Chapter 13

COUNT ILYA ANDREITCH took his two girls to the Countess Bezuhov’s. There were a good many people assembled there. But Natasha hardly knew any of the persons present. Count Ilya Andreitch observed with dissatisfaction that almost all the company consisted of men or of ladies notorious for the freedom of their behaviour. Mademoiselle George was standing in one corner of the room, surrounded by young men. There were several Frenchmen present, and among them Metivier, who had been a constant visitor at Countess Bezuhov’s ever since her arrival in Moscow. Count Ilya Andreitch made up his mind not to take a hand at cards, not to leave his daughter’s side, and to get away as soon as Mademoiselle George’s performance was over.

Anatole was at the door, unmistakably on the look-out for the Rostovs. At once greeting the count, he went up to Natasha and followed her in. As soon as Natasha saw him, the same feeling came upon her as at the theatre—the feeling of gratified vanity at his admiration of her, and terror at the absence of any moral barrier between them.

Ellen gave Natasha a delighted welcome, and was loud in her admiration of her loveliness and her dress. Soon after their arrival, Mademoiselle George went out of the room to change her dress. In the drawing- room chairs were being set in rows and people began to sit down. Anatole moved a chair for Natasha, and would have sat down by her, but the count, who was keeping his eye on Natasha, took the seat beside her. Anatole sat down behind.

Mademoiselle George, with bare, fat, dimpled arms, and a red scarf flung over one shoulder, came into the empty space left for her between the chairs and threw herself into an unnatural pose. An enthusiastic whisper was audible.

Mademoiselle George scanned her audience with stern and gloomy eyes, and began reciting French verses, describing her guilty love for her son. In places she raised her voice, in places she dropped to a whisper solemnly lifting her head; in places she broke off and hissed with rolling eyes.

“Exquisite, divine, marvellous!” was heard on all sides. Natasha gazed at the fat actress; but she heard nothing, saw nothing and understood nothing of what was passing before her. She felt nothing, but that she was borne away again irrevocably into that strange and senseless world so remote from her old world, a world in which there was no knowing what was good and what was bad, what was sensible and what was senseless. Behind her was sitting Anatole; and conscious of his nearness, she was in frightened expectation of something.

After the first monologue all the company rose and surrounded Mademoiselle George, expressing their admiration.

“How handsome she is!” said Natasha to her father, as he got up with the rest and moved through the crowd to the actress.

“I don’t think so, looking at you,” said Anatole, following Natasha. He said this at a moment when no one but she could hear him. “You are charming…from the moment I first saw you, I have not ceased…”

“Come along, come along, Natasha!” said the count, turning back for his daughter. “How pretty she is!”

Natasha saying nothing went up to her father, and gazed at him with eyes of inquiring wonder.

After several recitations in different styles, Mademoiselle George went away, and Countess Bezuhov invited all the company to the great hall.

The count would have taken leave, but Ellen besought him not to spoil her improvised ball. The Rostovs stayed on. Anatole asked Natasha for a waltz, and during the waltz, squeezing her waist and her hand, he told her she was bewitching and that he loved her. During the écossaise, which she danced again with Kuragin, when they were left alone Anatole said nothing to her, he simply looked at her. Natasha

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