Having returned to the watchman’s hut, Pétya found Denísov in the passage. He was awaiting Pétya’s return in a state of agitation, anxiety, and self-reproach for having let him go.
“Thank God!” he exclaimed. “Yes, thank God!” he repeated, listening to Pétya’s rapturous account. “But, devil take you, I haven’t slept because of you! Well, thank God. Now lie down. We can still get a nap before morning.”
“But... no,” said Pétya, “I don’t want to sleep yet. Besides I know myself, if I fall asleep it’s finished. And then I am used to not sleeping before a battle.”
He sat awhile in the hut joyfully recalling the details of his expedition and vividly picturing to himself what would happen next day.
Then, noticing that Denísov was asleep, he rose and went out of doors.
It was still quite dark outside. The rain was over, but drops were still falling from the trees. Near the watchman’s hut the black shapes of the Cossacks’ shanties and of horses tethered together could be seen. Behind the hut the dark shapes of the two wagons with their horses beside them were discernible, and in the hollow the dying campfire gleamed red. Not all the Cossacks and hussars were asleep; here and there, amid the sounds of falling drops and the munching of the horses near by, could be heard low voices which seemed to be whispering.
Pétya came out, peered into the darkness, and went up to the wagons. Someone was snoring under them, and around them stood saddled horses munching their oats. In the dark Pétya recognized his own horse, which he called “Karabákh” though it was of Ukranian breed, and went up to it.
“Well, Karabákh! We’ll do some service tomorrow,” said he, sniffing its nostrils and kissing it.
“Why aren’t you asleep, sir?” said a Cossack who was sitting under a wagon.
“No, ah... Likhachëv—isn’t that your name? Do you know I have only just come back! We’ve been into the French camp.”
And Pétya gave the Cossack a detailed account not only of his ride but also of his object, and why he considered it better to risk his life than to act “just anyhow.”
“Well, you should get some sleep now,” said the Cossack.
“No, I am used to this,” said Pétya. “I say, aren’t the flints in your pistols worn out? I brought some with me. Don’t you want any? You can have some.”
The Cossack bent forward from under the wagon to get a closer look at Pétya.
“Because I am accustomed to doing everything accurately,” said Pétya. “Some fellows do things just anyhow, without preparation, and then they’re sorry for it afterwards. I don’t like that.”
“Just so,” said the Cossack.
“Oh yes, another thing! Please, my dear fellow, will you sharpen my saber for me? It’s got bl...” (Pétya feared to tell a lie, and the saber never had been sharpened.) “Can you do it?”
“Of course I can.”
Likhachëv got up, rummaged in his pack, and soon Pétya heard the warlike sound of steel on whetstone. He climbed onto the wagon and sat on its edge. The Cossack was sharpening the saber under the wagon.
“I say! Are the lads asleep?” asked Pétya.
“Some are, and some aren’t—like us.”
“Well, and that boy?”
“Vesénny? Oh, he’s thrown himself down there in the passage. Fast asleep after his fright. He was that glad!”
After that Pétya remained silent for a long time, listening to the sounds. He heard footsteps in the darkness and a black figure appeared.
“What are you sharpening?” asked a man coming up to the wagon.
“Why, this gentleman’s saber.”
“That’s right,” said the man, whom Pétya took to be an hussar. “Was the cup left here?”
“There, by the wheel!”
The hussar took the cup.
“It must be daylight soon,” said he, yawning, and went away.
Pétya ought to have known that he was in a forest with Denísov’s guerrilla band, less than a mile from the road, sitting on a wagon captured from the French beside which horses were tethered, that under it Likhachëv was sitting sharpening a saber for him, that the big dark blotch to the right was the watchman’s hut, and the red blotch below to the left was the dying embers of a campfire, that the man who had come for the cup was an hussar who wanted a drink; but he neither knew nor waited to know anything of all this. He was in a fairy kingdom where nothing resembled reality. The big dark blotch might really be the watchman’s hut or it might be a cavern leading to the very depths of the earth. Perhaps the red spot was a fire, or it might be the eye of an enormous monster. Perhaps he was really sitting on a wagon, but it might very well be that he was not sitting on a wagon but on a terribly high tower from which, if he fell, he would have to fall for a whole day or a whole month, or go on falling and never reach the bottom. Perhaps it was just the Cossack, Likhachëv, who was sitting under the wagon, but it might be the kindest, bravest, most wonderful, most splendid man in the world, whom no one knew of. It might really have been that the hussar came for water and went back into the hollow, but perhaps he had simply vanished—disappeared altogether and dissolved into nothingness.
