When the French officer went into the room with Pierre the latter agai_hought it his duty to assure him that he was not French and wished to g_way, but the officer would not hear of it. He was so very polite, amiable, good-natured, and genuinely grateful to Pierre for saving his life that Pierr_ad not the heart to refuse, and sat down with him in the parlor—the firs_oom they entered. To Pierre's assurances that he was not a Frenchman, th_aptain, evidently not understanding how anyone could decline so flattering a_ppellation, shrugged his shoulders and said that if Pierre absolutel_nsisted on passing for a Russian let it be so, but for all that he would b_orever bound to Pierre by gratitude for saving his life.
Had this man been endowed with the slightest capacity for perceiving th_eelings of others, and had he at all understood what Pierre's feelings were, the latter would probably have left him, but the man's animated obtuseness t_verything other than himself disarmed Pierre.
"A Frenchman or a Russian prince incognito," said the officer, looking a_ierre's fine though dirty linen and at the ring on his finger. "I owe my lif_o you and offer you my friendship. A Frenchman never forgets either an insul_r a service. I offer you my friendship. That is all I can say."
There was so much good nature and nobility (in the French sense of the word) in the officer's voice, in the expression of his face and in his gestures, that Pierre, unconsciously smiling in response to the Frenchman's smile, pressed the hand held out to him.
"Captain Ramballe, of the 13th Light Regiment, Chevalier of the Legion o_onor for the affair on the seventh of September," he introduced himself, _elf-satisfied irrepressible smile puckering his lips under his mustache.
"Will you now be so good as to tell me with
whom I have the honor of conversing so pleasantly, instead of being in th_mbulance with that maniac's bullet in my body?"
Pierre replied that he could not tell him his name and, blushing, began to tr_o invent a name and to say something about his reason for concealing it, bu_he Frenchman hastily interrupted him.
"Oh, please!" said he. "I understand your reasons. You are an officer… _uperior officer perhaps. You have borne arms against us. That's not m_usiness. I owe you my life. That is enough for me. I am quite at you_ervice. You belong to the gentry?" he concluded with a shade of inquiry i_is tone. Pierre bent his head. "Your baptismal name, if you please. That i_ll I ask. Monsieur Pierre, you say… . That's all I want to know."
When the mutton and an omelet had been served and a samovar and vodka brought, with some wine which the French had taken from a Russian cellar and brough_ith them, Ramballe invited Pierre to share his dinner, and himself began t_at greedily and quickly like a healthy and hungry man, munching his foo_apidly with his strong teeth, continually smacking his lips, an_epeating—"Excellent! Delicious!" His face grew red and was covered wit_erspiration. Pierre was hungry and shared the dinner with pleasure. Morel, the orderly, brought some hot water in a saucepan and placed a bottle o_laret in it. He also brought a bottle of kvass, taken from the kitchen fo_hem to try. That beverage was already known to the French and had been give_ special name. They called it limonade de cochon (pig's lemonade), and More_poke well of the limonade de cochon he had found in the kitchen. But as th_aptain had the wine they had taken while passing through Moscow, he left th_vass to Morel and applied himself to the bottle of Bordeaux. He wrapped th_ottle up to its neck in a table napkin and poured out wine for himself an_or Pierre. The satisfaction of his hunger and the wine rendered the captai_till more lively and he chatted incessantly all through dinner.
"Yes, my dear Monsieur Pierre, I owe you a fine votive candle for saving m_rom that maniac… . You see, I have bullets enough in my body already. Here i_ne I got at Wagram" (he touched his side) "and a second at Smolensk"—h_howed a scar on his cheek—"and this leg which as you see does not want t_arch, I got that on the seventh at the great battle of la Moskowa. Sacr_ieu! It was splendid! That deluge of fire was worth seeing. It was a toug_ob you set us there, my word! You may be proud of it! And on my honor, i_pite of the cough I caught there, I should be ready to begin again. I pit_hose who did not see it."
"I was there," said Pierre.
"Bah, really? So much the better! You are certainly brave foes. The grea_edoubt held out well, by my pipe!" continued the Frenchman. "And you made u_ay dear for it. I was at it three times—sure as I sit here. Three times w_eached the guns and three times we were thrown back like cardboard figures.
Oh, it was beautiful, Monsieur Pierre! Your grenadiers were splendid, b_eaven! I saw them close up their ranks six times in succession and march a_f on parade. Fine fellows! Our King of Naples, who knows what's what, cried
'Bravo!' Ha, ha! So you are one of us soldiers!" he added, smiling, after _omentary pause. "So much the better, so much the better, Monsieur Pierre!
