When Pierre returned home he was handed
two of Rostopchin’s broadsheets that had been
brought that day.
The first declared that the report
that Count Rostopchin had forbidden people to leave
Moscow was false; on the contrary he was glad that
ladies and tradesmen’s wives were leaving the
city. “There will be less panic and less
gossip,” ran the broadsheet “but I will
stake my life on it that scoundrel will not enter
Moscow.” These words showed Pierre clearly
for the first time that the French would enter Moscow.
The second broadsheet stated that our headquarters
were at Vyazma, that Count Wittgenstein had defeated
the French, but that as many of the inhabitants of
Moscow wished to be armed, weapons were ready for them
at the arsenal: sabers, pistols, and muskets which
could be had at a low price. The tone of the
proclamation was not as jocose as in the former Chigirin
talks. Pierre pondered over these broadsheets.
Evidently the terrible stormcloud he had desired with
the whole strength of his soul but which yet aroused
involuntary horror in him was drawing near.
“Shall I join the army and enter
the service, or wait?” he asked himself for
the hundredth time. He took a pack of cards that
lay on the table and began to lay them out for a game
“If this patience comes out,”
he said to himself after shuffling the cards, holding
them in his hand, and lifting his head, “if it
comes out, it means... what does it mean?”
He had not decided what it should
mean when he heard the voice of the eldest princess
at the door asking whether she might come in.
“Then it will mean that I must
go to the army,” said Pierre to himself.
“Come in, come in!” he added to the princess.
Only the eldest princess, the one
with the stony face and long waist, was still living
in Pierre’s house. The two younger ones
had both married.
“Excuse my coming to you, cousin,”
she said in a reproachful and agitated voice.
“You know some decision must be come to.
What is going to happen? Everyone has left Moscow
and the people are rioting. How is it that we
are staying on?”
“On the contrary, things seem
satisfactory, ma cousine,” said Pierre
in the bantering tone he habitually adopted toward
her, always feeling uncomfortable in the rôle of her
Very satisfactory! Barbara Ivanovna told me today
how our troops are distinguishing themselves.
It certainly does them credit! And the people
too are quite mutinous they no longer obey,
even my maid has taken to being rude. At this
rate they will soon begin beating us. One can’t
walk in the streets. But, above all, the French
will be here any day now, so what are we waiting for?
I ask just one thing of you, cousin,” she went
on, “arrange for me to be taken to Petersburg.
Whatever I may be, I can’t live under Bonaparte’s
“Oh, come, ma cousine!
Where do you get your information from? On the
“I won’t submit to your
Napoleon! Others may if they please.... If
you don’t want to do this...”
“But I will, I’ll give the order at once.”
The princess was apparently vexed
at not having anyone to be angry with. Muttering
to herself, she sat down on a chair.
“But you have been misinformed,”
said Pierre. “Everything is quiet in the
city and there is not the slightest danger. See!
I’ve just been reading...” He showed
her the broadsheet. “Count Rostopchin writes
that he will stake his life on it that the enemy will
not enter Moscow.”
“Oh, that count of yours!”
said the princess malevolently. “He is a
hypocrite, a rascal who has himself roused the people
to riot. Didn’t he write in those idiotic
broadsheets that anyone, ’whoever it might be,
should be dragged to the lockup by his hair’?
(How silly!) ’And honor and glory to whoever
captures him,’ he says. This is what his
cajolery has brought us to! Barbara Ivanovna
told me the mob near killed her because she said something
“Oh, but it’s so...
You take everything so to heart,” said Pierre,
and began laying out his cards for patience.
Although that patience did come out,
Pierre did not join the army, but remained in deserted
Moscow ever in the same state of agitation, irresolution,
and alarm, yet at the same time joyfully expecting
Next day toward evening the princess
set off, and Pierre’s head steward came to inform
him that the money needed for the equipment of his
regiment could not be found without selling one of
the estates. In general the head steward made
out to Pierre that his project of raising a regiment
would ruin him. Pierre listened to him, scarcely
able to repress a smile.
“Well then, sell it,”
said he. “What’s to be done?
I can’t draw back now!”
The worse everything became, especially
his own affairs, the better was Pierre pleased and
the more evident was it that the catastrophe he expected
was approaching. Hardly anyone he knew was left
in town. Julie had gone, and so had Princess
Mary. Of his intimate friends only the Rostovs
remained, but he did not go to see them.
To distract his thoughts he drove
that day to the village of Vorontsovo to see the great
balloon Leppich was constructing to destroy the foe,
and a trial balloon that was to go up next day.