Nothing Pétya could have seen now would have surprised him. He was in a fairy kingdom where everything was possible.
He looked up at the sky. And the sky was a fairy realm like the earth. It was clearing, and over the tops of the trees clouds were swiftly sailing as if unveiling the stars. Sometimes it looked as if the clouds were passing, and a clear black sky appeared. Sometimes it seemed as if the black spaces were clouds. Sometimes the sky seemed to be rising high, high overhead, and then it seemed to sink so low that one could touch it with one’s hand.
Pétya’s eyes began to close and he swayed a little.
The trees were dripping. Quiet talking was heard. The horses neighed and jostled one another. Someone snored.
“Ozheg-zheg, Ozheg-zheg...” hissed the saber against the whetstone, and suddenly Pétya heard an harmonious orchestra playing some unknown, sweetly solemn hymn. Pétya was as musical as Natásha and more so than Nicholas, but had never learned music or thought about it, and so the melody that unexpectedly came to his mind seemed to him particularly fresh and attractive. The music became more and more audible. The melody grew and passed from one instrument to another. And what was played was a fugue—though Pétya had not the least conception of what a fugue is. Each instrument—now resembling a violin and now a horn, but better and clearer than violin or horn—played its own part, and before it had finished the melody merged with another instrument that began almost the same air, and then with a third and a fourth; and they all blended into one and again became separate and again blended, now into solemn church music, now into something dazzlingly brilliant and triumphant.
“Oh—why, that was in a dream!” Pétya said to himself, as he lurched forward. “It’s in my ears. But perhaps it’s music of my own. Well, go on, my music! Now!...”
He closed his eyes, and, from all sides as if from a distance, sounds fluttered, grew into harmonies, separated, blended, and again all mingled into the same sweet and solemn hymn. “Oh, this is delightful! As much as I like and as I like!” said Pétya to himself. He tried to conduct that enormous orchestra.
“Now softly, softly die away!” and the sounds obeyed him. “Now fuller, more joyful. Still more and more joyful!” And from an unknown depth rose increasingly triumphant sounds. “Now voices join in!” ordered Pétya. And at first from afar he heard men’s voices and then women’s. The voices grew in harmonious triumphant strength, and Pétya listened to their surpassing beauty in awe and joy.
With a solemn triumphal march there mingled a song, the drip from the trees, and the hissing of the saber, “Ozheg-zheg-zheg...” and again the horses jostled one another and neighed, not disturbing the choir but joining in it.
Pétya did not know how long this lasted: he enjoyed himself all the time, wondered at his enjoyment and regretted that there was no one to share it. He was awakened by Likhachëv’s kindly voice.
“It’s ready, your honor; you can split a Frenchman in half with it!”
Pétya woke up.
“It’s getting light, it’s really getting light!” he exclaimed.
The horses that had previously been invisible could now be seen to their very tails, and a watery light showed itself through the bare branches. Pétya shook himself, jumped up, took a ruble from his pocket and gave it to Likhachëv; then he flourished the saber, tested it, and sheathed it. The Cossacks were untying their horses and tightening their saddle girths.
“And here’s the commander,” said Likhachëv.
Denísov came out of the watchman’s hut and, having called Pétya, gave orders to get ready.
The men rapidly picked out their horses in the semidarkness, tightened their saddle girths, and formed companies. Denísov stood by the watchman’s hut giving final orders. The infantry of the detachment passed along the road and quickly disappeared amid the trees in the mist of early dawn, hundreds of feet splashing through the mud. The esaul gave some orders to his men. Pétya held his horse by the bridle, impatiently awaiting the order to mount. His face, having been bathed in cold water, was all aglow, and his eyes were particularly brilliant. Cold shivers ran down his spine and his whole body pulsed rhythmically.
“Well, is ev’wything weady?” asked Denísov. “Bwing the horses.”
The horses were brought. Denísov was angry with the Cossack because the saddle girths were too slack, reproved him, and mounted. Pétya put his foot in the stirrup. His horse by habit made as if to nip his leg, but Pétya leaped quickly into the saddle unconscious of his own weight and, turning to look at the hussars starting in the darkness behind him, rode up to Denísov.
