Part 26 out of 34
saving his life, he went with him into the room.
The soldiers in the yard, hearing the shot, came into the passage
asking what had happened, and expressed their readiness to punish
the culprits, but the officer sternly checked them.
"You will be called in when you are wanted," he said.
The soldiers went out again, and the orderly, who had meanwhile
had time to visit the kitchen, came up to his officer.
"Captain, there is soup and a leg of mutton in the kitchen," said
he. "Shall I serve them up?"
"Yes, and some wine," answered the captain.
When the French officer went into the room with Pierre the latter
again thought it his duty to assure him that he was not French and
wished to go away, but the officer would not hear of it. He was so
very polite, amiable, good-natured, and genuinely grateful to Pierre
for saving his life that Pierre had not the heart to refuse, and sat
down with him in the parlor- the first room they entered. To
Pierre's assurances that he was not a Frenchman, the captain,
evidently not understanding how anyone could decline so flattering
an appellation, shrugged his shoulders and said that if Pierre
absolutely insisted on passing for a Russian let it be so, but for all
that he would be forever bound to Pierre by gratitude for saving his
Had this man been endowed with the slightest capacity for perceiving
the feelings of others, and had he at all understood what Pierre's
feelings were, the latter would probably have left him, but the
man's animated obtuseness to everything other than himself disarmed
"A Frenchman or a Russian prince incognito," said the officer,
looking at Pierre's fine though dirty linen and at the ring on his
finger. "I owe my life to you and offer you my friendship. A Frenchman
never forgets either an insult or a service. I offer you my
friendship. That is all I can say."
There was so much good nature and nobility (in the French sense of
the word) in the officer's voice, in the expression of his face and in
his gestures, that Pierre, unconsciously smiling in response to the
Frenchman's smile, pressed the hand held out to him.
"Captain Ramballe, of the 13th Light Regiment, Chevalier of the
Legion of Honor for the affair on the seventh of September," he
introduced himself, a self-satisfied irrepressible smile puckering his
lips under his mustache. "Will you now be so good as to tell me with
whom I have the honor of conversing so pleasantly, instead of being in
the ambulance with that maniac's bullet in my body?"
Pierre replied that he could not tell him his name and, blushing,
began to try to invent a name and to say something about his reason
for concealing it, but the Frenchman hastily interrupted him.
"Oh, please!" said he. "I understand your reasons. You are an
officer... a superior officer perhaps. You have borne arms against us.
That's not my business. I owe you my life. That is enough for me. I am
quite at your service. You belong to the gentry?" he concluded with
a shade of inquiry in his tone. Pierre bent his head. "Your
baptismal name, if you please. That is all I ask. Monsieur Pierre, you
say.... That's all I want to know."
When the mutton and an omelet had been served and a samovar and
vodka brought, with some wine which the French had taken from a
Russian cellar and brought with them, Ramballe invited Pierre to share
his dinner, and himself began to eat greedily and quickly like a
healthy and hungry man, munching his food rapidly with his strong
teeth, continually smacking his lips, and repeating- "Excellent!
Delicious!" His face grew red and was covered with perspiration.
Pierre was hungry and shared the dinner with pleasure. Morel, the
orderly, brought some hot water in a saucepan and placed a bottle of
claret in it. He also brought a bottle of kvass, taken from the
kitchen for them to try. That beverage was already known to the French
and had been given a special name. They called it limonade de cochon
(pig's lemonade), and Morel spoke well of the limonade de cochon he
had found in the kitchen. But as the captain had the wine they had
taken while passing through Moscow, he left the kvass to Morel and
applied himself to the bottle of Bordeaux. He wrapped the bottle up to
its neck in a table napkin and poured out wine for himself and for
Pierre. The satisfaction of his hunger and the wine rendered the
captain still more lively and he chatted incessantly all through
"Yes, my dear Monsieur Pierre, I owe you a fine votive candle for
saving me from that maniac.... You see, I have bullets enough in my
body already. Here is one I got at Wagram" (he touched his side)
"and a second at Smolensk"- he showed a scar on his cheek- "and this
leg which as you see does not want to march, I got that on the seventh
at the great battle of la Moskowa. Sacre Dieu! It was splendid! That
deluge of fire was worth seeing. It was a tough job you set us
there, my word! You may be proud of it! And on my honor, in spite of
the cough I caught there, I should be ready to begin again. I pity
those who did not see it."
"I was there," said Pierre.
"Bah, really? So much the better! You are certainly brave foes.
The great redoubt held out well, by my pipe!" continued the Frenchman.
"And you made us pay dear for it. I was at it three times- sure as I
sit here. Three times we reached the guns and three times we were
thrown back like cardboard figures. Oh, it was beautiful, Monsieur
Pierre! Your grenadiers were splendid, by heaven! I saw them close
up their ranks six times in succession and march as if on parade. Fine
fellows! Our King of Naples, who knows what's what, cried 'Bravo!' Ha,
ha! So you are one of us soldiers!" he added, smiling, after a
momentary pause. "So much the better, so much the better, Monsieur
Pierre! Terrible in battle... gallant... with the fair" (he winked and
smiled), "that's what the French are, Monsieur Pierre, aren't they?"
The captain was so naively and good-humoredly gay, so real, and so
pleased with himself that Pierre almost winked back as he looked
merrily at him. Probably the word "gallant" turned the captain's
thoughts to the state of Moscow.
"Apropos, tell me please, is it true that the women have all left
Moscow? What a queer idea! What had they to be afraid of?"
"Would not the French ladies leave Paris if the Russians entered
it?" asked Pierre.
"Ha, ha, ha!" The Frenchman emitted a merry, sanguine chuckle,
patting Pierre on the shoulder. "What a thing to say!" he exclaimed.
"Paris?... But Paris, Paris..."
"Paris- the capital of the world," Pierre finished his remark for
The captain looked at Pierre. He had a habit of stopping short in
the middle of his talk and gazing intently with his laughing, kindly
"Well, if you hadn't told me you were Russian, I should have wagered
that you were Parisian! You have that... I don't know what, that..."
and having uttered this compliment, he again gazed at him in silence.
"I have been in Paris. I spent years there," said Pierre.
"Oh yes, one sees that plainly. Paris!... A man who doesn't know
Paris is a savage. You can tell a Parisian two leagues off. Paris is
Talma, la Duchenois, Potier, the Sorbonne, the boulevards," and
noticing that his conclusion was weaker than what had gone before,
he added quickly: "There is only one Paris in the world. You have been
to Paris and have remained Russian. Well, I don't esteem you the
less for it."
Under the influence of the wine he had drunk, and after the days
he had spent alone with his depressing thoughts, Pierre
involuntarily enjoyed talking with this cheerful and good-natured man.
"To return to your ladies- I hear they are lovely. What a wretched
idea to go and bury themselves in the steppes when the French army
is in Moscow. What a chance those girls have missed! Your peasants,
now- that's another thing; but you civilized people, you ought to know
us better than that. We took Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Naples, Rome,
Warsaw, all the world's capitals.... We are feared, but we are
loved. We are nice to know. And then the Emperor..." he began, but
Pierre interrupted him.
"The Emperor," Pierre repeated, and his face suddenly became sad and
embarrassed, "is the Emperor...?"
"The Emperor? He is generosity, mercy, justice, order, genius-
that's what the Emperor is! It is I, Ramballe, who tell you so.... I
assure you I was his enemy eight years ago. My father was an
emigrant count.... But that man has vanquished me. He has taken hold
of me. I could not resist the sight of the grandeur and glory with
which he has covered France. When I understood what he wanted- when
I saw that he was preparing a bed of laurels for us, you know, I
said to myself: 'That is a monarch,' and I devoted myself to him! So
there! Oh yes, mon cher, he is the greatest man of the ages past or
"Is he in Moscow?" Pierre stammered with a guilty look.
The Frenchman looked at his guilty face and smiled.
"No, he will make his entry tomorrow," he replied, and continued his
Their conversation was interrupted by the cries of several voices at
the gate and by Morel, who came to say that some Wurttemberg hussars
had come and wanted to put up their horses in the yard where the
captain's horses were. This difficulty had arisen chiefly because
the hussars did not understand what was said to them in French.
The captain had their senior sergeant called in, and in a stern
voice asked him to what regiment he belonged, who was his commanding
officer, and by what right he allowed himself to claim quarters that
were already occupied. The German who knew little French, answered the
two first questions by giving the names of his regiment and of his
commanding officer, but in reply to the third question which he did
not understand said, introducing broken French into his own German,
that he was the quartermaster of the regiment and his commander had
ordered him to occupy all the houses one after another. Pierre, who
knew German, translated what the German said to the captain and gave
the captain's reply to the Wurttemberg hussar in German. When he had
understood what was said to him, the German submitted and took his men
elsewhere. The captain went out into the porch and gave some orders in
a loud voice.
When he returned to the room Pierre was sitting in the same place as
before, with his head in his hands. His face expressed suffering. He
really was suffering at that moment. When the captain went out and
he was left alone, suddenly he came to himself and realized the
position he was in. It was not that Moscow had been taken or that
the happy conquerors were masters in it and were patronizing him.
Painful as that was it was not that which tormented Pierre at the
moment. He was tormented by the consciousness of his own weakness. The
few glasses of wine he had drunk and the conversation with this
good-natured man had destroyed the mood of concentrated gloom in which
he had spent the last few days and which was essential for the
execution of his design. The pistol, dagger, and peasant coat were
ready. Napoleon was to enter the town next day. Pierre still
considered that it would be a useful and worthy action to slay the
evildoer, but now he felt that he would not do it. He did not know
why, but he felt a foreboding that he would not carry out his
intention. He struggled against the confession of his weakness but
dimly felt that he could not overcome it and that his former gloomy
frame of mind, concerning vengeance, killing, and self-sacrifice,
had been dispersed like dust by contact with the first man he met.
