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War And Peace 541

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War And Peace

in the afternoon. The French had already entered Moscow. Pierre knew this, but instead of acting he only thought about his undertaking, going over its minutest details in his mind. In his fancy he did not clearly picture to himself either the striking of the blow or the death of Napoleon, but with extraordinary vividness and melancholy enjoyment imagined his own destruction and heroic endurance. "Yes, alone, for the sake of all, I must do it or perish!" he thought. "Yes, I will approach... and then suddenly... with pistol or dagger? But that is all the same! It is not I but the hand of Providence that punishes thee, I shall say," thought he, imagining what he would say when killing Napoleon. "Well then, take me and execute me!" he went on, speaking to himself and bowing his head with a sad but firm expression. While Pierre, standing in the middle of the room, was talking to himself in this way, the study door opened and on the threshold appeared the figure of Makar Alexeevich, always so timid before but now quite transformed. His dressing gown was unfastened, his face red and distorted. He was obviously drunk. On seeing Pierre he grew confused at first, but noticing embarrassment on Pierres face immediately grew bold and, staggering on his thin legs, advanced into the middle of the room. "Theyre frightened," he said confidentially in a hoarse voice. "I say I wont surrender, I say... Am I not right, sir?" He paused and then suddenly seeing the pistol on the table seized it with unexpected rapidity and ran out into the corridor. Gerasim and the porter, who had followed Makar Alexeevich, stopped him in the vestibule and tried to take the pistol from him. Pierre, coming out into the corridor, looked with pity and repulsion at the half-crazy old man. Makar Alexeevich, frowning with exertion, held on to the pistol and screamed hoarsely, evidently with some heroic fancy in his head. "To arms! Board them! No, you shant get it," he yelled. "That will do, please, that will do. Have the goodness--please, sir, to let go! Please, sir..." pleaded Gerasim, trying carefully to steer Makar Alexeevich by the elbows back to the door. "Who are you? Bonaparte!..." shouted Makar Alexeevich. "Thats not right, sir. Come to your room, please, and rest. Allow me to have the pistol." "Be off, thou base slave! Touch me not! See this?" shouted Makar Alexeevich, brandishing the pistol. "Board them!" "Catch hold!" whispered Gerasim to the porter. They seized Makar Alexeevich by the arms and dragged him to the door. The vestibule was filled with the discordant sounds of a struggle and of a tipsy, hoarse voice. Suddenly a fresh sound, a piercing feminine scream, reverberated from the porch and the cook came running into the vestibule. "Its them! Gracious heavens! O Lord, four of them, horsemen!" she cried. Gerasim and the porter let Makar Alexeevich go, and in the now silent corridor the sound of several hands knocking at the front door could be heard. CHAPTER XXVIII Pierre, having decided that until he had carried out his design he would disclose neither his identity nor his knowledge of French, stood at the half-open door of the corridor, intending to conceal himself as soon as the French entered. But the French entered and still Pierre did not retire--an irresistible curiosity kept him there. There were two of them. One was an officer--a tall, soldierly, handsome man--the other evidently a private or an orderly, sunburned, short, and thin, with sunken cheeks and a dull expression. The officer walked in front, leaning on a stick and slightly limping. When he had advanced a few steps he stopped, having apparently decided that these were good quarters, turned round to the soldiers standing at the entrance, and in a loud voice of command ordered them to put up the horses. Having done that, the officer, lifting his elbow with a smart gesture, stroked his mustache and lightly touched his hat. "Bonjour, la compagnie!"* said he gaily, smiling and looking about him. *"Good day, everybody!" No one gave any reply. "Vous etes le bourgeois?"* the officer asked Gerasim. *"Are you the master here?" Gerasim gazed at the officer with an alarmed and inquiring look. "Quartier, quartier, logement!" said the officer, looking down at the little man with a condescending and good-natured smile. "Les francais sont de bons enfants. Que diable! Voyons! Ne nous fachons pas, mon vieux!"* added he, clapping the scared and silent Gerasim on the shoulder. "Well, does no one speak French in this establishment?" he asked again in French, looking around and meeting Pierres eyes. Pierre moved away from the door. *"Quarters,

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