FROM THAT FIRST EVENING, when Natasha had said to Princess Marya, with a gaily mocking smile, that he looked exactly, yes, exactly, as if he had come out of a bath with his short jacket and his cropped hair—from that minute something hidden and unrecognised by herself, yet irresistible, awakened in Natasha's soul.
Everything—face, gait, eyes, voice—everything was at once transformed in her. To her own surprise, the force of life and hopes of happiness floated to the surface and demanded satisfaction. From that first evening Natasha seemed to have forgotten all that had happened to her. From that time she never once complained of her position; she said not one word about the past, and was not afraid of already making light-hearted plans for the future. She spoke little of Pierre; but when Princess Marya mentioned him, a light that had long been dim gleamed in her eyes, and her lips curved in a strange smile.
The change that took place in Natasha at first surprised Princess Marya; but when she understood what it meant, that change mortified her. “Can she have loved my brother so little that she can so soon forget him?” thought Princess Marya, when she thought over it alone. But when she was with Natasha she was not vexed with her, and did not blame her. The awakened force of life that had regained possession of Natasha was obviously so irresistible and so unexpected by herself, that in Natasha's presence Princess Marya felt that she had no right to blame her even in her heart.
Natasha gave herself up with such completeness and sincerity to her new feeling that she did not even attempt to conceal that she was not now sorrowful, but glad and happy.
When Princess Marya had returned to her room that night after her interview with Pierre, Natasha met her on the threshold.
“He has spoken? Yes? He has spoken?” she repeated. And a joyful, and at the same time piteous, expression, that begged forgiveness for its joy, was in Natasha's face. “I wanted to listen at the door; but I knew you would tell me.”
Ready as Princess Marya was to understand and to be touched by the expression with which Natasha looked at her, and much as she felt for her agitation, yet her words for the first moment mortified her. She thought of her brother and his love.
“But what is one to do? She cannot help it,” thought Princess Marya; and with a sad and somewhat severe face she repeated to Natasha all Pierre had said to her. Natasha was stupefied to hear he was going to Petersburg. “To Petersburg!” she repeated, as though unable to take it in.
But looking at the mournful expression of Princess Marya's face she divined the cause of her sadness, and suddenly burst into tears.
“Marie,” she said, “tell me what I am to do. I am afraid of being horrid. Whatever you say, I will do; tell me …”
“You love him?”
“Yes!” whispered Natasha.
“What are you crying for, then? I am very glad for you,” said Princess Marya, moved by those tears to complete forgiveness of Natasha's joy.
“It will not be soon … some day. Only think how happy it will be when I am his wife and you marry Nikolay!”
“Natasha, I have begged you not to speak of that. Let us talk of you.”
Both were silent.
“Only why go to Petersburg?” cried Natasha suddenly, and she hastened to answer herself. “No, no; it must be so … Yes, Marie? It must be …”