They began to play the new mazurka. Nikolay could not refuse Iogel, and asked Sonya to dance. Denisov sat down by the elderly ladies, and leaning his elbow on his sword, and beating time with his foot, he began telling something amusing and making the old ladies laugh, while he watched the young ones dancing. Iogel was dancing in the first couple with Natasha, his best pupil and his pride. With soft and delicate movements of his little slippered feet, Iogel first flew across the room with Natasha—shy, but conscientiously executing her steps. Denisov did not take his eyes off her, and beat time with his sword with an air that betrayed, that if he were not dancing it was because he would not, and not because he could not, dance. In the middle of a figure he beckoned Rostov to him.

“That’s not the right thing a bit,” he said. “Is that the Polish mazurka? But she does dance splendidly.”

Knowing that Denisov had been renowned even in Poland for his fine dancing of the Polish mazurka, Nikolay ran up to Natasha.

“Go and choose Denisov. He does dance. It’s a marvel!” he said.

When it was Natasha’s turn again, she got up, and tripping rapidly in her ribbon-trimmed dancing-shoes, she timidly ran alone across the room to the corner where Denisov was sitting. She saw that every one was looking at her, waiting to see what she would do. Nikolay saw that Denisov and Natasha were carrying on a smiling dispute, and that Denisov was refusing, though his face wore a delighted smile. He ran up.

“Please do, Vassily Dmitritch,” Natasha was saying; “come please.”

“Oh, have mercy on me, countess,” Denisov was saying jocosely.

“Come now, nonsense, Vaska,” said Nikolay.

“They coax me like the pussy-cat Vaska,” said Denisov good-humouredly.

“I’ll sing to you a whole evening,” said Natasha.

“The little witch, she can do anything with me!” said Denisov; and he unhooked his sword. He came out from behind the chairs, clasped his partner firmly by the hand, raised his head and stood with one foot behind the other, waiting for the time. It was only on horseback and in the mazurka that Denisov’s low stature was not noticeable, and that he looked the dashing hero he felt himself to be. At the right bar in the time he glanced sideways with a triumphant and amused air at his partner, and making an unexpected tap with one foot he bounded springily like a ball from the floor and flew round, whirling his partner round with him. He flew inaudibly across the hall with one leg forward, and seemed not to see the chairs standing before him, darting straight at them; but all at once with a clink of his spurs and a flourish of his foot he stopped short on his heels, stood so a second, with a clanking of spurs stamped with both feet, whirled rapidly round, and clapping the left foot against the right, again he flew round. Natasha’s instinct told her what he was going to do, and without herself knowing how she did it, she followed his lead, abandoning herself to him. At one moment he spun her round, first on his right arm, then on his left arm, then falling on one knee, twirled her round him and again galloped, dashing forward with such vehemence that he seemed to intend to race through the whole suite of rooms without taking breath. Then he stopped suddenly again and executed new and unexpected steps in the dance. When after spinning his partner round before her seat he drew up smartly with a clink of his spurs, bowing to her, Natasha did not even make him a curtsey. She looked at him smiling with a puzzled face, as though she did not recognise him.

“What does it mean?” she said.

Although Iogel would not acknowledge this mazurka as the real one, every one was enchanted with Denisov’s dancing of it, and he was continually being chosen as partner; while the old gentlemen, smiling,

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