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Chapter VIII.22

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That same evening Pierre went to the Rostovs' to fulfill the commission entrusted to him. Natasha was in bed, the count at the Club, and Pierre, after giving the letters to Sonya, went to Marya Dmitrievna who was interested to know how Prince Andrew had taken the news. Ten minutes later Sonya came to Marya Dmitrievna.

"Natasha insists on seeing Count Peter Kirilovich," said she.

"But how? Are we to take him up to her? The room there has not been tidied up."

"No, she has dressed and gone into the drawing room," said Sonya.

Marya Dmitrievna only shrugged her shoulders.

"When will her mother come? She has worried me to death! Now mind, don't tell her everything!" said she to Pierre. "One hasn't the heart to scold her, she is so much to be pitied, so much to be pitied."

Natasha was standing in the middle of the drawing room, emaciated, with a pale set face, but not at all shamefaced as Pierre expected to find her. When he appeared at the door she grew flurried, evidently undecided whether to go to meet him or to wait till he came up.

Pierre hastened to her. He thought she would give him her hand as usual; but she, stepping up to him, stopped, breathing heavily, her arms hanging lifelessly just in the pose she used to stand in when she went to the middle of the ballroom to sing, but with quite a different expression of face.

"Peter Kirilovich," she began rapidly, "Prince Bolkonski was your friend- is your friend," she corrected herself. (It seemed to her that everything that had once been must now be different.) "He told me once to apply to you..."

Pierre sniffed as he looked at her, but did not speak. Till then he had reproached her in his heart and tried to despise her, but he now felt so sorry for her that there was no room in his soul for reproach.

"He is here now: tell him... to for... forgive me!" She stopped and breathed still more quickly, but did not shed tears.

"Yes... I will tell him," answered Pierre; "but..."

He did not know what to say.

Natasha was evidently dismayed at the thought of what he might think she had meant.

"No, I know all is over," she said hurriedly. "No, that can never be. I'm only tormented by the wrong I have done him. Tell him only that I beg him to forgive, forgive, forgive me for everything...."

She trembled all over and sat down on a chair.

A sense of pity he had never before known overflowed Pierre's heart.

"I will tell him, I will tell him everything once more," said Pierre. "But... I should like to know one thing...."

"Know what?" Natasha's eyes asked.

"I should like to know, did you love..." Pierre did not know how to refer to Anatole and flushed at the thought of him- "did you love that bad man?"

"Don't call him bad!" said Natasha. "But I don't know, don't know at all...."

She began to cry and a still greater sense of pity, tenderness, and love welled up in Pierre. He felt the tears trickle under his spectacles and hoped they would not be noticed.

"We won't speak of it any more, my dear," said Pierre, and his gentle, cordial tone suddenly seemed very strange to Natasha.

 

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War and Peace -by- Leo Tolstoy

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