Terrible in battle… gallant… with the fair" (he winked and smiled), "that'_hat the French are, Monsieur Pierre, aren't they?"
The captain was so naively and good-humoredly gay, so real, and so please_ith himself that Pierre almost winked back as he looked merrily at him.
Probably the word "gallant" turned the captain's thoughts to the state o_oscow.
"Apropos, tell me please, is it true that the women have all left Moscow? Wha_ queer idea! What had they to be afraid of?"
"Would not the French ladies leave Paris if the Russians entered it?" aske_ierre.
"Ha, ha, ha!" The Frenchman emitted a merry, sanguine chuckle, patting Pierr_n the shoulder. "What a thing to say!" he exclaimed. "Paris?… But Paris, Paris… "
"Paris—the capital of the world," Pierre finished his remark for him.
The captain looked at Pierre. He had a habit of stopping short in the middl_f his talk and gazing intently with his laughing, kindly eyes.
"Well, if you hadn't told me you were Russian, I should have wagered that yo_ere Parisian! You have that… I don't know what, that… " and having uttere_his compliment, he again gazed at him in silence.
"I have been in Paris. I spent years there," said Pierre.
"Oh yes, one sees that plainly. Paris!… A man who doesn't know Paris is _avage. You can tell a Parisian two leagues off. Paris is Talma, la Duchenois, Potier, the Sorbonne, the boulevards," and noticing that his conclusion wa_eaker than what had gone before, he added quickly: "There is only one Pari_n the world. You have been to Paris and have remained Russian. Well, I don'_steem you the less for it."
Under the influence of the wine he had drunk, and after the days he had spen_lone with his depressing thoughts, Pierre involuntarily enjoyed talking wit_his cheerful and good-natured man.
"To return to your ladies—I hear they are lovely. What a wretched idea to g_nd bury themselves in the steppes when the French army is in Moscow. What _hance those girls have missed! Your peasants, now—that's another thing; bu_ou civilized people, you ought to know us better than that. We took Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Naples, Rome, Warsaw, all the world's capitals… . We ar_eared, but we are loved. We are nice to know. And then the Emperor… " h_egan, but Pierre interrupted him.
"The Emperor," Pierre repeated, and his face suddenly became sad an_mbarrassed, "is the Emperor… ?"
"The Emperor? He is generosity, mercy, justice, order, genius- that's what th_mperor is! It is I, Ramballe, who tell you so… . I assure you I was his enem_ight years ago. My father was an emigrant count… . But that man ha_anquished me. He has taken hold of me. I could not resist the sight of th_randeur and glory with which he has covered France. When I understood what h_anted—when I saw that he was preparing a bed of laurels for us, you know, _aid to myself: 'That is a monarch,' and I devoted myself to him! So there! O_es, mon cher, he is the greatest man of the ages past or future."
"Is he in Moscow?" Pierre stammered with a guilty look.
The Frenchman looked at his guilty face and smiled.
"No, he will make his entry tomorrow," he replied, and continued his talk.
Their conversation was interrupted by the cries of several voices at the gat_nd by Morel, who came to say that some Wurttemberg hussars had come an_anted to put up their horses in the yard where the captain's horses were.
This difficulty had arisen chiefly because the hussars did not understand wha_as said to them in French.
The captain had their senior sergeant called in, and in a stern voice aske_im to what regiment he belonged, who was his commanding officer, and by wha_ight he allowed himself to claim quarters that were already occupied. Th_erman who knew little French, answered the two first questions by giving th_ames of his regiment and of his commanding officer, but in reply to the thir_uestion which he did not understand said, introducing broken French into hi_wn German, that he was the quartermaster of the regiment and his commande_ad ordered him to occupy all the houses one after another. Pierre, who kne_erman, translated what the German said to the captain and gave the captain'_eply to the Wurttemberg hussar in German. When he had understood what wa_aid to him, the German submitted and took his men elsewhere. The captain wen_ut into the porch and gave some orders in a loud voice.
When he returned to the room Pierre was sitting in the same place as before, with his head in his hands. His face expressed suffering. He really wa_uffering at that moment. When the captain went out and he was left alone, suddenly he came to himself and realized the position he was in. It was no_hat Moscow had been taken or that the happy conquerors were masters in it an_ere patronizing him. Painful as that was it was not that which tormente_ierre at the moment. He was tormented by the consciousness of his ow_eakness. The few glasses of wine he had drunk and the conversation with thi_ood-natured man had destroyed the mood of concentrated gloom in which he ha_pent the last few days and which was essential for the execution of hi_esign. The pistol, dagger, and peasant coat were ready. Napoleon was to ente_he town next day. Pierre still considered that it would be a useful an_orthy action to slay the evildoer, but now he felt that he would not do it.
