Heidi Stephenson and Natasha Langridge Twenty leading contemporary dramatists discuss their work from the perspective of being both writers and women.
Finally, Natasha, you wrote " The New feminism " and edited " On the Move: feminism for a new generation.
Natasha p.3 I keep the hamster I keep the toys in I keep the hamster out!
Natasha: We saw two otters, the both stood up on a rock then ran into the water.
Natasha uses psychometry, and Kiell uses Shere Khan to " sniff out " Harris.
Miss Natasha Wind Natasha is an experienced research technician whose work focuses on cell biology.
You see... was all Natasha managed to utter (to her everything seemed funny).
"Tell me, my dear," said she to Natasha, "is Mimi a relation of yours?
Natasha did not like the visitor's tone of condescension to childish things.
Having said this he glanced at Natasha.
Boris quietly left the room and went in search of Natasha.
When Natasha ran out of the drawing room she only went as far as the conservatory.
At this Natasha dashed swiftly among the flower tubs and hid there.
Natasha, very still, peered out from her ambush, waiting to see what he would do.
Natasha was about to call him but changed her mind.
Natasha checked her first impulse to run out to her, and remained in her hiding place, watching--as under an invisible cap--to see what went on in the world.
"Oh, how nice," thought Natasha; and when Sonya and Nicholas had gone out of the conservatory she followed and called Boris to her.
"Natasha," he said, "you know that I love you, but..."
Boris and Natasha were at the other window and ceased talking when Vera entered.
Sonya and Natasha looked at Vera with guilty, happy faces.
And at your age what secrets can there be between Natasha and Boris, or between you two?
"Now, Vera, what does it matter to you?" said Natasha in defense, speaking very gently.
"All have secrets of their own," answered Natasha, getting warmer.
This was Lieutenant Berg, an officer in the Semenov regiment with whom Boris was to travel to join the army, and about whom Natasha had teased her elder sister Vera, speaking of Berg as her "intended."
(Marya Dmitrievna always called Natasha a Cossack) and she stroked the child's arm as she came up fearless and gay to kiss her hand.
She took a pair of pear-shaped ruby earrings from her huge reticule and, having given them to the rosy Natasha, who beamed with the pleasure of her saint's-day fete, turned away at once and addressed herself to Pierre.
Boris was telling his new friend Pierre who the guests were and exchanging glances with Natasha, who was sitting opposite.
Natasha, who sat opposite, was looking at Boris as girls of thirteen look at the boy they are in love with and have just kissed for the first time.
"You won't ask," Natasha's little brother was saying; "I know you won't ask!"
"I will," replied Natasha.
What sweets are we going to have? and Natasha's voice sounded still more firm and resolute.
I have asked, whispered Natasha to her little brother and to Pierre, glancing at him again.
Natasha only desisted when she had been told that there would be pineapple ice.
After she had played a little air with variations on the harp, she joined the other young ladies in begging Natasha and Nicholas, who were noted for their musical talent, to sing something.
Natasha, who was treated as though she were grown up, was evidently very proud of this but at the same time felt shy.
Boris, come here, said Natasha.
Natasha wept, sitting on the blue-striped feather bed and hugging her friend.
Natasha, what have I done to deserve it?...
Natasha lifted her up, hugged her, and, smiling through her tears, began comforting her.
And he is so clever and so good! said Natasha.
Natasha kissed her on the hair.
"Really, truly!" answered Natasha, pushing in a crisp lock that had strayed from under her friend's plaits.
"Do you know, that fat Pierre who sat opposite me is so funny!" said Natasha, stopping suddenly.
When the music began Natasha came in and walking straight up to Pierre said, laughing and blushing:
Natasha was perfectly happy; she was dancing with a grown-up man, who had been abroad.
Just look at her! exclaimed the countess as she crossed the ballroom, pointing to Natasha.
Natasha blushed and laughed.
"Look at Papa!" shouted Natasha to the whole company, and quite forgetting that she was dancing with a grown-up partner she bent her curly head to her knees and made the whole room ring with her laughter.
Natasha kept pulling everyone by sleeve or dress, urging them to "look at Papa!" though as it was they never took their eyes off the couple.
For a moment he dozed, but in that short interval innumerable things appeared to him in a dream: his mother and her large white hand, Sonya's thin little shoulders, Natasha's eyes and laughter, Denisov with his voice and mustache, and Telyanin and all that affair with Telyanin and Bogdanich.
I'm sure of it! exclaimed Natasha, reading confirmation in Anna Mikhaylovna's face.
"No, on my true word of honor," said Natasha, crossing herself, "I won't tell anyone!" and she ran off at once to Sonya.
Natasha, seeing the impression the news of her brother's wound produced on Sonya, felt for the first time the sorrowful side of the news.
Natasha smiled through her tears.
Natasha suddenly asked, after a moment's silence.
"No, Sonya, but do you remember so that you remember him perfectly, remember everything?" said Natasha, with an expressive gesture, evidently wishing to give her words a very definite meaning.
