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War And Peace 341


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to have an explanation with him about Natasha. After she had gone, a dressmaker from Madame Suppert-Roguet waited on the Rostovs, and Natasha, very glad of this diversion, having shut herself into a room adjoining the drawing room, occupied herself trying on the new dresses. Just as she had put on a bodice without sleeves and only tacked together, and was turning her head to see in the glass how the back fitted, she heard in the drawing room the animated sounds of her fathers voice and anothers--a womans--that made her flush. It was Helene. Natasha had not time to take off the bodice before the door opened and Countess Bezukhova, dressed in a purple velvet gown with a high collar, came into the room beaming with good-humored amiable smiles. "Oh, my enchantress!" she cried to the blushing Natasha. "Charming! No, this is really beyond anything, my dear count," said she to Count Rostov who had followed her in. "How can you live in Moscow and go nowhere? No, I wont let you off! Mademoiselle George will recite at my house tonight and therell be some people, and if you dont bring your lovely girls--who are prettier than Mademoiselle George--I wont know you! My husband is away in Tver or I would send him to fetch you. You must come. You positively must! Between eight and nine." She nodded to the dressmaker, whom she knew and who had curtsied respectfully to her, and seated herself in an armchair beside the looking glass, draping the folds of her velvet dress picturesquely. She did not cease chattering good-naturedly and gaily, continually praising Natashas beauty. She looked at Natashas dresses and praised them, as well as a new dress of her own made of "metallic gauze," which she had received from Paris, and advised Natasha to have one like it. "But anything suits you, my charmer!" she remarked. A smile of pleasure never left Natashas face. She felt happy and as if she were blossoming under the praise of this dear Countess Bezukhova who had formerly seemed to her so unapproachable and important and was now so kind to her. Natasha brightened up and felt almost in love with this woman, who was so beautiful and so kind. Helene for her part was sincerely delighted with Natasha and wished to give her a good time. Anatole had asked her to bring him and Natasha together, and she was calling on the Rostovs for that purpose. The idea of throwing her brother and Natasha together amused her. Though at one time, in Petersburg, she had been annoyed with Natasha for drawing Boris away, she did not think of that now, and in her own way heartily wished Natasha well. As she was leaving the Rostovs she called her protegee aside. "My brother dined with me yesterday--we nearly died of laughter--he ate nothing and kept sighing for you, my charmer! He is madly, quite madly, in love with you, my dear." Natasha blushed scarlet when she heard this. "How she blushes, how she blushes, my pretty!" said Helene. "You must certainly come. If you love somebody, my charmer, that is not a reason to shut yourself up. Even if you are engaged, I am sure your fiance would wish you to go into society rather than be bored to death." "So she knows I am engaged, and she and her husband Pierre--that good Pierre--have talked and laughed about this. So its all right." And again, under Helenes influence, what had seemed terrible now seemed simple and natural. "And she is such a grande dame, so kind, and evidently likes me so much. And why not enjoy myself?" thought Natasha, gazing at Helene with wide-open, wondering eyes. Marya Dmitrievna came back to dinner taciturn and serious, having evidently suffered a defeat at the old princes. She was still too agitated by the encounter to be able to talk of the affair calmly. In answer to the counts inquiries she replied that things were all right and that she would tell about it next day. On hearing of Countess Bezukhovas visit and the invitation for that evening, Marya Dmitrievna remarked: "I dont care to have anything to do with Bezukhova and dont advise you to; however, if youve promised--go. It will divert your thoughts," she added, addressing Natasha. CHAPTER XIII Count Rostov took the girls to Countess Bezukhovas. There were a good many people there, but nearly all strangers to Natasha. Count Rostov was displeased to see that the company consisted almost entirely of men and women known for the freedom of their conduct. Mademoiselle George was standing in a

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