War and Peace
The card tables were drawn out, sets made up for boston, and the
count's visitors settled themselves, some in the two drawing rooms,
some in the sitting room, some in the library.
The count, holding his cards fanwise, kept himself with difficulty
from dropping into his usual after-dinner nap, and laughed at
everything. The young people, at the countess' instigation, gathered
round the clavichord and harp. Julie by general request played
first. After she had played a little air with variations on the
harp, she joined the other young ladies in begging Natasha and
Nicholas, who were noted for their musical talent, to sing
something. Natasha, who was treated as though she were grown up, was
evidently very proud of this but at the same time felt shy.
"What shall we sing?" she said.
"'The Brook,'" suggested Nicholas.
"Well, then,let's be quick. Boris, come here," said Natasha. "But
where is Sonya?"
She looked round and seeing that her friend was not in the room
ran to look for her.
Running into Sonya's room and not finding her there, Natasha ran
to the nursery, but Sonya was not there either. Natasha concluded that
she must be on the chest in the passage. The chest in the passage
was the place of mourning for the younger female generation in the
Rostov household. And there in fact was Sonya lying face downward on
Nurse's dirty feather bed on the top of the chest, crumpling her gauzy
pink dress under her, hiding her face with her slender fingers, and
sobbing so convulsively that her bare little shoulders shook.
Natasha's face, which had been so radiantly happy all that saint's
day, suddenly changed: her eyes became fixed, and then a shiver passed
down her broad neck and the corners of her mouth drooped.
"Sonya! What is it? What is the matter?... Oo... Oo... Oo...!" And
Natasha's large mouth widened, making her look quite ugly, and she
began to wail like a baby without knowing why, except that Sonya was
crying. Sonya tried to lift her head to answer but could not, and
hid her face still deeper in the bed. Natasha wept, sitting on the
blue-striped feather bed and hugging her friend. With an effort
Sonya sat up and began wiping her eyes and explaining.
"Nicholas is going away in a week's time, his... papers... have
come... he told me himself... but still I should not cry," and she
showed a paper she held in her hand- with the verses Nicholas had
written, "still, I should not cry, but you can't... no one can
understand... what a soul he has!"
And she began to cry again because he had such a noble soul.
"It's all very well for you... I am not envious... I love you and
Boris also," she went on, gaining a little strength; "he is nice...
there are no difficulties in your way.... But Nicholas is my cousin...
one would have to... the Metropolitan himself... and even then it
can't be done. And besides, if she tells Mamma" (Sonya looked upon the
countess as her mother and called her so) "that I am spoiling
Nicholas' career and am heartless and ungrateful, while truly... God
is my witness," and she made the sign of the cross, "I love her so
much, and all of you, only Vera... And what for? What have I done to
her? I am so grateful to you that I would willingly sacrifice
everything, only I have nothing...."
Sonya could not continue, and again hid her face in her hands and in
the feather bed. Natasha began consoling her, but her face showed that
she understood all the gravity of her friend's trouble.
"Sonya," she suddenly exclaimed, as if she had guessed the true
reason of her friend's sorrow "I'm sure Vera has said something to
you since dinner? Hasn't she?"
"Yes, these verses Nicholas wrote himself and I copied some
others, and she found them on my table and said she'd show them to
Mamma, and that I was ungrateful, and that Mamma would never allow him
to marry me, but that he'll marry Julie. You see how he's been with
her all day... Natasha, what have I done to deserve it?..."
And again she began to sob, more bitterly than before. Natasha
lifted her up, hugged her, and, smiling through her tears, began
"Sonya, don't believe her, darling! Don't believe her! Do you
remember how we and Nicholas, all three of us, talked in the sitting
room after supper? Why, we settled how everything was to be. I don't
quite remember how, but don't you remember that it could all be
arranged and how nice it all was? There's Uncle Shinshin's brother has
married his first cousin. And we are only second cousins, you know.
And Boris says it is quite possible. You know I have told him all
about it. And he is so clever and so good!" said Natasha. "Don't you
cry, Sonya, dear love, darling Sonya!" and she kissed her and laughed.
"Vera's spiteful; never mind her! And all will come right and she
won't say anything to Mamma. Nicholas will tell her himself, and he
doesn't care at all for Julie."
Natasha kissed her on the hair.
Sonya sat up. The little kitten brightened, its eyes shone, and it
seemed ready to lift its tail, jump down on its soft paws, and begin
playing with the ball of worsted as a kitten should.
"Do you think so?... Really? Truly?" she said, quickly smoothing her
frock and hair.
"Really, truly!" answered Natasha, pushing in a crisp lock that
had strayed from under her friend's plaits.
"Well, let's go and sing 'The Brook.'"
"Do you know, that fat Pierre who sat opposite me is so funny!" said
Natasha, stopping suddenly. "I feel so happy!"
And she set off at a run along the passage.
Sonya, shaking off some down which clung to her and tucking away the
verses in the bosom of her dress close to her bony little chest, ran
after Natasha down the passage into the sitting room with flushed face
and light, joyous steps. At the visitors' request the young people
sang the quartette, "The Brook," with which everyone was delighted.
