When Princess Mary heard from Nicholas that her brother was with the Rostov_t Yaroslavl she at once prepared to go there, in spite of her aunt's effort_o dissuade her—and not merely to go herself but to take her nephew with her.
Whether it were difficult or easy, possible or impossible, she did not ask an_id not want to know: it was her duty not only herself to be near her brothe_ho was perhaps dying, but to do everything possible to take his son to him, and so she prepared to set off. That she had not heard from Prince Andre_imself, Princess Mary attributed to his being too weak to write or to hi_onsidering the long journey too hard and too dangerous for her and his son.
In a few days Princess Mary was ready to start. Her equipages were the hug_amily coach in which she had traveled to Voronezh, a semiopen trap, and _aggage cart. With her traveled Mademoiselle Bourienne, little Nicholas an_is tutor, her old nurse, three maids, Tikhon, and a young footman and courie_er aunt had sent to accompany her.
The usual route through Moscow could not be thought of, and the roundabout wa_rincess Mary was obliged to take through Lipetsk, Ryazan, Vladimir, and Shuy_as very long and, as post horses were not everywhere obtainable, ver_ifficult, and near Ryazan where the French were said to have shown themselve_as even dangerous.
During this difficult journey Mademoiselle Bourienne, Dessalles, and Princes_ary's servants were astonished at her energy and firmness of spirit. She wen_o bed later and rose earlier than any of them, and no difficulties daunte_er. Thanks to her activity and energy, which infected her fellow travelers, they approached Yaroslavl by the end of the second week.
The last days of her stay in Voronezh had been the happiest of her life. He_ove for Rostov no longer tormented or agitated her. It filled her whole soul, had become an integral part of herself, and she no longer struggled agains_t. Latterly she had become convinced that she loved and was beloved, thoug_he never said this definitely to herself in words. She had become convince_f it at her last interview with Nicholas, when he had come to tell her tha_er brother was with the Rostovs. Not by a single word had Nicholas alluded t_he fact that Prince Andrew's relations with Natasha might, if he recovered, be renewed, but Princess Mary saw by his face that he knew and thought o_his.
Yet in spite of that, his relation to her—considerate, delicate, an_oving—not only remained unchanged, but it sometimes seemed to Princess Mar_hat he was even glad that the family connection between them allowed him t_xpress his friendship more freely. She knew that she loved for the first an_nly time in her life and felt that she was beloved, and was happy in regar_o it.
But this happiness on one side of her spiritual nature did not prevent he_eeling grief for her brother with full force; on the contrary, that spiritua_ranquility on the one side made it the more possible for her to give ful_lay to her feeling for her brother. That feeling was so strong at the momen_f leaving Voronezh that those who saw her off, as they looked at he_areworn, despairing face, felt sure she would fall ill on the journey. Bu_he very difficulties and preoccupations of the journey, which she took s_ctively in hand, saved her for a while from her grief and gave her strength.
As always happens when traveling, Princess Mary thought only of the journe_tself, forgetting its object. But as she approached Yaroslavl the thought o_hat might await her there—not after many days, but that very evening—agai_resented itself to her and her agitation increased to its utmost limit.
The courier who had been sent on in advance to find out where the Rostovs wer_taying in Yaroslavl, and in what condition Prince Andrew was, when he met th_ig coach just entering the town gates was appalled by the terrible pallor o_he princess' face that looked out at him from the window.
"I have found out everything, your excellency: the Rostovs are staying at th_erchant Bronnikov's house, in the Square not far from here, right above th_olga," said the courier.
Princess Mary looked at him with frightened inquiry, not understanding why h_id not reply to what she chiefly wanted to know: how was her brother?
Mademoiselle Bourienne put that question for her.
"How is the prince?" she asked.
"His excellency is staying in the same house with them."
"Then he is alive," thought Princess Mary, and asked in a low voice: "How i_e?"
"The servants say he is still the same."
What "still the same" might mean Princess Mary did not ask, but with a_nnoticed glance at little seven-year-old Nicholas, who was sitting in fron_f her looking with pleasure at the town, she bowed her head and did not rais_t again till the heavy coach, rumbling, shaking and swaying, came to a stop.
The carriage steps clattered as they were let down.
The carriage door was opened. On the left there was water—a great river—and o_he right a porch. There were people at the entrance: servants, and a ros_irl with a large plait of black hair, smiling as it seemed to Princess Mar_n an unpleasantly affected way. (This was Sonya.) Princess Mary ran up th_teps. "This way, this way!" said the girl, with the same artificial smile, and the princess found herself in the hall facing an elderly woman of Orienta_ype, who came rapidly to meet her with a look of emotion. This was th_ountess. She embraced Princess Mary and kissed her.
"Mon enfant!" she muttered, "je vous aime et vous connais depuis longtemps."*
* "My child! I love you and have known you a long time."
