Soon after Anna Pavlovna's reception Anna Mikhaylovna returned to Moscow and went straight to her rich relations, the Rostovs, with whom she stayed when in the town and where her darling Bory, who had only just entered a regiment of the line and was being at once transferred to the Guards as a cornet, had been educated from childhood and lived for years at a time.
It was St. Natalia's day and the name day of two of the Rostovs--the mother and the youngest daughter--both named Nataly.
"Boris," she said to her son with a smile, "I shall go in to see the count, my uncle; but you, my dear, had better go to Pierre meanwhile and don't forget to give him the Rostovs' invitation.
While in the Rostovs' ballroom the sixth anglaise was being danced, to a tune in which the weary musicians blundered, and while tired footmen and cooks were getting the supper, Count Bezukhov had a sixth stroke.
After her talk with Pierre, Anna Mikhaylovna returned to the Rostovs' and went to bed.
On waking in the morning she told the Rostovs and all her acquaintances the details of Count Bezukhov's death.
It was from her most intimate friend from childhood; that same Julie Karagina who had been at the Rostovs' name- day party.
It was long since the Rostovs had news of Nicholas.
The Rostovs supposed that The Russian Guards, Abroad, was quite a definite address, and that if a letter reached the Grand Duke in command of the Guards there was no reason why it should not reach the Pavlograd regiment, which was presumably somewhere in the same neighborhood.
Denisov was shown to the room prepared for him, and the Rostovs all gathered round Nicholas in the sitting room.
The Rostovs knew everybody in Moscow.
In the autumn the Rostovs returned to Moscow.
At that time in the Rostovs' house there prevailed an amorous atmosphere characteristic of homes where there are very young and very charming girls.
Every young man who came to the house--seeing those impressionable, smiling young faces (smiling probably at their own happiness), feeling the eager bustle around him, and hearing the fitful bursts of song and music and the inconsequent but friendly prattle of young girls ready for anything and full of hope--experienced the same feeling; sharing with the young folk of the Rostovs' household a readiness to fall in love and an expectation of happiness.
Dolokhov often dined at the Rostovs', never missed a performance at which they were present, and went to Iogel's balls for young people which the Rostovs always attended.
Never had love been so much in the air, and never had the amorous atmosphere made itself so strongly felt in the Rostovs' house as at this holiday time.
"Where would I not go at the countess' command!" said Denisov, who at the Rostovs' had jocularly assumed the role of Natasha's knight.
The remembrance of the Rostovs' house and of his childish love for Natasha was unpleasant to him and he had not once been to see the Rostovs since the day of his departure for the army.
Prince Andrew, depressed and preoccupied with the business about which he had to speak to the Marshal, was driving up the avenue in the grounds of the Rostovs' house at Otradnoe.
The Rostovs' monetary affairs had not improved during the two years they had spent in the country.
Though in Moscow the Rostovs belonged to the best society without themselves giving it a thought, yet in Petersburg their circle of acquaintances was a mixed and indefinite one.
The Rostovs lived in the same hospitable way in Petersburg as in Moscow, and the most diverse people met at their suppers.
Among the men who very soon became frequent visitors at the Rostovs' house in Petersburg were Boris, Pierre whom the count had met in the street and dragged home with him, and Berg who spent whole days at the Rostovs' and paid the eldest daughter, Countess Vera, the attentions a young man pays when he intends to propose.
Now in Petersburg, having considered the Rostovs' position and his own, he decided that the time had come to propose.
At first it seemed strange that the son of an obscure Livonian gentleman should propose marriage to a Countess Rostova; but Berg's chief characteristic was such a naive and good natured egotism that the Rostovs involuntarily came to think it would be a good thing, since he himself was so firmly convinced that it was good, indeed excellent.
Moreover, the Rostovs' affairs were seriously embarrassed, as the suitor could not but know; and above all, Vera was twenty-four, had been taken out everywhere, and though she was certainly good-looking and sensible, no one up to now had proposed to her.
When the Rostovs came to Petersburg Boris called on them.
When he entered the Rostovs' drawing room Natasha was in her own room.
A third of the visitors had already arrived, but the Rostovs, who were to be present, were still hurrying to get dressed.
Marya Ignatevna Peronskaya, a thin and shallow maid of honor at the court of the Dowager Empress, who was a friend and relation of the countess and piloted the provincial Rostovs in Petersburg high society, was to accompany them to the ball.
In spite of her age and plainness she had gone through the same process as the Rostovs, but with less flurry--for to her it was a matter of routine.
She had washed behind her ears just as carefully, and when she entered her drawing room in her yellow dress, wearing her badge as maid of honor, her old lady's maid was as full of rapturous admiration as the Rostovs' servants had been.
She praised the Rostovs' toilets.
The host and hostess, who had already been standing at the door for half an hour repeating the same words to the various arrivals, "Charme de vous voir," * greeted the Rostovs and Peronskaya in the same manner.
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.
Next day Prince Andrew called at a few houses he had not visited before, and among them at the Rostovs' with whom he had renewed acquaintance at the ball.
Prince Andrew left the Rostovs' late in the evening.
After Boris came a lady with the colonel, then the general himself, then the Rostovs, and the party became unquestionably exactly like all other evening parties.
Next day, having been invited by the count, Prince Andrew dined with the Rostovs and spent the rest of the day there.
Three weeks after the last evening he had spent with the Rostovs, Prince Andrew returned to Petersburg.
From that day Prince Andrew began to frequent the Rostovs' as Natasha's affianced lover.
He came every day to the Rostovs', but did not behave to Natasha as an affianced lover: he did not use the familiar thou, but said you to her, and kissed only her hand.
On the eve of his departure from Petersburg Prince Andrew brought with him Pierre, who had not been to the Rostovs' once since the ball.
(He was a distant relative of the Rostovs', a man of small means, and their neighbor.)
To expiate his huntsman's offense, Ilagin pressed the Rostovs to come to an upland of his about a mile away which he usually kept for himself and which, he said, swarmed with hares.
This match was with Julie Karagina, the daughter of excellent and virtuous parents, a girl the Rostovs had known from childhood, and who had now become a wealthy heiress through the death of the last of her brothers.
Things were not cheerful in the Rostovs' home.
It was not merely Dimmler and the Rostovs she failed to recognize, she did not even recognize her own daughters, or her late husband's, dressing gowns and uniforms, which they had put on.
"Have you any news of the Rostovs?" she asked, to change the subject.
Princess Mary told Pierre of her plan to become intimate with her future sister-in-law as soon as the Rostovs arrived and to try to accustom the old prince to her.