The captain returned to the room, limping slightly and whistling a
The Frenchman's chatter which had previously amused Pierre now
repelled him. The tune he was whistling, his gait, and the gesture
with which he twirled his mustache, all now seemed offensive. "I
will go away immediately. I won't say another word to him," thought
Pierre. He thought this, but still sat in the same place. A strange
feeling of weakness tied him to the spot; he wished to get up and go
away, but could not do so.
The captain, on the other hand, seemed very cheerful. He paced up
and down the room twice. His eyes shone and his mustache twitched as
if he were smiling to himself at some amusing thought.
"The colonel of those Wurttembergers is delightful," he suddenly
said. "He's a German, but a nice fellow all the same.... But he's a
German." He sat down facing Pierre. "By the way, you know German,
Pierre looked at him in silence.
"What is the German for 'shelter'?"
"Shelter?" Pierre repeated. "The German for shelter is Unterkunft."
"How do you say it?" the captain asked quickly and doubtfully.
"Unterkunft," Pierre repeated.
"Onterkoff," said the captain and looked at Pierre for some
seconds with laughing eyes. "These Germans are first-rate fools, don't
you think so, Monsieur Pierre?" he concluded.
"Well, let's have another bottle of this Moscow Bordeaux, shall
we? Morel will warm us up another little bottle. Morel!" he called out
Morel brought candles and a bottle of wine. The captain looked at
Pierre by the candlelight and was evidently struck by the troubled
expression on his companion's face. Ramballe, with genuine distress
and sympathy in his face, went up to Pierre and bent over him.
"There now, we're sad," said he, touching Pierre's hand. "Have I
upset you? No, really, have you anything against me?" he asked Pierre.
"Perhaps it's the state of affairs?"
Pierre did not answer, but looked cordially into the Frenchman's
eyes whose expression of sympathy was pleasing to him.
"Honestly, without speaking of what I owe you, I feel friendship for
you. Can I do anything for you? Dispose of me. It is for life and
death. I say it with my hand on my heart!" said he, striking his
"Thank you," said Pierre.
The captain gazed intently at him as he had done when he learned
that "shelter" was Unterkunft in German, and his face suddenly
"Well, in that case, I drink to our friendship!" he cried gaily,
filling two glasses with wine.
Pierre took one of the glasses and emptied it. Ramballe emptied
his too, again pressed Pierre's hand, and leaned his elbows on the
table in a pensive attitude.
"Yes, my dear friend," he began, "such is fortune's caprice. Who
would have said that I should be a soldier and a captain of dragoons
in the service of Bonaparte, as we used to call him? Yet here I am
in Moscow with him. I must tell you, mon cher," he continued in the
sad and measured tones of a man who intends to tell a long story,
"that our name is one of the most ancient in France."
And with a Frenchman's easy and naive frankness the captain told
Pierre the story of his ancestors, his childhood, youth, and
manhood, and all about his relations and his financial and family
affairs, "ma pauvre mere" playing of course an important part in the
"But all that is only life's setting, the real thing is love-
love! Am I not right, Monsieur Pierre?" said he, growing animated.
Pierre again emptied his glass and poured himself out a third.
"Oh, women, women!" and the captain, looking with glistening eyes at
Pierre, began talking of love and of his love affairs.
There were very many of these, as one could easily believe,
looking at the officer's handsome, self-satisfied face, and noting the
eager enthusiasm with which he spoke of women. Though all Ramballe's
love stories had the sensual character which Frenchmen regard as the
special charm and poetry of love, yet he told his story with such
sincere conviction that he alone had experienced and known all the
charm of love and he described women so alluringly that Pierre
listened to him with curiosity.
It was plain that l'amour which the Frenchman was so fond of was not
that low and simple kind that Pierre had once felt for his wife, nor
was it the romantic love stimulated by himself that he experienced for
Natasha. (Ramballe despised both these kinds of love equally: the
one he considered the "love of clodhoppers" and the other the "love of
simpletons.") L'amour which the Frenchman worshiped consisted
principally in the unnaturalness of his relation to the woman and in a
combination of incongruities giving the chief charm to the feeling.
Thus the captain touchingly recounted the story of his love for a
fascinating marquise of thirty-five and at the same time for a
charming, innocent child of seventeen, daughter of the bewitching
marquise. The conflict of magnanimity between the mother and the
daughter, ending in the mother's sacrificing herself and offering
her daughter in marriage to her lover, even now agitated the
captain, though it was the memory of a distant past. Then he recounted
an episode in which the husband played the part of the lover, and
he- the lover- assumed the role of the husband, as well as several
droll incidents from his recollections of Germany, where "shelter"
is called Unterkunft and where the husbands eat sauerkraut and the
young girls are "too blonde."
Finally, the latest episode in Poland still fresh in the captain's
memory, and which he narrated with rapid gestures and glowing face,
was of how he had saved the life of a Pole (in general, the saving
of life continually occurred in the captain's stories) and the Pole
had entrusted to him his enchanting wife (parisienne de coeur) while
himself entering the French service. The captain was happy, the
enchanting Polish lady wished to elope with him, but, prompted by
magnanimity, the captain restored the wife to the husband, saying as
he did so: "I have saved your life, and I save your honor!" Having
repeated these words the captain wiped his eyes and gave himself a
shake, as if driving away the weakness which assailed him at this
Listening to the captain's tales, Pierre- as often happens late in
the evening and under the influence of wine- followed all that was
told him, understood it all, and at the same time followed a train
of personal memories which, he knew not why, suddenly arose in his
mind. While listening to these love stories his own love for Natasha
unexpectedly rose to his mind, and going over the pictures of that
love in his imagination he mentally compared them with Ramballe's
tales. Listening to the story of the struggle between love and duty,
Pierre saw before his eyes every minutest detail of his last meeting
with the object of his love at the Sukharev water tower. At the time
of that meeting it had not produced an effect upon him- he had not
even once recalled it. But now it seemed to him that that meeting
had had in it something very important and poetic.
"Peter Kirilovich, come here! We have recognized you," he now seemed
to hear the words she had uttered and to see before him her eyes,
her smile, her traveling hood, and a stray lock of her hair... and
there seemed to him something pathetic and touching in all this.
Having finished his tale about the enchanting Polish lady, the
captain asked Pierre if he had ever experienced a similar impulse to
sacrifice himself for love and a feeling of envy of the legitimate
Challenged by this question Pierre raised his head and felt a need
to express the thoughts that filled his mind. He began to explain that
he understood love for a women somewhat differently. He said that in
all his life he had loved and still loved only one woman, and that she
could never be his.
"Tiens!" said the captain.
Pierre then explained that he had loved this woman from his earliest
years, but that he had not dared to think of her because she was too
young, and because he had been an illegitimate son without a name.
Afterwards when he had received a name and wealth he dared not think
of her because he loved her too well, placing her far above everything
in the world, and especially therefore above himself.
When he had reached this point, Pierre asked the captain whether
he understood that.
The captain made a gesture signifying that even if he did not
understand it he begged Pierre to continue.
"Platonic love, clouds..." he muttered.
Whether it was the wine he had drunk, or an impulse of frankness, or
the thought that this man did not, and never would, know any of
those who played a part in his story, or whether it was all these
things together, something loosened Pierre's tongue. Speaking
thickly and with a faraway look in his shining eyes, he told the whole
story of his life: his marriage, Natasha's love for his best friend,
her betrayal of him, and all his own simple relations with her.
Urged on by Ramballe's questions he also told what he had at first
concealed- his own position and even his name.
More than anything else in Pierre's story the captain was
impressed by the fact that Pierre was very rich, had two mansions in
Moscow, and that he had abandoned everything and not left the city,
but remained there concealing his name and station.
When it was late at night they went out together into the street.
The night was warm and light. To the left of the house on the Pokrovka
a fire glowed- the first of those that were beginning in Moscow. To
the right and high up in the sky was the sickle of the waning moon and
opposite to it hung that bright comet which was connected in
Pierre's heart with his love. At the gate stood Gerasim, the cook, and
two Frenchmen. Their laughter and their mutually incomprehensible
remarks in two languages could be heard. They were looking at the glow
seen in the town.
There was nothing terrible in the one small, distant fire in the
Gazing at the high starry sky, at the moon, at the comet, and at the
glow from the fire, Pierre experienced a joyful emotion. "There now,
how good it is, what more does one need?" thought he. And suddenly
remembering his intention he grew dizzy and felt so faint that he
leaned against the fence to save himself from falling.
Without taking leave of his new friend, Pierre left the gate with
unsteady steps and returning to his room lay down on the sofa and
immediately fell asleep.
The glow of the first fire that began on the second of September was
watched from the various roads by the fugitive Muscovites and by the
retreating troops, with many different feelings.
The Rostov party spent the night at Mytishchi, fourteen miles from
Moscow. They had started so late on the first of September, the road
had been so blocked by vehicles and troops, so many things had been
forgotten for which servants were sent back, that they had decided
to spend that night at a place three miles out of Moscow. The next
morning they woke late and were again delayed so often that they
only got as far as Great Mytishchi. At ten o'clock that evening the
Rostov family and the wounded traveling with them were all distributed
in the yards and huts of that large village. The Rostovs' servants and
coachmen and the orderlies of the wounded officers, after attending to
their masters, had supper, fed the horses, and came out into the
In a neighboring hut lay Raevski's adjutant with a fractured
wrist. The awful pain he suffered made him moan incessantly and
piteously, and his moaning sounded terrible in the darkness of the
autumn night. He had spent the first night in the same yard as the
Rostovs. The countess said she had been unable to close her eyes on
account of his moaning, and at Mytishchi she moved into a worse hut
simply to be farther away from the wounded man.
In the darkness of the night one of the servants noticed, above
the high body of a coach standing before the porch, the small glow
of another fire. One glow had long been visible and everybody knew
that it was Little Mytishchi burning- set on fire by Mamonov's
"But look here, brothers, there's another fire!" remarked an
All turned their attention to the glow.
