On the twelfth of November, Kutúzov’s active army, in camp before Olmütz, was preparing to be reviewed next day by the two Emperors—the Russian and the Austrian. The Guards, just arrived from Russia, spent the night ten miles from Olmütz and next morning were to come straight to the review, reaching the field at Olmütz by ten o’clock.
That day Nicholas Rostóv received a letter from Borís, telling him that the Ismáylov regiment was quartered for the night ten miles from Olmütz and that he wanted to see him as he had a letter and money for him. Rostóv was particularly in need of money now that the troops, after their active service, were stationed near Olmütz and the camp swarmed with well-provisioned sutlers and Austrian Jews offering all sorts of tempting wares. The Pávlograds held feast after feast, celebrating awards they had received for the campaign, and made expeditions to Olmütz to visit a certain Caroline the Hungarian, who had recently opened a restaurant there with girls as waitresses. Rostóv, who had just celebrated his promotion to a cornetcy and bought Denísov’s horse, Bedouin, was in debt all round, to his comrades and the sutlers. On receiving Borís’ letter he rode with a fellow officer to Olmütz, dined there, drank a bottle of wine, and then set off alone to the Guards’ camp to find his old playmate. Rostóv had not yet had time to get his uniform. He had on a shabby cadet jacket, decorated with a soldier’s cross, equally shabby cadet’s riding breeches lined with worn leather, and an officer’s saber with a sword knot. The Don horse he was riding was one he had bought from a Cossack during the campaign, and he wore a crumpled hussar cap stuck jauntily back on one side of his head. As he rode up to the camp he thought how he would impress Borís and all his comrades of the Guards by his appearance—that of a fighting hussar who had been under fire.
The Guards had made their whole march as if on a pleasure trip, parading their cleanliness and discipline. They had come by easy stages, their knapsacks conveyed on carts, and the Austrian authorities had provided excellent dinners for the officers at every halting place. The regiments had entered and left the town with their bands playing, and by the Grand Duke’s orders the men had marched all the way in step (a practice on which the Guards prided themselves), the officers on foot and at their proper posts. Borís had been quartered, and had marched all the way, with Berg who was already in command of a company. Berg, who had obtained his captaincy during the campaign, had gained the confidence of his superiors by his promptitude and accuracy and had arranged his money matters very satisfactorily. Borís, during the campaign, had made the acquaintance of many persons who might prove useful to him, and by a letter of recommendation he had brought from Pierre had become acquainted with Prince Andrew Bolkónski, through whom he hoped to obtain a post on the commander in chief’s staff. Berg and Borís, having rested after yesterday’s march, were sitting, clean and neatly dressed, at a round table in the clean quarters allotted to them, playing chess. Berg held a smoking pipe between his knees. Borís, in the accurate way characteristic of him, was building a little pyramid of chessmen with his delicate white fingers while awaiting Berg’s move, and watched his opponent’s face, evidently thinking about the game as he always thought only of whatever he was engaged on.
“Well, how are you going to get out of that?” he remarked.
“We’ll try to,” replied Berg, touching a pawn and then removing his hand.
At that moment the door opened.
“Here he is at last!” shouted Rostóv. “And Berg too! Oh, you petisenfans, allay cushay dormir!” he exclaimed, imitating his Russian nurse’s French, at which he and Borís used to laugh long ago.
“Dear me, how you have changed!”
Borís rose to meet Rostóv, but in doing so did not omit to steady and replace some chessmen that were falling. He was about to embrace his friend, but Nicholas avoided him. With that peculiar feeling of youth, that dread of beaten tracks, and wish to express itself in a manner different from that of its elders which is often insincere, Nicholas wished to do something special on meeting his friend. He wanted to pinch him, push him, do anything but kiss him—a thing everybody did. But notwithstanding this, Borís embraced him in a quiet, friendly way and kissed him three times.
They had not met for nearly half a year and, being at the age when young men take their first steps on life’s road, each saw immense changes in the other, quite a new reflection of the society in which they had taken those first steps. Both had changed greatly since they last met and both were in a hurry to show the changes that had taken place in them.
“Oh, you damned dandies! Clean and fresh as if you’d been to a fete, not like us sinners of the line,” cried Rostóv, with martial swagger and with baritone notes in his voice, new to Borís, pointing to his own mud-bespattered breeches. The German landlady, hearing Rostóv’s loud voice, popped her head in at the door.
