Chapter 9

PIERRE had hardly put his head on the pillow when he felt that he was dropping asleep. But all of a sudden he heard, almost with the distinctness of reality, the sound of the boom, boom, boom of the cannon, the groans and shrieks and dull thud of the falling shell, smelt the blood and powder; and the feeling of horror, of the dread of death came over him. He opened his eyes in a panic, and put his head out from the cloak. All was quiet in the yard. The only sound came from a servant of some sort talking with the porter at the gate, and splashing through the mud. Over Pierre’s head, under the dark, wooden eaves, he heard pigeons fluttering, startled by the movement he had made in sitting up. The whole yard was pervaded by the strong smell of a tavern—full of peaceful suggestion and soothing relief to Pierre—the smell of hay, of dung, and of tar. Between two dark sheds he caught a glimpse of the pure, starlit sky.

“Thank God, that is all over!” thought Pierre, covering his head up again. “Oh, how awful terror is, and how shamefully I gave way to it! But they…they were firm and calm all the while up to the end …” he thought. They, in Pierre’s mind, meant the soldiers, those who had been on the battery, and those who had given him food, and those who had prayed to the holy picture. They—those strange people, of whom he had known nothing hitherto—they stood out clearly and sharply in his mind apart from all other people.

“To be a soldier, simply a soldier!” thought Pierre as he fell asleep. “To enter with one’s whole nature into that common life, to be filled with what makes them what they are. But how is one to cast off all that is superfluous, devilish in one’s self, all the burden of the outer man? At one time I might have been the same. I might have run away from my father as I wanted to. After the duel with Dolohov too I might have been sent for a soldier.”

And into Pierre’s imagination flashed a picture of the dinner at the club, at which he had challenged Dolohov, then the image of his benefactor at Torzhok. And there rose before his mind a solemn meeting of the lodge. It was taking place at the English Club. And some one he knew, some one near and dear to him, was sitting at the end of the table. “Why, it is he! It is my benefactor. But surely he died?” thought Pierre. “Yes, he did die, but I didn’t know he was alive. And how sorry I was when he died, and how glad I am he is alive again!” On one side of the table were sitting Anatole, Dolohov, Nesvitsky, Denisov, and others like them (in Pierre’s dream these people formed as distinct a class apart as those other men whom he had called them to himself), and those people, Anatole and Dolohov, were loudly shouting and singing. But through their clamour the voice of his benefactor could be heard speaking all the while, and the sound of his voice was as weighty and as uninterrupted as the din of the battlefield, but it was pleasant and comforting. Pierre did not understand what his benefactor was saying, but he knew (the category of his ideas, too, was distinct in his dream) that he was talking of goodness, of the possibility of being like them. And they with their simple, good, plucky faces were surrounding his benefactor on all sides. But though they were kindly, they did not look at Pierre; they did not know him. Pierre wanted to attract their notice, and to speak to them. He got up, but at the same instant became aware that his legs were bare and chill.

He felt ashamed, and put his arm over his legs, from which his cloak had in fact slipped off. For an instant Pierre opened his eyes as he pulled up the cloak, and saw the same roofs, and posts, and yard, but it was now full of bluish light, and glistening with dew or frost.

“It’s getting light,” thought Pierre. “But that’s not the point. I want to hear and understand the benefactor’s words.”

He muffled himself in the cloak again, but the masonic dinner and his benefactor would not come back. All that remained were thoughts, clearly expressed in words, ideas; some voice was speaking, or Pierre was thinking.

When he recalled those thoughts later, although they had been evoked by the impressions of that day, Pierre was convinced that they were uttered by some one outside himself. It seemed to him that he had never been capable of thinking those thoughts and expressing them in that form in his waking moments.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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