“Vasíli Dmítrich, entrust me with some commission! Please... for God’s sake...!” said he.
Denísov seemed to have forgotten Pétya’s very existence. He turned to glance at him.
“I ask one thing of you,” he said sternly, “to obey me and not shove yourself forward anywhere.”
He did not say another word to Pétya but rode in silence all the way. When they had come to the edge of the forest it was noticeably growing light over the field. Denísov talked in whispers with the esaul and the Cossacks rode past Pétya and Denísov. When they had all ridden by, Denísov touched his horse and rode down the hill. Slipping onto their haunches and sliding, the horses descended with their riders into the ravine. Pétya rode beside Denísov, the pulsation of his body constantly increasing. It was getting lighter and lighter, but the mist still hid distant objects. Having reached the valley, Denísov looked back and nodded to a Cossack beside him.
“The signal!” said he.
The Cossack raised his arm and a shot rang out. In an instant the tramp of horses galloping forward was heard, shouts came from various sides, and then more shots.
At the first sound of trampling hoofs and shouting, Pétya lashed his horse and loosening his rein galloped forward, not heeding Denísov who shouted at him. It seemed to Pétya that at the moment the shot was fired it suddenly became as bright as noon. He galloped to the bridge. Cossacks were galloping along the road in front of him. On the bridge he collided with a Cossack who had fallen behind, but he galloped on. In front of him soldiers, probably Frenchmen, were running from right to left across the road. One of them fell in the mud under his horse’s feet.
Cossacks were crowding about a hut, busy with something. From the midst of that crowd terrible screams arose. Pétya galloped up, and the first thing he saw was the pale face and trembling jaw of a Frenchman, clutching the handle of a lance that had been aimed at him.
“Hurrah!... Lads!... ours!” shouted Pétya, and giving rein to his excited horse he galloped forward along the village street.
He could hear shooting ahead of him. Cossacks, hussars, and ragged Russian prisoners, who had come running from both sides of the road, were shouting something loudly and incoherently. A gallant-looking Frenchman, in a blue overcoat, capless, and with a frowning red face, had been defending himself against the hussars. When Pétya galloped up the Frenchman had already fallen. “Too late again!” flashed through Pétya’s mind and he galloped on to the place from which the rapid firing could be heard. The shots came from the yard of the landowner’s house he had visited the night before with Dólokhov. The French were making a stand there behind a wattle fence in a garden thickly overgrown with bushes and were firing at the Cossacks who crowded at the gateway. Through the smoke, as he approached the gate, Pétya saw Dólokhov, whose face was of a pale-greenish tint, shouting to his men. “Go round! Wait for the infantry!” he exclaimed as Pétya rode up to him.
“Wait?... Hurrah-ah-ah!” shouted Pétya, and without pausing a moment galloped to the place whence came the sounds of firing and where the smoke was thickest.
A volley was heard, and some bullets whistled past, while others plashed against something. The Cossacks and Dólokhov galloped after Pétya into the gateway of the courtyard. In the dense wavering smoke some of the French threw down their arms and ran out of the bushes to meet the Cossacks, while others ran down the hill toward the pond. Pétya was galloping along the courtyard, but instead of holding the reins he waved both his arms about rapidly and strangely, slipping farther and farther to one side in his saddle. His horse, having galloped up to a campfire that was smoldering in the morning light, stopped suddenly, and Pétya fell heavily on to the wet ground. The Cossacks saw that his arms and legs jerked rapidly though his head was quite motionless. A bullet had pierced his skull.
After speaking to the senior French officer, who came out of the house with a white handkerchief tied to his sword and announced that they surrendered, Dólokhov dismounted and went up to Pétya, who lay motionless with outstretched arms.
“Done for!” he said with a frown, and went to the gate to meet Denísov who was riding toward him.
“Killed?” cried Denísov, recognizing from a distance the unmistakably lifeless attitude—very familiar to him—in which Pétya’s body was lying.
“Done for!” repeated Dólokhov as if the utterance of these words afforded him pleasure, and he went quickly up to the prisoners, who were surrounded by Cossacks who had hurried up. “We won’t take them!” he called out to Denísov.
