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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 16
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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 16 Post by :prodigy Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1774

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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 16

Suddenly everybody stirred, began talking, and pressed forward and
then back, and between the two rows, which separated, the Emperor
entered to the sounds of music that had immediately struck up.
Behind him walked his host and hostess. He walked in rapidly, bowing
to right and left as if anxious to get the first moments of the
reception over. The band played the polonaise in vogue at that time on
account of the words that had been set to it, beginning: "Alexander,
Elisaveta, all our hearts you ravish quite..." The Emperor passed on
to the drawing room, the crowd made a rush for the doors, and
several persons with excited faces hurried there and back again.
Then the crowd hastily retired from the drawing-room door, at which
the Emperor reappeared talking to the hostess. A young man, looking
distraught, pounced down on the ladies, asking them to move aside.
Some ladies, with faces betraying complete forgetfulness of all the
rules of decorum, pushed forward to the detriment of their toilets.
The men began to choose partners and take their places for the

Everyone moved back, and the Emperor came smiling out of the drawing
room leading his hostess by the hand but not keeping time to the
music. The host followed with Marya Antonovna Naryshkina; then came
ambassadors, ministers, and various generals, whom Peronskaya
diligently named. More than half the ladies already had partners and
were taking up, or preparing to take up, their positions for the
polonaise. Natasha felt that she would be left with her mother and
Sonya among a minority of women who crowded near the wall, not
having been invited to dance. She stood with her slender arms
hanging down, her scarcely defined bosom rising and falling regularly,
and with bated breath and glittering, frightened eyes gazed straight
before her, evidently prepared for the height of joy or misery. She
was not concerned about the Emperor or any of those great people
whom Peronskaya was pointing out- she had but one thought: "Is it
possible no one will ask me, that I shall not be among the first to
dance? Is it possible that not one of all these men will notice me?
They do not even seem to see me, or if they do they look as if they
were saying, 'Ah, she's not the one I'm after, so it's not worth
looking at her!' No, it's impossible," she thought. "They must know
how I long to dance, how splendidly I dance, and how they would
enjoy dancing with me."

The strains of the polonaise, which had continued for a considerable
time, had begun to sound like a sad reminiscence to Natasha's ears.
She wanted to cry. Peronskaya had left them. The count was at the
other end of the room. She and the countess and Sonya were standing by
themselves as in the depths of a forest amid that crowd of
strangers, with no one interested in them and not wanted by anyone.
Prince Andrew with a lady passed by, evidently not recognizing them.
The handsome Anatole was smilingly talking to a partner on his arm and
looked at Natasha as one looks at a wall. Boris passed them twice
and each time turned away. Berg and his wife, who were not dancing,
came up to them.

This family gathering seemed humiliating to Natasha- as if there
were nowhere else for the family to talk but here at the ball. She did
not listen to or look at Vera, who was telling her something about her
own green dress.

At last the Emperor stopped beside his last partner (he had danced
with three) and the music ceased. A worried aide-de-camp ran up to the
Rostovs requesting them to stand farther back, though as it was they
were already close to the wall, and from the gallery resounded the
distinct, precise, enticingly rhythmical strains of a waltz. The
Emperor looked smilingly down the room. A minute passed but no one had
yet begun dancing. An aide-de-camp, the Master of Ceremonies, went
up to Countess Bezukhova and asked her to dance. She smilingly
raised her hand and laid it on his shoulder without looking at him.
The aide-de-camp, an adept in his art, grasping his partner firmly
round her waist, with confident deliberation started smoothly, gliding
first round the edge of the circle, then at the corner of the room
he caught Helene's left hand and turned her, the only sound audible,
apart from the ever-quickening music, being the rhythmic click of
the spurs on his rapid, agile feet, while at every third beat his
partner's velvet dress spread out and seemed to flash as she whirled
round. Natasha gazed at them and was ready to cry because it was not
she who was dancing that first turn of the waltz.