“Eh, is she pretty?” he asked with a wink.
“Why do you shout so? You’ll frighten them!” said Borís. “I did not expect you today,” he added. “I only sent you the note yesterday by Bolkónski—an adjutant of Kutúzov’s, who’s a friend of mine. I did not think he would get it to you so quickly.... Well, how are you? Been under fire already?” asked Borís.
Without answering, Rostóv shook the soldier’s Cross of St. George fastened to the cording of his uniform and, indicating a bandaged arm, glanced at Berg with a smile.
“As you see,” he said.
“Indeed? Yes, yes!” said Borís, with a smile. “And we too have had a splendid march. You know, of course, that His Imperial Highness rode with our regiment all the time, so that we had every comfort and every advantage. What receptions we had in Poland! What dinners and balls! I can’t tell you. And the Tsarévich was very gracious to all our officers.”
And the two friends told each other of their doings, the one of his hussar revels and life in the fighting line, the other of the pleasures and advantages of service under members of the Imperial family.
“Oh, you Guards!” said Rostóv. “I say, send for some wine.”
Borís made a grimace.
“If you really want it,” said he.
He went to his bed, drew a purse from under the clean pillow, and sent for wine.
“Yes, and I have some money and a letter to give you,” he added.
Rostóv took the letter and, throwing the money on the sofa, put both arms on the table and began to read. After reading a few lines, he glanced angrily at Berg, then, meeting his eyes, hid his face behind the letter.
“Well, they’ve sent you a tidy sum,” said Berg, eying the heavy purse that sank into the sofa. “As for us, Count, we get along on our pay. I can tell you for myself...”
“I say, Berg, my dear fellow,” said Rostóv, “when you get a letter from home and meet one of your own people whom you want to talk everything over with, and I happen to be there, I’ll go at once, to be out of your way! Do go somewhere, anywhere... to the devil!” he exclaimed, and immediately seizing him by the shoulder and looking amiably into his face, evidently wishing to soften the rudeness of his words, he added, “Don’t be hurt, my dear fellow; you know I speak from my heart as to an old acquaintance.”
“Oh, don’t mention it, Count! I quite understand,” said Berg, getting up and speaking in a muffled and guttural voice.
“Go across to our hosts: they invited you,” added Borís.
Berg put on the cleanest of coats, without a spot or speck of dust, stood before a looking glass and brushed the hair on his temples upwards, in the way affected by the Emperor Alexander, and, having assured himself from the way Rostóv looked at it that his coat had been noticed, left the room with a pleasant smile.
“Oh dear, what a beast I am!” muttered Rostóv, as he read the letter.
“Oh, what a pig I am, not to have written and to have given them such a fright! Oh, what a pig I am!” he repeated, flushing suddenly. “Well, have you sent Gabriel for some wine? All right let’s have some!”
In the letter from his parents was enclosed a letter of recommendation to Bagratión which the old countess at Anna Mikháylovna’s advice had obtained through an acquaintance and sent to her son, asking him to take it to its destination and make use of it.
“What nonsense! Much I need it!” said Rostóv, throwing the letter under the table.
“Why have you thrown that away?” asked Borís.
“It is some letter of recommendation... what the devil do I want it for!”
“Why ‘What the devil’?” said Borís, picking it up and reading the address. “This letter would be of great use to you.”
“I want nothing, and I won’t be anyone’s adjutant.”
“Why not?” inquired Borís.
“It’s a lackey’s job!”
“You are still the same dreamer, I see,” remarked Borís, shaking his head.
“And you’re still the same diplomatist! But that’s not the point... Come, how are you?” asked Rostóv.
“Well, as you see. So far everything’s all right, but I confess I should much like to be an adjutant and not remain at the front.”
“Because when once a man starts on military service, he should try to make as successful a career of it as possible.”
“Oh, that’s it!” said Rostóv, evidently thinking of something else.
He looked intently and inquiringly into his friend’s eyes, evidently trying in vain to find the answer to some question.
Old Gabriel brought in the wine.
“Shouldn’t we now send for Berg?” asked Borís. “He would drink with you. I can’t.”
“Well, send for him... and how do you get on with that German?” asked Rostóv, with a contemptuous smile.
“He is a very, very nice, honest, and pleasant fellow,” answered Borís.
