Book 4 Chapter 12

IOGEL'S were the most enjoyable balls in Moscow. So the mammas said as they looked at their boys and girls executing the steps they had only lately learnt. So too said the boys and girls themselves, who danced till they were ready to drop; so too said the grown-up girls and young men, who came to those dances in a spirit of condescension, and found in them the greatest enjoyment. That year two matches had been made at those dances. The two pretty young princesses Gortchakov had found suitors there, and had been married, and this had given the dances even greater vogue than before. What distinguished these dances from others was the absence of host and hostess, and the presence of the good-humoured Iogel, who had sold tickets for lessons to all his guests, and fluttered about like a feather, bowing and scraping in accordance with the rules of his art. Another point of difference, too, was that none came to these dances but those who really wanted to dance and enjoy themselves, in the way that girls of thirteen and fourteen do, putting on long dresses for the first time. All with rare exceptions were or looked pretty, so ecstatically they smiled and so rapturously their eyes sparkled. The pas de chale even was sometimes danced by the best pupils, among whom Natasha was the best of all, and conspicuous for her gracefulness. But at this last ball they only danced ecossaises, anglaises, and a mazurka that was just coming into fashion. A great hall had been taken by Iogel in the house of Bezuhov, and the ball, as every one said, was a great success. There were many pretty girls, and the Rostov girls were among the prettiest. They were both particularly happy and gay. That evening Sonya, elated by Dolohov's offer, her refusal, and her interview with Nikolay, had kept whirling round at home, not letting her maid have a chance of doing her hair, and now at the dance she was transparently radiant with impulsive happiness.

Natasha, no less elated at being for the first time at a real ball in a long skirt, was even happier. Both the girls wore white muslin dresses with pink ribbons.

Natasha fell in love the moment she walked into the ballroom. She was not in love with any one in particular, but in love with every one. Whomever she looked at, for the moment that she was looking at him, she was in love with.

“Oh, how nice it is!” she kept saying, running up to Sonya.

Nikolay and Denisov walked about the room and looked with friendly patronage at the dancers.

“How sweet she is; she will be a beauty,” said Denisov.


“Countess Natasha,” answered Denisov.

“And how she dances; what grace!” he said again, after a short pause.

“Of whom are you speaking?”

“Why, of your sister,” cried Denisov angrily.

Rostov laughed.

“My dear count, you are one of my best pupils, you must dance,” said little Iogel, coming up to Nikolay. “Look at all these pretty young ladies!” He turned with the same request to Denisov, who had also at one time been his pupil.

“No, my dear fellow, I will be a wallflower,” said Denisov. “Don't you remember how little credit I did to your teaching?”

“Oh no!” said Iogel, hastening to reassure him. “You were only inattentive, but you had talent, you had talent.”

They began to play the new mazurka. Nikolay could not refuse Iogel, and asked Sonya to dance. Denisov sat down by the elderly ladies, and leaning his elbow on his sword, and beating time with his foot, he began telling something amusing and making the old ladies laugh, while he watched the young ones dancing. Iogel was dancing in the first couple with Natasha, his best pupil and his pride. With soft and delicate movements of his little slippered feet, Iogel first flew across the room with Natasha—shy, but conscientiously executing her steps. Denisov did not take his eyes off her, and beat time with his sword with an air that betrayed, that if he were not dancing it was because he would not, and not because he could not, dance. In the middle of a figure he beckoned Rostov to him.

“That's not the right thing a bit,” he said. “Is that the Polish mazurka? But she does dance splendidly.”

Knowing that Denisov had been renowned even in Poland for his fine dancing of the Polish mazurka, Nikolay ran up to Natasha.

“Go and choose Denisov. He does dance. It's a marvel!” he said.

When it was Natasha's turn again, she got up, and tripping rapidly in her ribbon-trimmed dancing-shoes, she timidly ran alone across the room to the corner where Denisov was sitting. She saw that every one was looking at her, waiting to see what she would do. Nikolay saw that Denisov and Natasha were carrying on a smiling dispute, and that Denisov was refusing, though his face wore a delighted smile. He ran up.

“Please do, Vassily Dmitritch,” Natasha was saying; “come please.”

