Chapter 15

THE CAVALRY TRANSPORT, and the prisoners, and the marshal’s baggage-train, halted at the village of Shamshevo. All crowded together round the campfire. Pierre went up to a fire, ate some roast horse- flesh, lay down with his back to the fire, and at once fell asleep. He fell into the same sort of sleep that he had slept at Mozhaisk, after the battle of Borodino.

Again the facts of real life mingled with his dreams; and again some one, himself or some one else, was uttering thoughts in his ear, and the same thoughts, indeed, as had come in his dream at Mozhaisk.

Life is everything. Life is God. All is changing and moving, and that motion is God. And while there is life, there is the joy of the consciousness of the Godhead. To love life is to love God. The hardest and the most blessed thing is to love this life in one’s sufferings, in undeserved suffering.

“Karataev!” flashed into Pierre’s mind. And all at once there rose up, as vivid as though alive, the image, long forgotten, of the gentle old teacher, who had given Pierre geography lessons in Switzerland. “Wait a minute,” the old man was saying. And he was showing Pierre a globe. This globe was a living, quivering ball, with no definite limits. Its whole surface consisted of drops, closely cohering together. And those drops were all in motion, and changing, several passing into one, and then one splitting up again into many. Every drop seemed striving to spread, to take up more space, but the others, pressing upon it, sometimes absorbed it, sometimes melted into it.

“This is life,” the old teacher was saying.

“How simple it is and how clear,” thought Pierre. “How was it I did not know that before? God is in the midst, and each drop strives to expand, to reflect Him on the largest scale possible. And it grows, and is absorbed and crowded out, and on the surface it disappears, goes back into the depths, and falls not to the surface again. That is how it is with him, with Karataev; he is absorbed and has disappeared.”

“You understand, my child,” said the teacher.

“You understand, damn you!” shouted a voice, and Pierre woke up.

He raised his head and sat up. A French soldier was squatting on his heels by the fire. He had just shoved away a Russian soldier, and was roasting a piece of meat on the end of a ramrod. His sinewy, lean, hairy, red hands, with short fingers, were deftly turning the ramrod. His brown, morose face, with its sullen brows, could be clearly seen in the light of the glowing embers.

“It’s just the same to him,” he muttered, quickly addressing a soldier standing behind him. “Brigand! go!”

And the soldier, turning the ramrod, glanced gloomily at Pierre. The latter turned away, gazing into the shadows. A Russian soldier, the one who had been pushed away, was sitting near the fire, patting something with his hand. Looking more closely, Pierre saw the grey dog, who was sitting by the soldier, wagging her tail.

“Ah, she has come …” said Pierre. “And Plat …” he was beginning, but he did not go on. All at once, instantly in close connection, there rose up the memory of the look Platon had fixed upon him, as he sat under the tree, of the shot heard at that spot, of the dog’s howl, of the guilty faces of the soldiers as they ran by, of the smoking gun, of Karataev’s absence at that halting-place; and he was on the point of fully realising that Karataev had been killed, but at the same instant, at some mysterious summons, there rose up the memory of a summer evening he had spent with a beautiful Polish lady on the verandah of his house at Kiev. And nevertheless, making no effort to connect the impressions of the day, and to deduce anything from them, Pierre closed his eyes, and the picture of the summer night in the country mingled with the thought of bathing and of that fluid, quivering globe, and he seemed to sink deep down into water, so that the waters closed over his head.

Before sunrise he was wakened by loud and rapid shots and outcries. The French were flying by him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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