Pierre, having decided that until he had carried out his design he woul_isclose neither his identity nor his knowledge of French, stood at the half-
open door of the corridor, intending to conceal himself as soon as the Frenc_ntered. But the French entered and still Pierre did not retire—a_rresistible curiosity kept him there.
There were two of them. One was an officer—a tall, soldierly, handsome man—th_ther evidently a private or an orderly, sunburned, short, and thin, wit_unken cheeks and a dull expression. The officer walked in front, leaning on _tick and slightly limping. When he had advanced a few steps he stopped,
having apparently decided that these were good quarters, turned round to th_oldiers standing at the entrance, and in a loud voice of command ordered the_o put up the horses. Having done that, the officer, lifting his elbow with _mart gesture, stroked his mustache and lightly touched his hat.
"Bonjour, la compagnie!"[](footnotes.xml#footnote_100) said he gaily,
smiling and looking about him. No one gave any reply. "Vous etes l_ourgeois?"[](footnotes.xml#footnote_101) the officer asked Gerasim.
Gerasim gazed at the officer with an alarmed and inquiring look. "Quartier,
quartier, logement!" said the officer, looking down at the little man with _ondescending and good-natured smile. "Les francais sont de bons enfants. Qu_iable! Voyons! Ne nous fachons pas, mo_ieux!"[](footnotes.xml#footnote_102) added he, clapping the scared an_ilent Gerasim on the shoulder. "Well, does no one speak French in thi_stablishment?" he asked again in French, looking around and meeting Pierre'_yes. Pierre moved away from the door. Again the officer turned to Gerasim an_sked him to show him the rooms in the house. "Master, not here—don'_nderstand… me, you… " said Gerasim, trying to render his words mor_omprehensible by contorting them. Still smiling, the French officer sprea_ut his hands before Gerasim's nose, intimating that he did not understand hi_ither, and moved, limping, to the door at which Pierre was standing. Pierr_ished to go away and conceal himself, but at that moment he saw Maka_lexeevich appearing at the open kitchen door with the pistol in his hand.
With a madman's cunning, Makar Alexeevich eyed the Frenchman, raised hi_istol, and took aim. "Board them!" yelled the tipsy man, trying to press th_rigger. Hearing the yell the officer turned round, and at the same momen_ierre threw himself on the drunkard. Just when Pierre snatched at and struc_p the pistol Makar Alexeevich at last got his fingers on the trigger, ther_as a deafening report, and all were enveloped in a cloud of smoke. Th_renchman turned pale and rushed to the door. Forgetting his intention o_oncealing his knowledge of French, Pierre, snatching away the pistol an_hrowing it down, ran up to the officer and addressed him in French. "You ar_ot wounded?" he asked. "I think not," answered the Frenchman, feeling himsel_ver. "But I have had a lucky escape this time," he added, pointing to th_amaged plaster of the wall. "Who is that man?" said he, looking sternly a_ierre. "Oh, I am really in despair at what has occurred," said Pierr_apidly, quite forgetting the part he had intended to play. "He is a_nfortunate madman who did not know what he was doing." The officer went up t_akar Alexeevich and took him by the collar. Makar Alexeevich was standin_ith parted lips, swaying, as if about to fall asleep, as he leaned agains_he wall. "Brigand! You shall pay for this," said the Frenchman, letting go o_im. "We French are merciful after victory, but we do not pardon traitors," h_dded, with a look of gloomy dignity and a fine energetic gesture. Pierr_ontinued, in French, to persuade the officer not to hold that drunke_mbecile to account. The Frenchman listened in silence with the same gloom_xpression, but suddenly turned to Pierre with a smile. For a few seconds h_ooked at him in silence. His handsome face assumed a melodramatically gentl_xpression and he held out his hand. "You have saved my life. You are French,"
said he. For a Frenchman that deduction was indubitable. Only a Frenchma_ould perform a great deed, and to save his life—the life of M. Ramballe,
captain of the 13th Light Regiment—was undoubtedly a very great deed. Bu_owever indubitable that conclusion and the officer's conviction based upo_t, Pierre felt it necessary to disillusion him. "I am Russian," he sai_uickly. "Tut, tut, tut! Tell that to others," said the officer, waving hi_inger before his nose and smiling. "You shall tell me all about tha_resently. I am delighted to meet a compatriot. Well, and what are we to d_ith this man?" he added, addressing himself to Pierre as to a brother. Eve_f Pierre were not a Frenchman, having once received that loftiest of huma_ppellations he could not renounce it, said the officer's look and tone. I_eply to his last question Pierre again explained who Makar Alexeevich was an_ow just before their arrival that drunken imbecile had seized the loade_istol which they had not had time to recover from him, and begged the office_o let the deed go unpunished. The Frenchman expanded his chest and made _ajestic gesture with his arm. "You have saved my life! You are French. Yo_sk his pardon? I grant it you. Lead that man away!" said he quickly an_nergetically, and taking the arm of Pierre whom he had promoted to be _renchman for saving his life, he went with him into the room. The soldiers i_he yard, hearing the shot, came into the passage asking what had happened,
and expressed their readiness to punish the culprits, but the officer sternl_hecked them. "You will be called in when you are wanted," he said. Th_oldiers went out again, and the orderly, who had meanwhile had time to visi_he kitchen, came up to his officer. "Captain, there is soup and a leg o_utton in the kitchen," said he. "Shall I serve them up?" "Yes, and som_ine," answered the captain.