"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.
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 frightened Bonaparte.
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.
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."
"But still this does not mean that the campaign is over," said Prince Andrew.
"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.
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.
"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.
* "Woman is man's companion."
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.
"In general we must turn this bloodthirsty soldier to more humane interests," said Bilibin.
"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.
"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 know 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."
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 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 a 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 the 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!" *(2) 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 rascality...."
* (2) That their fire gets into his eyes and he forgets that he ought to be firing at the enemy.
"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.
"Where are you off to?" he said suddenly to Prince Andrew who had risen and was going toward his room.
"I am going away."
"To the army."
"But you meant to stay another two days?"
"But now I am off at once."
And Prince Andrew after giving directions about his departure went to his room.
"Do you know, mon cher," said Bilibin following him, "I have been thinking about you. Why are you going?"
And in proof of the conclusiveness of his opinion all the wrinkles vanished from his face.
Prince Andrew looked inquiringly at him and gave no reply.
"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.
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.
"That was a nice snub for the little aide-de-camp," came a voice from behind.
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.
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..."
"One can't write so fast, your honor," said the clerk, glancing angrily and disrespectfully at Kozlovski.
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.
"Christ be with you!" Kutuzov repeated and went toward his carriage. "Get in with me," said he to Bolkonski.
"Your excellency, I should like to be of use here. Allow me to remain with Prince Bagration's detachment."
"Get in," said Kutuzov, and noticing that Bolkonski still delayed, he added: "I need good officers myself, need them myself!"
They got into the carriage and drove for a few minutes in silence.
"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.
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.
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.
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."
"However, there will hardly be an engagement today," said Bagration as if to reassure Prince Andrew.
"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.
"Voila l'agrement des camps, monsieur le Prince," * said the staff officer.
* "This is a pleasure one gets in camp, Prince."
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 pockmarked, 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, 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.
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.
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.
"Whose company?" asked Prince Bagration of an artilleryman standing by the ammunition wagon.
He asked, "Whose company?" but he really meant, "Are you frightened here?" and the artilleryman understood him.
"Captain Tushin's, your excellency!" shouted the red-haired, freckled gunner in a merry voice, standing to attention.
"Yes, yes," muttered Bagration as if considering something, and he rode past the limbers to the farthest cannon.
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.
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.
"Well done, lads!" said Prince Bagration.
"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.
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.