was in doubt whether she had not dreamed what he said to her during the waltz. At the end of the first figure he pressed her hand again. Natasha lifted her frightened eyes to his face, but there was an expression of such assurance and warmth in his fond look and smile that she could not as she looked at him say what she had to say to him. She dropped her eyes.

“Don’t say such things to me. I am betrothed, and I love another man …” she articulated rapidly. She glanced at him. Anatole was neither disconcerted nor mortified at what she had said.

“Don’t talk to me of that. What is that to me,” he said; “I tell you I am mad, mad with love of you. Is it my fault that you are fascinating?…It’s for us to begin.”

Natasha, eager and agitated, looked about her with wide-open, frightened eyes, and seemed to be enjoying herself more than usual. She scarcely grasped anything that happened that evening. They danced the écossaise and “Grandfather.” Her father suggested their going, and she begged to stay longer. Wherever she was, and with whomsoever she was speaking, she felt his eyes upon her. Then she remembered that she had asked her father’s permission to go into a dressing-room to rearrange her dress, that Ellen had followed her, had talked to her, laughing, of her brother’s passion, and that in the little divan-room she had been met again by Anatole; that Ellen had somehow vanished, they were left alone, and Anatole taking her by the hand, had said in a tender voice:

“I can’t come to see you, but is it possible that I shall never see you? I love you madly. Can I never …?” and barring her way he brought his face close to hers.

His large, shining, masculine eyes were so close to her eyes, that she could see nothing but those eyes.

“Natalie?” his voice whispered interrogatively, and her hands were squeezed till it hurt. “Natalie?”

“I don’t understand; I have nothing to say,” was the answer in her eyes.

Burning lips were pressed to her lips, and at the same instant she felt herself set free again, and caught the sound of Ellen’s steps and rustling gown in the room again. Natasha looked round towards Ellen; then, red and trembling, she glanced at him with alarmed inquiry, and moved towards the door.

“One word, just one word, for God’s sake,” Anatole was saying. She stopped. She so wanted him to say that word, that would have explained to her what had happened and to which she could have found an answer.

“Natalie, one word … one …” he kept repeating, plainly not knowing what to say, and he repeated it till Ellen reached them.

Ellen went back with Natasha to the drawing-room. The Rostovs went away without staying to supper.

When she got home, Natasha did not sleep all night. She was tortured by the insoluble question, Which did she love, Anatole or Prince Andrey? Prince Andrey, she did love—she remembered clearly how great her love was for him. But she loved Anatole too, of that there was no doubt. “Else could all that have happened?” she thought. “If after that I could answer with a smile to his smile at parting, if I could sink to that, it means that I fell in love with him from the first minute. So he must be kind, noble, and good, and I could not help loving him. What am I to do, if I love him and the other too?” she said to herself, and was unable to find an answer to those terrible questions.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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