Berg, the Rostovs' son-in-law, was already a colonel wearing the orders of Vladimir and Anna, and he still filled the quiet and agreeable post of assistant to the head of the staff of the assistant commander of the first division of the Second Army.
On the first of September he had come to Moscow from the army.
He had nothing to do in Moscow, but he had noticed that everyone in the army was asking for leave to visit Moscow and had something to do there. So he considered it necessary to ask for leave of absence for family and domestic reasons.
Berg drove up to his father-in-law's house in his spruce little trap with a pair of sleek roans, exactly like those of a certain prince. He looked attentively at the carts in the yard and while going up to the porch took out a clean pocket handkerchief and tied a knot in it.
From the anteroom Berg ran with smooth though impatient steps into the drawing room, where he embraced the count, kissed the hands of Natasha and Sonya, and hastened to inquire after "Mamma's" health.
"Health, at a time like this?" said the count. "Come, tell us the news! Is the army retreating or will there be another battle?"
"God Almighty alone can decide the fate of our fatherland, Papa," said Berg. "The army is burning with a spirit of heroism and the leaders, so to say, have now assembled in council. No one knows what is coming. But in general I can tell you, Papa, that such a heroic spirit, the truly antique valor of the Russian army, which they--which it" (he corrected himself) "has shown or displayed in the battle of the twenty-sixth--there are no words worthy to do it justice! I tell you, Papa" (he smote himself on the breast as a general he had heard speaking had done, but Berg did it a trifle late for he should have struck his breast at the words "Russian army"), "I tell you frankly that we, the commanders, far from having to urge the men on or anything of that kind, could hardly restrain those... those... yes, those exploits of antique valor," he went on rapidly. "General Barclay de Tolly risked his life everywhere at the head of the troops, I can assure you. Our corps was stationed on a hillside. You can imagine!"
And Berg related all that he remembered of the various tales he had heard those days. Natasha watched him with an intent gaze that confused him, as if she were trying to find in his face the answer to some question.
"Altogether such heroism as was displayed by the Russian warriors cannot be imagined or adequately praised!" said Berg, glancing round at Natasha, and as if anxious to conciliate her, replying to her intent look with a smile. "'Russia is not in Moscow, she lives in the hearts of her sons!' Isn't it so, Papa?" said he.
Just then the countess came in from the sitting room with a weary and dissatisfied expression. Berg hurriedly jumped up, kissed her hand, asked about her health, and, swaying his head from side to side to express sympathy, remained standing beside her.
"Yes, Mamma, I tell you sincerely that these are hard and sad times for every Russian. But why are you so anxious? You have still time to get away...."
"I can't think what the servants are about," said the countess, turning to her husband. "I have just been told that nothing is ready yet. Somebody after all must see to things. One misses Mitenka at such times. There won't be any end to it."
The count was about to say something, but evidently restrained himself. He got up from his chair and went to the door.
At that moment Berg drew out his handkerchief as if to blow his nose and, seeing the knot in it, pondered, shaking his head sadly and significantly.
"And I have a great favor to ask of you, Papa," said he.
"Hm..." said the count, and stopped.
"I was driving past Yusupov's house just now," said Berg with a laugh, "when the steward, a man I know, ran out and asked me whether I wouldn't buy something. I went in out of curiosity, you know, and there is a small chiffonier and a dressing table. You know how dear Vera wanted a chiffonier like that and how we had a dispute about it." (At the mention of the chiffonier and dressing table Berg involuntarily changed his tone to one of pleasure at his admirable domestic arrangements.) "And it's such a beauty! It pulls out and has a secret English drawer, you know! And dear Vera has long wanted one. I wish to give her a surprise, you see. I saw so many of those peasant carts in your yard. Please let me have one, I will pay the man well, and..."
The count frowned and coughed.
"Ask the countess, I don't give orders."
"If it's inconvenient, please don't," said Berg. "Only I so wanted it, for dear Vera's sake."
"Oh, go to the devil, all of you! To the devil, the devil, the devil..." cried the old count. "My head's in a whirl!"
And he left the room. The countess began to cry.
"Yes, Mamma! Yes, these are very hard times!" said Berg.
Natasha left the room with her father and, as if finding it difficult to reach some decision, first followed him and then ran downstairs.
