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War And Peace 270


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in her black hair, both curtsied in the same way, but the hostess eye involuntarily rested longer on the slim Natasha. She looked at her and gave her alone a special smile in addition to her usual smile as hostess. Looking at her she may have recalled the golden, irrecoverable days of her own girlhood and her own first ball. The host also followed Natasha with his eyes and asked the count which was his daughter. "Charming!" said he, kissing the tips of his fingers. In the ballroom guests stood crowding at the entrance doors awaiting the Emperor. The countess took up a position in one of the front rows of that crowd. Natasha heard and felt that several people were asking about her and looking at her. She realized that those noticing her liked her, and this observation helped to calm her. "There are some like ourselves and some worse," she thought. Peronskaya was pointing out to the countess the most important people at the ball. "That is the Dutch ambassador, do you see? That gray-haired man," she said, indicating an old man with a profusion of silver-gray curly hair, who was surrounded by ladies laughing at something he said. "Ah, here she is, the Queen of Petersburg, Countess Bezukhova," said Peronskaya, indicating Helene who had just entered. "How lovely! She is quite equal to Marya Antonovna. See how the men, young and old, pay court to her. Beautiful and clever... they say Prince--is quite mad about her. But see, those two, though not good-looking, are even more run after." She pointed to a lady who was crossing the room followed by a very plain daughter. "She is a splendid match, a millionairess," said Peronskaya. "And look, here come her suitors." "That is Bezukhovas brother, Anatole Kuragin," she said, indicating a handsome officer of the Horse Guards who passed by them with head erect, looking at something over the heads of the ladies. "Hes handsome, isnt he? I hear they will marry him to that rich girl. But your cousin, Drubetskoy, is also very attentive to her. They say she has millions. Oh yes, thats the French ambassador himself!" she replied to the countess inquiry about Caulaincourt. "Looks as if he were a king! All the same, the French are charming, very charming. No one more charming in society. Ah, here she is! Yes, she is still the most beautiful of them all, our Marya Antonovna! And how simply she is dressed! Lovely! And that stout one in spectacles is the universal Freemason," she went on, indicating Pierre. "Put him beside his wife and he looks a regular buffoon!" Pierre, swaying his stout body, advanced, making way through the crowd and nodding to right and left as casually and good-naturedly as if he were passing through a crowd at a fair. He pushed through, evidently looking for someone. Natasha looked joyfully at the familiar face of Pierre, "the buffoon," as Peronskaya had called him, and knew he was looking for them, and for her in particular. He had promised to be at the ball and introduce partners to her. But before he reached them Pierre stopped beside a very handsome, dark man of middle height, and in a white uniform, who stood by a window talking to a tall man wearing stars and a ribbon. Natasha at once recognized the shorter and younger man in the white uniform: it was Bolkonski, who seemed to her to have grown much younger, happier, and better-looking. "Theres someone else we know--Bolkonski, do you see, Mamma?" said Natasha, pointing out Prince Andrew. "You remember, he stayed a night with us at Otradnoe." "Oh, you know him?" said Peronskaya. "I cant bear him. Il fait a present la pluie et le beau temps.* Hes too proud for anything. Takes after his father. And hes hand in glove with Speranski, writing some project or other. Just look how he treats the ladies! Theres one talking to him and he has turned away," she said, pointing at him. "Id give it to him if he treated me as he does those ladies." *"He is all the rage just now." CHAPTER XVI Suddenly everybody stirred, began talking, and pressed forward and then back, and between the two rows, which separated, the Emperor entered to the sounds of music that had immediately struck up. Behind him walked his host and hostess. He walked in rapidly, bowing to right and left as if anxious to get the first moments of the reception over. The band played the polonaise in vogue at that time on account of the words that had been set to it,

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