Count Rostov took the girls to Countess Bezukhova's. There were a good man_eople there, but nearly all strangers to Natasha. Count Rostov was displease_o see that the company consisted almost entirely of men and women known fo_he freedom of their conduct. Mademoiselle George was standing in a corner o_he drawing room surrounded by young men. There were several Frenchme_resent, among them Metivier who from the time Helene reached Moscow had bee_n intimate in her house. The count decided not to sit down to cards or le_is girls out of his sight and to get away as soon as Mademoiselle George'_erformance was over.
Anatole was at the door, evidently on the lookout for the Rostovs. Immediatel_fter greeting the count he went up to Natasha and followed her. As soon a_he saw him she was seized by the same feeling she had had at th_pera—gratified vanity at his admiration of her and fear at the absence of _oral barrier between them.
Helene welcomed Natasha delightedly and was loud in admiration of her beaut_nd her dress. Soon after their arrival Mademoiselle George went out of th_oom to change her costume. In the drawing room people began arranging th_hairs and taking their seats. Anatole moved a chair for Natasha and was abou_o sit down beside her, but the count, who never lost sight of her, took th_eat himself. Anatole sat down behind her.
Mademoiselle George, with her bare, fat, dimpled arms, and a red shawl drape_ver one shoulder, came into the space left vacant for her, and assumed a_nnatural pose. Enthusiastic whispering was audible.
Mademoiselle George looked sternly and gloomily at the audience and bega_eciting some French verses describing her guilty love for her son. In som_laces she raised her voice, in others she whispered, lifting her hea_riumphantly; sometimes she paused and uttered hoarse sounds, rolling he_yes.
"Adorable! divine! delicious!" was heard from every side.
Natasha looked at the fat actress, but neither saw nor heard nor understoo_nything of what went on before her. She only felt herself again completel_orne away into this strange senseless world- so remote from her old world—_orld in which it was impossible to know what was good or bad, reasonable o_enseless. Behind her sat Anatole, and conscious of his proximity sh_xperienced a frightened sense of expectancy.
After the first monologue the whole company rose and surrounded Mademoisell_eorge, expressing their enthusiasm.
"How beautiful she is!" Natasha remarked to her father who had also risen an_as moving through the crowd toward the actress.
"I don't think so when I look at you!" said Anatole, following Natasha. H_aid this at a moment when she alone could hear him. "You are enchanting… fro_he moment I saw you I have never ceased… "
"Come, come, Natasha!" said the count, as he turned back for his daughter.
"How beautiful she is!" Natasha without saying anything stepped up to he_ather and looked at him with surprised inquiring eyes.
After giving several recitations, Mademoiselle George left, and Countes_ezukhova asked her visitors into the ballroom.
The count wished to go home, but Helene entreated him not to spoil he_mprovised ball, and the Rostovs stayed on. Anatole asked Natasha for a vals_nd as they danced he pressed her waist and hand and told her she wa_ewitching and that he loved her. During the ecossaise, which she also dance_ith him, Anatole said nothing when they happened to be by themselves, bu_erely gazed at her. Natasha lifted her frightened eyes to him, but there wa_uch confident tenderness in his affectionate look and smile that she coul_ot, whilst looking at him, say what she had to say. She lowered her eyes.
"Don't say such things to me. I am betrothed and love another," she sai_apidly… . She glanced at him.
Anatole was not upset or pained by what she had said.
"Don't speak to me of that! What can I do?" said he. "I tell you I am madly,
madly, in love with you! Is it my fault that you are enchanting?… It's ou_urn to begin."
Natasha, animated and excited, looked about her with wide-open frightened eye_nd seemed merrier than usual. She understood hardly anything that went o_hat evening. They danced the ecossaise and the Grossvater. Her father aske_er to come home, but she begged to remain. Wherever she went and whomever sh_as speaking to, she felt his eyes upon her. Later on she recalled how she ha_sked her father to let her go to the dressing room to rearrange her dress,
that Helene had followed her and spoken laughingly of her brother's love, an_hat she again met Anatole in the little sitting room. Helene had disappeare_eaving them alone, and Anatole had taken her hand and said in a tender voice:
"I cannot come to visit you but is it possible that I shall never see you? _ove you madly. Can I never… ?" and, blocking her path, he brought his fac_lose to hers.
His large, glittering, masculine eyes were so close to hers that she sa_othing but them.
"Natalie?" he whispered inquiringly while she felt her hands being painfull_ressed. "Natalie?"
"I don't understand. I have nothing to say," her eyes replied.
Burning lips were pressed to hers, and at the same instant she felt hersel_eleased, and Helene's footsteps and the rustle of her dress were heard in th_oom. Natasha looked round at her, and then, red and trembling, threw _rightened look of inquiry at Anatole and moved toward the door.
"One word, just one, for God's sake!" cried Anatole.
She paused. She so wanted a word from him that would explain to her what ha_appened and to which she could find no answer.
"Natalie, just a word, only one!" he kept repeating, evidently not knowin_hat to say and he repeated it till Helene came up to them.
Helene returned with Natasha to the drawing room. The Rostovs went awa_ithout staying for supper.
After reaching home Natasha did not sleep all night. She was tormented by th_nsoluble question whether she loved Anatole or Prince Andrew. She love_rince Andrew—she remembered distinctly how deeply she loved him. But she als_oved Anatole, of that there was no doubt. "Else how could all this hav_appened?" thought she. "If, after that, I could return his smile when sayin_ood-by, if I was able to let it come to that, it means that I loved him fro_he first. It means that he is kind, noble, and splendid, and I could not hel_oving him. What am I to do if I love him and the other one too?" she aske_erself, unable to find an answer to these terrible questions.