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Later that night Nikolai sees Marya writing in her diary. When he reads it, he sees it’s all descriptions of family life – mostly about the kids, and what they are doing, and what she thinks about how she is raising them.
Nikolai is amazed by this stuff. He never knew how deeply she thought about being a mom.
He then tells her about Pierre and his secret society. He complains how he felt kind of trapped into a corner by the conversation.
Marya agrees with him. Then she tells him that she worries about Nikolenka and the fact that she doesn’t love him as much as her own kids.
Nikolai doesn’t like him at all, so he basically says it’s fine, and that she's a great aunt to him.
They keep talking.
Suddenly, Nikolai realizes that if something were to happen to Marya, the whole family would be completely lost.