“What’s the use of talking!” shouted the thin man; “in my three shops here I have one hundred thousand worth of goods. How’s one to guard them when the army is gone? Ah, fellows, God’s will is not in men’s hands!”

“If you please, your honour,” said the first shopkeeper, bowing.

The officer stood in uncertainty, and his face betrayed indecision. “Why, what business is it of mine!” he cried suddenly, and he strode on rapidly along the arcade. In one open shop he heard blows and high words, and just as the officer was going into it, a man in a grey coat, with a shaven head, was thrust violently out of the door.

This man doubled himself up and bounded past the shopkeepers and the officer. The officer pounced on the soldiers who were in the shop. But meanwhile fearful screams, coming from an immense crowd, were heard near the Moskvoryetsky bridge, and the officer ran out into the square.

“What is it? What is it?” he asked, but his comrade had already galloped off in the direction of the screams. The officer mounted his horse and followed him. As he drew near the bridge, he saw two cannons that had been taken off their carriages, the infantry marching over the bridge, a few broken-down carts, and some soldiers with frightened, and some with laughing faces. Near the cannons stood a waggon with a pair of horses harnessed to it. Behind the wheels huddled four greyhounds in collars. A mountain of goods was piled up in the waggon, and on the very top, beside a child’s chair turned legs uppermost, sat a woman, who was uttering shrill and despairing shrieks. The officer was told by his comrades that the screams of the crowd and the woman’s shrieks were due to the fact that General Yermolov had come riding down on the crowd, and learning that the soldiers were straying away in the shops, and crowds of the townspeople were blocking the bridge, had commanded them to take the cannons out of their carriages, and to make as though they would fire them at the bridge. The crowd had made a rush; upsetting waggons, trampling one another, and screaming desperately, the bridge had been cleared, and the troops had moved on.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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