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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 18
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 18 Post by :iowaebooks Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3269

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 18

When Pierre returned home he was handed two of Rostopchin's
broadsheets that had been brought that day.

The first declared that the report that Count Rostopchin had
forbidden people to leave Moscow was false; on the contrary he was
glad that ladies and tradesmen's wives were leaving the city. "There
will be less panic and less gossip," ran the broadsheet "but I will
stake my life on it that that will not enter Moscow." These words
showed Pierre clearly for the first time that the French would enter
Moscow. The second broadsheet stated that our headquarters were at
Vyazma, that Count Wittgenstein had defeated the French, but that as
many of the inhabitants of Moscow wished to be armed, weapons were
ready for them at the arsenal: sabers, pistols, and muskets which
could be had at a low price. The tone of the proclamation was not as
jocose as in the former Chigirin talks. Pierre pondered over these
broadsheets. Evidently the terrible stormcloud he had desired with the
whole strength of his soul but which yet aroused involuntary horror in
him was drawing near.

"Shall I join the army and enter the service, or wait?" he asked
himself for the hundredth time. He took a pack of cards that lay on
the table and began to lay them out for a game of patience.

"If this patience comes out," he said to himself after shuffling the
cards, holding them in his hand, and lifting his head, "if it comes
out, it means... what does it mean?"

He had not decided what it should mean when he heard the voice of
the eldest princess at the door asking whether she might come in.

"Then it will mean that I must go to the army," said Pierre to
himself. "Come in, come in!" he added to the princess.

Only the eldest princess, the one with the stony face and long
waist, was still living in Pierre's house. The two younger ones had
both married.

"Excuse my coming to you, cousin," she said in a reproachful and
agitated voice. "You know some decision must be come to. What is going
to happen? Everyone has left Moscow and the people are rioting. How is
it that we are staying on?"

"On the contrary, things seem satisfactory, ma cousine," said Pierre
in the bantering tone he habitually adopted toward her, always feeling
uncomfortable in the role of her benefactor.

"Satisfactory, indeed! Very satisfactory! Barbara Ivanovna told me
today how our troops are distinguishing themselves. It certainly
does them credit! And the people too are quite mutinous- they no
longer obey, even my maid has taken to being rude. At this rate they
will soon begin beating us. One can't walk in the streets. But,
above all, the French will be here any day now, so what are we waiting
for? I ask just one thing of you, cousin," she went on, "arrange for
me to be taken to Petersburg. Whatever I may be, I can't live under
Bonaparte's rule."

"Oh, come, ma cousine! Where do you get your information from? On
the contrary..."

"I won't submit to your Napoleon! Others may if they please.... If
you don't want to do this..."

"But I will, I'll give the order at once."

The princess was apparently vexed at not having anyone to be angry
with. Muttering to herself, she sat down on a chair.

"But you have been misinformed," said Pierre. "Everything is quiet
in the city and there is not the slightest danger. See! I've just been
reading..." He showed her the broadsheet. "Count Rostopchin writes
that he will stake his life on it that the enemy will not enter
Moscow."

"Oh, that count of yours!" said the princess malevolently. "He is
a hypocrite, a rascal who has himself roused the people to riot.
Didn't he write in those idiotic broadsheets that anyone, 'whoever
it might be, should be dragged to the lockup by his hair'? (How
silly!) 'And honor and glory to whoever captures him,' he says. This
is what his cajolery has brought us to! Barbara Ivanovna told me the
mob near killed her because she said something in French."

"Oh, but it's so... You take everything so to heart," said Pierre,
and began laying out his cards for patience.

Although that patience did come out, Pierre did not join the army,
but remained in deserted Moscow ever in the same state of agitation,
irresolution, and alarm, yet at the same time joyfully expecting
something terrible.

Next day toward evening the princess set off, and Pierre's head
steward came to inform him that the money needed for the equipment
of his regiment could not be found without selling one of the estates.
In general the head steward made out to Pierre that his project of
raising a regiment would ruin him. Pierre listened to him, scarcely
able to repress a smile.

"Well then, sell it," said he. "What's to be done? I can't draw back
now!"

The worse everything became, especially his own affairs, the
better was Pierre pleased and the more evident was it that the
catastrophe he expected was approaching. Hardly anyone he knew was
left in town. Julie had gone, and so had Princess Mary. Of his
intimate friends only the Rostovs remained, but he did not go to see
them.

To distract his thoughts he drove that day to the village of
Vorontsovo to see the great balloon Leppich was constructing to
destroy the foe, and a trial balloon that was to go up next day. The
balloon was not yet ready, but Pierre learned that it was being
constructed by the Emperor's desire. The Emperor had written to
Count Rostopchin as follows:


As soon as Leppich is ready, get together a crew of reliable and
intelligent men for his car and send a courier to General Kutuzov to
let him know. I have informed him of the matter.

Please impress upon Leppich to be very careful where he descends for
the first time, that he may not make a mistake and fall into the
enemy's hands. It is essential for him to combine his movements with
those of the commander in chief.