Denísov did not reply; he rode up to Pétya, dismounted, and with trembling hands turned toward himself the bloodstained, mud-bespattered face which had already gone white.
“I am used to something sweet. Raisins, fine ones... take them all!” he recalled Pétya’s words. And the Cossacks looked round in surprise at the sound, like the yelp of a dog, with which Denísov turned away, walked to the wattle fence, and seized hold of it.
Among the Russian prisoners rescued by Denísov and Dólokhov was Pierre Bezúkhov.
During the whole of their march from Moscow no fresh orders had been issued by the French authorities concerning the party of prisoners among whom was Pierre. On the twenty-second of October that party was no longer with the same troops and baggage trains with which it had left Moscow. Half the wagons laden with hardtack that had traveled the first stages with them had been captured by Cossacks, the other half had gone on ahead. Not one of those dismounted cavalrymen who had marched in front of the prisoners was left; they had all disappeared. The artillery the prisoners had seen in front of them during the first days was now replaced by Marshal Junot’s enormous baggage train, convoyed by Westphalians. Behind the prisoners came a cavalry baggage train.
From Vyázma onwards the French army, which had till then moved in three columns, went on as a single group. The symptoms of disorder that Pierre had noticed at their first halting place after leaving Moscow had now reached the utmost limit.
The road along which they moved was bordered on both sides by dead horses; ragged men who had fallen behind from various regiments continually changed about, now joining the moving column, now again lagging behind it.
Several times during the march false alarms had been given and the soldiers of the escort had raised their muskets, fired, and run headlong, crushing one another, but had afterwards reassembled and abused each other for their causeless panic.
These three groups traveling together—the cavalry stores, the convoy of prisoners, and Junot’s baggage train—still constituted a separate and united whole, though each of the groups was rapidly melting away.
Of the artillery baggage train which had consisted of a hundred and twenty wagons, not more than sixty now remained; the rest had been captured or left behind. Some of Junot’s wagons also had been captured or abandoned. Three wagons had been raided and robbed by stragglers from Davout’s corps. From the talk of the Germans Pierre learned that a larger guard had been allotted to that baggage train than to the prisoners, and that one of their comrades, a German soldier, had been shot by the marshal’s own order because a silver spoon belonging to the marshal had been found in his possession.
The group of prisoners had melted away most of all. Of the three hundred and thirty men who had set out from Moscow fewer than a hundred now remained. The prisoners were more burdensome to the escort than even the cavalry saddles or Junot’s baggage. They understood that the saddles and Junot’s spoon might be of some use, but that cold and hungry soldiers should have to stand and guard equally cold and hungry Russians who froze and lagged behind on the road (in which case the order was to shoot them) was not merely incomprehensible but revolting. And the escort, as if afraid, in the grievous condition they themselves were in, of giving way to the pity they felt for the prisoners and so rendering their own plight still worse, treated them with particular moroseness and severity.
At Dorogobúzh while the soldiers of the convoy, after locking the prisoners in a stable, had gone off to pillage their own stores, several of the soldier prisoners tunneled under the wall and ran away, but were recaptured by the French and shot.
The arrangement adopted when they started, that the officer prisoners should be kept separate from the rest, had long since been abandoned. All who could walk went together, and after the third stage Pierre had rejoined Karatáev and the gray-blue bandy-legged dog that had chosen Karatáev for its master.
On the third day after leaving Moscow Karatáev again fell ill with the fever he had suffered from in the hospital in Moscow, and as he grew gradually weaker Pierre kept away from him. Pierre did not know why, but since Karatáev had begun to grow weaker it had cost him an effort to go near him. When he did so and heard the subdued moaning with which Karatáev generally lay down at the halting places, and when he smelled the odor emanating from him which was now stronger than before, Pierre moved farther away and did not think about him.