Despite her excitement, Princess Mary realized that this was the
countess and that it was necessary to say something to her. Hardly knowing ho_he did it, she contrived to utter a few polite phrases in French in the sam_one as those that had been addressed to her, and asked: "How is he?"
"The doctor says that he is not in danger," said the countess, but as sh_poke she raised her eyes with a sigh, and her gesture conveyed _ontradiction of her words.
"Where is he? Can I see him—can I?" asked the princess.
"One moment, Princess, one moment, my dear! Is this his son?" said th_ountess, turning to little Nicholas who was coming in with Dessalles. "Ther_ill be room for everybody, this is a big house. Oh, what a lovely boy!"
The countess took Princess Mary into the drawing room, where Sonya was talkin_o Mademoiselle Bourienne. The countess caressed the boy, and the old coun_ame in and welcomed the princess. He had changed very much since Princes_ary had last seen him. Then he had been a brisk, cheerful, self-assured ol_an; now he seemed a pitiful, bewildered person. While talking to Princes_ary he continually looked round as if asking everyone whether he was doin_he right thing. After the destruction of Moscow and of his property, throw_ut of his accustomed groove he seemed to have lost the sense of his ow_ignificance and to feel that there was no longer a place for him in life.
In spite of her one desire to see her brother as soon as possible, and he_exation that at the moment when all she wanted was to see him they should b_rying to entertain her and pretending to admire her nephew, the princes_oticed all that was going on around her and felt the necessity of submitting, for a time, to this new order of things which she had entered. She knew it t_e necessary, and though it was hard for her she was not vexed with thes_eople.
"This is my niece," said the count, introducing Sonya—"You don't know her, Princess?"
Princess Mary turned to Sonya and, trying to stifle the hostile feeling tha_rose in her toward the girl, she kissed her. But she felt oppressed by th_act that the mood of everyone around her was so far from what was in her ow_eart.
"Where is he?" she asked again, addressing them all.
"He is downstairs. Natasha is with him," answered Sonya, flushing. "We hav_ent to ask. I think you must be tired, Princess."
Tears of vexation showed themselves in Princess Mary's eyes. She turned awa_nd was about to ask the countess again how to go to him, when light, impetuous, and seemingly buoyant steps were heard at the door. The princes_ooked round and saw Natasha coming in, almost running—that Natasha whom sh_ad liked so little at their meeting in Moscow long since.
But hardly had the princess looked at Natasha's face before she realized tha_ere was a real comrade in her grief, and consequently a friend. She ran t_eet her, embraced her, and began to cry on her shoulder.
As soon as Natasha, sitting at the head of Prince Andrew's bed, heard o_rincess Mary's arrival, she softly left his room and hastened to her wit_hose swift steps that had sounded buoyant to Princess Mary.
There was only one expression on her agitated face when she ran into th_rawing room—that of love—boundless love for him, for her, and for all tha_as near to the man she loved; and of pity, suffering for others, an_assionate desire to give herself entirely to helping them. It was plain tha_t that moment there was in Natasha's heart no thought of herself or of he_wn relations with Prince Andrew.
Princess Mary, with her acute sensibility, understood all this at the firs_lance at Natasha's face, and wept on her shoulder with sorrowful pleasure.
"Come, come to him, Mary," said Natasha, leading her into the other room.
Princess Mary raised her head, dried her eyes, and turned to Natasha. She fel_hat from her she would be able to understand and learn everything.
"How… " she began her question but stopped short.
She felt that it was impossible to ask, or to answer, in words. Natasha's fac_yes would have to tell her all more clearly and profoundly.
Natasha was gazing at her, but seemed afraid and in doubt whether to say al_he knew or not; she seemed to feel that before those luminous eyes whic_enetrated into the very depths of her heart, it was impossible not to tel_he whole truth which she saw. And suddenly, Natasha's lips twitched, ugl_rinkles gathered round her mouth, and covering her face with her hands sh_urst into sobs.
Princess Mary understood.
But she still hoped, and asked, in words she herself did not trust:
"But how is his wound? What is his general condition?"
"You, you… will see," was all Natasha could say.
They sat a little while downstairs near his room till they had left off cryin_nd were able to go to him with calm faces.
"How has his whole illness gone? Is it long since he grew worse? When did thi_appen?" Princess Mary inquired.
Natasha told her that at first there had been danger from his feveris_ondition and the pain he suffered, but at Troitsa that had passed and th_octor had only been afraid of gangrene. That danger had also passed. Whe_hey reached Yaroslavl the wound had begun to fester (Natasha knew all abou_uch things as festering) and the doctor had said that the festering migh_ake a normal course. Then fever set in, but the doctor had said the fever wa_ot very serious.
"But two days ago this suddenly happened," said Natasha, struggling with he_obs. "I don't know why, but you will see what he is like."
"Is he weaker? Thinner?" asked the princess.
"No, it's not that, but worse. You will see. O, Mary, he is too good, h_annot, cannot live, because… "