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Chapter 15

  • When Natasha opened Prince Andrew's door with a familiar movement and le_rincess Mary pass into the room before her, the princess felt the sobs in he_hroat. Hard as she had tried to prepare herself, and now tried to remai_ranquil, she knew that she would be unable to look at him without tears.
  • The princess understood what Natasha had meant by the words: "two days ag_his suddenly happened." She understood those words to mean that he ha_uddenly softened and that this softening and gentleness were signs o_pproaching death. As she stepped to the door she already saw in imaginatio_ndrew's face as she remembered it in childhood, a gentle, mild, sympatheti_ace which he had rarely shown, and which therefore affected her ver_trongly. She was sure he would speak soft, tender words to her such as he_ather had uttered before his death, and that she would not be able to bear i_nd would burst into sobs in his presence. Yet sooner or later it had to be,
  • and she went in. The sobs rose higher and higher in her throat as she more an_ore clearly distinguished his form and her shortsighted eyes tried to mak_ut his features, and then she saw his face and met his gaze.
  • He was lying in a squirrel-fur dressing gown on a divan, surrounded b_illows. He was thin and pale. In one thin, translucently white hand he held _andkerchief, while with the other he stroked the delicate mustache he ha_rown, moving his fingers slowly. His eyes gazed at them as they entered.
  • On seeing his face and meeting his eyes Princess Mary's pace suddenl_lackened, she felt her tears dry up and her sobs ceased. She suddenly fel_uilty and grew timid on catching the expression of his face and eyes.
  • "But in what am I to blame?" she asked herself. And his cold, stern loo_eplied: "Because you are alive and thinking of the living, while I… "
  • In the deep gaze that seemed to look not outwards but inwards there was a_lmost hostile expression as he slowly regarded his sister and Natasha.
  • He kissed his sister, holding her hand in his as was their wont.
  • "How are you, Mary? How did you manage to get here?" said he in a voice a_alm and aloof as his look.
  • Had he screamed in agony, that scream would not have struck such horror int_rincess Mary's heart as the tone of his voice.
  • "And have you brought little Nicholas?" he asked in the same slow, quie_anner and with an obvious effort to remember.
  • "How are you now?" said Princess Mary, herself surprised at what she wa_aying.
  • "That, my dear, you must ask the doctor," he replied, and again making a_vident effort to be affectionate, he said with his lips only (his word_learly did not correspond to his thoughts):
  • "Merci, chere amie, d'etre venue."[[108]](footnotes.xml#footnote_108) Princes_ary pressed his hand. The pressure made him wince just perceptibly. He wa_ilent, and she did not know what to say. She now understood what had happene_o him two days before. In his words, his tone, and especially in that calm,
  • almost antagonistic look could be felt an estrangement from everythin_elonging to this world, terrible in one who is alive. Evidently only with a_ffort did he understand anything living; but it was obvious that he failed t_nderstand, not because he lacked the power to do so but because he understoo_omething else—something the living did not and could not understand—and whic_holly occupied his mind. "There, you see how strangely fate has brought u_ogether," said he, breaking the silence and pointing to Natasha. "She look_fter me all the time." Princess Mary heard him and did not understand how h_ould say such a thing. He, the sensitive, tender Prince Andrew, how could h_ay that, before her whom he loved and who loved him? Had he expected to liv_e could not have said those words in that offensively cold tone. If he ha_ot known that he was dying, how could he have failed to pity her and ho_ould he speak like that in her presence? The only explanation was that he wa_ndifferent, because something else, much more important, had been revealed t_im. The conversation was cold and disconnected and continually broke off.
  • "Mary came by way of Ryazan," said Natasha. Prince Andrew did not notice tha_he called his sister Mary, and only after calling her so in his presence di_atasha notice it herself. "Really?" he asked. "They told her that all Mosco_as been burned down, and that… " Natasha stopped. It was impossible to talk.
  • It was plain that he was making an effort to listen, but could not do so.
  • "Yes, they say it's burned," he said. "It's a great pity," and he gaze_traight before him, absently stroking his mustache with his fingers. "And s_ou have met Count Nicholas, Mary?" Prince Andrew suddenly said, evidentl_ishing to speak pleasantly to them. "He wrote here that he took a grea_iking to you," he went on simply and calmly, evidently unable to understan_ll the complex significance his words had for living people. "If you like_im too, it would be a good thing for you to get married," he added rathe_ore quickly, as if pleased at having found words he had long been seeking.
  • Princess Mary heard his words but they had no meaning for her, except as _roof of how far away he now was from everything living. "Why talk of me?" sh_aid quietly and glanced at Natasha. Natasha, who felt her glance, did no_ook at her. All three were again silent. "Andrew, would you like… " Princes_ary suddenly said in a trembling voice, "would you like to see littl_icholas? He is always talking about you!" Prince Andrew smiled jus_erceptibly and for the first time, but Princess Mary, who knew his face s_ell, saw with horror that he did not smile with pleasure or affection for hi_on, but with quiet, gentle irony because he thought she was trying what sh_elieved to be the last means of arousing him. "Yes, I shall be very glad t_ee him. Is he quite well?" When little Nicholas was brought into Princ_ndrew's room he looked at his father with frightened eyes, but did not cry,
  • because no one else was crying. Prince Andrew kissed him and evidently did no_now what to say to him. When Nicholas had been led away, Princess Mary agai_ent up to her brother, kissed him, and unable to restrain her tears an_onger began to cry. He looked at her attentively. "Is it about Nicholas?" h_sked. Princess Mary nodded her head, weeping. "Mary, you know the Gosp… " bu_e broke off. "What did you say?" "Nothing. You mustn't cry here," he said,
  • looking at her with the same cold expression. When Princess Mary began to cry,
  • he understood that she was crying at the thought that little Nicholas would b_eft without a father. With a great effort he tried to return to life and t_ee things from their point of view. "Yes, to them it must seem sad!" h_hought. "But how simple it is. "The fowls of the air sow not, neither do the_eap, yet your Father feedeth them," he said to himself and wished to say t_rincess Mary; "but no, they will take it their own way, they won'_nderstand! They can't understand that all those feelings they prize so—al_ur feelings, all those ideas that seem so important to us, are unnecessary.
  • We cannot understand one another," and he remained silent. Prince Andrew'_ittle son was seven. He could scarcely read, and knew nothing. After that da_e lived through many things, gaining knowledge, observation, and experience,
  • but had he possessed all the faculties he afterwards acquired, he could no_ave had a better or more profound understanding of the meaning of the scen_e had witnessed between his father, Mary, and Natasha, than he had then. H_nderstood it completely, and, leaving the room without crying, went silentl_p to Natasha who had come out with him and looked shyly at her with hi_eautiful, thoughtful eyes, then his uplifted, rosy upper lip trembled an_eaning his head against her he began to cry. After that he avoided Dessalle_nd the countess who caressed him and either sat alone or came timidly t_rincess Mary, or to Natasha of whom he seemed even fonder than of his aunt,
  • and clung to them quietly and shyly. When Princess Mary had left Prince Andre_he fully understood what Natasha's face had told her. She did not speak an_ore to Natasha of hopes of saving his life. She took turns with her besid_is sofa, and did not cry any more, but prayed continually, turning in soul t_hat Eternal and Unfathomable, whose presence above the dying man was now s_vident.