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.