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War And Peace 530

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comprehensible--it was what any one of them might have said and therefore was what an ukase emanating from the highest authority should not say. They all stood despondent and silent. The tall youth moved his lips and swayed from side to side. "We should ask him... thats he himself?"... "Yes, ask him indeed!... Why not? Hell explain"... voices in the rear of the crowd were suddenly heard saying, and the general attention turned to the police superintendents trap which drove into the square attended by two mounted dragoons. The superintendent of police, who had gone that morning by Count Rostopchins orders to burn the barges and had in connection with that matter acquired a large sum of money which was at that moment in his pocket, on seeing a crowd bearing down upon him told his coachman to stop. "What people are these?" he shouted to the men, who were moving singly and timidly in the direction of his trap. "What people are these?" he shouted again, receiving no answer. "Your honor..." replied the shopman in the frieze coat, "your honor, in accord with the proclamation of his highest excellency the count, they desire to serve, not sparing their lives, and it is not any kind of riot, but as his highest excellence said..." "The count has not left, he is here, and an order will be issued concerning you," said the superintendent of police. "Go on!" he ordered his coachman. The crowd halted, pressing around those who had heard what the superintendent had said, and looking at the departing trap. The superintendent of police turned round at that moment with a scared look, said something to his coachman, and his horses increased their speed. "Its a fraud, lads! Lead the way to him, himself!" shouted the tall youth. "Dont let him go, lads! Let him answer us! Keep him!" shouted different people and the people dashed in pursuit of the trap. Following the superintendent of police and talking loudly the crowd went in the direction of the Lubyanka Street. "There now, the gentry and merchants have gone away and left us to perish. Do they think were dogs?" voices in the crowd were heard saying more and more frequently. CHAPTER XXIV On the evening of the first of September, after his interview with Kutuzov, Count Rostopchin had returned to Moscow mortified and offended because he had not been invited to attend the council of war, and because Kutuzov had paid no attention to his offer to take part in the defense of the city; amazed also at the novel outlook revealed to him at the camp, which treated the tranquillity of the capital and its patriotic fervor as not merely secondary but quite irrelevant and unimportant matters. Distressed, offended, and surprised by all this, Rostopchin had returned to Moscow. After supper he lay down on a sofa without undressing, and was awakened soon after midnight by a courier bringing him a letter from Kutuzov. This letter requested the count to send police officers to guide the troops through the town, as the army was retreating to the Ryazan road beyond Moscow. This was not news to Rostopchin. He had known that Moscow would be abandoned not merely since his interview the previous day with Kutuzov on the Poklonny Hill but ever since the battle of Borodino, for all the generals who came to Moscow after that battle had said unanimously that it was impossible to fight another battle, and since then the government property had been removed every night, and half the inhabitants had left the city with Rostopchins own permission. Yet all the same this information astonished and irritated the count, coming as it did in the form of a simple note with an order from Kutuzov, and received at night, breaking in on his beauty sleep. When later on in his memoirs Count Rostopchin explained his actions at this time, he repeatedly says that he was then actuated by two important considerations: to maintain tranquillity in Moscow and expedite the departure of the inhabitants. If one accepts this twofold aim all Rostopchins actions appear irreproachable. "Why were the holy relics, the arms, ammunition, gunpowder, and stores of corn not removed? Why were thousands of inhabitants deceived into believing that Moscow would not be given up--and thereby ruined?" "To preserve the tranquillity of the city," explains Count Rostopchin. "Why were bundles of useless papers from the government offices, and Leppichs balloon and other articles removed?" "To leave the town empty," explains Count Rostopchin. One need only admit that public tranquillity is in danger and any action finds a justification. All the horrors of

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