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Chapter 18

  • It was a long time before Pierre could fall asleep that night. He paced up an_own his room, now turning his thoughts on a difficult problem and frowning, now suddenly shrugging his shoulders and wincing, and now smiling happily.
  • He was thinking of Prince Andrew, of Natasha, and of their love, at one momen_ealous of her past, then reproaching himself for that feeling. It was alread_ix in the morning and he still paced up and down the room.
  • "Well, what's to be done if it cannot be avoided? What's to be done? Evidentl_t has to be so," said he to himself, and hastily undressing he got into bed, happy and agitated but free from hesitation or indecision.
  • "Strange and impossible as such happiness seems, I must do everything that sh_nd I may be man and wife," he told himself.
  • A few days previously Pierre had decided to go to Petersburg on the Friday.
  • When he awoke on the Thursday, Savelich came to ask him about packing for th_ourney.
  • "What, to Petersburg? What is Petersburg? Who is there in Petersburg?" h_sked involuntarily, though only to himself. "Oh, yes, long ago before thi_appened I did for some reason mean to go to Petersburg," he reflected. "Why?
  • But perhaps I shall go. What a good fellow he is and how attentive, and how h_emembers everything," he thought, looking at Savelich's old face, "and what _leasant smile he has!"
  • "Well, Savelich, do you still not wish to accept your freedom?" Pierre aske_im.
  • "What's the good of freedom to me, your excellency? We lived under the lat_ount—the kingdom of heaven be his!—and we have lived under you too, withou_ver being wronged."
  • "And your children?"
  • "The children will live just the same. With such masters one can live."
  • "But what about my heirs?" said Pierre. "Supposing I suddenly marry… it migh_appen," he added with an involuntary smile.
  • "If I may take the liberty, your excellency, it would be a good thing."
  • "How easy he thinks it," thought Pierre. "He doesn't know how terrible it i_nd how dangerous. Too soon or too late… it is terrible!"
  • "So what are your orders? Are you starting tomorrow?" asked Savelich.
  • "No, I'll put it off for a bit. I'll tell you later. You must forgive th_rouble I have put you to," said Pierre, and seeing Savelich smile, h_hought: "But how strange it is that he should not know that now there is n_etersburg for me, and that that must be settled first of all! But probably h_nows it well enough and is only pretending. Shall I have a talk with him an_ee what he thinks?" Pierre reflected. "No, another time."
  • At breakfast Pierre told the princess, his cousin, that he had been to se_rincess Mary the day before and had there met—"Whom do you think? Natash_ostova!"
  • The princess seemed to see nothing more extraordinary in that than if he ha_een Anna Semenovna.
  • "Do you know her?" asked Pierre.
  • "I have seen the princess," she replied. "I heard that they were arranging _atch for her with young Rostov. It would be a very good thing for th_ostovs, they are said to be utterly ruined."
  • "No; I mean do you know Natasha Rostova?"
  • "I heard about that affair of hers at the time. It was a great pity."
  • "No, she either doesn't understand or is pretending," thought Pierre. "Bette_ot say anything to her either."
  • The princess too had prepared provisions for Pierre's journey.
  • "How kind they all are," thought Pierre. "What is surprising is that the_hould trouble about these things now when it can no longer be of interest t_hem. And all for me!"
  • On the same day the Chief of Police came to Pierre, inviting him to send _epresentative to the Faceted Palace to recover things that were to b_eturned to their owners that day.
  • "And this man too," thought Pierre, looking into the face of the Chief o_olice. "What a fine, good-looking officer and how kind. Fancy bothering abou_uch trifies now! And they actually say he is not honest and takes bribes.
  • What nonsense! Besides, why shouldn't he take bribes? That's the way he wa_rought up, and everybody does it. But what a kind, pleasant face and how h_miles as he looks at me."
  • Pierre went to Princess Mary's to dinner.
  • As he drove through the streets past the houses that had been burned down, h_as surprised by the beauty of those ruins. The picturesqueness of the chimne_tacks and tumble-down walls of the burned-out quarters of the town, stretching out and concealing one another, reminded him of the Rhine and th_olosseum. The cabmen he met and their passengers, the carpenters cutting th_imber for new houses with axes, the women hawkers, and the shopkeepers, al_ooked at him with cheerful beaming eyes that seemed to say: "Ah, there he is!
  • Let's see what will come of it!"
  • At the entrance to Princess Mary's house Pierre felt doubtful whether he ha_eally been there the night before and really seen Natasha and talked to her.
  • "Perhaps I imagined it; perhaps I shall go in and find no one there." But h_ad hardly entered the room before he felt her presence with his whole bein_y the loss of his sense of freedom. She was in the same black dress with sof_olds and her hair was done the same way as the day before, yet she was quit_ifferent. Had she been like this when he entered the day before he could no_or a moment have failed to recognize her.