Again Rostóv looked intently into Borís’ eyes and sighed. Berg returned, and over the bottle of wine conversation between the three officers became animated. The Guardsmen told Rostóv of their march and how they had been made much of in Russia, Poland, and abroad. They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the Grand Duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility. Berg, as usual, kept silent when the subject did not relate to himself, but in connection with the stories of the Grand Duke’s quick temper he related with gusto how in Galicia he had managed to deal with the Grand Duke when the latter made a tour of the regiments and was annoyed at the irregularity of a movement. With a pleasant smile Berg related how the Grand Duke had ridden up to him in a violent passion, shouting: “Arnauts!” (“Arnauts” was the Tsarévich’s favorite expression when he was in a rage) and called for the company commander.
“Would you believe it, Count, I was not at all alarmed, because I knew I was right. Without boasting, you know, I may say that I know the Army Orders by heart and know the Regulations as well as I do the Lord’s Prayer. So, Count, there never is any negligence in my company, and so my conscience was at ease. I came forward....” (Berg stood up and showed how he presented himself, with his hand to his cap, and really it would have been difficult for a face to express greater respect and self-complacency than his did.) “Well, he stormed at me, as the saying is, stormed and stormed and stormed! It was not a matter of life but rather of death, as the saying is. ‘Albanians!’ and ‘devils!’ and ‘To Siberia!’” said Berg with a sagacious smile. “I knew I was in the right so I kept silent; was not that best, Count?... ‘Hey, are you dumb?’ he shouted. Still I remained silent. And what do you think, Count? The next day it was not even mentioned in the Orders of the Day. That’s what keeping one’s head means. That’s the way, Count,” said Berg, lighting his pipe and emitting rings of smoke.
“Yes, that was fine,” said Rostóv, smiling.
But Borís noticed that he was preparing to make fun of Berg, and skillfully changed the subject. He asked him to tell them how and where he got his wound. This pleased Rostóv and he began talking about it, and as he went on became more and more animated. He told them of his Schön Grabern affair, just as those who have taken part in a battle generally do describe it, that is, as they would like it to have been, as they have heard it described by others, and as sounds well, but not at all as it really was. Rostóv was a truthful young man and would on no account have told a deliberate lie. He began his story meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. If he had told the truth to his hearers—who like himself had often heard stories of attacks and had formed a definite idea of what an attack was and were expecting to hear just such a story—they would either not have believed him or, still worse, would have thought that Rostóv was himself to blame since what generally happens to the narrators of cavalry attacks had not happened to him. He could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened, it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it. His hearers expected a story of how beside himself and all aflame with excitement, he had flown like a storm at the square, cut his way in, slashed right and left, how his saber had tasted flesh and he had fallen exhausted, and so on. And so he told them all that.
In the middle of his story, just as he was saying: “You cannot imagine what a strange frenzy one experiences during an attack,” Prince Andrew, whom Borís was expecting, entered the room. Prince Andrew, who liked to help young men, was flattered by being asked for his assistance and being well disposed toward Borís, who had managed to please him the day before, he wished to do what the young man wanted. Having been sent with papers from Kutúzov to the Tsarévich, he looked in on Borís, hoping to find him alone. When he came in and saw an hussar of the line recounting his military exploits (Prince Andrew could not endure that sort of man), he gave Borís a pleasant smile, frowned as with half-closed eyes he looked at Rostóv, bowed slightly and wearily, and sat down languidly on the sofa: he felt it unpleasant to have dropped in on bad company. Rostóv flushed up on noticing this, but he did not care, this was a mere stranger. Glancing, however, at Borís, he saw that he too seemed ashamed of the hussar of the line.
In spite of Prince Andrew’s disagreeable, ironical tone, in spite of the contempt with which Rostóv, from his fighting army point of view, regarded all these little adjutants on the staff of whom the newcomer was evidently one, Rostóv felt confused, blushed, and became silent. Borís inquired what news there might be on the staff, and what, without indiscretion, one might ask about our plans.
“We shall probably advance,” replied Bolkónski, evidently reluctant to say more in the presence of a stranger.
Berg took the opportunity to ask, with great politeness, whether, as was rumored, the allowance of forage money to captains of companies would be doubled. To this Prince Andrew answered with a smile that he could give no opinion on such an important government order, and Berg laughed gaily.
“As to your business,” Prince Andrew continued, addressing Borís, “we will talk of it later” (and he looked round at Rostóv). “Come to me after the review and we will do what is possible.”
