This is the kind of chapter that makes me want to skip forward and see what happens.
Nikolai is safely ensconced in the army, in what Tolstoy calls the "obligatory, irreproachable idleness" of military service. He is finally scared into coming home from a letter to his mother saying if he does not come home and help run the house soon they'll lose everything.
There's a great detail about him not wanting to go home, but by the time he's there he rushes the house like breathless as a boy. Natasha is engaged, which he doesn't trust, and neither does his mother, he finds out. I love that in his case it's the lack of betrothal and the delay, while for his mother it's "that hidden feeling of ill-will a mother always has against her daughter's future marital happiness." I don't know if it's true across the board, but it feels like it reveals some truth we all somehow know. These are the moments I love in this book. Now her mother thinks it's ill health, and Nikolai doesn't feel that Natasha is acting like a woman waiting for her betrothed.
Meanwhile, it's made me suspicious, too. I don't know what's going to happen, but it makes me want to skip ahead....
6 months ago