War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book XI: Chapters 30–34

"Piti-piti-piti and ti-ti and piti-piti-piti boom!" flopped the fly . . . And his attention was suddenly carried into another world, a world of reality and delirium in which something particular was happening. In that world some structure was still being erected and did not fall, something was still stretching out, and the candle with its red halo was still burning, and the same shirtlike sphinx lay near the door; but besides all this something creaked, there was a whiff of fresh air, and a new white sphinx appeared, standing at the door. And that sphinx had the pale face and shining eyes of the very Natasha of whom he had just been thinking.

"Oh, how oppressive this continual delirium is," thought Prince Andrew, trying to drive that face from his imagination. But the face remained before him with the force of reality and drew nearer. Prince Andrew wished to return that former world of pure thought, but he could not, and delirium drew him back into its domain. The soft whispering voice continued its rhythmic murmur, something oppressed him and stretched out, and the strange face was before him. Prince Andrew collected all his strength in an effort to recover his senses, he moved a little, and suddenly there was a ringing in his ears, a dimness in his eyes, and like a man plunged into water he lost consciousness. When he came to himself, Natasha, that same living Natasha whom of all people he most longed to love with this new pure divine love that had been revealed to him, was kneeling before him. He realized that it was the real living Natasha, and he was not surprised but quietly happy. Natasha, motionless on her knees (she was unable to stir), with frightened eyes riveted on him, was restraining her sobs. Her face was pale and rigid. Only in the lower part of it something quivered.

Prince Andrew sighed with relief, smiled, and held out his hand.

"You?" he said."How fortunate!"

With a rapid but careful movement Natasha drew nearer to him on her knees and, taking his hand carefully, bent her face over it and began kissing it, just touching it lightly with her lips.

"Forgive me!" she whispered, raising her head and glancing at him."Forgive me!"

"I love you," said Prince Andrew.

"Forgive . . . !"

"Forgive what?" he asked.

"Forgive me for what I ha-ve do-ne!" faltered Natasha in a scarcely audible, broken whisper, and began kissing his hand more rapidly, just touching it with her lips.

"I love you more, better than before," said Prince Andrew, lifting her face with his hand so as to look into her eyes.

Those eyes, filled with happy tears, gazed at him timidly, compassionately, and with joyous love. Natasha's thin pale face, with its swollen lips, was more than plain — it was dreadful. But Prince Andrew did not see that, he saw her shining eyes which were beautiful. They heard the sound of voices behind them.

Peter the valet, who was now wide awake, had roused the doctor. Timokhin, who had not slept at all because of the pain in his leg, had long been watching all that was going on, carefully covering his bare body with the sheet as he huddled up on his bench.

"What's this?" said the doctor, rising from his bed."Please go away, madam!"

At that moment a maid sent by the countess, who had noticed her daughter's absence, knocked at the door.

Like a somnambulist aroused from her sleep Natasha went out of the room and, returning to her hut, fell sobbing on her bed.

From that time, during all the rest of the Rostovs' journey, at every halting place and wherever they spent a night, Natasha never left the wounded Bolkonski, and the doctor had to admit that he had not expected from a young girl either such firmness or such skill in nursing a wounded man.

Dreadful as the countess imagined it would be should Prince Andrew die in her daughter's arms during the journey — as, judging by what the doctor said, it seemed might easily happen — she could not oppose Natasha. Though with the intimacy now established between the wounded man and Natasha the thought occurred that should he recover their former engagement would be renewed, no one — least of all Natasha and Prince Andrew — spoke of this: the unsettled question of life and death, which hung not only over Bolkonski but over all Russia, shut out all other considerations.

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