FROM VARIOUS ROADS, and with various feelings, the inhabitants running and driving away from Moscow, and the retreating troops, gazed at the glow of the first fire that broke out in the city on the 2nd of September.
The Rostovs party stopped for that night at Mytishtchy, twenty versts from Moscow. They had started so late on the 1st of September, the road had been so blocked by waggons and troops, so many things had been forgotten, and servants sent back to get them, that they had decided to halt for the first night five versts from Moscow. The next morning they walked late, and there were again so many delays that they only reached Great Mytishtchy. At ten oclock the Rostov family, and the wounded soldiers travelling with them, had all found places for the night in the yards and huts of the greater village. The servants, the Rostovs coachmen, and the orderlies of the wounded officers, after settling their masters for the night, supped, fed their horses, and came out into the porch of a hut.
In the next hut lay Raevskys adjutant with a broken wrist, and the terrible pain made him moan incessantly, and these moans had a grue-some sound in the autumn darkness of the night. On the first night this adjutant had spent the night in a building in the same yard as the hut in which the Rostovs slept. The countess declared that she had not closed her eyes all night from that moaning, and at Mytishtchy she had moved into a less comfortable hut simply to get further away from the wounded man. One of the servants noticed in the dark night sky, above the high carriage standing at the entry, another small glow of fire. One such glow had been seen long before, and every one knew it was Little Mytishtchy, which had been set on fire by Mamonovs Cossacks.
I say, mates, theres another fire, said the man. All of them looked towards the glow.
Why, they told us Mamonovs Cossacks had fired Little Mytishtchy. Nay! thats not Mytishtchy, its further. Lookee, its in Moscow seemingly. Two of the men left the porch, went to a carriage and squatted on the step. Its more to the left! Why, Mytishtchy is away yonder, and thats quite the other side.
Several more men joined the first group.
I say it is flaring, said one; thats a fire in Moscow, my friends; either in Sushtchovsky or in Rogozhsky.
No one answered this remark. And for a good while all these men gazed in silence at the flames of this new conflagration glowing far away. An old man, the counts valet (as he was called), Danilo Terentyitch, came up to the crowd and called Mishka.
What are you gaping at? The count may ask for you and nobody to be found; go and put the clothes together.
Oh, I only ran out for some water, said Mishka.
And what do you say, Danilo Terentyitch? thats a fire in Moscow, isnt it? said one of the footmen.
Danilo Terentyitch made no reply, and for a long while all were mute again. The glow spread wider, and flickered further and further away.
God have mercy! a wind and the drought said a voice again.
Lookee, how its spreading. O Lord! why, one can see the jackdaws! Lord, have mercy on us poor sinners!
Theyll put it out, never fear.
Whos to put it out? cried the voice of Danilo Terentyitch, silent till that moment. His voice was quiet and deliberate. Moscow it is, mates, he said; its she, our mother, the white city his voice broke, and he suddenly burst into the sobs of old age. And it seemed as though all had been waiting for that to
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