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Chapter 10

  • On the thirteenth of August Pierre reached Moscow. Close to the gates of th_ity he was met by Count Rostopchin's adjutant.
  • "We have been looking for you everywhere," said the adjutant. "The count want_o see you particularly. He asks you to come to him at once on a ver_mportant matter."
  • Without going home, Pierre took a cab and drove to see the Moscow commander i_hief.
  • Count Rostopchin had only that morning returned to town from his summer vill_t Sokolniki. The anteroom and reception room of his house were full o_fficials who had been summoned or had come for orders. Vasilchikov and Plato_ad already seen the count and explained to him that it was impossible t_efend Moscow and that it would have to be surrendered. Though this news wa_eing concealed from the inhabitants, the officials—the heads of the variou_overnment departments—knew that Moscow would soon be in the enemy's hands,
  • just as Count Rostopchin himself knew it, and to escape persona_esponsibility they had all come to the governor to ask how they were to dea_ith their various departments.
  • As Pierre was entering the reception room a courier from the army came out o_ostopchin's private room.
  • In answer to questions with which he was greeted, the courier made _espairing gesture with his hand and passed through the room.
  • While waiting in the reception room Pierre with weary eyes watched the variou_fficials, old and young, military and civilian, who were there. They al_eemed dissatisfied and uneasy. Pierre went up to a group of men, one of who_e knew. After greeting Pierre they continued their conversation.
  • "If they're sent out and brought back again later on it will do no harm, bu_s things are now one can't answer for anything."
  • "But you see what he writes… " said another, pointing to a printed sheet h_eld in his hand.
  • "That's another matter. That's necessary for the people," said the first.
  • "What is it?" asked Pierre.
  • "Oh, it's a fresh broadsheet."
  • Pierre took it and began reading.
  • His Serene Highness has passed through Mozhaysk in order to join up with th_roops moving toward him and has taken up a strong position where the enem_ill not soon attack him. Forty eight guns with ammunition have been sent hi_rom here, and his Serene Highness says he will defend Moscow to the last dro_f blood and is even ready to fight in the streets. Do not be upset, brothers,
  • that the law courts are closed; things have to be put in order, and we wil_eal with villains in our own way! When the time comes I shall want both tow_nd peasant lads and will raise the cry a day or two beforehand, but they ar_ot wanted yet so I hold my peace. An ax will be useful, a hunting spear no_ad, but a three-pronged fork will be best of all: a Frenchman is no heavie_han a sheaf of rye. Tomorrow after dinner I shall take the Iberian icon o_he Mother of God to the wounded in the Catherine Hospital where we will hav_ome water blessed. That will help them to get well quicker. I, too, am wel_ow: one of my eyes was sore but now I am on the lookout with both.
  • "But military men have told me that it is impossible to fight in the town,"
  • said Pierre, "and that the position… "
  • "Well, of course! That's what we were saying," replied the first speaker.
  • "And what does he mean by 'One of my eyes was sore but now I am on the lookou_ith both'?" asked Pierre.
  • "The count had a sty," replied the adjutant smiling, "and was very much upse_hen I told him people had come to ask what was the matter with him. By th_y, Count," he added suddenly, addressing Pierre with a smile, "we heard tha_ou have family troubles and that the countess, your wife… "
  • "I have heard nothing," Pierre replied unconcernedly. "But what have yo_eard?"
  • "Oh, well, you know people often invent things. I only say what I heard."
  • "But what did you hear?"
  • "Well, they say," continued the adjutant with the same smile, "that th_ountess, your wife, is preparing to go abroad. I expect it's nonsense… ."
  • "Possibly," remarked Pierre, looking about him absent-mindedly. "And who i_hat?" he asked, indicating a short old man in a clean blue peasant overcoat,
  • with a big snow-white beard and eyebrows and a ruddy face.
  • "He? That's a tradesman, that is to say, he's the restaurant keeper,
  • Vereshchagin. Perhaps you have heard of that affair with the proclamation."
  • "Oh, so that is Vereshchagin!" said Pierre, looking at the firm, calm face o_he old man and seeking any indication of his being a traitor.
  • "That's not he himself, that's the father of the fellow who wrote th_roclamation," said the adjutant. "The young man is in prison and I expect i_ill go hard with him."
  • An old gentleman wearing a star and another official, a German wearing a cros_ound his neck, approached the speaker.
  • "It's a complicated story, you know," said the adjutant. "That proclamatio_ppeared about two months ago. The count was informed of it. He gave orders t_nvestigate the matter. Gabriel Ivanovich here made the inquiries. Th_roclamation had passed through exactly sixty-three hands. He asked one, 'Fro_hom did you get it?' 'From so-and-so.' He went to the next one. 'From who_id you get it?' and so on till he reached Vereshchagin, a half educate_radesman, you know, 'a pet of a trader,'" said the adjutant smiling. "The_sked him, 'Who gave it you?' And the point is that we knew whom he had i_rom. He could only have had it from the Postmaster. But evidently they ha_ome to some understanding. He replied: 'From no one; I made it up myself.'
  • They threatened and questioned him, but he stuck to that: 'I made it u_yself.' And so it was reported to the count, who sent for the man. 'From who_id you get the proclamation?' 'I wrote it myself.' Well, you know the count,"
  • said the adjutant cheerfully, with a smile of pride, "he flared u_readfully—and just think of the fellow's audacity, lying, and obstinacy!"
  • "And the count wanted him to say it was from Klyucharev? I
  • understand!" said Pierre.
  • "Not at all," rejoined the adjutant in dismay. "Klyucharev had his own sins t_nswer for without that and that is why he has been banished. But the point i_hat the count was much annoyed. 'How could you have written it yourself?'
  • said he, and he took up the Hamburg Gazette that was lying on the table. 'Her_t is! You did not write it yourself but translated it, and translated i_bominably, because you don't even know French, you fool.' And what do yo_hink? 'No,' said he, 'I have not read any papers, I made it up myself.' 'I_hat's so, you're a traitor and I'll have you tried, and you'll be hanged! Sa_rom whom you had it.' 'I have seen no papers, I made it up myself.' And tha_as the end of it. The count had the father fetched, but the fellow stuck t_t. He was sent for trial and condemned to hard labor, I believe. Now th_ather has come to intercede for him. But he's a good-for-nothing lad! Yo_now that sort of tradesman's son, a dandy and lady-killer. He attended som_ectures somewhere and imagines that the devil is no match for him. That's th_ort of fellow he is. His father keeps a cookshop here by the Stone Bridge,
  • and you know there was a large icon of God Almighty painted with a scepter i_ne hand and an orb in the other. Well, he took that icon home with him for _ew days and what did he do? He found some scoundrel of a painter… "