Pierre laughed.

“Not once, never. Every one always imagines that to be a prisoner is equivalent to being on a visit to Napoleon. I never saw, never even heard anything about him. I was in much lower company.”

Supper was over, and Pierre, who had at first refused to talk about his captivity, was gradually drawn into telling them about it.

“But it is true that you stayed behind to kill Napoleon?” Natasha asked him with a slight smile. “I guessed that at the time when we met you by the Suharev Tower: do you remember?”

Pierre owned that it was so; and from that question was led on by Princess Marya’s, and still more by Natasha’s, questions to give a detailed account of his adventures.

At first he told his story with that tone of gentle irony that he always had now towards men and especially towards himself. But as he came to describe the horrors and sufferings he had seen, he was drawn on unawares, and began to speak with the suppressed emotion of a man living again in imagination through the intense impressions of the past.

Princess Marya looked from Pierre to Natasha with a gentle smile. In all he told them she saw only Pierre and his goodness. Natasha, her head supported in her hand, and her face changing continually with the story, watched Pierre, never taking her eyes off him, and was in imagination passing through all he told her with him. Not only her eyes, but her exclamations and the brief questions she put showed Pierre that she understood from his words just what he was trying to convey by them. It was evident that she understood, not only what he said, but also what he would have liked to say and could not express in words. The episode of the child and of the woman in whose defence he was taken prisoner, Pierre described in this way. “It was an awful scene, children abandoned, some in the midst of the fire … Children were dragged out before my eyes … and women, who had their things pulled off them, earrings torn off …”

Pierre flushed and hesitated. “Then a patrol came up and all who were not pillaging, all the men, that is, they took prisoner. And me with them.”

“I am sure you are not telling us all; I am sure you did something,” said Natasha, and after a moment’s pause, “something good.”

Pierre went on with his story. When he came to the execution, he would have passed over the horrible details of it, but Natasha insisted on his leaving nothing out.

Pierre was beginning to tell them about Karataev; he had risen from the table and was walking up and down, Natasha following him with her eyes.

“No,” he said, stopping short in his story, “you cannot understand what I learned from that illiterate man—that simple creature.”

“No, no, tell us,” said Natasha. “Where is he now?”

“He was killed almost before my eyes.”

And Pierre began to describe the latter part of their retreat, Karataev’s illness (his voice shook continually) and then his death.

Pierre told the tale of his adventures as he had never thought of them before. He saw now as it were a new significance in all he had been through. He experienced now in telling it all to Natasha that rare happiness given to men by women when they listen to them—not by clever women, who, as they listen, are either trying to remember what they are told to enrich their intellect and on occasion to repeat it, or

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