He did not know why, but he felt a foreboding that he would not carry out hi_ntention. He struggled against the confession of his weakness but dimly fel_hat he could not overcome it and that his former gloomy frame of mind, concerning vengeance, killing, and self-sacrifice, had been dispersed lik_ust by contact with the first man he met.
The captain returned to the room, limping slightly and whistling a tune.
The Frenchman's chatter which had previously amused Pierre now repelled him.
The tune he was whistling, his gait, and the gesture with which he twirled hi_ustache, all now seemed offensive. "I will go away immediately. I won't sa_nother word to him," thought Pierre. He thought this, but still sat in th_ame place. A strange feeling of weakness tied him to the spot; he wished t_et up and go away, but could not do so.
The captain, on the other hand, seemed very cheerful. He paced up and down th_oom twice. His eyes shone and his mustache twitched as if he were smiling t_imself at some amusing thought.
"The colonel of those Wurttembergers is delightful," he suddenly said. "He's _erman, but a nice fellow all the same… . But he's a German." He sat dow_acing Pierre. "By the way, you know German, then?"
Pierre looked at him in silence.
"What is the German for 'shelter'?"
"Shelter?" Pierre repeated. "The German for shelter is Unterkunft."
"How do you say it?" the captain asked quickly and doubtfully.
"Unterkunft," Pierre repeated.
"Onterkoff," said the captain and looked at Pierre for some seconds wit_aughing eyes. "These Germans are first-rate fools, don't you think so, Monsieur Pierre?" he concluded.
"Well, let's have another bottle of this Moscow Bordeaux, shall we? Morel wil_arm us up another little bottle. Morel!" he called out gaily.
Morel brought candles and a bottle of wine. The captain looked at Pierre b_he candlelight and was evidently struck by the troubled expression on hi_ompanion's face. Ramballe, with genuine distress and sympathy in his face, went up to Pierre and bent over him.
"There now, we're sad," said he, touching Pierre's hand. "Have I upset you?
No, really, have you anything against me?" he asked Pierre. "Perhaps it's th_tate of affairs?"
Pierre did not answer, but looked cordially into the Frenchman's eyes whos_xpression of sympathy was pleasing to him.
"Honestly, without speaking of what I owe you, I feel friendship for you. Ca_ do anything for you? Dispose of me. It is for life and death. I say it wit_y hand on my heart!" said he, striking his chest.
"Thank you," said Pierre.
The captain gazed intently at him as he had done when he learned that
"shelter" was Unterkunft in German, and his face suddenly brightened.
"Well, in that case, I drink to our friendship!" he cried gaily, filling tw_lasses with wine.
Pierre took one of the glasses and emptied it. Ramballe emptied his too, agai_ressed Pierre's hand, and leaned his elbows on the table in a pensiv_ttitude.
"Yes, my dear friend," he began, "such is fortune's caprice. Who would hav_aid that I should be a soldier and a captain of dragoons in the service o_onaparte, as we used to call him? Yet here I am in Moscow with him. I mus_ell you, mon cher," he continued in the sad and measured tones of a man wh_ntends to tell a long story, "that our name is one of the most ancient i_rance."
And with a Frenchman's easy and naive frankness the captain told Pierre th_tory of his ancestors, his childhood, youth, and manhood, and all about hi_elations and his financial and family affairs, "ma pauvre mere" playing o_ourse an important part in the story.
"But all that is only life's setting, the real thing is love- love! Am I no_ight, Monsieur Pierre?" said he, growing animated. "Another glass?"
Pierre again emptied his glass and poured himself out a third.
"Oh, women, women!" and the captain, looking with glistening eyes at Pierre, began talking of love and of his love affairs.
There were very many of these, as one could easily believe, looking at th_fficer's handsome, self-satisfied face, and noting the eager enthusiasm wit_hich he spoke of women. Though all Ramballe's love stories had the sensua_haracter which Frenchmen regard as the special charm and poetry of love, ye_e told his story with such sincere conviction that he alone had experience_nd known all the charm of love and he described women so alluringly tha_ierre listened to him with curiosity.
It was plain that l'amour which the Frenchman was so fond of was not that lo_nd simple kind that Pierre had once felt for his wife, nor was it th_omantic love stimulated by himself that he experienced for Natasha. (Ramball_espised both these kinds of love equally: the one he considered the "love o_lodhoppers" and the other the "love of simpletons.") L'amour which th_renchman worshiped consisted principally in the unnaturalness of his relatio_o the woman and in a combination of incongruities giving the chief charm t_he feeling.
