Chapter 5

WITH A SMILE that never left his lips, Nikolay sat bent a little forward on a low chair, and stooping close over his blonde beauty, he paid her mythological compliments.

Jauntily shifting the posture of his legs in his tight riding-breeches, diffusing a scent of perfume, and admiring his fair companion and himself and the fine lines of his legs in the tight breeches, Nikolay told the blonde lady that he wanted to elope with a lady here, in Voronezh.

“What is she like?”

“Charming, divine. Her eyes” (Nikolay gazed at his companion) “are blue, her lips are coral, her whiteness…” he gazed at her shoulders, “the shape of Diana…”

The husband came up to them and asked his wife gloomily what she was talking of.

“Ah! Nikita Ivanitch,” said Nikolay, rising courteously. And as though anxious for Nikita Ivanitch to take a share in his jests, he began to tell him too of his intention of running away with a blonde lady.

The husband smiled grimly, the wife gaily.

The good-natured governor’s wife came up to them with a disapproving air.

“Anna Ignatyevna wants to see you, Nikolay,” she said, pronouncing the name in such a way that Rostov was at once aware that Anna Ignatyevna was a very great lady. “Come, Nikolay. You let me call you so, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes, ma tante. Who is she?”

“Anna Ignatyevna Malvintsev. She has heard about you from her niece, how you rescued her…Do you guess?…”

“Oh, I rescued so many!” cried Nikolay.

“Her niece, Princess Bolkonsky. She is here in Voronezh with her aunt. Oho! how he blushes! Eh?”

“Not a bit of it, nonsense, ma tante.”

“Oh, very well, very well. Oh! oh! what a boy it is!”

The governor’s wife led him up to a tall and very stout lady in a blue toque, who had just finished a game of cards with the personages of greatest consequence in the town. This was Madame Malvintsev, Princess Marya’s aunt on her mother’s side, a wealthy, childless widow, who always lived in Voronezh. She was standing up, reckoning her losses, when Rostov came up to her.

She dropped her eyelids with a severe and dignified air, glanced at him, and went on upbraiding the general who had been winning from her.

“Delighted, my dear boy,” she said, holding out her hand to him. “Pray come and see me.”

After saying a few words about Princess Marya and her late father, whom Madame Malvintsev had evidently disliked, and inquiring what Nikolay knew about Prince Andrey, who was apparently also not in her good graces, the dignified old lady dismissed him, repeating her invitation to come and see her.

Nikolay promised to do so and blushed again as he took leave of Madame Malvintsev. At the mention of Princess Marya’s name, Rostov experienced a sensation of shyness, even of terror, which he could not have explained to himself.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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