Andrei thinks almost nothing of the ball, except a slight moment when he thinks of Natasha, and how different and special she is.
This chapter is Andre becoming disillusioned. A visitor, Bitsky, comes to tell him about the sovereign's speech. Isn't that name, Bitsky, descriptive? It's like the friend named Bitsy in the 50's - you immediately know she's going to be inconsequential. Sure enough, Andrei realizes while Bitsky is talking, how pointless the work he's been doing has been - "What do Bistky and I have to do with what the sovereign was pleased to say at the council? Can any of it make me happier and better?"
Andrei has an early dinner scheduled with Speransky, and everything's off. The music of the voices Tolstoy describes seems annoying - a bass chewing food, a hiss of a quiet chuckle, and a the high, clipped laugh of Speransky, which Andrei had never heard but disliked. The conversation is all laughs at the expense of others lower than them, amusing anecdotes. Andrei doesn't find anything funny. He excuses himself to leave.
They fell silent. Prince Andrei looked closely into those mirror-like eyes which did not let anything in, and felt how ridiculous it was that he could have expected anything from Speransky and from all his activity connected with him, and that he could hae ascribed importance to what Speransky was doing."
He remembers his work in the country, and the last four months seem ridiculous to him. I can't imagine Natasha had nothing to do with it, even if it's not conscious. Andrei's decisions just pop into his head. It's quite amazing - he's just off things.
6 months ago