Natasha looked at Sonya with wondering and inquisitive eyes, and said nothing.
But Natasha had not yet felt anything like it.
"And I know why she'd be ashamed," said Petya, offended by Natasha's previous remark.
"It's because she was in love with that fat one in spectacles" (that was how Petya described his namesake, the new Count Bezukhov) "and now she's in love with that singer" (he meant Natasha's Italian singing master), "that's why she's ashamed!"
"Petya, you're a stupid!" said Natasha.
Vera, Natasha, Sonya, and Petya now entered the room, and the reading of the letter began.
After a brief description of the campaign and the two battles in which he had taken part, and his promotion, Nicholas said that he kissed his father's and mother's hands asking for their blessing, and that he kissed Vera, Natasha, and Petya.
This was quite true, but the count, the countess, and Natasha looked at her reproachfully.
Natasha... sister, black eyes...
Natasha... sabretache... saber them...
He could not distinguish which was Papa, which Natasha, and which Petya.
Sonya, Natasha, Petya, Anna Mikhaylovna, Vera, and the old count were all hugging him, and the serfs, men and maids, flocked into the room, exclaiming and oh-ing and ah-ing.
Natasha, after she had pulled him down toward her and covered his face with kisses, holding him tight by the skirt of his coat, sprang away and pranced up and down in one place like a goat and shrieked piercingly.
"Darling Denisov!" screamed Natasha, beside herself with rapture, springing to him, putting her arms round him, and kissing him.
Denisov blushed too, but smiled and, taking Natasha's hand, kissed it.
It's nearly ten o'clock, answered Natasha's voice.
It was Natasha, Sonya, and Petya, who had come to see whether they were getting up.
Natasha's voice was again heard at the door.
Come out in your dressing gown! said Natasha's voice.
Natasha had put on one spurred boot and was just getting her foot into the other.
Sonya ran away, but Natasha, taking her brother's arm, led him into the sitting room, where they began talking.
Sitting on the sofa with the little cushions on its arms, in what used to be his old schoolroom, and looking into Natasha's wildly bright eyes, Rostov re-entered that world of home and childhood which had no meaning for anyone else, but gave him some of the best joys of his life; and the burning of an arm with a ruler as a proof of love did not seem to him senseless, he understood and was not surprised at it.
Isn't it? asked Natasha, so seriously and excitedly that it was evident that what she was now saying she had talked of before, with tears.
"No, no!" cried Natasha, "she and I have already talked it over.
"Oh, what nonsense!" cried Natasha, laughing.
Curving her arms, Natasha held out her skirts as dancers do, ran back a few steps, turned, cut a caper, brought her little feet sharply together, and made some steps on the very tips of her toes.
"But that's all rubbish," Natasha chattered on.
And Natasha rose and went out of the room on tiptoe, like a ballet dancer, but smiling as only happy girls of fifteen can smile.
Her looks asked him to forgive her for having dared, by Natasha's intermediacy, to remind him of his promise, and then thanked him for his love.
Vera's remark was correct, as her remarks always were, but, like most of her observations, it made everyone feel uncomfortable, not only Sonya, Nicholas, and Natasha, but even the old countess, who--dreading this love affair which might hinder Nicholas from making a brilliant match-- blushed like a girl.
Natasha's prediction proved true.
He was pointedly attentive to Sonya and looked at her in such a way that not only could she not bear his glances without coloring, but even the old countess and Natasha blushed when they saw his looks.
"They're always in love with someone," he thought of Sonya and Natasha.
Sonya, Dolokhov, and the old countess were especially disturbed, and to a lesser degree Natasha.
Please do! said Natasha.
"Where would I not go at the countess' command!" said Denisov, who at the Rostovs' had jocularly assumed the role of Natasha's knight.
He called Natasha and asked her what was the matter.
"And I was looking for you," said Natasha running out to him.
He tried to say, "That's capital; of course she'll forget her childish promises and accept the offer," but before he had time to say it Natasha began again.
And Natasha kissed her brother and ran away.
Natasha no less proud of her first long dress and of being at a real ball was even happier.
Natasha fell in love the very moment she entered the ballroom.
"Countess Natasha," answered Denisov.
Denisov sat down by the old ladies and, leaning on his saber and beating time with his foot, told them something funny and kept them amused, while he watched the young people dancing, Iogel with Natasha, his pride and his best pupil, were the first couple.
Noiselessly, skillfully stepping with his little feet in low shoes, Iogel flew first across the hall with Natasha, who, though shy, went on carefully executing her steps.
Knowing that Denisov had a reputation even in Poland for the masterly way in which he danced the mazurka, Nicholas ran up to Natasha:
When it came to Natasha's turn to choose a partner, she rose and, tripping rapidly across in her little shoes trimmed with bows, ran timidly to the corner where Denisov sat.
