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War And Peace 312


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how afraid I am!" said the countess, not realizing to whom she was speaking. Her maternal instinct told her that Natasha had too much of something, and that because of this she would not be happy. Before Natasha had finished singing, fourteen-year-old Petya rushed in delightedly, to say that some mummers had arrived. Natasha stopped abruptly. "Idiot!" she screamed at her brother and, running to a chair, threw herself on it, sobbing so violently that she could not stop for a long time. "Its nothing, Mamma, really its nothing; only Petya startled me," she said, trying to smile, but her tears still flowed and sobs still choked her. The mummers (some of the house serfs) dressed up as bears, Turks, innkeepers, and ladies--frightening and funny--bringing in with them the cold from outside and a feeling of gaiety, crowded, at first timidly, into the anteroom, then hiding behind one another they pushed into the ballroom where, shyly at first and then more and more merrily and heartily, they started singing, dancing, and playing Christmas games. The countess, when she had identified them and laughed at their costumes, went into the drawing room. The count sat in the ballroom, smiling radiantly and applauding the players. The young people had disappeared. Half an hour later there appeared among the other mummers in the ballroom an old lady in a hooped skirt--this was Nicholas. A Turkish girl was Petya. A clown was Dimmler. An hussar was Natasha, and a Circassian was Sonya with burnt-cork mustache and eyebrows. After the condescending surprise, nonrecognition, and praise, from those who were not themselves dressed up, the young people decided that their costumes were so good that they ought to be shown elsewhere. Nicholas, who, as the roads were in splendid condition, wanted to take them all for a drive in his troyka, proposed to take with them about a dozen of the serf mummers and drive to "Uncles." "No, why disturb the old fellow?" said the countess. "Besides, you wouldnt have room to turn round there. If you must go, go to the Melyukovs." Melyukova was a widow, who, with her family and their tutors and governesses, lived three miles from the Rostovs. "Thats right, my dear," chimed in the old count, thoroughly aroused. "Ill dress up at once and go with them. Ill make Pashette open her eyes." But the countess would not agree to his going; he had had a bad leg all these last days. It was decided that the count must not go, but that if Louisa Ivanovna (Madame Schoss) would go with them, the young ladies might go to the Melyukovs, Sonya, generally so timid and shy, more urgently than anyone begging Louisa Ivanovna not to refuse. Sonyas costume was the best of all. Her mustache and eyebrows were extraordinarily becoming. Everyone told her she looked very handsome, and she was in a spirited and energetic mood unusual with her. Some inner voice told her that now or never her fate would be decided, and in her male attire she seemed quite a different person. Louisa Ivanovna consented to go, and in half an hour four troyka sleighs with large and small bells, their runners squeaking and whistling over the frozen snow, drove up to the porch. Natasha was foremost in setting a merry holiday tone, which, passing from one to another, grew stronger and reached its climax when they all came out into the frost and got into the sleighs, talking, calling to one another, laughing, and shouting. Two of the troykas were the usual household sleighs, the third was the old counts with a trotter from the Orlov stud as shaft horse, the fourth was Nicholas own with a short shaggy black shaft horse. Nicholas, in his old ladys dress over which he had belted his hussar overcoat, stood in the middle of the sleigh, reins in hand. It was so light that he could see the moonlight reflected from the metal harness disks and from the eyes of the horses, who looked round in alarm at the noisy party under the shadow of the porch roof. Natasha, Sonya, Madame Schoss, and two maids got into Nicholas sleigh; Dimmler, his wife, and Petya, into the old counts, and the rest of the mummers seated themselves in the other two sleighs. "You go ahead, Zakhar!" shouted Nicholas to his fathers coachman, wishing for a chance to race past him. The old counts troyka, with Dimmler and his party, started forward, squeaking on its runners as though freezing to the snow, its deep-toned bell clanging. The side horses, pressing against the shafts of the middle horse, sank

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