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At the end of the evening, Ippolit Kuragin busts in with a politically incorrect play-on-words joke about the war.
Boris does this half-smirk half-smile that could mean that he thinks it’s funny, or that he disapproves, depending on how each party guest interprets it. (That’s a lesson on how to get ahead in life, people.)
Everyone laughs and then starts talking about what kind of holiday gifts Emperor Alexander is likely to give out this year, and what each might mean politically.
Meanwhile, Helene again asks Boris to dinner.
When he comes to her house for a dinner party, he’s not really sure why he’s there. She ignores him most of the night, but then at the end of the evening asks him to come back again the next week.
And so Boris gets sucked into the sexy Helene vortex.