And, having glanced round the room, Prince Andrew turned to Rostóv, whose state of unconquerable childish embarrassment now changing to anger he did not condescend to notice, and said: “I think you were talking of the Schön Grabern affair? Were you there?”
“I was there,” said Rostóv angrily, as if intending to insult the aide-de-camp.
Bolkónski noticed the hussar’s state of mind, and it amused him. With a slightly contemptuous smile, he said: “Yes, there are many stories now told about that affair!”
“Yes, stories!” repeated Rostóv loudly, looking with eyes suddenly grown furious, now at Borís, now at Bolkónski. “Yes, many stories! But our stories are the stories of men who have been under the enemy’s fire! Our stories have some weight, not like the stories of those fellows on the staff who get rewards without doing anything!”
“Of whom you imagine me to be one?” said Prince Andrew, with a quiet and particularly amiable smile.
A strange feeling of exasperation and yet of respect for this man’s self-possession mingled at that moment in Rostóv’s soul.
“I am not talking about you,” he said, “I don’t know you and, frankly, I don’t want to. I am speaking of the staff in general.”
“And I will tell you this,” Prince Andrew interrupted in a tone of quiet authority, “you wish to insult me, and I am ready to agree with you that it would be very easy to do so if you haven’t sufficient self-respect, but admit that the time and place are very badly chosen. In a day or two we shall all have to take part in a greater and more serious duel, and besides, Drubetskóy, who says he is an old friend of yours, is not at all to blame that my face has the misfortune to displease you. However,” he added rising, “you know my name and where to find me, but don’t forget that I do not regard either myself or you as having been at all insulted, and as a man older than you, my advice is to let the matter drop. Well then, on Friday after the review I shall expect you, Drubetskóy. Au revoir!” exclaimed Prince Andrew, and with a bow to them both he went out.
Only when Prince Andrew was gone did Rostóv think of what he ought to have said. And he was still more angry at having omitted to say it. He ordered his horse at once and, coldly taking leave of Borís, rode home. Should he go to headquarters next day and challenge that affected adjutant, or really let the matter drop, was the question that worried him all the way. He thought angrily of the pleasure he would have at seeing the fright of that small and frail but proud man when covered by his pistol, and then he felt with surprise that of all the men he knew there was none he would so much like to have for a friend as that very adjutant whom he so hated.
The day after Rostóv had been to see Borís, a review was held of the Austrian and Russian troops, both those freshly arrived from Russia and those who had been campaigning under Kutúzov. The two Emperors, the Russian with his heir the Tsarévich, and the Austrian with the Archduke, inspected the allied army of eighty thousand men.
From early morning the smart clean troops were on the move, forming up on the field before the fortress. Now thousands of feet and bayonets moved and halted at the officers’ command, turned with banners flying, formed up at intervals, and wheeled round other similar masses of infantry in different uniforms; now was heard the rhythmic beat of hoofs and the jingling of showy cavalry in blue, red, and green braided uniforms, with smartly dressed bandsmen in front mounted on black, roan, or gray horses; then again, spreading out with the brazen clatter of the polished shining cannon that quivered on the gun carriages and with the smell of linstocks, came the artillery which crawled between the infantry and cavalry and took up its appointed position. Not only the generals in full parade uniforms, with their thin or thick waists drawn in to the utmost, their red necks squeezed into their stiff collars, and wearing scarves and all their decorations, not only the elegant, pomaded officers, but every soldier with his freshly washed and shaven face and his weapons clean and polished to the utmost, and every horse groomed till its coat shone like satin and every hair of its wetted mane lay smooth—felt that no small matter was happening, but an important and solemn affair. Every general and every soldier was conscious of his own insignificance, aware of being but a drop in that ocean of men, and yet at the same time was conscious of his strength as a part of that enormous whole.
From early morning strenuous activities and efforts had begun and by ten o’clock all had been brought into due order. The ranks were drawn up on the vast field. The whole army was extended in three lines: the cavalry in front, behind it the artillery, and behind that again the infantry.
A space like a street was left between each two lines of troops. The three parts of that army were sharply distinguished: Kutúzov’s fighting army (with the Pávlograds on the right flank of the front); those recently arrived from Russia, both Guards and regiments of the line; and the Austrian troops. But they all stood in the same lines, under one command, and in a like order.
Like wind over leaves ran an excited whisper: “They’re coming! They’re coming!” Alarmed voices were heard, and a stir of final preparation swept over all the troops.
