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.