War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book XV: Chapters 12–20

"People speak of misfortunes and sufferings," remarked Pierre,"but if at this moment I were asked: 'Would you rather be what you were before you were taken prisoner, or go through all this again?' then for heaven's sake let me again have captivity and horseflesh! We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us. I say this to you," he added, turning to Natasha.

"Yes, yes," she said, answering something quite different."I too should wish nothing but to relive it all from the beginning."

Pierre looked intently at her.

"Yes, and nothing more." said Natasha.

"It's not true, not true!" cried Pierre."I am not to blame for being alive and wishing to live — nor you either."

Suddenly Natasha bent her head, covered her face with her hands, and began to cry.

"What is it, Natasha?" said Princess Mary.

"Nothing, nothing." She smiled at Pierre through her tears."Good night! It is time for bed."

Pierre rose and took his leave.

Princess Mary and Natasha met as usual in the bedroom. They talked of what Pierre had told them. Princess Mary did not express her opinion of Pierre nor did Natasha speak of him.

"Well, good night, Mary!" said Natasha."Do you know, I am often afraid that by not speaking of him" (she meant Prince Andrew)"for fear of not doing justice to our feelings, we forget him."

Princess Mary sighed deeply and thereby acknowledged the justice of Natasha's remark, but she did not express agreement in words.

"Is it possible to forget?" said she.

"It did me so much good to tell all about it today. It was hard and painful, but good, very good!" said Natasha."I am sure he really loved him. That is why I told him . . . Was it all right?" she added, suddenly blushing.

"To tell Pierre? Oh, yes. What a splendid man he is!" said Princess Mary.

"Do you know, Mary . . ." Natasha suddenly said with a mischievous smile such as Princess Mary had not seen on her face for a long time,"he has somehow grown so clean, smooth, and fresh — as if he had just come out of a Russian bath; do you understand? Out of a moral bath. Isn't it true?"

"Yes," replied Princess Mary."He has greatly improved."

"With a short coat and his hair cropped; just as if, well, just as if he had come straight from the bath . . . Papa used to . . ."

"I understand why he" (Prince Andrew)"liked no one so much as him," said Princess Mary.

"Yes, and yet he is quite different. They say men are friends when they are quite different. That must be true. Really he is quite unlike him — in everything."

"Yes, but he's wonderful."

"Well, good night," said Natasha.

And the same mischievous smile lingered for a long time on her face as if it had been forgotten there.

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