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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 10
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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 10 Post by :tcloyes Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1560

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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 10

On the eighth of September an officer- a very important one
judging by the respect the guards showed him- entered the coach
house where the prisoners were. This officer, probably someone on
the staff, was holding a paper in his hand, and called over all the
Russians there, naming Pierre as "the man who does not give his name."
Glancing indolently and indifferently at all the prisoners, he ordered
the officer in charge to have them decently dressed and tidied up
before taking them to the marshal. An hour later a squad of soldiers
arrived and Pierre with thirteen others was led to the Virgin's Field.
It was a fine day, sunny after rain, and the air was unusually pure.
The smoke did not hang low as on the day when Pierre had been taken
from the guardhouse on the Zubovski rampart, but rose through the pure
air in columns. No flames were seen, but columns of smoke rose on
all sides, and all Moscow as far as Pierre could see was one vast
charred ruin. On all sides there were waste spaces with only stoves
and chimney stacks still standing, and here and there the blackened
walls of some brick houses. Pierre gazed at the ruins and did not
recognize districts he had known well. Here and there he could see
churches that had not been burned. The Kremlin, which was not
destroyed, gleamed white in the distance with its towers and the
belfry of Ivan the Great. The domes of the New Convent of the Virgin
glittered brightly and its bells were ringing particularly clearly.
These bells reminded Pierre that it was Sunday and the feast of the
Nativity of the Virgin. But there seemed to be no one to celebrate
this holiday: everywhere were blackened ruins, and the few Russians to
be seen were tattered and frightened people who tried to hide when
they saw the French.

It was plain that the Russian nest was ruined and destroyed, but
in place of the Russian order of life that had been destroyed,
Pierre unconsciously felt that a quite different, firm, French order
had been established over this ruined nest. He felt this in the
looks of the soldiers who, marching in regular ranks briskly and
gaily, were escorting him and the other criminals; he felt it in the
looks of an important French official in a carriage and pair driven by
a soldier, whom they met on the way. He felt it in the merry sounds of
regimental music he heard from the left side of the field, and felt
and realized it especially from the list of prisoners the French
officer had read out when he came that morning. Pierre had been
taken by one set of soldiers and led first to one and then to
another place with dozens of other men, and it seemed that they
might have forgotten him, or confused him with the others. But no: the
answers he had given when questioned had come back to him in his
designation as "the man who does not give his name," and under that
appellation, which to Pierre seemed terrible, they were now leading
him somewhere with unhesitating assurance on their faces that he and
all the other prisoners were exactly the ones they wanted and that
they were being taken to the proper place. Pierre felt himself to be
an insignificant chip fallen among the wheels of a machine whose
action he did not understand but which was working well.

He and the other prisoners were taken to the right side of the
Virgin's Field, to a large white house with an immense garden not
far from the convent. This was Prince Shcherbitov's house, where
Pierre had often been in other days, and which, as he learned from the
talk of the soldiers, was now occupied by the marshal, the Duke of
Eckmuhl (Davout).

They were taken to the entrance and led into the house one by one.
Pierre was the sixth to enter. He was conducted through a glass
gallery, an anteroom, and a hall, which were familiar to him, into a
long low study at the door of which stood an adjutant.

Davout, spectacles on nose, sat bent over a table at the further end
of the room. Pierre went close up to him, but Davout, evidently
consulting a paper that lay before him, did not look up. Without
raising his eyes, he said in a low voice:

"Who are you?"

Pierre was silent because he was incapable of uttering a word. To
him Davout was not merely a French general, but a man notorious for
his cruelty. Looking at his cold face, as he sat like a stern
schoolmaster who was prepared to wait awhile for an answer, Pierre
felt that every instant of delay might cost him his life; but he did
not know what to say. He did not venture to repeat what he had said at
his first examination, yet to disclose his rank and position was
dangerous and embarrassing. So he was silent. But before he had
decided what to do, Davout raised his head, pushed his spectacles back
on his forehead, screwed up his eyes, and looked intently at him.

