To each of them he made some careless and agreeable remark except to Pierre and Helene, whose presence he seemed not to notice.
What distinguished them from others was the absence of host or hostess and the presence of the good-natured Iogel, flying about like a feather and bowing according to the rules of his art, as he collected the tickets from all his visitors.
Boris had realized this the week before when the commander-in-chief in his presence invited Rostopchin to dinner on St. Nicholas' Day, and Rostopchin had replied that he could not come:
The Emperor was with the army to encourage it, but his presence and ignorance of what steps to take, and the enormous number of advisers and plans, destroyed the first army's energy and it retired.
"The Cossack, not knowing in what company he was, for Napoleon's plain appearance had nothing about it that would reveal to an Oriental mind the presence of a monarch, talked with extreme familiarity of the incidents of the war," says Thiers, narrating this episode.