"We have no gloves," I repeated, at the same time bending over towards her and laying both hands on the arm of her chair,
" But what is that? " she cried as she caught hold of my left hand. "Look, my dear! " she continued, turning to Madame Valakhin. "See how smart this young man has made himself to dance with your daughter!"
As Grandmamma persisted in retaining hold of my hand and gazing with a mock air of gravity and interrogation at all around her, curiosity was soon aroused, and a general roar of laughter ensued.
I should have been infuriated at the thought that Seriosha was present to see this, as I scowled with embarrassment and struggled hard to free my hand, had it not been that somehow Sonetchka's laughter (and she was laughing to such a degree that the tears were standing in her eyes and the curls dancing about her lovely face) took away my feeling of humiliation. I felt that her laughter was not satirical, but only natural and free; so that, as we laughed together and looked at one another, there seemed to begin a kind of sympathy between us. Instead of turning out badly, therefore, the episode of the glove served only to set me at my ease among the dreaded circle of guests, and to make me cease to feel oppressed with shyness. The sufferings of shy people proceed only from the doubts which they feel concerning the opinions of their fellows. No sooner are those opinions expressed (whether flattering or the reverse) than the agony disappears.
How lovely Sonetchka looked when she was dancing a quadrille as my vis-a-vis, with, as her partner, the loutish Prince Etienne! How charmingly she smiled when, en chaine, she accorded me her hand! How gracefully the curls, around her head nodded to the rhythm, and how naively she executed the jete assemble with her little feet!
In the fifth figure, when my partner had to leave me for the other side and I, counting the beats, was getting ready to dance my solo, she pursed her lips gravely and looked in another direction; but her fears for me were groundless. Boldly I performed the chasse en avant and chasse en arriere glissade, until, when it came to my turn to move towards her and I, with a comic gesture, showed her the poor glove with its crumpled fingers, she laughed heartily, and seemed to move her tiny feet more enchantingly than ever over the parquetted floor.
How well I remember how we formed the circle, and how, without withdrawing her hand from mine, she scratched her little nose with her glove! All this I can see before me still. Still can I hear the quadrille from "The Maids of the Danube" to which we danced that night.
The second quadrille, I danced with Sonetchka herself; yet when we went to sit down together during the interval, I felt overcome with shyness and as though I had nothing to say. At last, when my silence had lasted so long that I began to be afraid that she would think me a stupid boy, I decided at all hazards to counteract such a notion.