BOOK FIFTEEN: 1812 - 13
2. CHAPTER II
"Natasha! Natasha!..." cried the countess. "It's not true... it's
not true... He's lying... Natasha!" she shrieked, pushing those around
her away. "Go away, all of you; it's not true! Killed!... ha, ha,
ha!... It's not true!"
Natasha put one knee on the armchair, stooped over her mother,
embraced her, and with unexpected strength raised her, turned her face
toward herself, and clung to her.
"Mummy!... darling!... I am here, my dearest Mummy," she kept on
whispering, not pausing an instant.
She did not let go of her mother but struggled tenderly with her,
demanded a pillow and hot water, and unfastened and tore open her
"My dearest darling... Mummy, my precious!..." she whispered
incessantly, kissing her head, her hands, her face, and feeling her
own irrepressible and streaming tears tickling her nose and cheeks.
The countess pressed her daughter's hand, closed her eyes, and
became quiet for a moment. Suddenly she sat up with unaccustomed
swiftness, glanced vacantly around her, and seeing Natasha began to
press her daughter's head with all her strength. Then she turned
toward her daughter's face which was wincing with pain and gazed
long at it.
"Natasha, you love me?" she said in a soft trustful whisper.
"Natasha, you would not deceive me? You'll tell me the whole truth?"
Natasha looked at her with eyes full of tears and in her look
there was nothing but love and an entreaty for forgiveness.
"My darling Mummy!" she repeated, straining all the power of her
love to find some way of taking on herself the excess of grief that
crushed her mother.
And again in a futile struggle with reality her mother, refusing
to believe that she could live when her beloved boy was killed in
the bloom of life, escaped from reality into a world of delirium.