"Please, Vasili Dmitrich," Natasha was saying, "do come!"
"I'll sing for you a whole evening," said Natasha.
Natasha guessed what he meant to do, and abandoning herself to him followed his lead hardly knowing how.
When at last, smartly whirling his partner round in front of her chair, he drew up with a click of his spurs and bowed to her, Natasha did not even make him a curtsy.
Denisov, flushed after the mazurka and mopping himself with his handkerchief, sat down by Natasha and did not leave her for the rest of the evening.
With a sinking heart he watched Dolokhov's hands and thought, "Now then, make haste and let me have this card and I'll take my cap and drive home to supper with Denisov, Natasha, and Sonya, and will certainly never touch a card again."
At that moment his home life, jokes with Petya, talks with Sonya, duets with Natasha, piquet with his father, and even his comfortable bed in the house on the Povarskaya rose before him with such vividness, clearness, and charm that it seemed as if it were all a lost and unappreciated bliss, long past.
"Ah, and here's Nicholas!" cried Natasha, running up to him.
"I am so glad you've come!" said Natasha, without answering him.
Natasha was preparing to sing.
Natasha too, with her quick instinct, had instantly noticed her brother's condition.
Natasha took the first note, her throat swelled, her chest rose, her eyes became serious.
Natasha, that winter, had for the first time begun to sing seriously, mainly because Denisov so delighted in her singing.
Now then, Natasha, now then, dearest!
But no sooner had Natasha finished her barcarolle than reality again presented itself.
Natasha came running to her mother, quite excited.
I am telling you the fact, said Natasha indignantly.
"No, he's not a fool!" replied Natasha indignantly and seriously.
It's all very well for you, said Natasha, with a responsive smile.
I shall speak to him myself, said the countess, indignant that they should have dared to treat this little Natasha as grown up.
I will tell him myself, and you'll listen at the door, and Natasha ran across the drawing room to the dancing hall, where Denisov was sitting on the same chair by the clavichord with his face in his hands.
Natasha could not remain calm, seeing him in such a plight.
He looked at the countess, and seeing her severe face said: "Well, good-by, Countess," and kissing her hand, he left the room with quick resolute strides, without looking at Natasha.
During the dull day, in the course of which he was entertained by his elderly hosts and by the more important of the visitors (the old count's house was crowded on account of an approaching name day), Prince Andrew repeatedly glanced at Natasha, gay and laughing among the younger members of the company, and asked himself each time, What is she thinking about?
Natasha was sixteen and it was the year 1809, the very year to which she had counted on her fingers with Boris after they had kissed four years ago.
The memory of Natasha was his most poetic recollection.
But he went with the firm intention of letting her and her parents feel that the childish relations between himself and Natasha could not be binding either on her or on him.
When he entered the Rostovs' drawing room Natasha was in her own room.
This expression on his face pleased Natasha.
Boris kissed Natasha's hand and said that he was astonished at the change in her.
"I should think so!" replied Natasha's laughing eyes.
Natasha sat down and, without joining in Boris' conversation with the countess, silently and minutely studied her childhood's suitor.
This Natasha noticed at once.
All this time Natasha sat silent, glancing up at him from under her brows.
Boris made up his mind to avoid meeting Natasha, but despite that resolution he called again a few days later and began calling often and spending whole days at the Rostovs'.
It seemed to him that he ought to have an explanation with Natasha and tell her that the old times must be forgotten, that in spite of everything... she could not be his wife, that he had no means, and they would never let her marry him.
It seemed to her mother and Sonya that Natasha was in love with Boris as of old.
Natasha jumped on it, sank into the feather bed, rolled over to the wall, and began snuggling up the bedclothes as she settled down, raising her knees to her chin, kicking out and laughing almost inaudibly, now covering herself up head and all, and now peeping at her mother.
The countess finished her prayers and came to the bed with a stern face, but seeing, that Natasha's head was covered, she smiled in her kind, weak way.
In her behavior to her mother Natasha seemed rough, but she was so sensitive and tactful that however she clasped her mother she always managed to do it without hurting her or making her feel uncomfortable or displeased.
These visits of Natasha's at night before the count returned from his club were one of the greatest pleasures of both mother, and daughter.
Natasha put her hand on her mother's mouth.
Natasha, you are sixteen.
Natasha was lying looking steadily straight before her at one of the mahogany sphinxes carved on the corners of the bedstead, so that the countess only saw her daughter's face in profile.
Natasha was listening and considering.
"Why not?" said Natasha, without changing her position.
"But if I want to..." said Natasha.
Natasha did not let her finish.
But this is what I'll do, Natasha, I'll have a talk with Boris.
What nonsense! said Natasha in the tone of one being deprived of her property.
Natasha smiled and looked at her mother.
"Don't laugh, stop!" cried Natasha.
Natasha continued: Don't you really understand?
Natasha jumped up, snatched up her slippers, and ran barefoot to her own room.
Natasha was going to her first grand ball.
