War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - HTML preview
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"Colonel," he said, addressing Rostov's enemy with an air of gloomy gravity and glancing round at his comrades, "there is an order to stop and fire the bridge."
"An order to who?" asked the colonel morosely. "I don't myself know 'to who,'" replied the cornet in a serious tone, "but the prince told me to 'go and tell the colonel that the hussars must return quickly and fire the bridge.'"
Zherkov was followed by an officer of the suite who rode up to the colonel of hussars with the same order. After him the stout Nesvitski came galloping up on a Cossack horse that could scarcely carry his weight.
"How's this, Colonel?" he shouted as he approached. "I told you to fire the bridge, and now someone has gone and blundered; they are all beside themselves over there and one can't make anything out."The colonel deliberately stopped the regiment and turned to Nesvitski. "You spoke to me of inflammable material," said he, "but you said nothing about firing it."
"But, my dear sir," said Nesvitski as he drew up, taking off his cap and smoothing his hair wet with perspiration with his plump hand, "wasn't I telling you to fire the bridge, when inflammable material had been put in position?"
"I am not your 'dear sir,' Mr. Staff Officer, and you did not tell me to burn the bridge! I know the service, and it is my habit orders strictly to obey. You said the bridge would be burned, but who would it burn, I could not know by the holy spirit!""Ah, that's always the way!" said Nesvitski with a wave of the hand. "How did you get here?" said he, turning to Zherkov. "On the same business. But you are damp! Let me wring you out!" "You were saying, Mr. Staff Officer..." continued the colonel in an offended tone. "Colonel," interrupted the officer of the suite, "You must be quick or the enemy will bring up his guns to use grapeshot." The colonel looked silently at the officer of the suite, at the stout staff officer, and at Zherkov, and he frowned.
"I will the bridge fire," he said in a solemn tone as if to announce that in spite of all the unpleasantness he had to endure he would still do the right thing.
Striking his horse with his long muscular legs as if it were to blame for everything, the colonel moved forward and ordered the second squadron, that in which Rostov was serving under Denisov, to return to the bridge.
"There, it's just as I thought," said Rostov to himself. "He wishes to test me!" His heart contracted and the blood rushed to his face. "Let him see whether I am a coward!" he thought.
Again on all the bright faces of the squadron the serious expression appeared that they had worn when under fire. Rostov watched his enemy, the colonel, closely--to find in his face confirmation of his own conjecture, but the colonel did not once glance at Rostov, and looked as he always did when at the front, solemn and stern. Then came the word of command."Look sharp! Look sharp!" several voices repeated around him.
Their sabers catching in the bridles and their spurs jingling, the hussars hastily dismounted, not knowing what they were to do. The men were crossing themselves. Rostov no longer looked at the colonel, he had no time. He was afraid of falling behind the hussars, so much afraid that his heart stood still. His hand trembled as he gave his horse into an orderly's charge, and he felt the blood rush to his heart with a thud. Denisov rode past him, leaning back and shouting something. Rostov saw nothing but the hussars running all around him, their spurs catching and their sabers clattering."Stretchers!" shouted someone behind him.
Rostov did not think what this call for stretchers meant; he ran on, trying only to be ahead of the others; but just at the bridge, not looking at the ground, he came on some sticky, trodden mud, stumbled, and fell on his hands. The others outstripped him.
"At boss zides, Captain," he heard the voice of the colonel, who, having ridden ahead, had pulled up his horse near the bridge, with a triumphant, cheerful face.
Rostov wiping his muddy hands on his breeches looked at his enemy and was about to run on, thinking that the farther he went to the front the better. But Bogdanich, without looking at or recognizing Rostov, shouted to him:
"Who's that running on the middle of the bridge? To the right! Come back, Cadet!" he cried angrily; and turning to Denisov, who, showing off his courage, had ridden on to the planks of the bridge:"Why run risks, Captain? You should dismount," he said. "Oh, every bullet has its billet," answered Vaska Denisov, turning in his saddle.
Meanwhile Nesvitski, Zherkov, and the officer of the suite were standing together out of range of the shots, watching, now the small group of men with yellow shakos, dark-green jackets braided with cord, and blue riding breeches, who were swarming near the bridge, and then at what was approaching in the distance from the opposite side- the blue uniforms and groups with horses, easily recognizable as artillery.
"Will they burn the bridge or not? Who'll get there first? Will they get there and fire the bridge or will the French get within grapeshot range and wipe them out?" These were the questions each man of the troops on the high ground above the bridge involuntarily asked himself with a sinking heart--watching the bridge and the hussars in the bright evening light and the blue tunics advancing from the other side with their bayonets and guns."Ugh. The hussars will get it hot!" said Nesvitski; "they are within grapeshot range now." "He shouldn't have taken so many men," said the officer of the suite. "True enough," answered Nesvitski; "two smart fellows could have done the job just as well."
"Ah, your excellency," put in Zherkov, his eyes fixed on the hussars, but still with that naive air that made it impossible to know whether he was speaking in jest or in earnest. "Ah, your excellency! How you look at things! Send two men? And who then would give us the Vladimir medal and ribbon? But now, even if they do get peppered, the squadron may be recommended for honors and he may get a ribbon. Our Bogdanich knows how things are done.""There now!" said the officer of the suite, "that's grapeshot." He pointed to the French guns, the limbers of which were being detached and hurriedly removed.
On the French side, amid the groups with cannon, a cloud of smoke appeared, then a second and a third almost simultaneously, and at the moment when the first report was heard a fourth was seen. Then two reports one after another, and a third.
"Oh! Oh!" groaned Nesvitski as if in fierce pain, seizing the officer of the suite by the arm. "Look! A man has fallen! Fallen, fallen!"
"Two, I think."
The French guns were hastily reloaded. The infantry in their blue uniforms advanced toward the bridge at a run. Smoke appeared again but at irregular intervals, and grapeshot cracked and rattled onto the bridge. But this time Nesvitski could not see what was happening there, as a dense cloud of smoke arose from it. The hussars had succeeded in setting it on fire and the French batteries were now firing at them, no longer to hinder them but because the guns were trained and there was someone to fire at.
The French had time to fire three rounds of grapeshot before the hussars got back to their horses. Two were misdirected and the shot went too high, but the last round fell in the midst of a group of hussars and knocked three of them over.
Rostov, absorbed by his relations with Bogdanich, had paused on the bridge not knowing what to do. There was no one to hew down (as he had always imagined battles to himself), nor could he help to fire the bridge because he had not brought any burning straw with him like the other soldiers. He stood looking about him, when suddenly he heard a rattle on the bridge as if nuts were being spilt, and the hussar nearest to him fell against the rails with a groan. Rostov ran up to him with the others. Again someone shouted, "Stretchers!" Four men seized the hussar and began lifting him."Oooh! For Christ's sake let me alone!" cried the wounded man, but still he was lifted and laid on the stretcher.
Nicholas Rostov turned away and, as if searching for something, gazed into the distance, at the waters of the Danube, at the sky, and at the sun. How beautiful the sky looked; how blue, how calm, and how deep! How bright and glorious was the setting sun! With what soft glitter the waters of the distant Danube shone. And fairer still were the faraway blue mountains beyond the river, the nunnery, the mysterious gorges, and the pine forests veiled in the mist of their summits... There was peace and happiness... "I should wishing for nothing else, nothing, if only I were there," thought Rostov. "In myself alone and in that sunshine there is so much happiness; but here... groans, suffering, fear, and this uncertainty and hurry... There--they are shouting again, and again are all running back somewhere, and I shall run with them, and it, death, is here above me and around... Another instant and I shall never again see the sun, this water, that gorge!..."
At that instant the sun began to hide behind the clouds, and other stretchers came into view before Rostov. And the fear of death and of the stretchers, and love of the sun and of life, all merged into one feeling of sickening agitation."O Lord God! Thou who art in that heaven, save, forgive, and protect me!" Rostov whispered.
The hussars ran back to the men who held their horses; their voices sounded louder and calmer, the stretchers disappeared from sight."Well, fwiend? So you've smelt powdah!" shouted Vaska Denisov just above his ear.
"It's all over; but I am a coward--yes, a coward!" thought Rostov, and sighing deeply he took Rook, his horse, which stood resting one foot, from the orderly and began to mount."Was that grapeshot?" he asked Denisov.
"Yes and no mistake!" cried Denisov. "You worked like wegular bwicks and it's nasty work! An attack's pleasant work! Hacking away at the dogs! But this sort of thing is the very devil, with them shooting at you like a target."
And Denisov rode up to a group that had stopped near Rostov, composed of the colonel, Nesvitski, Zherkov, and the officer from the suite.
"Well, it seems that no one has noticed," thought Rostov. And this was true. No one had taken any notice, for everyone knew the sensation which the cadet under fire for the first time had experienced."Here's something for you to report," said Zherkov. "See if I don't get promoted to a sublieutenancy." "Inform the prince that I the bridge fired!" said the colonel triumphantly and gaily. "And if he asks about the losses?"
"A trifle," said the colonel in his bass voice: "two hussars wounded, and one knocked out," he added, unable to restrain a happy smile, and pronouncing the phrase "knocked out" with ringing distinctness.
CHAPTER IX Pursued by the French army of a hundred thousand men under the command of Bonaparte, encountering a population that was unfriendly to it, losing confidence in its allies, suffering from shortness of
supplies, and compelled to act under conditions of war unlike anything that had been foreseen, the Russian army of thirty-five thousand men commanded by Kutuzov was hurriedly retreating along the Danube, stopping where overtaken by the enemy and fighting rearguard actions only as far as necessary to enable it to retreat without losing its heavy equipment. There had been actions at Lambach, Amstetten, and Melk; but despite the courage and endurance--acknowledged even by the enemy--with which the Russians fought, the only consequence of these actions was a yet more rapid retreat. Austrian troops that had escaped capture at Ulm and had joined Kutuzov at Braunau now separated from the Russian army, and Kutuzov was left with only his own weak and exhausted forces. The defense of Vienna was no longer to be thought of. Instead of an offensive, the plan of which, carefully prepared in accord with the modern science of strategics, had been handed to Kutuzov when he was in Vienna by the Austrian Hofkriegsrath, the sole and almost unattainable aim remaining for him was to effect a junction with the forces that were advancing from Russia, without losing his army as Mack had done at Ulm.
On the twenty-eighth of October Kutuzov with his army crossed to the left bank of the Danube and took up a position for the first time with the river between himself and the main body of the French. On the thirtieth he attacked Mortier's division, which was on the left bank, and broke it up. In this action for the first time trophies were taken: banners, cannon, and two enemy generals. For the first time, after a fortnight's retreat, the Russian troops had halted and after a fight had not only held the field but had repulsed the French. Though the troops were ill-clad, exhausted, and had lost a third of their number in killed, wounded, sick, and stragglers; though a number of sick and wounded had been abandoned on the other side of the Danube with a letter in which Kutuzov entrusted them to the humanity of the enemy; and though the big hospitals and the houses in Krems converted into military hospitals could no longer accommodate all the sick and wounded, yet the stand made at Krems and the victory over Mortier raised the spirits of the army considerably. Throughout the whole army and at headquarters most joyful though erroneous rumors were rife of the imaginary approach of columns from Russia, of some victory gained by the Austrians, and of the retreat of the
Prince Andrew during the battle had been in attendance on the Austrian General Schmidt, who was killed in the action. His horse had been wounded under him and his own arm slightly grazed by a bullet. As a mark of the commander in chief's special favor he was sent with the news of this victory to the Austrian court, now no longer at Vienna (which was threatened by the French) but at Brunn. Despite his apparently delicate build Prince Andrew could endure physical fatigue far better than many very muscular men, and on the night of the battle, having arrived at Krems excited but not weary, with dispatches from Dokhturov to Kutuzov, he was sent immediately with a special dispatch to Brunn. To be so sent meant not only a reward but an important step toward promotion.
The night was dark but starry, the road showed black in the snow that had fallen the previous day--the day of the battle. Reviewing his impressions of the recent battle, picturing pleasantly to himself the impression his news of a victory would create, or recalling the send-off given him by the commander in chief and his fellow officers, Prince Andrew was galloping along in a post chaise enjoying the feelings of a man who has at length begun to attain a long-desired happiness. As soon as he closed his eyes his ears seemed filled with the rattle of the wheels and the sensation of victory. Then he began to imagine that the Russians were running away and that he himself was killed, but he quickly roused himself with a feeling of joy, as if learning afresh that this was not so but that on the contrary the French had run away. He again recalled all the details of the victory and his own calm courage during the battle, and feeling reassured he dozed off.... The dark starry night was followed by a bright cheerful morning. The snow was thawing in the sunshine, the horses galloped quickly, and on both sides of the road were forests of different kinds, fields, and villages.
At one of the post stations he overtook a convoy of Russian wounded. The Russian officer in charge of the transport lolled back in the front cart, shouting and scolding a soldier with coarse abuse. In each of the long German carts six or more pale, dirty, bandaged men were being jolted over the stony road. Some of them were talking (he heard Russian words), others were eating bread; the more severely wounded looked silently, with the languid interest of sick children, at the envoy hurrying past them.
Prince Andrew told his driver to stop, and asked a soldier in what action they had been wounded. "Day before yesterday, on the Danube," answered the soldier. Prince Andrew took out his purse and gave the soldier three gold pieces."That's for them all," he said to the officer who came up. "Get well soon, lads!" he continued, turning to the soldiers. "There's plenty to do still." "What news, sir?" asked the officer, evidently anxious to start a conversation. "Good news!... Go on!" he shouted to the driver, and they galloped on.
It was already quite dark when Prince Andrew rattled over the paved streets of Brunn and found himself surrounded by high buildings, the lights of shops, houses, and street lamps, fine carriages, and all that atmosphere of a large and active town which is always so attractive to a soldier after camp life. Despite his rapid journey and sleepless night, Prince Andrew when he drove up to the palace felt even more vigorous and alert than he had done the day before. Only his eyes gleamed feverishly and his thoughts followed one another with extraordinary clearness and rapidity. He again vividly recalled the details of the battle, no longer dim, but definite and in the concise form in which he imagined himself stating them to the Emperor Francis. He vividly imagined the casual questions that might be put to him and the answers he would give. He expected to be at once presented to the Emperor. At the chief entrance to the palace, however, an official came running out to meet him, and learning that he was a special messenger led him to another entrance.
"To the right from the corridor, Euer Hochgeboren! There you will find the adjutant on duty," said the official. "He will conduct you to the Minister of War."
The adjutant on duty, meeting Prince Andrew, asked him to wait, and went in to the Minister of War. Five minutes later he returned and bowing with particular courtesy ushered Prince Andrew before him along a corridor to the cabinet where the Minister of War was at work. The adjutant by his elaborate courtesy appeared to wish to ward off any attempt at familiarity on the part of the Russian messenger.
Prince Andrew's joyous feeling was considerably weakened as he approached the door of the minister's room. He felt offended, and without his noticing it the feeling of offense immediately turned into one of disdain which was quite uncalled for. His fertile mind instantly suggested to him a point of view which gave him a right to despise the adjutant and the minister. "Away from the smell of powder, they probably think it easy to gain victories!" he thought. His eyes narrowed disdainfully, he entered the room of the Minister of War with peculiarly deliberate steps. This feeling of disdain was heightened when he saw the minister seated at a large table reading some papers and making pencil notes on them, and for the first two or three minutes taking no notice of his arrival. A wax candle stood at each side of the minister's bent bald head with its gray temples. He went on reading to the end, without raising his eyes at the opening of the door and the sound of footsteps."Take this and deliver it," said he to his adjutant, handing him the papers and still taking no notice of the special messenger.
Prince Andrew felt that either the actions of Kutuzov's army interested the Minister of War less than any of the other matters he was concerned with, or he wanted to give the Russian special messenger that impression. "But that is a matter of perfect indifference to me," he thought. The minister drew the remaining papers together, arranged them evenly, and then raised his head. He had an intellectual and distinctive head, but the instant he turned to Prince Andrew the firm, intelligent expression on his face changed in a way evidently deliberate and habitual to him. His face took on the stupid artificial smile (which does not even attempt to hide its artificiality) of a man who is continually receiving many petitioners one after another.
"From General Field Marshal Kutuzov?" he asked. "I hope it is good news? There has been an encounter with Mortier? A victory? It was high time!"He took the dispatch which was addressed to him and began to read it with a mournful expression. "Oh, my God! My God! Schmidt!" he exclaimed in German. "What a calamity! What a calamity!" Having glanced through the dispatch he laid it on the table and looked at Prince Andrew, evidently considering something.
"Ah what a calamity! You say the affair was decisive? But Mortier is not captured." Again he pondered. "I am very glad you have brought good news, though Schmidt's death is a heavy price to pay for the victory. His Majesty will no doubt wish to see you, but not today. I thank you! You must have a rest. Be at the levee tomorrow after the parade. However, I will let you know."The stupid smile, which had left his face while he was speaking, reappeared. "Au revoir! Thank you very much. His Majesty will probably desire to see you," he added, bowing his head.
When Prince Andrew left the palace he felt that all the interest and happiness the victory had afforded him had been now left in the indifferent hands of the Minister of War and the polite adjutant. The whole tenor of his thoughts instantaneously changed; the battle seemed the memory of a remote event long past.
CHAPTER X Prince Andrew stayed at Brunn with Bilibin, a Russian acquaintance of his in the diplomatic service.
"Ah, my dear prince! I could not have a more welcome visitor," said Bilibin as he came out to meet Prince Andrew. "Franz, put the prince's things in my bedroom," said he to the servant who was ushering Bolkonski in. "So you're a messenger of victory, eh? Splendid! And I am sitting here ill, as you see."
After washing and dressing, Prince Andrew came into the diplomat's luxurious study and sat down to the dinner prepared for him. Bilibin settled down comfortably beside the fire.
After his journey and the campaign during which he had been deprived of all the comforts of cleanliness and all the refinements of life, Prince Andrew felt a pleasant sense of repose among luxurious surroundings such as he had been accustomed to from childhood. Besides it was pleasant, after his reception by the Austrians, to speak if not in Russian (for they were speaking French) at least with a Russian who would, he supposed, share the general Russian antipathy to the Austrians which was then particularly strong.
Bilibin was a man of thirty-five, a bachelor, and of the same circle as Prince Andrew. They had known each other previously in Petersburg, but had become more intimate when Prince Andrew was in Vienna with Kutuzov. Just as Prince Andrew was a young man who gave promise of rising high in the military profession, so to an even greater extent Bilibin gave promise of rising in his diplomatic career. He still a young man but no longer a young diplomat, as he had entered the service at the age of sixteen, had been in Paris and Copenhagen, and now held a rather important post in Vienna. Both the foreign minister and our ambassador in Vienna knew him and valued him. He was not one of those many diplomats who are esteemed because they have certain negative qualities, avoid doing certain things, and speak French. He was one of those, who, liking work, knew how to do it, and despite his indolence would sometimes spend a whole night at his writing table. He worked well whatever the import of his work. It was not the question "What for?" but the question "How?" that interested him. What the diplomatic matter might be he did not care, but it gave him great pleasure to prepare a circular, memorandum, or report, skillfully, pointedly, and elegantly. Bilibin's services
were valued not only for what he wrote, but also for his skill in dealing and conversing with those in the highest spheres.
Bilibin liked conversation as he liked work, only when it could be made elegantly witty. In society he always awaited an opportunity to say something striking and took part in a conversation only when that was possible. His conversation was always sprinkled with wittily original, finished phrases of general interest. These sayings were prepared in the inner laboratory of his mind in a portable form as if intentionally, so that insignificant society people might carry them from drawing room to drawing room. And, in fact, Bilibin's witticisms were hawked about in the Viennese drawing rooms and often had an influence on matters considered important.
His thin, worn, sallow face was covered with deep wrinkles, which always looked as clean and well washed as the tips of one's fingers after a Russian bath. The movement of these wrinkles formed the principal play of expression on his face. Now his forehead would pucker into deep folds and his eyebrows were lifted, then his eyebrows would descend and deep wrinkles would crease his cheeks. His small, deep-set eyes always twinkled and looked out straight."Well, now tell me about your exploits," said he. Bolkonski, very modestly without once mentioning himself, described the engagement and his reception by the Minister of War. "They received me and my news as one receives a dog in a game of skittles," said he in conclusion. Bilibin smiled and the wrinkles on his face disappeared.
"Cependant, mon cher," he remarked, examining his nails from a distance and puckering the skin above his left eye, "malgre la haute estime que je professe pour the Orthodox Russian army, j'avoue que votre victoire n'est pas des plus victorieuses."**"But my dear fellow, with all my respect for the Orthodox Russian army, I must say that your victory was not particularly victorious." He went on talking in this way in French, uttering only those words in Russian on which he wished to put a contemptuous emphasis.
"Come now! You with all your forces fall on the unfortunate Mortier and his one division, and even then Mortier slips through your fingers! Where's the victory?""But seriously," said Prince Andrew, "we can at any rate say without boasting that it was a little better than at Ulm..." "Why didn't you capture one, just one, marshal for us?"
"Because not everything happens as one expects or with the smoothness of a parade. We had expected, as I told you, to get at their rear by seven in the morning but had not reached it by five in the afternoon."
"And why didn't you do it at seven in the morning? You ought to have been there at seven in the morning," returned Bilibin with a smile. "You ought to have been there at seven in the morning."
"Why did you not succeed in impressing on Bonaparte by diplomatic methods that he had better leave Genoa alone?" retorted Prince Andrew in the same tone.
