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Chapter 24

  • No betrothal ceremony took place and Natasha's engagement to Bolkonski was no_nnounced; Prince Andrew insisted on that. He said that as he was responsibl_or the delay he ought to bear the whole burden of it; that he had given hi_ord and bound himself forever, but that he did not wish to bind Natasha an_ave her perfect freedom. If after six months she felt that she did not lov_im she would have full right to reject him. Naturally neither Natasha nor he_arents wished to hear of this, but Prince Andrew was firm. He came every da_o the Rostovs', but did not behave to Natasha as an affianced lover: he di_ot use the familiar thou, but said you to her, and kissed only her hand.
  • After their engagement, quite different, intimate, and natural relation_prang up between them. It was as if they had not known each other till now.
  • Both liked to recall how they had regarded each other when as yet they wer_othing to one another; they felt themselves now quite different beings: the_hey were artificial, now natural and sincere. At first the family felt som_onstraint in intercourse with Prince Andrew; he seemed a man from anothe_orld, and for a long time Natasha trained the family to get used to him,
  • proudly assuring them all that he only appeared to be different, but wa_eally just like all of them, and that she was not afraid of him and no on_lse ought to be. After a few days they grew accustomed to him, and withou_estraint in his presence pursued their usual way of life, in which he too_is part. He could talk about rural economy with the count, fashions with th_ountess and Natasha, and about albums and fancywork with Sonya. Sometimes th_ousehold both among themselves and in his presence expressed their wonder a_ow it had all happened, and at the evident omens there had been of it: Princ_ndrew's coming to Otradnoe and their coming to Petersburg, and the likenes_etween Natasha and Prince Andrew which her nurse had noticed on his firs_isit, and Andrew's encounter with Nicholas in 1805, and many other incident_etokening that it had to be.
  • In the house that poetic dullness and quiet reigned which always accompanie_he presence of a betrothed couple. Often when all sitting together everyon_ept silent. Sometimes the others would get up and go away and the couple,
  • left alone, still remained silent. They rarely spoke of their future life.
  • Prince Andrew was afraid and ashamed to speak of it. Natasha shared this a_he did all his feelings, which she constantly divined. Once she bega_uestioning him about his son. Prince Andrew blushed, as he often di_ow—Natasha particularly liked it in him—and said that his son would not liv_ith them.
  • "Why not?" asked Natasha in a frightened tone.
  • "I cannot take him away from his grandfather, and besides… "
  • "How I should have loved him!" said Natasha, immediately guessing his thought;
  • "but I know you wish to avoid any pretext for finding fault with us."
  • Sometimes the old count would come up, kiss Prince Andrew, and ask his advic_bout Petya's education or Nicholas' service. The old countess sighed as sh_ooked at them; Sonya was always getting frightened lest she should be in th_ay and tried to find excuses for leaving them alone, even when they did no_ish it. When Prince Andrew spoke (he could tell a story very well), Natash_istened to him with pride; when she spoke she noticed with fear and joy tha_e gazed attentively and scrutinizingly at her. She asked herself i_erplexity: "What does he look for in me? He is trying to discover somethin_y looking at me! What if what he seeks in me is not there?" Sometimes sh_ell into one of the mad, merry moods characteristic of her, and then sh_articularly loved to hear and see how Prince Andrew laughed. He seldo_aughed, but when he did he abandoned himself entirely to his laughter, an_fter such a laugh she always felt nearer to him. Natasha would have bee_ompletely happy if the thought of the separation awaiting her and drawin_ear had not terrified her, just as the mere thought of it made him turn pal_nd cold.
  • On the eve of his departure from Petersburg Prince Andrew brought with hi_ierre, who had not been to the Rostovs' once since the ball. Pierre seeme_isconcerted and embarrassed. He was talking to the countess, and Natasha sa_own beside a little chess table with Sonya, thereby inviting Prince Andrew t_ome too. He did so.
  • "You have known Bezukhov a long time?" he asked. "Do you like him?"
  • "Yes, he's a dear, but very absurd."
  • And as usual when speaking of Pierre, she began to tell anecdotes of hi_bsent-mindedness, some of which had even been invented about him.
  • "Do you know I have entrusted him with our secret? I have known him fro_hildhood. He has a heart of gold. I beg you, Natalie," Prince Andrew sai_ith sudden seriousness—"I am going away and heaven knows what may happen. Yo_ay cease to… all right, I know I am not to say that. Only this, then:
  • whatever may happen to you when I am not here… "
  • "What can happen?"
  • "Whatever trouble may come," Prince Andrew continued, "I beg you, Mademoisell_ophie, whatever may happen, to turn to him alone for advice and help! He is _ost absent-minded and absurd fellow, but he has a heart of gold."
  • Neither her father, nor her mother, nor Sonya, nor Prince Andrew himself coul_ave foreseen how the separation from her lover would act on Natasha. Flushe_nd agitated she went about the house all that day, dry-eyed, occupied wit_ost trivial matters as if not understanding what awaited her. She did no_ven cry when, on taking leave, he kissed her hand for the last time. "Don'_o!" she said in a tone that made him wonder whether he really ought not t_tay and which he remembered long afterwards. Nor did she cry when he wa_one; but for several days she sat in her room dry-eyed, taking no interest i_nything and only saying now and then, "Oh, why did he go away?"
  • But a fortnight after his departure, to the surprise of those around her, sh_ecovered from her mental sickness just as suddenly and became her old sel_gain, but with a change in her moral physiognomy, as a child gets up after _ong illness with a changed expression of face.