Prince Andrew had to see the Marshal of the Nobility for the district i_onnection with the affairs of the Ryazan estate of which he was trustee. Thi_arshal was Count Ilya Rostov, and in the middle of May Prince Andrew went t_isit him.
It was now hot spring weather. The whole forest was already clothed in green.
It was dusty and so hot that on passing near water one longed to bathe.
Prince Andrew, depressed and preoccupied with the business about which he ha_o speak to the Marshal, was driving up the avenue in the grounds of th_ostovs' house at Otradnoe. He heard merry girlish cries behind some trees o_he right and saw group of girls running to cross the path of his caleche.
Ahead of the rest and nearer to him ran a dark-haired, remarkably slim, prett_irl in a yellow chintz dress, with a white handkerchief on her head fro_nder which loose locks of hair escaped. The girl was shouting something but,
seeing that he was a stranger, ran back laughing without looking at him.
Suddenly, he did not know why, he felt a pang. The day was so beautiful, th_un so bright, everything around so gay, but that slim pretty girl did no_now, or wish to know, of his existence and was contented and cheerful in he_wn separate—probably foolish- but bright and happy life. "What is she so gla_bout? What is she thinking of? Not of the military regulations or of th_rrangement of the Ryazan serfs' quitrents. Of what is she thinking? Why i_he so happy?" Prince Andrew asked himself with instinctive curiosity.
In 1809 Count Ilya Rostov was living at Otradnoe just as he had done in forme_ears, that is, entertaining almost the whole province with hunts,
theatricals, dinners, and music. He was glad to see Prince Andrew, as he wa_o see any new visitor, and insisted on his staying the night.
During the dull day, in the course of which he was entertained by his elderl_osts and by the more important of the visitors (the old count's house wa_rowded on account of an approaching name day), Prince Andrew repeatedl_lanced at Natasha, gay and laughing among the younger members of the company,
and asked himself each time, "What is she thinking about? Why is she so glad?"
That night, alone in new surroundings, he was long unable to sleep. He rea_while and then put out his candle, but relit it. It was hot in the room, th_nside shutters of which were closed. He was cross with the stupid old man (a_e called Rostov), who had made him stay by assuring him that some necessar_ocuments had not yet arrived from town, and he was vexed with himself fo_aving stayed.
He got up and went to the window to open it. As soon as he opened the shutter_he moonlight, as if it had long been watching for this, burst into the room.
He opened the casement. The night was fresh, bright, and very still. Jus_efore the window was a row of pollard trees, looking black on one side an_ith a silvery light on the other. Beneath the trees grewsome kind of lush,
wet, bushy vegetation with silver-lit leaves and stems here and there. Farthe_ack beyond the dark trees a roof glittered with dew, to the right was a leaf_ree with brilliantly white trunk and branches, and above it shone the moon,
nearly at its full, in a pale, almost starless, spring sky. Prince Andre_eaned his elbows on the window ledge and his eyes rested on that sky.
His room was on the first floor. Those in the rooms above were also awake. H_eard female voices overhead.
"Just once more," said a girlish voice above him which Prince Andre_ecognized at once.
"But when are you coming to bed?" replied another voice.
"I won't, I can't sleep, what's the use? Come now for the last time."
Two girlish voices sang a musical passage—the end of some song.
"Oh, how lovely! Now go to sleep, and there's an end of it."
"You go to sleep, but I can't," said the first voice, coming nearer to th_indow. She was evidently leaning right out, for the rustle of her dress an_ven her breathing could be heard. Everything was stone-still, like the moo_nd its light and the shadows. Prince Andrew, too, dared not stir, for fear o_etraying his unintentional presence.
"Sonya! Sonya!" he again heard the first speaker. "Oh, how can you sleep? Onl_ook how glorious it is! Ah, how glorious! Do wake up, Sonya!" she said almos_ith tears in her voice. "There never, never was such a lovely night before!"
Sonya made some reluctant reply.
"Do just come and see what a moon!… Oh, how lovely! Come here… . Darling,
sweetheart, come here! There, you see? I feel like sitting down on my heels,
putting my arms round my knees like this, straining tight, as tight a_ossible, and flying away! Like this… ."
"Take care, you'll fall out."
He heard the sound of a scuffle and Sonya's disapproving voice: "It's past on_'clock."
"Oh, you only spoil things for me. All right, go, go!"
Again all was silent, but Prince Andrew knew she was still sitting there. Fro_ime to time he heard a soft rustle and at times a sigh.
"O God, O God! What does it mean?" she suddenly exclaimed. "To bed then, if i_ust be!" and she slammed the casement.
"For her I might as well not exist!" thought Prince Andrew while he listene_o her voice, for some reason expecting yet fearing that she might sa_omething about him. "There she is again! As if it were on purpose," though_e.
In his soul there suddenly arose such an unexpected turmoil of youthfu_houghts and hopes, contrary to the whole tenor of his life, that unable t_xplain his condition to himself he lay down and fell asleep at once.