Petya was in the porch, engaged in giving out weapons to the servants who were to leave Moscow. The loaded carts were still standing in the yard. Two of them had been uncorded and a wounded officer was climbing into one of them helped by an orderly.
"Do you know what it's about?" Petya asked Natasha.
She understood that he meant what were their parents quarreling about. She did not answer.
"It's because Papa wanted to give up all the carts to the wounded," said Petya. "Vasilich told me. I consider..."
"I consider," Natasha suddenly almost shouted, turning her angry face to Petya, "I consider it so horrid, so abominable, so... I don't know what. Are we despicable Germans?"
Her throat quivered with convulsive sobs and, afraid of weakening and letting the force of her anger run to waste, she turned and rushed headlong up the stairs.
Berg was sitting beside the countess consoling her with the respectful attention of a relative. The count, pipe in hand, was pacing up and down the room, when Natasha, her face distorted by anger, burst in like a tempest and approached her mother with rapid steps.
"It's horrid! It's abominable!" she screamed. "You can't possibly have ordered it!"
Berg and the countess looked at her, perplexed and frightened. The count stood still at the window and listened.
"Mamma, it's impossible: see what is going on in the yard!" she cried. "They will be left!..."
"What's the matter with you? Who are 'they'? What do you want?"
"Why, the wounded! It's impossible, Mamma. It's monstrous!... No, Mamma darling, it's not the thing. Please forgive me, darling.... Mamma, what does it matter what we take away? Only look what is going on in the yard... Mamma!... It's impossible!"
The count stood by the window and listened without turning round. Suddenly he sniffed and put his face closer to the window.
The countess glanced at her daughter, saw her face full of shame for her mother, saw her agitation, and understood why her husband did not turn to look at her now, and she glanced round quite disconcerted.
"Oh, do as you like! Am I hindering anyone?" she said, not surrendering at once.
"Mamma, darling, forgive me!"
But the countess pushed her daughter away and went up to her husband.
"My dear, you order what is right.... You know I don't understand about it," said she, dropping her eyes shamefacedly.
"The eggs... the eggs are teaching the hen," muttered the count through tears of joy, and he embraced his wife who was glad to hide her look of shame on his breast.
"Papa! Mamma! May I see to it? May I?..." asked Natasha. "We will still take all the most necessary things."
The count nodded affirmatively, and Natasha, at the rapid pace at which she used to run when playing at tag, ran through the ballroom to the anteroom and downstairs into the yard.
The servants gathered round Natasha, but could not believe the strange order she brought them until the count himself, in his wife's name, confirmed the order to give up all the carts to the wounded and take the trunks to the storerooms. When they understood that order the servants set to work at this new task with pleasure and zeal. It no longer seemed strange to them but on the contrary it seemed the only thing that could be done, just as a quarter of an hour before it had not seemed strange to anyone that the wounded should be left behind and the goods carted away but that had seemed the only thing to do.
The whole household, as if to atone for not having done it sooner, set eagerly to work at the new task of placing the wounded in the carts. The wounded dragged themselves out of their rooms and stood with pale but happy faces round the carts. The news that carts were to be had spread to the neighboring houses, from which wounded men began to come into the Rostovs' yard. Many of the wounded asked them not to unload the carts but only to let them sit on the top of the things. But the work of unloading, once started, could not be arrested. It seemed not to matter whether all or only half the things were left behind. Cases full of china, bronzes, pictures, and mirrors that had been so carefully packed the night before now lay about the yard, and still they went on searching for and finding possibilities of unloading this or that and letting the wounded have another and yet another cart.
"We can take four more men," said the steward. "They can have my trap, or else what is to become of them?"
"Let them have my wardrobe cart," said the countess. "Dunyasha can go with me in the carriage."
They unloaded the wardrobe cart and sent it to take wounded men from a house two doors off. The whole household, servants included, was bright and animated. Natasha was in a state of rapturous excitement such as she had not known for a long time.
"What could we fasten this onto?" asked the servants, trying to fix a trunk on the narrow footboard behind a carriage. "We must keep at least one cart."
"What's in it?" asked Natasha.
"The count's books."
"Leave it, Vasilich will put it away. It's not wanted."
The phaeton was full of people and there was a doubt as to where Count Peter could sit.
"On the box. You'll sit on the box, won't you, Petya?" cried Natasha.
