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War And Peace 544

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War And Peace

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 whats 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), "thats what the French are, Monsieur Pierre, arent 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 captains 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 him. 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 eyes. "Well, if you hadnt told me you were Russian, I should have wagered that you were Parisian! You have that... I dont 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 doesnt 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 dont 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--thats another thing; but you civilized people, you ought to know us better than that. We took Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Naples, Rome, Warsaw, all the worlds 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--thats 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 future." "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 talk. Their conversation was interrupted by the cries of several voices at the gate and by Morel, who came to say that

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