The Sokolniki field was deserted. Only at the end of it, in front of the almshouse and the lunatic asylum, could be seen some people in white and others like them walking singly across the field shouting and gesticulating.
One of these was running to cross the path of Count Rostopchin's carriage, and the count himself, his coachman, and his dragoons looked with vague horror and curiosity at these released lunatics and especially at the one running toward them.
Swaying from side to side on his long, thin legs in his fluttering dressing gown, this lunatic was running impetuously, his gaze fixed on Rostopchin, shouting something in a hoarse voice and making signs to him to stop. The lunatic's solemn, gloomy face was thin and yellow, with its beard growing in uneven tufts. His black, agate pupils with saffron-yellow whites moved restlessly near the lower eyelids.
"Stop! Pull up, I tell you!" he cried in a piercing voice, and again shouted something breathlessly with emphatic intonations and gestures.
Coming abreast of the caleche he ran beside it.
"Thrice have they slain me, thrice have I risen from the dead. They stoned me, crucified me . . . I shall rise . . . shall rise . . . shall rise. They have torn my body. The kingdom of God will be overthrown . . . Thrice will I overthrow it and thrice re-establish it!" he cried, raising his voice higher and higher.
Count Rostopchin suddenly grew pale as he had done when the crowd closed in on Vereshchagin. He turned away."Go fas . . . faster!" he cried in a trembling voice to his coachman. The caleche flew over the ground as fast as the horses could draw it, but for a long time Count Rostopchin still heard the insane despairing screams growing fainter in the distance, while his eyes saw nothing but the astonished, frightened, bloodstained face of"the traitor" in the fur-lined coat.
Recent as that mental picture was, Rostopchin already felt that it had cut deep into his heart and drawn blood. Even now he felt clearly that the gory trace of that recollection would not pass with time, but that the terrible memory would, on the contrary, dwell in his heart ever more cruelly and painfully to the end of his life. He seemed still to hear the sound of his own words:"Cut him down! I command it . . . ."
"Why did I utter those words? It was by some accident I said them . . . . I need not have said them," he thought."And then nothing would have happened." He saw the frightened and then infuriated face of the dragoon who dealt the blow, the look of silent, timid reproach that boy in the fur-lined coat had turned upon him."But I did not do it for my own sake. I was bound to act that way . . . . The mob, the traitor . . . the public welfare," thought he.
Troops were still crowding at the Yauza bridge. It was hot. Kutuzov, dejected and frowning, sat on a bench by the bridge toying with his whip in the sand when a caleche dashed up noisily. A man in a general's uniform with plumes in his hat went up to Kutuzov and said something in French. It was Count Rostopchin. He told Kutuzov that he had come because Moscow, the capital, was no more and only the army remained.
"Things would have been different if your Serene Highness had not told me that you would not abandon Moscow without another battle; all this would not have happened," he said.
Kutuzov looked at Rostopchin as if, not grasping what was said to him, he was trying to read something peculiar written at that moment on the face of the man addressing him. Rostopchin grew confused and became silent. Kutuzov slightly shook his head and not taking his penetrating gaze from Rostopchin's face muttered softly:
"No! I shall not give up Moscow without a battle!"
Whether Kutuzov was thinking of something entirely different when he spoke those words, or uttered them purposely, knowing them to be meaningless, at any rate Rostopchin made no reply and hastily left him. And strange to say, the Governor of Moscow, the proud Count Rostopchin, took up a Cossack whip and went to the bridge where he began with shouts to drive on the carts that blocked the way.