Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
turned to Pierre. "Do
you speak French?"
Pierre looked around him with bloodshot eyes and did not reply.
His face probably looked very terrible, for the officer said something
in a whisper and four more Uhlans left the ranks and placed themselves
on both sides of Pierre.
"Do you speak French?" the officer asked again, keeping at a
distance from Pierre. "Call the interpreter."
A little man in Russian civilian clothes rode out from the ranks,
and by his clothes and manner of speaking Pierre at once knew him to
be a French salesman from one of the Moscow shops.
"He does not look like a common man," said the interpreter, after
a searching look at Pierre.
"Ah, he looks very much like an incendiary," remarked the officer.
"And ask him who he is," he added.
"Who are you?" asked the interpreter in poor Russian. "You must
answer the chief."
"I will not tell you who I am. I am your prisoner--take me!"
Pierre suddenly replied in French.
"Ah, ah!" muttered the officer with a frown. "Well then, march!"
A crowd had collected round the Uhlans. Nearest to Pierre stood
the pockmarked peasant woman with the little girl, and when the patrol
started she moved forward.
"Where are they taking you to, you poor dear?" said she. "And the
little girl, the little girl, what am I to do with her if shes not
theirs?" said the woman.
"What does that woman want?" asked the officer.
Pierre was as if intoxicated. His elation increased at the sight
of the little girl he had saved.
"What does she want?" he murmured. "She is bringing me my daughter
whom I have just saved from the flames," said he. "Good-by!" And
without knowing how this aimless lie had escaped him, he went along
with resolute and triumphant steps between the French soldiers.
The French patrol was one of those sent out through the various
streets of Moscow by Durosnels order to put a stop to the pillage,
and especially to catch the incendiaries who, according to the general
opinion which had that day originated among the higher French
officers, were the cause of the conflagrations. After marching through
a number of streets the patrol arrested five more Russian suspects:
a small shopkeeper, two seminary students, a peasant, and a house
serf, besides several looters. But of all these various suspected
characters, Pierre was considered to be the most suspicious of all.
When they had all been brought for the night to a large house on the
Zubov Rampart that was being used as a guardhouse, Pierre was placed
apart under strict guard.
BOOK TWELVE: 1812
In Petersburg at that time a complicated struggle was being
carried on with greater heat than ever in the highest circles, between
the parties of Rumyantsev, the French, Marya Fedorovna, the Tsarevich,
and others, drowned as usual by the buzzing of the court drones. But
the calm, luxurious life of Petersburg, concerned only about
phantoms and reflections of real life, went on in its old way and made
it hard, except by a great effort, to realize the danger and the
difficult position of the Russian people. There were the same
receptions and balls, the same French theater, the same court
interests and service interests and intrigues as usual. Only in the
very highest circles were attempts made to keep in mind the
difficulties of the actual position. Stories were whispered of how
differently the two Empresses behaved in these difficult
circumstances. The Empress Marya, concerned for the welfare of the
charitable and educational institutions under her patronage, had given
directions that they should all be removed to Kazan, and the things
belonging to these institutions had already been packed up. The
Empress Elisabeth, however, when asked what instructions she would
be pleased to give--with her characteristic Russian patriotism had
replied that she could give no directions about state institutions for
that was the affair of the sovereign, but as far as she personally was
concerned she would be the last to quit Petersburg.
At Anna Pavlovnas on the twenty-sixth of August, the very day of
the battle of Borodino, there was a soiree, the chief feature of which
was to be the reading of a letter from His Lordship the Bishop when
sending the Emperor an icon of the Venerable Sergius. It was
regarded as a model of ecclesiastical, patriotic eloquence. Prince
Vasili himself, famed for his elocution, was to read it. (He used to
read at the Empress.) The art of his reading was supposed to lie in
rolling out the words, quite independently of their meaning, in a loud
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