"I know," interrupted Bilibin, "you're thinking it's very easy to take marshals, sitting on a sofa by the fire! That is true, but still why didn't you capture him? So don't be surprised if not only the Minister of War but also his Most August Majesty the Emperor and King Francis is not much delighted by your victory. Even I, a poor secretary of the Russian Embassy, do not feel any need in token of my joy to give my Franz a thaler, or let him go with his Liebchen to the Prater... True, we have no Prater here..."He looked straight at Prince Andrew and suddenly unwrinkled his forehead.
"It is now my turn to ask you 'why?' mon cher," said Bolkonski. "I confess I do not understand: perhaps there are diplomatic subtleties here beyond my feeble intelligence, but I can't make it out. Mack loses a whole army, the Archduke Ferdinand and the Archduke Karl give no signs of life and make blunder after blunder. Kutuzov alone at last gains a real victory, destroying the spell of the invincibility of the French, and the Minister of War does not even care to hear the details."
"That's just it, my dear fellow. You see it's hurrah for the Tsar, for Russia, for the Orthodox Greek faith! All that is beautiful, but what do we, I mean the Austrian court, care for your victories? Bring us nice news of a victory by the Archduke Karl or Ferdinand (one archduke's as good as another, as you know) and even if it is only over a fire brigade of Bonaparte's, that will be another story and we'll fire off some cannon! But this sort of thing seems done on purpose to vex us. The Archduke Karl does nothing, the Archduke Ferdinand disgraces himself. You abandon Vienna, give up its defense--as much as to say: 'Heaven is with us, but heaven help you and your capital!' The one general whom we all loved, Schmidt, you expose to a bullet, and then you congratulate us on the victory! Admit that more irritating news than yours could not have been conceived. It's as if it had been done on purpose, on purpose. Besides, suppose you did gain a brilliant victory, if even the Archduke Karl gained a victory, what effect would that have on the general course of events? It's too late now when Vienna is occupied by the French army!""What? Occupied? Vienna occupied?" "Not only occupied, but Bonaparte is at Schonbrunn, and the count, our dear Count Vrbna, goes to him for orders."
After the fatigues and impressions of the journey, his reception, and especially after having dined, Bolkonski felt that he could not take in the full significance of the words he heard.
"Count Lichtenfels was here this morning," Bilibin continued, "and showed me a letter in which the parade of the French in Vienna was fully described: Prince Murat et tout le tremblement... You see that your victory is not a matter for great rejoicing and that you can't be received as a savior."
"Really I don't care about that, I don't care at all," said Prince Andrew, beginning to understand that his news of the battle before Krems was really of small importance in view of such events as the fall of Austria's capital. "How is it Vienna was taken? What of the bridge and its celebrated bridgehead and Prince Auersperg? We heard reports that Prince Auersperg was defending Vienna?" he said.
"Prince Auersperg is on this, on our side of the river, and is defending us--doing it very badly, I think, but still he is
defending us. But Vienna is on the other side. No, the bridge has not yet been taken and I hope it will not be, for it is mined and orders have been given to blow it up. Otherwise we should long ago have been in the mountains of Bohemia, and you and your army would have spent a bad quarter of an hour between two fires."
"Well, I think it is. The bigwigs here think so too, but they daren't say so. It will be as I said at the beginning of the campaign, it won't be your skirmishing at Durrenstein, or gunpowder at all, that will decide the matter, but those who devised it," said Bilibin quoting one of his own mots, releasing the wrinkles on his forehead, and pausing. "The only question is what will come of the meeting between the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia in Berlin? If Prussia joins the Allies, Austria's hand will be forced and there will be war. If not it is merely a question of settling where the preliminaries of the new Campo Formio are to be drawn up."
"What an extraordinary genius!" Prince Andrew suddenly exclaimed, clenching his small hand and striking the table with it, "and what luck the man has!"
"Buonaparte?" said Bilibin inquiringly, puckering up his forehead to indicate that he was about to say something witty. "Buonaparte?" he repeated, accentuating the u: "I think, however, now that he lays down laws for Austria at Schonbrunn, il faut lui faire grace de l'u!* I shall certainly adopt an innovation and call him simply Bonaparte!" *"We must let him off the u!""But joking apart," said Prince Andrew, "do you really think the campaign is over?"
"This is what I think. Austria has been made a fool of, and she is not used to it. She will retaliate. And she has been fooled in the first place because her provinces have been pillaged--they say the Holy Russian army loots terribly--her army is destroyed, her capital taken, and all this for the beaux yeux* of His Sardinian Majesty. And therefore--this is between ourselves--I instinctively feel that we are being deceived, my instinct tells me of negotiations with France and projects for peace, a secret peace concluded separately."*Fine eyes. "Impossible!" cried Prince Andrew. "That would be too base." "If we live we shall see," replied Bilibin, his face again becoming smooth as a sign that the conversation was at an end.
When Prince Andrew reached the room prepared for him and lay down in a clean shirt on the feather bed with its warmed and fragrant pillows, he felt that the battle of which he had brought tidings was far, far away from him. The alliance with Prussia, Austria's treachery, Bonaparte's new triumph, tomorrow's levee and parade, and the audience with the Emperor Francis occupied his thoughts.
He closed his eyes, and immediately a sound of cannonading, of musketry and the rattling of carriage wheels seemed to fill his ears, and now again drawn out in a thin line the musketeers were descending the hill, the French were firing, and he felt his heart palpitating as he rode forward beside Schmidt with the bullets merrily whistling all around, and he experienced tenfold the joy of living, as he had not done since childhood.He woke up... "Yes, that all happened!" he said, and, smiling happily to himself like a child, he fell into a deep, youthful slumber. CHAPTER XI
Next day he woke late. Recalling his recent impressions, the first thought that came into his mind was that today he had to be presented to the Emperor Francis; he remembered the Minister of War, the polite Austrian adjutant, Bilibin, and last night's
conversation. Having dressed for his attendance at court in full parade uniform, which he had not worn for a long time, he went into Bilibin's study fresh, animated, and handsome, with his hand bandaged. In the study were four gentlemen of the diplomatic corps. With Prince Hippolyte Kuragin, who was a secretary to the embassy, Bolkonski was already acquainted. Bilibin introduced him to the others.
The gentlemen assembled at Bilibin's were young, wealthy, gay society men, who here, as in Vienna, formed a special set which Bilibin, their leader, called les notres.* This set, consisting almost exclusively of diplomats, evidently had its own interests which had nothing to do with war or politics but related to high society, to certain women, and to the official side of the service. These gentlemen received Prince Andrew as one of themselves, an honor they did not extend to many. From politeness and to start conversation, they asked him a few questions about the army and the battle, and then the talk went off into merry jests and gossip.*Ours.
"But the best of it was," said one, telling of the misfortune of a fellow diplomat, "that the Chancellor told him flatly that his appointment to London was a promotion and that he was so to regard it. Can you fancy the figure he cut?..."
"But the worst of it, gentlemen--I am giving Kuragin away to you--is that that man suffers, and this Don Juan, wicked fellow, is taking advantage of it!"Prince Hippolyte was lolling in a lounge chair with his legs over its arm. He began to laugh. "Tell me about that!" he said. "Oh, you Don Juan! You serpent!" cried several voices.
"You, Bolkonski, don't know," said Bilibin turning to Prince Andrew, "that all the atrocities of the French army (I nearly said of the Russian army) are nothing compared to what this man has been doing among the women!"
"La femme est la compagne de l'homme,"* announced Prince Hippolyte, and began looking through a lorgnette at his elevated legs.
Bilibin and the rest of "ours" burst out laughing in Hippolyte's face, and Prince Andrew saw that Hippolyte, of whom--he had to admit--he had almost been jealous on his wife's account, was the butt of this set.
"Oh, I must give you a treat," Bilibin whispered to Bolkonski. "Kuragin is exquisite when he discusses politics--you should see his gravity!"
He sat down beside Hippolyte and wrinkling his forehead began talking to him about politics. Prince Andrew and the others gathered round these two.
"The Berlin cabinet cannot express a feeling of alliance," began Hippolyte gazing round with importance at the others, "without expressing... as in its last note... you understand... Besides, unless His Majesty the Emperor derogates from the principle of our alliance...
"Wait, I have not finished..." he said to Prince Andrew, seizing him by the arm, "I believe that intervention will be stronger than nonintervention. And..." he paused. "Finally one cannot impute the nonreceipt of our dispatch of November 18. That is how it will end." And he released Bolkonski's arm to indicate that he had now quite finished.
"Demosthenes, I know thee by the pebble thou secretest in thy golden mouth!" said Bilibin, and the mop of hair on his head moved with satisfaction.
Everybody laughed, and Hippolyte louder than anyone. He was evidently distressed, and breathed painfully, but could not restrain the wild laughter that convulsed his usually impassive features.
"Well now, gentlemen," said Bilibin, "Bolkonski is my guest in this house and in Brunn itself. I want to entertain him as far as I can, with all the pleasures of life here. If we were in Vienna it would be easy, but here, in this wretched Moravian hole, it is more difficult, and I beg you all to help me. Brunn's attractions must be shown him. You can undertake the theater, I society, and you, Hippolyte, of course the women."
"We must let him see Amelie, she's exquisite!" said one of "ours," kissing his finger tips.
"I shall scarcely be able to avail myself of your hospitality, gentlemen, it is already time for me to go," replied Prince Andrew looking at his watch."Where to?" "To the Emperor." "Oh! Oh! Oh! Well, au revoir, Bolkonski! Au revoir, Prince! Come back early to dinner," cried several voices. "We'll take you in hand."
"When speaking to the Emperor, try as far as you can to praise the way that provisions are supplied and the routes indicated," said Bilibin, accompanying him to the hall."I should like to speak well of them, but as far as I the facts, I can't," replied Bolkonski, smiling.
"Well, talk as much as you can, anyway. He has a passion for giving audiences, but he does not like talking himself and can't do it, as you will see."CHAPTER XII
At the levee Prince Andrew stood among the Austrian officers as he had been told to, and the Emperor Francis merely looked fixedly into his face and just nodded to him with to him with his long head. But after it was over, the adjutant he had seen the previous day ceremoniously informed Bolkonski that the Emperor desired to give him an audience. The Emperor Francis received him standing in the middle of the room. Before the conversation began Prince Andrew was struck by the fact that the Emperor seemed confused and blushed as if not knowing what to say."Tell me, when did the battle begin?" he asked hurriedly.
Prince Andrew replied. Then followed other questions just as simple: "Was Kutuzov well? When had he left Krems?" and so on. The Emperor spoke as if his sole aim were to put a given number of questions- the answers to these questions, as was only too evident, did not interest him."At what o'clock did the battle begin?" asked the Emperor.
"I cannot inform Your Majesty at what o'clock the battle began at the front, but at Durrenstein, where I was, our attack began after five in the afternoon," replied Bolkonski growing more animated and expecting that he would have a chance to give a reliable account, which he had ready in his mind, of all he knew and had seen. But the Emperor smiled and interrupted him."How many miles?" "From where to where, Your Majesty?" "From Durrenstein to Krems." "Three and a half miles, Your Majesty." "The French have abandoned the left bank?" "According to the scouts the last of them crossed on rafts during the night." "Is there sufficient forage in Krems?" "Forage has not been supplied to the extent..." The Emperor interrupted him. "At what o'clock was General Schmidt killed?" "At seven o'clock, I believe." "At seven o'clock? It's very sad, very sad!"
The Emperor thanked Prince Andrew and bowed. Prince Andrew withdrew and was immediately surrounded by courtiers on all sides. Everywhere he saw friendly looks and heard friendly words. Yesterday's adjutant reproached him for not having stayed at the palace, and offered him his own house. The Minister of War came up and congratulated him on the Maria Theresa Order of the third grade, which the Emperor was conferring on him. The Empress' chamberlain invited him to see Her Majesty. The archduchess also wished to see him. He did not know whom to answer, and for a few seconds collected his thoughts. Then the Russian ambassador took him by the shoulder, led him to the window, and began to talk to him.
Contrary to Bilibin's forecast the news he had brought was joyfully received. A thanksgiving service was arranged, Kutuzov was awarded the Grand Cross of Maria Theresa, and the whole army received rewards. Bolkonski was invited everywhere, and had to spend the whole morning calling on the principal Austrian dignitaries. Between four and five in the afternoon, having made all his calls, he was returning to Bilibin's house thinking out a letter to his father about the battle and his visit to Brunn. At the door he found a vehicle half full of luggage. Franz, Bilibin's man, was dragging a portmanteau with some difficulty out of the front door.
Before returning to Bilibin's Prince Andrew had gone to bookshop to provide himself with some books for the campaign, and had spent some time in the shop."What is it?" he asked.
"Oh, your excellency!" said Franz, with difficulty rolling the portmanteau into the vehicle, "we are to move on still farther. The scoundrel is again at our heels!""Eh? What?" asked Prince Andrew. Bilibin came out to meet him. His usually calm face showed excitement.
"There now! Confess that this is delightful," said he. "This affair of the Thabor Bridge, at Vienna.... They have crossed without striking a blow!"Prince Andrew could not understand. "But where do you come from not to know what every coachman in the town knows?" "I come from the archduchess'. I heard nothing there." "And you didn't see that everybody is packing up?" "I did not... What is it all about?" inquired Prince Andrew impatiently.
"What's it all about? Why, the French have crossed the bridge that Auersperg was defending, and the bridge was not blown up: so Murat is now rushing along the road to Brunn and will be here in a day or two.""What? Here? But why did they not blow up the bridge, if it was mined?" "That is what I ask you. No one, not even Bonaparte, knows why." Bolkonski shrugged his shoulders. "But if the bridge is crossed it means that the army too is lost? It will be cut off," said he.
"That's just it," answered Bilibin. "Listen! The French entered Vienna as I told you. Very well. Next day, which was yesterday, those gentlemen, messieurs les marechaux,* Murat, Lannes,and Belliard, mount and ride to bridge. (Observe that all three are Gascons.) 'Gentlemen,' says one of them, 'you know the Thabor Bridge is mined and doubly mined and that there are menacing fortifications at its head and an army of fifteen thousand men has been ordered to blow up the bridge and not let us cross? But it will please our sovereign the Emperor Napoleon if we take this bridge, so let us three go and take it!' 'Yes, let's!' say the others. And off they go and take the bridge, cross it, and now with their whole army are on this side of the Danube, marching on us, you, and your lines of communication."*The marshalls. "Stop jesting," said Prince Andrew sadly and seriously. This news grieved him and yet he was pleased.
As soon as he learned that the Russian army was in such a hopeless situation it occurred to him that it was he who was destined to lead it out of this position; that here was the Toulon that would lift him from the ranks of obscure officers and offer him the first step to fame! Listening to Bilibin he was already imagining how on reaching the army he would give an opinion at the war council which would be the only one that could save the army, and how he alone would be entrusted with the executing of the plan."Stop this jesting," he said
"I am not jesting," Bilibin went on. "Nothing is truer or sadder. These gentlemen ride onto the bridge alone and wave white handkerchiefs; they assure the officer on duty that they, the marshals, are on their way to negotiate with Prince Auersperg. He lets them enter the tete-de-pont.* They spin him a thousand gasconades, saying that the war is over, that the Emperor Francis is arranging a meeting with Bonaparte, that they desire to see Prince Auersperg, and so on. The officer sends for Auersperg; these gentlemen embrace the officers, crack jokes, sit on the cannon, and meanwhile a French battalion gets to the bridge unobserved, flings the bags of incendiary material into the water, and approaches the tete-de-pont. At length appears the lieutenant general, our dear Prince Auersperg von Mautern himself. 'Dearest foe! Flower of the Austrian army, hero of the Turkish wars Hostilities are ended, we can shake one another's hand.... The Emperor Napoleon burns with impatience to make Prince Auersperg's acquaintance.' In a word, those gentlemen, Gascons indeed, so bewildered him with fine words, and he is so flattered by his rapidly established intimacy with the French marshals, and so dazzled by the sight of Murat's mantle and ostrich plumes, qu'il n'y voit que du feu, et oublie celui qu'il devait faire faire sur
l'ennemi!"* In spite of the animation of his speech, Bilibin did not forget to pause after this mot to give time for its due
appreciation. "The French battalion rushes to the bridgehead, spikes the guns, and the bridge is taken! But what is best of all," he went on, his excitement subsiding under the delightful interest of his own story, "is that the sergeant in charge of the cannon which was to give the signal to fire the mines and blow up the bridge, this sergeant, seeing that the French troops were running onto the bridge, was about to fire, but Lannes stayed his hand. The sergeant, who was evidently wiser than his general, goes up to Auersperg and says: 'Prince, you are being deceived, here are the French!' Murat, seeing that all is lost if the sergeant is allowed to speak, turns to Auersperg with feigned astonishment (he is a true Gascon) and says: 'I don't recognize the world-famous Austrian discipline, if you allow a subordinate to address you like that!' It was a stroke of genius. Prince Auersperg feels his dignity at stake and orders the sergeant to be arrested. Come, you must own that this affair of the Thabor Bridge is delightful! It is not exactly stupidity, nor
"It may be treachery," said Prince Andrew, vividly imagining the gray overcoats, wounds, the smoke of gunpowder, the sounds of firing, and the glory that awaited him.
"Not that either. That puts the court in too bad a light," replied Bilibin. "It's not treachery nor rascality nor stupidity: it is just as at Ulm... it is..."--he seemed to be trying to find the right
expression. "C'est... c'est du Mack. Nous sommes mackes [It is... it is a bit of Mack. We are Macked]," he concluded, feeling that he had produced a good epigram, a fresh one that would be repeated. His hitherto puckered brow became smooth as a sign of pleasure, and with a slight smile he began to examine his nails.
"Why are you going? I know you think it your duty to gallop back to the army now that it is in danger. I understand that. Mon cher, it is heroism!""Not at all," said Prince Andrew.
"But as you are a philosopher, be a consistent one, look at the other side of the question and you will see that your duty, on the contrary, is to take care of yourself. Leave it to those who are no longer fit for anything else.... You have not been ordered to return and have not been dismissed from here; therefore, you can stay and go with us wherever our ill luck takes us. They say we are going to Olmutz, and Olmutz is a very decent town. You and I will travel comfortably in my caleche.""Do stop joking, Bilibin," cried Bolkonski.
"I am speaking sincerely as a friend! Consider! Where and why are you going, when you might remain here? You are faced by one of two things," and the skin over his left temple puckered, "either you will not reach your regiment before peace is concluded, or you will share defeat and disgrace with Kutuzov's whole army."And Bilibin unwrinkled his temple, feeling that the dilemma was insoluble. "I cannot argue about it," replied Prince Andrew coldly, but he thought: "I am going to save the army." "My dear fellow, you are a hero!" said Bilibin. CHAPTER XIII
That same night, having taken leave of the Minister of War, Bolkonski set off to rejoin the army, not knowing where he would find it and fearing to be captured by the French on the way to Krems.
In Brunn everybody attached to the court was packing up, and the heavy baggage was already being dispatched to Olmutz. Near Hetzelsdorf Prince Andrew struck the high road along which the Russian army was moving with great haste and in the greatest disorder. The road was so obstructed with carts that it was impossible to get by in a carriage. Prince Andrew took a horse and a Cossack from a Cossack commander, and hungry and weary, making his way past the baggage wagons, rode in search of the commander in chief and of his own luggage. Very sinister reports of the position of the army reached him as he went along, and the appearance of the troops in their disorderly flight confirmed these rumors.
"Cette armee russe que l'or de l'Angleterre a transportee des extremites de l'univers, nous allons lui faire eprouver le meme sort--(le sort de l'armee d'Ulm)."* He remembered these words in Bonaparte's address to his army at the beginning of the campaign, and they awoke in him astonishment at the genius of his hero, a feeling of wounded pride, and a hope of glory. "And should there be nothing left but to die?" he thought. "Well, if need be, I shall do it no worse than others."
*"That Russian army which has been brought from the ends of the earth by English gold, we shall cause to share the same fate--(the fate of the army at Ulm)."
He looked with disdain at the endless confused mass of detachments, carts, guns, artillery, and again baggage wagons and vehicles of all kinds overtaking one another and blocking the muddy road, three and sometimes four abreast. From all sides, behind and before, as far as ear could reach, there were the rattle of wheels, the creaking of carts and gun carriages, the tramp of horses, the crack of whips, shouts, the urging of horses, and the swearing of soldiers, orderlies, and officers. All along the sides of the road fallen horses were to be seen, some flayed, some not, and broken-down carts beside which solitary soldiers sat waiting for something, and again soldiers straggling from their companies, crowds of whom set off to the neighboring villages, or returned from them dragging sheep, fowls, hay, and bulging sacks. At each ascent or descent of the road the crowds were yet denser and the din of shouting more incessant. Soldiers floundering knee-deep in mud pushed the guns and wagons themselves. Whips cracked, hoofs slipped, traces broke, and lungs were strained with shouting. The officers directing the march rode backward and forward between the carts. Their voices were but feebly heard amid the uproar and one saw by their faces that they despaired of the possibility of checking this disorder."Here is our dear Orthodox Russian army," thought Bolkonski, recalling Bilibin's words.