"I know that man," he said in a cold, measured tone, evidently
calculated to frighten Pierre.

The chill that had been running down Pierre's back now seized his
head as in a vise.

"You cannot know me, General, I have never seen you..."

"He is a Russian spy," Davout interrupted, addressing another
general who was present, but whom Pierre had not noticed.

Davout turned away. With an unexpected reverberation in his voice
Pierre rapidly began:

"No, monseigneur," he said, suddenly remembering that Davout was a
duke. "No, monseigneur, you cannot have known me. I am a militia
officer and have not quitted Moscow."

"Your name?" asked Davout.


"What proof have I that you are not lying?"

"Monseigneur!" exclaimed Pierre, not in an offended but in a
pleading voice.

Davout looked up and gazed intently at him. For some seconds they
looked at one another, and that look saved Pierre. Apart from
conditions of war and law, that look established human relations
between the two men. At that moment an immense number of things passed
dimly through both their minds, and they realized that they were
both children of humanity and were brothers.

At the first glance, when Davout had only raised his head from the
papers where human affairs and lives were indicated by numbers, Pierre
was merely a circumstance, and Davout could have shot him without
burdening his conscience with an evil deed, but now he saw in him a
human being. He reflected for a moment.

"How can you show me that you are telling the truth?" said Davout

Pierre remembered Ramballe, and named him and his regiment and the
street where the house was.

"You are not what you say," returned Davout.

In a trembling, faltering voice Pierre began adducing proofs of
the truth of his statements.

But at that moment an adjutant entered and reported something to

Davout brightened up at the news the adjutant brought, and began
buttoning up his uniform. It seemed that he had quite forgotten

When the adjutant reminded him of the prisoner, he jerked his head
in Pierre's direction with a frown and ordered him to be led away. But
where they were to take him Pierre did not know: back to the coach
house or to the place of execution his companions had pointed out to
him as they crossed the Virgin's Field.

He turned his head and saw that the adjutant was putting another
question to Davout.

"Yes, of course!" replied Davout, but what this "yes" meant,
Pierre did not know.

Pierre could not afterwards remember how he went, whether it was
far, or in which direction. His faculties were quite numbed, he was
stupefied, and noticing nothing around him went on moving his legs
as the others did till they all stopped and he stopped too. The only
thought in his mind at that time was: who was it that had really
sentenced him to death? Not the men on the commission that had first
examined him- not one of them wished to or, evidently, could have done
it. It was not Davout, who had looked at him in so human a way. In
another moment Davout would have realized that he was doing wrong, but
just then the adjutant had come in and interrupted him. The
adjutant, also, had evidently had no evil intent though he might
have refrained from coming in. Then who was executing him, killing
him, depriving him of life- him, Pierre, with all his memories,
aspirations, hopes, and thoughts? Who was doing this? And Pierre
felt that it was no one.

It was a system- a concurrence of circumstances.

A system of some sort was killing him- Pierre- depriving him of
life, of everything, annihilating him.

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War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 11 War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 11

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 11
From Prince Shcherbatov's house the prisoners were led straight downthe Virgin's Field, to the left of the nunnery, as far as a kitchengarden in which a post had been set up. Beyond that post a fresh pithad been dug in the ground, and near the post and the pit a largecrowd stood in a semicircle. The crowd consisted of a few Russians andmany of Napoleon's soldiers who were not on duty- Germans, Italians,and Frenchmen, in a variety of uniforms. To the right and left ofthe post stood rows of French troops in blue uniforms with redepaulets and high boots and shakos.The

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 9 War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 9

War And Peace - Book Twelve: 1812 - Chapter 9
The officer and soldiers who had arrested Pierre treated him withhostility but yet with respect, in the guardhouse to which he wastaken. In their attitude toward him could still be felt bothuncertainty as to who he might be- perhaps a very important person-and hostility as a result of their recent personal conflict with him.But when the guard was relieved next morning, Pierre felt that forthe new guard- both officers and men- he was not as interesting ashe had been to his captors; and in fact the guard of the second daydid not recognize in this big, stout man in a peasant