Ever since the day when Pierre first experienced this feeling in the Slobodsky palace, he had been continually under the influence of it, but it was only now that it found full satisfaction. Moreover at the present moment Pierre was supported in his design, and prevented from abandoning it, by the steps he had already taken in that direction. His flight from his own house, and his disguise, and his pistol, and his statement to the Rostovs that he should remain in Moscow,—all would have been devoid of meaning, would have been indeed absurd and laughable (a point to which Pierre was sensitive) if after all that he had simply gone out of Moscow like other people.

Pierre’s physical state, as is always the case, corresponded with his moral condition. The coarse fare to which he was unused, the vodka he drank during those days, the lack of wine and cigars, his dirty, unchanged linen, and two half-sleepless nights, spent on a short sofa without bedding, all reduced Pierre to a state of nervous irritability bordering on madness.

It was two o’clock in the afternoon. The French had already entered Moscow. Pierre knew this, but instead of acting, he only brooded over his enterprise, going over all the minutest details of it. In his dreams Pierre never clearly pictured the very act of striking the blow, nor the death of Napoleon, but with extraordinary vividness and mournful enjoyment dwelt on his own end and his heroic fortitude.

“Yes, one man for all, I must act or perish!” he thought. “Yes, I will approach … and then all at once … with a pistol or a dagger!” thought Pierre. “But that doesn’t matter. It’s not I but the Hand of Providence punishes you.… I shall say” (Pierre pondered over the words he would utter as he killed Napoleon). “Well, take me, execute me!” Pierre would murmur to himself, bowing his head with a sad but firm expression on his face.

While Pierre was standing in the middle of the room, musing in this fashion, the door of the study opened, and Makar Alexyevitch—always hitherto so timid—appeared in the doorway, completely transformed.

His dressing-gown was hanging open. His face was red and distorted. He was unmistakably drunk. On seeing Pierre he was for the first minute disconcerted, but observing discomfiture in Pierre’s face too, he was at once emboldened by it; and with his thin, tottering legs walked into the middle of the room.

“They have grown fearful,” he said, in a husky and confidential voice. “I say: I will not surrender, I say … eh, sir?” He paused and suddenly catching sight of the pistol on the table, snatched it with surprising rapidity and ran out into the corridor.

Gerasim and the porter, who had followed Makar Alexyevitch, stopped him in the vestibule, and tried to get the pistol away from him. Pierre coming out of the study looked with repugnance and compassion at the half-insane old man. Makar Alexyevitch, frowning with effort, succeeded in keeping the pistol, and was shouting in a husky voice, evidently imagining some heroic scene.

“To arms! Board them! You shan’t get it!” he was shouting.

“Give over, please, give over. Do me the favour, sir, please be quiet. There now, if you please, sir, …” Gerasim was saying, cautiously trying to steer Makar Alexyevitch by his elbows towards the door.

“Who are you? Bonaparte!…” yelled Makar Alexyevitch.

“That’s not the thing, sir. You come into your room and rest a little. Let me have the pistol now.”

“Away, base slave! Don’t touch me! Do you see?” screamed Makar Alexyevitch, brandishing the pistol. “Run them down!”

“Take hold!” Gerasim whispered to the porter.

They seized Makar Alexyevitch by the arms and dragged him towards the door.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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