The princess was obviously annoyed at having no one to be angry with. Muttering something, she sat down on the edge of the chair.

“But you have been incorrectly informed,” said Pierre. “All’s quiet in the town, and there’s no sort of danger. See I have just read …” Pierre showed the princess the placards. “The count writes that he will stake his life on it that the enemy will never be in Moscow.”

“Ah, your count,” the princess began spitefully, “he’s a hypocrite, a miscreant who has himself stirred the mob on to disorder. Didn’t he write in his idiotic placards that they were to take anybody whoever it might be and drag by the hair to the lock-up (and how silly it is!). Honour our and glory, says he, to the man who does so. And this is what he has brought us to. Varvara Ivanovna told me the mob almost killed her for speaking French.”

“Oh, well, well … You take everything too much to heart,” said Pierre, and he began dealing out the patience.

Although he did succeed in the game, Pierre did not set off to join the army, but stayed on in Moscow, now rapidly emptying, and was still in the same agitation, uncertainty and alarm, and, at the same time, joyful expectation of something awful.

“Well, sell it then,” he said. “There’s no help for it, I can’t draw back now!”

The worse the position of affairs, and especially of his own affairs, the better pleased Pierre felt, and the more obvious it was to him that the catastrophe he expected was near at hand. Scarcely any of Pierre’s acquaintances were left in the town. Julie had gone, Princess Marya had gone. Of his more intimate acquaintances the Rostovs were the only people left; but Pierre did not go to see them.

To divert his mind that day, Pierre drove out to the village of Vorontsovo, to look at a great air balloon which was being constructed by Leppich to use against the enemy, and the test balloon which was to be sent up the following day. The balloon was not yet ready; but as Pierre learned, it was being constructed by the Tsar’s desire. The Tsar had written to Count Rastoptchin about it in the following terms:

“As soon as Leppich is ready, get together a crew for his car consisting of thoroughly trustworthy and intelligent men, and send a courier to General Kutuzov to prepare him for it. I have mentioned it to him. Impress upon Leppich, please, to take careful note where he descends the first time, that he may not go astray and fall into the hands of the enemy. It is essential that he should regulate his movements in accordance with the movements of the commander-in-chief.”

On his way home from Vorontsovo, Pierre drove through Bolotny Square, and seeing a crowd at Lobnoye Place, stopped and got out of his chaise. The crowd were watching the flogging of a French cook, accused of being a spy. The flogging was just over, and the man who had administered it was untying from the whipping-post a stout, red-whiskered man in blue stockings and a green tunic, who was groaning piteously. Another victim, a thin, pale man, was standing by. Both, to judge by their faces, were Frenchmen. With a face of sick dread like that of the thin Frenchman, Pierre pushed his way in among the crowd.

“What is it? Who are they? What for?” he kept asking. But the attention of the crowd—clerks, artisans, shopkeepers, peasants, women in pelisses and jackets—was so intently riveted on what was taking place on the Lobnoye Place that no one answered. The stout man got up, shrugged his shoulders frowning, and evidently trying to show fortitude, began putting on his tunic without looking about him. But all at once his lips quivered and to his own rage he began to cry, as grown-up men of sanguine temperament do cry. The crowd began talking loudly, to drown a feeling of pity in themselves, as it seemed to Pierre.

“Some prince’s cook. …”

“Eh, monsieur, Russian sauce is a bit strong for a French stomach … sets the teeth on edge,” said a wrinkled clerk standing near Pierre, just when the Frenchman burst into tears. The clerk looked about him for

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