Sonya was finishing dressing and so was the countess, but Natasha, who had bustled about helping them all, was behindhand.
"That's not the way, that's not the way, Sonya!" cried Natasha turning her head and clutching with both hands at her hair which the maid who was dressing it had not time to release.
Sonya sat down and Natasha pinned the ribbon on differently.
I can't do it like that, said the maid who was holding Natasha's hair.
"Don't do it without me!" called Natasha.
They had decided to be at the ball by half past ten, and Natasha had still to get dressed and they had to call at the Taurida Gardens.
When her hair was done, Natasha, in her short petticoat from under which her dancing shoes showed, and in her mother's dressing jacket, ran up to Sonya, scrutinized her, and then ran to her mother.
The cause of the delay was Natasha's skirt, which was too long.
Natasha began putting on the dress.
Charming! cried Natasha, as she stood in the middle of the room smoothing out the folds of the gauze.
"Say what you like," exclaimed Sonya, in a despairing voice as she looked at Natasha, "say what you like, it's still too long."
"Mamma, your cap, more to this side," said Natasha.
Natasha had not had a moment free since early morning and had not once had time to think of what lay before her.
Natasha looked in the mirrors and could not distinguish her reflection from the others.
On entering the ballroom the regular hum of voices, footsteps, and greetings deafened Natasha, and the light and glitter dazzled her still more.
The two girls in their white dresses, each with a rose in her black hair, both curtsied in the same way, but the hostess' eye involuntarily rested longer on the slim Natasha.
The host also followed Natasha with his eyes and asked the count which was his daughter.
Natasha heard and felt that several people were asking about her and looking at her.
Natasha at once recognized the shorter and younger man in the white uniform: it was Bolkonski, who seemed to her to have grown much younger, happier, and better-looking.
"There's someone else we know--Bolkonski, do you see, Mamma?" said Natasha, pointing out Prince Andrew.
The strains of the polonaise, which had continued for a considerable time, had begun to sound like a sad reminiscence to Natasha's ears.
The handsome Anatole was smilingly talking to a partner on his arm and looked at Natasha as one looks at a wall.
This family gathering seemed humiliating to Natasha--as if there were nowhere else for the family to talk but here at the ball.
Natasha gazed at them and was ready to cry because it was not she who was dancing that first turn of the waltz.
The despairing, dejected expression of Natasha's face caught his eye.
"I have the pleasure of being already acquainted, if the countess remembers me," said Prince Andrew with a low and courteous bow quite belying Peronskaya's remarks about his rudeness, and approaching Natasha he held out his arm to grasp her waist before he had completed his invitation.
That tremulous expression on Natasha's face, prepared either for despair or rapture, suddenly brightened into a happy, grateful, childlike smile.
Prince Andrew was one of the best dancers of his day and Natasha danced exquisitely.
And such was Natasha, with her surprise, her delight, her shyness, and even her mistakes in speaking French.
In the middle of the cotillion, having completed one of the figures, Natasha, still out of breath, was returning to her seat when another dancer chose her.
When her partner left her Natasha ran across the room to choose two ladies for the figure.
Such as she are rare here, he thought, as Natasha, readjusting a rose that was slipping on her bodice, settled herself beside him.
On her way to supper Natasha passed him.
"How can people be dissatisfied with anything?" thought Natasha.
Natasha was one of the first to meet him.
After dinner Natasha, at Prince Andrew's request, went to the clavichord and began singing.
He looked at Natasha as she sang, and something new and joyful stirred in his soul.
As soon as Natasha had finished she went up to him and asked how he liked her voice.
At the card table he happened to be directly facing Natasha, and was struck by a curious change that had come over her since the ball.
After playing out a whole suit and to his partner's delight taking five tricks, Pierre, hearing greetings and the steps of someone who had entered the room while he was picking up his tricks, glanced again at Natasha.
Pierre changed places several times during the game, sitting now with his back to Natasha and now facing her, but during the whole of the six rubbers he watched her and his friend.
Natasha on one side was talking with Sonya and Boris, and Vera with a subtle smile was saying something to Prince Andrew.
I expect he has told you of his childish love for Natasha?
"Well?" asked Pierre, seeing his friend's strange animation with surprise, and noticing the glance he turned on Natasha as he rose.
"I... but no, I will talk to you later on," and with a strange light in his eyes and restlessness in his movements, Prince Andrew approached Natasha and sat down beside her.
Everyone in the house realized for whose sake Prince Andrew came, and without concealing it he tried to be with Natasha all day.
The countess looked with sad and sternly serious eyes at Prince Andrew when he talked to Natasha and timidly started some artificial conversation about trifles as soon as he looked her way.
Sonya was afraid to leave Natasha and afraid of being in the way when she was with them.
Natasha grew pale, in a panic of expectation, when she remained alone with him for a moment.
In the evening, when Prince Andrew had left, the countess went up to Natasha and whispered: "Well, what?"