Wishing to find out where the commander in chief was, he rode up to a convoy. Directly opposite to him came a strange one-horse vehicle, evidently rigged up by soldiers out of any available materials and looking like something between a cart, a cabriolet, and a caleche. A soldier was driving, and a woman enveloped in shawls sat behind the apron under the leather hood of the vehicle. Prince Andrew rode up and was just putting his question to a soldier when his attention was diverted by the desperate shrieks of the woman in the vehicle. An officer in charge of transport was beating the soldier who was driving the woman's vehicle for trying to get ahead of others, and the strokes of his whip fell on the apron of the equipage. The woman screamed piercingly. Seeing Prince Andrew she leaned out from behind the apron and, waving her thin arms from under the woolen shawl, cried:
"Mr. Aide-de-camp! Mr. Aide-de-camp!... For heaven's sake... Protect me! What will become of us? I am the wife of the doctor of the Seventh Chasseurs.... They won't let us pass, we are left behind and have lost our people...""I'll flatten you into a pancake!" shouted the angry officer to the soldier. "Turn back with your slut!" "Mr. Aide-de-camp! Help me!... What does it all mean?" screamed the doctor's wife. "Kindly let this cart pass. Don't you see it's a woman?" said Prince Andrew riding up to the officer. The officer glanced at him, and without replying turned again to the soldier. "I'll teach you to push on!... Back!"
"Let them pass, I tell you!" repeated Prince Andrew, compressing his lips.
"And who are you?" cried the officer, turning on him with tipsy rage, "who are you? Are you in command here? Eh? I am commander here, not you! Go back or I'll flatten you into a pancake," repeated he. This expression evidently pleased him.
Prince Andrew saw that the officer was in that state of senseless, tipsy rage when a man does not know what he is saying. He saw that his championship of the doctor's wife in her queer trap might expose him to what he dreaded more than anything in the world--to ridicule; but his instinct urged him on. Before the officer finished his sentence Prince Andrew, his face distorted with fury, rode up to him and raised his riding whip."Kind...ly let--them--pass!" The officer flourished his arm and hastily rode away. "It's all the fault of these fellows on the staff that there's this disorder," he muttered. "Do as you like."
Prince Andrew without lifting his eyes rode hastily away from the doctor's wife, who was calling him her deliverer, and recalling with a sense of disgust the minutest details of this humiliating scene he galloped on to the village where he was told that the commander in chief was.
On reaching the village he dismounted and went to the nearest house, intending to rest if but for a moment, eat something, and try to sort out the stinging and tormenting thoughts that confused his mind. "This is a mob of scoundrels and not an army," he was thinking as he went up to the window of the first house, when a familiar voice called him by name.
He turned round. Nesvitski's handsome face looked out of the little window. Nesvitski, moving his moist lips as he chewed something, and flourishing his arm, called him to enter."Bolkonski! Bolkonski!... Don't you hear? Eh? Come quick..." he shouted.
Entering the house, Prince Andrew saw Nesvitski and another adjutant having something to eat. They hastily turned round to him asking if he had any news. On their familiar faces he read agitation and alarm. This was particularly noticeable on Nesvitski's usually laughing countenance."Where is the commander in chief?" asked Bolkonski. "Here, in that house," answered the adjutant. "Well, is it true that it's peace and capitulation?" asked Nesvitski. "I was going to ask you. I know nothing except that it was all I could do to get here."
"And we, my dear boy! It's terrible! I was wrong to laugh at Mack, we're getting it still worse," said Nesvitski. "But sit down and have something to eat."
"You won't be able to find either your baggage or anything else now, Prince. And God only knows where your man Peter is," said the other adjutant."Where are headquarters?" "We are to spend the night in Znaim."
"Well, I have got all I need into packs for two horses," said Nesvitski. "They've made up splendid packs for me--fit to cross the Bohemian mountains with. It's a bad lookout, old fellow! But what's the matter with you? You must be ill to shiver like that," he added, noticing that Prince Andrew winced as at an electric shock."It's nothing," replied Prince Andrew. He had just remembered his recent encounter with the doctor's wife and the convoy officer. "What is the commander in chief doing here?" he asked. "I can't make out at all," said Nesvitski.
"Well, all I can make out is that everything is abominable, abominable, quite abominable!" said Prince Andrew, and he went off to the house where the commander in chief was.
Passing by Kutuzov's carriage and the exhausted saddle horses of his suite, with their Cossacks who were talking loudly together, Prince Andrew entered the passage. Kutuzov himself, he was told, was in the house with Prince Bagration and Weyrother. Weyrother was the Austrian general who had succeeded Schmidt. In the passage little Kozlovski was squatting on his heels in front of a clerk. The clerk, with cuffs turned up, was hastily writing at a tub turned bottom upwards. Kozlovski's face looked worn--he too had evidently not slept all night. He glanced at Prince Andrew and did not even nod to him.
"Second line... have you written it?" he continued dictating to the clerk. "The Kiev Grenadiers, Podolian..."
Through the door came the sounds of Kutuzov's voice, excited and dissatisfied, interrupted by another, an unfamiliar voice. From the sound of these voices, the inattentive way Kozlovski looked at him, the disrespectful manner of the exhausted clerk, the fact that the clerk and Kozlovski were squatting on the floor by a tub so near to the commander in chief, and from the noisy laughter of the Cossacks holding the horses near the window, Prince Andrew felt that something important and disastrous was about to happen.He turned to Kozlovski with urgent questions. "Immediately, Prince," said Kozlovski. "Dispositions for Bagration." "What about capitulation?" "Nothing of the sort. Orders are issued for a battle."
Prince Andrew moved toward the door from whence voices were heard. Just as he was going to open it the sounds ceased, the door opened, and Kutuzov with his eagle nose and puffy face appeared in the doorway. Prince Andrew stood right in front of Kutuzov but the expression of the commander in chief's one sound eye showed him to be so preoccupied with thoughts and anxieties as to be oblivious of his presence. He looked straight at his adjutant's face without recognizing him."Well, have you finished?" said he to Kozlovski. "One moment, your excellency."
Bagration, a gaunt middle-aged man of medium height with a firm, impassive face of Oriental type, came out after the commander in chief."I have the honor to present myself," repeated Prince Andrew rather loudly, handing Kutuzov an envelope. "Ah, from Vienna? Very good. Later, later!" Kutuzov went out into the porch with Bagration. "Well, good-by, Prince," said he to Bagration. "My blessing, and may
Christ be with you in your great endeavor!"
His face suddenly softened and tears came into his eyes. With his left hand he drew Bagration toward him, and with his right, on which he wore a ring, he made the sign of the cross over him with a gesture evidently habitual, offering his puffy cheek, but Bagration kissed him on the neck instead.
"There is still much, much before us," he said, as if with an old man's penetration he understood all that was passing in Bolkonski's mind. "If a tenth part of his detachment returns I shall thank God," he added as if speaking to himself.
Prince Andrew glanced at Kutuzov's face only a foot distant from him and involuntarily noticed the carefully washed seams of the scar near his temple, where an Ismail bullet had pierced his skull, and the empty eye socket. "Yes, he has a right to speak so calmly of those men's death," thought Bolkonski."That is why I beg to be sent to that detachment," he said.
Kutuzov did not reply. He seemed to have forgotten what he had been saying, and sat plunged in thought. Five minutes later, gently swaying on the soft springs of the carriage, he turned to Prince Andrew. There was not a trace of agitation on his face. With delicate irony he questioned Prince Andrew about the details of his interview with the Emperor, about the remarks he had heard at court concerning the Krems affair, and about some ladies they both knew.CHAPTER XIV
On November 1 Kutuzov had received, through a spy, news that the army he commanded was in an almost hopeless position. The spy reported that the French, after crossing the bridge at Vienna, were advancing in immense force upon Kutuzov's line of communication with the troops that were arriving from Russia. If Kutuzov decided to remain at Krems, Napoleon's army of one hundred and fifty thousand men would cut him off completely and surround his exhausted army of forty thousand, and he would find himself in the position of Mack at Ulm. If Kutuzov decided to abandon the road connecting him with the troops arriving from Russia, he would have to march with no road into unknown parts of the Bohemian mountains, defending himself against superior forces of the enemy and abandoning all hope of a junction with Buxhowden. If Kutuzov decided to retreat along the road from Krems to Olmutz, to unite with the troops arriving from Russia, he risked being forestalled on that road by the French who had crossed the Vienna bridge, and encumbered by his baggage and transport, having to accept battle on the march against an enemy three times as strong, who would hem him in from two sides.Kutuzov chose this latter course.
The French, the spy reported, having crossed the Vienna bridge, were advancing by forced marches toward Znaim, which lay sixty-six miles off on the line of Kutuzov's retreat. If he reached Znaim before the French, there would be great hope of saving the army; to let the French forestall him at Znaim meant the exposure of his whole army to a disgrace such as that of Ulm, or to utter destruction. But to forestall the French with his whole army was impossible. The road for the French from Vienna to Znaim was shorter and better than the road for the Russians from Krems to Znaim.
The night he received the news, Kutuzov sent Bagration's vanguard, four thousand strong, to the right across the hills from the
Krems-Znaim to the Vienna-Znaim road. Bagration was to make this march without resting, and to halt facing Vienna with Znaim to his rear, and if he succeeded in forestalling the French he was to delay them as long as possible. Kutuzov himself with all his transport took the road to Znaim.
Marching thirty miles that stormy night across roadless hills, with his hungry, ill-shod soldiers, and losing a third of his men as stragglers by the way, Bagration came out on the Vienna-Znaim road at Hollabrunn a few hours ahead of the French who were approaching Hollabrunn from Vienna. Kutuzov with his transport had still to march for some days before he could reach Znaim. Hence Bagration with his four thousand hungry, exhausted men would have to detain for days the whole enemy army that came upon him at Hollabrunn, which was clearly impossible. But a freak of fate made the impossible possible. The success of the trick that had placed the Vienna bridge in the hands of the French without a fight led Murat to try to deceive Kutuzov in a similar way. Meeting Bagration's weak detachment on the Znaim road he supposed it to be Kutuzov's whole army. To be able to crush it absolutely he awaited the arrival of the rest of the troops who were on their way from Vienna, and with this object offered a three days' truce on condition that both armies should remain in position without moving. Murat declared that negotiations for peace were already proceeding, and that he therefore offered this truce to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. Count Nostitz, the Austrian general occupying the advanced posts, believed Murat's emissary and retired, leaving Bagration's division exposed. Another emissary rode to the Russian line to announce the peace negotiations and to offer the Russian army the three days' truce. Bagration replied that he was not authorized either to accept or refuse a truce and sent his adjutant to Kutuzov to report the offer he had received.
A truce was Kutuzov's sole chance of gaining time, giving
Bagration's exhausted troops some rest, and letting the transport and heavy convoys (whose movements were concealed from the French) advance if but one stage nearer Znaim. The offer of a truce gave the only, and a quite unexpected, chance of saving the army. On receiving the news he immediately dispatched Adjutant General Wintzingerode, who was in attendance on him, to the enemy camp. Wintzingerode was not merely to agree to the truce but also to offer terms of capitulation, and meanwhile Kutuzov sent his adjutants back to hasten to the utmost the movements of the baggage trains of the entire army along the Krems-Znaim road. Bagration's exhausted and hungry detachment, which alone covered this movement of the transport and of the whole army, had to remain stationary in face of an enemy eight times as strong as itself.
Kutuzov's expectations that the proposals of capitulation (which were in no way binding) might give time for part of the transport to pass, and also that Murat's mistake would very soon be discovered, proved correct. As soon as Bonaparte (who was at Schonbrunn, sixteen miles from Hollabrunn) received Murat's dispatch with the proposal of a truce and a capitulation, he detected a ruse and wrote the following letter to Murat:Schonbrunn, 25th Brumaire, 1805, at eight o'clock in the morning To PRINCE MURAT,
I cannot find words to express to you my displeasure. You command only my advance guard, and have no right to arrange an armistice without my order. You are causing me to lose the fruits of a campaign. Break the armistice immediately and march on the enemy. Inform him that the general who signed that capitulation had no right to do so, and that no one but the Emperor of Russia has that right.
If, however, the Emperor of Russia ratifies that convention, I will ratify it; but it is only a trick. March on, destroy the Russian army.... You are in a position to seize its baggage and artillery.
The Russian Emperor's aide-de-camp is an impostor. Officers are nothing when they have no powers; this one had none.... The Austrians let themselves be tricked at the crossing of the Vienna bridge, you are letting yourself be tricked by an aide-de-camp of the Emperor.NAPOLEON
Bonaparte's adjutant rode full gallop with this menacing letter to Murat. Bonaparte himself, not trusting to his generals, moved with all the Guards to the field of battle, afraid of letting a ready victim escape, and Bagration's four thousand men merrily lighted campfires, dried and warmed themselves, cooked their porridge for the first time for three days, and not one of them knew or imagined what was in store for him.CHAPTER XV
Between three and four o'clock in the afternoon Prince Andrew, who had persisted in his request to Kutuzov, arrived at Grunth and reported himself to Bagration. Bonaparte's adjutant had not yet reached Murat's detachment and the battle had not yet begun. In Bagration's detachment no one knew anything of the general position of affairs. They talked of peace but did not believe in its
possibility; others talked of a battle but also disbelieved in the nearness of an engagement. Bagration, knowing Bolkonski to be a favorite and trusted adjutant, received him with distinction and special marks of favor, explaining to him that there would probably be an engagement that day or the next, and giving him full liberty to remain with him during the battle or to join the rearguard and have an eye on the order of retreat, "which is also very important."
"If he is one of the ordinary little staff dandies sent to earn a medal he can get his reward just as well in the rearguard, but if he wishes to stay with me, let him... he'll be of use here if he's a brave officer," thought Bagration. Prince Andrew, without replying, asked the prince's permission to ride round the position to see the disposition of the forces, so as to know his bearings should he be sent to execute an order. The officer on duty, a handsome, elegantly dressed man with a diamond ring on his forefinger, who was fond of speaking French though he spoke it badly, offered to conduct Prince Andrew.
On all sides they saw rain-soaked officers with dejected faces who seemed to be seeking something, and soldiers dragging doors, benches, and fencing from the village.
"There now, Prince! We can't stop those fellows," said the staff officer pointing to the soldiers. "The officers don't keep them in hand. And there," he pointed to a sutler's tent, "they crowd in and sit. This morning I turned them all out and now look, it's full again. I must go there, Prince, and scare them a bit. It won't take a moment.""Yes, let's go in and I will get myself a roll and some cheese," said Prince Andrew who had not yet had time to eat anything. "Why didn't you mention it, Prince? I would have offered you something." They dismounted and entered the tent. Several officers, with flushed and weary faces, were sitting at the table eating and drinking.
"Now what does this mean, gentlemen?" said the staff officer, in the reproachful tone of a man who has repeated the same thing more than once. "You know it won't do to leave your posts like this. The prince gave orders that no one should leave his post. Now you, Captain," and he turned to a thin, dirty little artillery officer who without his boots (he had given them to the canteen keeper to dry), in only his stockings, rose when they entered, smiling not altogether comfortably.
"Well, aren't you ashamed of yourself, Captain Tushin?" he continued. "One would think that as an artillery officer you would set a good example, yet here you are without your boots! The alarm will be sounded and you'll be in a pretty position without your boots!" (The staff officer smiled.) "Kindly return to your posts, gentlemen, all of you, all!" he added in a tone of command.
Prince Andrew smiled involuntarily as he looked at the artillery officer Tushin, who silent and smiling, shifting from one stockinged foot to the other, glanced inquiringly with his large, intelligent, kindly eyes from Prince Andrew to the staff officer.
"The soldiers say it feels easier without boots," said Captain Tushin smiling shyly in his uncomfortable position, evidently wishing to adopt a jocular tone. But before he had finished he felt that his jest was unacceptable and had not come off. He grew confused."Kindly return to your posts," said the staff officer trying to preserve his gravity.
Prince Andrew glanced again at the artillery officer's small figure. There was something peculiar about it, quite unsoldierly, rather comic, but extremely attractive.The staff officer and Prince Andrew mounted their horses and rode on.
Having ridden beyond the village, continually meeting and overtaking soldiers and officers of various regiments, they saw on their left some entrenchments being thrown up, the freshly dug clay of which showed up red. Several battalions of soldiers, in their shirt
sleeves despite the cold wind, swarmed in these earthworks like a host of white ants; spadefuls of red clay were continually being thrown up from behind the bank by unseen hands. Prince Andrew and the officer rode up, looked at the entrenchment, and went on again. Just behind it they came upon some dozens of soldiers, continually replaced by others, who ran from the entrenchment. They had to hold their noses and put their horses to a trot to escape from the poisoned
atmosphere of these latrines.
They rode up the opposite hill. From there the French could already be seen. Prince Andrew stopped and began examining the position.
"That's our battery," said the staff officer indicating the highest point. "It's in charge of the queer fellow we saw without his boots. You can see everything from there; let's go there, Prince."
"Thank you very much, I will go on alone," said Prince Andrew, wishing to rid himself of this staff officer's company, "please don't trouble yourself further."The staff officer remained behind and Prince Andrew rode on alone.
The farther forward and nearer the enemy he went, the more orderly and cheerful were the troops. The greatest disorder and depression had been in the baggage train he had passed that morning on the Znaim road seven miles away from the French. At Grunth also some apprehension and alarm could be felt, but the nearer Prince Andrew came to the French lines the more confident was the appearance of our troops. The soldiers in their greatcoats were ranged in lines, the sergeants major and company officers were counting the men, poking the last man in each section in the ribs and telling him to hold his hand up. Soldiers scattered over the whole place were dragging logs and brushwood and were building shelters with merry chatter and laughter; around the fires sat others, dressed and undressed, drying their shirts and leg bands or mending boots or overcoats and crowding round the boilers and porridge cookers. In one company dinner was ready, and the soldiers were gazing eagerly at the steaming boiler, waiting till the sample, which a quartermaster sergeant was carrying in a wooden bowl to an officer who sat on a log before his shelter, had been tasted.
Another company, a lucky one for not all the companies had vodka, crowded round a pock-marked, broad-shouldered sergeant major who, tilting a keg, filled one after another the canteen lids held out to him. The soldiers lifted the canteen lids to their lips with
reverential faces, emptied them, rolling the vodka in their mouths, and walked away from the sergeant major with brightened expressions, licking their lips and wiping them on the sleeves of their greatcoats. All their faces were as serene as if all this were happening at home awaiting peaceful encampment, and not within sight of the enemy before an action in which at least half of them would be left on the field. After passing a chasseur regiment and in the lines of the Kiev grenadiers--fine fellows busy with similar peaceful affairs--near the shelter of the regimental commander, higher than and different from the others, Prince Andrew came out in front of a platoon of grenadiers before whom lay a naked man. Two soldiers held him while two others were flourishing their switches and striking him regularly on his bare back. The man shrieked unnaturally. A stout major was pacing up and down the line, and regardless of the screams kept repeating:
"It's a shame for a soldier to steal; a soldier must be honest, honorable, and brave, but if he robs his fellows there is no honor in him, he's a scoundrel. Go on! Go on!"So the swishing sound of the strokes, and the desperate but unnatural screams, continued. "Go on, go on!" said the major.
A young officer with a bewildered and pained expression on his face stepped away from the man and looked round inquiringly at the adjutant as he rode by.
Prince Andrew, having reached the front line, rode along it. Our front line and that of the enemy were far apart on the right and left flanks, but in the center where the men with a flag of truce had passed that morning, the lines were so near together that the men could see one another's faces and speak to one another. Besides the soldiers who formed the picket line on either side, there were many curious onlookers who, jesting and laughing, stared at their strange foreign enemies.
Since early morning--despite an injunction not to approach the picket line--the officers had been unable to keep sight-seers away. The soldiers forming the picket line, like showmen exhibiting a curiosity, no longer looked at the French but paid attention to the sight-seers and grew weary waiting to be relieved. Prince Andrew halted to have a look at the French.
"Look! Look there!" one soldier was saying to another, pointing to a Russian musketeer who had gone up to the picket line with an officer and was rapidly and excitedly talking to a French grenadier. "Hark to him jabbering! Fine, isn't it? It's all the Frenchy can do to keep up with him. There now, Sidorov!""Wait a bit and listen. It's fine!" answered Sidorov, who was considered an adept at French.
The soldier to whom the laughers referred was Dolokhov. Prince Andrew recognized him and stopped to listen to what he was saying. Dolokhov had come from the left flank where their regiment was stationed, with his captain.
"Now then, go on, go on!" incited the officer, bending forward and trying not to lose a word of the speech which was incomprehensible to him. "More, please: more! What's he saying?"
Dolokhov did not answer the captain; he had been drawn into a hot dispute with the French grenadier. They were naturally talking about the campaign. The Frenchman, confusing the Austrians with the Russians, was trying to prove that the Russians had surrendered and had fled all the way from Ulm, while Dolokhov maintained that the Russians had not surrendered but had beaten the French."We have orders to drive you off here, and we shall drive you off," said Dolokhov. "Only take care you and your Cossacks are not all captured!" said the French grenadier. The French onlookers and listeners laughed. "We'll make you dance as we did under Suvorov...,"* said Dolokhov. *"On vous fera danser." "Qu' est-ce qu'il chante?"* asked a Frenchman. *"What's he singing about?"
"It's ancient history," said another, guessing that it referred to a former war. "The Emperor will teach your Suvara as he has taught the others...""Bonaparte..." began Dolokhov, but the Frenchman interrupted him. "Not Bonaparte. He is the Emperor! Sacre nom...!" cried he angrily. "The devil skin your Emperor." And Dolokhov swore at him in coarse soldier's Russian and shouldering his musket walked away. "Let us go, Ivan Lukich," he said to the captain. "Ah, that's the way to talk French," said the picket soldiers. "Now, Sidorov, you have a try!"
