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War And Peace 334


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it?" "Dear me, Michael Kirilovich has grown still stouter!" remarked the count. "Look at our Anna Mikhaylovna--what a headdress she has on!" "The Karagins, Julie--and Boris with them. One can see at once that theyre engaged...." "Drubetskoy has proposed?" "Oh yes, I heard it today," said Shinshin, coming into the Rostovs box. Natasha looked in the direction in which her fathers eyes were turned and saw Julie sitting beside her mother with a happy look on her face and a string of pearls round her thick red neck--which Natasha knew was covered with powder. Behind them, wearing a smile and leaning over with an ear to Julies mouth, was Boris handsome smoothly brushed head. He looked at the Rostovs from under his brows and said something, smiling, to his betrothed. "They are talking about us, about me and him!" thought Natasha. "And he no doubt is calming her jealousy of me. They neednt trouble themselves! If only they knew how little I am concerned about any of them." Behind them sat Anna Mikhaylovna wearing a green headdress and with a happy look of resignation to the will of God on her face. Their box was pervaded by that atmosphere of an affianced couple which Natasha knew so well and liked so much. She turned away and suddenly remembered all that had been so humiliating in her mornings visit. "What right has he not to wish to receive me into his family? Oh, better not think of it--not till he comes back!" she told herself, and began looking at the faces, some strange and some familiar, in the stalls. In the front, in the very center, leaning back against the orchestra rail, stood Dolokhov in a Persian dress, his curly hair brushed up into a huge shock. He stood in full view of the audience, well aware that he was attracting everyones attention, yet as much at ease as though he were in his own room. Around him thronged Moscows most brilliant young men, whom he evidently dominated. The count, laughing, nudged the blushing Sonya and pointed to her former adorer. "Do you recognize him?" said he. "And where has he sprung from?" he asked, turning to Shinshin. "Didnt he vanish somewhere?" "He did," replied Shinshin. "He was in the Caucasus and ran away from there. They say he has been acting as minister to some ruling prince in Persia, where he killed the Shahs brother. Now all the Moscow ladies are mad about him! Its Dolokhov the Persian that does it! We never hear a word but Dolokhov is mentioned. They swear by him, they offer him to you as they would a dish of choice sterlet. Dolokhov and Anatole Kuragin have turned all our ladies heads." A tall, beautiful woman with a mass of plaited hair and much exposed plump white shoulders and neck, round which she wore a double string of large pearls, entered the adjoining box rustling her heavy silk dress and took a long time settling into her place. Natasha involuntarily gazed at that neck, those shoulders, and pearls and coiffure, and admired the beauty of the shoulders and the pearls. While Natasha was fixing her gaze on her for the second time the lady looked round and, meeting the counts eyes, nodded to him and smiled. She was the Countess Bezukhova, Pierres wife, and the count, who knew everyone in society, leaned over and spoke to her. "Have you been here long, Countess?" he inquired. "Ill call, Ill call to kiss your hand. Im here on business and have brought my girls with me. They say Semenova acts marvelously. Count Pierre never used to forget us. Is he here?" "Yes, he meant to look in," answered Helene, and glanced attentively at Natasha. Count Rostov resumed his seat. "Handsome, isnt she?" he whispered to Natasha. "Wonderful!" answered Natasha. "Shes a woman one could easily fall in love with." Just then the last chords of the overture were heard and the conductor tapped with his stick. Some latecomers took their seats in the stalls, and the curtain rose. As soon as it rose everyone in the boxes and stalls became silent, and all the men, old and young, in uniform and evening dress, and all the women with gems on their bare flesh, turned their whole attention with eager curiosity to the stage. Natasha too began to look at it. CHAPTER IX The floor of the stage consisted of smooth boards, at the sides was some painted cardboard representing trees, and at the back was a cloth stretched over boards. In the center of the stage sat some girls in red bodices and white

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