"But they told us Little Mytishchi had been set on fire by Mamonov's
"But that's not Mytishchi, it's farther away."
"Look, it must be in Moscow!"
Two of the gazers went round to the other side of the coach and
sat down on its steps.
"It's more to the left, why, Little Mytishchi is over there, and
this is right on the other side."
Several men joined the first two.
"See how it's flaring," said one. "That's a fire in Moscow: either
in the Sushchevski or the Rogozhski quarter."
No one replied to this remark and for some time they all gazed
silently at the spreading flames of the second fire in the distance.
Old Daniel Terentich, the count's valet (as he was called), came
up to the group and shouted at Mishka.
"What are you staring at, you good-for-nothing?... The count will be
calling and there's nobody there; go and gather the clothes together."
"I only ran out to get some water," said Mishka.
"But what do you think, Daniel Terentich? Doesn't it look as if that
glow were in Moscow?" remarked one of the footmen.
Daniel Terentich made no reply, and again for a long time they
were all silent. The glow spread, rising and failing, farther and
"God have mercy.... It's windy and dry..." said another voice.
"Just look! See what it's doing now. O Lord! You can even see the
crows flying. Lord have mercy on us sinners!"
"They'll put it out, no fear!"
"Who's to put it out?" Daniel Terentich, who had hitherto been
silent, was heard to say. His voice was calm and deliberate. "Moscow
it is, brothers," said he. "Mother Moscow, the white..." his voice
faltered, and he gave way to an old man's sob.
And it was as if they had all only waited for this to realize the
significance for them of the glow they were watching. Sighs were
heard, words of prayer, and the sobbing of the count's old valet.
The valet, returning to the cottage, informed the count that
Moscow was burning. The count donned his dressing gown and went out to
look. Sonya and Madame Schoss, who had not yet undressed, went out
with him. Only Natasha and the countess remained in the room. Petya
was no longer with the family, he had gone on with his regiment
which was making for Troitsa.
The countess, on hearing that Moscow was on fire, began to cry.
Natasha, pale, with a fixed look, was sitting on the bench under the
icons just where she had sat down on arriving and paid no attention to
her father's words. She was listening to the ceaseless moaning of
the adjutant, three houses off.
"Oh, how terrible," said Sonya returning from the yard chilled and
frightened. "I believe the whole of Moscow will burn, there's an awful
glow! Natasha, do look! You can see it from the window," she said to
her cousin, evidently wishing to distract her mind.
But Natasha looked at her as if not understanding what was said to
her and again fixed her eyes on the corner of the stove. She had
been in this condition of stupor since the morning, when Sonya, to the
surprise and annoyance of the countess, had for some unaccountable
reason found it necessary to tell Natasha of Prince Andrew's wound and
of his being with their party. The countess had seldom been so angry
with anyone as she was with Sonya. Sonya had cried and begged to be
forgiven and now, as if trying to atone for her fault, paid
unceasing attention to her cousin.
"Look, Natasha, how dreadfully it is burning!" said she.
"What's burning?" asked Natasha. "Oh, yes, Moscow."
And as if in order not to offend Sonya and to get rid of her, she
turned her face to the window, looked out in such a way that it was
evident that she could not see anything, and again settled down in her
"But you didn't see it!"
"Yes, really I did," Natasha replied in a voice that pleaded to be
left in peace.
Both the countess and Sonya understood that, naturally, neither
Moscow nor the burning of Moscow nor anything else could seem of
importance to Natasha.
The count returned and lay down behind the partition. The countess
went up to her daughter and touched her head with the back of her hand
as she was wont to do when Natasha was ill, then touched her
forehead with her lips as if to feel whether she was feverish, and
finally kissed her.
"You are cold. You are trembling all over. You'd better lie down,"
said the countess.
"Lie down? All right, I will. I'll lie down at once," said Natasha.
When Natasha had been told that morning that Prince Andrew was
seriously wounded and was traveling with their party, she had at first
asked many questions: Where was he going? How was he wounded? Was it
serious? And could she see him? But after she had been told that she
could not see him, that he was seriously wounded but that his life was
not in danger, she ceased to ask questions or to speak at all,
evidently disbelieving what they told her, and convinced that say what
she might she would still be told the same. All the way she had sat
motionless in a corner of the coach with wide open eyes, and the
expression in them which the countess knew so well and feared so much,
and now she sat in the same way on the bench where she had seated
herself on arriving. She was planning something and either deciding or
had already decided something in her mind. The countess knew this, but
what it might be she did not know, and this alarmed and tormented her.
"Natasha, undress, darling; lie down on my bed."
A bed had been made on a bedstead for the countess only. Madame
Schoss and the two girls were to sleep on some hay on the floor.
"No, Mamma, I will lie down here on the floor," Natasha replied
irritably and she went to the window and opened it. Through the open
window the moans of the adjutant could be heard more distinctly. She
put her head out into the damp night air, and the countess saw her
slim neck shaking with sobs and throbbing against the window frame.
Natasha knew it was not Prince Andrew who was moaning. She knew Prince
Andrew was in the same yard as themselves and in a part of the hut
across the passage; but this dreadful incessant moaning made her
sob. The countess exchanged a look with Sonya.
"Lie down, darling; lie down, my pet," said the countess, softly
touching Natasha's shoulders. "Come, lie down."
"Oh, yes... I'll lie down at once," said Natasha, and began
hurriedly undressing, tugging at the tapes of her petticoat.
When she had thrown off her dress and put on a dressing jacket,
she sat down with her foot under her on the bed that had been made
up on the floor, jerked her thin and rather short plait of hair to the
front, and began replaiting it. Her long, thin, practiced fingers
rapidly unplaited, replaited, and tied up her plait. Her head moved
from side to side from habit, but her eyes, feverishly wide, looked
fixedly before her. When her toilet for the night was finished she
sank gently onto the sheet spread over the hay on the side nearest the
"Natasha, you'd better lie in the middle," said Sonya.
"I'll stay here," muttered Natasha. "Do lie down," she added
crossly, and buried her face in the pillow.
The countess, Madame Schoss, and Sonya undressed hastily and lay
down. The small lamp in front of the icons was the only light left
in the room. But in the yard there was a light from the fire at Little
Mytishchi a mile and a half away, and through the night came the noise
of people shouting at a tavern Mamonov's Cossacks had set up across
the street, and the adjutant's unceasing moans could still be heard.
For a long time Natasha listened attentively to the sounds that
reached her from inside and outside the room and did not move. First
she heard her mother praying and sighing and the creaking of her bed
under her, then Madame Schoss' familiar whistling snore and Sonya's
gentle breathing. Then the countess called to Natasha. Natasha did not
"I think she's asleep, Mamma," said Sonya softly.
After short silence the countess spoke again but this time no one
Soon after that Natasha heard her mother's even breathing. Natasha
did not move, though her little bare foot, thrust out from under the
quilt, was growing cold on the bare floor.
As if to celebrate a victory over everybody, a cricket chirped in
a crack in the wall. A cock crowed far off and another replied near
by. The shouting in the tavern had died down; only the moaning of
the adjutant was heard. Natasha sat up.
"Sonya, are you asleep? Mamma?" she whispered.
No one replied. Natasha rose slowly and carefully, crossed
herself, and stepped cautiously on the cold and dirty floor with her
slim, supple, bare feet. The boards of the floor creaked. Stepping
cautiously from one foot to the other she ran like a kitten the few
steps to the door and grasped the cold door handle.
It seemed to her that something heavy was beating rhythmically
against all the walls of the room: it was her own heart, sinking
with alarm and terror and overflowing with love.
She opened the door and stepped across the threshold and onto the
cold, damp earthen floor of the passage. The cold she felt refreshed
her. With her bare feet she touched a sleeping man, stepped over
him, and opened the door into the part of the hut where Prince
Andrew lay. It was dark in there. In the farthest corner, on a bench
beside a bed on which something was lying, stood a tallow candle
with a long, thick, and smoldering wick.
From the moment she had been told that of Prince Andrew's wound
and his presence there, Natasha had resolved to see him. She did not
know why she had to, she knew the meeting would be painful, but felt
the more convinced that it was necessary.
All day she had lived only in hope of seeing him that night. But now
that the moment had come she was filled with dread of what she might
see. How was he maimed? What was left of him? Was he like that
incessant moaning of the adjutant's? Yes, he was altogether like that.
In her imagination he was that terrible moaning personified. When
she saw an indistinct shape in the corner, and mistook his knees
raised under the quilt for his shoulders, she imagined a horrible body
there, and stood still in terror. But an irresistible impulse drew her
forward. She cautiously took one step and then another, and found
herself in the middle of a small room containing baggage. Another man-
Timokhin- was lying in a corner on the benches beneath the icons,
and two others- the doctor and a valet- lay on the floor.
The valet sat up and whispered something. Timokhin, kept awake by
the pain in his wounded leg, gazed with wide-open eyes at this strange
apparition of a girl in a white chemise, dressing jacket, and
nightcap. The valet's sleepy, frightened exclamation, "What do you
want? What's the matter?" made Natasha approach more swiftly to what
was lying in the corner. Horribly unlike a man as that body looked,
she must see him. She passed the valet, the snuff fell from the candle
wick, and she saw Prince Andrew clearly with his arms outside the
quilt, and such as she had always seen him.
He was the same as ever, but the feverish color of his face, his
glittering eyes rapturously turned toward her, and especially his
neck, delicate as a child's, revealed by the turn-down collar of his
shirt, gave him a peculiarly innocent, childlike look, such as she had
never seen on him before. She went up to him and with a swift,
flexible, youthful movement dropped on her knees.
He smiled and held out his hand to her.
Seven days had passed since Prince Andrew found himself in the
ambulance station on the field of Borodino. His feverish state and the
inflammation of his bowels, which were injured, were in the doctor's
opinion sure to carry him off. But on the seventh day he ate with
pleasure a piece of bread with some tea, and the doctor noticed that
his temperature was lower. He had regained consciousness that morning.
