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War And Peace 566

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hussar married and settled down. Among these was the governors wife herself, who welcomed Rostov as a near relative and called him "Nicholas." Catherine Petrovna did actually play valses and the ecossaise, and dancing began in which Nicholas still further captivated the provincial society by his agility. His particularly free manner of dancing even surprised them all. Nicholas was himself rather surprised at the way he danced that evening. He had never danced like that in Moscow and would even have considered such a very free and easy manner improper and in bad form, but here he felt it incumbent on him to astonish them all by something unusual, something they would have to accept as the regular thing in the capital though new to them in the provinces. All the evening Nicholas paid attention to a blue-eyed, plump and pleasing little blonde, the wife of one of the provincial officials. With the naive conviction of young men in a merry mood that other mens wives were created for them, Rostov did not leave the ladys side and treated her husband in a friendly and conspiratorial style, as if, without speaking of it, they knew how capitally Nicholas and the lady would get on together. The husband, however, did not seem to share that conviction and tried to behave morosely with Rostov. But the latters good-natured naivete was so boundless that sometimes even he involuntarily yielded to Nicholas good humor. Toward the end of the evening, however, as the wifes face grew more flushed and animated, the husbands became more and more melancholy and solemn, as though there were but a given amount of animation between them and as the wifes share increased the husbands diminished. CHAPTER V Nicholas sat leaning slightly forward in an armchair, bending closely over the blonde lady and paying her mythological compliments with a smile that never left his face. Jauntily shifting the position of his legs in their tight riding breeches, diffusing an odor of perfume, and admiring his partner, himself, and the fine outlines of his legs in their well-fitting Hessian boots, Nicholas told the blonde lady that he wished to run away with a certain lady here in Voronezh. "Which lady?" "A charming lady, a divine one. Her eyes" (Nicholas looked at his partner) "are blue, her mouth coral and ivory; her figure" (he glanced at her shoulders) "like Dianas...." The husband came up and sullenly asked his wife what she was talking about. "Ah, Nikita Ivanych!" cried Nicholas, rising politely, and as if wishing Nikita Ivanych to share his joke, he began to tell him of his intention to elope with a blonde lady. The husband smiled gloomily, the wife gaily. The governors good-natured wife came up with a look of disapproval. "Anna Ignatyevna wants to see you, Nicholas," said she, pronouncing the name so that Nicholas at once understood that Anna Ignatyevna was a very important person. "Come, Nicholas! You know you let me call you so?" "Oh, yes, Aunt. Who is she?" "Anna Ignatyevna Malvintseva. She has heard from her niece how you rescued her... Can you guess?" "I rescued such a lot of them!" said Nicholas. "Her niece, Princess Bolkonskaya. She is here in Voronezh with her aunt. Oho! How you blush. Why, are...?" "Not a bit! Please dont, Aunt!" "Very well, very well!... Oh, what a fellow you are!" The governors wife led him up to a tall and very stout old lady with a blue headdress, who had just finished her game of cards with the most important personages of the town. This was Malvintseva, Princess Marys aunt on her mothers side, a rich, childless widow who always lived in Voronezh. When Rostov approached her she was standing settling up for the game. She looked at him and, screwing up her eyes sternly, continued to upbraid the general who had won from her. "Very pleased, mon cher," she then said, holding out her hand to Nicholas. "Pray come and see me." After a few words about Princess Mary and her late father, whom Malvintseva had evidently not liked, and having asked what Nicholas knew of Prince Andrew, who also was evidently no favorite of hers, the important old lady dismissed Nicholas after repeating her invitation to come to see her. Nicholas promised to come and blushed again as he bowed. At the mention of Princess Mary he experienced a feeling of shyness and even of fear, which he himself did not understand. When he had parted from Malvintseva Nicholas wished to return to the dancing, but the governors little wife placed her plump hand on his sleeve and, saying that she wanted to have a

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