From the direction of Olmütz in front of them, a group was seen approaching. And at that moment, though the day was still, a light gust of wind blowing over the army slightly stirred the streamers on the lances and the unfolded standards fluttered against their staffs. It looked as if by that slight motion the army itself was expressing its joy at the approach of the Emperors. One voice was heard shouting: “Eyes front!” Then, like the crowing of cocks at sunrise, this was repeated by others from various sides and all became silent.
In the deathlike stillness only the tramp of horses was heard. This was the Emperors’ suites. The Emperors rode up to the flank, and the trumpets of the first cavalry regiment played the general march. It seemed as though not the trumpeters were playing, but as if the army itself, rejoicing at the Emperors’ approach, had naturally burst into music. Amid these sounds, only the youthful kindly voice of the Emperor Alexander was clearly heard. He gave the words of greeting, and the first regiment roared “Hurrah!” so deafeningly, continuously, and joyfully that the men themselves were awed by their multitude and the immensity of the power they constituted.
Rostóv, standing in the front lines of Kutúzov’s army which the Tsar approached first, experienced the same feeling as every other man in that army: a feeling of self-forgetfulness, a proud consciousness of might, and a passionate attraction to him who was the cause of this triumph.
He felt that at a single word from that man all this vast mass (and he himself an insignificant atom in it) would go through fire and water, commit crime, die, or perform deeds of highest heroism, and so he could not but tremble and his heart stand still at the imminence of that word.
“Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” thundered from all sides, one regiment after another greeting the Tsar with the strains of the march, and then “Hurrah!”... Then the general march, and again “Hurrah! Hurrah!” growing ever stronger and fuller and merging into a deafening roar.
Till the Tsar reached it, each regiment in its silence and immobility seemed like a lifeless body, but as soon as he came up it became alive, its thunder joining the roar of the whole line along which he had already passed. Through the terrible and deafening roar of those voices, amid the square masses of troops standing motionless as if turned to stone, hundreds of riders composing the suites moved carelessly but symmetrically and above all freely, and in front of them two men—the Emperors. Upon them the undivided, tensely passionate attention of that whole mass of men was concentrated.
The handsome young Emperor Alexander, in the uniform of the Horse Guards, wearing a cocked hat with its peaks front and back, with his pleasant face and resonant though not loud voice, attracted everyone’s attention.
Rostóv was not far from the trumpeters, and with his keen sight had recognized the Tsar and watched his approach. When he was within twenty paces, and Nicholas could clearly distinguish every detail of his handsome, happy young face, he experienced a feeling of tenderness and ecstasy such as he had never before known. Every trait and every movement of the Tsar’s seemed to him enchanting.
Stopping in front of the Pávlograds, the Tsar said something in French to the Austrian Emperor and smiled.
Seeing that smile, Rostóv involuntarily smiled himself and felt a still stronger flow of love for his sovereign. He longed to show that love in some way and knowing that this was impossible was ready to cry. The Tsar called the colonel of the regiment and said a few words to him.
“Oh God, what would happen to me if the Emperor spoke to me?” thought Rostóv. “I should die of happiness!”
The Tsar addressed the officers also: “I thank you all, gentlemen, I thank you with my whole heart.” To Rostóv every word sounded like a voice from heaven. How gladly would he have died at once for his Tsar!
“You have earned the St. George’s standards and will be worthy of them.”
“Oh, to die, to die for him,” thought Rostóv.
The Tsar said something more which Rostóv did not hear, and the soldiers, straining their lungs, shouted “Hurrah!”
Rostóv too, bending over his saddle, shouted “Hurrah!” with all his might, feeling that he would like to injure himself by that shout, if only to express his rapture fully.
The Tsar stopped a few minutes in front of the hussars as if undecided.
“How can the Emperor be undecided?” thought Rostóv, but then even this indecision appeared to him majestic and enchanting, like everything else the Tsar did.
That hesitation lasted only an instant. The Tsar’s foot, in the narrow pointed boot then fashionable, touched the groin of the bobtailed bay mare he rode, his hand in a white glove gathered up the reins, and he moved off accompanied by an irregularly swaying sea of aides-de-camp. Farther and farther he rode away, stopping at other regiments, till at last only his white plumes were visible to Rostóv from amid the suites that surrounded the Emperors.