Sidorov, turning to the French, winked, and began to jabber meaningless sounds very fast: "Kari, mala, tafa, safi, muter, Kaska," he said, trying to give an expressive intonation to his voice.
"Ho! ho! ho! Ha! ha! ha! ha! Ouh! ouh!" came peals of such healthy and good-humored laughter from the soldiers that it infected the French involuntarily, so much so that the only thing left to do seemed to be to unload the muskets, muskets, explode the ammunition, and all return home as quickly as possible.
But the guns remained loaded, the loopholes in blockhouses and entrenchments looked out just as menacingly, and the unlimbered cannon confronted one another as before.CHAPTER XVI
Having ridden round the whole line from right flank to left, Prince Andrew made his way up to the battery from which the staff officer had told him the whole field could be seen. Here he dismounted, and stopped beside the farthest of the four unlimbered cannon. Before the guns an artillery sentry was pacing up and down; he stood at attention when the officer arrived, but at a sign resumed his measured, monotonous pacing. Behind the guns were their limbers and still farther back picket ropes and artillerymen's bonfires. To the left, not far from the farthest cannon, was a small, newly constructed wattle shed from which came the sound of officers' voices in eager conversation.
It was true that a view over nearly the whole Russian position and the greater part of the enemy's opened out from this battery. Just facing it, on the crest of the opposite hill, the village of Schon Grabern could be seen, and in three places to left and right the French troops amid the smoke of their campfires, the greater part of whom were evidently in the village itself and behind the hill. To the left from that village, amid the smoke, was something resembling a battery, but it was impossible to see it clearly with the naked eye. Our right flank was posted on a rather steep incline which dominated the French position. Our infantry were stationed there, and at the farthest point the dragoons. In the center, where Tushin's battery stood and from which Prince Andrew was surveying the position, was the easiest and most direct descent and ascent to the brook separating us from Schon Grabern. On the left our troops were close to a copse, in which smoked the bonfires of our infantry who were felling wood. The French line was wider than ours, and it was plain that they could easily outflank us on both sides. Behind our position was a steep and deep dip, making it difficult for artillery and cavalry to retire. Prince Andrew took out his notebook and, leaning on the cannon, sketched a plan of the position. He made some notes on two points, intending to mention them to Bagration. His idea was, first, to concentrate all the artillery in the center, and secondly, to withdraw the cavalry to the other side of the dip. Prince Andrew, being always near the commander in chief, closely following the mass movements and general orders, and constantly studying historical accounts of battles, involuntarily pictured to himself the course of events in the forthcoming action in broad outline. He imagined only important possibilities: "If the enemy attacks the right flank," he said to himself, "the Kiev grenadiers and the Podolsk chasseurs must hold their position till reserves from the center come up. In that case the dragoons could successfully make a flank counterattack. If they attack our center we, having the center battery on this high ground, shall withdraw the left flank under its cover, and retreat to the dip by echelons." So he reasoned.... All the time he had been beside the gun, he had heard the voices of the officers distinctly, but as often happens had not understood a word of what they were saying. Suddenly, however, he was struck by a voice coming from the shed, and its tone was so sincere that he could not but listen."No, friend," said a pleasant and, as it seemed to Prince Andrew, a familiar voice, "what I say is that if it were possible to know what is beyond death, none of us would be afraid of it. That's so, friend." Another, a younger voice, interrupted him: "Afraid or not, you can't escape it anyhow."
"All the same, one is afraid! Oh, you clever people," said a third manly voice interrupting them both. "Of course you artillery men are very wise, because you can take everything along with you--vodka and snacks."And the owner of the manly voice, evidently an infantry officer, laughed.
"Yes, one is afraid," continued the first speaker, he of the familiar voice. "One is afraid of the unknown, that's what it is. Whatever we may say about the soul going to the sky... we know there is no sky but only an atmosphere."The manly voice again interrupted the artillery officer. "Well, stand us some of your herb vodka, Tushin," it said.
"Why," thought Prince Andrew, "that's the captain who stood up in the sutler's hut without his boots." He recognized the agreeable, philosophizing voice with pleasure."Some herb vodka? Certainly!" said Tushin. "But still, to conceive a future life..."
He did not finish. Just then there was a whistle in the air; nearer and nearer, faster and louder, louder and faster, a cannon ball, as if it had not finished saying what was necessary, thudded into the ground near the shed with super human force, throwing up a mass of earth. The ground seemed to groan at the terrible impact.
And immediately Tushin, with a short pipe in the corner of his mouth and his kind, intelligent face rather pale, rushed out of the shed followed by the owner of the manly voice, a dashing infantry officer who hurried off to his company, buttoning up his coat as he ran.CHAPTER XVII
Mounting his horse again Prince Andrew lingered with the battery, looking at the puff from the gun that had sent the ball. His eyes ran rapidly over the wide space, but he only saw that the hitherto motionless masses of the French now swayed and that there really was a battery to their left. The smoke above it had not yet dispersed. Two mounted Frenchmen, probably adjutants, were galloping up the hill. A small but distinctly visible enemy column was moving down the hill, probably to strengthen the front line. The smoke of the first shot had not yet dispersed before another puff appeared, followed by a report. The battle had begun! Prince Andrew turned his horse and galloped back to Grunth to find Prince Bagration. He heard the cannonade behind him growing louder and more frequent. Evidently our guns had begun to reply. From the bottom of the slope, where the parleys had taken place, came the report of musketry.
Lemarrois had just arrived at a gallop with Bonaparte's stern letter, and Murat, humiliated and anxious to expiate his fault, had at once moved his forces to attack the center and outflank both the Russian wings, hoping before evening and before the arrival of the Emperor to crush the contemptible detachment that stood before him."It has begun. Here it is!" thought Prince Andrew, feeling the blood rush to his heart. "But where and how will my Toulon present itself?"
Passing between the companies that had been eating porridge and drinking vodka a quarter of an hour before, he saw everywhere the same rapid movement of soldiers forming ranks and getting their muskets ready, and on all their faces he recognized the same eagerness that filled his heart. "It has begun! Here it is, dreadful but
enjoyable!" was what the face of each soldier and each officer seemed to say.
Before he had reached the embankments that were being thrown up, he saw, in the light of the dull autumn evening, mounted men coming toward him. The foremost, wearing a Cossack cloak and lambskin cap and riding a white horse, was Prince Bagration. Prince Andrew stopped, waiting for him to come up; Prince Bagration reined in his horse and recognizing Prince Andrew nodded to him. He still looked ahead while Prince Andrew told him what he had seen.
The feeling, "It has begun! Here it is!" was seen even on Prince Bagration's hard brown face with its half-closed, dull, sleepy eyes. Prince Andrew gazed with anxious curiosity at that impassive face and wished he could tell what, if anything, this man was thinking and feeling at that moment. "Is there anything at all behind that impassive face?" Prince Andrew asked himself as he looked. Prince Bagration bent his head in sign of agreement with what Prince Andrew told him, and said, "Very good!" in a tone that seemed to imply that everything that took place and was reported to him was exactly what he had foreseen. Prince Andrew, out of breath with his rapid ride, spoke quickly. Prince Bagration, uttering his words with an Oriental accent, spoke particularly slowly, as if to impress the fact that there was no need to hurry. However, he put his horse to a trot in the direction of Tushin's battery. Prince Andrew followed with the suite. Behind Prince Bagration rode an officer of the suite, the prince's personal adjutant, Zherkov, an orderly officer, the staff officer on duty, riding a fine bobtailed horse, and a civilian--an accountant who had asked permission to be present at the battle out of curiosity. The accountant, a stout, full-faced man, looked around him with a naive smile of satisfaction and presented a strange appearance among the hussars, Cossacks, and adjutants, in his camlet coat, as he jolted on his horse with a convoy officer's saddle.
"He wants to see a battle," said Zherkov to Bolkonski, pointing to the accountant, "but he feels a pain in the pit of his stomach already."
"Oh, leave off!" said the accountant with a beaming but rather cunning smile, as if flattered at being made the subject of Zherkov's joke, and purposely trying to appear stupider than he really was.
"It is very strange, mon Monsieur Prince," said the staff officer. (He remembered that in French there is some peculiar way of addressing a prince, but could not get it quite right.)By this time they were all approaching Tushin's battery, and a ball struck the ground in front of them. "What's that that has fallen?" asked the accountant with a naive smile. "A French pancake," answered Zherkov. "So that's what they hit with?" asked the accountant. "How awful!"
He seemed to swell with satisfaction. He had hardly finished speaking when they again heard an unexpectedly violent whistling which suddenly ended with a thud into something soft... f-f-flop! and a Cossack, riding a little to their right and behind the accountant, crashed to earth with his horse. Zherkov and the staff officer bent over their saddles and turned their horses away. The accountant stopped, facing the Cossack, and examined him with attentive curiosity. The Cossack was dead, but the horse still struggled.
Prince Bagration screwed up his eyes, looked round, and, seeing the cause of the confusion, turned away with indifference, as if to say, "Is it worth while noticing trifles?" He reined in his horse with the case of a skillful rider and, slightly bending over, disengaged his saber which had caught in his cloak. It was an old-fashioned saber of a kind no longer in general use. Prince Andrew remembered the story of Suvorov giving his saber to Bagration in Italy, and the
recollection was particularly pleasant at that moment. They had reached the battery at which Prince Andrew had been when he examined the battlefield.
As he approached, a ringing shot issued from it deafening him and his suite, and in the smoke that suddenly surrounded the gun they could see the gunners who had seized it straining to roll it quickly back to its former position. A huge, broad-shouldered gunner, Number One, holding a mop, his legs far apart, sprang to the wheel; while Number Two with a trembling hand placed a charge in the cannon's mouth. The short, round-shouldered Captain Tushin, stumbling over the tail of the gun carriage, moved forward and, not noticing the general, looked out shading his eyes with his small hand.
"Lift it two lines more and it will be just right," cried he in a feeble voice to which he tried to impart a dashing note, ill suited to his weak figure. "Number Two!" he squeaked. "Fire, Medvedev!"
Bagration called to him, and Tushin, raising three fingers to his cap with a bashful and awkward gesture not at all like a military salute but like a priest's benediction, approached the general. Though Tushin's guns had been intended to cannonade the valley, he was firing incendiary balls at the village of Schon Grabern visible just opposite, in front of which large masses of French were advancing.
No one had given Tushin orders where and at what to fire, but after consulting his sergeant major, Zakharchenko, for whom he had great respect, he had decided that it would be a good thing to set fire to the village. "Very good!" said Bagration in reply to the officer's report, and began deliberately to examine the whole battlefield extended before him. The French had advanced nearest on our right. Below the height on which the Kiev regiment was stationed, in the hollow where the rivulet flowed, the soul-stirring rolling and crackling of musketry was heard, and much farther to the right beyond the dragoons, the officer of the suite pointed out to Bagration a French column that was outflanking us. To the left the horizon bounded by the adjacent wood. Prince Bagration ordered two battalions from the center to be sent to reinforce the right flank. The officer of the suite ventured to remark to the prince that if these battalions went away, the guns would remain without support. Prince Bagration turned to the officer and with his dull eyes looked at him in silence. It seemed to Prince Andrew that the officer's remark was just and that really no answer could be made to it. But at that moment an adjutant galloped up with a message from the commander of the regiment in the hollow and news that immense masses of the French were coming down upon them and that his regiment was in disorder and was retreating upon the Kiev grenadiers. Prince Bagration bowed his head in sign of assent and approval. He rode off at a walk to the right and sent an adjutant to the dragoons with orders to attack the French. But this adjutant returned half an hour later with the news that the commander of the dragoons had already retreated beyond the dip in the ground, as a heavy fire had been opened on him and he was losing men uselessly, and so had hastened to throw some sharpshooters into the wood."Very good!" said Bagration.
As he was leaving the battery, firing was heard on the left also, and as it was too far to the left flank for him to have time to go there himself, Prince Bagration sent Zherkov to tell the general in command (the one who had paraded his regiment before Kutuzov at Braunau) that he must retreat as quickly as possible behind the hollow in the rear, as the right flank would probably not be able to withstand the enemy's attack very long. About Tushin and the battalion that had been in support of his battery all was forgotten. Prince Andrew listened attentively to Bagration's colloquies with the commanding officers and the orders he gave them and, to his surprise, found that no orders were really given, but that Prince Bagration tried to make it appear that everything done by necessity, by accident, or by the will of subordinate commanders was done, if not by his direct command, at least in accord with his intentions. Prince Andrew noticed, however, that though what happened was due to chance and was independent of the commander's will, owing to the tact Bagration showed, his presence was very valuable. Officers who approached him with disturbed countenances became calm; soldiers and officers greeted him gaily, grew more cheerful in his presence, and were evidently anxious to display their courage before him.CHAPTER XVIII
Prince Bagration, having reached the highest point of our right flank, began riding downhill to where the roll of musketry was heard but where on account of the smoke nothing could be seen. The nearer they got to the hollow the less they could see but the more they felt the nearness of the actual battlefield. They began to meet wounded men. One with a bleeding head and no cap was being dragged along by two soldiers who supported him under the arms. There was a gurgle in his throat and he was spitting blood. A bullet had evidently hit him in the throat or mouth. Another was walking sturdily by himself but without his musket, groaning aloud and swinging his arm which had just been hurt, while blood from it was streaming over his greatcoat as from a bottle. He had that moment been wounded and his face showed fear rather than suffering. Crossing a road they descended a steep incline and saw several men lying on the ground; they also met a crowd of soldiers some of whom were unwounded. The soldiers were ascending the hill breathing heavily, and despite the general's presence were talking loudly and gesticulating. In front of them rows of gray cloaks were already visible through the smoke, and an officer catching sight of Bagration rushed shouting after the crowd of retreating soldiers, ordering them back. Bagration rode up to the ranks along which shots crackled now here and now there, drowning the sound of voices and the shouts of command. The whole air reeked with smoke. The excited faces of the soldiers were blackened with it. Some were using their ramrods, others putting powder on the touchpans or taking charges from their pouches, while others were firing, though who they were firing at could not be seen for the smoke which there was no wind to carry away. A pleasant humming and whistling of bullets were often heard. "What is this?" thought Prince Andrew approaching the crowd of soldiers. "It can't be an attack, for they are not moving; it can't be a square--for they are not drawn up for that."
The commander of the regiment, a thin, feeble-looking old man with a pleasant smile--his eyelids drooping more than half over his old eyes, giving him a mild expression, rode up to Bagration and welcomed him as a host welcomes an honored guest. He reported that his regiment had been attacked by French cavalry and that, though the attack had been repulsed, he had lost more than half his men. He said the attack had been repulsed, employing this military term to describe what had occurred to his regiment, but in reality he did not himself know what had happened during that half-hour to the troops entrusted to him, and could not say with certainty whether the attack had been repulsed or his regiment had been broken up. All he knew was that at the commencement of the action balls and shells began flying all over his regiment and hitting men and that afterwards someone had shouted "Cavalry!" and our men had begun firing. They were still firing, not at the cavalry which had disappeared, but at French infantry who had come into the hollow and were firing at our men. Prince Bagration bowed his head as a sign that this was exactly what he had desired and expected. Turning to his adjutant he ordered him to bring down the two battalions of the Sixth Chasseurs whom they had just passed. Prince Andrew was struck by the changed expression on Prince Bagration's face at this moment. It expressed the
concentrated and happy resolution you see on the face of a man who on a hot day takes a final run before plunging into the water. The dull, sleepy expression was no longer there, nor the affectation of profound thought. The round, steady, hawk's eyes looked before him eagerly and rather disdainfully, not resting on anything although his movements were still slow and measured.
The commander of the regiment turned to Prince Bagration, entreating him to go back as it was too dangerous to remain where they were. "Please, your excellency, for God's sake!" he kept saying, glancing for support at an officer of the suite who turned away from him. "There, you see!" and he drew attention to the bullets whistling, singing, and hissing continually around them. He spoke in the tone of entreaty and reproach that a carpenter uses to a gentleman who has picked up an ax: "We are used to it, but you, sir, will blister your hands." He spoke as if those bullets could not kill him, and his half-closed eyes gave still more persuasiveness to his words. The staff officer joined in the colonel's appeals, but Bagration did not reply; he only gave an order to cease firing and re-form, so as to give room for the two approaching battalions. While he was speaking, the curtain of smoke that had concealed the hollow, driven by a rising wind, began to move from right to left as if drawn by an invisible hand, and the hill opposite, with the French moving about on it, opened out before them. All eyes fastened involuntarily on this French column advancing against them and winding down over the uneven ground. One could already see the soldiers' shaggy caps, distinguish the officers from the men, and see the standard flapping against its staff."They march splendidly," remarked someone in Bagration's suite. The head of the column had already descended into the hollow. The clash would take place on this side of it...
The remains of our regiment which had been in action rapidly formed up and moved to the right; from behind it, dispersing the laggards, came two battalions of the Sixth Chasseurs in fine order. Before they had reached Bagration, the weighty tread of the mass of men marching in step could be heard. On their left flank, nearest to Bagration, marched a company commander, a fine round-faced man, with a stupid and happy expression--the same man who had rushed out of the wattle shed. At that moment he was clearly thinking of nothing but how dashing a fellow he would appear as he passed the commander.
With the self-satisfaction of a man on parade, he stepped lightly with his muscular legs as if sailing along, stretching himself to his full height without the smallest effort, his ease contrasting with the heavy tread of the soldiers who were keeping step with him. He carried close to his leg a narrow unsheathed sword (small, curved, and not like a real weapon) and looked now at the superior officers and now back at the men without losing step, his whole powerful body turning flexibly. It was as if all the powers of his soul were
concentrated on passing the commander in the best possible manner, and feeling that he was doing it well he was happy. "Left... left... left..." he seemed to repeat to himself at each alternate step; and in time to this, with stern but varied faces, the wall of soldiers burdened with knapsacks and muskets marched in step, and each one of these hundreds of soldiers seemed to be repeating to himself at each alternate step, "Left... left... left..." A fat major skirted a
bush, puffing and falling out of step; a soldier who had fallen behind, his face showing alarm at his defection, ran at a trot, panting to catch up with his company. A cannon ball, cleaving the air, flew over the heads of Bagration and his suite, and fell into the column to the measure of "Left... left!" "Close up!" came the
company commander's voice in jaunty tones. The soldiers passed in a semicircle round something where the ball had fallen, and an old trooper on the flank, a noncommissioned officer who had stopped beside the dead men, ran to catch up his line and, falling into step with a hop, looked back angrily, and through the ominous silence and the regular tramp of feet beating the ground in unison, one seemed to hear left... left... left.
"Glad to do our best, your ex'len-lency!" came a confused shout from the ranks. A morose soldier marching on the left turned his eyes on Bagration as he shouted, with an expression that seemed to say: "We know that ourselves!" Another, without looking round, as though fearing to relax, shouted with his mouth wide open and passed on.The order was given to halt and down knapsacks.
Bagration rode round the ranks that had marched past him and dismounted. He gave the reins to a Cossack, took off and handed over his felt coat, stretched his legs, and set his cap straight. The head of the French column, with its officers leading, appeared from below the hill.
"Forward, with God!" said Bagration, in a resolute, sonorous voice, turning for a moment to the front line, and slightly swinging his arms, he went forward uneasily over the rough field with the awkward gait of a cavalryman. Prince Andrew felt that an invisible power was leading him forward, and experienced great happiness.
The French were already near. Prince Andrew, walking beside Bagration, could clearly distinguish their bandoliers, red epaulets, and even their faces. (He distinctly saw an old French officer who, with gaitered legs and turned-out toes, climbed the hill with difficulty.) Prince Bagration gave no further orders and silently continued to walk on in front of the ranks. Suddenly one shot after another rang out from the French, smoke appeared all along their uneven ranks, and musket shots sounded. Several of our men fell, among them the round-faced officer who had marched so gaily and complacently. But at the moment the first report was heard, Bagration looked round and shouted, "Hurrah!"
"Hurrah--ah!--ah!" rang a long-drawn shout from our ranks, and passing Bagration and racing one another they rushed in an irregular but joyous and eager crowd down the hill at their disordered foe.CHAPTER XIX
The attack of the Sixth Chasseurs secured the retreat of our right flank. In the center Tushin's forgotten battery, which had managed to set fire to the Schon Grabern village, delayed the French advance. The French were putting out the fire which the wind was spreading, and thus gave us time to retreat. The retirement of the center to the other side of the dip in the ground at the rear was hurried and noisy, but the different companies did not get mixed. But our left--which consisted of the Azov and Podolsk infantry and the Pavlograd hussars--was simultaneously attacked and outflanked by superior French forces under Lannes and was thrown into confusion. Bagration had sent Zherkov to the general commanding that left flank with orders to retreat immediately.
Zherkov, not removing his hand from his cap, turned his horse about and galloped off. But no sooner had he left Bagration than his courage failed him. He was seized by panic and could not go where it was dangerous.
Having reached the left flank, instead of going to the front where the firing was, he began to look for the general and his staff where they could not possibly be, and so did not deliver the order.
The command of the left flank belonged by seniority to the commander of the regiment Kutuzov had reviewed at Braunau and in which Dolokhov was serving as a private. But the command of the extreme left flank had been assigned to the commander of the Pavlograd regiment in which Rostov was serving, and a misunderstanding arose. The two commanders were much exasperated with one another and, long after the action had begun on the right flank and the French were already advancing, were engaged in discussion with the sole object of offending one another. But the regiments, both cavalry and infantry, were by no means ready for the impending action. From privates to general they were not expecting a battle and were engaged in peaceful occupations, the cavalry feeding the horses and the infantry collecting wood.