The balloon was not yet ready, but Pierre learned
that it was being constructed by the Emperor’s
desire. The Emperor had written to Count Rostopchin
As soon as Leppich is ready, get together
a crew of reliable and intelligent men for his car
and send a courier to General Kutuzov to let him know.
I have informed him of the matter.
Please impress upon Leppich to be
very careful where he descends for the first time,
that he may not make a mistake and fall into the enemy’s
hands. It is essential for him to combine his
movements with those of the commander in chief.
On his way home from Vorontsovo, as
he was passing the Bolotnoe Place Pierre, seeing a
large crowd round the Lobnoe Place, stopped and got
out of his trap. A French cook accused of being
a spy was being flogged. The flogging was only
just over, and the executioner was releasing from the
flogging bench a stout man with red whiskers, in blue
stockings and a green jacket, who was moaning piteously.
Another criminal, thin and pale, stood near.
Judging by their faces they were both Frenchmen.
With a frightened and suffering look resembling that
on the thin Frenchman’s face, Pierre pushed
his way in through the crowd.
“What is it? Who is it? What is it
for?” he kept asking.
But the attention of the crowd officials,
burghers, shopkeepers, peasants, and women in cloaks
and in pelisses was so eagerly centered
on what was passing in Lobnoe Place that no one answered
him. The stout man rose, frowned, shrugged his
shoulders, and evidently trying to appear firm began
to pull on his jacket without looking about him, but
suddenly his lips trembled and he began to cry, in
the way full-blooded grown-up men cry, though angry
with himself for doing so. In the crowd people
began talking loudly, to stifle their feelings of pity
as it seemed to Pierre.
“He’s cook to some prince.”
“Eh, mounseer, Russian sauce
seems to be sour to a Frenchman... sets his teeth
on edge!” said a wrinkled clerk who was standing
behind Pierre, when the Frenchman began to cry.
The clerk glanced round, evidently
hoping that his joke would be appreciated. Some
people began to laugh, others continued to watch in
dismay the executioner who was undressing the other
Pierre choked, his face puckered,
and he turned hastily away, went back to his trap
muttering something to himself as he went, and took
his seat. As they drove along he shuddered and
exclaimed several times so audibly that the coachman
“What is your pleasure?”
“Where are you going?”
shouted Pierre to the man, who was driving to Lubyanka
“To the Governor’s, as
you ordered,” answered the coachman.
“Fool! Idiot!” shouted
Pierre, abusing his coachman a thing he
rarely did. “Home, I told you! And
drive faster, blockhead!” “I must get away
this very day,” he murmured to himself.
At the sight of the tortured Frenchman
and the crowd surrounding the Lobnoe Place, Pierre
had so definitely made up his mind that he could no
longer remain in Moscow and would leave for the army
that very day that it seemed to him that either he
had told the coachman this or that the man ought to
have known it for himself.
On reaching home Pierre gave orders
to Evstafey his head coachman who knew
everything, could do anything, and was known to all
Moscow that he would leave that night for
the army at Mozhaysk, and that his saddle horses should
be sent there. This could not all be arranged
that day, so on Evstafey’s representation Pierre
had to put off his departure till next day to allow
time for the relay horses to be sent on in advance.
On the twenty-fourth the weather cleared
up after a spell of rain, and after dinner Pierre
left Moscow. When changing horses that night
in Perkhushkovo, he learned that there had been a great
battle that evening. (This was the battle of Shevardino.)
He was told that there in Perkhushkovo the earth trembled
from the firing, but nobody could answer his questions
as to who had won. At dawn next day Pierre was
Every house in Mozhaysk had soldiers
quartered in it, and at the hostel where Pierre was
met by his groom and coachman there was no room to
be had. It was full of officers.
Everywhere in Mozhaysk and beyond
it, troops were stationed or on the march. Cossacks,
foot and horse soldiers, wagons, caissons,
and cannon were everywhere. Pierre pushed forward
as fast as he could, and the farther he left Moscow
behind and the deeper he plunged into that sea of
troops the more was he overcome by restless agitation
and a new and joyful feeling he had not experienced
before. It was a feeling akin to what he had
felt at the Sloboda Palace during the Emperor’s
visit a sense of the necessity of undertaking
something and sacrificing something. He now experienced
a glad consciousness that everything that constitutes
men’s happiness the comforts of life,
wealth, even life itself is rubbish it
is pleasant to throw away, compared with something...
With what? Pierre could not say, and he did not
try to determine for whom and for what he felt such
particular delight in sacrificing everything.
He was not occupied with the question of what to sacrifice
for; the fact of sacrificing in itself afforded him
a new and joyous sensation.