Sonya too was busy all this time, but the aim of her efforts was quite different from Natasha's. She was putting away the things that had to be left behind and making a list of them as the countess wished, and she tried to get as much taken away with them as possible.
Before two o'clock in the afternoon the Rostovs' four carriages, packed full and with the horses harnessed, stood at the front door. One by one the carts with the wounded had moved out of the yard.
The caleche in which Prince Andrew was being taken attracted Sonya's attention as it passed the front porch. With the help of a maid she was arranging a seat for the countess in the huge high coach that stood at the entrance.
"Whose caleche is that?" she inquired, leaning out of the carriage window.
"Why, didn't you know, Miss?" replied the maid. "The wounded prince: he spent the night in our house and is going with us."
"But who is it? What's his name?"
"It's our intended that was--Prince Bolkonski himself! They say he is dying," replied the maid with a sigh.
Sonya jumped out of the coach and ran to the countess. The countess, tired out and already dressed in shawl and bonnet for her journey, was pacing up and down the drawing room, waiting for the household to assemble for the usual silent prayer with closed doors before starting. Natasha was not in the room.
"Mamma," said Sonya, "Prince Andrew is here, mortally wounded. He is going with us."
The countess opened her eyes in dismay and, seizing Sonya's arm, glanced around.
"Natasha?" she murmured.
At that moment this news had only one significance for both of them. They knew their Natasha, and alarm as to what would happen if she heard this news stifled all sympathy for the man they both liked.
"Natasha does not know yet, but he is going with us," said Sonya.
"You say he is dying?"
The countess put her arms around Sonya and began to cry.
"The ways of God are past finding out!" she thought, feeling that the Almighty Hand, hitherto unseen, was becoming manifest in all that was now taking place.
"Well, Mamma? Everything is ready. What's the matter?" asked Natasha, as with animated face she ran into the room.
"Nothing," answered the countess. "If everything is ready let us start."
And the countess bent over her reticule to hide her agitated face. Sonya embraced Natasha and kissed her.
Natasha looked at her inquiringly.
"What is it? What has happened?"
"Is it something very bad for me? What is it?" persisted Natasha with her quick intuition.
Sonya sighed and made no reply. The count, Petya, Madame Schoss, Mavra Kuzminichna, and Vasilich came into the drawing room and, having closed the doors, they all sat down and remained for some moments silently seated without looking at one another.
The count was the first to rise, and with a loud sigh crossed himself before the icon. All the others did the same. Then the count embraced Mavra Kuzminichna and Vasilich, who were to remain in Moscow, and while they caught at his hand and kissed his shoulder he patted their backs lightly with some vaguely affectionate and comforting words. The countess went into the oratory and there Sonya found her on her knees before the icons that had been left here and there hanging on the wall. (The most precious ones, with which some family tradition was connected, were being taken with them.)
In the porch and in the yard the men whom Petya had armed with swords and daggers, with trousers tucked inside their high boots and with belts and girdles tightened, were taking leave of those remaining behind.
As is always the case at a departure, much had been forgotten or put in the wrong place, and for a long time two menservants stood one on each side of the open door and the carriage steps waiting to help the countess in, while maids rushed with cushions and bundles from the house to the carriages, the caleche, the phaeton, and back again.
"They always will forget everything!" said the countess. "Don't you know I can't sit like that?"
And Dunyasha, with clenched teeth, without replying but with an aggrieved look on her face, hastily got into the coach to rearrange the seat.
"Oh, those servants!" said the count, swaying his head.
Efim, the old coachman, who was the only one the countess trusted to drive her, sat perched up high on the box and did not so much as glance round at what was going on behind him. From thirty years' experience he knew it would be some time yet before the order, "Be off, in God's name!" would be given him: and he knew that even when it was said he would be stopped once or twice more while they sent back to fetch something that had been forgotten, and even after that he would again be stopped and the countess herself would lean out of the window and beg him for the love of heaven to drive carefully down the hill. He knew all this and therefore waited calmly for what would happen, with more patience than the horses, especially the near one, the chestnut Falcon, who was pawing the ground and champing his bit. At last all were seated, the carriage steps were folded and pulled up, the door was shut, somebody was sent for a traveling case, and the countess leaned out and said what she had to say. Then Efim deliberately doffed his hat and began crossing himself. The postilion and all the other servants did the same. "Off, in God's name!" said Efim, putting on his hat. "Start!" The postilion started the horses, the off pole horse tugged at his collar, the high springs creaked, and the body of the coach swayed. The footman sprang onto the box of the moving coach which jolted as it passed out of the yard onto the uneven roadway; the other vehicles jolted in their turn, and the procession of carriages moved up the street. In the carriages, the caleche, and the phaeton, all crossed themselves as they passed the church opposite the house. Those who were to remain in Moscow walked on either side of the vehicles seeing the travelers off.
