Pierre was shown into the large, brightly lit dining room; a few minutes late_e heard footsteps and Princess Mary entered with Natasha. Natasha was calm, though a severe and grave expression had again settled on her face. They al_hree of them now experienced that feeling of awkwardness which usuall_ollows after a serious and heartfelt talk. It is impossible to go back to th_ame conversation, to talk of trifles is awkward, and yet the desire to spea_s there and silence seems like affectation. They went silently to table. Th_ootmen drew back the chairs and pushed them up again. Pierre unfolded hi_old table napkin and, resolving to break the silence, looked at Natasha an_t Princess Mary. They had evidently both formed the same resolution; the eye_f both shone with satisfaction and a confession that besides sorrow life als_as joy.
"Do you take vodka, Count?" asked Princess Mary, and those words suddenl_anished the shadows of the past. "Now tell us about yourself," said she. "On_ears such improbable wonders about you."
"Yes," replied Pierre with the smile of mild irony now habitual to him. "The_ven tell me wonders I myself never dreamed of! Mary Abramovna invited me t_er house and kept telling me what had happened, or ought to have happened, t_e. Stepan Stepanych also instructed me how I ought to tell of my experiences.
In general I have noticed that it is very easy to be an interesting man (I a_n interesting man now); people invite me out and tell me all about myself."
Natasha smiled and was on the point of speaking.
"We have been told," Princess Mary interrupted her, "that you lost tw_illions in Moscow. Is that true?"
"But I am three times as rich as before," returned Pierre.
Though the position was now altered by his decision to pay his wife's debt_nd to rebuild his houses, Pierre still maintained that he had become thre_imes as rich as before.
"What I have certainly gained is freedom," he began seriously, but did no_ontinue, noticing that this theme was too egotistic.
"And are you building?"
"Yes. Savelich says I must!"
"Tell me, you did not know of the countess' death when you decided to remai_n Moscow?" asked Princess Mary and immediately blushed, noticing that he_uestion, following his mention of freedom, ascribed to his words a meaning h_ad perhaps not intended.
"No," answered Pierre, evidently not considering awkward the meaning Princes_ary had given to his words. "I heard of it in Orel and you cannot imagine ho_t shocked me. We were not an exemplary couple," he added quickly, glancing a_atasha and noticing on her face curiosity as to how he would speak of hi_ife, "but her death shocked me terribly. When two people quarrel they ar_lways both in fault, and one's own guilt suddenly becomes terribly seriou_hen the other is no longer alive. And then such a death… without friends an_ithout consolation! I am very, very sorry for her," he concluded, and wa_leased to notice a look of glad approval on Natasha's face.
"Yes, and so you are once more an eligible bachelor," said Princess Mary.
Pierre suddenly flushed crimson and for a long time tried not to look a_atasha. When he ventured to glance her way again her face was cold, stern, and he fancied even contemptuous.
"And did you really see and speak to Napoleon, as we have been told?" sai_rincess Mary.
"No, not once! Everybody seems to imagine that being taken prisoner mean_eing Napoleon's guest. Not only did I never see him but I heard nothing abou_im—I was in much lower company!"
Supper was over, and Pierre who at first declined to speak about his captivit_as gradually led on to do so.
"But it's true that you remained in Moscow to kill Napoleon?" Natasha aske_ith a slight smile. "I guessed it then when we met at the Sukharev tower, d_ou remember?"
Pierre admitted that it was true, and from that was gradually led by Princes_ary's questions and especially by Natasha's into giving a detailed account o_is adventures.
At first he spoke with the amused and mild irony now customary with him towar_verybody and especially toward himself, but when he came to describe th_orrors and sufferings he had witnessed he was unconsciously carried away an_egan speaking with the suppressed emotion of a man re-experiencing i_ecollection strong impressions he has lived through.
Princess Mary with a gentle smile looked now at Pierre and now at Natasha. I_he whole narrative she saw only Pierre and his goodness. Natasha, leaning o_er elbow, the expression of her face constantly changing with the narrative, watched Pierre with an attention that never wandered—evidently hersel_xperiencing all that he described. Not only her look, but her exclamation_nd the brief questions she put, showed Pierre that she understood just wha_e wished to convey. It was clear that she understood not only what he sai_ut also what he wished to, but could not, express in words. The accoun_ierre gave of the incident with the child and the woman for protecting who_e was arrested was this: "It was an awful sight—children abandoned, some i_he flames… One was snatched out before my eyes… and there were women who ha_heir things snatched off and their earrings torn out… " he flushed and gre_onfused. "Then a patrol arrived and all the men—all those who were no_ooting, that is—were arrested, and I among them."
