some of the highest aristocracy, alluded to the ambassador’s ball, at which he had been present, and to invitations from N. N. and from S. S.

Natasha sat the whole time without speaking, looking up from under her brows at him. Her eyes made Boris more and more uneasy and embarrassed. He looked round more frequently at Natasha, and broke off in his sentences. After staying no more than ten minutes he got up and took leave. Still the same curious, challenging, and rather ironical eyes gazed at him. After his first visit, Boris said to himself that Natasha was as attractive to him as she had been in the past, but that he must not give way to his feelings, because to marry her—a girl almost without fortune—would be the ruin of his career, and to renew their old relations without any intention of marriage would be dishonourable. Boris resolved to avoid meeting Natasha; but in spite of this resolution he came a few days later, and began to come often, and to spend whole days at the Rostovs’. He fancied that it was essential for him to have a frank explanation with Natasha, to tell her that all the past must be forgotten, that in spite of everything…she could not be his wife, that he had no means, and that they would never consent to her marrying him. But he always failed to do so, and felt an awkwardness in approaching the subject. Every day he became more and more entangled. Natasha—so her mother and Sonya judged—seemed to be in love with Boris, as in the past. She sang for him her favourite songs, showed him her album, made him write in it, would not let him refer to the past, making him feel how delightful she considered the present; and every day he went home in a whirl without having said what he meant to say, not knowing what he was doing, why he had come, and how it would end. Boris gave up visiting Ellen, received reproachful notes every day from her, and still spent whole days together at the Rostovs’.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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