  • She was as he had known her almost as a child and later on as Prince Andrew'_iancee. A bright questioning light shone in her eyes, and on her face was _riendly and strangely roguish expression.
  • Pierre dined with them and would have spent the whole evening there, bu_rincess Mary was going to vespers and Pierre left the house with her.
  • Next day he came early, dined, and stayed the whole evening. Though Princes_ary and Natasha were evidently glad to see their visitor and though al_ierre's interest was now centered in that house, by the evening they ha_alked over everything and the conversation passed from one trivial topic t_nother and repeatedly broke off. He stayed so long that Princess Mary an_atasha exchanged glances, evidently wondering when he would go. Pierr_oticed this but could not go. He felt uneasy and embarrassed, but sat o_ecause he simply could not get up and take his leave.
  • Princess Mary, foreseeing no end to this, rose first, and complaining of _eadache began to say good night.
  • "So you are going to Petersburg tomorrow?" she asked.
  • "No, I am not going," Pierre replied hastily, in a surprised tone and a_hough offended. "Yes… no… to Petersburg? Tomorrow—but I won't say good-b_et. I will call round in case you have any commissions for me," said he, standing before Princess Mary and turning red, but not taking his departure.
  • Natasha gave him her hand and went out. Princess Mary on the other han_nstead of going away sank into an armchair, and looked sternly and intentl_t him with her deep, radiant eyes. The weariness she had plainly shown befor_ad now quite passed off. With a deep and long-drawn sigh she seemed to b_repared for a lengthy talk.
  • When Natasha left the room Pierre's confusion and awkwardness immediatel_anished and were replaced by eager excitement. He quickly moved an armchai_oward Princess Mary.
  • "Yes, I wanted to tell you," said he, answering her look as if she had spoken.
  • "Princess, help me! What am I to do? Can I hope? Princess, my dear friend, listen! I know it all. I know I am not worthy of her, I know it's impossibl_o speak of it now. But I want to be a brother to her. No, not that, I don't, I can't… "
  • He paused and rubbed his face and eyes with his hands.
  • "Well," he went on with an evident effort at self-control and coherence. "_on't know when I began to love her, but I have loved her and her alone all m_ife, and I love her so that I cannot imagine life without her. I canno_ropose to her at present, but the thought that perhaps she might someday b_y wife and that I may be missing that possibility… that possibility… i_errible. Tell me, can I hope? Tell me what I am to do, dear princess!" h_dded after a pause, and touched her hand as she did not reply.
  • "I am thinking of what you have told me," answered Princess Mary. "This i_hat I will say. You are right that to speak to her of love at present… "
  • Princess Mary stopped. She was going to say that to speak of love wa_mpossible, but she stopped because she had seen by the sudden change i_atasha two days before that she would not only not be hurt if Pierre spoke o_is love, but that it was the very thing she wished for.
  • "To speak to her now wouldn't do," said the princess all the same.
  • "But what am I to do?"
  • "Leave it to me," said Princess Mary. "I know… "
  • Pierre was looking into Princess Mary's eyes.
  • "Well?… Well?… " he said.
  • "I know that she loves… will love you," Princess Mary corrected herself.
  • Before her words were out, Pierre had sprung up and with a frightene_xpression seized Princess Mary's hand.
  • "What makes you think so? You think I may hope? You think… ?"
  • "Yes, I think so," said Princess Mary with a smile. "Write to her parents, an_eave it to me. I will tell her when I can. I wish it to happen and my hear_ells me it will."
  • "No, it cannot be! How happy I am! But it can't be… . How happy I am! No, i_an't be!" Pierre kept saying as he kissed Princess Mary's hands.
  • "Go to Petersburg, that will be best. And I will write to you," she said.
  • "To Petersburg? Go there? Very well, I'll go. But I may come again tomorrow?"
  • Next day Pierre came to say good-by. Natasha was less animated than she ha_een the day before; but that day as he looked at her Pierre sometimes felt a_f he was vanishing and that neither he nor she existed any longer, tha_othing existed but happiness. "Is it possible? No, it can't be," he tol_imself at every look, gesture, and word that filled his soul with joy.
  • When on saying good-by he took her thin, slender hand, he could not hel_olding it a little longer in his own.
  • "Is it possible that this hand, that face, those eyes, all this treasure o_eminine charm so strange to me now, is it possible that it will one day b_ine forever, as familiar to me as I am to myself?… No, that's impossible!… "
  • "Good-by, Count," she said aloud. "I shall look forward very much to you_eturn," she added in a whisper.
  • And these simple words, her look, and the expression on her face whic_ccompanied them, formed for two months the subject of inexhaustible memories, interpretations, and happy meditations for Pierre. "'I shall look forward ver_uch to your return… .' Yes, yes, how did she say it? Yes, 'I shall loo_orward very much to your return.' Oh, how happy I am! What is happening t_e? How happy I am!" said Pierre to himself.