Meanwhile Moscow was empty. There were still people in it, perhaps a fiftiet_art of its former inhabitants had remained, but it was empty. It was empty i_he sense that a dying queenless hive is empty.
In a queenless hive no life is left though to a superficial glance it seems a_uch alive as other hives.
The bees circle round a queenless hive in the hot beams of the midday sun a_aily as around the living hives; from a distance it smells of honey like th_thers, and bees fly in and out in the same way. But one has only to observ_hat hive to realize that there is no longer any life in it. The bees do no_ly in the same way, the smell and the sound that meet the beekeeper are no_he same. To the beekeeper's tap on the wall of the sick hive, instead of th_ormer instant unanimous humming of tens of thousands of bees with thei_bdomens threateningly compressed, and producing by the rapid vibration o_heir wings an aerial living sound, the only reply is a disconnected buzzin_rom different parts of the deserted hive. From the alighting board, instea_f the former spirituous fragrant smell of honey and venom, and the war_hiffs of crowded life, comes an odor of emptiness and decay mingling with th_mell of honey. There are no longer sentinels sounding the alarm with thei_bdomens raised, and ready to die in defense of the hive. There is no longe_he measured quiet sound of throbbing activity, like the sound of boilin_ater, but diverse discordant sounds of disorder. In and out of the hive lon_lack robber bees smeared with honey fly timidly and shiftily. They do no_ting, but crawl away from danger. Formerly only bees laden with honey fle_nto the hive, and they flew out empty; now they fly out laden. The beekeepe_pens the lower part of the hive and peers in. Instead of black, gloss_ees—tamed by toil, clinging to one another's legs and drawing out the wax,
with a ceaseless hum of labor- that used to hang in long clusters down to th_loor of the hive, drowsy shriveled bees crawl about separately in variou_irections on the floor and walls of the hive. Instead of a neatly glue_loor, swept by the bees with the fanning of their wings, there is a floo_ittered with bits of wax, excrement, dying bees scarcely moving their legs,
and dead ones that have not been cleared away.
The beekeeper opens the upper part of the hive and examines the super. Instea_f serried rows of bees sealing up every gap in the combs and keeping th_rood warm, he sees the skillful complex structures of the combs, but n_onger in their former state of purity. All is neglected and foul. Blac_obber bees are swiftly and stealthily prowling about the combs, and the shor_ome bees, shriveled and listless as if they were old, creep slowly abou_ithout trying to hinder the robbers, having lost all motive and all sense o_ife. Drones, bumblebees, wasps, and butterflies knock awkwardly against th_alls of the hive in their flight. Here and there among the cells containin_ead brood and honey an angry buzzing can sometimes be heard. Here and there _ouple of bees, by force of habit and custom cleaning out the brood cells,
with efforts beyond their strength laboriously drag away a dead bee o_umblebee without knowing why they do it. In another corner two old bees ar_anguidly fighting, or cleaning themselves, or feeding one another, withou_hemselves knowing whether they do it with friendly or hostile intent. In _hird place a crowd of bees, crushing one another, attack some victim an_ight and smother it, and the victim, enfeebled or killed, drops from abov_lowly and lightly as a feather, among the heap of corpses. The keeper open_he two center partitions to examine the brood cells. In place of the forme_lose dark circles formed by thousands of bees sitting back to back an_uarding the high mystery of generation, he sees hundreds of dull, listless,
and sleepy shells of bees. They have almost all died unawares, sitting in th_anctuary they had guarded and which is now no more. They reek of decay an_eath. Only a few of them still move, rise, and feebly fly to settle on th_nemy's hand, lacking the spirit to die stinging him; the rest are dead an_all as lightly as fish scales. The beekeeper closes the hive, chalks a mar_n it, and when he has time tears out its contents and burns it clean.
So in the same way Moscow was empty when Napoleon, weary, uneasy, and morose,
paced up and down in front of the Kammer-Kollezski rampart, awaiting what t_is mind was a necessary, if but formal, observance of the proprieties—_eputation.
In various corners of Moscow there still remained a few people aimlessl_oving about, following their old habits and hardly aware of what they wer_oing.
When with due circumspection Napoleon was informed that Moscow was empty, h_ooked angrily at his informant, turned away, and silently continued to wal_o and fro.
"My carriage!" he said.
He took his seat beside the aide-de-camp on duty and drove into the suburb.
"Moscow deserted!" he said to himself. "What an incredible event!"
He did not drive into the town, but put up at an inn in the Dorogomilo_uburb.