Prince Andrew, in the white uniform of a cavalry colonel, wearing
stockings and dancing shoes, stood looking animated and bright in
the front row of the circle not far from the Rostovs. Baron Firhoff
was talking to him about the first sitting of the Council of State
to be held next day. Prince Andrew, as one closely connected with
Speranski and participating in the work of the legislative commission,
could give reliable information about that sitting, concerning which
various rumors were current. But not listening to what Firhoff was
saying, he was gazing now at the sovereign and now at the men
intending to dance who had not yet gathered courage to enter the

Prince Andrew was watching these men abashed by the Emperor's
presence, and the women who were breathlessly longing to be asked to

Pierre came up to him and caught him by the arm.

"You always dance. I have a protegee, the young Rostova, here. Ask
her," he said.

"Where is she?" asked Bolkonski. "Excuse me!" he added, turning to
the baron, "we will finish this conversation elsewhere- at a ball
one must dance." He stepped forward in the direction Pierre indicated.
The despairing, dejected expression of Natasha's face caught his
eye. He recognized her, guessed her feelings, saw that it was her
debut, remembered her conversation at the window, and with an
expression of pleasure on his face approached Countess Rostova.

"Allow me to introduce you to my daughter," said the countess,
with heightened color.

"I have the pleasure of being already acquainted, if the countess
remembers me," said Prince Andrew with a low and courteous bow quite
belying Peronskaya's remarks about his rudeness, and approaching
Natasha he held out his arm to grasp her waist before he had completed
his invitation. He asked her to waltz. That tremulous expression on
Natasha's face, prepared either for despair or rapture, suddenly
brightened into a happy, grateful, childlike smile.

"I have long been waiting for you," that frightened happy little
girl seemed to say by the smile that replaced the threatened tears, as
she raised her hand to Prince Andrew's shoulder. They were the
second couple to enter the circle. Prince Andrew was one of the best
dancers of his day and Natasha danced exquisitely. Her little feet
in their white satin dancing shoes did their work swiftly, lightly,
and independently of herself, while her face beamed with ecstatic
happiness. Her slender bare arms and neck were not beautiful- compared
to Helene's her shoulders looked thin and her bosom undeveloped. But
Helene seemed, as it were, hardened by a varnish left by the thousands
of looks that had scanned her person, while Natasha was like a girl
exposed for the first time, who would have felt very much ashamed
had she not been assured that this was absolutely necessary.

Prince Andrew liked dancing, and wishing to escape as quickly as
possible from the political and clever talk which everyone addressed
to him, wishing also to break up the circle of restraint he
disliked, caused by the Emperor's presence, he danced, and had
chosen Natasha because Pierre pointed her out to him and because she
was the first pretty girl who caught his eye; but scarcely had he
embraced that slender supple figure and felt her stirring so close
to him and smiling so near him than the wine of her charm rose to
his head, and he felt himself revived and rejuvenated when after
leaving her he stood breathing deeply and watching the other dancers.

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War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 17 War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 17

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 17
After Prince Andrew, Boris came up to ask Natasha for dance, andthen the aide-de-camp who had opened the ball, and several other youngmen, so that, flushed and happy, and passing on her superfluouspartners to Sonya, she did not cease dancing all the evening. Shenoticed and saw nothing of what occupied everyone else. Not only didshe fail to notice that the Emperor talked a long time with the Frenchambassador, and how particularly gracious he was to a certain lady, orthat Prince So-and-so and So-and-so did and said this and that, andthat Helene had great success and was honored was by the specialattention

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 15 War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 15

War And Peace - Book Six 1808-10 - Chapter 15
Natasha had not had a moment free since early morning and had notonce had time to think of what lay before her.In the damp chill air and crowded closeness of the swaying carriage,she for the first time vividly imagined what was in store for herthere at the ball, in those brightly lighted rooms- with music,flowers, dances, the Emperor, and all the brilliant young people ofPetersburg. The prospect was so splendid that she hardly believed itwould come true, so out of keeping was it with the chill darknessand closeness of the carriage. She understood all that awaited heronly when, after stepping over