One can't talk about that, said Natasha.
But all the same that night Natasha, now agitated and now frightened, lay a long time in her mother's bed gazing straight before her.
It seemed to Natasha that even at the time she first saw Prince Andrew at Otradnoe she had fallen in love with him.
Read them... said her mother, thoughtfully, referring to some verses Prince Andrew had written in Natasha's album.
How happy I am! cried Natasha, shedding tears of joy and excitement and embracing her mother.
At that very time Prince Andrew was sitting with Pierre and telling him of his love for Natasha and his firm resolve to make her his wife.
At the same time the feeling he had noticed between his protegee Natasha and Prince Andrew accentuated his gloom by the contrast between his own position and his friend's.
He tried equally to avoid thinking about his wife, and about Natasha and Prince Andrew; and again everything seemed to him insignificant in comparison with eternity; again the question: for what? presented itself; and he forced himself to work day and night at masonic labors, hoping to drive away the evil spirit that threatened him.
"With Natasha Rostova, yes?" said he.
Next day after her talk with her mother Natasha expected Bolkonski all day, but he did not come.
Pierre did not come either and Natasha, not knowing that Prince Andrew had gone to see his father, could not explain his absence to herself.
Natasha had no desire to go out anywhere and wandered from room to room like a shadow, idle and listless.
The countess began to soothe Natasha, who after first listening to her mother's words, suddenly interrupted her:
"How charming that Natasha is!" she said again, speaking as some third, collective, male person.
Natasha was looking at the mirror, but did not see herself.
Pale and agitated, Natasha ran into the drawing room.
As soon as he saw Natasha his face brightened.
He kissed the countess' hand and Natasha's, and sat down beside the sofa.
I only got back last night," he said glancing at Natasha; "I want to have a talk with you, Countess," he added after a moment's pause.
Natasha glanced with frightened imploring eyes at Prince Andrew and at her mother and went out.
It is true that Natasha is still young, but--so long as that?...
Sonya said that Natasha was in her bedroom.
Natasha was sitting on the bed, pale and dry eyed, and was gazing at the icons and whispering something as she rapidly crossed herself.
He is asking for your hand, said the countess, coldly it seemed to Natasha.
Natasha never remembered how she entered the drawing room.
Natasha murmured as if in vexation.
Natasha listened with concentrated attention, trying but failing to take in the meaning of his words.
Natasha repeated suddenly, only now realizing that the marriage was to be postponed for a year.
Natasha did not hear him.
Natasha suddenly cried, and again burst into sobs.
From that day Prince Andrew began to frequent the Rostovs' as Natasha's affianced lover.
Naturally neither Natasha nor her parents wished to hear of this, but Prince Andrew was firm.
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.
At first the family felt some constraint in intercourse with Prince Andrew; he seemed a man from another world, and for a long time Natasha trained the family to get used to him, proudly assuring them all that he only appeared to be different, but was really just like all of them, and that she was not afraid of him and no one else ought to be.
He could talk about rural economy with the count, fashions with the countess and Natasha, and about albums and fancywork with Sonya.
Natasha shared this as she did all his feelings, which she constantly divined.
Prince Andrew blushed, as he often did now--Natasha particularly liked it in him--and said that his son would not live with them.
"Why not?" asked Natasha in a frightened tone.
When Prince Andrew spoke (he could tell a story very well), Natasha listened to him with pride; when she spoke she noticed with fear and joy that he gazed attentively and scrutinizingly at her.
He was talking to the countess, and Natasha sat down beside a little chess table with Sonya, thereby inviting Prince Andrew to come too.
He informed her of his engagement to Natasha Rostova.
In 1810 he received letters from his parents, in which they told him of Natasha's engagement to Bolkonski, and that the wedding would be in a year's time because the old prince made difficulties.
Petya and Natasha surprised Nicholas most.
As for Natasha, for a long while Nicholas wondered and laughed whenever he looked at her.
"Yes, yes, yes!" cried Natasha, joyfully.
"How shall I put it?" replied Natasha.
But just as Daniel was about to go Natasha came in with rapid steps, not having done up her hair or finished dressing and with her old nurse's big shawl wrapped round her.
"You are going?" asked Natasha.
"Yes, we are going," replied Nicholas reluctantly, for today, as he intended to hunt seriously, he did not want to take Natasha and Petya.
"You know it is my greatest pleasure," said Natasha.
Mamma said you mustn't, said Nicholas to Natasha.
I shall certainly go, said Natasha decisively.
Nicholas, with a stern and serious air which showed that now was no time for attending to trifles, went past Natasha and Petya who were trying to tell him something.
Natasha, muffled up in shawls which did not hide her eager face and shining eyes, galloped up to them.
Natasha sat easily and confidently on her black Arabchik and reined him in without effort with a firm hand.
"Uncle" looked round disapprovingly at Petya and Natasha.
He knew me, said Natasha, referring to her favorite hound.