Then Nicholas sang a song he had just learned:
At nighttime in the moon's fair glow
How sweet, as fancies wander free,
To feel that in this world there's one
Who still is thinking but of thee!
That while her fingers touch the harp
Wafting sweet music music the lea,
It is for thee thus swells her heart,
Sighing its message out to thee...
A day or two, then bliss unspoilt,
But oh! till then I cannot live!...
He had not finished the last verse before the young people began
to get ready to dance in the large hall, and the sound of the feet and
the coughing of the musicians were heard from the gallery.
Pierre was sitting in the drawing-room where Shinshin had engaged
him, as a man recently returned from abroad, in a political
conversation in which several others joined but which bored Pierre.
When the music began Natasha came in and walking straight up to Pierre
said, laughing and blushing:
"Mamma told me to ask you to join the dancers."
"I am afraid of mixing the figures," Pierre replied; "but if you
will be my teacher..." And lowering his big arm he offered it to the
slender little girl.
While the couples were arranging themselves and the musicians tuning
up, Pierre sat down with his little partner. Natasha was perfectly
happy; she was dancing with a grown-up man, who had been abroad. She
was sitting in a conspicuous place and talking to him like a
grown-up lady. She had a fan in her hand that one of the ladies had
given her to hold. Assuming quite the pose of a society woman
(heaven knows when and where she had learned it) she talked with her
partner, fanning herself and smiling over the fan.
"Dear, dear! Just look at her!" exclaimed the countess as she
crossed the ballroom, pointing to Natasha.
Natasha blushed and laughed.
"Well, really, Mamma! Why should you? What is there to be
In the midst of the third ecossaise there was a clatter of chairs
being pushed back in the sitting room where the count and Marya
Dmitrievna had been playing cards with the majority of the more
distinguished and older visitors. They now, stretching themselves
after sitting so long, and replacing their purses and pocketbooks,
entered the ballroom. First came Marya Dmitrievna and the count,
both with merry countenances. The count, with playful ceremony
somewhat in ballet style, offered his bent arm to Marya Dmitrievna. He
drew himself up, a smile of debonair gallantry lit up his face and
as soon as the last figure of the ecossaise was ended, he clapped
his hands to the musicians and shouted up to their gallery, addressing
the first violin:
"Semen! Do you know the Daniel Cooper?"
This was the count's favorite dance, which he had danced in his
youth. (Strictly speaking, Daniel Cooper was one figure of the
"Look at Papa!" shouted Natasha to the whole company, and quite
forgetting that she was dancing with a grown-up partner she bent her
curly head to her knees and made the whole room ring with her
And indeed everybody in the room looked with a smile of pleasure
at the jovial old gentleman, who standing beside his tall and stout
partner, Marya Dmitrievna, curved his arms, beat time, straightened
his shoulders, turned out his toes, tapped gently with his foot,
and, by a smile that broadened his round face more and more,
prepared the onlookers for what was to follow. As soon as the
provocatively gay strains of Daniel Cooper (somewhat resembling
those of a merry peasant dance) began to sound, all the doorways of
the ballroom were suddenly filled by the domestic serfs- the men on
one side and the women on the other- who with beaming faces had come
to see their master making merry.
"Just look at the master! A regular eagle he is!" loudly remarked
the nurse, as she stood in one of the doorways.
The count danced well and knew it. But his partner could not and did
not want to dance well. Her enormous figure stood erect, her
powerful arms hanging down (she had handed her reticule to the
countess), and only her stern but handsome face really joined in the
dance. What was expressed by the whole of the count's plump figure, in
Marya Dmitrievna found expression only in her more and more beaming
face and quivering nose. But if the count, getting more and more
into the swing of it, charmed the spectators by the unexpectedness
of his adroit maneuvers and the agility with which he capered about on
his light feet, Marya Dmitrievna produced no less impression by slight
exertions- the least effort to move her shoulders or bend her arms
when turning, or stamp her foot- which everyone appreciated in view of
her size and habitual severity. The dance grew livelier and
livelier. The other couples could not attract a moment's attention
to their own evolutions and did not even try to do so. All were
watching the count and Marya Dmitrievna. Natasha kept pulling everyone
by sleeve or dress, urging them to "look at Papa!" though as it was
they never took their eyes off the couple. In the intervals of the
dance the count, breathing deeply, waved and shouted to the
musicians to play faster. Faster, faster, and faster; lightly, more
lightly, and yet more lightly whirled the count, flying round Marya
Dmitrievna, now on his toes, now on his heels; until, turning his
partner round to her seat, he executed the final pas, raising his soft
foot backwards, bowing his perspiring head, smiling and making a
wide sweep with his arm, amid a thunder of applause and laughter led
by Natasha. Both partners stood still, breathing heavily and wiping
their faces with their cambric handkerchiefs.
"That's how we used to dance in our time, ma chere," said the count.
"That was a Daniel Cooper!" exclaimed Marya Dmitrievna, tucking up
her sleeves and puffing heavily.
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