Rarely had Natasha experienced so joyful a feeling as now, sitting in the carriage beside the countess and gazing at the slowly receding walls of forsaken, agitated Moscow. Occasionally she leaned out of the carriage window and looked back and then forward at the long train of wounded in front of them. Almost at the head of the line she could see the raised hood of Prince Andrew's caleche. She did not know who was in it, but each time she looked at the procession her eyes sought that caleche. She knew it was right in front.
In Kudrino, from the Nikitski, Presnya, and Podnovinsk Streets came several other trains of vehicles similar to the Rostovs', and as they passed along the Sadovaya Street the carriages and carts formed two rows abreast.
As they were going round the Sukharev water tower Natasha, who was inquisitively and alertly scrutinizing the people driving or walking past, suddenly cried out in joyful surprise:
"Dear me! Mamma, Sonya, look, it's he!"
"Look! Yes, on my word, it's Bezukhov!" said Natasha, putting her head out of the carriage and staring at a tall, stout man in a coachman's long coat, who from his manner of walking and moving was evidently a gentleman in disguise, and who was passing under the arch of the Sukharev tower accompanied by a small, sallow-faced, beardless old man in a frieze coat.
"Yes, it really is Bezukhov in a coachman's coat, with a queer-looking old boy. Really," said Natasha, "look, look!"
"No, it's not he. How can you talk such nonsense?"
"Mamma," screamed Natasha, "I'll stake my head it's he! I assure you! Stop, stop!" she cried to the coachman.
But the coachman could not stop, for from the Meshchanski Street came more carts and carriages, and the Rostovs were being shouted at to move on and not block the way.
In fact, however, though now much farther off than before, the Rostovs all saw Pierre--or someone extraordinarily like him--in a coachman's coat, going down the street with head bent and a serious face beside a small, beardless old man who looked like a footman. That old man noticed a face thrust out of the carriage window gazing at them, and respectfully touching Pierre's elbow said something to him and pointed to the carriage. Pierre, evidently engrossed in thought, could not at first understand him. At length when he had understood and looked in the direction the old man indicated, he recognized Natasha, and following his first impulse stepped instantly and rapidly toward the coach. But having taken a dozen steps he seemed to remember something and stopped.
Natasha's face, leaning out of the window, beamed with quizzical kindliness.
"Peter Kirilovich, come here! We have recognized you! This is wonderful!" she cried, holding out her hand to him. "What are you doing? Why are you like this?"
Pierre took her outstretched hand and kissed it awkwardly as he walked along beside her while the coach still moved on.
"What is the matter, Count?" asked the countess in a surprised and commiserating tone.
"What? What? Why? Don't ask me," said Pierre, and looked round at Natasha whose radiant, happy expression--of which he was conscious without looking at her--filled him with enchantment.
"Are you remaining in Moscow, then?"
"In Moscow?" he said in a questioning tone. "Yes, in Moscow. Goodby!"
"Ah, if only I were a man? I'd certainly stay with you. How splendid!" said Natasha. "Mamma, if you'll let me, I'll stay!"
Pierre glanced absently at Natasha and was about to say something, but the countess interrupted him.
"You were at the battle, we heard."
"Yes, I was," Pierre answered. "There will be another battle tomorrow..." he began, but Natasha interrupted him.
"But what is the matter with you, Count? You are not like yourself...."
"Oh, don't ask me, don't ask me! I don't know myself. Tomorrow... But no! Good-by, good-by!" he muttered. "It's an awful time!" and dropping behind the carriage he stepped onto the pavement.
Natasha continued to lean out of the window for a long time, beaming at him with her kindly, slightly quizzical, happy smile.
For the last two days, ever since leaving home, Pierre had been living in the empty house of his deceased benefactor, Bazdeev. This is how it happened.