Among the gentlemen of the suite, Rostóv noticed Bolkónski, sitting his horse indolently and carelessly. Rostóv recalled their quarrel of yesterday and the question presented itself whether he ought or ought not to challenge Bolkónski. “Of course not!” he now thought. “Is it worth thinking or speaking of it at such a moment? At a time of such love, such rapture, and such self-sacrifice, what do any of our quarrels and affronts matter? I love and forgive everybody now.”
When the Emperor had passed nearly all the regiments, the troops began a ceremonial march past him, and Rostóv on Bedouin, recently purchased from Denísov, rode past too, at the rear of his squadron—that is, alone and in full view of the Emperor.
Before he reached him, Rostóv, who was a splendid horseman, spurred Bedouin twice and successfully put him to the showy trot in which the animal went when excited. Bending his foaming muzzle to his chest, his tail extended, Bedouin, as if also conscious of the Emperor’s eye upon him, passed splendidly, lifting his feet with a high and graceful action, as if flying through the air without touching the ground.
Rostóv himself, his legs well back and his stomach drawn in and feeling himself one with his horse, rode past the Emperor with a frowning but blissful face “like a vewy devil,” as Denísov expressed it.
“Fine fellows, the Pávlograds!” remarked the Emperor.
“My God, how happy I should be if he ordered me to leap into the fire this instant!” thought Rostóv.
When the review was over, the newly arrived officers, and also Kutúzov’s, collected in groups and began to talk about the awards, about the Austrians and their uniforms, about their lines, about Bonaparte, and how badly the latter would fare now, especially if the Essen corps arrived and Prussia took our side.
But the talk in every group was chiefly about the Emperor Alexander. His every word and movement was described with ecstasy.
They all had but one wish: to advance as soon as possible against the enemy under the Emperor’s command. Commanded by the Emperor himself they could not fail to vanquish anyone, be it whom it might: so thought Rostóv and most of the officers after the review.
All were then more confident of victory than the winning of two battles would have made them.
The day after the review, Borís, in his best uniform and with his comrade Berg’s best wishes for success, rode to Olmütz to see Bolkónski, wishing to profit by his friendliness and obtain for himself the best post he could—preferably that of adjutant to some important personage, a position in the army which seemed to him most attractive. “It is all very well for Rostóv, whose father sends him ten thousand rubles at a time, to talk about not wishing to cringe to anybody and not be anyone’s lackey, but I who have nothing but my brains have to make a career and must not miss opportunities, but must avail myself of them!” he reflected.
He did not find Prince Andrew in Olmütz that day, but the appearance of the town where the headquarters and the diplomatic corps were stationed and the two Emperors were living with their suites, households, and courts only strengthened his desire to belong to that higher world.
He knew no one, and despite his smart Guardsman’s uniform, all these exalted personages passing in the streets in their elegant carriages with their plumes, ribbons, and medals, both courtiers and military men, seemed so immeasurably above him, an insignificant officer of the Guards, that they not only did not wish to, but simply could not, be aware of his existence. At the quarters of the commander in chief, Kutúzov, where he inquired for Bolkónski, all the adjutants and even the orderlies looked at him as if they wished to impress on him that a great many officers like him were always coming there and that everybody was heartily sick of them. In spite of this, or rather because of it, next day, November 15, after dinner he again went to Olmütz and, entering the house occupied by Kutúzov, asked for Bolkónski. Prince Andrew was in and Borís was shown into a large hall probably formerly used for dancing, but in which five beds now stood, and furniture of various kinds: a table, chairs, and a clavichord. One adjutant, nearest the door, was sitting at the table in a Persian dressing gown, writing. Another, the red, stout Nesvítski, lay on a bed with his arms under his head, laughing with an officer who had sat down beside him. A third was playing a Viennese waltz on the clavichord, while a fourth, lying on the clavichord, sang the tune. Bolkónski was not there. None of these gentlemen changed his position on seeing Borís. The one who was writing and whom Borís addressed turned round crossly and told him Bolkónski was on duty and that he should go through the door on the left into the reception room if he wished to see him. Borís thanked him and went to the reception room, where he found some ten officers and generals.
When he entered, Prince Andrew, his eyes drooping contemptuously (with that peculiar expression of polite weariness which plainly says, “If it were not my duty I would not talk to you for a moment”), was listening to an old Russian general with decorations, who stood very erect, almost on tiptoe, with a soldier’s obsequious expression on his purple face, reporting something.