“Oh, have mercy on me, countess,” Denisov was saying jocosely.

“Come now, nonsense, Vaska,” said Nikolay.

“They coax me like the pussy-cat Vaska,” said Denisov good-humouredly.

“I'll sing to you a whole evening,” said Natasha.

“The little witch, she can do anything with me!” said Denisov; and he unhooked his sword. He came out from behind the chairs, clasped his partner firmly by the hand, raised his head and stood with one foot behind the other, waiting for the time. It was only on horseback and in the mazurka that Denisov's low stature was not noticeable, and that he looked the dashing hero he felt himself to be. At the right bar in the time he glanced sideways with a triumphant and amused air at his partner, and making an unexpected tap with one foot he bounded springily like a ball from the floor and flew round, whirling his partner round with him. He flew inaudibly across the hall with one leg forward, and seemed not to see the chairs standing before him, darting straight at them; but all at once with a clink of his spurs and a flourish of his foot he stopped short on his heels, stood so a second, with a clanking of spurs stamped with both feet, whirled rapidly round, and clapping the left foot against the right, again he flew round. Natasha's instinct told her what he was going to do, and without herself knowing how she did it, she followed his lead, abandoning herself to him. At one moment he spun her round, first on his right arm, then on his left arm, then falling on one knee, twirled her round him and again galloped, dashing forward with such vehemence that he seemed to intend to race through the whole suite of rooms without taking breath. Then he stopped suddenly again and executed new and unexpected steps in the dance. When after spinning his partner round before her seat he drew up smartly with a clink of his spurs, bowing to her, Natasha did not even make him a curtsey. She looked at him smiling with a puzzled face, as though she did not recognise him.

“What does it mean?” she said.

Although Iogel would not acknowledge this mazurka as the real one, every one was enchanted with Denisov's dancing of it, and he was continually being chosen as partner; while the old gentlemen, smiling, talked about Poland and the good old days. Denisov, flushed with his exertions and mopping his face with his handkerchief, sat by Natasha and would not leave her side all the rest of the ball.

约格尔家里举办的舞会是莫斯科的最快乐的舞会。娘儿们看见自己的adolescentes①跳着刚刚学会的舞步时都这么说;跳舞跳得累倒的男女少年也都这么说;已经长大的少女和青年同样说出这句话,他们怀有屈尊俯就的心绪前来出席舞会,从中寻求令人消魂的乐趣。是年,舞会上办成了两件婚事。戈尔恰科夫家的两个俊美的公爵小姐觅得未婚夫,并已出嫁,这个舞会因而享有盛誉。男女主人均不在场,乃是舞会的特点:善良心肠的约格尔就像飞扬的羽毛,飘飘然,十分内行地并脚致礼,他向所有的客人收取授课的酬金。而且只有想要跳舞和寻欢作乐的人才来出席舞会,就像十三四岁的小姑娘头一回穿上长长的连衣裙也有这样的兴头似的,此其二。除了少数几个人例外,个个都漂漂亮亮,或者看起来漂漂亮亮,他们都兴高采烈地微笑,两眼闪烁着明亮的光辉。优秀的女生有时候甚至跳着pas de chaBle①,在这里,婀娜多姿的娜塔莎出类拔萃;在这最后一次舞会上他们只跳苏格兰舞、英吉利兹舞、刚刚流行的玛祖尔卡舞。约格尔占用了别祖霍夫家里的大厅,正像大家所说的那样,舞会举办得很成功。舞会上有许多漂亮的小姑娘,罗斯托夫家里的小姐都是佼佼者。她们俩人都特别幸福和愉快。这天晚上,索尼娅显得骄傲的是,多洛霍夫向她求婚,她已经拒绝,并向尼古拉表白爱情,她在家里不停地旋舞,女仆给弄得没法替她梳完发辫,这时她由于激动和欣喜而容光焕发。














“Mon cher comte,vous êtes l'un de mes meilleurs écoliers,il faut que vous danisiez.”①矮小的约格尔走到尼古拉跟前,说道,“Voyez combien de jolies demoiselles.②”他同样地邀请杰尼索夫,杰尼索夫从前也是他的学生。

“Non,mon cher,je ferai tapisserie③,”杰尼索夫说,