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War And Peace 273


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And such was Natasha, with her surprise, her delight, her shyness, and even her mistakes in speaking French. With her he behaved with special care and tenderness, sitting beside her and talking of the simplest and most unimportant matters; he admired her shy grace. In the middle of the cotillion, having completed one of the figures, Natasha, still out of breath, was returning to her seat when another dancer chose her. She was tired and panting and evidently thought of declining, but immediately put her hand gaily on the mans shoulder, smiling at Prince Andrew. "Id be glad to sit beside you and rest: Im tired; but you see how they keep asking me, and Im glad of it, Im happy and I love everybody, and you and I understand it all," and much, much more was said in her smile. When her partner left her Natasha ran across the room to choose two ladies for the figure. "If she goes to her cousin first and then to another lady, she will be my wife," said Prince Andrew to himself quite to his own surprise, as he watched her. She did go first to her cousin. "What rubbish sometimes enters ones head!" thought Prince Andrew, "but what is certain is that that girl is so charming, so original, that she wont be dancing here a month before she will be married.... Such as she are rare here," he thought, as Natasha, readjusting a rose that was slipping on her bodice, settled herself beside him. When the cotillion was over the old count in his blue coat came up to the dancers. He invited Prince Andrew to come and see them, and asked his daughter whether she was enjoying herself. Natasha did not answer at once but only looked up with a smile that said reproachfully: "How can you ask such a question?" "I have never enjoyed myself so much before!" she said, and Prince Andrew noticed how her thin arms rose quickly as if to embrace her father and instantly dropped again. Natasha was happier than she had ever been in her life. She was at that height of bliss when one becomes completely kind and good and does not believe in the possibility of evil, unhappiness, or sorrow. At that ball Pierre for the first time felt humiliated by the position his wife occupied in court circles. He was gloomy and absent-minded. A deep furrow ran across his forehead, and standing by a window he stared over his spectacles seeing no one. On her way to supper Natasha passed him. Pierres gloomy, unhappy look struck her. She stopped in front of him. She wished to help him, to bestow on him the superabundance of her own happiness. "How delightful it is, Count!" said she. "Isnt it?" Pierre smiled absent-mindedly, evidently not grasping what she said. "Yes, I am very glad," he said. "How can people be dissatisfied with anything?" thought Natasha. "Especially such a capital fellow as Bezukhov!" In Natashas eyes all the people at the ball alike were good, kind, and splendid people, loving one another; none of them capable of injuring another--and so they ought all to be happy. CHAPTER XVIII Next day Prince Andrew thought of the ball, but his mind did not dwell on it long. "Yes, it was a very brilliant ball," and then... "Yes, that little Rostova is very charming. Theres something fresh, original, un-Petersburg-like about her that distinguishes her." That was all he thought about yesterdays ball, and after his morning tea he set to work. But either from fatigue or want of sleep he was ill-disposed for work and could get nothing done. He kept criticizing his own work, as he often did, and was glad when he heard someone coming. The visitor was Bitski, who served on various committees, frequented all the societies in Petersburg, and a passionate devotee of the new ideas and of Speranski, and a diligent Petersburg newsmonger--one of those men who choose their opinions like their clothes according to the fashion, but who for that very reason appear to be the warmest partisans. Hardly had he got rid of his hat before he ran into Prince Andrews room with a preoccupied air and at once began talking. He had just heard particulars of that mornings sitting of the Council of State opened by the Emperor, and he spoke of it enthusiastically. The Emperors speech had been extraordinary. It had been a speech such as only constitutional monarchs deliver. "The Sovereign plainly said that the Council and Senate are estates of the realm, he said that the government must rest

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