diplomatic in his manners
The countess gave me an excellent reception, held out her hand to me cordially, and repeated that she had long wished to, make my acquaintance. She made tea herself from a handsome silver samovar, round which we all sat, the prince, and I and another gentleman, elderly and extremely aristocratic wearing a star on his breast, somewhat starchy and . This visitor seemed an object of great respect. The countess had not, since her return from abroad, had time that winter to make a large circle of acquaintances in Petersburg and to establish her position as she had hoped and reckoned upon doing.
There was no one besides this gentleman, and no one else came in all the evening. I looked about for Katerina Fyodorovna; she was in the next room with Alyosha, but hearing that we had arrived she came in at once. The prince kissed her hand politely, and the countess motioned her towards me. The prince at once introduced us. I looked at her with impatient attention. She was a short, soft little blonde dressed in a white frock, with a mild and serene expression of face, with eyes of perfect blue, as Alyosha had said, she had the beauty of youth, that was all. I had expected to meet the perfection of beauty, but it was not a case of beauty. The regular, softly outlined oval of the face, the fairly correct features, the thick and really splendid hair, the simple and homely style in which it was arranged, the gentle, attentive expression — all this I should have passed by without paying special attention to it if I had met her elsewhere. But this was only the first impression, and I succeeded in getting a fuller insight into her in the course of that evening.
The very way in which she shook hands with me, standing looking into my face with a sort of naively exaggerated intentness, without saying a word, impressed me by its strangeness, and I could not help smiling at her. It was evident, I felt at once, that I had before me a creature of the purest heart. The countess watched her intently. After shaking hands Katya walked away from me somewhat hurriedly, and sat down at the other end of the room with Alyosha. As he greeted me Alyosha whispered: I’m only here for a minute. I’m just going there.