"He higher iss dan I in rank," said the German colonel of the hussars, flushing and addressing an adjutant who had ridden up, "so let him do what he vill, but I cannot sacrifice my hussars... Bugler, sount ze retreat!"
But haste was becoming imperative. Cannon and musketry, mingling together, thundered on the right and in the center, while the capotes of Lannes' sharpshooters were already seen crossing the milldam and forming up within twice the range of a musket shot. The general in command of the infantry went toward his horse with jerky steps, and having mounted drew himself up very straight and tall and rode to the Pavlograd commander. The commanders met with polite bows but with secret malevolence in their hearts.
"Once again, Colonel," said the general, "I can't leave half my men in the wood. I beg of you, I beg of you," he repeated, "to occupy the position and prepare for an attack.""I peg of you yourself not to mix in vot is not your business!" suddenly replied the irate colonel. "If you vere in the cavalry..." "I am not in the cavalry, Colonel, but I am a Russian general and if you are not aware of the fact..."
"Quite avare, your excellency," suddenly shouted the colonel, touching his horse and turning purple in the face. "Vill you be so goot to come to ze front and see dat zis position iss no goot? I don't vish to destroy my men for your pleasure!""You forget yourself, Colonel. I am not considering my own pleasure and I won't allow it to be said!"
Taking the colonel's outburst as a challenge to his courage, the general expanded his chest and rode, frowning, beside him to the front line, as if their differences would be settled there amongst the bullets. They reached the front, several bullets sped over them, and they halted in silence. There was nothing fresh to be seen from the line, for from where they had been before it had been evident that it was impossible for cavalry to act among the bushes and broken ground, as well as that the French were outflanking our left. The general and colonel looked sternly and significantly at one another like two fighting cocks preparing for battle, each vainly trying to detect signs of cowardice in the other. Both passed the examination successfully. As there was nothing to said, and neither wished to give occasion for it to be alleged that he had been the first to leave the range of fire, they would have remained there for a long time testing each other's courage had it not been that just then they heard the rattle of musketry and a muffled shout almost behind them in the wood. The French had attacked the men collecting wood in the copse. It was no longer possible for the hussars to retreat with the infantry. They were cut off from the line of retreat on the left by the French. However inconvenient the position, it was now necessary to attack in order to cut away through for themselves.
The squadron in which Rostov was serving had scarcely time to mount before it was halted facing the enemy. Again, as at the Enns bridge, there was nothing between the squadron and the enemy, and again that terrible dividing line of uncertainty and fear-
resembling the line separating the living from the dead--lay between them. All were conscious of this unseen line, and the question whether they would cross it or not, and how they would cross it,
agitated them all.
The colonel rode to the front, angrily gave some reply to
questions put to him by the officers, and, like a man desperately insisting on having his own way, gave an order. No one said anything definite, but the rumor of an attack spread through the squadron. The command to form up rang out and the sabers whizzed as they were drawn from their scabbards. Still no one moved. The troops of the left flank, infantry and hussars alike, felt that the commander did not himself know what to do, and this irresolution communicated itself to the men.
"If only they would be quick!" thought Rostov, feeling that at last the time had come to experience the joy of an attack of which he had so often heard from his fellow hussars."Fo'ward, with God, lads!" rang out Denisov's voice. "At a twot fo'ward!" The horses' croups began to sway in the front line. Rook pulled at the reins and started of his own accord.
Before him, on the right, Rostov saw the front lines of his hussars and still farther ahead a dark line which he could not see distinctly but took to be the enemy. Shots could be heard, but some way off."Faster!" came the word of command, and Rostov felt Rook's flanks drooping as he broke into a gallop.
Rostov anticipated his horse's movements and became more and more elated. He had noticed a solitary tree ahead of him. This tree had been in the middle of the line that had seemed so terrible--and now he had crossed that line and not only was there nothing terrible, but everything was becoming more and more happy and animated. "Oh, how I will slash at him!" thought Rostov, gripping the hilt of his saber. "Hur-a-a-a-ah!" came a roar of voices. "Let anyone come my way now," thought Rostov driving his spurs into Rook and letting him go at a full gallop so that he outstripped the others. Ahead, the enemy was already visible. Suddenly something like a birch broom seemed to sweep over the squadron. Rostov raised his saber, ready to strike, but at that instant the trooper Nikitenko, who was galloping ahead, shot away from him, and Rostov felt as in a dream that he continued to be carried forward with unnatural speed but yet stayed on the same spot. From behind him Bondarchuk, an hussar he knew, jolted against him and looked angrily at him. Bondarchuk's horse swerved and galloped past.
"How is it I am not moving? I have fallen, I am killed!" Rostov asked and answered at the same instant. He was alone in the middle of a field. Instead of the moving horses and hussars' backs, he saw nothing before him but the motionless earth and the stubble around him. There was warm blood under his arm. "No, I am wounded and the horse is killed." Rook tried to rise on his forelegs but fell back, pinning his rider's leg. Blood was flowing from his head; he struggled but could not rise. Rostov also tried to rise but fell back, his sabretache having become entangled in the saddle. Where our men were, and where the French, he did not know. There was no one near.
Having disentangled his leg, he rose. "Where, on which side, was now the line that had so sharply divided the two armies?" he asked himself and could not answer. "Can something bad have happened to me?" he wondered as he got up: and at that moment he felt that something superfluous was hanging on his benumbed left arm. The wrist felt as if it were not his. He examined his hand carefully, vainly trying to find blood on it. "Ah, here are people coming," he thought joyfully, seeing some men running toward him. "They will help me!" In front came a man wearing a strange shako and a blue cloak, swarthy, sunburned, and with a hooked nose. Then came two more, and many more running behind. One of them said something strange, not in Russian. In among the hindmost of these men wearing similar shakos was a Russian hussar. He was being held by the arms and his horse was being led behind him.
"It must be one of ours, a prisoner. Yes. Can it be that they will take me too? Who are these men?" thought Rostov, scarcely believing his eyes. "Can they be French?" He looked at the approaching Frenchmen, and though but a moment before he had been galloping to get at them and hack them to pieces, their proximity now seemed so awful that he could not believe his eyes. "Who are they? Why are they running? Can they be coming at me? And why? To kill me? Me whom everyone is so fond of?" He remembered his mother's love for him, and his family's, and his friends', and the enemy's intention to kill him seemed impossible. "But perhaps they may do it!" For more than ten seconds he stood not moving from the spot or realizing the situation. The foremost Frenchman, the one with the hooked nose, was already so close that the expression of his face could be seen. And the excited, alien face of that man, his bayonet hanging down, holding his breath, and running so lightly, frightened Rostov. He seized his pistol and, instead of firing it, flung it at the Frenchman and ran with all his might toward the bushes. He did not now run with the feeling of doubt and conflict with which he had trodden the Enns bridge, but with the feeling of a hare fleeing from the hounds. One single sentiment, that of fear for his young and happy life, possessed his whole being. Rapidly leaping the furrows, he fled across the field with the impetuosity he used to show at catchplay, now and then turning his good-natured, pale, young face to look back. A shudder of terror went through him: "No, better not look," he thought, but having reached the bushes he glanced round once more. The French had fallen behind, and just as he looked round the first man changed his run to a walk and, turning, shouted something loudly to a comrade farther back. Rostov paused. "No, there's some mistake," thought he. "They can't have wanted to kill me." But at the same time, his left arm felt as heavy as if a seventy-pound weight were tied to it. He could run no more. The Frenchman also stopped and took aim. Rostov closed his eyes and stooped down. One bullet and then another whistled past him. He mustered his last remaining strength, took hold of his left hand with his right, and reached the bushes. Behind these were some Russian sharpshooters.CHAPTER XX
The infantry regiments that had been caught unawares in the outskirts of the wood ran out of it, the different companies getting mixed, and retreated as a disorderly crowd. One soldier, in his fear, uttered the senseless cry, "Cut off!" that is so terrible in battle, and that word infected the whole crowd with a feeling of panic."Surrounded! Cut off? We're lost!" shouted the fugitives.
The moment he heard the firing and the cry from behind, the general realized that something dreadful had happened to his regiment, and the thought that he, an exemplary officer of many years' service who had never been to blame, might be held responsible at headquarters for negligence or inefficiency so staggered him that, forgetting the recalcitrant cavalry colonel, his own dignity as a general, and above all quite forgetting the danger and all regard for
self-preservation, he clutched the crupper of his saddle and, spurring his horse, galloped to the regiment under a hail of bullets which fell around, but fortunately missed him. His one desire was to know what was happening and at any cost correct, or remedy, the mistake if he had made one, so that he, an exemplary officer of twenty-two years' service, who had never been censured, should not be held to blame.
Having galloped safely through the French, he reached a field behind the copse across which our men, regardless of orders, were running and descending the valley. That moment of moral hesitation which decides the fate of battles had arrived. Would this disorderly crowd of soldiers attend to the voice of their commander, or would they, disregarding him, continue their flight? Despite his desperate shouts that used to seem so terrible to the soldiers, despite his furious purple countenance distorted out of all likeness to his former self, and the flourishing of his saber, the soldiers all continued to run, talking, firing into the air, and disobeying orders. The moral hesitation which decided the fate of battles was evidently culminating in a panic.
The general had a fit of coughing as a result of shouting and of the powder smoke and stopped in despair. Everything seemed lost. But at that moment the French who were attacking, suddenly and without any apparent reason, ran back and disappeared from the outskirts, and Russian sharpshooters showed themselves in the copse. It was Timokhin's company, which alone had maintained its order in the wood and, having lain in ambush in a ditch, now attacked the French unexpectedly. Timokhin, armed only with a sword, had rushed at the enemy with such a desperate cry and such mad, drunken determination that, taken by surprise, the French had thrown down their muskets and run. Dolokhov, running beside Timokhin, killed a Frenchman at close quarters and was the first to seize the surrendering French officer by his collar. Our fugitives returned, the battalions
re-formed, and the French who had nearly cut our left flank in half were for the moment repulsed. Our reserve units were able to join up, and the fight was at an end. The regimental commander and Major Ekonomov had stopped beside a bridge, letting the retreating companies pass by them, when a soldier came up and took hold of the
commander's stirrup, almost leaning against him. The man was wearing a bluish coat of broadcloth, he had no knapsack or cap, his head was bandaged, and over his shoulder a French munition pouch was slung. He had an officer's sword in his hand. The soldier was pale, his blue eyes looked impudently into the commander's face, and his lips were smiling. Though the commander was occupied in giving instructions to Major Ekonomov, he could not help taking notice of the soldier.
"Your excellency, here are two trophies," said Dolokhov, pointing to the French sword and pouch. "I have taken an officer prisoner. I stopped the company." Dolokhov breathed heavily from weariness and spoke in abrupt sentences. "The whole company can bear witness. I beg you will remember this, your excellency!""All right, all right," replied the commander, and turned to Major
But Dolokhov did not go away; he untied the handkerchief around his head, pulled it off, and showed the blood congealed on his hair.
Tushin's battery had been forgotten and only at the very end of the action did Prince Bagration, still hearing the cannonade in the center, send his orderly staff officer, and later Prince Andrew also, to order the battery to retire as quickly as possible. When the supports attached to Tushin's battery had been moved away in the middle of the action by someone's order, the battery had continued firing and was only not captured by the French because the enemy could not surmise that anyone could have the effrontery to continue firing from four quite undefended guns. On the contrary, the energetic action of that battery led the French to suppose that here--in the center- the main Russian forces were concentrated. Twice they had attempted to attack this point, but on each occasion had been driven back by grapeshot from the four isolated guns on the hillock.Soon after Prince Bagration had left him, Tushin had succeeded in setting fire to Schon Grabern.
"Look at them scurrying! It's burning! Just see the smoke! Fine! Grand! Look at the smoke, the smoke!" exclaimed the artillerymen, brightening up.
All the guns, without waiting for orders, were being fired in the direction of the conflagration. As if urging each other on, the soldiers cried at each shot: "Fine! That's good! Look at it... Grand!" The fire, fanned by the breeze, was rapidly spreading. The French columns that had advanced beyond the village went back; but as though in revenge for this failure, the enemy placed ten guns to the right of the village and began firing them at Tushin's battery.
In their childlike glee, aroused by the fire and their luck in successfully cannonading the French, our artillerymen only noticed this battery when two balls, and then four more, fell among our guns, one knocking over two horses and another tearing off a munition-wagon driver's leg. Their spirits once roused were, however, not diminished, but only changed character. The horses were replaced by others from a reserve gun carriage, the wounded were carried away, and the four guns were turned against the ten-gun battery. Tushin's companion officer had been killed at the beginning of the engagement and within an hour seventeen of the forty men of the guns' crews had been disabled, but the artillerymen were still as merry and lively as ever. Twice they noticed the French appearing below them, and then they fired grapeshot at them.
Little Tushin, moving feebly and awkwardly, kept telling his orderly to "refill my pipe for that one!" and then, scattering sparks from it, ran forward shading his eyes with his small hand to look at the French.
Amid the smoke, deafened by the incessant reports which always made him jump, Tushin not taking his pipe from his mouth ran from gun to gun, now aiming, now counting the charges, now giving orders about replacing dead or wounded horses and harnessing fresh ones, and shouting in his feeble voice, so high pitched and irresolute. His face grew more and more animated. Only when a man was killed or wounded did he frown and turn away from the sight, shouting angrily at the men who, as is always the case, hesitated about lifting the injured or dead. The soldiers, for the most part handsome fellows and, as is always the case in an artillery company, a head and shoulders taller and twice as broad as their officer--all looked at their commander like children in an embarrassing situation, and the expression on his face was invariably reflected on theirs.
Owing to the terrible uproar and the necessity for concentration and activity, Tushin did not experience the slightest unpleasant sense of fear, and the thought that he might be killed or badly wounded never occurred to him. On the contrary, he became more and more elated. It seemed to him that it was a very long time ago, almost a day, since he had first seen the enemy and fired the first shot, and that the corner of the field he stood on was well-known and familiar ground. Though he thought of everything, considered everything, and did everything the best of officers could do in his position, he was in a state akin to feverish delirium or drunkenness.
From the deafening sounds of his own guns around him, the whistle and thud of the enemy's cannon balls, from the flushed and perspiring faces of the crew bustling round the guns, from the sight of the blood of men and horses, from the little puffs of smoke on the enemy's side (always followed by a ball flying past and striking the earth, a man, a gun, a horse), from the sight of all these things a fantastic world of his own had taken possession of his brain and at that moment afforded him pleasure. The enemy's guns were in his fancy not guns but pipes from which occasional puffs were blown by an invisible smoker.
"There... he's puffing again," muttered Tushin to himself, as a small cloud rose from the hill and was borne in a streak to the left by the wind.
"Now look out for the ball... we'll throw it back." "What do you want, your honor?" asked an artilleryman, standing close by, who heard him muttering."Nothing... only a shell..." he answered.
"Come along, our Matvevna!" he said to himself. "Matvevna"* was the name his fancy gave to the farthest gun of the battery, which was large and of an old pattern. The French swarming round their guns seemed to him like ants. In that world, the handsome drunkard Number One of the second gun's crew was "uncle"; Tushin looked at him more often than at anyone else and took delight in his every movement. The sound of musketry at the foot of the hill, now diminishing, now increasing, seemed like someone's breathing. He listened intently to the ebb and flow of these sounds.*Daughter of Matthew. "Ah! Breathing again, breathing!" he muttered to himself. He imagined himself as an enormously tall, powerful man who was throwing cannon balls at the French with both hands.
"Now then, Matvevna, dear old lady, don't let me down!" he was saying as he moved from the gun, when a strange, unfamiliar voice called above his head: "Captain Tushin! Captain!"
Tushin turned round in dismay. It was the staff officer who had turned him out of the booth at Grunth. He was shouting in a gasping voice:"Are you mad? You have twice been ordered to retreat, and you..." "Why are they down on me?" thought Tushin, looking in alarm at his superior. "I... don't..." he muttered, holding up two fingers to his cap. "I..."
But the staff officer did not finish what he wanted to say. A cannon ball, flying close to him, caused him to duck and bend over his horse. He paused, and just as he was about to say something more, another ball stopped him. He turned his horse and galloped off."Retire! All to retire!" he shouted from a distance.
The soldiers laughed. A moment later, an adjutant arrived with the same order.
It was Prince Andrew. The first thing he saw on riding up to the space where Tushin's guns were stationed was an unharnessed horse with a broken leg, that lay screaming piteously beside the harnessed horses. Blood was gushing from its leg as from a spring. Among the limbers lay several dead men. One ball after another passed over as he approached and he felt a nervous shudder run down his spine. But the mere thought of being afraid roused him again. "I cannot be afraid," thought he, and dismounted slowly among the guns. He delivered the order and did not leave the battery. He decided to have the guns removed from their positions and withdrawn in his presence. Together with Tushin, stepping across the bodies and under a terrible fire from the French, he attended to the removal of the guns.
Prince Andrew said nothing to Tushin. They were both so busy as to seem not to notice one another. When having limbered up the only two cannon that remained uninjured out of the four, they began moving down the hill (one shattered gun and one unicorn were left behind), Prince Andrew rode up to Tushin."Well, till we meet again..." he said, holding out his hand to Tushin. "Good-by, my dear fellow," said Tushin. "Dear soul! Good-by, my dear fellow!" and for some unknown reason tears suddenly filled his eyes. CHAPTER XXI
The wind had fallen and black clouds, merging with the powder smoke, hung low over the field of battle on the horizon. It was growing dark and the glow of two conflagrations was the more conspicuous. The cannonade was dying down, but the rattle of musketry behind and on the right sounded oftener and nearer. As soon as Tushin with his guns, continually driving round or coming upon wounded men, was out of range of fire and had descended into the dip, he was met by some of the staff, among them the staff officer and Zherkov, who had been twice sent to Tushin's battery but had never reached it. Interrupting one another, they all gave, and transmitted, orders as to how to
proceed, reprimanding and reproaching him. Tushin gave no orders, and, silently--fearing to speak because at every word he felt ready to weep without knowing why--rode behind on his artillery nag. Though the orders were to abandon the wounded, many of them dragged themselves after troops and begged for seats on the gun carriages. The jaunty infantry officer who just before the battle had rushed out of Tushin's wattle shed was laid, with a bullet in his stomach, on "Matvevna's" carriage. At the foot of the hill, a pale hussar cadet, supporting one hand with the other, came up to Tushin and asked for a seat.
"Give him a seat," said Tushin. "Lay a cloak for him to sit on, lad," he said, addressing his favorite soldier. "And where is the wounded officer?""He has been set down. He died," replied someone. "Help him up. Sit down, dear fellow, sit down! Spread out the cloak, Antonov."
The cadet was Rostov. With one hand he supported the other; he was pale and his jaw trembled, shivering feverishly. He was placed on "Matvevna," the gun from which they had removed the dead officer. The cloak they spread under him was wet with blood which stained his breeches and arm."What, are you wounded, my lad?" said Tushin, approaching the gun on which Rostov sat. "No, it's a sprain." "Then what is this blood on the gun carriage?" inquired Tushin.
"It was the officer, your honor, stained it," answered the artilleryman, wiping away the blood with his coat sleeve, as if apologizing for the state of his gun.
It was all that they could do to get the guns up the rise aided by the infantry, and having reached the village of Gruntersdorf they halted. It had grown so dark that one could not distinguish the uniforms ten paces off, and the firing had begun to subside. Suddenly, near by on the right, shouting and firing were again heard. Flashes of shot gleamed in the darkness. This was the last French attack and was met by soldiers who had sheltered in the village houses. They all rushed out of the village again, but Tushin's guns could not move, and the artillerymen, Tushin, and the cadet exchanged silent glances as they awaited their fate. The firing died down and soldiers, talking eagerly, streamed out of a side street."Not hurt, Petrov?" asked one. "We've given it 'em hot, mate! They won't make another push now," said another.
"You couldn't see a thing. How they shot at their own fellows! Nothing could be seen. Pitch-dark, brother! Isn't there something to drink?"
The French had been repulsed for the last time. And again and again in the complete darkness Tushin's guns moved forward, surrounded by the humming infantry as by a frame.
In the darkness, it seemed as though a gloomy unseen river was flowing always in one direction, humming with whispers and talk and the sound of hoofs and wheels. Amid the general rumble, the groans and voices of the wounded were more distinctly heard than any other sound in the darkness of the night. The gloom that enveloped the army was filled with their groans, which seemed to melt into one with the darkness of the night. After a while the moving mass became agitated, someone rode past on a white horse followed by his suite, and said something in passing: "What did he say? Where to, now? Halt, is it? Did he thank us?" came eager questions from all sides. The whole moving mass began pressing closer together and a report spread that they were ordered to halt: evidently those in front had halted. All remained where they were in the middle of the muddy road.
Fires were lighted and the talk became more audible. Captain Tushin, having given orders to his company, sent a soldier to find a dressing station or a doctor for the cadet, and sat down by a bonfire the soldiers had kindled on the road. Rostov, too, dragged himself to the fire. From pain, cold, and damp, a feverish shivering shook his whole body. Drowsiness was irresistibly mastering him, but he kept awake by an excruciating pain in his arm, for which he could find no satisfactory position. He kept closing his eyes and then again looking at the fire, which seemed to him dazzlingly red, and at the feeble, round-shouldered figure of Tushin who was sitting cross-legged like a Turk beside him. Tushin's large, kind, intelligent eyes were fixed with sympathy and commiseration on Rostov, who saw that Tushin with his whole heart wished to help him but could not.