“Very well, then, be so good as to wait,” said Prince Andrew to the general, in Russian, speaking with the French intonation he affected when he wished to speak contemptuously, and noticing Borís, Prince Andrew, paying no more heed to the general who ran after him imploring him to hear something more, nodded and turned to him with a cheerful smile.
At that moment Borís clearly realized what he had before surmised, that in the army, besides the subordination and discipline prescribed in the military code, which he and the others knew in the regiment, there was another, more important, subordination, which made this tight-laced, purple-faced general wait respectfully while Captain Prince Andrew, for his own pleasure, chose to chat with Lieutenant Drubetskóy. More than ever was Borís resolved to serve in future not according to the written code, but under this unwritten law. He felt now that merely by having been recommended to Prince Andrew he had already risen above the general who at the front had the power to annihilate him, a lieutenant of the Guards. Prince Andrew came up to him and took his hand.
“I am very sorry you did not find me in yesterday. I was fussing about with Germans all day. We went with Weyrother to survey the dispositions. When Germans start being accurate, there’s no end to it!”
Borís smiled, as if he understood what Prince Andrew was alluding to as something generally known. But it was the first time he had heard Weyrother’s name, or even the term “dispositions.”
“Well, my dear fellow, so you still want to be an adjutant? I have been thinking about you.”
“Yes, I was thinking”—for some reason Borís could not help blushing—“of asking the commander in chief. He has had a letter from Prince Kurágin about me. I only wanted to ask because I fear the Guards won’t be in action,” he added as if in apology.
“All right, all right. We’ll talk it over,” replied Prince Andrew. “Only let me report this gentleman’s business, and I shall be at your disposal.”
While Prince Andrew went to report about the purple-faced general, that gentleman—evidently not sharing Borís’ conception of the advantages of the unwritten code of subordination—looked so fixedly at the presumptuous lieutenant who had prevented his finishing what he had to say to the adjutant that Borís felt uncomfortable. He turned away and waited impatiently for Prince Andrew’s return from the commander in chief’s room.
“You see, my dear fellow, I have been thinking about you,” said Prince Andrew when they had gone into the large room where the clavichord was. “It’s no use your going to the commander in chief. He would say a lot of pleasant things, ask you to dinner” (“That would not be bad as regards the unwritten code,” thought Borís), “but nothing more would come of it. There will soon be a battalion of us aides-de-camp and adjutants! But this is what we’ll do: I have a good friend, an adjutant general and an excellent fellow, Prince Dolgorúkov; and though you may not know it, the fact is that now Kutúzov with his staff and all of us count for nothing. Everything is now centered round the Emperor. So we will go to Dolgorúkov; I have to go there anyhow and I have already spoken to him about you. We shall see whether he cannot attach you to himself or find a place for you somewhere nearer the sun.”
Prince Andrew always became specially keen when he had to guide a young man and help him to worldly success. Under cover of obtaining help of this kind for another, which from pride he would never accept for himself, he kept in touch with the circle which confers success and which attracted him. He very readily took up Borís’ cause and went with him to Dolgorúkov.
It was late in the evening when they entered the palace at Olmütz occupied by the Emperors and their retinues.
That same day a council of war had been held in which all the members of the Hofkriegsrath and both Emperors took part. At that council, contrary to the views of the old generals Kutúzov and Prince Schwartzenberg, it had been decided to advance immediately and give battle to Bonaparte. The council of war was just over when Prince Andrew accompanied by Borís arrived at the palace to find Dolgorúkov. Everyone at headquarters was still under the spell of the day’s council, at which the party of the young had triumphed. The voices of those who counseled delay and advised waiting for something else before advancing had been so completely silenced and their arguments confuted by such conclusive evidence of the advantages of attacking that what had been discussed at the council—the coming battle and the victory that would certainly result from it—no longer seemed to be in the future but in the past. All the advantages were on our side. Our enormous forces, undoubtedly superior to Napoleon’s, were concentrated in one place, the troops inspired by the Emperors’ presence were eager for action. The strategic position where the operations would take place was familiar in all its details to the Austrian General Weyrother: a lucky accident had ordained that the Austrian army should maneuver the previous year on the very fields where the French had now to be fought; the adjacent locality was known and shown in every detail on the maps, and Bonaparte, evidently weakened, was undertaking nothing.
Dolgorúkov, one of the warmest advocates of an attack, had just returned from the council, tired and exhausted but eager and proud of the victory that had been gained. Prince Andrew introduced his protégé, but Prince Dolgorúkov politely and firmly pressing his hand said nothing to Borís and, evidently unable to suppress the thoughts which were uppermost in his mind at that moment, addressed Prince Andrew in French.