While imprisoned in the shed Pierre had learned not with his intellect but with his whole being, by life itself, that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfaction of simple human needs, and that all unhappiness arises not from privation but from superfluity. And now during these last three weeks of the march he had learned still another new, consolatory truth—that nothing in this world is terrible. He had learned that as there is no condition in which man can be happy and entirely free, so there is no condition in which he need be unhappy and lack freedom. He learned that suffering and freedom have their limits and that those limits are very near together; that the person in a bed of roses with one crumpled petal suffered as keenly as he now, sleeping on the bare damp earth with one side growing chilled while the other was warming; and that when he had put on tight dancing shoes he had suffered just as he did now when he walked with bare feet that were covered with sores—his footgear having long since fallen to pieces. He discovered that when he had married his wife—of his own free will as it had seemed to him—he had been no more free than now when they locked him up at night in a stable. Of all that he himself subsequently termed his sufferings, but which at the time he scarcely felt, the worst was the state of his bare, raw, and scab-covered feet. (The horseflesh was appetizing and nourishing, the saltpeter flavor of the gunpowder they used instead of salt was even pleasant; there was no great cold, it was always warm walking in the daytime, and at night there were the campfires; the lice that devoured him warmed his body.) The one thing that was at first hard to bear was his feet.
After the second day’s march Pierre, having examined his feet by the campfire, thought it would be impossible to walk on them; but when everybody got up he went along, limping, and, when he had warmed up, walked without feeling the pain, though at night his feet were more terrible to look at than before. However, he did not look at them now, but thought of other things.
Only now did Pierre realize the full strength of life in man and the saving power he has of transferring his attention from one thing to another, which is like the safety valve of a boiler that allows superfluous steam to blow off when the pressure exceeds a certain limit.
He did not see and did not hear how they shot the prisoners who lagged behind, though more than a hundred perished in that way. He did not think of Karatáev who grew weaker every day and evidently would soon have to share that fate. Still less did Pierre think about himself. The harder his position became and the more terrible the future, the more independent of that position in which he found himself were the joyful and comforting thoughts, memories, and imaginings that came to him.
At midday on the twenty-second of October Pierre was going uphill along the muddy, slippery road, looking at his feet and at the roughness of the way. Occasionally he glanced at the familiar crowd around him and then again at his feet. The former and the latter were alike familiar and his own. The blue-gray bandy legged dog ran merrily along the side of the road, sometimes in proof of its agility and self-satisfaction lifting one hind leg and hopping along on three, and then again going on all four and rushing to bark at the crows that sat on the carrion. The dog was merrier and sleeker than it had been in Moscow. All around lay the flesh of different animals—from men to horses—in various stages of decomposition; and as the wolves were kept off by the passing men the dog could eat all it wanted.
It had been raining since morning and had seemed as if at any moment it might cease and the sky clear, but after a short break it began raining harder than before. The saturated road no longer absorbed the water, which ran along the ruts in streams.
Pierre walked along, looking from side to side, counting his steps in threes, and reckoning them off on his fingers. Mentally addressing the rain, he repeated: “Now then, now then, go on! Pelt harder!”
It seemed to him that he was thinking of nothing, but far down and deep within him his soul was occupied with something important and comforting. This something was a most subtle spiritual deduction from a conversation with Karatáev the day before.
At their yesterday’s halting place, feeling chilly by a dying campfire, Pierre had got up and gone to the next one, which was burning better. There Platón Karatáev was sitting covered up—head and all—with his greatcoat as if it were a vestment, telling the soldiers in his effective and pleasant though now feeble voice a story Pierre knew. It was already past midnight, the hour when Karatáev was usually free of his fever and particularly lively. When Pierre reached the fire and heard Platón’s voice enfeebled by illness, and saw his pathetic face brightly lit up by the blaze, he felt a painful prick at his heart. His feeling of pity for this man frightened him and he wished to go away, but there was no other fire, and Pierre sat down, trying not to look at Platón.
“Well, how are you?” he asked.
“How am I? If we grumble at sickness, God won’t grant us death,” replied Platón, and at once resumed the story he had begun.
“And so, brother,” he continued, with a smile on his pale emaciated face and a particularly happy light in his eyes, “you see, brother...”
Pierre had long been familiar with that story. Karatáev had told it to him alone some half-dozen times and always with a specially joyful emotion. But well as he knew it, Pierre now listened to that tale as to something new, and the quiet rapture Karatáev evidently felt as he told it communicated itself also to Pierre. The story was of an old merchant who lived a good and God-fearing life with his family, and who went once to the Nízhni fair with a companion—a rich merchant.
Having put up at an inn they both went to sleep, and next morning his companion was found robbed and with his throat cut. A bloodstained knife was found under the old merchant’s pillow. He was tried, knouted, and his nostrils having been torn off, “all in due form” as Karatáev put it, he was sent to hard labor in Siberia.
