Book 6 Chapter 15

NATASHA had not had a free moment all that day, and had not once had time to think of what lay before her.

In the damp, chill air, in the closeness and half dark of the swaying carriage, she pictured to herself for the first time what was in store for her there, at the ball, in the brightly lighted halls—music, flowers, dancing, the Tsar, all the brilliant young people of Petersburg. The prospect before her was so splendid that she could not even believe that it would come to pass: so incongruous it seemed with the chilliness, darkness, and closeness of the carriage. She could only grasp all that awaited her when, walking over the red cloth, she went into the vestibule, took off her cloak, and walked beside Sonya in front of her mother between the flowers up the lighted staircase. Only then she remembered how she must behave at a ball, and tried to assume the majestic manner that she considered indispensable for a girl at a ball. But luckily she felt that there was a mist before her eyes; she could see nothing clearly, her pulse beat a hundred times a minute, and the blood throbbed at her heart. She was unable to assume the manner that would have made her absurd; and moved on, thrilling with excitement, and trying with all her might simply to conceal it. And it was just in this mood that she looked her best. In front and behind them walked guests dressed in similar ball-dresses and conversing in similarly subdued tones. The looking-glasses on the stair-cases reflected ladies in white, blue, and pink dresses, with diamonds and pearls on their bare arms and necks.

Natasha looked into the looking-glasses and could not distinguish herself from the rest. All was mingled into one brilliant procession. At the entrance into the first room, the regular hum of voices, footsteps, greetings, deafened Natasha; the light and brilliance dazzled her still more. The host and hostess who had been already standing at the door for half an hour, saying exactly the same words to every guest on arrival, Charmé de vous voir, gave the same greeting to the Rostovs and Madame Peronsky. The two young girls in their white dresses, with roses alike in their black hair, made curtsies just alike, but unconsciously the hostess's eyes rested longer on the slender figure of Natasha. She looked at her, and smiled at her a smile that was something more than the smile of welcome she had for all. Looking at her, the hostess was reminded perhaps of her golden days of girlhood, gone never to return, of her own first ball. The host too followed Natasha with his eyes, and asked the count which of the girls was his daughter.

“Charming!” he said, kissing his own finger-tips.

In the ballroom, guests stood crowding about the entry in expectation of the Tsar. The countess took up her position in the front row of this crowd. Natasha heard and felt that several voices were asking who she was, that many pairs of eyes were fixed on her. She knew that she was making a good impression on those who noticed her, and this observation calmed her somewhat.

“There are some like ourselves, and some not as good,” she thought.

Madame Peronsky was pointing out to the countess the most distinguished persons at the ball.

“That is the Dutch ambassador, do you see, the grey-haired man,” Madame Peronsky was saying, indicating an old man with a profusion of silver-grey curls, who was surrounded by ladies laughing at some story he was telling. “And here she comes, the queen of Petersburg society, Countess Bezuhov,” she said, pointing to Ellen who had just come in.

“How lovely! She's quite equal to Marya Antonovna. Look how attentive all the men are to her, young and old alike. She's both lovely and clever.… They say Prince So-and-So is wild about her. And you see these two, though they are not good-looking, they are even more run after.”

She pointed out a lady who was crossing the room accompanied by a very ugly daughter.

“That's the heiress of a million,” said Madame Peronsky. “And, look, here come her suitors.…That's Countess Bezuhov's brother, Anatole Kuragin,” she said, pointing to a handsome officer in the Horse Guards, who passed by them looking from the height of his lifted head over the ladies to something beyond them. “He is handsome, isn't he? They say he is to be married to that heiress. And your cousin, Drubetskoy, is very attentive to her too. They say she has millions. Oh, that's the French ambassador himself,” she said in answer to the countess's inquiry as to the identity of Caulaincourt. “Just look, he's like some monarch. But yet they're nice, the French are very nice. No people more charming in society. Ah, here she is! Yes, still lovelier than any one, our Marya Antonovna! And how simply dressed! Exquisite!”

“And that stout fellow in spectacles is a universal freemason,” said Madame Peronsky, indicating Bezuhov. “Set him beside his wife: he's a motley fool!”

Swinging his stout frame, Pierre slouched through the crowd, nodding to right and to left, as casually and good-naturedly as though he were walking through a crowd in a market. He made his way through the crowd unmistakably looking for some one.

Natasha looked with joy at the familiar face of Pierre, the motley fool, as Madame Peronsky called him, and knew that it was they, and she in particular, of whom Pierre was in search in the crowd. Pierre had promised her to be at the ball and to find her partners. But before reaching them, Pierre came to a standstill beside a very handsome, dark man of medium height in a white uniform, who was standing in a window talking to a tall man wearing stars and a ribbon.

Natasha at once recognised the handsome young man in the white uniform; it was Bolkonsky, who seemed to her to have grown much younger, happier, and better looking.

“There's some one else we know, Bolkonsky, do you see, mamma?” said Natasha, pointing out Prince Andrey. “Do you remember he stayed a night at home, at Otradnoe?”

“Oh, do you know him?” said Madame Peronsky. “I can't bear him. Every one is crazy over him. And his conceit! it's beyond all bounds! He takes after his worthy papa! And he's hand in glove now with Speransky, making out some sort of plans for reform. Just look how he behaves with ladies! She's speaking to him, and he has turned his back on her,” she said, pointing to him. “I would soon send him about his business if he were to treat me like those ladies.”



娜塔莎照镜子,在映像中分不清自己和别人。这一切混合成五光十色的队列。在头一个大厅的入口,人们的不疾不徐的语声、嘈杂的脚步声和欢呼声把娜塔莎震得发聋,璀璨的华灯和衣饰的闪光,更加使她两眼昏花。男女主人在入口的门旁站了半个钟头,对各位来客都道出一句同样的话:“chanrmé de vous voir”①,同样地欢迎罗斯托夫一家人和佩龙斯卡娅。



















“啊,我们认识他吗?”佩龙斯卡娅说,“我不能容忍他。Il fait à présent la pluie et le beau temps①,骄傲得太过份了!他步上了他父亲的后尘,和斯佩兰斯基搭上了关系,在草拟什么方案。您瞧,他怎样对待太太们啊!她跟他说话,可是他扭过脸去,不再理睬,”她指着他说。“如果他像对待这些太太那样对待我,我就会把他骂得狗血淋头。”