kept up a flow of good-humoured and light-hearted chatter, and repeatedly expressed her enthusiastic admiration of Natasha’s beauty. She looked through her dresses and admired them, spoke with admiration, too, of a new dress of her own “of metallic gas,” which she had received from Paris, and advised Natasha to have one like it.

“But anything suits you, my charmer!” she declared. The smile of pleasure never left Natasha’s face. She felt happy, and as it were blossoming out under the praises of this charming Countess Bezuhov, who had seemed to her before a lady so unapproachable and dignified, and was now being so king to her. Natasha’s spirits rose, and she felt almost in love with this handsome and good-natured woman. Ellen, for her part, was genuine in her admiration of Natasha, and in her desire to make her enjoy herself. Anatole had begged her to throw him with Natasha, and it was with that object she had come to the Rostovs’. The idea of throwing her brother and Natasha together amused her.

Although Ellen had once owed Natasha a grudge for carrying off Boris from her in Petersburg, she thought no more of that now, and with all her heart wished Natasha nothing but good. As she was leaving the Rostovs’, she drew her protégée aside.

“My brother was dining with me yesterday—we half died with laughing at him—he won’t eat, and does nothing but sigh for you, my charmer! He is madly, madly in love with you, my dear.”

Natasha flushed crimson on hearing those words.

“How she blushes, how she blushes, my pretty!” Ellen went on. “You must be sure to come. If you do love some one, it is not a reason to cloister yourself. Even if you are betrothed, I am sure your betrothed would have preferred you to go into society rather than to languish in ennui.”

“So then she knows I am engaged. So then they with her husband, with Pierre, with that good Pierre, talked and laughed about it. So that it means nothing.”

And again under Ellen’s influence what had struck her before as terrible seemed to her simple and natural. “And she, such a grande dame, is so kind, and obviously she likes me with all her heart,” thought Natasha. “And why not enjoy myself,” thought Natasha, gazing at Ellen with wide-open, wondering eyes.

Marya Dmitryevna came back to dinner silent and serious, having evidently been defeated by the old prince. She was too much agitated by the conflict she had been through to be able to describe the interview. To the count’s inquiries, she replied that everything had been all right and she would tell him about it next day. On hearing of the visit of Countess Bezuhov and the invitation for the evening, Marya Dmitryevna said:

“I don’t care to associate with Countess Bezuhov and I don’t advise you to, but still, since you have promised, better go. It will divert your mind,” she added, addressing Natasha.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.