“And so, brother” (it was at this point that Pierre came up), “ten years or more passed by. The old man was living as a convict, submitting as he should and doing no wrong. Only he prayed to God for death. Well, one night the convicts were gathered just as we are, with the old man among them. And they began telling what each was suffering for, and how they had sinned against God. One told how he had taken a life, another had taken two, a third had set a house on fire, while another had simply been a vagrant and had done nothing. So they asked the old man: ‘What are you being punished for, Daddy?’—‘I, my dear brothers,’ said he, ‘am being punished for my own and other men’s sins. But I have not killed anyone or taken anything that was not mine, but have only helped my poorer brothers. I was a merchant, my dear brothers, and had much property. ‘And he went on to tell them all about it in due order. ‘I don’t grieve for myself,’ he says, ‘God, it seems, has chastened me. Only I am sorry for my old wife and the children,’ and the old man began to weep. Now it happened that in the group was the very man who had killed the other merchant. ‘Where did it happen, Daddy?’ he said. ‘When, and in what month?’ He asked all about it and his heart began to ache. So he comes up to the old man like this, and falls down at his feet! ‘You are perishing because of me, Daddy,’ he says. ‘It’s quite true, lads, that this man,’ he says, ‘is being tortured innocently and for nothing! I,’ he says, ‘did that deed, and I put the knife under your head while you were asleep. Forgive me, Daddy,’ he says, ‘for Christ’s sake!’”
Karatáev paused, smiling joyously as he gazed into the fire, and he drew the logs together.
“And the old man said, ‘God will forgive you, we are all sinners in His sight. I suffer for my own sins,’ and he wept bitter tears. Well, and what do you think, dear friends?” Karatáev continued, his face brightening more and more with a rapturous smile as if what he now had to tell contained the chief charm and the whole meaning of his story: “What do you think, dear fellows? That murderer confessed to the authorities. ‘I have taken six lives,’ he says (he was a great sinner), ‘but what I am most sorry for is this old man. Don’t let him suffer because of me.’ So he confessed and it was all written down and the papers sent off in due form. The place was a long way off, and while they were judging, what with one thing and another, filling in the papers all in due form—the authorities I mean—time passed. The affair reached the Tsar. After a while the Tsar’s decree came: to set the merchant free and give him a compensation that had been awarded. The paper arrived and they began to look for the old man. ‘Where is the old man who has been suffering innocently and in vain? A paper has come from the Tsar!’ so they began looking for him,” here Karatáev’s lower jaw trembled, “but God had already forgiven him—he was dead! That’s how it was, dear fellows!” Karatáev concluded and sat for a long time silent, gazing before him with a smile.
And Pierre’s soul was dimly but joyfully filled not by the story itself but by its mysterious significance: by the rapturous joy that lit up Karatáev’s face as he told it, and the mystic significance of that joy.
“À vos places!” * suddenly cried a voice.
A pleasant feeling of excitement and an expectation of something joyful and solemn was aroused among the soldiers of the convoy and the prisoners. From all sides came shouts of command, and from the left came smartly dressed cavalrymen on good horses, passing the prisoners at a trot. The expression on all faces showed the tension people feel at the approach of those in authority. The prisoners thronged together and were pushed off the road. The convoy formed up.
“The Emperor! The Emperor! The Marshal! The Duke!” and hardly had the sleek cavalry passed, before a carriage drawn by six gray horses rattled by. Pierre caught a glimpse of a man in a three-cornered hat with a tranquil look on his handsome, plump, white face. It was one of the marshals. His eye fell on Pierre’s large and striking figure, and in the expression with which he frowned and looked away Pierre thought he detected sympathy and a desire to conceal that sympathy.
The general in charge of the stores galloped after the carriage with a red and frightened face, whipping up his skinny horse. Several officers formed a group and some soldiers crowded round them. Their faces all looked excited and worried.
“What did he say? What did he say?” Pierre heard them ask.
While the marshal was passing, the prisoners had huddled together in a crowd, and Pierre saw Karatáev whom he had not yet seen that morning. He sat in his short overcoat leaning against a birch tree. On his face, besides the look of joyful emotion it had worn yesterday while telling the tale of the merchant who suffered innocently, there was now an expression of quiet solemnity.