When he woke up on the morning after his return to Moscow and his interview with Count Rostopchin, he could not for some time make out where he was and what was expected of him. When he was informed that among others awaiting him in his reception room there was a Frenchman who had brought a letter from his wife, the Countess Helene, he felt suddenly overcome by that sense of confusion and hopelessness to which he was apt to succumb. He felt that everything was now at an end, all was in confusion and crumbling to pieces, that nobody was right or wrong, the future held nothing, and there was no escape from this position. Smiling unnaturally and muttering to himself, he first sat down on the sofa in an attitude of despair, then rose, went to the door of the reception room and peeped through the crack, returned flourishing his arms, and took up a book. His major-domo came in a second time to say that the Frenchman who had brought the letter from the countess was very anxious to see him if only for a minute, and that someone from Bazdeev's widow had called to ask Pierre to take charge of her husband's books, as she herself was leaving for the country.
"Oh, yes, in a minute; wait... or no! No, of course... go and say I will come directly," Pierre replied to the major-domo.
But as soon as the man had left the room Pierre took up his hat which was lying on the table and went out of his study by the other door. There was no one in the passage. He went along the whole length of this passage to the stairs and, frowning and rubbing his forehead with both hands, went down as far as the first landing. The hall porter was standing at the front door. From the landing where Pierre stood there was a second staircase leading to the back entrance. He went down that staircase and out into the yard. No one had seen him. But there were some carriages waiting, and as soon as Pierre stepped out of the gate the coachmen and the yard porter noticed him and raised their caps to him. When he felt he was being looked at he behaved like an ostrich which hides its head in a bush in order not to be seen: he hung his head and quickening his pace went down the street.
Of all the affairs awaiting Pierre that day the sorting of Joseph Bazdeev's books and papers appeared to him the most necessary.
He hired the first cab he met and told the driver to go to the Patriarch's Ponds, where the widow Bazdeev's house was.
Continually turning round to look at the rows of loaded carts that were making their way from all sides out of Moscow, and balancing his bulky body so as not to slip out of the ramshackle old vehicle, Pierre, experiencing the joyful feeling of a boy escaping from school, began to talk to his driver.
The man told him that arms were being distributed today at the Kremlin and that tomorrow everyone would be sent out beyond the Three Hills gates and a great battle would be fought there.
Having reached the Patriarch's Ponds Pierre found the Bazdeevs' house, where he had not been for a long time past. He went up to the gate. Gerasim, that sallow beardless old man Pierre had seen at Torzhok five years before with Joseph Bazdeev, came out in answer to his knock.
"At home?" asked Pierre.
"Owing to the present state of things Sophia Danilovna has gone to the Torzhok estate with the children, your excellency."
"I will come in all the same, I have to look through the books," said Pierre.
"Be so good as to step in. Makar Alexeevich, the brother of my late master--may the kingdom of heaven be his--has remained here, but he is in a weak state as you know," said the old servant.
Pierre knew that Makar Alexeevich was Joseph Bazdeev's half-insane brother and a hard drinker.
"Yes, yes, I know. Let us go in..." said Pierre and entered the house.
A tall, bald-headed old man with a red nose, wearing a dressing gown and with galoshes on his bare feet, stood in the anteroom. On seeing Pierre he muttered something angrily and went away along the passage.
"He was a very clever man but has now grown quite feeble, as your honor sees," said Gerasim. "Will you step into the study?" Pierre nodded. "As it was sealed up so it has remained, but Sophia Danilovna gave orders that if anyone should come from you they were to have the books."
Pierre went into that gloomy study which he had entered with such trepidation in his benefactor's lifetime. The room, dusty and untouched since the death of Joseph Bazdeev was now even gloomier.
Gerasim opened one of the shutters and left the room on tiptoe. Pierre went round the study, approached the cupboard in which the manuscripts were kept, and took out what had once been one of the most important, the holy of holies of the order. This was the authentic Scotch Acts with Bazdeev's notes and explanations. He sat down at the dusty writing table, and, having laid the manuscripts before him, opened them out, closed them, finally pushed them away, and resting his head on his hand sank into meditation.
Gerasim looked cautiously into the study several times and saw Pierre always sitting in the same attitude.
More than two hours passed and Gerasim took the liberty of making a slight noise at the door to attract his attention, but Pierre did not hear him.
