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War And Peace 267


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He may already have found a suitable and wealthy match, and now hes half crazy." "Crazy?" repeated Natasha. "Ill tell you some things about myself. I had a cousin..." "I know! Cyril Matveich... but he is old." "He was not always old. But this is what Ill do, Natasha, Ill have a talk with Boris. He need not come so often...." "Why not, if he likes to?" "Because I know it will end in nothing...." "How can you know? No, Mamma, dont speak to him! What nonsense!" said Natasha in the tone of one being deprived of her property. "Well, I wont marry, but let him come if he enjoys it and I enjoy it." Natasha smiled and looked at her mother. "Not to marry, but just so," she added. "How so, my pet?" "Just so. Theres no need for me to marry him. But... just so." "Just so, just so," repeated the countess, and shaking all over, she went off into a good humored, unexpected, elderly laugh. "Dont laugh, stop!" cried Natasha. "Youre shaking the whole bed! Youre awfully like me, just such another giggler.... Wait..." and she seized the countess hands and kissed a knuckle of the little finger, saying, "June," and continued, kissing, "July, August," on the other hand. "But, Mamma, is he very much in love? What do you think? Was anybody ever so much in love with you? And hes very nice, very, very nice. Only not quite my taste--he is so narrow, like the dining-room clock.... Dont you understand? Narrow, you know--gray, light gray..." "What rubbish youre talking!" said the countess. Natasha continued: "Dont you really understand? Nicholas would understand.... Bezukhov, now, is blue, dark-blue and red, and he is square." "You flirt with him too," said the countess, laughing. "No, he is a Freemason, I have found out. He is fine, dark-blue and red.... How can I explain it to you?" "Little countess!" the counts voice called from behind the door. "Youre not asleep?" Natasha jumped up, snatched up her slippers, and ran barefoot to her own room. It was a long time before she could sleep. She kept thinking that no one could understand all that she understood and all there was in her. "Sonya?" she thought, glancing at that curled-up, sleeping little kitten with her enormous plait of hair. "No, how could she? Shes virtuous. She fell in love with Nicholas and does not wish to know anything more. Even Mamma does not understand. It is wonderful how clever I am and how... charming she is," she went on, speaking of herself in the third person, and imagining it was some very wise man--the wisest and best of men--who was saying it of her. "There is everything, everything in her," continued this man. "She is unusually intelligent, charming... and then she is pretty, uncommonly pretty, and agile--she swims and rides splendidly... and her voice! One can really say its a wonderful voice!" She hummed a scrap from her favorite opera by Cherubini, threw herself on her bed, laughed at the pleasant thought that she would immediately fall asleep, called Dunyasha the maid to put out the candle, and before Dunyasha had left the room had already passed into yet another happier world of dreams, where everything was as light and beautiful as in reality, and even more so because it was different. Next day the countess called Boris aside and had a talk with him, after which he ceased coming to the Rostovs. CHAPTER XIV On the thirty-first of December, New Years Eve, 1809 --10 an old grandee of Catherines day was giving a ball and midnight supper. The diplomatic corps and the Emperor himself were to be present. The grandees well-known mansion on the English Quay glittered with innumerable lights. Police were stationed at the brightly lit entrance which was carpeted with red baize, and not only gendarmes but dozens of police officers and even the police master himself stood at the porch. Carriages kept driving away and fresh ones arriving, with red-liveried footmen and footmen in plumed hats. From the carriages emerged men wearing uniforms, stars, and ribbons, while ladies in satin and ermine cautiously descended the carriage steps which were let down for them with a clatter, and then walked hurriedly and noiselessly over the baize at the entrance. Almost every time a new carriage drove up a whisper ran through the crowd and caps were doffed. "The Emperor?... No, a minister.... prince... ambassador. Dont you see the plumes?..." was whispered among the crowd. One person, better dressed than the rest, seemed to know everyone and mentioned by name the greatest dignitaries of the day. A third

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