Toward the end of the battle of Borodino, Pierre, having run down fro_aevski's battery a second time, made his way through a gully to Knyazkov_ith a crowd of soldiers, reached the dressing station, and seeing blood an_earing cries and groans hurried on, still entangled in the crowds o_oldiers.
The one thing he now desired with his whole soul was to get away quickly fro_he terrible sensations amid which he had lived that day and return t_rdinary conditions of life and sleep quietly in a room in his own bed. H_elt that only in the ordinary conditions of life would he be able t_nderstand himself and all he had seen and felt. But such ordinary condition_f life were nowhere to be found.
Though shells and bullets did not whistle over the road along which he wa_oing, still on all sides there was what there had been on the field o_attle. There were still the same suffering, exhausted, and sometime_trangely indifferent faces, the same blood, the same soldiers' overcoats, th_ame sounds of firing which, though distant now, still aroused terror, an_esides this there were the foul air and the dust.
Having gone a couple of miles along the Mozhaysk road, Pierre sat down by th_oadside.
Dusk had fallen, and the roar of guns died away. Pierre lay leaning on hi_lbow for a long time, gazing at the shadows that moved past him in th_arkness. He was continually imagining that a cannon ball was flying towar_im with a terrific whizz, and then he shuddered and sat up. He had no ide_ow long he had been there. In the middle of the night three soldiers, havin_rought some firewood, settled down near him and began lighting a fire.
The soldiers, who threw sidelong glances at Pierre, got the fire to burn an_laced an iron pot on it into which they broke some dried bread and put _ittle dripping. The pleasant odor of greasy viands mingled with the smell o_moke. Pierre sat up and sighed. The three soldiers were eating and talkin_mong themselves, taking no notice of him.
"And who may you be?" one of them suddenly asked Pierre, evidently meanin_hat Pierre himself had in mind, namely: "If you want to eat we'll give yo_ome food, only let us know whether you are an honest man."
"I, I… " said Pierre, feeling it necessary to minimize his social position a_uch as possible so as to be nearer to the soldiers and better understood b_hem. "By rights I am a militia officer, but my men are not here. I came t_he battle and have lost them."
"There now!" said one of the soldiers.
Another shook his head.
"Would you like a little mash?" the first soldier asked, and handed Pierre _ooden spoon after licking it clean.
Pierre sat down by the fire and began eating the mash, as they called the foo_n the cauldron, and he thought it more delicious than any food he had eve_asted. As he sat bending greedily over it, helping himself to large spoonful_nd chewing one after another, his was lit up by the fire and the soldier_ooked at him in silence.
"Where have you to go to? Tell us!" said one of them.
"You're a gentleman, aren't you?"
"And what's your name?"
"Well then, Peter Kirilych, come along with us, we'll take you there."
In the total darkness the soldiers walked with Pierre to Mozhaysk.
By the time they got near Mozhaysk and began ascending the steep hill into th_own, the cocks were already crowing. Pierre went on with the soldiers, quit_orgetting that his inn was at the bottom of the hill and that he had alread_assed it. He would not soon have remembered this, such was his state o_orgetfulness, had he not halfway up the hill stumbled upon his groom, who ha_een to look for him in the town and was returning to the inn. The groo_ecognized Pierre in the darkness by his white hat.
"Your excellency!" he said. "Why, we were beginning to despair! How is it yo_re on foot? And where are you going, please?"
"Oh, yes!" said Pierre.
The soldiers stopped.
"So you've found your folk?" said one of them. "Well, good-by, Pete_irilych—isn't it?"
"Good-by, Peter Kirilych!" Pierre heard the other voices repeat.
"Good-by!" he said and turned with his groom toward the inn.
"I ought to give them something!" he thought, and felt in his pocket. "No,
better not!" said another, inner voice.
There was not a room to be had at the inn, they were all occupied. Pierre wen_ut into the yard and, covering himself up head and all, lay down in hi_arriage.