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Chapter 7

  • Next day, by Marya Dmitrievna's advice, Count Rostov took Natasha to call o_rince Nicholas Bolkonski. The count did not set out cheerfully on this visit,
  • at heart he felt afraid. He well remembered the last interview he had had wit_he old prince at the time of the enrollment, when in reply to an invitatio_o dinner he had had to listen to an angry reprimand for not having provide_is full quota of men. Natasha, on the other hand, having put on her bes_own, was in the highest spirits. "They can't help liking me," she thought.
  • "Everybody always has liked me, and I am so willing to do anything they wish,
  • so ready to be fond of him—for being his father—and of her—for being hi_ister—that there is no reason for them not to like me… "
  • They drove up to the gloomy old house on the Vozdvizhenka and entered th_estibule.
  • "Well, the Lord have mercy on us!" said the count, half in jest, half i_arnest; but Natasha noticed that her father was flurried on entering th_nteroom and inquired timidly and softly whether the prince and princess wer_t home.
  • When they had been announced a perturbation was noticeable among the servants.
  • The footman who had gone to announce them was stopped by another in the larg_all and they whispered to one another. Then a maidservant ran into the hal_nd hurriedly said something, mentioning the princess. At last an old, cros_ooking footman came and announced to the Rostovs that the prince was no_eceiving, but that the princess begged them to walk up. The first person wh_ame to meet the visitors was Mademoiselle Bourienne. She greeted the fathe_nd daughter with special politeness and showed them to the princess' room.
  • The princess, looking excited and nervous, her face flushed in patches, ran i_o meet the visitors, treading heavily, and vainly trying to appear cordia_nd at ease. From the first glance Princess Mary did not like Natasha. Sh_hought her too fashionably dressed, frivolously gay and vain. She did not a_ll realize that before having seen her future sister-in-law she wa_rejudiced against her by involuntary envy of her beauty, youth, an_appiness, as well as by jealousy of her brother's love for her. Apart fro_his insuperable antipathy to her, Princess Mary was agitated just the_ecause on the Rostovs' being announced, the old prince had shouted that h_id not wish to see them, that Princess Mary might do so if she chose, bu_hey were not to be admitted to him. She had decided to receive them, bu_eared lest the prince might at any moment indulge in some freak, as he seeme_uch upset by the Rostovs' visit.
  • "There, my dear princess, I've brought you my songstress," said the count,
  • bowing and looking round uneasily as if afraid the old prince might appear. "_m so glad you should get to know one another… very sorry the prince is stil_iling," and after a few more commonplace remarks he rose. "If you'll allow m_o leave my Natasha in your hands for a quarter of an hour, Princess, I'l_rive round to see Anna Semenovna, it's quite near in the Dogs' Square, an_hen I'll come back for her."
  • The count had devised this diplomatic ruse (as he afterwards told hi_aughter) to give the future sisters-in-law an opportunity to talk to on_nother freely, but another motive was to avoid the danger of encountering th_ld prince, of whom he was afraid. He did not mention this to his daughter,
  • but Natasha noticed her father's nervousness and anxiety and felt mortified b_t. She blushed for him, grew still angrier at having blushed, and looked a_he princess with a bold and defiant expression which said that she was no_fraid of anybody. The princess told the count that she would be delighted,
  • and only begged him to stay longer at Anna Semenovna's, and he departed.
  • Despite the uneasy glances thrown at her by Princess Mary—who wished to have _ete-a-tete with Natasha—Mademoiselle Bourienne remained in the room an_ersistently talked about Moscow amusements and theaters. Natasha fel_ffended by the hesitation she had noticed in the anteroom, by her father'_ervousness, and by the unnatural manner of the princess who—she thought—wa_aking a favor of receiving her, and so everything displeased her. She did no_ike Princess Mary, whom she thought very plain, affected, and dry. Natash_uddenly shrank into herself and involuntarily assumed an offhand air whic_lienated Princess Mary still more. After five minutes of irksome, constraine_onversation, they heard the sound of slippered feet rapidly approaching.
  • Princess Mary looked frightened.
  • The door opened and the old prince, in a dress, ing gown and a white nightcap,
  • came in.
  • "Ah, madam!" he began. "Madam, Countess… Countess Rostova, if I am no_istaken… I beg you to excuse me, to excuse me… I did not know, madam. God i_y witness, I did not know you had honored us with a visit, and I came in suc_ costume only to see my daughter. I beg you to excuse me… God is my witness,
  • I didn't know-" he repeated, stressing the word "God" so unnaturally and s_npleasantly that Princess Mary stood with downcast eyes not daring to loo_ither at her father or at Natasha.
  • Nor did the latter, having risen and curtsied, know what to do. Mademoisell_ourienne alone smiled agreeably.
  • "I beg you to excuse me, excuse me! God is my witness, I did not know,"
  • muttered the old man, and after looking Natasha over from head to foot he wen_ut.
  • Mademoiselle Bourienne was the first to recover herself after this apparitio_nd began speaking about the prince's indisposition. Natasha and Princess Mar_ooked at one another in silence, and the longer they did so without sayin_hat they wanted to say, the greater grew their antipathy to one another.
  • When the count returned, Natasha was impolitely pleased and hastened to ge_way: at that moment she hated the stiff, elderly princess, who could plac_er in such an embarrassing position and had spent half an hour with he_ithout once mentioning Prince Andrew. "I couldn't begin talking about him i_he presence of that Frenchwoman," thought Natasha. The same thought wa_eanwhile tormenting Princess Mary. She knew what she ought to have said t_atasha, but she had been unable to say it because Mademoiselle Bourienne wa_n the way, and because, without knowing why, she felt it very difficult t_peak of the marriage. When the count was already leaving the room, Princes_ary went up hurriedly to Natasha, took her by the hand, and said with a dee_igh:
  • "Wait, I must… "
  • Natasha glanced at her ironically without knowing why.
  • "Dear Natalie," said Princess Mary, "I want you to know that I am glad m_rother has found happiness… ."
  • She paused, feeling that she was not telling the truth. Natasha noticed thi_nd guessed its reason.
  • "I think, Princess, it is not convenient to speak of that now," she said wit_xternal dignity and coldness, though she felt the tears choking her.
  • "What have I said and what have I done?" thought she, as soon as she was ou_f the room.
  • They waited a long time for Natasha to come to dinner that day. She sat in he_oom crying like a child, blowing her nose and sobbing. Sonya stood besid_er, kissing her hair.
  • "Natasha, what is it about?" she asked. "What do they matter to you? It wil_ll pass, Natasha."
  • "But if you only knew how offensive it was… as if I… "
  • "Don't talk about it, Natasha. It wasn't your fault so why should you mind?
  • Kiss me," said Sonya.
  • Natasha raised her head and, kissing her friend on the lips, pressed her we_ace against her.
  • "I can't tell you, I don't know. No one's to blame," said Natasha- "It's m_ault. But it all hurts terribly. Oh, why doesn't he come?… "
  • She came in to dinner with red eyes. Marya Dmitrievna, who knew how the princ_ad received the Rostovs, pretended not to notice how upset Natasha was an_ested resolutely and loudly at table with the count and the other guests.