Chapter 10

ON THE 8TH of September, there came into the prisoners’ coach-house an officer of very great consequence, judging by the respectfulness with which he was addressed by the soldiers on guard. This officer, probably some one on the staff, held a memorandum in his hand, and called over all the Russians’ names, giving Pierre the title of “the one who will not give his name.” And with an indolent and indifferent glance at all the prisoners, he gave the officer on guard orders to have them decently dressed and in good order before bringing them before the marshal. In an hour a company of soldiers arrived, and Pierre with the thirteen others was taken to the Virgin’s Meadow. It was a fine day, sunny after rain, and the air was exceptionally clear. The smoke did not hang low over the town as on the day when Pierre had been taken from the guard-room of the Zubovsky rampart; the smoke rose up in columns into the pure air. Flames were nowhere to be seen; but columns of smoke were rising up on all sides, and all Moscow, all that Pierre could see, was one conflagration. On all sides he saw places laid waste, with stoves and pipes left standing in them, and now and then the charred walls of a stone house.

Pierre stared at the fires, and did not recognise parts of the town that he knew well. Here and there could be seen churches that had not been touched by the fire. The Kremlin uninjured, rose white in the distance, with towers and Ivan the Great. Close at hand, the cupola of the Monastery of the New Virgin shone brightly, and the bells for service rang out gaily from it. Those bells reminded Pierre that it was Sunday and the festival of the birth of the Virgin Mother. But there seemed to be no one to keep this holiday; on all sides they saw the ruin wrought by the fires, and the only Russians they met were a few tattered and frightened-looking people, who hid themselves on seeing the French.

It was evident that the Russian nest was in ruins and destroyed; but with this annihilation of the old Russian order of life, Pierre was unconsciously aware that the French had raised up over this ruined nest an utterly different but strong order of their own. He felt this at the sight of the regular ranks of the boldly and gaily marching soldiers who were escorting him and the other prisoners; he felt it at the sight of some important French official in a carriage and pair, driven by a soldier, whom they met on their way. He felt it at the gay sounds of regimental music, which floated across from the left of the meadow; and he had felt it and realised it particularly strongly from the memorandum the French officer had read in the morning when he called over the prisoners’ names. Pierre was taken by one set of soldiers, led off to one place, and thence to another, with dozens of different people. It seemed to him that they might have forgotten him, have mixed him up with other people. But no; his answers given at the examination came back to him in the form of the designation, “the one who will not give his name.” And under this designation, which filled Pierre with dread, they led him away somewhere, with unhesitating conviction written on their faces that he and the other prisoners with him were the right ones, and that they were being taken to the proper place. Pierre felt himself an insignificant chip that had fallen under the wheel of a machine that worked without a hitch, though he did not understand it.

Pierre was led with the other prisoners to the right side of the Virgin’s Meadow, not far from the monastery, and taken up to a big, white house with an immense garden. It was the house of Prince Shtcherbatov, and Pierre had often been inside it in former days to see its owner. Now, as he learnt from the talk of the soldiers, it was occupied by the marshal, the Duke of Eckmühl.

They were led up to the entrance, and taken into the house, one at a time. Pierre was the sixth to be led in. Through a glass-roofed gallery, a vestibule, and a hall, all familiar to Pierre, he was led to the long, low-pitched study, at the door of which stood an adjutant.

Davoust was sitting at a table at the end of the room, his spectacles on his nose. Pierre came close up to him. Davoust, without raising his eyes, was apparently engaged in looking up something in a document that lay before him. Without raising his eyes, he asked softly: “Who are you?”

Pierre was mute because he was incapable of articulating a word. Davoust was not to Pierre simply a French general; to Pierre, Davoust was a man notorious for his cruelty. Looking at the cold face of Davoust, which, like a stern teacher, seemed to consent for a time to have patience and await a reply, Pierre felt that every second of delay might cost him his life. But he did not know what to say. To say

  By PanEris using Melati.

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