Karatáev looked at Pierre with his kindly round eyes now filled with tears, evidently wishing him to come near that he might say something to him. But Pierre was not sufficiently sure of himself. He made as if he did not notice that look and moved hastily away.
When the prisoners again went forward Pierre looked round. Karatáev was still sitting at the side of the road under the birch tree and two Frenchmen were talking over his head. Pierre did not look round again but went limping up the hill.
From behind, where Karatáev had been sitting, came the sound of a shot. Pierre heard it plainly, but at that moment he remembered that he had not yet finished reckoning up how many stages still remained to Smolénsk—a calculation he had begun before the marshal went by. And he again started reckoning. Two French soldiers ran past Pierre, one of whom carried a lowered and smoking gun. They both looked pale, and in the expression on their faces—one of them glanced timidly at Pierre—there was something resembling what he had seen on the face of the young soldier at the execution. Pierre looked at the soldier and remembered that, two days before, that man had burned his shirt while drying it at the fire and how they had laughed at him.
Behind him, where Karatáev had been sitting, the dog began to howl. “What a stupid beast! Why is it howling?” thought Pierre.
His comrades, the prisoner soldiers walking beside him, avoided looking back at the place where the shot had been fired and the dog was howling, just as Pierre did, but there was a set look on all their faces.
The stores, the prisoners, and the marshal’s baggage train stopped at the village of Shámshevo. The men crowded together round the campfires. Pierre went up to the fire, ate some roast horseflesh, lay down with his back to the fire, and immediately fell asleep. He again slept as he had done at Mozháysk after the battle of Borodinó.
Again real events mingled with dreams and again someone, he or another, gave expression to his thoughts, and even to the same thoughts that had been expressed in his dream at Mozháysk.
“Life is everything. Life is God. Everything changes and moves and that movement is God. And while there is life there is joy in consciousness of the divine. To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s sufferings, in innocent sufferings.”
“Karatáev!” came to Pierre’s mind.
And suddenly he saw vividly before him a long-forgotten, kindly old man who had given him geography lessons in Switzerland. “Wait a bit,” said the old man, and showed Pierre a globe. This globe was alive—a vibrating ball without fixed dimensions. Its whole surface consisted of drops closely pressed together, and all these drops moved and changed places, sometimes several of them merging into one, sometimes one dividing into many. Each drop tried to spread out and occupy as much space as possible, but others striving to do the same compressed it, sometimes destroyed it, and sometimes merged with it.
“That is life,” said the old teacher.
“How simple and clear it is,” thought Pierre. “How is it I did not know it before?”
“God is in the midst, and each drop tries to expand so as to reflect Him to the greatest extent. And it grows, merges, disappears from the surface, sinks to the depths, and again emerges. There now, Karatáev has spread out and disappeared. Do you understand, my child?” said the teacher.
“Do you understand, damn you?” shouted a voice, and Pierre woke up.
He lifted himself and sat up. A Frenchman who had just pushed a Russian soldier away was squatting by the fire, engaged in roasting a piece of meat stuck on a ramrod. His sleeves were rolled up and his sinewy, hairy, red hands with their short fingers deftly turned the ramrod. His brown morose face with frowning brows was clearly visible by the glow of the charcoal.
“It’s all the same to him,” he muttered, turning quickly to a soldier who stood behind him. “Brigand! Get away!”
And twisting the ramrod he looked gloomily at Pierre, who turned away and gazed into the darkness. A prisoner, the Russian soldier the Frenchman had pushed away, was sitting near the fire patting something with his hand. Looking more closely Pierre recognized the blue-gray dog, sitting beside the soldier, wagging its tail.
“Ah, he’s come?” said Pierre. “And Plat—” he began, but did not finish.
Suddenly and simultaneously a crowd of memories awoke in his fancy—of the look Platón had given him as he sat under the tree, of the shot heard from that spot, of the dog’s howl, of the guilty faces of the two Frenchmen as they ran past him, of the lowered and smoking gun, and of Karatáev’s absence at this halt—and he was on the point of realizing that Karatáev had been killed, but just at that instant, he knew not why, the recollection came to his mind of a summer evening he had spent with a beautiful Polish lady on the veranda of his house in Kiev. And without linking up the events of the day or drawing a conclusion from them, Pierre closed his eyes, seeing a vision of the country in summertime mingled with memories of bathing and of the liquid, vibrating globe, and he sank into water so that it closed over his head.
