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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 10
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War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 10 Post by :falkenman Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1997

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 10 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Eight: 1811-12 - Chapter 10

During the entr'acte a whiff of cold air came into Helene's box, the
door opened, and Anatole entered, stooping and trying not to brush
against anyone.

"Let me introduce my brother to you," said Helene, her eyes shifting
uneasily from Natasha to Anatole.

Natasha turned her pretty little head toward the elegant young
officer and smiled at him over her bare shoulder. Anatole, who was
as handsome at close quarters as at a distance, sat down beside her
and told her he had long wished to have this happiness- ever since the
Naryshkins' ball in fact, at which he had had the well-remembered
pleasure of seeing her. Kuragin was much more sensible and simple with
women than among men. He talked boldly and naturally, and Natasha
was strangely and agreeably struck by the fact that there was
nothing formidable in this man about whom there was so much talk,
but that on the contrary his smile was most naive, cheerful, and
good-natured.

Kuragin asked her opinion of the performance and told her how at a
previous performance Semenova had fallen down on the stage.

"And do you know, Countess," he said, suddenly addressing her as
an old, familiar acquaintance, "we are getting up a costume
tournament; you ought to take part in it! It will be great fun. We
shall all meet at the Karagins'! Please come! No! Really, eh?" said
he.

While saying this he never removed his smiling eyes from her face,
her neck, and her bare arms. Natasha knew for certain that he was
enraptured by her. This pleased her, yet his presence made her feel
constrained and oppressed. When she was not looking at him she felt
that he was looking at her shoulders, and she involuntarily caught his
eye so that he should look into hers rather than this. But looking
into his eyes she was frightened, realizing that there was not that
barrier of modesty she had always felt between herself and other
men. She did not know how it was that within five minutes she had come
to feel herself terribly near to this man. When she turned away she
feared he might seize her from behind by her bare arm and kiss her
on the neck. They spoke of most ordinary things, yet she felt that
they were closer to one another than she had ever been to any man.
Natasha kept turning to Helene and to her father, as if asking what it
all meant, but Helene was engaged in conversation with a general and
did not answer her look, and her father's eyes said nothing but what
they always said: "Having a good time? Well, I'm glad of it!"

During one of these moments of awkward silence when Anatole's
prominent eyes were gazing calmly and fixedly at her, Natasha, to
break the silence, asked him how he liked Moscow. She asked the
question and blushed. She felt all the time that by talking to him she
was doing something improper. Anatole smiled as though to encourage
her.

"At first I did not like it much, because what makes a town pleasant
ce sont les jolies femmes,* isn't that so? But now I like it very much
indeed," he said, looking at her significantly. "You'll come to the
costume tournament, Countess? Do come!" and putting out his hand to
her bouquet and dropping his voice, he added, "You will be the
prettiest there. Do come, dear countess, and give me this flower as
a pledge!"


*Are the pretty women.


Natasha did not understand what he was saying any more than he did
himself, but she felt that his incomprehensible words had an
improper intention. She did not know what to say and turned away as if
she had not heard his remark. But as soon as she had turned away she
felt that he was there, behind, so close behind her.

"How is he now? Confused? Angry? Ought I to put it right?" she asked
herself, and she could not refrain from turning round. She looked
straight into his eyes, and his nearness, self-assurance, and the
good-natured tenderness of his smile vanquished her. She smiled just
as he was doing, gazing straight into his eyes. And again she felt
with horror that no barrier lay between him and her.

The curtain rose again. Anatole left the box, serene and gay.
Natasha went back to her father in the other box, now quite submissive
to the world she found herself in. All that was going on before her
now seemed quite natural, but on the other hand all her previous
thoughts of her betrothed, of Princess Mary, or of life in the country
did not once recur to her mind and were as if belonging to a remote
past.

In the fourth act there was some sort of devil who sang waving his
arm about, till the boards were withdrawn from under him and he
disappeared down below. That was the only part of the fourth act
that Natasha saw. She felt agitated and tormented, and the cause of
this was Kuragin whom she could not help watching. As they were
leaving the theater Anatole came up to them, called their carriage,
and helped them in. As he was putting Natasha in he pressed her arm
above the elbow. Agitated and flushed she turned round. He was looking
at her with glittering eyes, smiling tenderly.


Only after she had reached home was Natasha able clearly to think
over what had happened to her, and suddenly remembering Prince
Andrew she was horrified, and at tea to which all had sat down after
the opera, she gave a loud exclamation, flushed, and ran out of the
room.

"O God! I am lost!" she said to herself. "How could I let him?"
She sat for a long time hiding her flushed face in her hands trying to
realize what had happened to her, but was unable either to
understand what had happened or what she felt. Everything seemed dark,
obscure, and terrible. There in that enormous, illuminated theater
where the bare-legged Duport, in a tinsel-decorated jacket, jumped
about to the music on wet boards, and young girls and old men, and the
nearly naked Helene with her proud, calm smile, rapturously cried
"bravo!"- there in the presence of that Helene it had all seemed clear
and simple; but now, alone by herself, it was incomprehensible.
"What is it? What was that terror I felt of him? What is this
gnawing of conscience I am feeling now?" she thought.

Only to the old countess at night in bed could Natasha have told all
she was feeling. She knew that Sonya with her severe and simple
views would either not understand it at all or would be horrified at
such a confession. So Natasha tried to solve what was torturing her by
herself.

"Am I spoiled for Andrew's love or not?" she asked herself, and with
soothing irony replied: "What a fool I am to ask that! What did happen
to me? Nothing! I have done nothing, I didn't lead him on at all.
Nobody will know and I shall never see him again," she told herself.
"So it is plain that nothing has happened and there is nothing to
repent of, and Andrew can love me still. But why 'still?' O God, why
isn't he here?" Natasha quieted herself for a moment, but again some
instinct told her that though all this was true, and though nothing
had happened, yet the former purity of her love for Prince Andrew
had perished. And again in imagination she went over her whole
conversation with Kuragin, and again saw the face, gestures, and
tender smile of that bold handsome man when he pressed her arm.

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Anatole Kuragin was staying in Moscow because his father had senthim away from Petersburg he had been spending twenty thousandrubles a year in cash, besides running up debts for as much more,which his creditors demanded from his father.His father announced to him that he would now pay half his debts forthe last time, but only on condition that he went to Moscow asadjutant to the commander in chief- a post his father had procured forhim- and would at last try to make a good match there. He indicated tohim Princess Mary and Julie Karagina.Anatole consented and went to Moscow
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The floor of the stage consisted of smooth boards, at the sideswas some painted cardboard representing trees, and at the back was acloth stretched over boards. In the center of the stage sat some girlsin red bodices and white skirts. One very fat girl in a white silkdress sat apart on a low bench, to the back of which a piece ofgreen cardboard was glued. They all sang something. When they hadfinished their song the girl in white went up to the prompter's boxand a man with tight silk trousers over his stout legs, and holdinga plume and a dagger, went
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