Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
said the maid, who on her knees was
pulling the skirt straight and shifting the pins from one side of
her mouth to the other with her tongue.
"Say what you like," exclaimed Sonya, in a despairing voice as she
looked at Natasha, "say what you like, its still too long."
Natasha stepped back to look at herself in the pier glass. The dress
was too long.
"Really, madam, it is not at all too long," said Mavra, crawling
on her knees after her young lady.
"Well, if its too long well take it up... well tack it up in
one minute," said the resolute Dunyasha taking a needle that was stuck
on the front of her little shawl and, still kneeling on the floor, set
to work once more.
At that moment, with soft steps, the countess came in shyly, in
her cap and velvet gown.
"Oo-oo, my beauty!" exclaimed the count, "she looks better than
any of you!"
He would have embraced her but, blushing, she stepped aside
fearing to be rumpled.
"Mamma, your cap, more to this side," said Natasha. "Ill arrange
it," and she rushed forward so that the maids who were tacking up
her skirt could not move fast enough and a piece of gauze was torn
"Oh goodness! What has happened? Really it was not my fault!"
"Never mind, Ill run it up, it wont show," said Dunyasha.
"What a beauty--a very queen!" said the nurse as she came to the
door. "And Sonya! They are lovely!"
At a quarter past ten they at last got into their carriages and
started. But they had still to call at the Taurida Gardens.
Peronskaya was quite ready. In spite of her age and plainness she
had gone through the same process as the Rostovs, but with less
flurry--for to her it was a matter of routine. Her ugly old body was
washed, perfumed, and powdered in just the same way. She had washed
behind her ears just as carefully, and when she entered her drawing
room in her yellow dress, wearing her badge as maid of honor, her
old ladys maid was as full of rapturous admiration as the Rostovs
servants had been.
She praised the Rostovs toilets. They praised her taste and toilet,
and at eleven oclock, careful of their coiffures and dresses, they
settled themselves in their carriages and drove off.
Natasha had not had a moment free since early morning and had not
once had time to think of what lay before her.
In the damp chill air and crowded closeness of the swaying carriage,
she for the first time vividly imagined what was in store for her
there at the ball, in those brightly lighted rooms--with music,
flowers, dances, the Emperor, and all the brilliant young people of
Petersburg. The prospect was so splendid that she hardly believed it
would come true, so out of keeping was it with the chill darkness
and closeness of the carriage. She understood all that awaited her
only when, after stepping over the red baize at the entrance, she
entered the hall, took off her fur cloak, and, beside Sonya and in
front of her mother, mounted the brightly illuminated stairs between
the flowers. Only then did she remember how she must behave at a ball,
and tried to assume the majestic air she considered indispensable
for a girl on such an occasion. But, fortunately for her, she felt her
eyes growing misty, she saw nothing clearly, her pulse beat a
hundred to the minute, and the blood throbbed at her heart. She
could not assume that pose, which would have made her ridiculous,
and she moved on almost fainting from excitement and trying with all
her might to conceal it. And this was the very attitude that became
her best. Before and behind them other visitors were entering, also
talking in low tones and wearing ball dresses. The mirrors on the
landing reflected ladies in white, pale-blue, and pink dresses, with
diamonds and pearls on their bare necks and arms.
Natasha looked in the mirrors and could not distinguish her
reflection from the others. All was blended into one brilliant
procession. On entering the ballroom the regular hum of voices,
footsteps, and greetings deafened Natasha, and the light and glitter
dazzled her still more. The host and hostess, who had already been
standing at the door for half an hour repeating the same words to
the various arrivals, "Charme de vous voir,"* greeted the Rostovs
and Peronskaya in the same manner.
*"Delighted to see you."
The two girls in their white dresses, each with a rose
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