The first night after they left Moscow had been fairly warm and he had
remained in the caleche, but at Mytishchi the wounded man himself
asked to be taken out and given some tea. The pain caused by his
removal into the hut had made him groan aloud and again lose
consciousness. When he had been placed on his camp bed he lay for a
long time motionless with closed eyes. Then he opened them and
whispered softly: "And the tea?" His remembering such a small detail
of everyday life astonished the doctor. He felt Prince Andrew's pulse,
and to his surprise and dissatisfaction found it had improved. He
was dissatisfied because he knew by experience that if his patient did
not die now, he would do so a little later with greater suffering.
Timokhin, the red-nosed major of Prince Andrew's regiment, had
joined him in Moscow and was being taken along with him, having been
wounded in the leg at the battle of Borodino. They were accompanied by
a doctor, Prince Andrew's valet, his coach. man, and two orderlies.
They gave Prince Andrew some tea. He drank it eagerly, looking
with feverish eyes at the door in front of him as if trying to
understand and remember something.
"I don't want any more. Is Timokhin here?" he asked.
Timokhin crept along the bench to him.
"I am here, your excellency."
"How's your wound?"
"Mine, sir? All right. But how about you?"
Prince Andrew again pondered as if trying to remember something.
"Couldn't one get a book?" he asked.
"The Gospels. I haven't one."
The doctor promised to procure it for him and began to ask how he
was feeling. Prince Andrew answered all his questions reluctantly
but reasonably, and then said he wanted a bolster placed under him
as he was uncomfortable and in great pain. The doctor and valet lifted
the cloak with which he was covered and, making wry faces at the
noisome smell of mortifying flesh that came from the wound, began
examining that dreadful place. The doctor was very much displeased
about something and made a change in the dressings, turning the
wounded man over so that he groaned again and grew unconscious and
delirious from the agony. He kept asking them to get him the book
and put it under him.
"What trouble would it be to you?" he said. "I have not got one.
Please get it for me and put it under for a moment," he pleaded in a
The doctor went into the passage to wash his hands.
"You fellows have no conscience," said he to the valet who was
pouring water over his hands. "For just one moment I didn't look after
you... It's such pain, you know, that I wonder how he can bear it."
"By the Lord Jesus Christ, I thought we had put something under
him!" said the valet.
The first time Prince Andrew understood where he was and what was
the matter with him and remembered being wounded and how was when he
asked to be carried into the hut after his caleche had stopped at
Mytishchi. After growing confused from pain while being carried into
the hut he again regained consciousness, and while drinking tea once
more recalled all that had happened to him, and above all vividly
remembered the moment at the ambulance station when, at the sight of
the sufferings of a man he disliked, those new thoughts had come to
him which promised him happiness. And those thoughts, though now vague
and indefinite, again possessed his soul. He remembered that he had
now a new source of happiness and that this happiness had something to
do with the Gospels. That was why he asked for a copy of them. The
uncomfortable position in which they had put him and turned him over
again confused his thoughts, and when he came to himself a third
time it was in the complete stillness of the night. Everybody near him
was sleeping. A cricket chirped from across the passage; someone was
shouting and singing in the street; cockroaches rustled on the
table, on the icons, and on the walls, and a big fly flopped at the
head of the bed and around the candle beside him, the wick of which
was charred and had shaped itself like a mushroom.
His mind was not in a normal state. A healthy man usually thinks of,
feels, and remembers innumerable things simultaneously, but has the
power and will to select one sequence of thoughts or events on which
to fix his whole attention. A healthy man can tear himself away from
the deepest reflections to say a civil word to someone who comes in
and can then return again to his own thoughts. But Prince Andrew's
mind was not in a normal state in that respect. All the powers of
his mind were more active and clearer than ever, but they acted
apart from his will. Most diverse thoughts and images occupied him
simultaneously. At times his brain suddenly began to work with a
vigor, clearness, and depth it had never reached when he was in
health, but suddenly in the midst of its work it would turn to some
unexpected idea and he had not the strength to turn it back again.
"Yes, a new happiness was revealed to me of which man cannot be
deprived," he thought as he lay in the semi-darkness of the quiet hut,
gazing fixedly before him with feverish wide open eyes. "A happiness
lying beyond material forces, outside the material influences that act
on man- a happiness of the soul alone, the happiness of loving.
Every man can understand it, but to conceive it and enjoin it was
possible only for God. But how did God enjoin that law? And why was
And suddenly the sequence of these thoughts broke off, and Prince
Andrew heard (without knowing whether it was a delusion or reality)
a soft whispering voice incessantly and rhythmically repeating
"piti-piti-piti," and then "titi," and then again "piti-piti-piti,"
and "ti-ti" once more. At the same time he felt that above his face,
above the very middle of it, some strange airy structure was being
erected out of slender needles or splinters, to the sound of this
whispered music. He felt that he had to balance carefully (though it
was difficult) so that this airy structure should not collapse; but
nevertheless it kept collapsing and again slowly rising to the sound
of whispered rhythmic music- "it stretches, stretches, spreading out
and stretching," said Prince Andrew to himself. While listening to
this whispering and feeling the sensation of this drawing out and
the construction of this edifice of needles, he also saw by glimpses a
red halo round the candle, and heard the rustle of the cockroaches and
the buzzing of the fly that flopped against his pillow and his face.
Each time the fly touched his face it gave him a burning sensation and
yet to his surprise it did not destroy the structure, though it
knocked against the very region of his face where it was rising. But
besides this there was something else of importance. It was
something white by the door- the statue of a sphinx, which also
"But perhaps that's my shirt on the table," he thought, "and
that's my legs, and that is the door, but why is it always
stretching and drawing itself out, and 'piti-piti-piti' and 'ti-ti'
and 'piti-piti-piti'...? That's enough, please leave off!" Prince
Andrew painfully entreated someone. And suddenly thoughts and feelings
again swam to the surface of his mind with peculiar clearness and
"Yes- love," he thought again quite clearly. "But not love which
loves for something, for some quality, for some purpose, or for some
reason, but the love which I- while dying- first experienced when I
saw my enemy and yet loved him. I experienced that feeling of love
which is the very essence of the soul and does not require an
object. Now again I feel that bliss. To love one's neighbors, to
love one's enemies, to love everything, to love God in all His
manifestations. It is possible to love someone dear to you with
human love, but an enemy can only be loved by divine love. That is why
I experienced such joy when I felt that I loved that man. What has
become of him? Is he alive?...
"When loving with human love one may pass from love to hatred, but
divine love cannot change. No, neither death nor anything else can
destroy it. It is the very essence of the soul. Yet how many people
have I hated in my life? And of them all, I loved and hated none as
I did her." And he vividly pictured to himself Natasha, not as he
had done in the past with nothing but her charms which gave him
delight, but for the first time picturing to himself her soul. And
he understood her feelings, her sufferings, shame, and remorse. He now
understood for the first time all the cruelty of his rejection of her,
the cruelty of his rupture with her. "If only it were possible for
me to see her once more! Just once, looking into those eyes to say..."
"Piti-piti-piti and ti-ti and piti-piti-piti boom!" flopped the
fly... And his attention was suddenly carried into another world, a
world of reality and delirium in which something particular was
happening. In that world some structure was still being erected and
did not fall, something was still stretching out, and the candle
with its red halo was still burning, and the same shirtlike sphinx lay
near the door; but besides all this something creaked, there was a
whiff of fresh air, and a new white sphinx appeared, standing at the
door. And that sphinx had the pale face and shining eyes of the very
Natasha of whom he had just been thinking.
"Oh, how oppressive this continual delirium is," thought Prince
Andrew, trying to drive that face from his imagination. But the face
remained before him with the force of reality and drew nearer.
Prince Andrew wished to return that former world of pure thought,
but he could not, and delirium drew him back into its domain. The soft
whispering voice continued its rhythmic murmur, something oppressed
him and stretched out, and the strange face was before him. Prince
Andrew collected all his strength in an effort to recover his
senses, he moved a little, and suddenly there was a ringing in his
ears, a dimness in his eyes, and like a man plunged into water he lost
consciousness. When he came to himself, Natasha, that same living
Natasha whom of all people he most longed to love with this new pure
divine love that had been revealed to him, was kneeling before him. He
realized that it was the real living Natasha, and he was not surprised
but quietly happy. Natasha, motionless on her knees (she was unable to
stir), with frightened eyes riveted on him, was restraining her
sobs. Her face was pale and rigid. Only in the lower part of it
Prince Andrew sighed with relief, smiled, and held out his hand.
"You?" he said. "How fortunate!"
With a rapid but careful movement Natasha drew nearer to him on
her knees and, taking his hand carefully, bent her face over it and
began kissing it, just touching it lightly with her lips.
"Forgive me!" she whispered, raising her head and glancing at him.
"I love you," said Prince Andrew.
"Forgive what?" he asked.
"Forgive me for what I ha-ve do-ne!" faltered Natasha in a
scarcely audible, broken whisper, and began kissing his hand more
rapidly, just touching it with her lips.
"I love you more, better than before," said Prince Andrew, lifting
her face with his hand so as to look into her eyes.
Those eyes, filled with happy tears, gazed at him timidly,
compassionately, and with joyous love. Natasha's thin pale face,
with its swollen lips, was more than plain- it was dreadful. But
Prince Andrew did not see that, he saw her shining eyes which were
beautiful. They heard the sound of voices behind them.
Peter the valet, who was now wide awake, had roused the doctor.
Timokhin, who had not slept at all because of the pain in his leg, had
long been watching all that was going on, carefully covering his
bare body with the sheet as he huddled up on his bench.
"What's this?" said the doctor, rising from his bed. "Please go
At that moment a maid sent by the countess, who had noticed her
daughter's absence, knocked at the door.
Like a somnambulist aroused from her sleep Natasha went out of the
room and, returning to her hut, fell sobbing on her bed.