On his way home from Vorontsovo, as he was passing the Bolotnoe
Place Pierre, seeing a large crowd round the Lobnoe Place, stopped and
got out of his trap. A French cook accused of being a spy was being
flogged. The flogging was only just over, and the executioner was
releasing from the flogging bench a stout man with red whiskers, in
blue stockings and a green jacket, who was moaning piteously.
Another criminal, thin and pale, stood near. Judging by their faces
they were both Frenchmen. With a frightened and suffering look
resembling that on the thin Frenchman's face, Pierre pushed his way in
through the crowd.

"What is it? Who is it? What is it for?" he kept asking.

But the attention of the crowd- officials, burghers, shopkeepers,
peasants, and women in cloaks and in pelisses- was so eagerly centered
on what was passing in Lobnoe Place that no one answered him. The
stout man rose, frowned, shrugged his shoulders, and evidently
trying to appear firm began to pull on his jacket without looking
about him, but suddenly his lips trembled and he began to cry, in
the way full-blooded grown-up men cry, though angry with himself for
doing so. In the crowd people began talking loudly, to stifle their
feelings of pity as it seemed to Pierre.

"He's cook to some prince."

"Eh, mounseer, Russian sauce seems to be sour to a Frenchman... sets
his teeth on edge!" said a wrinkled clerk who was standing behind
Pierre, when the Frenchman began to cry.

The clerk glanced round, evidently hoping that his joke would be
appreciated. Some people began to laugh, others continued to watch
in dismay the executioner who was undressing the other man.

Pierre choked, his face puckered, and he turned hastily away, went
back to his trap muttering something to himself as he went, and took
his seat. As they drove along he shuddered and exclaimed several times
so audibly that the coachman asked him:

"What is your pleasure?"

"Where are you going?" shouted Pierre to the man, who was driving to
Lubyanka Street.

"To the Governor's, as you ordered," answered the coachman.

"Fool! Idiot!" shouted Pierre, abusing his coachman- a thing he
rarely did. "Home, I told you! And drive faster, blockhead!" "I must
get away this very day," he murmured to himself.

At the sight of the tortured Frenchman and the crowd surrounding the
Lobnoe Place, Pierre had so definitely made up his mind that he
could no longer remain in Moscow and would leave for the army that
very day that it seemed to him that either he had told the coachman
this or that the man ought to have known it for himself.

On reaching home Pierre gave orders to Evstafey- his head coachman
who knew everything, could do anything, and was known to all Moscow-
that he would leave that night for the army at Mozhaysk, and that
his saddle horses should be sent there. This could not all be arranged
that day, so on Evstafey's representation Pierre had to put off his
departure till next day to allow time for the relay horses to be
sent on in advance.

On the twenty-fourth the weather cleared up after a spell of rain,
and after dinner Pierre left Moscow. When changing horses that night
in Perkhushkovo, he learned that there had been a great battle that
evening. (This was the battle of Shevardino.) He was told that there
in Perkhushkovo the earth trembled from the firing, but nobody could
answer his questions as to who had won. At dawn next day Pierre was
approaching Mozhaysk.

Every house in Mozhaysk had soldiers quartered in it, and at the
hostel where Pierre was met by his groom and coachman there was no
room to be had. It was full of officers.

Everywhere in Mozhaysk and beyond it, troops were stationed or on
the march. Cossacks, foot and horse soldiers, wagons, caissons, and
cannon were everywhere. Pierre pushed forward as fast as he could, and
the farther he left Moscow behind and the deeper he plunged into
that sea of troops the more was he overcome by restless agitation
and a new and joyful feeling he had not experienced before. It was a
feeling akin to what he had felt at the Sloboda Palace during the
Emperor's visit- a sense of the necessity of undertaking something and
sacrificing something. He now experienced a glad consciousness that
everything that constitutes men's happiness- the comforts of life,
wealth, even life itself- is rubbish it is pleasant to throw away,
compared with something... With what? Pierre could not say, and he did
not try to determine for whom and for what he felt such particular
delight in sacrificing everything. He was not occupied with the
question of what to sacrifice for; the fact of sacrificing in itself
afforded him a new and joyous sensation.

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On the twenty-fourth of August the battle of the ShevardinoRedoubt was fought, on the twenty-fifth not a shot was fired by eitherside, and on the twenty-sixth the battle of Borodino itself tookplace.Why and how were the battles of Shevardino and Borodino given andaccepted? Why was the battle of Borodino fought? There was not theleast sense in it for either the French or the Russians. Its immediateresult for the Russians was, and was bound to be, that we were broughtnearer to the destruction of Moscow- which we feared more thananything in the world; and for the French its immediate result wasthat they
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After the Emperor had left Moscow, life flowed on there in its usualcourse, and its course was so very usual that it was difficult toremember the recent days of patriotic elation and ardor, hard tobelieve that Russia was really in danger and that the members of theEnglish Club were also sons of the Fatherland ready to sacrificeeverything for it. The one thing that recalled the patriotic fervoreveryone had displayed during the Emperor's stay was the call forcontributions of men and money, a necessity that as soon as thepromises had been made assumed a legal, official form and becameunavoidable.With the enemy's approach
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