Rostov, having finally settled with "Uncle" where they should set on the hounds, and having shown Natasha where she was to stand--a spot where nothing could possibly run out--went round above the ravine.
The old count went home, and Natasha and Petya promised to return very soon, but as it was still early the hunt went farther.
Nicholas sent the man to call Natasha and Petya to him, and rode at a footpace to the place where the whips were getting the hounds together.
Nicholas dismounted, and with Natasha and Petya, who had ridden up, stopped near the hounds, waiting to see how the matter would end.
Natasha, afraid that her brother would do something dreadful, had followed him in some excitement.
(he again raised his cap to Natasha) "but as for counting skins and what one takes, I don't care about that."
Natasha saw and felt the agitation the two elderly men and her brother were trying to conceal, and was herself excited by it.
At the same moment Natasha, without drawing breath, screamed joyously, ecstatically, and so piercingly that it set everyone's ear tingling.
A huntsman was sent to Otradnoe for a trap, while Nicholas rode with Natasha and Petya to "Uncle's" house.
"How is it you didn't go head over heels?" asked the boldest of all, addressing Natasha directly.
"Uncle" lifted Natasha off her horse and taking her hand led her up the rickety wooden steps of the porch.
Natasha, Nicholas, and Petya took off their wraps and sat down on the sofa.
Natasha and Nicholas were silent.
They looked at one another (now that the hunt was over and they were in the house, Nicholas no longer considered it necessary to show his manly superiority over his sister), Natasha gave him a wink, and neither refrained long from bursting into a peal of ringing laughter even before they had a pretext ready to account for it.
And Natasha felt that this costume, the very one she had regarded with surprise and amusement at Otradnoe, was just the right thing and not at all worse than a swallow-tail or frock coat.
"Take this, little Lady-Countess!" she kept saying, as she offered Natasha first one thing and then another.
Natasha ate of everything and thought she had never seen or eaten such buttermilk cakes, such aromatic jam, such honey-and-nut sweets, or such a chicken anywhere.
After supper, over their cherry brandy, Rostov and "Uncle" talked of past and future hunts, of Rugay and Ilagin's dogs, while Natasha sat upright on the sofa and listened with sparkling eyes.
Natasha felt so lighthearted and happy in these novel surroundings that she only feared the trap would come for her too soon.
"More, please, more!" cried Natasha at the door as soon as the balalayka ceased.
"Do you play then?" asked Natasha.
The tune, played with precision and in exact time, began to thrill in the hearts of Nicholas and Natasha, arousing in them the same kind of sober mirth as radiated from Anisya Fedorovna's whole being.
Go on, Uncle, go on! shouted Natasha as soon as he had finished.
"Go on, Uncle dear," Natasha wailed in an imploring tone as if her life depended on it.
"Now then, niece!" he exclaimed, waving to Natasha the hand that had just struck a chord.
Natasha threw off the shawl from her shoulders, ran forward to face "Uncle," and setting her arms akimbo also made a motion with her shoulders and struck an attitude.
Natasha was in ecstasies over "Uncle's" singing.
Natasha and Nicholas got into the other.
"Uncle" wrapped Natasha up warmly and took leave of her with quite a new tenderness.
"Good-bye, dear niece," his voice called out of the darkness--not the voice Natasha had known previously, but the one that had sung As 'twas growing dark last night.
"What a darling Uncle is!" said Natasha, when they had come out onto the highroad.
I feel so comfortable! answered Natasha, almost perplexed by her feelings.
"What were you thinking about just now, Nicholas?" inquired Natasha.
"I know, I expect you thought of him," said Nicholas, smiling as Natasha knew by the sound of his voice.
"Rubbish, nonsense, humbug!" exclaimed Nicholas, and he thought: "How charming this Natasha of mine is!
"What a darling this Nicholas of mine is!" thought Natasha.
Natasha and Nicholas often noticed their parents conferring together anxiously and privately and heard suggestions of selling the fine ancestral Rostov house and estate near Moscow.
Natasha was still as much in love with her betrothed, found the same comfort in that love, and was still as ready to throw herself into all the pleasures of life as before; but at the end of the fourth month of their separation she began to have fits of depression which she could not master.
Natasha came into the room, went up to Sonya, glanced at what she was doing, and then went up to her mother and stood without speaking.
I want him! said Natasha, with glittering eyes and no sign of a smile.
"Let her alone, Kondratevna," said Natasha.
Having released Mavrushka, Natasha crossed the dancing hall and went to the vestibule.
"What can I do with them?" thought Natasha.
Natasha liked to test her power over him.
"Oh dear, what a young lady!" said Foka, pretending to frown at Natasha.
No one in the house sent people about or gave them as much trouble as Natasha did.
Natasha sat down, listened to their talk with a serious and thoughtful air, and then got up again.
Natasha glanced at her and at the crack in the pantry door, and it seemed to her that she remembered the light falling through that crack once before and Sonya passing with a glass in her hand.
