Pierre knew his effort would be in vain, yet he went up to him.

“Well, what is it?” said the officer, scanning him coldly, as though he did not recognise him. Pierre spoke of the sick prisoner.

“He can walk, damn him!” said the captain.

Filez, filez!” he went on, without looking at Pierre.

“Well, no, he is in agony…!” Pierre was beginning.

Voulez-vous bien?”…shouted the captain, scowling malignantly.

“Dram-da-da-dam, dam-dam,” rattled the drums, and Pierre knew that the mysterious force had already complete possession of those men, and that to say anything more now was useless.

The officers among the prisoners were separated from the soldiers and ordered to march in front.

The officers, among whom was Pierre, were thirty in number; the soldiers three hundred.

These officers, who had come out of other sheds, were all strangers to Pierre, and much better dressed than he was. They looked at him in his queer foot-gear with aloof and mistrustful eyes. Not far from Pierre walked a stout major, with a fat, sallow, irascible countenance. He was dressed in a Kazan gown, girt with a linen band, and obviously enjoyed the general respect of his companion prisoners. He held his tobacco-pouch in one hand thrust into his bosom; with the other he pressed the stem of his pipe. This major, panting and puffing, grumbled angrily at every one for pushing against him, as he fancied, and for hurrying when there was no need of hurry, and for wondering when there was nothing to wonder at. Another, a thin, little officer, addressed remarks to every one, making conjectures where they were being taken now, and how far they would go that day. An official, in felt high boots and a commissariat uniform, ran from side to side to get a good view of the results of the fire in Moscow, making loud observations on what was burnt, and saying what this or that district of the town was as it came into view. A third officer, of Polish extraction by his accent, was arguing with the commissariat official, trying to prove to him that he was mistaken in his identification of the various quarters of Moscow.

“Why dispute?” said the major angrily. “Whether it’s St. Nikola or St. Vlas, it’s no matter. You see that it’s all burnt, and that’s all about it. …Why are you pushing, isn’t the road wide enough?” he said, angrily addressing a man who had passed behind him and had not pushed against him at all.

“Aie, aie, aie, what have they been doing?” the voices of the prisoners could be heard crying on one side and on another as they looked at the burnt districts. “Zamoskvoryetche, too, and Zubovo, and in the Kremlin.…Look, there’s not half left. Why, didn’t I tell you all Zamoskvoryetche was gone, and so it is.”

“Well, you know it is burnt, well, why argue about it?” said the major.

Passing through Hamovniky (one of the few quarters of Moscow that had not been burnt) by the church, the whole crowd of prisoners huddled suddenly on one side, and exclamations of horror and aversion were heard.

“The wretches! The heathens! Yes; a dead man; a dead man; it is…They have smeared it with something.”

Pierre, too, drew near the church, where was the object that had called forth these exclamations, and he dimly discerned something leaning against the fence of the church enclosure. From the words of his companions, who saw better than he did, he learnt that it was the dead body of a man, propped up in a standing posture by the fence, with the face smeared with soot.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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