From that time, during all the rest of the Rostovs' journey, at
every halting place and wherever they spent a night, Natasha never
left the wounded Bolkonski, and the doctor had to admit that he had
not expected from a young girl either such firmness or such skill in
nursing a wounded man.
Dreadful as the countess imagined it would be should Prince Andrew
die in her daughter's arms during the journey- as, judging by what the
doctor said, it seemed might easily happen- she could not oppose
Natasha. Though with the intimacy now established between the
wounded man and Natasha the thought occurred that should he recover
their former engagement would be renewed, no one- least of all Natasha
and Prince Andrew- spoke of this: the unsettled question of life and
death, which hung not only over Bolkonski but over all Russia, shut
out all other considerations.
On the third of September Pierre awoke late. His head was aching,
the clothes in which he had slept without undressing felt
uncomfortable on his body, and his mind had a dim consciousness of
something shameful he had done the day before. That something shameful
was his yesterday's conversation with Captain Ramballe.
It was eleven by the clock, but it seemed peculiarly dark out of
doors. Pierre rose, rubbed his eyes, and seeing the pistol with an
engraved stock which Gerasim had replaced on the writing table, he
remembered where he was and what lay before him that very day.
"Am I not too late?" he thought. "No, probably he won't make his
entry into Moscow before noon."
Pierre did not allow himself to reflect on what lay before him,
but hastened to act.
After arranging his clothes, he took the pistol and was about to
go out. But it then occurred to him for the first time that he
certainly could not carry the weapon in his hand through the
streets. It was difficult to hide such a big pistol even under his
wide coat. He could not carry it unnoticed in his belt or under his
arm. Besides, it had been discharged, and he had not had time to
reload it. "No matter, dagger will do," he said to himself, though
when planning his design he had more than once come to the
conclusion that the chief mistake made by the student in 1809 had been
to try to kill Napoleon with a dagger. But as his chief aim
consisted not in carrying out his design, but in proving to himself
that he would not abandon his intention and was doing all he could
to achieve it, Pierre hastily took the blunt jagged dagger in a
green sheath which he had bought at the Sukharev market with the
pistol, and hid it under his waistcoat.
Having tied a girdle over his coat and pulled his cap low on his
head, Pierre went down the corridor, trying to avoid making a noise or
meeting the captain, and passed out into the street.
The conflagration, at which he had looked with so much
indifference the evening before, had greatly increased during the
night. Moscow was on fire in several places. The buildings in Carriage
Row, across the river, in the Bazaar and the Povarskoy, as well as the
barges on the Moskva River and the timber yards by the Dorogomilov
Bridge, were all ablaze.
Pierre's way led through side streets to the Povarskoy and from
there to the church of St. Nicholas on the Arbat, where he had long
before decided that the deed should should be done. The gates of
most of the houses were locked and the shutters up. The streets and
lanes were deserted. The air was full of smoke and the smell of
burning. Now and then he met Russians with anxious and timid faces,
and Frenchmen with an air not of the city but of the camp, walking
in the middle of the streets. Both the Russians and the French
looked at Pierre with surprise. Besides his height and stoutness,
and the strange morose look of suffering in his face and whole figure,
the Russians stared at Pierre because they could not make out to
what class he could belong. The French followed him with
astonishment in their eyes chiefly because Pierre, unlike all the
other Russians who gazed at the French with fear and curiosity, paid
no attention to them. At the gate of one house three Frenchmen, who
were explaining something to some Russians who did not understand
them, stopped Pierre asking if he did not know French.
Pierre shook his head and went on. In another side street a sentinel
standing beside a green caisson shouted at him, but only when the
shout was threateningly repeated and he heard the click of the man's
musket as he raised it did Pierre understand that he had to pass on
the other side of the street. He heard nothing and saw nothing of what
went on around him. He carried his resolution within himself in terror
and haste, like something dreadful and alien to him, for, after the
previous night's experience, he was afraid of losing it. But he was
not destined to bring his mood safely to his destination. And even had
he not been hindered by anything on the way, his intention could not
now have been carried out, for Napoleon had passed the Arbat more than
four hours previously on his way from the Dorogomilov suburb to the
Kremlin, and was now sitting in a very gloomy frame of mind in a royal
study in the Kremlin, giving detailed and exact orders as to
measures to be taken immediately to extinguish the fire, to prevent
looting, and to reassure the inhabitants. But Pierre did not know
this; he was entirely absorbed in what lay before him, and was
tortured- as those are who obstinately undertake a task that is
impossible for them not because of its difficulty but because of its
incompatibility with their natures- by the fear of weakening at the
decisive moment and so losing his self-esteem.
Though he heard and saw nothing around him he found his way by
instinct and did not go wrong in the side streets that led to the
As Pierre approached that street the smoke became denser and denser-
he even felt the heat of the fire. Occasionally curly tongues of flame
rose from under the roofs of the houses. He met more people in the
streets and they were more excited. But Pierre, though he felt that
something unusual was happening around him, did not realize that he
was approaching the fire. As he was going along a foot path across a
wide-open space adjoining the Povarskoy on one side and the gardens of
Prince Gruzinski's house on the other, Pierre suddenly heard the
desperate weeping of a woman close to him. He stopped as if
awakening from a dream and lifted his head.
By the side of the path, on the dusty dry grass, all sorts of
household goods lay in a heap: featherbeds, a samovar, icons, and
trunks. On the ground, beside the trunks, sat a thin woman no longer
young, with long, prominent upper teeth, and wearing a black cloak and
cap. This woman, swaying to and fro and muttering something, was
choking with sobs. Two girls of about ten and twelve, dressed in dirty
short frocks and cloaks, were staring at their mother with a look of
stupefaction on their pale frightened faces. The youngest child, a boy
of about seven, who wore an overcoat and an immense cap evidently
not his own, was crying in his old nurse's arms. A dirty, barefooted
maid was sitting on a trunk, and, having undone her pale-colored
plait, was pulling it straight and sniffing at her singed hair. The
woman's husband, a short, round-shouldered man in the undress
uniform of a civilian official, with sausage-shaped whiskers and
showing under his square-set cap the hair smoothly brushed forward
over his temples, with expressionless face was moving the trunks,
which were placed one on another, and was dragging some garments
from under them.
As soon as she saw Pierre, the woman almost threw herself at his
"Dear people, good Christians, save me, help me, dear friends...
help us, somebody," she muttered between her sobs. "My girl... My
daughter! My youngest daughter is left behind. She's burned! Ooh!
Was it for this I nursed you.... Ooh!"
"Don't, Mary Nikolievna!" said her husband to her in a low voice,
evidently only to justify himself before the stranger. "Sister must
have taken her, or else where can she be?" he added.
"Monster! Villain!" shouted the woman angrily, suddenly ceasing to
weep. "You have no heart, you don't feel for your own child! Another
man would have rescued her from the fire. But this is a monster and
neither a man nor a father! You, honored sir, are a noble man," she
went on, addressing Pierre rapidly between her sobs. "The fire broke
out alongside, and blew our way, the maid called out 'Fire!' and we
rushed to collect our things. We ran out just as we were.... This is
what we have brought away.... The icons, and my dowry bed, all the
rest is lost. We seized the children. But not Katie! Ooh! O
Lord!..." and again she began to sob. "My child, my dear one!
"But where was she left?" asked Pierre.
From the expression of his animated face the woman saw that this man
might help her.
"Oh, dear sir!" she cried, seizing him by the legs. "My
benefactor, set my heart at ease.... Aniska, go, you horrid girl, show
him the way!" she cried to the maid, angrily opening her mouth and
still farther exposing her long teeth.
"Show me the way, show me, I... I'll do it," gasped Pierre rapidly.
The dirty maidservant stepped from behind the trunk, put up her
plait, sighed, and went on her short, bare feet along the path. Pierre
felt as if he had come back to life after a heavy swoon. He held his
head higher, his eyes shone with the light of life, and with swift
steps he followed the maid, overtook her, and came out on the
Povarskoy. The whole street was full of clouds of black smoke. Tongues
of flame here and there broke through that cloud. A great number of
people crowded in front of the conflagration. In the middle of the
street stood a French general saying something to those around him.
Pierre, accompanied by the maid, was advancing to the spot where the
general stood, but the French soldiers stopped him.
"On ne passe pas!"* cried a voice.
*"You can't pass!
"This way, uncle," cried the girl. "We'll pass through the side
street, by the Nikulins'!"
Pierre turned back, giving a spring now and then to keep up with
her. She ran across the street, turned down a side street to the left,
and, passing three houses, turned into a yard on the right.
"It's here, close by," said she and, running across the yard, opened
a gate in a wooden fence and, stopping, pointed out to him a small
wooden wing of the house, which was burning brightly and fiercely. One
of its sides had fallen in, another was on fire, and bright flames
issued from the openings of the windows and from under the roof.
As Pierre passed through the fence gate, he was enveloped by hot air
and involuntarily stopped.
"Which is it? Which is your house?" he asked.
"Ooh!" wailed the girl, pointing to the wing. "That's it, that was
our lodging. You've burned to death, our treasure, Katie, my
precious little missy! Ooh!" lamented Aniska, who at the sight of
the fire felt that she too must give expression to her feelings.
Pierre rushed to the wing, but the heat was so great that he
involuntarily passed round in a curve and came upon the large house
that was as yet burning only at one end, just below the roof, and
around which swarmed a crowd of Frenchmen. At first Pierre did not
realize what these men, who were dragging something out, were about;
but seeing before him a Frenchman hitting a peasant with a blunt saber
and trying to take from him a fox-fur coat, he vaguely understood that
looting was going on there, but he had no time to dwell on that idea.
