“Brigand, you shall pay for it,” said the Frenchman, letting go of him. “We are clement after victory, but we do not pardon traitors,” he added, with gloomy dignity in his face, and a fine, vigorous gesture.

Pierre tried in French to persuade the officer not to be severe with this drunken imbecile. The Frenchman listened in silence, with the same gloomy air, and then suddenly turned with a smile to Pierre. For several seconds he gazed at him mutely. His handsome face assumed an expression of melodramatic feeling, and he held out his hand.

“You have saved my life. You are French,” he said. For a Frenchman, the deduction followed indubitably. An heroic action could only be performed by a Frenchman, and to save the life of him, M. Ramballe, captain of the 13th Light Brigade, was undoubtedly a most heroic action.

But however indubitable this logic, and well grounded the conviction the officer based on it, Pierre thought well to disillusion him on the subject.

“I am Russian,” he said quickly.

“Tell that to others,” said the Frenchman, smiling and waving his finger before his nose. “You shall tell me all about it directly,” he said. “Charmed to meet a compatriot. Well, what are we to do with this man?” he added, applying to Pierre now as though to a comrade. If Pierre were indeed not a Frenchman, he would hardly on receiving that appellation—the most honourable in the world—care to disavow it, was what the expression and tone of the French officer suggested. To his last question Pierre explained once more who Makar Alexyevitch was. He explained that just before his arrival the drunken imbecile had carried off a loaded pistol, which they had not succeeded in getting from him, and he begged him to let his action go unpunished. The Frenchman arched his chest, and made a majestic gesture with his hand.

“You have saved my life! You are a Frenchman. You ask me to pardon him. I grant you his pardon. Let this man be released,” the French officer pronounced with rapidity and energy, and taking the arm of Pierre— promoted to be a Frenchman for saving his life—he was walking with him into the room.

The soldiers in the yard, hearing the shot, had come into the vestibule to ask what had happened, and to offer their services in punishing the offender; but the officer sternly checked them.

“You will be sent for when you are wanted,” he said. The soldiers withdrew. The orderly, who had meanwhile been in the kitchen, came in to the officer.

“Captain, they have soup and a leg of mutton in the kitchen,” he said. “Shall I bring it up?”

“Yes, and the wine,” said the captain.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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