From all sides were heard the footsteps and talk of the infantry, who were walking, driving past, and settling down all around. The sound of voices, the tramping feet, the horses' hoofs moving in mud, the crackling of wood fires near and afar, merged into one tremulous rumble.
It was no longer, as before, a dark, unseen river flowing through the gloom, but a dark sea swelling and gradually subsiding after a storm. Rostov looked at and listened listlessly to what passed before and around him. An infantryman came to the fire, squatted on his heels, held his hands to the blaze, and turned away his face."You don't mind your honor?" he asked Tushin. "I've lost my company, your honor. I don't know where... such bad luck!"
With the soldier, an infantry officer with a bandaged cheek came up to the bonfire, and addressing Tushin asked him to have the guns moved a trifle to let a wagon go past. After he had gone, two soldiers rushed to the campfire. They were quarreling and fighting desperately, each trying to snatch from the other a boot they were both holding on to."You picked it up?... I dare say! You're very smart!" one of them shouted hoarsely. Then a thin, pale soldier, his neck bandaged with a bloodstained leg band, came up and in angry tones asked the artillerymen for water. "Must one die like a dog?" said he. Tushin told them to give the man some water. Then a cheerful soldier ran up, begging a little fire for the infantry.
"A nice little hot torch for the infantry! Good luck to you, fellow countrymen. Thanks for the fire--we'll return it with interest," said he, carrying away into the darkness a glowing stick.Next came four soldiers, carrying something heavy on a cloak, and passed by the fire. One of them stumbled. "Who the devil has put the logs on the road?" snarled he. "He's dead--why carry him?" said another. "Shut up!" And they disappeared into the darkness with with their load. "Still aching?" Tushin asked Rostov in a whisper. "Yes." "Your honor, you're wanted by the general. He is in the hut here," said a gunner, coming up to Tushin.
"Coming, friend." Tushin rose and, buttoning his greatcoat and pulling it straight, walked away from the fire.
Not far from the artillery campfire, in a hut that had been prepared for him, Prince Bagration sat at dinner, talking with some commanding officers who had gathered at his quarters. The little old man with the half-closed eyes was there greedily gnawing a mutton bone, and the general who had served blamelessly for twenty-two years, flushed by a glass of vodka and the dinner; and the staff officer with the signet ring, and Zherkov, uneasily glancing at them all, and Prince Andrew, pale, with compressed lips and feverishly glittering eyes.
In a corner of the hut stood a standard captured from the French, and the accountant with the naive face was feeling its texture, shaking his head in perplexity--perhaps because the banner really interested him, perhaps because it was hard for him, hungry as he was, to look on at a dinner where there was no place for him. In the next hut there was a French colonel who had been taken prisoner by our dragoons. Our officers were flocking in to look at him. Prince Bagration was thanking the individual commanders and inquiring into details of the action and our losses. The general whose regiment had been inspected at Braunau was informing the prince that as soon as the action began he had withdrawn from the wood, mustered the men who were woodcutting, and, allowing the French to pass him, had made a bayonet charge with two battalions and had broken up the French troops.
"When I saw, your excellency, that their first battalion was disorganized, I stopped in the road and thought: 'I'll let them come on and will meet them with the fire of the whole battalion'--and that's what I did."
The general had so wished to do this and was so sorry he had not managed to do it that it seemed to him as if it had really happened. Perhaps it might really have been so? Could one possibly make out amid all that confusion what did or did not happen?
"By the way, your excellency, I should inform you," he continuedremembering Dolokhov's conversation with Kutuzov and his last interview with the gentleman-ranker--"that Private Dolokhov, who was reduced to the ranks, took a French officer prisoner in my presence and particularly distinguished himself."
"I saw the Pavlograd hussars attack there, your excellency," chimed in Zherkov, looking uneasily around. He had not seen the hussars all that day, but had heard about them from an infantry officer. "They broke up two squares, your excellency."
Several of those present smiled at Zherkov's words, expecting one of his usual jokes, but noticing that what he was saying redounded to the glory of our arms and of the day's work, they assumed a serious expression, though many of them knew that what he was saying was a lie devoid of any foundation. Prince Bagration turned to the old colonel:
"Gentlemen, I thank you all; all arms have behaved heroically: infantry, cavalry, and artillery. How was it that two guns were abandoned in the center?" he inquired, searching with his eyes for someone. (Prince Bagration did not ask about the guns on the left flank; he knew that all the guns there had been abandoned at the very beginning of the action.) "I think I sent you?" he added, turning to the staff officer on duty.
"One was damaged," answered the staff officer, "and the other I can't understand. I was there all the time giving orders and had only just left.... It is true that it was hot there," he added, modestly.Someone mentioned that Captain Tushin was bivouacking close to the village and had already been sent for. "Oh, but you were there?" said Prince Bagration, addressing Prince Andrew. "Of course, we only just missed one another," said the staff officer, with a smile to Bolkonski. "I had not the pleasure of seeing you," said Prince Andrew, coldly and abruptly.
All were silent. Tushin appeared at the threshold and made his way timidly from behind the backs of the generals. As he stepped past the generals in the crowded hut, feeling embarrassed as he always was by the sight of his superiors, he did not notice the staff of the banner and stumbled over it. Several of those present laughed.
"How was it a gun was abandoned?" asked Bagration, frowning, not so much at the captain as at those who were laughing, among whom Zherkov laughed loudest.
Only now, when he was confronted by the stern authorities, did his guilt and the disgrace of having lost two guns and yet remaining alive present themselves to Tushin in all their horror. He had been so excited that he had not thought about it until that moment. The officers' laughter confused him still more. He stood before Bagration with his lower jaw trembling and was hardly able to mutter: "I don't know... your excellency... I had no men... your excellency."
"You might have taken some from the covering troops." Tushin did not say that there were no covering troops, though that was perfectly true. He was afraid of getting some other officer into trouble, and silently fixed his eyes on Bagration as a schoolboy who has blundered looks at an examiner.
The silence lasted some time. Prince Bagration, apparently not wishing to be severe, found nothing to say; the others did not venture to intervene. Prince Andrew looked at Tushin from under his brows and his fingers twitched nervously.
"Your excellency!" Prince Andrew broke the silence with his abrupt voice," you were pleased to send me to Captain Tushin's battery. I went there and found two thirds of the men and horses knocked out, two guns smashed, and no supports at all."Prince Bagration and Tushin looked with equal intentness at Bolkonski, who spoke with suppressed agitation.
"And, if your excellency will allow me to express my opinion," he continued, "we owe today's success chiefly to the action of that battery and the heroic endurance of Captain Tushin and his company," and without awaiting a reply, Prince Andrew rose and left the table.
Prince Bagration looked at Tushin, evidently reluctant to show distrust in Bolkonski's emphatic opinion yet not feeling able fully to credit it, bent his head, and told Tushin that he could go. Prince Andrew went out with him."Thank you; you saved me, my dear fellow!" said Tushin.
Prince Andrew gave him a look, but said nothing and went away. He felt sad and depressed. It was all so strange, so unlike what he had hoped.
"Who are they? Why are they here? What do they want? And when will all this end?" thought Rostov, looking at the changing shadows before him. The pain in his arm became more and more intense. Irresistible drowsiness overpowered him, red rings danced before his eyes, and the impression of those voices and faces and a sense of loneliness merged with the physical pain. It was they, these soldiers- wounded and unwounded--it was they who were crushing, weighing down, and twisting the sinews and scorching the flesh of his sprained arm and shoulder. To rid himself of them he closed his eyes.
For a moment he dozed, but in that short interval innumerable things appeared to him in a dream: his mother and her large white hand, Sonya's thin little shoulders, Natasha's eyes and laughter, Denisov with his voice and mustache, and Telyanin and all that affair with Telyanin and Bogdanich. That affair was the same thing as this soldier with the harsh voice, and it was that affair and this soldier that were so agonizingly, incessantly pulling and pressing his arm and always dragging it in one direction. He tried to get away from them, but they would not for an instant let his shoulder move a hair's breadth. It would not ache--it would be well--if only they did not pull it, but it was impossible to get rid of them.
He opened his eyes and looked up. The black canopy of night hung less than a yard above the glow of the charcoal. Flakes of falling snow were fluttering in that light. Tushin had not returned, the doctor had not come. He was alone now, except for a soldier who was sitting naked at the other side of the fire, warming his thin yellow body.
"Nobody wants me!" thought Rostov. "There is no one to help me or pity me. Yet I was once at home, strong, happy, and loved." He sighed and, doing so, groaned involuntarily.
"Eh, is anything hurting you?" asked the soldier, shaking his shirt out over the fire, and not waiting for an answer he gave a grunt and added: "What a lot of men have been crippled today--frightful!"
Rostov did not listen to the soldier. He looked at the snowflakes fluttering above the fire and remembered a Russian winter at his warm, bright home, his fluffy fur coat, his quickly gliding sleigh, his healthy body, and all the affection and care of his family. "And why did I come here?" he wondered.Next day the French army did not renew their attack, and the remnant of Bagration's detachment was reunited to Kutuzov's army. BOOK THREE: 1805 CHAPTER I
Prince Vasili was not a man who deliberately thought out his plans. Still less did he think of injuring anyone for his own
advantage. He was merely a man of the world who had got on and to whom getting on had become a habit. Schemes and devices for which he never rightly accounted to himself, but which formed the whole interest of his life, were constantly shaping themselves in his mind, arising from the circumstances and persons he met. Of these plans he had not merely one or two in his head but dozens, some only beginning to form themselves, some approaching achievement, and some in course of disintegration. He did not, for instance, say to himself: "This man now has influence, I must gain his confidence and friendship and through him obtain a special grant." Nor did he say to himself: "Pierre is a rich man, I must entice him to marry my daughter and lend me the forty thousand rubles I need." But when he came across a man of position his instinct immediately told him that this man could be useful, and without any premeditation Prince Vasili took the first opportunity to gain his confidence, flatter him, become intimate with him, and finally make his request.
He had Pierre at hand in Moscow and procured for him an
appointment as Gentleman of the Bedchamber, which at that time conferred the status of Councilor of State, and insisted on the young man accompanying him to Petersburg and staying at his house. With apparent absent-mindedness, yet with unhesitating assurance that he was doing the right thing, Prince Vasili did everything to get Pierre to marry his daughter. Had he thought out his plans beforehand he could not have been so natural and shown such unaffected familiarity in intercourse with everybody both above and below him in social standing. Something always drew him toward those richer and more powerful than himself and he had rare skill in seizing the most opportune moment for making use of people.
Pierre, on unexpectedly becoming Count Bezukhov and a rich man, felt himself after his recent loneliness and freedom from cares so beset and preoccupied that only in bed was he able to be by himself. He had to sign papers, to present himself at government offices, the purpose of which was not clear to him, to question his chief steward, to visit his estate near Moscow, and to receive many people who formerly did not even wish to know of his existence but would now have been offended and grieved had he chosen not to see them. These different people--businessmen, relations, and acquaintances alike--were all disposed to treat the young heir in the most friendly and flattering manner: they were all evidently firmly convinced of Pierre's noble qualities. He was always hearing such words as: "With your remarkable kindness," or, "With your excellent heart," "You are yourself so honorable Count," or, "Were he as clever as you," and so on, till he began sincerely to believe in his own exceptional kindness and extraordinary intelligence, the more so as in the depth of his heart it had always seemed to him that he really was very kind and intelligent. Even people who had formerly been spiteful toward him and evidently unfriendly now became gentle and affectionate. The angry eldest princess, with the long waist and hair plastered down like a doll's, had come into Pierre's room after the funeral. With drooping eyes and frequent blushes she told him she was very sorry about their past misunderstandings and did not now feel she had a right to ask him for anything, except only for permission, after the blow she had received, to remain for a few weeks longer in the house she so loved and where she had sacrificed so much. She could not refrain from weeping at these words. Touched that this statuesque princess could so change, Pierre took her hand and begged her forgiveness, without knowing what for. From that day the eldest princess quite changed toward Pierre and began knitting a striped scarf for him.
"Do this for my sake, mon cher; after all, she had to put up with a great deal from the deceased," said Prince Vasili to him, handing him a deed to sign for the princess' benefit.
Prince Vasili had come to the conclusion that it was necessary to throw this bone--a bill for thirty thousand rubles--to the poor princess that it might not occur to her to speak of his share in the affair of the inlaid portfolio. Pierre signed the deed and after that the princess grew still kinder. The younger sisters also became affectionate to him, especially the youngest, the pretty one with the mole, who often made him feel confused by her smiles and her own confusion when meeting him.
It seemed so natural to Pierre that everyone should like him, and it would have seemed so unnatural had anyone disliked him, that he could not but believe in the sincerity of those around him. Besides, he had no time to ask himself whether these people were sincere or not. He was always busy and always felt in a state of mild and cheerful intoxication. He felt as though he were the center of some important and general movement; that something was constantly expected of him, that if he did not do it he would grieve and disappoint many people, but if he did this and that, all would be well; and he did what was demanded of him, but still that happy result always remained in the future.
More than anyone else, Prince Vasili took possession of Pierre's affairs and of Pierre himself in those early days. From the death of Count Bezukhov he did not let go his hold of the lad. He had the air of a man oppressed by business, weary and suffering, who yet would not, for pity's sake, leave this helpless youth who, after all, was the son of his old friend and the possessor of such enormous wealth, to the caprice of fate and the designs of rogues. During the few days he spent in Moscow after the death of Count Bezukhov, he would call Pierre, or go to him himself, and tell him what ought to be done in a tone of weariness and assurance, as if he were adding every time: "You know I am overwhelmed with business and it is purely out of charity that I trouble myself about you, and you also know quite well that what I propose is the only thing possible."
"Well, my dear fellow, tomorrow we are off at last," said Prince Vasili one day, closing his eyes and fingering Pierre's elbow, speaking as if he were saying something which had long since been agreed upon and could not now be altered. "We start tomorrow and I'm giving you a place in my carriage. I am very glad. All our important business here is now settled, and I ought to have been off long ago. Here is something I have received from the chancellor. I asked him for you, and you have been entered in the diplomatic corps and made a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. The diplomatic career now lies open before you."
Notwithstanding the tone of wearied assurance with which these words were pronounced, Pierre, who had so long been considering his career, wished to make some suggestion. But Prince Vasili interrupted him in the special deep cooing tone, precluding the possibility of interrupting his speech, which he used in extreme cases when special persuasion was needed.
"Mais, mon cher, I did this for my own sake, to satisfy my conscience, and there is nothing to thank me for. No one has ever complained yet of being too much loved; and besides, you are free, you could throw it up tomorrow. But you will see everything for yourself when you get to Petersburg. It is high time for you to get away from these terrible recollections." Prince Vasili sighed. "Yes, yes, my boy. And my valet can go in your carriage. Ah! I was nearly forgetting," he added. "You know, mon cher, your father and I had some accounts to settle, so I have received what was due from the Ryazan estate and will keep it; you won't require it. We'll go into the accounts later."
By "what was due from the Ryazan estate" Prince Vasili meant several thousand rubles quitrent received from Pierre's peasants, which the prince had retained for himself.
In Petersburg, as in Moscow, Pierre found the same atmosphere of gentleness and affection. He could not refuse the post, or rather the rank (for he did nothing), that Prince Vasili had procured for him, and acquaintances, invitations, and social occupations were so numerous that, even more than in Moscow, he felt a sense of bewilderment, bustle, and continual expectation of some good, always in front of him but never attained.
Of his former bachelor acquaintances many were no longer in Petersburg. The Guards had gone to the front; Dolokhov had been reduced to the ranks; Anatole was in the army somewhere in the provinces; Prince Andrew was abroad; so Pierre had not the opportunity to spend his nights as he used to like to spend them, or to open his mind by intimate talks with a friend older than himself and whom he respected. His whole time was taken up with dinners and balls and was spent chiefly at Prince Vasili's house in the company of the stout princess, his wife, and his beautiful daughter Helene.Like the others, Anna Pavlovna Scherer showed Pierre the change of attitude toward him that had taken place in society.
Formerly in Anna Pavlovna's presence, Pierre had always felt that what he was saying was out of place, tactless and unsuitable, that remarks which seemed to him clever while they formed in his mind became foolish as soon as he uttered them, while on the contrary Hippolyte's stupidest remarks came out clever and apt. Now everything Pierre said was charmant. Even if Anna Pavlovna did not say so, he could see that she wished to and only refrained out of regard for his modesty.
In the beginning of the winter of 1805-6 Pierre received one of Anna Pavlovna's usual pink notes with an invitation to which was added: "You will find the beautiful Helene here, whom it is always delightful to see."
When he read that sentence, Pierre felt for the first time that some link which other people recognized had grown up between himself and Helene, and that thought both alarmed him, as if some obligation were being imposed on him which he could not fulfill, and pleased him as an entertaining supposition.
Anna Pavlovna's "At Home" was like the former one, only the novelty she offered her guests this time was not Mortemart, but a diplomatist fresh from Berlin with the very latest details of the Emperor Alexander's visit to Potsdam, and of how the two august friends had pledged themselves in an indissoluble alliance to uphold the cause of justice against the enemy of the human race. Anna Pavlovna received Pierre with a shade of melancholy, evidently relating to the young man's recent loss by the death of Count Bezukhov (everyone constantly considered it a duty to assure Pierre that he was greatly afflicted by the death of the father he had hardly known), and her melancholy was just like the august melancholy she showed at the mention of her most august Majesty the Empress Marya Fedorovna. Pierre felt flattered by this. Anna Pavlovna arranged the different groups in her drawing room with her habitual skill. The large group, in which were Prince Vasili and the generals, had the benefit of the
diplomat. Another group was at the tea table. Pierre wished to join the former, but Anna Pavlovna--who was in the excited condition of a commander on a battlefield to whom thousands of new and brilliant ideas occur which there is hardly time to put in action--seeing Pierre, touched his sleeve with her finger, saying:
"Wait a bit, I have something in view for you this evening." (She glanced at Helene and smiled at her.) "My dear Helene, be charitable to my poor aunt who adores you. Go and keep her company for ten minutes. And that it will not be too dull, here is the dear count who will not refuse to accompany you."The beauty went to the aunt, but Anna Pavlovna detained Pierre, looking as if she had to give some final necessary instructions.
"Isn't she exquisite?" she said to Pierre, pointing to the stately beauty as she glided away. "And how she carries herself! For so young a girl, such tact, such masterly perfection of manner! It comes from her heart. Happy the man who wins her! With her the least worldly of men would occupy a most brilliant position in society. Don't you think so? I only wanted to know your opinion," and Anna Pavlovna let Pierre go.
Pierre, in reply, sincerely agreed with her as to Helene's perfection of manner. If he ever thought of Helene, it was just of her beauty and her remarkable skill in appearing silently dignified in society.
The old aunt received the two young people in her corner, but seemed desirous of hiding her adoration for Helene and inclined rather to show her fear of Anna Pavlovna. She looked at her niece, as if inquiring what she was to do with these people. On leaving them, Anna Pavlovna again touched Pierre's sleeve, saying: "I hope you won't say that it is dull in my house again," and she glanced at Helene.
Helene smiled, with a look implying that she did not admit the possibility of anyone seeing her without being enchanted. The aunt coughed, swallowed, and said in French that she was very pleased to see Helene, then she turned to Pierre with the same words of welcome and the same look. In the middle of a dull and halting conversation, Helene turned to Pierre with the beautiful bright smile that she gave to everyone. Pierre was so used to that smile, and it had so little meaning for him, that he paid no attention to it. The aunt was just speaking of a collection of snuffboxes that had belonged to Pierre's father, Count Bezukhov, and showed them her own box. Princess Helene asked to see the portrait of the aunt's husband on the box lid.
"That is probably the work of Vinesse," said Pierre, mentioning a celebrated miniaturist, and he leaned over the table to take the snuffbox while trying to hear what was being said at the other table.
He half rose, meaning to go round, but the aunt handed him the snuffbox, passing it across Helene's back. Helene stooped forward to make room, and looked round with a smile. She was, as always at evening parties, wearing a dress such as was then fashionable, cut very low at front and back. Her bust, which had always seemed like marble to Pierre, was so close to him that his shortsighted eyes could not but perceive the living charm of her neck and shoulders, so near to his lips that he need only have bent his head a little to have touched them. He was conscious of the warmth of her body, the scent of perfume, and the creaking of her corset as she moved. He did not see her marble beauty forming a complete whole with her dress, but all the charm of her body only covered by her garments. And having once seen this he could not help being aware it, just as we cannot renew an illusion we have once seen through.
"So you have never noticed before how beautiful I am?" Helene seemed to say. "You had not noticed that I am a woman? Yes, I am a woman who may belong to anyone--to you too," said her glance. And at that moment Pierre felt that Helene not only could, but must, be his wife, and that it could not be otherwise.
He knew this at that moment as surely as if he had been standing at the altar with her. How and when this would be he did not know, he did not even know if it would be a good thing (he even felt, he knew not why, that it would be a bad thing), but he knew it would happen.
Pierre dropped his eyes, lifted them again, and wished once more to see her as a distant beauty far removed from him, as he had seen her every day until then, but he could no longer do it. He could not, any more than a man who has been looking at a tuft of steppe grass through the mist and taking it for a tree can again take it for a tree after he has once recognized it to be a tuft of grass. She was terribly close to him. She already had power over him, and between them there was no longer any barrier except the barrier of his own will."Well, I will leave you in your little corner," came Anna Pavlovna's voice, "I see you are all right there."
