BOOK TWELVE: 1812
16. CHAPTER XVI
They both saw that he was sinking slowly and quietly, deeper and
deeper, away from them, and they both knew that this had to be so
and that it was right.
He confessed, and received communion: everyone came to take leave of
him. When they brought his son to him, he pressed his lips to the
boy's and turned away, not because he felt it hard and sad (Princess
Mary and Natasha understood that) but simply because he thought it was
all that was required of him, but when they told him to bless the boy,
he did what was demanded and looked round as if asking whether there
was anything else he should do.
When the last convulsions of the body, which the spirit was leaving,
occurred, Princess Mary and Natasha were present.
"Is it over?" said Princess Mary when his body had for a few minutes
lain motionless, growing cold before them. Natasha went up, looked
at the dead eyes, and hastened to close them. She closed them but
did not kiss them, but clung to that which reminded her most nearly of
him- his body.
"Where has he gone? Where is he now?..."
When the body, washed and dressed, lay in the coffin on a table,
everyone came to take leave of him and they all wept.
Little Nicholas cried because his heart was rent by painful
perplexity. The countess and Sonya cried from pity for Natasha and
because he was no more. The old count cried because he felt that
before long, he, too, must take the same terrible step.
Natasha and Princess Mary also wept now, but not because of their
own personal grief; they wept with a reverent and softening emotion
which had taken possession of their souls at the consciousness of
the simple and solemn mystery of death that had been accomplished in