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War And Peace 193


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Nicholas brought many young men to his parents house. Vera was a handsome girl of twenty; Sonya a girl of sixteen with all the charm of an opening flower; Natasha, half grown up and half child, was now childishly amusing, now girlishly enchanting. At that time in the Rostovs house there prevailed an amorous atmosphere characteristic of homes where there are very young and very charming girls. Every young man who came to the house--seeing those impressionable, smiling young faces (smiling probably at their own happiness), feeling the eager bustle around him, and hearing the fitful bursts of song and music and the inconsequent but friendly prattle of young girls ready for anything and full of hope--experienced the same feeling; sharing with the young folk of the Rostovs household a readiness to fall in love and an expectation of happiness. Among the young men introduced by Rostov one of the first was Dolokhov, whom everyone in the house liked except Natasha. She almost quarreled with her brother about him. She insisted that he was a bad man, and that in the duel with Bezukhov, Pierre was right and Dolokhov wrong, and further that he was disagreeable and unnatural. "Theres nothing for me to understand," she cried out with resolute self-will, "he is wicked and heartless. There now, I like your Denisov though he is a rake and all that, still I like him; so you see I do understand. I dont know how to put it... with this one everything is calculated, and I dont like that. But Denisov..." "Oh, Denisov is quite different," replied Nicholas, implying that even Denisov was nothing compared to Dolokhov--"you must understand what a soul there is in Dolokhov, you should see him with his mother. What a heart!" "Well, I dont know about that, but I am uncomfortable with him. And do you know he has fallen in love with Sonya?" "What nonsense..." "Im certain of it; youll see." Natashas prediction proved true. Dolokhov, who did not usually care for the society of ladies, began to come often to the house, and the question for whose sake he came (though no one spoke of it) was soon settled. He came because of Sonya. And Sonya, though she would never have dared to say so, knew it and blushed scarlet every time Dolokhov appeared. Dolokhov often dined at the Rostovs, never missed a performance at which they were present, and went to Iogels balls for young people which the Rostovs always attended. He was pointedly attentive to Sonya and looked at her in such a way that not only could she not bear his glances without coloring, but even the old countess and Natasha blushed when they saw his looks. It was evident that this strange, strong man was under the irresistible influence of the dark, graceful girl who loved another. Rostov noticed something new in Dolokhovs relations with Sonya, but he did not explain to himself what these new relations were. "Theyre always in love with someone," he thought of Sonya and Natasha. But he was not as much at ease with Sonya and Dolokhov as before and was less frequently at home. In the autumn of 1806 everybody had again begun talking of the war with Napoleon with even greater warmth than the year before. Orders were given to raise recruits, ten men in every thousand for the regular army, and besides this, nine men in every thousand for the militia. Everywhere Bonaparte was anathematized and in Moscow nothing but the coming war was talked of. For the Rostov family the whole interest of these preparations for war lay in the fact that Nicholas would not hear of remaining in Moscow, and only awaited the termination of Denisovs furlough after Christmas to return with him to their regiment. His approaching departure did not prevent his amusing himself, but rather gave zest to his pleasures. He spent the greater part of his time away from home, at dinners, parties, and balls. CHAPTER XI On the third day after Christmas Nicholas dined at home, a thing he had rarely done of late. It was a grand farewell dinner, as he and Denisov were leaving to join their regiment after Epiphany. About twenty people were present, including Dolokhov and Denisov. Never had love been so much in the air, and never had the amorous atmosphere made itself so strongly felt in the Rostovs house as at this holiday time. "Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here,"

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