IOGELS were the most enjoyable balls in Moscow. So the mammas said as they looked at their boys and girls executing the steps they had only lately learnt. So too said the boys and girls themselves, who danced till they were ready to drop; so too said the grown-up girls and young men, who came to those dances in a spirit of condescension, and found in them the greatest enjoyment. That year two matches had been made at those dances. The two pretty young princesses Gortchakov had found suitors there, and had been married, and this had given the dances even greater vogue than before. What distinguished these dances from others was the absence of host and hostess, and the presence of the good-humoured Iogel, who had sold tickets for lessons to all his guests, and fluttered about like a feather, bowing and scraping in accordance with the rules of his art. Another point of difference, too, was that none came to these dances but those who really wanted to dance and enjoy themselves, in the way that girls of thirteen and fourteen do, putting on long dresses for the first time. All with rare exceptions were or looked pretty, so ecstatically they smiled and so rapturously their eyes sparkled. The pas de châle even was sometimes danced by the best pupils, among whom Natasha was the best of all, and conspicuous for her gracefulness. But at this last ball they only danced ecossaises, anglaises, and a mazurka that was just coming into fashion. A great hall had been taken by Iogel in the house of Bezuhov, and the ball, as every one said, was a great success. There were many pretty girls, and the Rostov girls were among the prettiest. They were both particularly happy and gay. That evening Sonya, elated by Dolohovs offer, her refusal, and her interview with Nikolay, had kept whirling round at home, not letting her maid have a chance of doing her hair, and now at the dance she was transparently radiant with impulsive happiness.
Natasha, no less elated at being for the first time at a real ball in a long skirt, was even happier. Both the girls wore white muslin dresses with pink ribbons.
Natasha fell in love the moment she walked into the ballroom. She was not in love with any one in particular, but in love with every one. Whomever she looked at, for the moment that she was looking at him, she was in love with.
Oh, how nice it is! she kept saying, running up to Sonya.
Nikolay and Denisov walked about the room and looked with friendly patronage at the dancers.
How sweet she is; she will be a beauty, said Denisov.
Countess Natasha, answered Denisov.
And how she dances; what grace! he said again, after a short pause.
Of whom are you speaking?
Why, of your sister, cried Denisov angrily.
My dear count, you are one of my best pupils, you must dance, said little Iogel, coming up to Nikolay. Look at all these pretty young ladies! He turned with the same request to Denisov, who had also at one time been his pupil.
No, my dear fellow, I will be a wallflower, said Denisov. Dont you remember how little credit I did to your teaching?
Oh no! said Iogel, hastening to reassure him. You were only inattentive, but you had talent, you had talent.
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