"Is the cabman to be discharged, your honor?"
"Oh yes!" said Pierre, rousing himself and rising hurriedly. "Look here," he added, taking Gerasim by a button of his coat and looking down at the old man with moist, shining, and ecstatic eyes, "I say, do you know that there is going to be a battle tomorrow?"
"We heard so," replied the man.
"I beg you not to tell anyone who I am, and to do what I ask you."
"Yes, your excellency," replied Gerasim. "Will you have something to eat?"
"No, but I want something else. I want peasant clothes and a pistol," said Pierre, unexpectedly blushing.
"Yes, your excellency," said Gerasim after thinking for a moment.
All the rest of that day Pierre spent alone in his benefactor's study, and Gerasim heard him pacing restlessly from one corner to another and talking to himself. And he spent the night on a bed made up for him there.
Gerasim, being a servant who in his time had seen many strange things, accepted Pierre's taking up his residence in the house without surprise, and seemed pleased to have someone to wait on. That same evening--without even asking himself what they were wanted for--he procured a coachman's coat and cap for Pierre, and promised to get him the pistol next day. Makar Alexeevich came twice that evening shuffling along in his galoshes as far as the door and stopped and looked ingratiatingly at Pierre. But as soon as Pierre turned toward him he wrapped his dressing gown around him with a shamefaced and angry look and hurried away. It was when Pierre (wearing the coachman's coat which Gerasim had procured for him and had disinfected by steam) was on his way with the old man to buy the pistol at the Sukharev market that he met the Rostovs.
Kutuzov's order to retreat through Moscow to the Ryazan road was issued at night on the first of September.
The first troops started at once, and during the night they marched slowly and steadily without hurry. At daybreak, however, those nearing the town at the Dorogomilov bridge saw ahead of them masses of soldiers crowding and hurrying across the bridge, ascending on the opposite side and blocking the streets and alleys, while endless masses of troops were bearing down on them from behind, and an unreasoning hurry and alarm overcame them. They all rushed forward to the bridge, onto it, and to the fords and the boats. Kutuzov himself had driven round by side streets to the other side of Moscow.
By ten o'clock in the morning of the second of September, only the rear guard remained in the Dorogomilov suburb, where they had ample room. The main army was on the other side of Moscow or beyond it.
At that very time, at ten in the morning of the second of September, Napoleon was standing among his troops on the Poklonny Hill looking at the panorama spread out before him. From the twenty-sixth of August to the second of September, that is from the battle of Borodino to the entry of the French into Moscow, during the whole of that agitating, memorable week, there had been the extraordinary autumn weather that always comes as a surprise, when the sun hangs low and gives more heat than in spring, when everything shines so brightly in the rare clear atmosphere that the eyes smart, when the lungs are strengthened and refreshed by inhaling the aromatic autumn air, when even the nights are warm, and when in those dark warm nights, golden stars startle and delight us continually by falling from the sky.
At ten in the morning of the second of September this weather still held.
The brightness of the morning was magical. Moscow seen from the Poklonny Hill lay spaciously spread out with her river, her gardens, and her churches, and she seemed to be living her usual life, her cupolas glittering like stars in the sunlight.
The view of the strange city with its peculiar architecture, such as he had never seen before, filled Napoleon with the rather envious and uneasy curiosity men feel when they see an alien form of life that has no knowledge of them. This city was evidently living with the full force of its own life. By the indefinite signs which, even at a distance, distinguish a living body from a dead one, Napoleon from the Poklonny Hill perceived the throb of life in the town and felt, as it were, the breathing of that great and beautiful body.
Every Russian looking at Moscow feels her to be a mother; every foreigner who sees her, even if ignorant of her significance as the mother city, must feel her feminine character, and Napoleon felt it.
"Cette ville asiatique aux innombrables eglises, Moscou la sainte. La voila done enfin, cette fameuse ville! Il etait temps,"* said he, and dismounting he ordered a plan of Moscow to be spread out before him, and summoned Lelorgne d'Ideville, the interpreter.
*"That Asiatic city of the innumerable churches, holy Moscow! Here it is then at last, that famous city. It was high time."