And Pierre, anxiously trying to remember whether he had done anything reprehensible, looked round with a blush. It seemed to him that everyone knew what had happened to him as he knew it himself.A little later when he went up to the large circle, Anna Pavlovna said to him: "I hear you are refitting your Petersburg house?"
This was true. The architect had told him that it was necessary, and Pierre, without knowing why, was having his enormous Petersburg house done up.
"That's a good thing, but don't move from Prince Vasili's. It is good to have a friend like the prince," she said, smiling at Prince Vasili. "I know something about that. Don't I? And you are still so young. You need advice. Don't be angry with me for exercising an old woman's privilege."
She paused, as women always do, expecting something after they have mentioned their age. "If you marry it will be a different thing," she continued, uniting them both in one glance. Pierre did not look at Helene nor she at him. But she was just as terribly close to him. He muttered something and colored.
When he got home he could not sleep for a long time for thinking of what had happened. What had happened? Nothing. He had merely understood that the woman he had known as a child, of whom when her beauty was mentioned he had said absent-mindedly: "Yes, she's good looking," he had understood that this woman might belong to him.
"But she's stupid. I have myself said she is stupid," he thought. "There is something nasty, something wrong, in the feeling she excites in me. I have been told that her brother Anatole was in love with her and she with him, that there was quite a scandal and that that's why he was sent away. Hippolyte is her brother... Prince Vasili is her father... It's bad...." he reflected, but while he was thinking this (the reflection was still incomplete), he caught himself smiling and was conscious that another line of thought had sprung up, and while thinking of her worthlessness he was also dreaming of how she would be his wife, how she would love him become quite different, and how all he had thought and heard of her might be false. And he again saw her not as the daughter of Prince Vasili, but visualized her whole body only veiled by its gray dress. "But no! Why did this thought never occur to me before?" and again he told himself that it was impossible, that there would be something unnatural, and as it seemed to him dishonorable, in this marriage. He recalled her former words and looks and the words and looks of those who had seen them together. He recalled Anna Pavlovna's words and looks when she spoke to him about his house, recalled thousands of such hints from Prince Vasili and others, and was seized by terror lest he had already, in some way, bound himself to do something that was evidently wrong and that he ought not to do. But at the very time he was expressing this conviction to himself, in another part of his mind her image rose in all its womanly beauty.CHAPTER II
In November, 1805, Prince Vasili had to go on a tour of inspection in four different provinces. He had arranged this for himself so as to visit his neglected estates at the same time and pick up his son Anatole where his regiment was stationed, and take him to visit Prince Nicholas Bolkonski in order to arrange a match for him with the daughter of that rich old man. But before leaving home and undertaking these new affairs, Prince Vasili had to settle matters with Pierre, who, it is true, had latterly spent whole days at home, that is, in Prince Vasili's house where he was staying, and had been absurd, excited, and foolish in Helene's presence (as a lover should be), but had not yet proposed to her.
"This is all very fine, but things must be settled," said Prince Vasili to himself, with a sorrowful sigh, one morning, feeling that Pierre who was under such obligations to him ("But never mind that") was not behaving very well in this matter. "Youth, frivolity... well, God be with him," thought he, relishing his own goodness of heart, "but it must be brought to a head. The day after tomorrow will be Lelya's name day. I will invite two or three people, and if he does not understand what he ought to do then it will be my affair- yes, my affair. I am her father."
Six weeks after Anna Pavlovna's "At Home" and after the sleepless night when he had decided that to marry Helene would be a calamity and that he ought to avoid her and go away, Pierre, despite that decision, had not left Prince Vasili's and felt with terror that in people's eyes he was every day more and more connected with her, that it was impossible for him to return to his former conception of her, that he could not break away from her, and that though it would be a terrible thing he would have to unite his fate with hers. He might perhaps have been able to free himself but that Prince Vasili (who had rarely before given receptions) now hardly let a day go by without having an evening party at which Pierre had to be present unless he wished to spoil the general pleasure and disappoint everyone's expectation. Prince Vasili, in the rare moments when he was at home, would take Pierre's hand in passing and draw it downwards, or absent-mindedly hold out his wrinkled, clean-shaven cheek for Pierre to kiss and would say: "Till tomorrow," or, "Be in to dinner or I shall not see you," or, "I am staying in for your sake," and so on. And though Prince Vasili, when he stayed in (as he said) for Pierre's sake, hardly exchanged a couple of words with him, Pierre felt unable to disappoint him. Every day he said to himself one and the same thing: "It is time I understood her and made up my mind what she really is. Was I mistaken before, or am I mistaken now? No, she is not stupid, she is an excellent girl," he sometimes said to himself "she never makes a mistake, never says anything stupid. She says little, but what she does say is always clear and simple, so she is not stupid. She never was abashed and is not abashed now, so she cannot be a bad woman!" He had often begun to make reflections or think aloud in her company, and she had always answered him either by a brief but appropriate remark--showing that it did not interest her--or by a silent look and smile which more palpably than anything else showed Pierre her superiority. She was right in regarding all arguments as nonsense in comparison with that smile.
She always addressed him with a radiantly confiding smile meant for him alone, in which there was something more significant than in the general smile that usually brightened her face. Pierre knew that everyone was waiting for him to say a word and cross a certain line, and he knew that sooner or later he would step across it, but an incomprehensible terror seized him at the thought of that dreadful step. A thousand times during that month and a half while he felt himself drawn nearer and nearer to that dreadful abyss, Pierre said to himself: "What am I doing? I need resolution. Can it be that I have none?"
He wished to take a decision, but felt with dismay that in this matter he lacked that strength of will which he had known in himself and really possessed. Pierre was one of those who are only strong when they feel themselves quite innocent, and since that day when he was overpowered by a feeling of desire while stooping over the snuffbox at Anna Pavlovna's, an unacknowledged sense of the guilt of that desire paralyzed his will.
On Helene's name day, a small party of just their own people--as his wife said--met for supper at Prince Vasili's. All these friends and relations had been given to understand that the fate of the young girl would be decided that evening. The visitors were seated at supper. Princess Kuragina, a portly imposing woman who had once been handsome, was sitting at the head of the table. On either side of her sat the more important guests--an old general and his wife, and Anna Pavlovna Scherer. At the other end sat the younger and less
important guests, and there too sat the members of the family, and Pierre and Helene, side by side. Prince Vasili was not having any supper: he went round the table in a merry mood, sitting down now by one, now by another, of the guests. To each of them he made some careless and agreeable remark except to Pierre and Helene, whose presence he seemed not to notice. He enlivened the whole party. The wax candles burned brightly, the silver and crystal gleamed, so did the ladies' toilets and the gold and silver of the men's epaulets; servants in scarlet liveries moved round the table, the clatter of plates, knives, and glasses mingled with the animated hum of several conversations. At one end of the table, the old chamberlain was heard assuring an old baroness that he loved her passionately, at which she laughed; at the other could be heard the story of the misfortunes of some Mary Viktorovna or other. At the center of the table, Prince Vasili attracted everybody's attention. With a facetious smile on his face, he was telling the ladies about last Wednesday's meeting of the Imperial Council, at which Sergey Kuzmich
Vyazmitinov, the new military governor general of Petersburg, had received and read the then famous rescript of the Emperor Alexander from the army to Sergey Kuzmich, in which the Emperor said that he was receiving from all sides declarations of the people's loyalty, that the declaration from Petersburg gave him particular pleasure, and that he was proud to be at the head of such a nation and would endeavor to be worthy of it. This rescript began with the words: "Sergey Kuzmich, From all sides reports reach me," etc.
"Exactly, not a hair's breadth farther," answered Prince Vasili, laughing, "'Sergey Kuzmich... From all sides... From all sides... Sergey Kuzmich...' Poor Vyazmitinov could not get any farther! He began the rescript again and again, but as soon as he uttered 'Sergey' he sobbed, 'Kuz-mi-ch,' tears, and 'From all sides' was smothered in sobs and he could get no farther. And again his handkerchief, and again: 'Sergey Kuzmich, From all sides,'... and tears, till at last somebody else was asked to read it.""Kuzmich... From all sides... and then tears," someone repeated laughing.
"Don't be unkind," cried Anna Pavlovna from her end of the table holding up a threatening finger. "He is such a worthy and excellent man, our dear Vyazmitinov...."
Everybody laughed a great deal. At the head of the table, where the honored guests sat, everyone seemed to be in high spirits and under the influence of a variety of exciting sensations. Only Pierre and Helene sat silently side by side almost at the bottom of the table, a suppressed smile brightening both their faces, a smile that had nothing to do with Sergey Kuzmich--a smile of bashfulness at their own feelings. But much as all the rest laughed, talked, and joked, much as they enjoyed their Rhine wine, saute, and ices, and however they avoided looking at the young couple, and heedless and unobservant as they seemed of them, one could feel by the occasional glances they gave that the story about Sergey Kuzmich, the laughter, and the food were all a pretense, and that the whole attention of that company was directed to--Pierre and Helene. Prince Vasili mimicked the sobbing of Sergey Kuzmich and at the same time his eyes glanced toward his daughter, and while he laughed the expression on his face clearly said: "Yes... it's getting on, it will all be settled today." Anna Pavlovna threatened him on behalf of "our dear Vyazmitinov," and in her eyes, which, for an instant, glanced at Pierre, Prince Vasili read a congratulation on his future son-in-law and on his daughter's happiness. The old princess sighed sadly as she offered some wine to the old lady next to her and glanced angrily at her daughter, and her sigh seemed to say: "Yes, there's nothing left for you and me but to sip sweet wine, my dear, now that the time has come for these young ones to be thus boldly, provocatively happy." "And what nonsense all this is that I am saying!" thought a diplomatist, glancing at the happy faces of the lovers. "That's happiness!"
Into the insignificant, trifling, and artificial interests uniting that society had entered the simple feeling of the attraction of a healthy and handsome young man and woman for one another. And this human feeling dominated everything else and soared above all their affected chatter. Jests fell flat, news was not interesting, and the animation was evidently forced. Not only the guests but even the footmen waiting at table seemed to feel this, and they forgot their duties as they looked at the beautiful Helene with her radiant face and at the red, broad, and happy though uneasy face of Pierre. It seemed as if the very light of the candles was focused on those two happy faces alone.
Pierre felt that he was the center of it all, and this both pleased and embarrassed him. He was like a man entirely absorbed in some occupation. He did not see, hear, or understand anything clearly. Only now and then detached ideas and impressions from the world of reality shot unexpectedly through his mind.
"So it is all finished!" he thought. "And how has it all happened? How quickly! Now I know that not because of her alone, nor of myself alone, but because of everyone, it must inevitably come about. They are all expecting it, they are so sure that it will happen that I cannot, I cannot, disappoint them. But how will it be? I do not know, but it will certainly happen!" thought Pierre, glancing at those dazzling shoulders close to his eyes.
Or he would suddenly feel ashamed of he knew not what. He felt it awkward to attract everyone's attention and to be considered a lucky man and, with his plain face, to be looked on as a sort of Paris possessed of a Helen. "But no doubt it always is and must be so!" he consoled himself. "And besides, what have I done to bring it about? How did it begin? I traveled from Moscow with Prince Vasili. Then there was nothing. So why should I not stay at his house? Then I played cards with her and picked up her reticule and drove out with her. How did it begin, when did it all come about?" And here he was sitting by her side as her betrothed, seeing, hearing, feeling her nearness, her breathing, her movements, her beauty. Then it would suddenly seem to him that it was not she but he was so unusually beautiful, and that that was why they all looked so at him, and flattered by this general admiration he would expand his chest, raise his head, and rejoice at his good fortune. Suddenly he heard a familiar voice repeating something to him a second time. But Pierre was so absorbed that he did not understand what was said.
"I am asking you when you last heard from Bolkonski," repeated Prince Vasili a third time. "How absent-minded you are, my dear fellow."
Prince Vasili smiled, and Pierre noticed that everyone was smiling at him and Helene. "Well, what of it, if you all know it?" thought Pierre. "What of it? It's the truth!" and he himself smiled his gentle childlike smile, and Helene smiled too.
"When did you get the letter? Was it from Olmutz?" repeated Prince Vasili, who pretended to want to know this in order to settle a dispute."How can one talk or think of such trifles?" thought Pierre. "Yes, from Olmutz," he answered, with a sigh.
After supper Pierre with his partner followed the others into the drawing room. The guests began to disperse, some without taking leave of Helene. Some, as if unwilling to distract her from an important occupation, came up to her for a moment and made haste to go away, refusing to let her see them off. The diplomatist preserved a mournful silence as he left the drawing room. He pictured the vanity of his diplomatic career in comparison with Pierre's happiness. The old general grumbled at his wife when she asked how his leg was. "Oh, the old fool," he thought. "That Princess Helene will be beautiful still when she's fifty."
"I think I may congratulate you," whispered Anna Pavlovna to the old princess, kissing her soundly. "If I hadn't this headache I'd have stayed longer."The old princess did not reply, she was tormented by jealousy of her daughter's happiness.
While the guests were taking their leave Pierre remained for a long time alone with Helene in the little drawing room where they were sitting. He had often before, during the last six weeks, remained alone with her, but had never spoken to her of love. Now he felt that it was inevitable, but he could not make up his mind to take the final step. He felt ashamed; he felt that he was occupying someone else's place here beside Helene. "This happiness is not for you," some inner voice whispered to him. "This happiness is for those who have not in them what there is in you."
But, as he had to say something, he began by asking her whether she was satisfied with the party. She replied in her usual simple manner that this name day of hers had been one of the pleasantest she had ever had.
Some of the nearest relatives had not yet left. They were sitting in the large drawing room. Prince Vasili came up to Pierre with languid footsteps. Pierre rose and said it was getting late. Prince Vasili gave him a look of stern inquiry, as though what Pierre had just said was so strange that one could not take it in. But then the expression of severity changed, and he drew Pierre's hand downwards, made him sit down, and smiled affectionately.
"Well, Lelya?" he asked, turning instantly to his daughter and addressing her with the careless tone of habitual tenderness natural to parents who have petted their children from babyhood, but which Prince Vasili had only acquired by imitating other parents.
And he again turned to Pierre. "Sergey Kuzmich--From all sides-" he said, unbuttoning the top button of his waistcoat.
Pierre smiled, but his smile showed that he knew it was not the story about Sergey Kuzmich that interested Prince Vasili just then, and Prince Vasili saw that Pierre knew this. He suddenly muttered something and went away. It seemed to Pierre that even the prince was disconcerted. The sight of the discomposure of that old man of the world touched Pierre: he looked at Helene and she too seemed disconcerted, and her look seemed to say: "Well, it is your own fault."
"The step must be taken but I cannot, I cannot!" thought Pierre, and he again began speaking about indifferent matters, about Sergey Kuzmich, asking what the point of the story was as he had not heard it properly. Helene answered with a smile that she too had missed it.When Prince Vasili returned to the drawing room, the princess, his wife, was talking in low tones to the elderly lady about Pierre. "Of course, it is a very brilliant match, but happiness, my dear..." "Marriages are made in heaven," replied the elderly lady.
Prince Vasili passed by, seeming not to hear the ladies, and sat down on a sofa in a far corner of the room. He closed his eyes and seemed to be dozing. His head sank forward and then he roused himself."Aline," he said to his wife, "go and see what they are about."
The princess went up to the door, passed by it with a dignified and indifferent air, and glanced into the little drawing room. Pierre and Helene still sat talking just as before."Still the same," she said to her husband.
Prince Vasili frowned, twisting his mouth, his cheeks quivered and his face assumed the coarse, unpleasant expression peculiar to him. Shaking himself, he rose, threw back his head, and with resolute steps went past the ladies into the little drawing room. With quick steps he went joyfully up to Pierre. His face was so unusually triumphant that Pierre rose in alarm on seeing it.
"Thank God!" said Prince Vasili. "My wife has told me everything!" (He put one arm around Pierre and the other around his daughter.)--"My dear boy... Lelya... I am very pleased." (His voice trembled.) "I loved your father... and she will make you a good wife... God bless you!..."
He embraced his daughter, and then again Pierre, and kissed him with his malodorous mouth. Tears actually moistened his cheeks.
The old princess came in and also wept. The elderly lady was using her handkerchief too. Pierre was kissed, and he kissed the beautiful Helene's hand several times. After a while they were left alone again.
"All this had to be and could not be otherwise," thought Pierre, "so it is useless to ask whether it is good or bad. It is good because it's definite and one is rid of the old tormenting doubt." Pierre held the hand of his betrothed in silence, looking at her beautiful bosom as it rose and fell."Helene!" he said aloud and paused.
"Something special is always said in such cases," he thought, but could not remember what it was that people say. He looked at her face. She drew nearer to him. Her face flushed."Oh, take those off... those..." she said, pointing to his spectacles.
Pierre took them off, and his eyes, besides the strange look eyes have from which spectacles have just been removed, had also a frightened and inquiring look. He was about to stoop over her hand and kiss it, but with a rapid, almost brutal movement of her head, she intercepted his lips and met them with her own. Her face struck Pierre, by its altered, unpleasantly excited expression."It is too late now, it's done; besides I love her," thought Pierre.
"Je vous aime!"* he said, remembering what has to be said at such moments: but his words sounded so weak that he felt ashamed of himself.*"I love you."
Six weeks later he was married, and settled in Count Bezukhov's large, newly furnished Petersburg house, the happy possessor, as people said, of a wife who was a celebrated beauty and of millions of money.
Old Prince Nicholas Bolkonski received a letter from Prince Vasili in November, 1805, announcing that he and his son would be paying him a visit. "I am starting on a journey of inspection, and of course I shall think nothing of an extra seventy miles to come and see you at the same time, my honored benefactor," wrote Prince Vasili. "My son Anatole is accompanying me on his way to the army, so I hope you will allow him personally to express the deep respect that, emulating his father, he feels for you."
"It seems that there will be no need to bring Mary out, suitors are coming to us of their own accord," incautiously remarked the little princess on hearing the news.Prince Nicholas frowned, but said nothing. A fortnight after the letter Prince Vasili's servants came one evening in advance of him, and he and his son arrived next day.
Old Bolkonski had always had a poor opinion of Prince Vasili's character, but more so recently, since in the new reigns of Paul and Alexander Prince Vasili had risen to high position and honors. And now, from the hints contained in his letter and given by the little princess, he saw which way the wind was blowing, and his low opinion changed into a feeling of contemptuous ill will. He snorted whenever he mentioned him. On the day of Prince Vasili's arrival, Prince Bolkonski was particularly discontented and out of temper. Whether he was in a bad temper because Prince Vasili was coming, or whether his being in a bad temper made him specially annoyed at Prince Vasili's visit, he was in a bad temper, and in the morning Tikhon had already advised the architect not to go to the prince with his report.
"Do you hear how he's walking?" said Tikhon, drawing the architect's attention to the sound of the prince's footsteps. "Stepping flat on his heels--we know what that means...."
However, at nine o'clock the prince, in his velvet coat with a sable collar and cap, went out for his usual walk. It had snowed the day before and the path to the hothouse, along which the prince was in the habit of walking, had been swept: the marks of the broom were still visible in the snow and a shovel had been left sticking in one of the soft snowbanks that bordered both sides of the path. The prince went through the conservatories, the serfs' quarters, and the outbuildings, frowning and silent."Can a sleigh pass?" he asked his overseer, a venerable man, resembling his master in manners and looks, who was accompanying him back to the house. "The snow is deep. I am having the avenue swept, your honor." The prince bowed his head and went up to the porch. "God be thanked," thought the overseer, "the storm has blown over!" "It would have been hard to drive up, your honor," he added. "I heard, your honor, that a minister is coming to visit your honor." The prince turned round to the overseer and fixed his eyes on him, frowning.
"What? A minister? What minister? Who gave orders?" he said in his shrill, harsh voice. "The road is not swept for the princess my daughter, but for a minister! For me, there are no ministers!""Your honor, I thought..."
"You thought!" shouted the prince, his words coming more and more rapidly and indistinctly. "You thought!... Rascals! Blackgaurds!... I'll teach you to think!" and lifting his stick he swung it and would have hit Alpatych, the overseer, had not the latter instinctively avoided the blow. "Thought... Blackguards..." shouted the prince rapidly.
But although Alpatych, frightened at his own temerity in avoiding the stroke, came up to the prince, bowing his bald head resignedly before him, or perhaps for that very reason, the prince, though he continued to shout: "Blackgaurds!... Throw the snow back on the road!" did not lift his stick again but hurried into the house.
Before dinner, Princess Mary and Mademoiselle Bourienne, who knew that the prince was in a bad humor, stood awaiting him; Mademoiselle Bourienne with a radiant face that said: "I know nothing, I am the same as usual," and Princess Mary pale, frightened, and with downcast eyes. What she found hardest to bear was to know that on such occasions she ought to behave like Mademoiselle Bourienne, but could not. She thought: "If I seem not to notice he will think that I do not sympathize with him; if I seem sad and out of spirits myself, he will say (as he has done before) that I'm in the dumps."The prince looked at his daughter's frightened face and snorted. "Fool... or dummy!" he muttered.
"And the other one is not here. They've been telling tales," he thought--referring to the little princess who was not in the dining room.
"Where is the princess?" he asked. "Hiding?"
His plate seemed to him not quite clean, and pointing to a spot he flung it away. Tikhon caught it and handed it to a footman. The little princess was not unwell, but had such an overpowering fear of the prince that, hearing he was in a bad humor, she had decided not to appear."I am afraid for the baby," she said to Mademoiselle Bourienne: "Heaven knows what a fright might do."
