Following Rostopchin's example the others also rose.
In the morning, when he went to call at Rostopchin's he met there a courier fresh from the army, an acquaintance of his own, who often danced at Moscow balls.
When Pierre returned home he was handed two of Rostopchin's broadsheets that had been brought that day.
They went away even before the battle of Borodino and still more rapidly after it, despite Rostopchin's calls to defend Moscow or the announcement of his intention to take the wonder-working icon of the Iberian Mother of God and go to fight, or of the balloons that were to destroy the French, and despite all the nonsense Rostopchin wrote in his broadsheets.
The lady who, afraid of being stopped by Count Rostopchin's orders, had already in June moved with her Negroes and her women jesters from Moscow to her Saratov estate, with a vague consciousness that she was not Bonaparte's servant, was really, simply, and truly carrying out the great work which saved Russia.
Close to the gates of the city he was met by Count Rostopchin's adjutant.
As Pierre was entering the reception room a courier from the army came out of Rostopchin's private room.
Pierre did not answer and left Rostopchin's room more sullen and angry than he had ever before shown himself.
In spite of Rostopchin's broadsheets, or because of them or independently of them, the strangest and most contradictory rumors were current in the town.
He said the people had been getting arms in the Kremlin, and that though Rostopchin's broadsheet had said that he would sound a call two or three days in advance, the order had certainly already been given for everyone to go armed to the Three Hills tomorrow, and that there would be a big battle there.
The superintendent of police, who had gone that morning by Count Rostopchin's orders to burn the barges and had in connection with that matter acquired a large sum of money which was at that moment in his pocket, on seeing a crowd bearing down upon him told his coachman to stop.
He had known that Moscow would be abandoned not merely since his interview the previous day with Kutuzov on the Poklonny Hill but ever since the battle of Borodino, for all the generals who came to Moscow after that battle had said unanimously that it was impossible to fight another battle, and since then the government property had been removed every night, and half the inhabitants had left the city with Rostopchin's own permission.
If one accepts this twofold aim all Rostopchin's actions appear irreproachable.
On what, then, was Count Rostopchin's fear for the tranquillity of Moscow based in 1812?
Hearing not so much the words as the angry tone of Rostopchin's voice, the crowd moaned and heaved forward, but again paused.
Kutuzov slightly shook his head and not taking his penetrating gaze from Rostopchin's face muttered softly:
However tempting it might be for the French to blame Rostopchin's ferocity and for Russians to blame the scoundrel Bonaparte, or later on to place an heroic torch in the hands of their own people, it is impossible not to see that there could be no such direct cause of the fire, for Moscow had to burn as every village, factory, or house must burn which is left by its owners and in which strangers are allowed to live and cook their porridge.