"A town captured by the enemy is like a maid who has lost her honor," thought he (he had said so to Tuchkov at Smolensk). From that point of view he gazed at the Oriental beauty he had not seen before. It seemed strange to him that his long-felt wish, which had seemed unattainable, had at last been realized. In the clear morning light he gazed now at the city and now at the plan, considering its details, and the assurance of possessing it agitated and awed him.
"But could it be otherwise?" he thought. "Here is this capital at my feet. Where is Alexander now, and of what is he thinking? A strange, beautiful, and majestic city; and a strange and majestic moment! In what light must I appear to them!" thought he, thinking of his troops. "Here she is, the reward for all those fainthearted men," he reflected, glancing at those near him and at the troops who were approaching and forming up. "One word from me, one movement of my hand, and that ancient capital of the Tsars would perish. But my clemency is always ready to descend upon the vanquished. I must be magnanimous and truly great. But no, it can't be true that I am in Moscow," he suddenly thought. "Yet here she is lying at my feet, with her golden domes and crosses scintillating and twinkling in the sunshine. But I shall spare her. On the ancient monuments of barbarism and despotism I will inscribe great words of justice and mercy.... It is just this which Alexander will feel most painfully, I know him." (It seemed to Napoleon that the chief import of what was taking place lay in the personal struggle between himself and Alexander.) "From the height of the Kremlin--yes, there is the Kremlin, yes--I will give them just laws; I will teach them the meaning of true civilization, I will make generations of boyars remember their conqueror with love. I will tell the deputation that I did not, and do not, desire war, that I have waged war only against the false policy of their court; that I love and respect Alexander and that in Moscow I will accept terms of peace worthy of myself and of my people. I do not wish to utilize the fortunes of war to humiliate an honored monarch. 'Boyars,' I will say to them, 'I do not desire war, I desire the peace and welfare of all my subjects.' However, I know their presence will inspire me, and I shall speak to them as I always do: clearly, impressively, and majestically. But can it be true that I am in Moscow? Yes, there she lies."
"Qu'on m'amene les boyars,"* said he to his suite.
*"Bring the boyars to me."
A general with a brilliant suite galloped off at once to fetch the boyars.
Two hours passed. Napoleon had lunched and was again standing in the same place on the Poklonny Hill awaiting the deputation. His speech to the boyars had already taken definite shape in his imagination. That speech was full of dignity and greatness as Napoleon understood it.
He was himself carried away by the tone of magnanimity he intended to adopt toward Moscow. In his imagination he appointed days for assemblies at the palace of the Tsars, at which Russian notables and his own would mingle. He mentally appointed a governor, one who would win the hearts of the people. Having learned that there were many charitable institutions in Moscow he mentally decided that he would shower favors on them all. He thought that, as in Africa he had to put on a burnoose and sit in a mosque, so in Moscow he must be beneficent like the Tsars. And in order finally to touch the hearts of the Russians--and being like all Frenchmen unable to imagine anything sentimental without a reference to ma chere, ma tendre, ma pauvre mere* --he decided that he would place an inscription on all these establishments in large letters: "This establishment is dedicated to my dear mother." Or no, it should be simply: Maison de ma Mere,* he concluded. "But am I really in Moscow? Yes, here it lies before me, but why is the deputation from the city so long in appearing?" he wondered.
*"My dear, my tender, my poor mother."
* "House of my Mother."
Meanwhile an agitated consultation was being carried on in whispers among his generals and marshals at the rear of his suite. Those sent to fetch the deputation had returned with the news that Moscow was empty, that everyone had left it. The faces of those who were not conferring together were pale and perturbed. They were not alarmed by the fact that Moscow had been abandoned by its inhabitants (grave as that fact seemed), but by the question how to tell the Emperor--without putting him in the terrible position of appearing ridiculous--that he had been awaiting the boyars so long in vain: that there were drunken mobs left in Moscow but no one else. Some said that a deputation of some sort must be scraped together, others disputed that opinion and maintained that the Emperor should first be carefully and skillfully prepared, and then told the truth.
"He will have to be told, all the same," said some gentlemen of the suite. "But, gentlemen..."
The position was the more awkward because the Emperor, meditating upon his magnanimous plans, was pacing patiently up and down before the outspread map, occasionally glancing along the road to Moscow from under his lifted hand with a bright and proud smile.
"But it's impossible..." declared the gentlemen of the suite, shrugging their shoulders but not venturing to utter the implied word- le ridicule...