Thus the captain touchingly recounted the story of his love for a fascinatin_arquise of thirty-five and at the same time for a charming, innocent child o_eventeen, daughter of the bewitching marquise. The conflict of magnanimit_etween the mother and the daughter, ending in the mother's sacrificin_erself and offering her daughter in marriage to her lover, even now agitate_he captain, though it was the memory of a distant past. Then he recounted a_pisode in which the husband played the part of the lover, and he—th_over—assumed the role of the husband, as well as several droll incidents fro_is recollections of Germany, where "shelter" is called Unterkunft and wher_he husbands eat sauerkraut and the young girls are "too blonde."
Finally, the latest episode in Poland still fresh in the captain's memory, an_hich he narrated with rapid gestures and glowing face, was of how he ha_aved the life of a Pole (in general, the saving of life continually occurre_n the captain's stories) and the Pole had entrusted to him his enchantin_ife (parisienne de coeur) while himself entering the French service. Th_aptain was happy, the enchanting Polish lady wished to elope with him, but, prompted by magnanimity, the captain restored the wife to the husband, sayin_s he did so: "I have saved your life, and I save your honor!" Having repeate_hese words the captain wiped his eyes and gave himself a shake, as if drivin_way the weakness which assailed him at this touching recollection.
Listening to the captain's tales, Pierre—as often happens late in the evenin_nd under the influence of wine—followed all that was told him, understood i_ll, and at the same time followed a train of personal memories which, he kne_ot why, suddenly arose in his mind. While listening to these love stories hi_wn love for Natasha unexpectedly rose to his mind, and going over th_ictures of that love in his imagination he mentally compared them wit_amballe's tales. Listening to the story of the struggle between love an_uty, Pierre saw before his eyes every minutest detail of his last meetin_ith the object of his love at the Sukharev water tower. At the time of tha_eeting it had not produced an effect upon him—he had not even once recalle_t. But now it seemed to him that that meeting had had in it something ver_mportant and poetic.
"Peter Kirilovich, come here! We have recognized you," he now seemed to hea_he words she had uttered and to see before him her eyes, her smile, he_raveling hood, and a stray lock of her hair… and there seemed to hi_omething pathetic and touching in all this.
Having finished his tale about the enchanting Polish lady, the captain aske_ierre if he had ever experienced a similar impulse to sacrifice himself fo_ove and a feeling of envy of the legitimate husband.
Challenged by this question Pierre raised his head and felt a need to expres_he thoughts that filled his mind. He began to explain that he understood lov_or a women somewhat differently. He said that in all his life he had love_nd still loved only one woman, and that she could never be his.
"Tiens!" said the captain.
Pierre then explained that he had loved this woman from his earliest years, but that he had not dared to think of her because she was too young, an_ecause he had been an illegitimate son without a name. Afterwards when he ha_eceived a name and wealth he dared not think of her because he loved her to_ell, placing her far above everything in the world, and especially therefor_bove himself.
When he had reached this point, Pierre asked the captain whether he understoo_hat.
The captain made a gesture signifying that even if he did not understand it h_egged Pierre to continue.
"Platonic love, clouds… " he muttered.
Whether it was the wine he had drunk, or an impulse of frankness, or th_hought that this man did not, and never would, know any of those who played _art in his story, or whether it was all these things together, somethin_oosened Pierre's tongue. Speaking thickly and with a faraway look in hi_hining eyes, he told the whole story of his life: his marriage, Natasha'_ove for his best friend, her betrayal of him, and all his own simpl_elations with her. Urged on by Ramballe's questions he also told what he ha_t first concealed—his own position and even his name.
More than anything else in Pierre's story the captain was impressed by th_act that Pierre was very rich, had two mansions in Moscow, and that he ha_bandoned everything and not left the city, but remained there concealing hi_ame and station.
When it was late at night they went out together into the street. The nigh_as warm and light. To the left of the house on the Pokrovka a fire glowed—th_irst of those that were beginning in Moscow. To the right and high up in th_ky was the sickle of the waning moon and opposite to it hung that brigh_omet which was connected in Pierre's heart with his love. At the gate stoo_erasim, the cook, and two Frenchmen. Their laughter and their mutuall_ncomprehensible remarks in two languages could be heard. They were looking a_he glow seen in the town.
There was nothing terrible in the one small, distant fire in the immense city.
Gazing at the high starry sky, at the moon, at the comet, and at the glow fro_he fire, Pierre experienced a joyful emotion. "There now, how good it is, what more does one need?" thought he. And suddenly remembering his intentio_e grew dizzy and felt so faint that he leaned against the fence to sav_imself from falling.
Without taking leave of his new friend, Pierre left the gate with unstead_teps and returning to his room lay down on the sofa and immediately fel_sleep.