Chapter 11

EARLY in the morning of the 6th of October, Pierre came out of the shed, and when he went back, he stood in the doorway, playing with the long bandy-legged, purplish-grey dog, that jumped about him. This dog lived in their shed, sleeping with Karataev, though it sometimes went off on its own account into the town, and came back again. It had probably never belonged to any one, and now it had no master, and no name. The French called it Azor; the soldier who told stories called it Femgalka; Karataev called it “Grey-coat,” and sometimes “Floppy.” The lack of a master, of a name, of any particular breed, and even of a definite colour, by no means troubled the purplish-grey dog. Its fluffy tail stood up firm and round like a plume; its bandy legs served it so well that often, as though disdaining to use all four, it would hold one hind-leg gracefully up, and run very quickly and smartly on three paws. Everything was a source of satisfaction to it. At one moment, it was barking with joy, then it would bask in the sun, with a dreamy and thoughtful air, then it would frolic about, playing with a chip or a straw.

Pierre’s attire now consisted of a dirty, tattered shirt, the sole relic left of his previous wardrobe, a pair of soldier’s drawers, tied with string round the ankles by Karataev’s advice, for the sake of warmth, a full peasant’s coat and a peasant’s cap. Physically Pierre had changed greatly during this period. He no longer seemed stout, though he still had that look of solidity and strength that was characteristic of the Bezuhov family. The lower part of his face was overgrown with beard and moustaches; his long, tangled hair, swarming with lice, formed a mat of curls on his head. His eyes had a look of firmness, calm, and alert readiness, such as had never been seen in Pierre’s face before. All his old slackness, which had shown even in his eyes, was replaced now by a vigorous, alert look of readiness for action and for resistance. His feet were bare.

Pierre looked over the meadow, across which waggons and men on horseback were moving that morning, then far away beyond the river, then at the dog, who was pretending to be meaning to bite him in earnest, then at his bare feet, which he shifted with pleasure from one position to another, moving the dirty, thick, big toes. And every time he looked at his bare feet, a smile of eager self-satisfaction flitted across his face. The sight of those bare feet reminded him of all he had passed through and learned during this time; and the thought of that was sweet to him.

The weather had for several days been still and clear, with light frosts in the mornings—the so-called “old granny’s summer.”

It was warm out of doors in the sunshine, and that warmth was particularly pleasant, with the bracing freshness of the morning frost still in the air.

Over everything, over all objects near and far, lay that magical, crystal-clear brightness, which is only seen at that time in the autumn. In the distance could be seen the Sparrow Hills, with the village, the church, and the great white house. And the leafless trees, and the sand and the stones and roofs of the houses, the green spire of the church, and the angles of the white house in the distance, all stood out in the most delicate outlines with unnatural distinctness in the limpid air. Close at hand stood the familiar ruins of a half-burnt mansion, occupied by French soldiers, with lilac bushes still dark-green by the fence. And even this charred and ruined house, which looked revoltingly hideous in bad weather, had a sort of soothing comeliness in the clear, still brightness.

A French corporal, in a smoking-cap, with his coat comfortably unbuttoned, came round the corner of the shed, with a short pipe between his teeth, and with a friendly wink, approached Pierre.

“What sunshine, hein, M. Kiril?” (This was what all the French soldiers called Pierre.) “One would say it was spring.” And the corporal leaned against the door, and offered Pierre his pipe, though he was always offering it, and Pierre always declined it.

“If one were marching in weather like this,” he began.

Pierre questioned him what he had heard of the departure of the French, and the corporal told him that almost all the troops were setting out, and that to-day instructions were expected in regard to the prisoners.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.