he retained in his mind, that so suddenly revealed image, with an infinite mournfulness. She, who in her less splendid but finer and more spiritual part, had ever seemed to Pierre not only as a beautiful saint before whom to offer up his daily orisons, but also as a gentle lady-counsellor and confessor, and her revered chamber as a soft satin-hung cabinet and confessional ;—his mother was no longer this all-alluring thing ; no more, he too keenly felt, could he go to his mother, as to one who entirely sympathised with him ; as to one before whom he could almost unreservedly unbosom himself ; as to one capable of pointing out to him the true path where he seemed most beset. Wonderful, indeed, was that electric insight which Fate had now given him into the vital character of his mother. She well might have stood all ordinary tests ; but when Pierre thought of the touchstone of his immense strait applied to her spirit ; he felt profoundly assured that she would crumble into nothing before it.
She was a noble creature, but formed chiefly for the gilded prosperities of life, and hitherto mostly used to its unruffled serenities ; bred and expanded, in all developments, under the sole influence of hereditary forms and world-usages. Not his refined, courtly, loving, equable mother, Pierre felt, could unreservedly, and like a heaven's heroine, meet the shock of his extraordinary emergency, and applaud, to his heart's echo, a sublime resolve, whose execution should call down the astonishment and the jeers of the world.
My mother !—dearest mother !—God hath given me a sister, and unto thee a daughter, and covered her with the world's extremest infamy and scorn, that so I and thou—thou, my mother, mightest gloriously own her, and acknowledge her, and—Nay, nay, groaned Pierre, never, never, could such syllables be one instant tolerated