From the day his wife arrived in Moscow Pierre had been intending to go awa_omewhere, so as not to be near her. Soon after the Rostovs came to Moscow th_ffect Natasha had on him made him hasten to carry out his intention. He wen_o Tver to see Joseph Alexeevich's widow, who had long since promised to han_ver to him some papers of her deceased husband's.
When he returned to Moscow Pierre was handed a letter from Marya Dmitrievn_sking him to come and see her on a matter of great importance relating t_ndrew Bolkonski and his betrothed. Pierre had been avoiding Natasha becaus_t seemed to him that his feeling for her was stronger than a married man'_hould be for his friend's fiancee. Yet some fate constantly threw the_ogether.
"What can have happened? And what can they want with me?" thought he as h_ressed to go to Marya Dmitrievna's. "If only Prince Andrew would hurry up an_ome and marry her!" thought he on his way to the house.
On the Tverskoy Boulevard a familiar voice called to him.
"Pierre! Been back long?" someone shouted. Pierre raised his head. In a sleig_rawn by two gray trotting-horses that were bespattering the dashboard wit_now, Anatole and his constant companion Makarin dashed past. Anatole wa_itting upright in the classic pose of military dandies, the lower part of hi_ace hidden by his beaver collar and his head slightly bent. His face wa_resh and rosy, his white-plumed hat, tilted to one side, disclosed his curle_nd pomaded hair besprinkled with powdery snow.
"Yes, indeed, that's a true sage," thought Pierre. "He sees nothing beyond th_leasure of the moment, nothing troubles him and so he is always cheerful,
satisfied, and serene. What wouldn't I give to be like him!" he though_nviously.
In Marya Dmitrievna's anteroom the footman who helped him off with his fu_oat said that the mistress asked him to come to her bedroom.
When he opened the ballroom door Pierre saw Natasha sitting at the window,
with a thin, pale, and spiteful face. She glanced round at him, frowned, an_eft the room with an expression of cold dignity.
"What has happened?" asked Pierre, entering Marya Dmitrievna's room.
"Fine doings!" answered Dmitrievna. "For fifty-eight years have I lived i_his world and never known anything so disgraceful!"
And having put him on his honor not to repeat anything she told him, Mary_mitrievna informed him that Natasha had refused Prince Andrew without he_arents' knowledge and that the cause of this was Anatole Kuragin into whos_ociety Pierre's wife had thrown her and with whom Natasha had tried to elop_uring her father's absence, in order to be married secretly.
Pierre raised his shoulders and listened open-mouthed to what was told him,
scarcely able to believe his own ears. That Prince Andrew's deeply love_ffianced wife—the same Natasha Rostova who used to be so charming—should giv_p Bolkonski for that fool Anatole who was already secretly married (as Pierr_new), and should be so in love with him as to agree to run away with him, wa_omething Pierre could not conceive and could not imagine.
He could not reconcile the charming impression he had of Natasha, whom he ha_nown from a child, with this new conception of her baseness, folly, an_ruelty. He thought of his wife. "They are all alike!" he said to himself,
reflecting that he was not the only man unfortunate enough to be tied to a ba_oman. But still he pitied Prince Andrew to the point of tears and sympathize_ith his wounded pride, and the more he pitied his friend the more did h_hink with contempt and even with disgust of that Natasha who had just passe_im in the ballroom with such a look of cold dignity. He did not know tha_atasha's soul was overflowing with despair, shame, and humiliation, and tha_t was not her fault that her face happened to assume an expression of cal_ignity and severity.
"But how get married?" said Pierre, in answer to Marya Dmitrievna. "He coul_ot marry—he is married!"
"Things get worse from hour to hour!" ejaculated Marya Dmitrievna. "A nic_outh! What a scoundrel! And she's expecting him—expecting him sinc_esterday. She must be told! Then at least she won't go on expecting him."
After hearing the details of Anatole's marriage from Pierre, and giving ven_o her anger against Anatole in words of abuse, Marya Dmitrievna told Pierr_hy she had sent for him. She was afraid that the count or Bolkonski, wh_ight arrive at any moment, if they knew of this affair (which she hoped t_ide from them) might challenge Anatole to a duel, and she therefore aske_ierre to tell his brother-in-law in her name to leave Moscow and not dare t_et her set eyes on him again. Pierre—only now realizing the danger to the ol_ount, Nicholas, and Prince Andrew—promised to do as she wished. Havin_riefly and exactly explained her wishes to him, she let him go to the drawin_oom.
"Mind, the count knows nothing. Behave as if you know nothing either," sh_aid. "And I will go and tell her it is no use expecting him! And stay t_inner if you care to!" she called after Pierre.
Pierre met the old count, who seemed nervous and upset. That morning Natash_ad told him that she had rejected Bolkonski.
"Troubles, troubles, my dear fellow!" he said to Pierre. "What troubles on_as with these girls without their mother! I do so regret having come here… .
I will be frank with you. Have you heard she has broken off her engagemen_ithout consulting anybody? It's true this engagement never was much to m_iking. Of course he is an excellent man, but still, with his father'_isapproval they wouldn't have been happy, and Natasha won't lack suitors.
Still, it has been going on so long, and to take such a step without father'_r mother's consent! And now she's ill, and God knows what! It's hard, Count,
hard to manage daughters in their mother's absence… ."
Pierre saw that the count was much upset and tried to change the subject, bu_he count returned to his troubles.
Sonya entered the room with an agitated face.
"Natasha is not quite well; she's in her room and would like to see you. Mary_mitrievna is with her and she too asks you to come."
"Yes, you are a great friend of Bolkonski's, no doubt she wants to send him _essage," said the count. "Oh dear! Oh dear! How happy it all was!"
And clutching the spare gray locks on his temples the count left the room.
When Marya Dmitrievna told Natasha that Anatole was married, Natasha did no_ish to believe it and insisted on having it confirmed by Pierre himself.
Sonya told Pierre this as she led him along the corridor to Natasha's room.
Natasha, pale and stern, was sitting beside Marya Dmitrievna, and her eyes,
glittering feverishly, met Pierre with a questioning look the moment h_ntered. She did not smile or nod, but only gazed fixedly at him, and her loo_sked only one thing: was he a friend, or like the others an enemy in regar_o Anatole? As for Pierre, he evidently did not exist for her.
"He knows all about it," said Marya Dmitrievna pointing to Pierre an_ddressing Natasha. "Let him tell you whether I have told the truth."
Natasha looked from one to the other as a hunted and wounded animal looks a_he approaching dogs and sportsmen.
"Natalya Ilynichna," Pierre began, dropping his eyes with a feeling of pit_or her and loathing for the thing he had to do, "whether it is true or no_hould make no difference to you, because… "
"Then it is not true that he's married!"
"Yes, it is true."
"Has he been married long?" she asked. "On your honor?… "
Pierre gave his word of honor.
"Is he still here?" she asked, quickly.
"Yes, I have just seen him."
She was evidently unable to speak and made a sign with her hands that the_hould leave her alone.