Before sunrise he was awakened by shouts and loud and rapid firing. French soldiers were running past him.
“The Cossacks!” one of them shouted, and a moment later a crowd of Russians surrounded Pierre.
For a long time he could not understand what was happening to him. All around he heard his comrades sobbing with joy.
“Brothers! Dear fellows! Darlings!” old soldiers exclaimed, weeping, as they embraced Cossacks and hussars.
The hussars and Cossacks crowded round the prisoners; one offered them clothes, another boots, and a third bread. Pierre sobbed as he sat among them and could not utter a word. He hugged the first soldier who approached him, and kissed him, weeping.
Dólokhov stood at the gate of the ruined house, letting a crowd of disarmed Frenchmen pass by. The French, excited by all that had happened, were talking loudly among themselves, but as they passed Dólokhov who gently switched his boots with his whip and watched them with cold glassy eyes that boded no good, they became silent. On the opposite side stood Dólokhov’s Cossack, counting the prisoners and marking off each hundred with a chalk line on the gate.
“How many?” Dólokhov asked the Cossack.
“The second hundred,” replied the Cossack.
“Filez, filez!” * Dólokhov kept saying, having adopted this expression from the French, and when his eyes met those of the prisoners they flashed with a cruel light.
Denísov, bareheaded and with a gloomy face, walked behind some Cossacks who were carrying the body of Pétya Rostóv to a hole that had been dug in the garden.
After the twenty-eighth of October when the frosts began, the flight of the French assumed a still more tragic character, with men freezing, or roasting themselves to death at the campfires, while carriages with people dressed in furs continued to drive past, carrying away the property that had been stolen by the Emperor, kings, and dukes; but the process of the flight and disintegration of the French army went on essentially as before.
From Moscow to Vyázma the French army of seventy-three thousand men not reckoning the Guards (who did nothing during the whole war but pillage) was reduced to thirty-six thousand, though not more than five thousand had fallen in battle. From this beginning the succeeding terms of the progression could be determined mathematically. The French army melted away and perished at the same rate from Moscow to Vyázma, from Vyázma to Smolénsk, from Smolénsk to the Berëzina, and from the Berëzina to Vílna—independently of the greater or lesser intensity of the cold, the pursuit, the barring of the way, or any other particular conditions. Beyond Vyázma the French army instead of moving in three columns huddled together into one mass, and so went on to the end. Berthier wrote to his Emperor (we know how far commanding officers allow themselves to diverge from the truth in describing the condition of an army) and this is what he said:
I deem it my duty to report to Your Majesty the condition of the various corps I have had occasion to observe during different stages of the last two or three days’ march. They are almost disbanded. Scarcely a quarter of the soldiers remain with the standards of their regiments, the others go off by themselves in different directions hoping to find food and escape discipline. In general they regard Smolénsk as the place where they hope to recover. During the last few days many of the men have been seen to throw away their cartridges and their arms. In such a state of affairs, whatever your ultimate plans may be, the interest of Your Majesty’s service demands that the army should be rallied at Smolénsk and should first of all be freed from ineffectives, such as dismounted cavalry, unnecessary baggage, and artillery material that is no longer in proportion to the present forces. The soldiers, who are worn out with hunger and fatigue, need these supplies as well as a few days’ rest. Many have died these last days on the road or at the bivouacs. This state of things is continually becoming worse and makes one fear that unless a prompt remedy is applied the troops will no longer be under control in case of an engagement.
November 9: twenty miles from Smolénsk.
After staggering into Smolénsk which seemed to them a promised land, the French, searching for food, killed one another, sacked their own stores, and when everything had been plundered fled farther.
They all went without knowing whither or why they were going. Still less did that genius, Napoleon, know it, for no one issued any orders to him. But still he and those about him retained their old habits: wrote commands, letters, reports, and orders of the day; called one another sire, mon cousin, prince d’Eckmühl, roi de Naples, and so on. But these orders and reports were only on paper, nothing in them was acted upon for they could not be carried out, and though they entitled one another Majesties, Highnesses, or Cousins, they all felt that they were miserable wretches who had done much evil for which they had now to pay. And though they pretended to be concerned about the army, each was thinking only of himself and of how to get away quickly and save himself.