In general at Bald Hills the little princess lived in constant fear, and with a sense of antipathy to the old prince which she did not realize because the fear was so much the stronger feeling. The prince reciprocated this antipathy, but it was overpowered by his contempt for her. When the little princess had grown accustomed to life at Bald Hills, she took a special fancy to Mademoiselle Bourienne, spent whole days with her, asked her to sleep in her room, and often talked with her about the old prince and criticized him.
"So we are to have visitors, mon prince?" remarked Mademoiselle Bourienne, unfolding her white napkin with her rosy fingers. "His Excellency Prince Vasili Kuragin and his son, I understand?" she said inquiringly.
"Hm!--his excellency is a puppy.... I got him his appointment in the service," said the prince disdainfully. "Why his son is coming I don't understand. Perhaps Princess Elizabeth and Princess Mary know. I don't want him." (He looked at his blushing daughter.) "Are you unwell today? Eh? Afraid of the 'minister' as that idiot Alpatych called him this morning?""No, mon pere."
Though Mademoiselle Bourienne had been so unsuccessful in her choice of a subject, she did not stop talking, but chattered about the conservatories and the beauty of a flower that had just opened, and after the soup the prince became more genial.
After dinner, he went to see his daughter-in-law. The little princess was sitting at a small table, chattering with Masha, her maid. She grew pale on seeing her father-in-law.She was much altered. She was now plain rather than pretty. Her cheeks had sunk, her lip was drawn up, and her eyes drawn down. "Yes, I feel a kind of oppression," she said in reply to the prince's question as to how she felt. "Do you want anything?" "No, merci, mon pere." "Well, all right, all right." He left the room and went to the waiting room where Alpatych stood with bowed head. "Has the snow been shoveled back?" "Yes, your excellency. Forgive me for heaven's sake... It was only my stupidity."
"All right, all right," interrupted the prince, and laughing his unnatural way, he stretched out his hand for Alpatych to kiss, and then proceeded to his study.
Prince Vasili arrived that evening. He was met in the avenue by coachmen and footmen, who, with loud shouts, dragged his sleighs up to one of the lodges over the road purposely laden with snow.Prince Vasili and Anatole had separate rooms assigned to them.
Anatole, having taken off his overcoat, sat with arms akimbo before a table on a corner of which he smilingly and absent-mindedly fixed his large and handsome eyes. He regarded his whole life as a continual round of amusement which someone for some reason had to provide for him. And he looked on this visit to a churlish old man and a rich and ugly heiress in the same way. All this might, he thought, turn out very well and amusingly. "And why not marry her if she really has so much money? That never does any harm," thought Anatole.
He shaved and scented himself with the care and elegance which had become habitual to him and, his handsome head held high, entered his father's room with the good-humored and victorious air natural to him. Prince Vasili's two valets were busy dressing him, and he looked round with much animation and cheerfully nodded to his son as the latter entered, as if to say: "Yes, that's how I want you to look."
"I say, Father, joking apart, is she very hideous?" Anatole asked, as if continuing a conversation the subject of which had often been mentioned during the journey."Enough! What nonsense! Above all, try to be respectful and cautious with the old prince." "If he starts a row I'll go away," said Prince Anatole. "I can't bear those old men! Eh?" "Remember, for you everything depends on this."
In the meantime, not only was it known in the maidservants' rooms that the minister and his son had arrived, but the appearance of both had been minutely described. Princess Mary was sitting alone in her room, vainly trying to master her agitation.
"Why did they write, why did Lise tell me about it? It can never happen!" she said, looking at herself in the glass. "How shall I enter the drawing room? Even if I like him I can't now be myself with him." The mere thought of her father's look filled her with terror. The little princess and Mademoiselle Bourienne had already received from Masha, the lady's maid, the necessary report of how handsome the minister's son was, with his rosy cheeks and dark eyebrows, and with what difficulty the father had dragged his legs upstairs while the son had followed him like an eagle, three steps at a time. Having received this information, the little princess and Mademoiselle Bourienne, whose chattering voices had reached her from the corridor, went into Princess Mary's room."You know they've come, Marie?" said the little princess, waddling in, and sinking heavily into an armchair.
She was no longer in the loose gown she generally wore in the morning, but had on one of her best dresses. Her hair was carefully done and her face was animated, which, however, did not conceal its sunken and faded outlines. Dressed as she used to be in Petersburg society, it was still more noticeable how much plainer she had become. Some unobtrusive touch had been added to Mademoiselle Bourienne's toilet which rendered her fresh and pretty face yet more attractive.
"What! Are you going to remain as you are, dear princess?" she began. "They'll be announcing that the gentlemen are in the drawing room and we shall have to go down, and you have not smartened yourself up at all!"
The little princess got up, rang for the maid, and hurriedly and merrily began to devise and carry out a plan of how Princess Mary should be dressed. Princess Mary's self-esteem was wounded by the fact that the arrival of a suitor agitated her, and still more so by both her companions' not having the least conception that it could be otherwise. To tell them that she felt ashamed for herself and for them would be to betray her agitation, while to decline their offers to dress her would prolong their banter and insistence. She flushed, her beautiful eyes grew dim, red blotches came on her face, and it took on the unattractive martyrlike expression it so often wore, as she submitted herself to Mademoiselle Bourienne and Lise. Both these women quite sincerely tried to make her look pretty. She was so plain that neither of them could think of her as a rival, so they began dressing her with perfect sincerity, and with the naive and firm conviction women have that dress can make a face pretty.
"No really, my dear, this dress is not pretty," said Lise, looking sideways at Princess Mary from a little distance. "You have a maroon dress, have it fetched. Really! You know the fate of your whole life may be at stake. But this one is too light, it's not becoming!"
It was not the dress, but the face and whole figure of Princess Mary that was not pretty, but neither Mademoiselle Bourienne nor the little princess felt this; they still thought that if a blue ribbon were placed in the hair, the hair combed up, and the blue scarf arranged lower on the best maroon dress, and so on, all would be well. They forgot that the frightened face and the figure could not be altered, and that however they might change the setting and adornment of that face, it would still remain piteous and plain. After two or three changes to which Princess Mary meekly submitted, just as her hair had been arranged on the top of her head (a style that quite altered and spoiled her looks) and she had put on a maroon dress with a pale-blue scarf, the little princess walked twice round her, now adjusting a fold of the dress with her little hand, now arranging the scarf and looking at her with her head bent first on one side and then on the other.
"No, it will not do," she said decidedly, clasping her hands. "No, Mary, really this dress does not suit you. I prefer you in your little gray everyday dress. Now please, do it for my sake. Katie," she said to the maid, "bring the princess her gray dress, and you'll see, Mademoiselle Bourienne, how I shall arrange it," she added, smiling with a foretaste of artistic pleasure.
But when Katie brought the required dress, Princess Mary remained sitting motionless before the glass, looking at her face, and saw in the mirror her eyes full of tears and her mouth quivering, ready to burst into sobs."Come, dear princess," said Mademoiselle Bourienne, "just one more little effort." The little princess, taking the dress from the maid, came up to Princess Mary. "Well, now we'll arrange something quite simple and becoming," she said.
The three voices, hers, Mademoiselle Bourienne's, and Katie's, who was laughing at something, mingled in a merry sound, like the chirping of birds."No, leave me alone," said Princess Mary.
Her voice sounded so serious and so sad that the chirping of the birds was silenced at once. They looked at the beautiful, large, thoughtful eyes full of tears and of thoughts, gazing shiningly and imploringly at them, and understood that it was useless and even cruel to insist.
"At least, change your coiffure," said the little princess.
"Didn't I tell you," she went on, turning reproachfully to
Mademoiselle Bourienne, "Mary's is a face which such a coiffure does not suit in the least. Not in the least! Please change it."
Mademoiselle Bourienne and the little princess had to own to themselves that Princess Mary in this guise looked very plain, worse than usual, but it was too late. She was looking at them with an expression they both knew, an expression thoughtful and sad. This expression in Princess Mary did not frighten them (she never inspired fear in anyone), but they knew that when it appeared on her face, she became mute and was not to be shaken in her determination."You will change it, won't you?" said Lise. And as Princess Mary gave no answer, she left the room.
Princess Mary was left alone. She did not comply with Lise's request, she not only left her hair as it was, but did not even look in her glass. Letting her arms fall helplessly, she sat with
downcast eyes and pondered. A husband, a man, a strong dominant and strangely attractive being rose in her imagination, and carried her into a totally different happy world of his own. She fancied a child, her own--such as she had seen the day before in the arms of her nurse's daughter--at her own breast, the husband standing by and gazing tenderly at her and the child. "But no, it is impossible, I am too ugly," she thought.
She roused herself, and felt appalled at what she had been thinking, and before going down she went into the room where the icons hung and, her eyes fixed on the dark face of a large icon of the Saviour lit by a lamp, she stood before it with folded hands for a few moments. A painful doubt filled her soul. Could the joy of love, of earthly love for a man, be for her? In her thoughts of marriage Princess Mary dreamed of happiness and of children, but her strongest, most deeply hidden longing was for earthly love. The more she tried to hide this feeling from others and even from herself, the stronger it grew. "O God," she said, "how am I to stifle in my heart these temptations of the devil? How am I to renounce forever these vile fancies, so as peacefully to fulfill Thy will?" And scarcely had she put that question than God gave her the answer in her own heart. "Desire nothing for thyself, seek nothing, be not anxious or envious. Man's future and thy own fate must remain hidden from thee, but live so that thou mayest be ready for anything. If it be God's will to prove thee in the duties of marriage, be ready to fulfill His will." With this consoling thought (but yet with a hope for the fulfillment of her forbidden earthly longing) Princess Mary sighed, and having crossed herself went down, thinking neither of her gown and coiffure nor of how she would go in nor of what she would say. What could all that matter in comparison with the will of God, without Whose care not a hair of man's head can fall?CHAPTER IV
When Princess Mary came down, Prince Vasili and his son were already in the drawing room, talking to the little princess and Mademoiselle Bourienne. When she entered with her heavy step, treading on her heels, the gentlemen and Mademoiselle Bourienne rose and the little princess, indicating her to the gentlemen, said: "Voila Marie!" Princess Mary saw them all and saw them in detail. She saw Prince Vasili's face, serious for an instant at the sight of her, but
immediately smiling again, and the little princess curiously noting the impression "Marie" produced on the visitors. And she saw Mademoiselle Bourienne, with her ribbon and pretty face, and her unusually animated look which was fixed on him, but him she could not see, she only saw something large, brilliant, and handsome moving toward her as she entered the room. Prince Vasili approached first, and she kissed the bold forehead that bent over her hand and answered his question by saying that, on the contrary, she remembered him quite well. Then Anatole came up to her. She still could not see him. She only felt a soft hand taking hers firmly, and she touched with her lips a white forehead, over which was beautiful light-brown hair smelling of pomade. When she looked up at him she was struck by his beauty. Anatole stood with his right thumb under a button of his uniform, his chest expanded and his back drawn in, slightly swinging one foot, and, with his head a little bent, looked with beaming face at the princess without speaking and evidently not thinking about her at all. Anatole was not quick-witted, nor ready or eloquent in conversation, but he had the faculty, so invaluable in society, of composure and imperturbable self-possession. If a man lacking in self-confidence remains dumb on a first introduction and betrays a consciousness of the impropriety of such silence and an anxiety to find something to say, the effect is bad. But Anatole was dumb, swung his foot, and smilingly examined the princess' hair. It was evident that he could be silent in this way for a very long time. "If anyone finds this silence inconvenient, let him talk, but I don't want to," he seemed to say. Besides this, in his behavior to women Anatole had a manner which particularly inspires in them curiosity, awe, and even love--a supercilious consciousness of his own superiority. It was was as if he said to them: "I know you, I know you, but why should I bother about you? You'd be only too glad, of course." Perhaps he did not really think this when he met women- even probably he did not, for in general he thought very little--but his looks and manner gave that impression. The princess felt this, and as if wishing to show him that she did not even dare expect to interest him, she turned to his father. The conversation was general and animated, thanks to Princess Lise's voice and little downy lip that lifted over her white teeth. She met Prince Vasili with that playful manner often employed by lively chatty people, and consisting in the assumption that between the person they so address and themselves there are some semi-private, long-established jokes and amusing reminiscences, though no such reminiscences really exist--just as none existed in this case. Prince Vasili readily adopted her tone and the little princess also drew Anatole, whom she hardly knew, into these amusing recollections of things that had never occurred. Mademoiselle Bourienne also shared them and even Princess Mary felt herself pleasantly made to share in these merry reminiscences.
"Here at least we shall have the benefit of your company all to ourselves, dear prince," said the little princess (of course, in French) to Prince Vasili. "It's not as at Annette's* receptions where you always ran away; you remember cette chere Annette!"*Anna Pavlovna. "Ah, but you won't talk politics to me like Annette!" "And our little tea table?" "Oh, yes!"
"Why is it you were never at Annette's?" the little princess asked Anatole. "Ah, I know, I know," she said with a sly glance, "your brother Hippolyte told me about your goings on. Oh!" and she shook her finger at him, "I have even heard of your doings in Paris!"
"And didn't Hippolyte tell you?" asked Prince Vasili, turning to his son and seizing the little princess' arm as if she would have run away and he had just managed to catch her, "didn't he tell you how he himself was pining for the dear princess, and how she showed him the door? Oh, she is a pearl among women, Princess," he added, turning to Princess Mary.When Paris was mentioned, Mademoiselle Bourienne for her part seized the opportunity of joining in the general current of recollections.
She took the liberty of inquiring whether it was long since Anatole had left Paris and how he had liked that city. Anatole answered the Frenchwoman very readily and, looking at her with a smile, talked to her about her native land. When he saw the pretty little Bourienne, Anatole came to the conclusion that he would not find Bald Hills dull either. "Not at all bad!" he thought, examining her, "not at all bad, that little companion! I hope she will bring her along with her when we're married, la petite est gentille."**The little one is charming.
The old prince dressed leisurely in his study, frowning and considering what he was to do. The coming of these visitors annoyed him. "What are Prince Vasili and that son of his to me? Prince Vasili is a shallow braggart and his son, no doubt, is a fine specimen," he grumbled to himself. What angered him was that the coming of these visitors revived in his mind an unsettled question he always tried to stifle, one about which he always deceived himself. The question was whether he could ever bring himself to part from his daughter and give her to a husband. The prince never directly asked himself that question, knowing beforehand that he would have to answer it justly, and justice clashed not only with his feelings but with the very possibility of life. Life without Princess Mary, little as he seemed to value her, was unthinkable to him. "And why should she marry?" he thought. "To be unhappy for certain. There's Lise, married to Andrew--a better husband one would think could hardly be found nowadays--but is she contented with her lot? And who would marry Marie for love? Plain and awkward! They'll take her for her connections and wealth. Are there no women living unmarried, and even the happier for it?" So thought Prince Bolkonski while dressing, and yet the question he was always putting off demanded an immediate answer. Prince Vasili had brought his son with the evident intention of proposing, and today or tomorrow he would probably ask for an answer. His birth and position in society were not bad. "Well, I've nothing against it," the prince said to himself, "but he must be worthy of her. And that is what we shall see."
"That is what we shall see! That is what we shall see!" he added aloud.
He entered the drawing room with his usual alert step, glancing rapidly round the company. He noticed the change in the little princess' dress, Mademoiselle Bourienne's ribbon, Princess Mary's unbecoming coiffure, Mademoiselle Bourienne's and Anatole's smiles, and the loneliness of his daughter amid the general conversation. "Got herself up like a fool!" he thought, looking irritably at her. "She is shameless, and he ignores her!"
"Friendship laughs at distance," began Prince Vasili in his usual rapid, self-confident, familiar tone. "Here is my second son; please love and befriend him."Prince Bolkonski surveyed Anatole. "Fine young fellow! Fine young fellow!" he said. "Well, come and kiss me," and he offered his cheek.
Anatole kissed the old man, and looked at him with curiosity and perfect composure, waiting for a display of the eccentricities his father had told him to expect.
Prince Bolkonski sat down in his usual place in the corner of the sofa and, drawing up an armchair for Prince Vasili, pointed to it and began questioning him about political affairs and news. He seemed to listen attentively to what Prince Vasili said, but kept glancing at Princess Mary.
"And so they are writing from Potsdam already?" he said, repeating Prince Vasili's last words. Then rising, he suddenly went up to his daughter.
"Is it for visitors you've got yourself up like that, eh?" said he. "Fine, very fine! You have done up your hair in this new way for the visitors, and before the visitors I tell you that in future you are never to dare to change your way of dress without my consent.""It was my fault, mon pere," interceded the little princess, with a blush.
"You must do as you please," said Prince Bolkonski, bowing to his daughter-in-law, "but she need not make a fool of herself, she's plain enough as it is."
And he sat down again, paying no more attention to his daughter, who was reduced to tears.
"On the contrary, that coiffure suits the princess very well," said Prince Vasili.
"Well, my dear boy, I hear you've been educated abroad, not taught to read and write by the deacon, like your father and me. Now tell me, my dear boy, are you serving in the Horse Guards?" asked the old man, scrutinizing Anatole closely and intently."No, I have been transferred to the line," said Anatole, hardly able to restrain his laughter.
"Ah! That's a good thing. So, my dear boy, you wish to serve the Tsar and the country? It is wartime. Such a fine fellow must serve. Well, are you off to the front?"
"No, Prince, our regiment has gone to the front, but I am attached... what is it I am attached to, Papa?" said Anatole, turning to his father with a laugh.
"A splendid soldier, splendid! 'What am I attached to!' Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Prince Bolkonski, and Anatole laughed still louder. Suddenly Prince Bolkonski frowned."You may go," he said to Anatole. Anatole returned smiling to the ladies. "And so you've had him educated abroad, Prince Vasili, haven't you?" said the old prince to Prince Vasili. "I have done my best for him, and I can assure you the education there is much better than ours."
"Yes, everything is different nowadays, everything is changed. The lad's a fine fellow, a fine fellow! Well, come with me now." He took Prince Vasili's arm and led him to his study. As soon as they were alone together, Prince Vasili announced his hopes and wishes to the old prince.
"Well, do you think I shall prevent her, that I can't part from her?" said the old prince angrily. "What an idea! I'm ready for it tomorrow! Only let me tell you, I want to know my son-in-law better. You know my principles--everything aboveboard? I will ask her tomorrow in your presence; if she is willing, then he can stay on. He can stay and I'll see." The old prince snorted. "Let her marry, it's all the same to me!" he screamed in the same piercing tone as when parting from his son.
"I will tell you frankly," said Prince Vasili in the tone of a crafty man convinced of the futility of being cunning with so keen-sighted companion. "You know, you see right through people. Anatole is no genius, but he is an honest, goodhearted lad; an excellent son or kinsman.""All right, all right, we'll see!"
As always happens when women lead lonely lives for any length of time without male society, on Anatole's appearance all the three women of Prince Bolkonski's household felt that their life had not been real till then. Their powers of reasoning, feeling, and observing immediately increased tenfold, and their life, which seemed to have been passed in darkness, was suddenly lit up by a new brightness, full of significance.
Princess Mary grew quite unconscious of her face and coiffure. The handsome open face of the man who might perhaps be her husband absorbed all her attention. He seemed to her kind, brave, determined, manly, and magnanimous. She felt convinced of that. Thousands of dreams of a future family life continually rose in her imagination. She drove them away and tried to conceal them.
"But am I not too cold with him?" thought the princess. "I try to be reserved because in the depth of my soul I feel too near to him already, but then he cannot know what I think of him and may imagine that I do not like him."And Princess Mary tried, but could not manage, to be cordial to her new guest. "Poor girl, she's devilish ugly!" thought Anatole.
Mademoiselle Bourienne, also roused to great excitement by Anatole's arrival, thought in another way. Of course, she, a handsome young woman without any definite position, without relations or even a country, did not intend to devote her life to serving Prince
Bolkonski, to reading aloud to him and being friends with Princess Mary. Mademoiselle Bourienne had long been waiting for a Russian prince who, able to appreciate at a glance her superiority to the plain, badly dressed, ungainly Russian princesses, would fall in love with her and carry her off; and here at last was a Russian prince. Mademoiselle Bourienne knew a story, heard from her aunt but finished in her own way, which she liked to repeat to herself. It was the story of a girl who had been seduced, and to whom her poor mother (sa pauvre mere) appeared, and reproached her for yielding to a man without being married. Mademoiselle Bourienne was often touched to tears as in imagination she told this story to him, her seducer. And now he, a real Russian prince, had appeared. He would carry her away and then sa pauvre mere would appear and he would marry her. So her future shaped itself in Mademoiselle Bourienne's head at the very time she was talking to Anatole about Paris. It was not calculation that guided her (she did not even for a moment consider what she should do), but all this had long been familiar to her, and now that Anatole had appeared it just grouped itself around him and she wished and tried to please him as much as possible.
The little princess, like an old war horse that hears the trumpet, unconsciously and quite forgetting her condition, prepared for the familiar gallop of coquetry, without any ulterior motive or any struggle, but with naive and lighthearted gaiety.
Although in female society Anatole usually assumed the role of a man tired of being run after by women, his vanity was flattered by the spectacle of his power over these three women. Besides that, he was beginning to feel for the pretty and provocative Mademoiselle Bourienne that passionate animal feeling which was apt to master him with great suddenness and prompt him to the coarsest and most reckless actions.