The sounds of crackling and the din of falling walls and ceilings,
the whistle and hiss of the flames, the excited shouts of the
people, and the sight of the swaying smoke, now gathering into thick
black clouds and now soaring up with glittering sparks, with here
and there dense sheaves of flame (now red and now like golden fish
scales creeping along the walls), and the heat and smoke and
rapidity of motion, produced on Pierre the usual animating effects
of a conflagration. It had a peculiarly strong effect on him because
at the sight of the fire he felt himself suddenly freed from the ideas
that had weighed him down. He felt young, bright, adroit, and
resolute. He ran round to the other side of the lodge and was about to
dash into that part of it which was still standing, when just above
his head he heard several voices shouting and then a cracking sound
and the ring of something heavy falling close beside him.
Pierre looked up and saw at a window of the large house some
Frenchmen who had just thrown out the drawer of a chest, filled with
metal articles. Other French soldiers standing below went up to the
"What does this fellow want?" shouted one of them referring to
"There's a child in that house. Haven't you seen a child?" cried
"What's he talking about? Get along!" said several voices, and one
of the soldiers, evidently afraid that Pierre might want to take
from them some of the plate and bronzes that were in the drawer, moved
threateningly toward him.
"A child?" shouted a Frenchman from above. "I did hear something
squealing in the garden. Perhaps it's his brat that the fellow is
looking for. After all, one must be human, you know...."
"Where is it? Where?" said Pierre.
"There! There!" shouted the Frenchman at the window, pointing to the
garden at the back of the house. "Wait a bit- I'm coming down."
And a minute or two later the Frenchman, a black-eyed fellow with
a spot on his cheek, in shirt sleeves, really did jump out of a window
on the ground floor, and clapping Pierre on the shoulder ran with
him into the garden.
"Hurry up, you others!" he called out to his comrades. "It's getting
When they reached a gravel path behind the house the Frenchman
pulled Pierre by the arm and pointed to a round, graveled space
where a three-year-old girl in a pink dress was lying under a seat.
"There is your child! Oh, a girl, so much the better!" said the
Frenchman. "Good-by, Fatty. We must be human, we are all mortal you
know!" and the Frenchman with the spot on his cheek ran back to his
Breathless with joy, Pierre ran to the little girl and was going
to take her in his arms. But seeing a stranger the sickly,
scrofulous-looking child, unattractively like her mother, began to
yell and run away. Pierre, however, seized her and lifted her in his
arms. She screamed desperately and angrily and tried with her little
hands to pull Pierre's hands away and to bite them with her slobbering
mouth. Pierre was seized by a sense of horror and repulsion such as he
had experienced when touching some nasty little animal. But he made an
effort not to throw the child down and ran with her to the large
house. It was now, however, impossible to get back the way he had
come; the maid, Aniska, was no longer there, and Pierre with a feeling
of pity and disgust pressed the wet, painfully sobbing child to
himself as tenderly as he could and ran with her through the garden
seeking another way out.
Having run through different yards and side streets, Pierre got back
with his little burden to the Gruzinski garden at the corner of the
Povarskoy. He did not at first recognize the place from which he had
set out to look for the child, so crowded was it now with people and
goods that had been dragged out of the houses. Besides Russian
families who had taken refuge here from the fire with their
belongings, there were several French soldiers in a variety of
clothing. Pierre took no notice of them. He hurried to find the family
of that civil servant in order to restore the daughter to her mother
and go to save someone else. Pierre felt that he had still much to
do and to do quickly. Glowing with the heat and from running, he
felt at that moment more strongly than ever the sense of youth,
animation, and determination that had come on him when he ran to
save the child. She had now become quiet and, clinging with her little
hands to Pierre's coat, sat on his arm gazing about her like some
little wild animal. He glanced at her occasionally with a slight
smile. He fancied he saw something pathetically innocent in that
frightened, sickly little face.
He did not find the civil servant or his wife where he had left
them. He walked among the crowd with rapid steps, scanning the various
faces he met. Involuntarily he noticed a Georgian or Armenian family
consisting of a very handsome old man of Oriental type, wearing a new,
cloth-covered, sheepskin coat and new boots, an old woman of similar
type, and a young woman. That very young woman seemed to Pierre the
perfection of Oriental beauty, with her sharply outlined, arched,
black eyebrows and the extraordinarily soft, bright color of her long,
beautiful, expressionless face. Amid the scattered property and the
crowd on the open space, she, in her rich satin cloak with a bright
lilac shawl on her head, suggested a delicate exotic plant thrown
out onto the snow. She was sitting on some bundles a little behind the
old woman, and looked from under her long lashes with motionless,
large, almond-shaped eyes at the ground before her. Evidently she
was aware of her beauty and fearful because of it. Her face struck
Pierre and, hurrying along by the fence, he turned several times to
look at her. When he had reached the fence, still without finding
those he sought, he stopped and looked about him.
With the child in his arms his figure was now more conspicuous
than before, and a group of Russians, both men and women, gathered
"Have you lost anyone, my dear fellow? You're of the gentry
yourself, aren't you? Whose child is it?" they asked him.
Pierre replied that the child belonged to a woman in a black coat
who had been sitting there with her other children, and he asked
whether anyone knew where she had gone.
"Why, that must be the Anferovs," said an old deacon, addressing a
pockmarked peasant woman. "Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy!" he added
in his customary bass.
"The Anferovs? No," said the woman. "They left in the morning.
That must be either Mary Nikolievna's or the Ivanovs'!"
"He says 'a woman,' and Mary Nikolievna is a lady," remarked a house
"Do you know her? She's thin, with long teeth," said Pierre.
"That's Mary Nikolievna! They went inside the garden when these
wolves swooped down," said the woman, pointing to the French soldiers.
"O Lord, have mercy!" added the deacon.
"Go over that way, they're there. It's she! She kept on lamenting
and crying," continued the woman. "It's she. Here, this way!"
But Pierre was not listening to the woman. He had for some seconds
been intently watching what was going on a few steps away. He was
looking at the Armenian family and at two French soldiers who had gone
up to them. One of these, a nimble little man, was wearing a blue coat
tied round the waist with a rope. He had a nightcap on his head and
his feet were bare. The other, whose appearance particularly struck
Pierre, was a long, lank, round-shouldered, fair-haired man, slow in
his movements and with an idiotic expression of face. He wore a
woman's loose gown of frieze, blue trousers, and large torn Hessian
boots. The little barefooted Frenchman in the blue coat went up to the
Armenians and, saying something, immediately seized the old man by his
legs and the old man at once began pulling off his boots. The other in
the frieze gown stopped in front of the beautiful Armenian girl and
with his hands in his pockets stood staring at her, motionless and
"Here, take the child!" said Pierre peremptorily and hurriedly to
the woman, handing the little girl to her. "Give her back to them,
give her back!" he almost shouted, putting the child, who began
screaming, on the ground, and again looking at the Frenchman and the
The old man was already sitting barefoot. The little Frenchman had
secured his second boot and was slapping one boot against the other.
The old man was saying something in a voice broken by sobs, but Pierre
caught but a glimpse of this, his whole attention was directed to
the Frenchman in the frieze gown who meanwhile, swaying slowly from
side to side, had drawn nearer to the young woman and taking his hands
from his pockets had seized her by the neck.
The beautiful Armenian still sat motionless and in the same
attitude, with her long lashes drooping as if she did not see or
feel what the soldier was doing to her.
While Pierre was running the few steps that separated him from the
Frenchman, the tall marauder in the frieze gown was already tearing
from her neck the necklace the young Armenian was wearing, and the
young woman, clutching at her neck, screamed piercingly.
"Let that woman alone!" exclaimed Pierre hoarsely in a furious
voice, seizing the soldier by his round shoulders and throwing him
The soldier fell, got up, and ran away. But his comrade, throwing
down the boots and drawing his sword, moved threateningly toward
"Voyons, Pas de betises!"* he cried.
*"Look here, no nonsense!"
Pierre was in such a transport of rage that he remembered nothing
and his strength increased tenfold. He rushed at the barefooted
Frenchman and, before the latter had time to draw his sword, knocked
him off his feet and hammered him with his fists. Shouts of approval
were heard from the crowd around, and at the same moment a mounted
patrol of French Uhlans appeared from round the corner. The Uhlans
came up at a trot to Pierre and the Frenchman and surrounded them.
Pierre remembered nothing of what happened after that. He only
remembered beating someone and being beaten and finally feeling that
his hands were bound and that a crowd of French soldiers stood
around him and were searching him.
"Lieutenant, he has a dagger," were the first words Pierre
"Ah, a weapon?" said the officer and turned to the barefooted
soldier who had been arrested with Pierre. "All right, you can tell
all about it at the court-martial." Then he turned to Pierre. "Do
you speak French?"
Pierre looked around him with bloodshot eyes and did not reply.
His face probably looked very terrible, for the officer said something
in a whisper and four more Uhlans left the ranks and placed themselves
on both sides of Pierre.
"Do you speak French?" the officer asked again, keeping at a
distance from Pierre. "Call the interpreter."
A little man in Russian civilian clothes rode out from the ranks,
and by his clothes and manner of speaking Pierre at once knew him to
be a French salesman from one of the Moscow shops.
"He does not look like a common man," said the interpreter, after
a searching look at Pierre.
"Ah, he looks very much like an incendiary," remarked the officer.
"And ask him who he is," he added.
"Who are you?" asked the interpreter in poor Russian. "You must
answer the chief."
"I will not tell you who I am. I am your prisoner- take me!"
Pierre suddenly replied in French.
"Ah, ah!" muttered the officer with a frown. "Well then, march!"
A crowd had collected round the Uhlans. Nearest to Pierre stood
the pockmarked peasant woman with the little girl, and when the patrol
started she moved forward.
"Where are they taking you to, you poor dear?" said she. "And the
little girl, the little girl, what am I to do with her if she's not
theirs?" said the woman.
"What does that woman want?" asked the officer.
Pierre was as if intoxicated. His elation increased at the sight
of the little girl he had saved.
"What does she want?" he murmured. "She is bringing me my daughter
whom I have just saved from the flames," said he. "Good-by!" And
without knowing how this aimless lie had escaped him, he went along
with resolute and triumphant steps between the French soldiers.
