So, at Marya’s advice, Natasha and the count go to meet Marya and the old Prince.
He, of course, won’t receive them. Ilya Andreich (count Rostov) is flustered, which surprises Natasha. Mlle Bourienne meets them, then Princess Marya. Marya is covered in blotches from being flustered - not only does she already want to hate Natasha, her father yelled at her that he would not receive them.
Count Rostov takes this moment to excuse himself, on the pretext of running an errand, to leave Marya and Natasha alone. The writing is great in the layers of discomfort and embarassment. Natasha blushes for her father’s fear and anxiety, and then is angry at herself for blushing.
It’s clear that Marya would like to speak to Natasha alone, but Bourienne will not leave them room. She chats on about nothing, causing Natasha to be forcedly casual in a way that only annoys Marya further.
On top of this, the old Prince walks in, saying over and over that he did not mean to come in in his dressing gown, had no idea she’d be there, as God as his witness. He leaves, and as Bourienne talks about his ill health Natasha and Princess Marya silently looked at each other, and the onlger they looked at each other silently, without saying what they needed to say, the more ill-willed their thoughts about each other.
Finally, as they are leaving, Marya goes up to Natasha to tell her that she’s glad her brother has found happiness. She stops, as she’s not speaking the truth. Natasha senses this and cuts her off, telling her it’s not the right time.
She goes back to Marya Dmitrievna’s and sobs. Marya Dmitrievna knows what happened, but at dinner speaks as if it didn’t.
You can just feel Natasha’s pain at having to meet this strange, awkward group without Andrei. T even describes their house as gloomy. Andrei’s beginning to feel like an apparition, even to me at this point. You can’t help but wonder where he is, if he’s even still alive. That thought, that something bad happened, is starting to occur to me.
And what’s happened to his son? He must be around, but he’s 6 years old at this point, we’re told. You’d think that he’d be a little more present. It’s 1811, I guess, then, if he’s six. Time still a little unclear to me in this. I’d find a timeline on-line, but it would ruin the plot things I don’t know. I want to keep it a mystery.