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War And Peace 532


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of Moscow. Those about him had never seen the count so morose and irritable. "Your excellency, the Director of the Registrars Department has sent for instructions... From the Consistory, from the Senate, from the University, from the Foundling Hospital, the Suffragan has sent... asking for information.... What are your orders about the Fire Brigade? From the governor of the prison... from the superintendent of the lunatic asylum..." All night long such announcements were continually being received by the count. To all these inquiries he gave brief and angry replies indicating that orders from him were not now needed, that the whole affair, carefully prepared by him, had now been ruined by somebody, and that that somebody would have to bear the whole responsibility for all that might happen. "Oh, tell that blockhead," he said in reply to the question from the Registrars Department, "that he should remain to guard his documents. Now why are you asking silly questions about the Fire Brigade? They have horses, let them be off to Vladimir, and not leave them to the French." "Your excellency, the superintendent of the lunatic asylum has come: what are your commands?" "My commands? Let them go away, thats all.... And let the lunatics out into the town. When lunatics command our armies God evidently means these other madmen to be free." In reply to an inquiry about the convicts in the prison, Count Rostopchin shouted angrily at the governor: "Do you expect me to give you two battalions--which we have not got--for a convoy? Release them, thats all about it!" "Your excellency, there are some political prisoners, Meshkov, Vereshchagin..." "Vereshchagin! Hasnt he been hanged yet?" shouted Rostopchin. "Bring him to me!" CHAPTER XXV Toward nine oclock in the morning, when the troops were already moving through Moscow, nobody came to the count any more for instructions. Those who were able to get away were going of their own accord, those who remained behind decided for themselves what they must do. The count ordered his carriage that he might drive to Sokolniki, and sat in his study with folded hands, morose, sallow, and taciturn. In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man. Rostopchin felt this, and it was this which exasperated him. The superintendent of police, whom the crowd had stopped, went in to see him at the same time as an adjutant who informed the count that the horses were harnessed. They were both pale, and the superintendent of police, after reporting that he had executed the instructions he had received, informed the count that an immense crowd had collected in the courtyard and wished to see him. Without saying a word Rostopchin rose and walked hastily to his light, luxurious drawing room, went to the balcony door, took hold of the handle, let it go again, and went to the window from which he had a better view of the whole crowd. The tall lad was standing in front, flourishing his arm and saying something with a stern look. The blood stained smith stood beside him with a gloomy face. A drone of voices was audible through the closed window. "Is my carriage ready?" asked Rostopchin, stepping back from the window. "It is, your excellency," replied the adjutant. Rostopchin went again to the balcony door. "But what do they want?" he asked the superintendent of police. "Your excellency, they say they have got ready, according to your orders, to go against the French, and they shouted something about treachery. But it is a turbulent crowd, your excellency--I hardly managed to get away from it. Your excellency, I venture to suggest..." "You may go. I dont need you to tell me what to do!" exclaimed Rostopchin angrily. He stood by the balcony door looking at the crowd. "This is what they have done with Russia! This is

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