The French patrol was one of those sent out through the various
streets of Moscow by Durosnel's order to put a stop to the pillage,
and especially to catch the incendiaries who, according to the general
opinion which had that day originated among the higher French
officers, were the cause of the conflagrations. After marching through
a number of streets the patrol arrested five more Russian suspects:
a small shopkeeper, two seminary students, a peasant, and a house
serf, besides several looters. But of all these various suspected
characters, Pierre was considered to be the most suspicious of all.
When they had all been brought for the night to a large house on the
Zubov Rampart that was being used as a guardhouse, Pierre was placed
apart under strict guard.
BOOK TWELVE: 1812
In Petersburg at that time a complicated struggle was being
carried on with greater heat than ever in the highest circles, between
the parties of Rumyantsev, the French, Marya Fedorovna, the Tsarevich,
and others, drowned as usual by the buzzing of the court drones. But
the calm, luxurious life of Petersburg, concerned only about
phantoms and reflections of real life, went on in its old way and made
it hard, except by a great effort, to realize the danger and the
difficult position of the Russian people. There were the same
receptions and balls, the same French theater, the same court
interests and service interests and intrigues as usual. Only in the
very highest circles were attempts made to keep in mind the
difficulties of the actual position. Stories were whispered of how
differently the two Empresses behaved in these difficult
circumstances. The Empress Marya, concerned for the welfare of the
charitable and educational institutions under her patronage, had given
directions that they should all be removed to Kazan, and the things
belonging to these institutions had already been packed up. The
Empress Elisabeth, however, when asked what instructions she would
be pleased to give- with her characteristic Russian patriotism had
replied that she could give no directions about state institutions for
that was the affair of the sovereign, but as far as she personally was
concerned she would be the last to quit Petersburg.
At Anna Pavlovna's on the twenty-sixth of August, the very day of
the battle of Borodino, there was a soiree, the chief feature of which
was to be the reading of a letter from His Lordship the Bishop when
sending the Emperor an icon of the Venerable Sergius. It was
regarded as a model of ecclesiastical, patriotic eloquence. Prince
Vasili himself, famed for his elocution, was to read it. (He used to
read at the Empress'.) The art of his reading was supposed to lie in
rolling out the words, quite independently of their meaning, in a loud
and singsong voice alternating between a despairing wail and a
tender murmur, so that the wail fell quite at random on one word and
the murmur on another. This reading, as was always the case at Anna
Pavlovna's soirees, had a political significance. That evening she
expected several important personages who had to be made ashamed of
their visits to the French theater and aroused to a patriotic
temper. A good many people had already arrived, but Anna Pavlovna, not
yet seeing all those whom she wanted in her drawing room, did not
let the reading begin but wound up the springs of a general
The news of the day in Petersburg was the illness of Countess
Bezukhova. She had fallen ill unexpectedly a few days previously,
had missed several gatherings of which she was usually ornament, and
was said to be receiving no one, and instead of the celebrated
Petersburg doctors who usually attended her had entrusted herself to
some Italian doctor who was treating her in some new and unusual way.
They all knew very well that the enchanting countess' illness
arose from an inconvenience resulting from marrying two husbands at
the same time, and that the Italian's cure consisted in removing
such inconvenience; but in Anna Pavlovna's presence no one dared to
think of this or even appear to know it.
"They say the poor countess is very ill. The doctor says it is
"Angina? Oh, that's a terrible illness!"
"They say that the rivals are reconciled, thanks to the angina..."
and the word angina was repeated with great satisfaction.
"The count is pathetic, they say. He cried like a child when the
doctor told him the case was dangerous."
"Oh, it would be a terrible loss, she is an enchanting woman."
"You are speaking of the poor countess?" said Anna Pavlovna,
coming up just then. "I sent to ask for news, and hear that she is a
little better. Oh, she is certainly the most charming woman in the
world," she went on, with a smile at her own enthusiasm. "We belong to
different camps, but that does not prevent my esteeming her as she
deserves. She is very unfortunate!" added Anna Pavlovna.
Supposing that by these words Anna Pavlovna was somewhat lifting the
veil from the secret of the countess' malady, an unwary young man
ventured to express surprise that well known doctors had not been
called in and that the countess was being attended by a charlatan
who might employ dangerous remedies.
"Your information maybe better than mine," Anna Pavlovna suddenly
and venomously retorted on the inexperienced young man, "but I know on
good authority that this doctor is a very learned and able man. He
is private physician to the Queen of Spain."
And having thus demolished the young man, Anna Pavlovna turned to
another group where Bilibin was talking about the Austrians: having
wrinkled up his face he was evidently preparing to smooth it out again
and utter one of his mots.
"I think it is delightful," he said, referring to a diplomatic
note that had been sent to Vienna with some Austrian banners
captured from the French by Wittgenstein, "the hero of Petropol" as he
was then called in Petersburg.
"What? What's that?" asked Anna Pavlovna, securing silence for the
mot, which she had heard before.
And Bilibin repeated the actual words of the diplomatic dispatch,
which he had himself composed.
"The Emperor returns these Austrian banners," said Bilibin,
"friendly banners gone astray and found on a wrong path," and his brow
became smooth again.
"Charming, charming!" observed Prince Vasili.
"The path to Warsaw, perhaps," Prince Hippolyte remarked loudly
and unexpectedly. Everybody looked at him, understanding what he
meant. Prince Hippolyte himself glanced around with amused surprise.
He knew no more than the others what his words meant. During his
diplomatic career he had more than once noticed that such utterances
were received as very witty, and at every opportunity he uttered in
that way the first words that entered his head. "It may turn out
very well," he thought, "but if not, they'll know how to arrange
matters." And really, during the awkward silence that ensued, that
insufficiently patriotic person entered whom Anna Pavlovna had been
waiting for and wished to convert, and she, smiling and shaking a
finger at Hippolyte, invited Prince Vasili to the table and bringing
him two candles and the manuscript begged him to begin. Everyone
"Most Gracious Sovereign and Emperor! " Prince Vasili sternly
declaimed, looking round at his audience as if to inquire whether
anyone had anything to say to the contrary. But no one said
anything. "Moscow, our ancient capital, the New Jerusalem, receives
her Christ"- he placed a sudden emphasis on the word her- "as a mother
receives her zealous sons into her arms, and through the gathering
mists, foreseeing the brilliant glory of thy rule, sings in
exultation, 'Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh!'"
Prince Vasili pronounced these last words in a tearful voice.
Bilibin attentively examined his nails, and many of those present
appeared intimidated, as if asking in what they were to blame. Anna
Pavlovna whispered the next words in advance, like an old woman
muttering the prayer at Communion: "Let the bold and insolent
Goliath..." she whispered.
Prince Vasili continued.
"Let the bold and insolent Goliath from the borders of France
encompass the realms of Russia with death-bearing terrors; humble
Faith, the sling of the Russian David, shall suddenly smite his head
in his blood-thirsty pride. This icon of the Venerable Sergius, the
servant of God and zealous champion of old of our country's weal, is
offered to Your Imperial Majesty. I grieve that my waning strength
prevents rejoicing in the sight of your most gracious presence. I
raise fervent prayers to Heaven that the Almighty may exalt the race
of the just, and mercifully fulfill the desires of Your Majesty."
"What force! What a style!" was uttered in approval both of reader
and of author.
Animated by that address Anna Pavlovna's guests talked for a long
time of the state of the fatherland and offered various conjectures as
to the result of the battle to be fought in a few days.
"You will see," said Anna Pavlovna, "that tomorrow, on the Emperor's
birthday, we shall receive news. I have a favorable presentiment!"
Anna Pavlovna's presentiment was in fact fulfilled. Next day
during the service at the palace church in honor of the Emperor's
birthday, Prince Volkonski was called out of the church and received a
dispatch from Prince Kutuzov. It was Kutuzov's report, written from
Tatarinova on the day of the battle. Kutuzov wrote that the Russians
had not retreated a step, that the French losses were much heavier
than ours, and that he was writing in haste from the field of battle
before collecting full information. It followed that there must have
been a victory. And at once, without leaving the church, thanks were
rendered to the Creator for His help and for the victory.
Anna Pavlovna's presentiment was justified, and all that morning a
joyously festive mood reigned in the city. Everyone believed the
victory to have been complete, and some even spoke of Napoleon's
having been captured, of his deposition, and of the choice of a new
ruler for France.
It is very difficult for events to be reflected in their real
strength and completeness amid the conditions of court life and far
from the scene of action. General events involuntarily group
themselves around some particular incident. So now the courtiers'
pleasure was based as much on the fact that the news had arrived on
the Emperor's birthday as on the fact of the victory itself. It was
like a successfully arranged surprise. Mention was made in Kutuzov's
report of the Russian losses, among which figured the names of
Tuchkov, Bagration, and Kutaysov. In the Petersburg world this sad
side of the affair again involuntarily centered round a single
incident: Kutaysov's death. Everybody knew him, the Emperor liked him,
and he was young and interesting. That day everyone met with the
"What a wonderful coincidence! Just during the service. But what a
loss Kutaysov is! How sorry I am!"
"What did I tell about Kutuzov?" Prince Vasili now said with a
prophet's pride. "I always said he was the only man capable of
But next day no news arrived from the army and the public mood
grew anxious. The courtiers suffered because of the suffering the
suspense occasioned the Emperor.
