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War And Peace 555

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War And Peace

dreadful and alien to him, for, after the previous nights experience, he was afraid of losing it. But he was not destined to bring his mood safely to his destination. And even had he not been hindered by anything on the way, his intention could not now have been carried out, for Napoleon had passed the Arbat more than four hours previously on his way from the Dorogomilov suburb to the Kremlin, and was now sitting in a very gloomy frame of mind in a royal study in the Kremlin, giving detailed and exact orders as to measures to be taken immediately to extinguish the fire, to prevent looting, and to reassure the inhabitants. But Pierre did not know this; he was entirely absorbed in what lay before him, and was tortured--as those are who obstinately undertake a task that is impossible for them not because of its difficulty but because of its incompatibility with their natures--by the fear of weakening at the decisive moment and so losing his self-esteem. Though he heard and saw nothing around him he found his way by instinct and did not go wrong in the side streets that led to the Povarskoy. As Pierre approached that street the smoke became denser and denser--he even felt the heat of the fire. Occasionally curly tongues of flame rose from under the roofs of the houses. He met more people in the streets and they were more excited. But Pierre, though he felt that something unusual was happening around him, did not realize that he was approaching the fire. As he was going along a foot path across a wide-open space adjoining the Povarskoy on one side and the gardens of Prince Gruzinskis house on the other, Pierre suddenly heard the desperate weeping of a woman close to him. He stopped as if awakening from a dream and lifted his head. By the side of the path, on the dusty dry grass, all sorts of household goods lay in a heap: featherbeds, a samovar, icons, and trunks. On the ground, beside the trunks, sat a thin woman no longer young, with long, prominent upper teeth, and wearing a black cloak and cap. This woman, swaying to and fro and muttering something, was choking with sobs. Two girls of about ten and twelve, dressed in dirty short frocks and cloaks, were staring at their mother with a look of stupefaction on their pale frightened faces. The youngest child, a boy of about seven, who wore an overcoat and an immense cap evidently not his own, was crying in his old nurses arms. A dirty, barefooted maid was sitting on a trunk, and, having undone her pale-colored plait, was pulling it straight and sniffing at her singed hair. The womans husband, a short, round-shouldered man in the undress uniform of a civilian official, with sausage-shaped whiskers and showing under his square-set cap the hair smoothly brushed forward over his temples, with expressionless face was moving the trunks, which were placed one on another, and was dragging some garments from under them. As soon as she saw Pierre, the woman almost threw herself at his feet. "Dear people, good Christians, save me, help me, dear friends... help us, somebody," she muttered between her sobs. "My girl... My daughter! My youngest daughter is left behind. Shes burned! Ooh! Was it for this I nursed you.... Ooh!" "Dont, Mary Nikolievna!" said her husband to her in a low voice, evidently only to justify himself before the stranger. "Sister must have taken her, or else where can she be?" he added. "Monster! Villain!" shouted the woman angrily, suddenly ceasing to weep. "You have no heart, you dont feel for your own child! Another man would have rescued her from the fire. But this is a monster and neither a man nor a father! You, honored sir, are a noble man," she went on, addressing Pierre rapidly between her sobs. "The fire broke out alongside, and blew our way, the maid called out Fire! and we rushed to collect our things. We ran out just as we were.... This is what we have brought away.... The icons, and my dowry bed, all the rest is lost. We seized the children. But not Katie! Ooh! O Lord!..." and again she began to sob. "My child, my dear one! Burned, burned!" "But where was she left?" asked Pierre. From the expression of his animated face the woman saw that this man might help her. "Oh, dear sir!" she cried, seizing him by the legs. "My benefactor, set my heart at ease.... Aniska, go, you horrid girl,

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