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Chapter VI.23

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Prince Andrew needed his father's consent to his marriage, and to obtain this he started for the country next day.

His father received his son's communication with external composure, but inward wrath. He could not comprehend how anyone could wish to alter his life or introduce anything new into it, when his own life was already ending. "If only they would let me end my days as I want to," thought the old man, "then they might do as they please." With his son, however, he employed the diplomacy he reserved for important occasions and, adopting a quiet tone, discussed the whole matter.

In the first place the marriage was not a brilliant one as regards birth, wealth, or rank. Secondly, Prince Andrew was no longer as young as he had been and his health was poor (the old man laid special stress on this), while she was very young. Thirdly, he had a son whom it would be a pity to entrust to a chit of a girl. "Fourthly and finally," the father said, looking ironically at his son, "I beg you to put it off for a year: go abroad, take a cure, look out as you wanted to for a German tutor for Prince Nicholas. Then if your love or passion or obstinacy- as you please- is still as great, marry! And that's my last word on it. Mind, the last..." concluded the prince, in a tone which showed that nothing would make him alter his decision.

Prince Andrew saw clearly that the old man hoped that his feelings, or his fiancee's, would not stand a year's test, or that he (the old prince himself) would die before then, and he decided to conform to his father's wish- to propose, and postpone the wedding for a year.

Three weeks after the last evening he had spent with the Rostovs, Prince Andrew returned to Petersburg.

Next day after her talk with her mother Natasha expected Bolkonski all day, but he did not come. On the second and third day it was the same. Pierre did not come either and Natasha, not knowing that Prince Andrew had gone to see his father, could not explain his absence to herself.

Three weeks passed in this way. Natasha had no desire to go out anywhere and wandered from room to room like a shadow, idle and listless; she wept secretly at night and did not go to her mother in the evenings. She blushed continually and was irritable. It seemed to her that everybody knew about her disappointment and was laughing at her and pitying her. Strong as was her inward grief, this wound to her vanity intensified her misery.

Once she came to her mother, tried to say something, and suddenly began to cry. Her tears were those of an offended child who does not know why it is being punished.

The countess began to soothe Natasha, who after first listening to her mother's words, suddenly interrupted her:

"Leave off, Mamma! I don't think, and don't want to think about it! He just came and then left off, left off..."

Her voice trembled, and she again nearly cried, but recovered and went on quietly:

"And I don't at all want to get married. And I am afraid of him; I have now become quite calm, quite calm."

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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