"Yes it was exactly the same," thought Natasha.
That's just how she started and just how she came up smiling timidly when all this happened before," thought Natasha, "and in just the same way I thought there was something lacking in her."
"You always find something to do, but I can't," said Natasha.
"Sonya, go and wake him," said Natasha.
"Ah, here she is!" said the old count, when he saw Natasha enter.
But Natasha stayed by her mother and glanced round as if looking for something.
The same faces, the same talk, Papa holding his cup and blowing in the same way! thought Natasha, feeling with horror a sense of repulsion rising up in her for the whole household, because they were always the same.
After tea, Nicholas, Sonya, and Natasha went to the sitting room, to their favorite corner where their most intimate talks always began.
And I was innocent--that was the chief thing, said Natasha.
Tell them to take it away, replied Natasha.
Dimmler struck a chord and, turning to Natasha, Nicholas, and Sonya, remarked: "How quiet you young people are!"
"Yes, we're philosophizing," said Natasha, glancing round for a moment and then continuing the conversation.
Dimmler began to play; Natasha went on tiptoe noiselessly to the table, took up a candle, carried it out, and returned, seating herself quietly in her former place.
"Do you know," said Natasha in a whisper, moving closer to Nicholas and Sonya, "that when one goes on and on recalling memories, one at last begins to remember what happened before one was in the world..."
"No, I don't believe we ever were in animals," said Natasha, still in a whisper though the music had ceased.
Natasha rejoined with conviction.
"Why is it hard to imagine eternity?" said Natasha.
"Mamma, I don't at all want to," replied Natasha, but all the same she rose.
None of them, not even the middle-aged Dimmler, wanted to break off their conversation and quit that corner in the sitting room, but Natasha got up and Nicholas sat down at the clavichord.
Standing as usual in the middle of the hall and choosing the place where the resonance was best, Natasha began to sing her mother's favorite song.
She thought of Natasha and of her own youth, and of how there was something unnatural and dreadful in this impending marriage of Natasha and Prince Andrew.
Her maternal instinct told her that Natasha had too much of something, and that because of this she would not be happy.
Before Natasha had finished singing, fourteen-year-old Petya rushed in delightedly, to say that some mummers had arrived.
An hussar was Natasha, and a Circassian was Sonya with burnt-cork mustache and eyebrows.
Natasha was foremost in setting a merry holiday tone, which, passing from one to another, grew stronger and reached its climax when they all came out into the frost and got into the sleighs, talking, calling to one another, laughing, and shouting.
"I think this used to be Natasha," thought Nicholas, "and that was Madame Schoss, but perhaps it's not, and this Circassian with the mustache I don't know, but I love her."
Well, Mr. Hussar, and what regiment do you serve in? she asked Natasha.
"Ah! ah!" screamed Natasha, rolling her eyes with horror.
When they all drove back from Pelageya Danilovna's, Natasha, who always saw and noticed everything, arranged that she and Madame Schoss should go back in the sleigh with Dimmler, and Sonya with Nicholas and the maids.
"Natasha!" he whispered in French, "do you know I have made up my mind about Sonya?"
"Have you told her?" asked Natasha, suddenly beaming all over with joy.
Natasha--are you glad?
On Natasha's table stood two looking glasses which Dunyasha had prepared beforehand.
It would be too good! said Natasha, rising and going to the looking glasses.
"Sit down, Natasha; perhaps you'll see him," said Sonya.
Natasha lit the candles, one on each side of one of the looking glasses, and sat down.
"I see someone with a mustache," said Natasha, seeing her own face.
With Sonya's help and the maid's, Natasha got the glass she held into the right position opposite the other; her face assumed a serious expression and she sat silent.
Sonya heard this and Natasha's whisper:
"Of course she will!" whispered Natasha, but did not finish... suddenly Sonya pushed away the glass she was holding and covered her eyes with her hand.
"Oh, Natasha!" she cried.
What was it? exclaimed Natasha, holding up the looking glass.
Sonya had not seen anything, she was just wanting to blink and to get up when she heard Natasha say, "Of course she will!"
She did not wish to disappoint either Dunyasha or Natasha, but it was hard to sit still.
"You saw him?" urged Natasha, seizing her hand.
Is he ill? asked Natasha, her frightened eyes fixed on her friend.
Natasha began, and without replying to Sonya's words of comfort she got into bed, and long after her candle was out lay open-eyed and motionless, gazing at the moonlight through the frosty windowpanes.
Listen, Mamma darling, said Natasha.
Natasha set to work to effect a reconciliation, and so far succeeded that Nicholas received a promise from his mother that Sonya should not be troubled, while he on his side promised not to undertake anything without his parents' knowledge.
Natasha, who had borne the first period of separation from her betrothed lightly and even cheerfully, now grew more agitated and impatient every day.
Natasha's trousseau had to be ordered and the house sold.
