GENEVA -- A lighthearted Nancy Reagan play-acted the role of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for her husband Sunday during a visit to the scene of Tuesday's superpower talks.
The first lady's playfulness briefly relieved President Reagan's otherwise somber pre-summit mood.
Her short-lived return to the stage came during the Reagans' visit to Fleur d'Eau, the 20-room chateau the United States has taken over to host the first round of the summit.
Reagan, entering the library where the two leaders will meet for the first time, sat in the armchair he will use for a 15-minute private chat with Gorbachev. Mrs. Reagan then placed herself in Gorbachev's chair, facing her husband solemnly until he quipped, 'You're much prettier than I expected.'
Mrs. Reagan lost what was meant to be a glacial Soviet stare and burst out laughing.
The couple then briefly toured the larger room where the plenary session will be held, viewing the 16-foot wooden oval table shipped from the United Nations for the discussions.
Earlier in the day, Mrs. Reagan donned a brown fur-lined stormcoat, long red scarf, black leather gloves and boots to stroll with her husband through the garden of Maison de Saussure, the 18th century chateau on Lake Geneva that is their home during their summit stay.
The couple, trailed by a Secret Service agent, walked hand-in-hand under gray skies along the graveled paths, admiring the tall trees pruned into cone shapes and pink and yellow flowers blooming despite the wintry temperatures. Sailboats scudded on the wind-whipped lake behind them.
In contrast to Reagan's grim demeanor, Mrs. Reagan appeared cheerful and joking. The two stopped at a small leaf-filled pond and discussed a 5-foot bronze statue of Pan before reentering the graystone house through French doors. The mansion is rented by the Aga Khan, Prince Karim, who moved out to let the Reagans stay.
Mrs. Reagan will take tea Monday with Ursula Furgler, wife of the Swiss president.
Raisa Gorbachev has been invited for tea Tuesday afternoon at the Geneva White House. Although the summit between their husbands is the focus of world attention, the fashions of the two style-conscious first ladies are sure to grab headlines.
Mrs. Reagan, well aware of the admiration her Soviet counterpart has won in the West, prepared for their meeting by reading Soviet history books and watching videotapes of Mrs. Gorbachev's visit to Paris and London.
Mrs. Reagan is to go to Lausanne Tuesday to visit a farm for children undergoing drug abuse rehabilitation.