At last the Emperor, tired of futile expectation, his actor's instinct suggesting to him that the sublime moment having been too long drawn out was beginning to lose its sublimity, gave a sign with his hand. A single report of a signaling gun followed, and the troops, who were already spread out on different sides of Moscow, moved into the city through Tver, Kaluga, and Dorogomilov gates. Faster and faster, vying with one another, they moved at the double or at a trot, vanishing amid the clouds of dust they raised and making the air ring with a deafening roar of mingling shouts.
Drawn on by the movement of his troops Napoleon rode with them as far as the Dorogomilov gate, but there again stopped and, dismounting from his horse, paced for a long time by the Kammer-Kollezski rampart, awaiting the deputation.
Meanwhile Moscow was empty. There were still people in it, perhaps a fiftieth part of its former inhabitants had remained, but it was empty. It was empty in the sense that a dying queenless hive is empty.
In a queenless hive no life is left though to a superficial glance it seems as much alive as other hives.
The bees circle round a queenless hive in the hot beams of the midday sun as gaily as around the living hives; from a distance it smells of honey like the others, and bees fly in and out in the same way. But one has only to observe that hive to realize that there is no longer any life in it. The bees do not fly in the same way, the smell and the sound that meet the beekeeper are not the same. To the beekeeper's tap on the wall of the sick hive, instead of the former instant unanimous humming of tens of thousands of bees with their abdomens threateningly compressed, and producing by the rapid vibration of their wings an aerial living sound, the only reply is a disconnected buzzing from different parts of the deserted hive. From the alighting board, instead of the former spirituous fragrant smell of honey and venom, and the warm whiffs of crowded life, comes an odor of emptiness and decay mingling with the smell of honey. There are no longer sentinels sounding the alarm with their abdomens raised, and ready to die in defense of the hive. There is no longer the measured quiet sound of throbbing activity, like the sound of boiling water, but diverse discordant sounds of disorder. In and out of the hive long black robber bees smeared with honey fly timidly and shiftily. They do not sting, but crawl away from danger. Formerly only bees laden with honey flew into the hive, and they flew out empty; now they fly out laden. The beekeeper opens the lower part of the hive and peers in. Instead of black, glossy bees--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 the floor of the hive, drowsy shriveled bees crawl about separately in various directions on the floor and walls of the hive. Instead of a neatly glued floor, swept by the bees with the fanning of their wings, there is a floor littered 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. Instead of serried rows of bees sealing up every gap in the combs and keeping the brood warm, he sees the skillful complex structures of the combs, but no longer in their former state of purity. All is neglected and foul. Black robber bees are swiftly and stealthily prowling about the combs, and the short home bees, shriveled and listless as if they were old, creep slowly about without trying to hinder the robbers, having lost all motive and all sense of life. Drones, bumblebees, wasps, and butterflies knock awkwardly against the walls of the hive in their flight. Here and there among the cells containing dead brood and honey an angry buzzing can sometimes be heard. Here and there a couple of bees, by force of habit and custom cleaning out the brood cells, with efforts beyond their strength laboriously drag away a dead bee or bumblebee without knowing why they do it. In another corner two old bees are languidly fighting, or cleaning themselves, or feeding one another, without themselves knowing whether they do it with friendly or hostile intent. In a third place a crowd of bees, crushing one another, attack some victim and fight and smother it, and the victim, enfeebled or killed, drops from above slowly and lightly as a feather, among the heap of corpses. The keeper opens the two center partitions to examine the brood cells. In place of the former close dark circles formed by thousands of bees sitting back to back and guarding the high mystery of generation, he sees hundreds of dull, listless, and sleepy shells of bees. They have almost all died unawares, sitting in the sanctuary they had guarded and which is now no more. They reek of decay and death. Only a few of them still move, rise, and feebly fly to settle on the enemy's hand, lacking the spirit to die stinging him; the rest are dead and fall as lightly as fish scales. The beekeeper closes the hive, chalks a mark on 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 to his mind was a necessary, if but formal, observance of the proprieties--a deputation.
In various corners of Moscow there still remained a few people aimlessly moving about, following their old habits and hardly aware of what they were doing.
When with due circumspection Napoleon was informed that Moscow was empty, he looked angrily at his informant, turned away, and silently continued to walk to 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 Dorogomilov suburb.
The coup de theatre had not come off.