So the countess remained in the country, and the count, taking Sonya and Natasha with him, went to Moscow at the end of January.
At the end of January old Count Rostov went to Moscow with Natasha and Sonya.
You've grown plumper and prettier, she remarked, drawing Natasha (whose cheeks were glowing from the cold) to her by the hood.
When they got home she turned everybody out of the room except Natasha, and then called her pet to her armchair.
Natasha remained silent, from shyness Marya Dmitrievna supposed, but really because she disliked anyone interfering in what touched her love of Prince Andrew, which seemed to her so apart from all human affairs that no one could understand it.
"Yes, it will," Natasha answered reluctantly.
Natasha, on the other hand, having put on her best gown, was in the highest spirits.
From the first glance Princess Mary did not like Natasha.
If you'll allow me to leave my Natasha in your hands for a quarter of an hour, Princess, I'll drive round to see Anna Semenovna, it's quite near in the Dogs' Square, and then I'll come back for her.
He did not mention this to his daughter, but Natasha noticed her father's nervousness and anxiety and felt mortified by it.
Natasha felt offended by the hesitation she had noticed in the anteroom, by her father's nervousness, and by the unnatural manner of the princess who--she thought--was making a favor of receiving her, and so everything displeased her.
Natasha suddenly shrank into herself and involuntarily assumed an offhand air which alienated Princess Mary still more.
God is my witness, I didn't know-" he repeated, stressing the word "God" so unnaturally and so unpleasantly that Princess Mary stood with downcast eyes not daring to look either at her father or at Natasha.
God is my witness, I did not know, muttered the old man, and after looking Natasha over from head to foot he went out.
Natasha and Princess Mary looked at one another in silence, and the longer they did so without saying what they wanted to say, the greater grew their antipathy to one another.
When the count returned, Natasha was impolitely pleased and hastened to get away: at that moment she hated the stiff, elderly princess, who could place her in such an embarrassing position and had spent half an hour with her without once mentioning Prince Andrew.
"I couldn't begin talking about him in the presence of that Frenchwoman," thought Natasha.
When the count was already leaving the room, Princess Mary went up hurriedly to Natasha, took her by the hand, and said with a deep sigh:
Natasha glanced at her ironically without knowing why.
Natasha noticed this and guessed its reason.
They waited a long time for Natasha to come to dinner that day.
"Natasha, what is it about?" she asked.
It will all pass, Natasha.
Don't talk about it, Natasha.
Natasha raised her head and, kissing her friend on the lips, pressed her wet face against her.
No one's to blame," said Natasha--"It's my fault.
Marya Dmitrievna, who knew how the prince had received the Rostovs, pretended not to notice how upset Natasha was and jested resolutely and loudly at table with the count and the other guests.
Natasha did not want to go, but could not refuse Marya Dmitrievna's kind offer which was intended expressly for her.
And his eyes--how I see those eyes! thought Natasha.
Natasha and Sonya, holding up their dresses, jumped out quickly.
"Natasha, your hair!..." whispered Sonya.
A lady entering the next box shot a glance of feminine envy at Natasha.
Natasha, smoothing her gown, went in with Sonya and sat down, scanning the brilliant tiers of boxes opposite.
Natasha's looks, as everyone told her, had improved in the country, and that evening thanks to her agitation she was particularly pretty.
"They are talking about us, about me and him!" thought Natasha.
Their box was pervaded by that atmosphere of an affianced couple which Natasha knew so well and liked so much.
Natasha involuntarily gazed at that neck, those shoulders, and pearls and coiffure, and admired the beauty of the shoulders and the pearls.
While Natasha was fixing her gaze on her for the second time the lady looked round and, meeting the count's eyes, nodded to him and smiled.
"Yes, he meant to look in," answered Helene, and glanced attentively at Natasha.
"Handsome, isn't she?" he whispered to Natasha.
Natasha too began to look at it.
After her life in the country, and in her present serious mood, all this seemed grotesque and amazing to Natasha.
And feeling the bright light that flooded the whole place and the warm air heated by the crowd, Natasha little by little began to pass into a state of intoxication she had not experienced for a long while.
Having looked at Natasha he approached his sister, laid his well gloved hand on the edge of her box, nodded to her, and leaning forward asked a question, with a motion toward Natasha.
"Mais charmante!" said he, evidently referring to Natasha, who did not exactly hear his words but understood them from the movement of his lips.
Shinshin, lowering his voice, began to tell the count of some intrigue of Kuragin's in Moscow, and Natasha tried to overhear it just because he had said she was "charmante."
The scantily clad Helene smiled at everyone in the same way, and Natasha gave Boris a similar smile.
Natasha knew he was talking about her and this afforded her pleasure.
His face looked sad, and he had grown still stouter since Natasha last saw him.
On seeing Natasha Pierre grew animated and, hastily passing between the rows, came toward their box.
While conversing with Pierre, Natasha heard a man's voice in Countess Bezukhova's box and something told her it was Kuragin.