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Chapter 10

  • During the entr'acte a whiff of cold air came into Helene's box, the doo_pened, and Anatole entered, stooping and trying not to brush against anyone.
  • "Let me introduce my brother to you," said Helene, her eyes shifting uneasil_rom Natasha to Anatole.
  • Natasha turned her pretty little head toward the elegant young officer an_miled at him over her bare shoulder. Anatole, who was as handsome at clos_uarters as at a distance, sat down beside her and told her he had long wishe_o have this happiness—ever since the Naryshkins' ball in fact, at which h_ad had the well-remembered pleasure of seeing her. Kuragin was much mor_ensible and simple with women than among men. He talked boldly and naturally,
  • and Natasha was strangely and agreeably struck by the fact that there wa_othing 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 previou_erformance 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 t_ake 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 rathe_han this. But looking into his eyes she was frightened, realizing that ther_as not that barrier of modesty she had always felt between herself and othe_en. She did not know how it was that within five minutes she had come to fee_erself terribly near to this man. When she turned away she feared he migh_eize her from behind by her bare arm and kiss her on the neck. They spoke o_ost ordinary things, yet she felt that they were closer to one another tha_he had ever been to any man. Natasha kept turning to Helene and to he_ather, as if asking what it all meant, but Helene was engaged in conversatio_ith a general and did not answer her look, and her father's eyes said nothin_ut 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 eye_ere gazing calmly and fixedly at her, Natasha, to break the silence, aske_im how he liked Moscow. She asked the question and blushed. She felt all th_ime that by talking to him she was doing something improper. Anatole smile_s though to encourage her.
  • "At first I did not like it much, because what makes a town pleasant ce son_es jolies femmes,[[70]](footnotes.xml#footnote_70) isn't that so? But now _ike it very much indeed," he said, looking at her significantly. "You'll com_o the costume tournament, Countess? Do come!" and putting out his hand to he_ouquet and dropping his voice, he added, "You will be the prettiest there. D_ome, dear countess, and give me this flower as a pledge!" Natasha did no_nderstand what he was saying any more than he did himself, but she felt tha_is incomprehensible words had an improper intention. She did not know what t_ay and turned away as if she had not heard his remark. But as soon as she ha_urned away she felt that he was there, behind, so close behind her. "How i_e now? Confused? Angry? Ought I to put it right?" she asked herself, and sh_ould not refrain from turning round. She looked straight into his eyes, an_is nearness, self-assurance, and the good-natured tenderness of his smil_anquished her. She smiled just as he was doing, gazing straight into hi_yes. 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 wen_ack to her father in the other box, now quite submissive to the world sh_ound 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 Princes_ary, or of life in the country did not once recur to her mind and were as i_elonging to a remote past. In the fourth act there was some sort of devil wh_ang waving his arm about, till the boards were withdrawn from under him an_e disappeared down below. That was the only part of the fourth act tha_atasha saw. She felt agitated and tormented, and the cause of this wa_uragin whom she could not help watching. As they were leaving the theate_natole came up to them, called their carriage, and helped them in. As he wa_utting Natasha in he pressed her arm above the elbow. Agitated and flushe_he turned round. He was looking at her with glittering eyes, smilin_enderly. Only after she had reached home was Natasha able clearly to thin_ver what had happened to her, and suddenly remembering Prince Andrew she wa_orrified, and at tea to which all had sat down after the opera, she gave _oud exclamation, flushed, and ran out of the room. "O God! I am lost!" sh_aid to herself. "How could I let him?" She sat for a long time hiding he_lushed face in her hands trying to realize what had happened to her, but wa_nable either to understand what had happened or what she felt. Everythin_eemed dark, obscure, and terrible. There in that enormous, illuminate_heater where the bare-legged Duport, in a tinsel-decorated jacket, jumpe_bout to the music on wet boards, and young girls and old men, and the nearl_aked Helene with her proud, calm smile, rapturously cried "bravo!"—there i_he presence of that Helene it had all seemed clear and simple; but now, alon_y herself, it was incomprehensible. "What is it? What was that terror I fel_f 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 wa_eeling. She knew that Sonya with her severe and simple views would either no_nderstand it at all or would be horrified at such a confession. So Natash_ried to solve what was torturing her by herself. "Am I spoiled for Andrew'_ove or not?" she asked herself, and with soothing irony replied: "What a foo_ am to ask that! What did happen to me? Nothing! I have done nothing, _idn'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 i_othing 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 som_nstinct told her that though all this was true, and though nothing ha_appened, 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 ma_hen he pressed her arm.