Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
of police, was saying angrily:
"Its no joke, you know! Its all very well if youre single. One
man though undone is but one, as the proverb says, but with
thirteen in your family and all the property... Theyve brought us
to utter ruin! What sort of governors are they to do that? They
ought to be hanged--the brigands!..."
"Oh come, thats enough!" said the other.
"What do I care? Let him hear! Were not dogs," said the
ex-captain of police, and looking round he noticed Alpatych.
"Oh, Yakov Alpatych! What have you come for?"
"To see the Governor by his excellencys order," answered
Alpatych, lifting his head and proudly thrusting his hand into the
bosom of his coat as he always did when he mentioned the prince....
"He has ordered me to inquire into the position of affairs," he added.
"Yes, go and find out!" shouted the angry gentleman. "Theyve
brought things to such a pass that there are no carts or
anything!... There it is again, do you hear?" said he, pointing
in the direction whence came the sounds of firing.
"Theyve brought us all to ruin... the brigands!" he repeated, and
descended the porch steps.
Alpatych swayed his head and went upstairs. In the waiting room were
tradesmen, women, and officials, looking silently at one another.
The door of the Governors room opened and they all rose and moved
forward. An official ran out, said some words to a merchant, called
a stout official with a cross hanging on his neck to follow him, and
vanished again, evidently wishing to avoid the inquiring looks and
questions addressed to him. Alpatych moved forward and next time the
official came out addressed him, one hand placed in the breast of
his buttoned coat, and handed him two letters.
"To his Honor Baron Asch, from General-in-Chief Prince Bolkonski,"
he announced with such solemnity and significance that the official
turned to him and took the letters.
A few minutes later the Governor received Alpatych and hurriedly
said to him:
"Inform the prince and princess that I knew nothing: I acted on
the highest instructions--here..." and he handed a paper to
Alpatych. "Still, as the prince is unwell my advice is that they
should go to Moscow. I am just starting myself. Inform them..."
But the Governor did not finish: a dusty perspiring officer ran into
the room and began to say something in French. The Governors face
"Go," he said, nodding his head to Alpatych, and began questioning
Eager, frightened, helpless glances were turned on Alpatych when
he came out of the Governors room. Involuntarily listening now to the
firing, which had drawn nearer and was increasing in strength,
Alpatych hurried to his inn. The paper handed to him by the Governor
"I assure you that the town of Smolensk is not in the slightest
danger as yet and it is unlikely that it will be threatened with
any. I from the one side and Prince Bagration from the other are
marching to unite our forces before Smolensk, which junction will be
effected on the 22nd instant, and both armies with their united forces
will defend our compatriots of the province entrusted to your care
till our efforts shall have beaten back the enemies of our Fatherland,
or till the last warrior in our valiant ranks has perished. From
this you will see that you have a perfect right to reassure the
inhabitants of Smolensk, for those defended by two such brave armies
may feel assured of victory." (Instructions from Barclay de Tolly to
Baron Asch, the civil governor of Smolensk, 1812.)
People were anxiously roaming about the streets.
Carts piled high with household utensils, chairs, and cupboards kept
emerging from the gates of the yards and moving along the streets.
Loaded carts stood at the house next to Ferapontovs and women were
wailing and lamenting as they said good-by. A small watchdog ran round
barking in front of the harnessed horses.
Alpatych entered the innyard at a quicker pace than usual and went
straight to the shed where his horses and trap were. The coachman
was asleep. He woke him up, told him to harness, and went into the
passage. From the hosts room came the sounds of a child crying, the
despairing sobs of a woman, and the hoarse angry shouting of
Ferapontov. The cook began running hither and thither in the passage
like a frightened hen, just as Alpatych entered.
"Hes done her to death. Killed the mistress!... Beat her... dragged
her about so!..."
"What for?" asked Alpatych.
"She kept begging to go away. Shes a woman! Take
War And Peace page 415 War And Peace page 417