War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book XII: Chapters 14–16

"This is my niece," said the count, introducing Sonya —"You don't know her, Princess?"

Princess Mary turned to Sonya and, trying to stifle the hostile feeling that arose in her toward the girl, she kissed her. But she felt oppressed by the fact that the mood of everyone around her was so far from what was in her own heart.

"Where is he?" she asked again, addressing them all.

"He is downstairs. Natasha is with him," answered Sonya, flushing."We have sent to ask. I think you must be tired, Princess."

Tears of vexation showed themselves in Princess Mary's eyes. She turned away and was about to ask the countess again how to go to him, when light, impetuous, and seemingly buoyant steps were heard at the door. The princess looked round and saw Natasha coming in, almost running — that Natasha whom she had liked so little at their meeting in Moscow long since.

But hardly had the princess looked at Natasha's face before she realized that here was a real comrade in her grief, and consequently a friend. She ran to meet her, embraced her, and began to cry on her shoulder.

As soon as Natasha, sitting at the head of Prince Andrew's bed, heard of Princess Mary's arrival, she softly left his room and hastened to her with those swift steps that had sounded buoyant to Princess Mary.

There was only one expression on her agitated face when she ran into the drawing room — that of love — boundless love for him, for her, and for all that was near to the man she loved; and of pity, suffering for others, and passionate desire to give herself entirely to helping them. It was plain that at that moment there was in Natasha's heart no thought of herself or of her own relations with Prince Andrew.

Princess Mary, with her acute sensibility, understood all this at the first glance at Natasha's face, and wept on her shoulder with sorrowful pleasure.

"Come, come to him, Mary," said Natasha, leading her into the other room.

Princess Mary raised her head, dried her eyes, and turned to Natasha. She felt that from her she would be able to understand and learn everything.

"How . . ." she began her question but stopped short.

She felt that it was impossible to ask, or to answer, in words. Natasha's face eyes would have to tell her all more clearly and profoundly.

Natasha was gazing at her, but seemed afraid and in doubt whether to say all she knew or not; she seemed to feel that before those luminous eyes which penetrated into the very depths of her heart, it was impossible not to tell the whole truth which she saw. And suddenly, Natasha's lips twitched, ugly wrinkles gathered round her mouth, and covering her face with her hands she burst into sobs.

Princess Mary understood.

But she still hoped, and asked, in words she herself did not trust:

"But how is his wound? What is his general condition?"

"You, you . . . will see," was all Natasha could say.

They sat a little while downstairs near his room till they had left off crying and were able to go to him with calm faces.

"How has his whole illness gone? Is it long since he grew worse? When did this happen?" Princess Mary inquired.

Natasha told her that at first there had been danger from his feverish condition and the pain he suffered, but at Troitsa that had passed and the doctor had only been afraid of gangrene. That danger had also passed. When they reached Yaroslavl the wound had begun to fester (Natasha knew all about such things as festering) and the doctor had said that the festering might take a normal course. Then fever set in, but the doctor had said the fever was not very serious.

"But two days ago this suddenly happened," said Natasha, struggling with her sobs."I don't know why, but you will see what he is like."

"Is he weaker? Thinner?" asked the princess.

"No, it's not that, but worse. You will see. O, Mary, he is too good, he cannot, cannot live, because . . ."

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