All these men and horses seemed, as it were, driven along by some unseen force. During the hour in which Pierre watched them they all were swept out of the different streets with the same one desire to get on as quickly as possible. All of them, alike hindered by the rest, began to get angry and to fight. The same oaths were bandied to and fro, and white teeth flashed, and every frowning face wore the same look of reckless determination and cold cruelty, which had struck Pierre in the morning in the corporal’s face, while the drums were beating.

It was almost evening when the officer in command of their escort rallied his men, and with shouts and oaths forced his way in among the baggage-trains; and the prisoners, surrounded on all sides, came out on the Kaluga road.

They marched very quickly without pausing, and only halted when the sun was setting. The baggage- carts were moved up close to one another, and the men began to prepare for the night. Every one seemed ill-humoured and dissatisfied. Oaths, angry shouts, and fighting could be heard on all sides till a late hour. A carriage, which had been following the escort, had driven into one of their carts and run a shaft into it. Several soldiers ran up to the cart from different sides; some hit the carriage horses on the head as they turned them round, other were fighting among themselves, and Pierre saw one German seriously wounded by a blow from the flat side of a sword on his head.

It seemed as though now when they had come to a standstill in the midst of the open country, in the cold twilight of the autumn evening, all these men were experiencing the same feeling of unpleasant awakening from the hurry and eager impulse forward that had carried them all away at setting off. Now standing still, all as it were grasped that they knew not where they were going, and that there was much pain and hardship in store for them on the journey.

At this halting-place, the prisoners were even more roughly treated by their escort than at starting. They were for the first time given horse-flesh to eat.

In every one of the escort, from the officers to the lowest soldier, could be seen a sort of personal spite against every one of the prisoners, in surprising contrast with the friendly relations that had existed between them before.

This spite was increased when, on counting over the prisoners, it was discovered that in the bustle of getting out of Moscow one Russian soldier had managed to run away by pretending to be seized with colic. Pierre had seen a Frenchman beat a Russian soldier unmercifully for moving too far from the road, and heard the captain, who had been his friend, reprimanding an under-officer for the escape of the prisoner, and threatening him with court-martial. On the under-officer’s urging that the prisoner was ill and could not walk, the officer said that their orders were to shoot those who should lag behind. Pierre felt that that fatal force which had crushed him at the execution, and had been imperceptible during his imprisonment, had now again the mastery of his existence. He was afraid; but he felt too, that as that fatal force strove to crush him, there was growing up in his soul and gathering strength a force of life that was independent of it. Pierre supped on soup made of rye flour and horseflesh, and talked a little with his companions.

Neither Pierre nor any of his companions talked of what they had seen in Moscow, nor of the harsh treatment they received from the French, nor of the orders to shoot them, which had been announced to them. As though in reaction against their more depressing position, all were particularly gay and lively. They talked of personal reminiscences, of amusing incidents they had seen as they marched, and avoided touching on their present position.

The sun had long ago set. Stars were shining brightly here and there in the sky; there was a red flush, as of a conflagration on the horizon, where the full moon was rising, and the vast, red ball seemed trembling strangely in the grey darkness. It became quite light. The evening was over, but the night had not yet begun. Pierre left his new companions and walked between the camp-fires to the other side of the road,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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