“The Karagins, Julie, and Boris with them. One can see at once they are engaged.”

“Drubetskoy has made his offer! To be sure, I heard so to-day,” said Shinshin, coming into the Rostovs’ box.

Natasha looked in the direction her father was looking in and saw Julie with diamonds on her thick, red neck (Natasha knew it was powdered), sitting with a blissful face beside her mother.

Behind them could be seen the handsome, well-brushed head of Boris, with a smile inclining his ear towards Julie’s mouth. He looked from under his brows at the Rostovs, and said something, smiling, to his betrothed.

“They are talking about us, about me and himself!” thought Natasha. “And he is, most likely, soothing his fiancée’s jealousy of me; they needn’t worry themselves! If only they knew how little they matter to me, any one of them.”

Behind the engaged couple sat Anna Mihalovna in a green cap, with a face happy, in honour of the festive occasion, and devoutly resigned to the will of God. Their box was full of that atmosphere of an engaged couple—which Natasha knew so well and liked so much. She turned away; and suddenly all that had been humiliating in her morning visit came back to her mind.

“What right has he not to want to receive me into his family? Ah, better not think about it, not think till he comes back!” she said to herself, and began to look about at the faces, known and unknown, in the stalls.

In the front of the stalls, in the very centre, leaning back against the rail stood Dolohov, in a Persian dress, with his huge shock of curly hair combed upwards. He stood in the most conspicuous place in the theatre, well aware that he was attracting the attention of the whole audience, and as much at his ease as though he had been alone in his room. The most brilliant young men in Moscow were all thronging about him, and he was obviously the leading figure among them.

Count Ilya Andreitch, laughing, nudged the blushing Sonya, pointing out her former admirer.

“Did you recognise him?” he asked. “And where has he dropped from?” said he, turning to Shinshin. “I thought he had disappeared somewhere?”

“He did disappear,” answered Shinshin. “He was in the Caucasus, and he ran away from there, and they say he has been acting as minister to some reigning prince in Persia, and there killed the Shah’s brother. Well, all the Moscow ladies are wild about him! ‘Dolohov the Persian,’ that’s what does it! Nowadays there’s nothing can be done without Dolohov; they do homage to him, invite you to meet him, as if he were a sturgeon,” said Shinshin. “Dolohov and Anatole Kuragin have taken all the ladies’ hearts by storm.”

A tall, handsome woman with a mass of hair and very naked, plump, white arms and shoulders, and a double row of big pearls round her throat, walked into the next box, and was a long while settling into her place and rustling her thick silk gown.

Natasha unconsciously examined that neck and the shoulders, the pearls, the coiffure of this lady, and admired the beauty of the shoulders and the pearls. While Natasha was scrutinising her a second time, the lady looked round, and meeting the eyes of Count Ilya Andreitch, she nodded and smiled to him. It was the Countess Bezuhov, Pierre’s wife. The count, who knew every one in society, bent over and entered into conversation with her.

“Have you been here long?” he began. “I’m coming; I’m coming to kiss your hand. I have come to town on business and brought my girls with me. They say Semyonovna’s acting is superb,” the count went on. “Count Pyotr Kirillovitch never forgot us. Is he here?”

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