Chapter 34

WHEN PIERRE, after running across courtyards and by-lanes, got back with his burden to Prince Gruzinsky’s garden, at the corner of Povarsky, he did not for the first moment recognise the place from which he had set out to look for the baby: it was so packed with people and goods, dragged out of the houses. Besides the Russian families with their belongings saved from the fire, there were a good many French soldiers here too in various uniforms. Pierre took no notice of them. He was in haste to find the family, and to restore the child to its mother, so as to be able to go back and save some one else. It seemed to Pierre that he had a great deal more to do, and to do quickly. Warmed up by the heat and running, Pierre felt even more strongly at that minute the sense of youth, eagerness, and resolution, which had come upon him when he was running to save the baby.

The child was quiet now, and clinging to Pierre’s coat with her little hands, she sat on his arm, and looked about her like a little wild beast. Pierre glanced at her now and then, and smiled slightly. He fancied he saw something touchingly innocent in the frightened, sickly little face.

Neither the official nor his wife were in the place where he had left them. With rapid steps, Pierre walked about among the crowd, scanning the different faces he came across. He could not help noticing a Georgian or Armenian family, consisting of a very old man, of a handsome Oriental cast of face, dressed in a new cloth-faced sheepskin and new boots; an old woman of a similar type; and a young woman. The latter—a very young woman—struck Pierre as a perfect example of Oriental beauty, with her sharply marked, arched, black eyebrows, her extraordinarily soft, bright colour and beautiful, expressionless, oval face. Among the goods flung down in the crowd in the grass space, in her rich satin mantle, and the bright lilac kerchief on her head, she suggested a tender, tropical plant, thrown down in the snow. She was sitting on the baggage a little behind the old woman, and her big, black, long-shaped eyes, with their long lashes, were fixed immovably on the ground. Evidently she was aware of her beauty, and fearful because of it. Her face struck Pierre, and in his haste he looked round at her several times as he passed along by the fence. Reaching the fence, and still failing to find the people he was looking for, Pierre stood still and looked round.

Pierre’s figure was more remarkable than ever now with the baby in his arms, and several Russians, both men and women, gathered about him.

“Have you lost some one, good sir? Are you a gentleman yourself, or what? Whose baby is it?” they asked him.

Pierre answered that the baby belonged to a woman in a black mantle, who had been sitting at this spot with her children; and asked whether any one knew her, and where she had gone.

“Why, it must be the Anferovs,” said an old deacon addressing a pock-marked peasant woman. “Lord, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us!” he added, in his professional bass.

“The Anferovs,” said the woman. “Why, the Anferovs have been gone since early this morning. It will either be Marya Nikolaevna’s or Ivanova’s.”

“He says a woman, and Marya Nikolaevna’s a lady,” said a house-serf.

“You know her, then; a thin woman—long teeth,” said Pierre.

“To be sure, Marya Nikolaevna. They moved off into the garden as soon as these wolves pounced down on us,” said the woman, indicating the French soldiers.

“O Lord, have mercy on us!” the deacon added again.

“You go on yonder, they are there. It’s she, for sure. She was quite beside herself with crying,” said the woman again. “It’s she. Here this way.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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