Count Rastoptchin at one time cried shame on those who were going, then removed all the public offices, then served out useless weapons to the drunken rabble, then brought out the holy images, and prevented Father Augustin from removing the holy relics and images, then got hold of all the private conveyances that were in Moscow, then in one hundred and thirty-six carts carried out the air-balloon made by Leppich, at one time hinted that he should set fire to Moscow, at one time described how he had burnt his own house, and wrote a proclamation to the French in which he solemnly reproached them for destroying the home of his childhood. He claimed the credit of having set fire to Moscow, then disavowed it; he commanded the people to capture all spies, and bring them to him, then blamed the people for doing so; he sent all the French residents out of Moscow, and then let Madame Aubert-Chalmey, who formed the centre of French society in Moscow, remain. For no particular reason he ordered the respected old postmaster, Klucharov, to be seized and banished. He got the people together on the Three Hills to fight the French, and then, to get rid of them, handed a man over to them to murder, and escaped himself by the back door. He vowed he would never survive the disaster of Moscow, and later on wrote French verses in albums on his share in the affair.

This man had no inkling of the import of what was happening. All he wanted was to do something himself, to astonish people, to perform some heroic feat of patriotism, and, like a child, he frolicked about the grand and inevitable event of the abandonment and burning of Moscow, trying with his puny hand first to urge on, and then to hold back, the tide of the vast popular current that was bearing him along with it.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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