened t_im in silence and then told her son that he might marry whom he pleased, bu_hat neither she nor his father would give their blessing to such a marriage.
  • Nicholas, for the first time, felt that his mother was displeased with him an_hat, despite her love for him, she would not give way. Coldly, withou_ooking at her son, she sent for her husband and, when he came, tried briefl_nd coldly to inform him of the facts, in her son's presence, but unable t_estrain herself she burst into tears of vexation and left the room. The ol_ount began irresolutely to admonish Nicholas and beg him to abandon hi_urpose. Nicholas replied that he could not go back on his word, and hi_ather, sighing and evidently disconcerted, very soon became silent and wen_n to the countess. In all his encounters with his son, the count was alway_onscious of his own guilt toward him for having wasted the family fortune,
  • and so he could not be angry with him for refusing to marry an heiress an_hoosing the dowerless Sonya. On this occasion, he was only more vividl_onscious of the fact that if his affairs had not been in disorder, no bette_ife for Nicholas than Sonya could have been wished for, and that no one bu_imself with his Mitenka and his uncomfortable habits was to blame for th_ondition of the family finances.
  • The father and mother did not speak of the matter to their son again, but _ew days later the countess sent for Sonya and, with a cruelty neither of the_xpected, reproached her niece for trying to catch Nicholas and fo_ngratitude. Sonya listened silently with downcast eyes to the countess' crue_ords, without understanding what was required of her. She was ready t_acrifice everything for her benefactors. Self-sacrifice was her mos_herished idea but in this case she could not see what she ought to sacrifice,
  • or for whom. She could not help loving the countess and the whole Rosto_amily, but neither could she help loving Nicholas and knowing that hi_appiness depended on that love. She was silent and sad and did not reply.
  • Nicholas felt the situation to be intolerable and went to have an explanatio_ith his mother. He first implored her to forgive him and Sonya and consent t_heir marriage, then he threatened that if she molested Sonya he would at onc_arry her secretly.
  • The countess, with a coldness her son had never seen in her before, replie_hat he was of age, that Prince Andrew was marrying without his father'_onsent, and he could do the same, but that she would never receive tha_ntriguer as her daughter.
  • Exploding at the word intriguer, Nicholas, raising his voice, told his mothe_e had never expected her to try to force him to sell his feelings, but i_hat were so, he would say for the last time… . But he had no time to utte_he decisive word which the expression of his face caused his mother to awai_ith terror, and which would perhaps have forever remained a cruel memory t_hem both. He had not time to say it, for Natasha, with a pale and set face,
  • entered the room from the door at which she had been listening.
  • "Nicholas, you are talking nonsense! Be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, I tel_ou!… " she almost screamed, so as to drown his voice.
  • "Mamma darling, it's not at all so… my poor, sweet darling," she said to he_other, who conscious that they had been on the brink of a rupture gazed a_er son with terror, but in the obstinacy and excitement of the conflict coul_ot and would not give way.
  • "Nicholas, I'll explain to you. Go away! Listen, Mamma darling," said Natasha.
  • Her words were incoherent, but they attained the purpose at which she wa_iming.
  • The countess, sobbing heavily, hid her face on her daughter's breast, whil_icholas rose, clutching his head, and left the room.
  • Natasha set to work to effect a reconciliation, and so far succeeded tha_icholas received a promise from his mother that Sonya should not be troubled,
  • while he on his side promised not to undertake anything without his parents'
  • knowledge.
  • Firmly resolved, after putting his affairs in order in the regiment, to retir_rom the army and return and marry Sonya, Nicholas, serious, sorrowful, and a_ariance with his parents, but, as it seemed to him, passionately in love,
  • left at the beginning of January to rejoin his regiment.
  • After Nicholas had gone things in the Rostov household were more depressin_han ever, and the countess fell ill from mental agitation.
  • Sonya was unhappy at the separation from Nicholas and still more so on accoun_f the hostile tone the countess could not help adopting toward her. The coun_as more perturbed than ever by the condition of his affairs, which called fo_ome decisive action. Their town house and estate near Moscow had inevitabl_o be sold, and for this they had to go to Moscow. But the countess' healt_bliged them to delay their departure from day to day.
  • Natasha, who had borne the first period of separation from her betrothe_ightly and even cheerfully, now grew more agitated and impatient every day.
  • The thought that her best days, which she would have employed in loving him,
  • were being vainly wasted, with no advantage to anyone, tormented he_ncessantly. His letters for the most part irritated her. It hurt her to thin_hat while she lived only in the thought of him, he was living a real life,
  • seeing new places and new people that interested him. The more interesting hi_etters were the more vexed she felt. Her letters to him, far from giving he_ny comfort, seemed to her a wearisome and artificial obligation. She coul_ot write, because she could not conceive the possibility of expressin_incerely in a letter even a thousandth part of what she expressed by voice,
  • smile, and glance. She wrote to him formal, monotonous, and dry letters, t_hich she attached no importance herself, and in the rough copies of which th_ountess corrected her mistakes in spelling.
  • There was still no improvement in the countess' health, but it was impossibl_o defer the journey to Moscow any longer. Natasha's trousseau had to b_rdered and the house sold. Moreover, Prince Andrew was expected in Moscow,
  • where old Prince Bolkonski was spending the winter, and Natasha felt sure h_ad already arrived.
  • So the countess remained in the country, and the count, taking Sonya an_atasha with him, went to Moscow at the end of January.