the courts were removed, it was only due to the insistence of the officials, to which Rastoptchin reluctantly gave way. He was himself entirely absorbed by the role he had assumed. As is often the case with persons of heated imagination, he had known for a long while that Moscow would be abandoned; but he had known it only with his intellect, and refused with his whole soul to believe in it, and could not mentally adapt himself to the new position of affairs.

The whole course of his painstaking and vigorous activity—how far it was beneficial or had influence on the people is another question— aimed simply at awakening in the people the feeling he was himself possessed by—hatred of the French and confidence in himself.

But when the catastrophe had begun to take its true historic proportions; when to express hatred of the French in words was plainly insufficient; when it was impossible to express that hatred even by a battle; when self-confidence was of no avail in regard to the one question before Moscow; when the whole population, as one man, abandoning their property, streamed out of Moscow, in this negative fashion giving proof of the strength of their patriotism;—then the part Rastoptchin had been playing suddenly became meaningless. He felt suddenly deserted, weak, and absurd, with no ground to stand on.

On being waked out of his sleep to read Kutuzov’s cold and peremptory note, Rastoptchin felt the more irritated the more he felt himself to blame. There was still left in Moscow all that was under his charge, all the government property which it was his duty to have removed to safety. There was no possibility of getting it all away. “Who is responsible for it? who has let it come to such a pass?” he wondered. “Of course, it’s not my doing. I had everything in readiness; I held Moscow in my hand—like this! And see what they have brought things to! Scoundrels, traitors!” he thought, not exactly defining who were these scoundrels and traitors, but feeling a necessity to hate these vaguely imagined traitors, who were to blame for the false and ludicrous position in which he found himself.

All that night Rastoptchin was giving instructions, for which people were continually coming to him from every part of Moscow. His subordinates had never seen the count so gloomy and irascible.

“Your excellency, they have come from the Estates Department, from the director for instructions.… From the Consistory, from the Senate, from the university, from the Foundling Hospital, the vicar has sent … he is inquiring … what orders are to be given about the fire brigade? The overseer of the prison … the superintendent of the mad-house …” all night long, without pause, messages were being brought to the count.

To all these inquiries he gave brief and wrathful replies, the drift of which was that his instructions were now not needed, that all his careful preparations had now been ruined by somebody, and that that somebody would have to take all responsibility for anything that might happen now.

“Oh, tell that blockhead,” he replied to the inquiry from the Estates Department, “to stay and keep guard over his deeds. Well, what nonsense are you asking about the fire brigade? There are horses, let them go off to Vladimir. Don’t leave them for the French.”

“Your excellency, the superintendent of the madhouse has come; what are your commands?”

“My commands? Let them all go, that’s all.… And let the madmen out into the town. When we have madmen in command of our armies, it seems it’s God’s will they should be free.”

To the inquiry about the convicts in the prison, the count shouted angrily to the overseer:

“What, do you want me to give you two battalions for a convoy for them, when we haven’t any battalions at all? Let them all go, and that settles it!”

“Your excellency, there are political prisoners—Myeshkov, Vereshtchagin …”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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