BOOK FOUR: 1806
16. CHAPTER XVI
The old count cast down his eyes on hearing his son's words and
began bustlingly searching for something.
"Yes, yes," he muttered, "it will be difficult, I fear, difficult to
raise... happens to everybody! Yes, who has not done it?"
And with a furtive glance at his son's face, the count went out of
the room.... Nicholas had been prepared for resistance, but had not at
all expected this.
"Papa! Pa-pa!" he called after him, sobbing, "forgive me!" And
seizing his father's hand, he pressed it to his lips and burst into
While father and son were having their explanation, the mother and
daughter were having one not less important. Natasha came running to
her mother, quite excited.
"Mamma!... Mamma!... He has made me..."
"Made, made me an offer, Mamma! Mamma!" she exclaimed.
The countess did not believe her ears. Denisov had proposed. To
whom? To this chit of a girl, Natasha, who not so long ago was playing
with dolls and who was still having lessons.
"Don't, Natasha! What nonsense!" she said, hoping it was a joke.
"Nonsense, indeed! I am telling you the fact," said Natasha
indignantly. "I come to ask you what to do, and you call it
The countess shrugged her shoulders.
"If it true that Monsieur Denisov has made you a proposal, tell
him he is a fool, that's all!"
"No, he's not a fool!" replied Natasha indignantly and seriously.
"Well then, what do you want? You're all in love nowadays. Well,
if you are in love, marry him!" said the countess, with a laugh of
annoyance. "Good luck to you!"