"Fancy the Emperor's position!" said they, and instead of
extolling Kutuzov as they had done the day before, they condemned
him as the cause of the Emperor's anxiety. That day Prince Vasili no
longer boasted of his protege Kutuzov, but remained silent when the
commander in chief was mentioned. Moreover, toward evening, as if
everything conspired to make Petersburg society anxious and uneasy,
a terrible piece of news was added. Countess Helene Bezukhova had
suddenly died of that terrible malady it had been so agreeable to
mention. Officially, at large gatherings, everyone said that
Countess Bezukhova had died of a terrible attack of angina pectoris,
but in intimate circles details were mentioned of how the private
physician of the Queen of Spain had prescribed small doses of a
certain drug to produce a certain effect; but Helene, tortured by
the fact that the old count suspected her and that her husband to whom
she had written (that wretched, profligate Pierre) had not replied,
had suddenly taken a very large dose of the drug, and had died in
agony before assistance could be rendered her. It was said that Prince
Vasili and the old count had turned upon the Italian, but the latter
had produced such letters from the unfortunate deceased that they
had immediately let the matter drop.
Talk in general centered round three melancholy facts: the Emperor's
lack of news, the loss of Kutuzov, and the death of Helene.
On the third day after Kutuzov's report a country gentleman
arrived from Moscow, and news of the surrender of Moscow to the French
spread through the whole town. This was terrible! What a position
for the Emperor to be in! Kutuzov was a traitor, and Prince Vasili
during the visits of condolence paid to him on the occasion of his
daughter's death said of Kutuzov, whom he had formerly praised (it was
excusable for him in his grief to forget what he had said), that it
was impossible to expect anything else from a blind and depraved old
"I only wonder that the fate of Russia could have been entrusted
to such a man."
As long as this news remained unofficial it was possible to doubt
it, but the next day the following communication was received from
Prince Kutuzov's adjutant has brought me a letter in which he
demands police officers to guide the army to the Ryazan road. He
writes that he is regretfully abandoning Moscow. Sire! Kutuzov's
action decides the fate of the capital and of your empire! Russia will
shudder to learn of the abandonment of the city in which her greatness
is centered and in which lie the ashes of your ancestors! I shall
follow the army. I have had everything removed, and it only remains
for me to weep over the fate of my fatherland.
On receiving this dispatch the Emperor sent Prince Volkonski to
Kutuzov with the following rescript:
Prince Michael Ilarionovich! Since the twenty-ninth of August I have
received no communication from you, yet on the first of September I
received from the commander in chief of Moscow, via Yaroslavl, the sad
news that you, with the army, have decided to abandon Moscow. You
can yourself imagine the effect this news has had on me, and your
silence increases my astonishment. I am sending this by
Adjutant-General Prince Volkonski, to hear from you the situation of
the army and the reasons that have induced you to take this melancholy
Nine days after the abandonment of Moscow, a messenger from
Kutuzov reached Petersburg with the official announcement of that
event. This messenger was Michaud, a Frenchman who did not know
Russian, but who was quoique etranger, russe de coeur et d'ame,* as he
said of himself.
*Though a foreigner, Russian in heart and soul.
The Emperor at once received this messenger in his study at the
palace on Stone Island. Michaud, who had never seen Moscow before
the campaign and who did not know Russian, yet felt deeply moved (as
he wrote) when he appeared before notre tres gracieux souverain*
with the news of the burning of Moscow, dont les flammes eclairaient
*Our most gracious sovereign.
* Whose flames illumined his route.
Though the source of M. Michaud's chagrin must have been different
from that which caused Russians to grieve, he had such a sad face when
shown into the Emperor's study that the latter at once asked:
"Have you brought me sad news, Colonel?"
"Very sad, sire," replied Michaud, lowering his eyes with a sigh.
"The abandonment of Moscow."
"Have they surrendered my ancient capital without a battle?" asked
the Emperor quickly, his face suddenly flushing.
Michaud respectfully delivered the message Kutuzov had entrusted
to him, which was that it had been impossible to fight before
Moscow, and that as the only remaining choice was between losing the
army as well as Moscow, or losing Moscow alone, the field marshal
had to choose the latter.
The Emperor listened in silence, not looking at Michaud.
"Has the enemy entered the city?" he asked.
"Yes, sire, and Moscow is now in ashes. I left it all in flames,"
replied Michaud in a decided tone, but glancing at the Emperor he
was frightened by what he had done.
The Emperor began to breathe heavily and rapidly, his lower lip
trembled, and tears instantly appeared in his fine blue eyes.
But this lasted only a moment. He suddenly frowned, as if blaming
himself for his weakness, and raising his head addressed Michaud in
a firm voice:
"I see, Colonel, from all that is happening, that Providence
requires great sacrifices of us... I am ready to submit myself in
all things to His will; but tell me, Michaud, how did you leave the
army when it saw my ancient capital abandoned without a battle? Did
you not notice discouragement?..."
Seeing that his most gracious ruler was calm once more, Michaud also
grew calm, but was not immediately ready to reply to the Emperor's
direct and relevant question which required a direct answer.
"Sire, will you allow me to speak frankly as befits a loyal
soldier?" he asked to gain time.
"Colonel, I always require it," replied the Emperor. "Conceal
nothing from me, I wish to know absolutely how things are."
"Sire!" said Michaud with a subtle, scarcely perceptible smile on
his lips, having now prepared a well-phrased reply, "sire, I left
the whole army, from its chiefs to the lowest soldier, without
exception in desperate and agonized terror..."
"How is that?" the Emperor interrupted him, frowning sternly. "Would
misfortune make my Russians lose heart?... Never!"
Michaud had only waited for this to bring out the phrase he had
"Sire," he said, with respectful playfulness, "they are only
afraid lest Your Majesty, in the goodness of your heart, should
allow yourself to be persuaded to make peace. They are burning for the
combat," declared this representative of the Russian nation, "and to
prove to Your Majesty by the sacrifice of their lives how devoted they
"Ah!" said the Emperor reassured, and with a kindly gleam in his
eyes, he patted Michaud on the shoulder. "You set me at ease,
He bent his head and was silent for some time.
"Well, then, go back to the army," he said, drawing himself up to
his full height and addressing Michaud with a gracious and majestic
gesture, "and tell our brave men and all my good subjects wherever you
go that when I have not a soldier left I shall put myself at the
head of my beloved nobility and my good peasants and so use the last
resources of my empire. It still offers me more than my enemies
suppose," said the Emperor growing more and more animated; "but should
it ever be ordained by Divine Providence," he continued, raising to
heaven his fine eyes shining with emotion, "that my dynasty should
cease to reign on the throne of my ancestors, then after exhausting
all the means at my command, I shall let my beard grow to here" (he
pointed halfway down his chest) "and go and eat potatoes with the
meanest of my peasants, rather than sign the disgrace of my country
and of my beloved people whose sacrifices I know how to appreciate."
Having uttered these words in an agitated voice the Emperor suddenly
turned away as if to hide from Michaud the tears that rose to his
eyes, and went to the further end of his study. Having stood there a
few moments, he strode back to Michaud and pressed his arm below the
elbow with a vigorous movement. The Emperor's mild and handsome face
was flushed and his eyes gleamed with resolution and anger.
"Colonel Michaud, do not forget what I say to you here, perhaps we
may recall it with pleasure someday... Napoleon or I," said the
Emperor, touching his breast. "We can no longer both reign together. I
have learned to know him, and he will not deceive me any more...."
And the Emperor paused, with a frown.
When he heard these words and saw the expression of firm
resolution in the Emperor's eyes, Michaud- quoique etranger, russe
de coeur et d'ame- at that solemn moment felt himself enraptured by
all that he had heard (as he used afterwards to say), and gave
expression to his own feelings and those of the Russian people whose
representative he considered himself to be, in the following words:
"Sire!" said he, "Your Majesty is at this moment signing the glory
of the nation and the salvation of Europe!"
With an inclination of the head the Emperor dismissed him.
It is natural for us who were not living in those days to imagine
that when half Russia had been conquered and the inhabitants were
ficeing to distant provinces, and one levy after another was being
raised for the defense of the fatherland, all Russians from the
greatest to the least were solely engaged in sacrificing themselves,
saving their fatherland, or weeping over its downfall. The tales and
descriptions of that time without exception speak only of the
self-sacrifice, patriotic devotion, despair, grief, and the heroism of
the Russians. But it was not really so. It appears so to us because we
see only the general historic interest of that time and do not see all
the personal human interests that people had. Yet in reality those
personal interests of the moment so much transcend the general
interests that they always prevent the public interest from being felt
or even noticed. Most of the people at that time paid no attention
to the general progress of events but were guided only by their
private interests, and they were the very people whose activities at
that period were most useful.
Those who tried to understand the general course of events and to
take part in it by self-sacrifice and heroism were the most useless
members of society, they saw everything upside down, and all they
did for the common good turned out to be useless and foolish- like
Pierre's and Mamonov's regiments which looted Russian villages, and
the lint the young ladies prepared and that never reached the wounded,
and so on. Even those, fond of intellectual talk and of expressing
their feelings, who discussed Russia's position at the time
involuntarily introduced into their conversation either a shade of
pretense and falsehood or useless condemnation and anger directed
against people accused of actions no one could possibly be guilty
of. In historic events the rule forbidding us to eat of the fruit of
the Tree of Knowledge is specially applicable. Only unconscious action
bears fruit, and he who plays a part in an historic event never
understands its significance. If he tries to realize it his efforts
The more closely a man was engaged in the events then taking place
in Russia the less did he realize their significance. In Petersburg
and in the provinces at a distance from Moscow, ladies, and
gentlemen in militia uniforms, wept for Russia and its ancient capital
and talked of self-sacrifice and so on; but in the army which
retired beyond Moscow there was little talk or thought of Moscow,
and when they caught sight of its burned ruins no one swore to be
avenged on the French, but they thought about their next pay, their
next quarters, of Matreshka the vivandiere, and like matters.
As the war had caught him in the service, Nicholas Rostov took a
close and prolonged part in the defense of his country, but did so
casually, without any aim at self-sacrifice, and he therefore looked
at what was going on in Russia without despair and without dismally
racking his brains over it. Had he been asked what he thought of the
state of Russia, he would have said that it was not his business to
think about it, that Kutuzov and others were there for that purpose,
but that he had heard that the regiments were to be made up to their
full strength, that fighting would probably go on for a long time yet,