passed by them looking from the height of his lifted head over the ladies to something beyond them. “He is handsome, isn’t he? They say he is to be married to that heiress. And your cousin, Drubetskoy, is very attentive to her too. They say she has millions. Oh, that’s the French ambassador himself,” she said in answer to the countess’s inquiry as to the identity of Caulaincourt. “Just look, he’s like some monarch. But yet they’re nice, the French are very nice. No people more charming in society. Ah, here she is! Yes, still lovelier than any one, our Marya Antonovna! And how simply dressed! Exquisite!”

“And that stout fellow in spectacles is a universal freemason,” said Madame Peronsky, indicating Bezuhov. “Set him beside his wife: he’s a motley fool!”

Swinging his stout frame, Pierre slouched through the crowd, nodding to right and to left, as casually and good-naturedly as though he were walking through a crowd in a market. He made his way through the crowd unmistakably looking for some one.

Natasha looked with joy at the familiar face of Pierre, the motley fool, as Madame Peronsky called him, and knew that it was they, and she in particular, of whom Pierre was in search in the crowd. Pierre had promised her to be at the ball and to find her partners. But before reaching them, Pierre came to a standstill beside a very handsome, dark man of medium height in a white uniform, who was standing in a window talking to a tall man wearing stars and a ribbon.

Natasha at once recognised the handsome young man in the white uniform; it was Bolkonsky, who seemed to her to have grown much younger, happier, and better looking.

“There’s some one else we know, Bolkonsky, do you see, mamma?” said Natasha, pointing out Prince Andrey. “Do you remember he stayed a night at home, at Otradnoe?”

“Oh, do you know him?” said Madame Peronsky. “I can’t bear him. Every one is crazy over him. And his conceit! it’s beyond all bounds! He takes after his worthy papa! And he’s hand in glove now with Speransky, making out some sort of plans for reform. Just look how he behaves with ladies! She’s speaking to him, and he has turned his back on her,” she said, pointing to him. “I would soon send him about his business if he were to treat me like those ladies.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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