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War And Peace 6


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way for her, not looking at any of them but smiling on all, as if graciously allowing each the privilege of admiring her beautiful figure and shapely shoulders, back, and bosom--which in the fashion of those days were very much exposed--and she seemed to bring the glamour of a ballroom with her as she moved toward Anna Pavlovna. Helene was so lovely that not only did she not show any trace of coquetry, but on the contrary she even appeared shy of her unquestionable and all too victorious beauty. She seemed to wish, but to be unable, to diminish its effect. "How lovely!" said everyone who saw her; and the vicomte lifted his shoulders and dropped his eyes as if startled by something extraordinary when she took her seat opposite and beamed upon him also with her unchanging smile. "Madame, I doubt my ability before such an audience," said he, smilingly inclining his head. The princess rested her bare round arm on a little table and considered a reply unnecessary. She smilingly waited. All the time the story was being told she sat upright, glancing now at her beautiful round arm, altered in shape by its pressure on the table, now at her still more beautiful bosom, on which she readjusted a diamond necklace. From time to time she smoothed the folds of her dress, and whenever the story produced an effect she glanced at Anna Pavlovna, at once adopted just the expression she saw on the maid of honors face, and again relapsed into her radiant smile. The little princess had also left the tea table and followed Helene. "Wait a moment, Ill get my work.... Now then, what are you thinking of?" she went on, turning to Prince Hippolyte. "Fetch me my workbag." There was a general movement as the princess, smiling and talking merrily to everyone at once, sat down and gaily arranged herself in her seat. "Now I am all right," she said, and asking the vicomte to begin, she took up her work. Prince Hippolyte, having brought the workbag, joined the circle and moving a chair close to hers seated himself beside her. Le charmant Hippolyte was surprising by his extraordinary resemblance to his beautiful sister, but yet more by the fact that in spite of this resemblance he was exceedingly ugly. His features were like his sisters, but while in her case everything was lit up by a joyous, self-satisfied, youthful, and constant smile of animation, and by the wonderful classic beauty of her figure, his face on the contrary was dulled by imbecility and a constant expression of sullen self-confidence, while his body was thin and weak. His eyes, nose, and mouth all seemed puckered into a vacant, wearied grimace, and his arms and legs always fell into unnatural positions. "Its not going to be a ghost story?" said he, sitting down beside the princess and hastily adjusting his lorgnette, as if without this instrument he could not begin to speak. "Why no, my dear fellow," said the astonished narrator, shrugging his shoulders. "Because I hate ghost stories," said Prince Hippolyte in a tone which showed that he only understood the meaning of his words after he had uttered them. He spoke with such self-confidence that his hearers could not be sure whether what he said was very witty or very stupid. He was dressed in a dark-green dress coat, knee breeches of the color of cuisse de nymphe effrayee, as he called it, shoes, and silk stockings. The vicomte told his tale very neatly. It was an anecdote, then current, to the effect that the Duc dEnghien had gone secretly to Paris to visit Mademoiselle George; that at her house he came upon Bonaparte, who also enjoyed the famous actress favors, and that in his presence Napoleon happened to fall into one of the fainting fits to which he was subject, and was thus at the ducs mercy. The latter spared him, and this magnanimity Bonaparte subsequently repaid by death. The story was very pretty and interesting, especially at the point where the rivals suddenly recognized one another; and the ladies looked agitated. "Charming!" said Anna Pavlovna with an inquiring glance at the little princess. "Charming!" whispered the little princess, sticking the needle into her work as if to testify that the interest and fascination of the story prevented her from going on with it. The vicomte appreciated this silent praise and smiling gratefully prepared to continue, but just then Anna Pavlovna, who had kept a watchful eye on the young man who so alarmed her, noticed that he was talking too loudly and vehemently with the abbe,

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