Shinshin began telling the count in an undertone some story of an intrigue of Kuragin’s in Moscow, to which Natasha listened, simply because he had said of her “very charming.”

The first act was over; every one stood up in the stalls, changed places, and began going out and coming in.

Boris came to the Rostovs’ box, received their congratulations very simply, and lifting his eyebrows with an absent-minded smile, gave Natasha and Sonya his fiancée’s message, begging them to come to her wedding, and went away. Natasha, with a gay and coquettish smile, talked to him and congratulated him on his approaching marriage—the very Boris she had once been in love with. In the condition of emotional intoxication in which she found herself everything seemed simple and natural.

Ellen sat in her nakedness close by her, and smiled on all alike, and just such a smile Natasha bestowed on Boris.

Ellen’s box was filled and surrounded on the side of the stalls by the most distinguished and intellectual men, who seemed vying with one another in their desire to show every one that they knew her.

All throughout that entr’acte Kuragin stood with Dolohov in front of the footlights staring at the Rostovs’ box. Natasha knew he was talking about her, and that afforded her satisfaction. She even turned so that he could see her profile from what she believed to be the most becoming angle. Before the beginning of the second act she observed in the stalls the figure of Pierre, whom the Rostovs had not seen since their arrival. His face looked sad, and he had grown stouter since Natasha had seen him last. He walked up to the front rows, not noticing any one. Anatole went up to him, and began saying something to him, with a look and a gesture towards the Rostovs’ box. Pierre looked pleased at seeing Natasha, and walked hurriedly along the rows of stalls towards their box. Leaning on his elbow, he talked smiling to Natasha for a long while. While she was talking to Pierre, Natasha heard a man’s voice speaking in Countess Bezuhov’s box, and something told her it was Kuragin. She looked round and met his eyes. He looked her straight in the eyes, almost smiling, with a look of such warmth and admiration that it seemed strange to be so near him, to look at him like that, to be so certain that he admired her, and not to be acquainted with him.

In the second act there was scenery representing monuments, and a hold in the drop at the back that represented the moon, and shades were put over the footlights, and trumpets and bassoons began playing, and a number of people came in on the right and on the left wearing black cloaks. These people began waving their arms, and in their hands they had something of the nature of a dagger. Then some more people ran in and began dragging away the woman who had been in white but who was now in a blue dress. They did not drag her away at once; they spent a long while singing with her; but finally they did drag her away, and behind the scenes they struck something metallic three times, and then all knelt down and began singing a prayer. All these performances were interrupted several times by the enthusiastic shouts of the spectators.

During that act, every time Natasha glanced towards the stalls, she saw Anatole Kuragin, with one arm flung across the back of his chair, staring at her. It pleased her to see that he was so captivated by her, and it never entered her head that there could be anything amiss in it.

When the second act was over, Countess Bezuhov got up, turned towards the Rostovs’ box (the whole of her bosom was completely exposed), with her gloved little finger beckoned the old count to her, and taking no notice of the men who were thronging about her box, began with an amiable smile talking to him.

“Oh, do make me acquainted with your charming daughters,” she said. “All the town is singing their praises, and I don’t know them.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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