“Ah, my dear fellow, what a battle we have gained! God grant that the one that will result from it will be as victorious! However, dear fellow,” he said abruptly and eagerly, “I must confess to having been unjust to the Austrians and especially to Weyrother. What exactitude, what minuteness, what knowledge of the locality, what foresight for every eventuality, every possibility even to the smallest detail! No, my dear fellow, no conditions better than our present ones could have been devised. This combination of Austrian precision with Russian valor—what more could be wished for?”
“So the attack is definitely resolved on?” asked Bolkónski.
“And do you know, my dear fellow, it seems to me that Bonaparte has decidedly lost bearings, you know that a letter was received from him today for the Emperor.” Dolgorúkov smiled significantly.
“Is that so? And what did he say?” inquired Bolkónski.
“What can he say? Tra-di-ri-di-ra and so on... merely to gain time. I tell you he is in our hands, that’s certain! But what was most amusing,” he continued, with a sudden, good-natured laugh, “was that we could not think how to address the reply! If not as ‘Consul’ and of course not as ‘Emperor,’ it seemed to me it should be to ‘General Bonaparte.’”
“But between not recognizing him as Emperor and calling him General Bonaparte, there is a difference,” remarked Bolkónski.
“That’s just it,” interrupted Dolgorúkov quickly, laughing. “You know Bilíbin—he’s a very clever fellow. He suggested addressing him as ‘Usurper and Enemy of Mankind.’”
Dolgorúkov laughed merrily.
“Only that?” said Bolkónski.
“All the same, it was Bilíbin who found a suitable form for the address. He is a wise and clever fellow.”
“What was it?”
“To the Head of the French Government... Au chef du gouvernement français,” said Dolgorúkov, with grave satisfaction. “Good, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, but he will dislike it extremely,” said Bolkónski.
“Oh yes, very much! My brother knows him, he’s dined with him—the present Emperor—more than once in Paris, and tells me he never met a more cunning or subtle diplomatist—you know, a combination of French adroitness and Italian play-acting! Do you know the tale about him and Count Markóv? Count Markóv was the only man who knew how to handle him. You know the story of the handkerchief? It is delightful!”
And the talkative Dolgorúkov, turning now to Borís, now to Prince Andrew, told how Bonaparte wishing to test Markóv, our ambassador, purposely dropped a handkerchief in front of him and stood looking at Markóv, probably expecting Markóv to pick it up for him, and how Markóv immediately dropped his own beside it and picked it up without touching Bonaparte’s.
“Delightful!” said Bolkónski. “But I have come to you, Prince, as a petitioner on behalf of this young man. You see...” but before Prince Andrew could finish, an aide-de-camp came in to summon Dolgorúkov to the Emperor.
“Oh, what a nuisance,” said Dolgorúkov, getting up hurriedly and pressing the hands of Prince Andrew and Borís. “You know I should be very glad to do all in my power both for you and for this dear young man.” Again he pressed the hand of the latter with an expression of good-natured, sincere, and animated levity. “But you see... another time!”
Borís was excited by the thought of being so close to the higher powers as he felt himself to be at that moment. He was conscious that here he was in contact with the springs that set in motion the enormous movements of the mass of which in his regiment he felt himself a tiny, obedient, and insignificant atom. They followed Prince Dolgorúkov out into the corridor and met—coming out of the door of the Emperor’s room by which Dolgorúkov had entered—a short man in civilian clothes with a clever face and sharply projecting jaw which, without spoiling his face, gave him a peculiar vivacity and shiftiness of expression. This short man nodded to Dolgorúkov as to an intimate friend and stared at Prince Andrew with cool intensity, walking straight toward him and evidently expecting him to bow or to step out of his way. Prince Andrew did neither: a look of animosity appeared on his face and the other turned away and went down the side of the corridor.
“Who was that?” asked Borís.
“He is one of the most remarkable, but to me most unpleasant of men—the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Adam Czartorýski.... It is such men as he who decide the fate of nations,” added Bolkónski with a sigh he could not suppress, as they passed out of the palace.
Next day, the army began its campaign, and up to the very battle of Austerlitz, Borís was unable to see either Prince Andrew or Dolgorúkov again and remained for a while with the Ismáylov regiment.