"I am sure you're not telling us everything; I am sure you did something… "
said Natasha and pausing added, "something fine?"
Pierre continued. When he spoke of the execution he wanted to pass over th_orrible details, but Natasha insisted that he should not omit anything.
Pierre began to tell about Karataev, but paused. By this time he had rise_rom the table and was pacing the room, Natasha following him with her eyes.
Then he added:
"No, you can't understand what I learned from that illiterate man- that simpl_ellow."
"Yes, yes, go on!" said Natasha. "Where is he?"
"They killed him almost before my eyes."
And Pierre, his voice trembling continually, went on to tell of the last day_f their retreat, of Karataev's illness and his death.
He told of his adventures as he had never yet recalled them. He now, as i_ere, saw a new meaning in all he had gone through. Now that he was telling i_ll to Natasha he experienced that pleasure which a man has when women liste_o him—not clever women who when listening either try to remember what the_ear to enrich their minds and when opportunity offers to retell it, or wh_ish to adopt it to some thought of their own and promptly contribute thei_wn clever comments prepared in their little mental workshop—but the pleasur_iven by real women gifted with a capacity to select and absorb the very bes_ man shows of himself. Natasha without knowing it was all attention: she di_ot lose a word, no single quiver in Pierre's voice, no look, no twitch of _uscle in his face, nor a single gesture. She caught the unfinished word i_ts flight and took it straight into her open heart, divining the secre_eaning of all Pierre's mental travail.
Princess Mary understood his story and sympathized with him, but she now sa_omething else that absorbed all her attention. She saw the possibility o_ove and happiness between Natasha and Pierre, and the first thought of thi_illed her heart with gladness.
It was three o'clock in the morning. The footmen came in with sad and ster_aces to change the candles, but no one noticed them.
Pierre finished his story. Natasha continued to look at him intently wit_right, attentive, and animated eyes, as if trying to understand somethin_ore which he had perhaps left untold. Pierre in shamefaced and happ_onfusion glanced occasionally at her, and tried to think what to say next t_ntroduce a fresh subject. Princess Mary was silent. It occurred to none o_hem that it was three o'clock and time to go to bed.
"People speak of misfortunes and sufferings," remarked Pierre, "but if at thi_oment I were asked: 'Would you rather be what you were before you were take_risoner, or go through all this again?' then for heaven's sake let me agai_ave captivity and horseflesh! We imagine that when we are thrown out of ou_sual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins.
While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us. I sa_his to you," he added, turning to Natasha.
"Yes, yes," she said, answering something quite different. "I too should wis_othing but to relive it all from the beginning."
Pierre looked intently at her.
"Yes, and nothing more." said Natasha.
"It's not true, not true!" cried Pierre. "I am not to blame for being aliv_nd wishing to live—nor you either."
Suddenly Natasha bent her head, covered her face with her hands, and began t_ry.
"What is it, Natasha?" said Princess Mary.
"Nothing, nothing." She smiled at Pierre through her tears. "Good night! It i_ime for bed."
Pierre rose and took his leave.
Princess Mary and Natasha met as usual in the bedroom. They talked of wha_ierre had told them. Princess Mary did not express her opinion of Pierre no_id Natasha speak of him.
"Well, good night, Mary!" said Natasha. "Do you know, I am often afraid tha_y not speaking of him" (she meant Prince Andrew) "for fear of not doin_ustice to our feelings, we forget him."
Princess Mary sighed deeply and thereby acknowledged the justice of Natasha'_emark, but she did not express agreement in words.
"Is it possible to forget?" said she.
"It did me so much good to tell all about it today. It was hard and painful, but good, very good!" said Natasha. "I am sure he really loved him. That i_hy I told him… Was it all right?" she added, suddenly blushing.
"To tell Pierre? Oh, yes. What a splendid man he is!" said Princess Mary.
"Do you know, Mary… " Natasha suddenly said with a mischievous smile such a_rincess Mary had not seen on her face for a long time, "he has somehow grow_o clean, smooth, and fresh—as if he had just come out of a Russian bath; d_ou understand? Out of a moral bath. Isn't it true?"
"Yes," replied Princess Mary. "He has greatly improved."
"With a short coat and his hair cropped; just as if, well, just as if he ha_ome straight from the bath… Papa used to… "
"I understand why he" (Prince Andrew) "liked no one so much as him," sai_rincess Mary.
"Yes, and yet he is quite different. They say men are friends when they ar_uite different. That must be true. Really he is quite unlike him—i_verything."
"Yes, but he's wonderful."
"Well, good night," said Natasha.
And the same mischievous smile lingered for a long time on her face as if i_ad been forgotten there.